Sewing-Fun is a space where creative minds gather — and inclusion is essential.
Nancy Easterbrooks, owner of and sewing teacher at the sewing shop in Marblehead, believes that fostering a safe space where students feel included fits with her mission of creating an environment for students to use maximum creativity while having fun and relaxing.
“It’s so sad to see these kids grow up and feel not included,” said Easterbrooks, speaking about the many students from the LGBTQ community who have joined her classes.
“Most of the kids from my experience that are the LGB or the transgender are usually quite artistic anyway,” said Easterbrooks.
“They have the female side and the male side together. They have both of those going on. They kind of gifted…they really are gifted,” she added.
Even though Easterbrooks wants to create a space of inclusion where all are welcomed, respected and treated equally, she finds challenging circumstances in her workshop. During her last summer program, a child picked on another student over the student’s gender expression, leading Easterbrooks to host a program on pronouns and bullying.
“You have to handle it because you can’t let it go,” said Easterbrooks.
“Sometimes I’m awake all night trying to think, ‘Okay, how am I going to handle this?’ It really gets to me,” she added.
On other occasions, Easterbrooks has received notes from her students. One said, “I am so happy that I met you and I’ve been sewing with you because you are the only one that accepts me for who I am.”
She does not teach only girls how to sew because, as she said, “Some of the boys are more interested in things the girls do.” She said sewing can help increase their concentration and patience while learning a skill they can use later in life.
During class, students have the chance to create their own bags, hats, stuffed animals, dog coats — or anything their imagination leads them to. “I have no set rules for anybody. I just want them to enjoy themselves and really stretch their imagination,” said Easterbrook.
“They have an idea of what they want. Some of the guys want to make skirts, and I say, ‘Sure, we’ll make skirts,’” added Easterbrook.
Students from Middleton, Peabody, Danvers, Topsfield and Marblehead have all gathered at Sewing-Fun to make garments they love, including items with Marblehead prints like anchors and red, white and blue fabrics. “It’s very interesting how traditional they can be,” said Easterbrook.
Currently 80 years young and having recently left the operating room, Easterbrooks has no plans on retiring. She grew up in Marblehead and plans to continue shaping the youth of Marblehead and surrounding towns by offering them a safe space to express themselves through the creative lens of fashion.
To learn more about Sewing-Fun — including its 10-week sessions, summer programs and sewing birthday parties — please visit sewing-fun.com.