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Sewing Group Brings People Together

chynna lockett

A local group is bringing people together to share stories, laughs and fabric. The Lakota Sewing Circle invites the community to break out their machines and learn new techniques.

The Lakota Sewing Circle meets twice a month at the Racing Magpie in Rapid City. Today there are 5 women sitting behind piles of neatly folded fabric, sewing machines or threaded needles. This group makes a lot of jokes.

Lockett: “How long have you been sewing?”

Red Elk: “One hundred years. No, I’m just kidding!

Dollie Red Elk started sewing when she joined the circle. Red Elk doesn’t use a sewing machine. Instead she does every stitch by hand.

Red Elk: “Actually I watched my grandma, my mother and most of the adults. There was a women’s guild and they got together maybe once or twice a month. And this is what they’d do, but they all sewed by hand. I grew up watching that. I always thought it was much more stable or sturdier when you sewed by hand.”

Right now she’s stitching together small square pieces of fabric in different shades of blue to make a block quilt. 

Red Elk: “I have 7 grandchildren and so I want to finish quilts for each one of them.”

Lockett: “Which grandchild is this for?”

Red Elk: “I have a grandchild who lives Belvidere so this is for him.

Lockett: “How old is he?”

Red Elk: “He’s 9 and hopefully I finish before he turns 20.”

Across the table, Lisa Iron Cloud is using a sewing machine to piece together a star quilt.

Iron Cloud: “This is the strip style of star quilt. The strip style is just cutting strips of fabric. So this one I have right here, these are three inch strips. And you sew them together, you bring it about 2 inches down. You kind of layer the strips and then you sew them together in however many colors you want in your quilt. I have a dark purple, light purple, one with a pattern in it, and then I have a blue for the tip.”

Iron Cloud is a founding member of the group. She says it started as part of the Sewing Club in Wounded Knee. In 2013 it moved to the Lakota Homes Area Rapid City and is now held at the Racing Magpie.  

Lockett: “What was the group invented for? What’s it’s purpose?”

Iron Cloud: “When we first started the sewing club, it was to get people together to teach each other how to sew because I didn’t know how to sew and I really wanted to learn. So I was using YouTube videos but it wasn’t cutting it for me. So we decided to make a club. It just kind of went from there.”

Lockett: “How many people are involved in the Lakota Sewing Circle?”

Credit chynna lockett

Iron Cloud: “There’s usually about 7 or 8. It just depends. The ladies that you see here now are actually the ones that are here almost all the time.”

One member joined the group from Canada. Claire Thomson is measuring and cutting fabric for her star quilt.

Thomson: “I’m a PHD candidate through the University of Alberta and I’m down here doing some of my research for my dissertation.”

Lockett: “So what brought you to the Lakota Sewing Circle?”

Thomson: “So I was auditing some classes through Oglala Lakota College and Dollie was my Lakota Language instructor. So she mentioned that there was a sewing circle and that she was part of it. So I went with her and the rest is history.”

Lockett: “Can you describe your star quilt for the radio?”

Thomson: “I started out with like this light blue fabric that had birds and some branches and stuff on it that I really like. So I matched a light brown, a yellow and a white to it. And then the background that the star’s going to sit on is also a light blue.”

Thomson is giving her star quilt to the sewing circle to be sold or donated with the others. She says the group has been welcoming and gotten her interested in sewing again.