For every hobby, there is a group of individuals who form a club to come together and share their love of it. That was what I found at Milwaukee Sewing Machine.
The second Monday of the month is Embroidery Club,a club so popular, they offer it at two different times (1 pm and 6 pm)! Each month, members are given a challenge or a project to complete and show at next month's meeting. This month, Milwaukee Sewing Machine employees Mary Herro and Judy Heinrichs invited Dianne and I to sit in on their meeting to show us the very special challenge they just completed.
Mary and Judy showing off their fidget mats
For August, members were asked to make a Fidget Mat. To be honest, I had no idea what a fidget mat was until I saw them, and they are remarkable. Each mat is covered in textured fabric, bright colors, and other doo-dads to keep busy hands occupied. But how did this challenge fall on to the Embroidery Club? Enter Gerri Wilson-Clayton, Volunteer Coordinator for Hometown Hospice & Healthcare. "I came here one day and met Judy, just to see if she would be willing to take a flier or two", but to her surprise, Judy offered to make Fidget Mats the Embroidery Club's next project. "I was so excited!" Gerri said. "A lot of our hospice patients have a degenerative brain disease like Alzheimer's or dementia, and tug and pull at things on the wall they're not supposed to. This was a great project".
The creativity in the upstairs classroom of Milwaukee Sewing Machine left Dianne and I in awe. Some members used embroidery designs to encourage the use of motor skills, like an embroidered shoe with real shoe laces, whereas others used designs just for texture. A few mats had marble mazes sewn into them and others had beads and mermaid fabric, aka the double sided sequin fabric.
For one member, this project was personal. "My aunt has dementia, so I made one [mat] for her and one for Hometown". A few other members made multiple mats to donate because they had loved ones who suffered from Alzheimer's or dementia and wanted to give back.
So what's next for this group? "I had this idea of A Blanket A Day Keeps the Cold Away, to get blankets for our patients". Gerri suggested. "A lot of our patients don't have people to visit them or care for them, so these volunteers and projects play a big role in our organization". The Embroidery Club is already thinking of different blankets to make.