The term sewing circle usually refers to a group of people, usually women, who meet regularly for the purpose of sewing, often for charitable causes while chatting gossip and politics.
Application to sewing
Sewing circle participants, usually women, typically meet regularly for the purpose of sewing. They often also support charitable causes while chatting, gossiping, and/or discussing politics.
For example, in ante-bellum America, local anti-slavery or missionary "sewing circles were complementary, not competing, organisations that allowed [women] to act on their concern for creating a more just and moral society". Other examples of sewing circles include the Fragment Society, the Mennonite Sewing Circle, and those organized by RMS Titanic survivor Emily Goldsmith aboard the rescue ship RMS Carpathia: Goldsmith, "a talented seamstress, organized sewing circles to make garments out of cloth and blankets for those passengers dressed in nightclothes when they entered the lifeboats."
Apart from charitable purposes, contemporary sewing circles may be formed into organisations on a national level, such as the Guilds in Australia and America "for people who regard sewing as a creative and rewarding activity".
"Chew the rag"
It has been speculated that the phrase "chew the rag", is related to gossiping while working in a sewing circle.
Sewing circle is also a phrase used (by Marlene Dietrich, for instance) to describe the underground, closeted lesbian and bisexual film actresses and their relationships in Hollywood, United States, particularly during Hollywood's golden age from the 1910s to the 1950s. This usage was coined by the actress Alla Nazimova.
- Carolyn J. Lawes, ed. (2000). Women and Reform in a New England Community, 1815-1860. Kentucky, US: The University Press of Kentucky. p. 78. ISBN 0-8131-2131-0.
- "The Search for the Dead". TITANIC - A Voyage of Discovery. Archived from the original on October 23, 1999. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
- "Australian Sewing Guild". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
- "The American Sewing Guild". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Freeman, David (7 January 2001). "Closet Hollywood: A gossip columnist discloses some secrets about movie idols". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Madsen, Axel (2002). The Sewing Circle: Sappho's Leading Ladies. New York: Kensington Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7582-0101-0.
- Film Actors: Lesbian, glbtq.com. Retrieved: 2014-01-12.
- Harbin, Billy J.; Marra, Kim; Schanke, Robert A., eds. (2005). The Gay & Lesbian Theatrical Legacy. University of Michigan. p. 297. ISBN 0-472-09858-6.
Munson was a member of 'the sewing circle,' a term originated by Alla Nazimova for a clique of lesbians and bisexuals who socialized in Hollywood.
- Kimberly D. Schmidt; Diane Zimmerman Umble; Steven D. Reschly, eds. (2003). Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801876851.
- Anne Macdonald (2010). No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 9780307775443.
- Nancy A. Hewitt (2001). Women's Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822-1872. Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739102978.
- Nancy Ruth Reagin, ed. (1995). A German Women's Movement: Class and Gender in Hanover, 1880-1933. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807864012.
- Erica Simmons (2006). Hadassah And the Zionist Project. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742549388.
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