The Power of Craft: A Community Stitching Project Changes Lives

The experience of making something for others can be as much of a gift to the maker as it can be to the recipient.For many, the experience of making something for others can be as much of a gift to the maker as it can be to the recipient. That was truly the case in my experience participating in a community stitching project.

Organized by my friend Christine Chitnis, the project was a way for Christine to pay forward the kindness and initiative that was shared with her. Earlier, a group project helped create a beautiful gift for her mother who was going through a particularly stressful time in her life.

Related: This DIY Surprise Candle Makes the Perfect Gift

Christine rallied three maker-friends and used the “power of craft” to complete a garment that her mother had started at a workshop using the “Alabama Chanin” method of sewing at a workshop from Natalie Chanin.

Christine and her sewing partners created a beautiful garment that was presented to her mother that lifted her spirits. Christine was inspired by the fulfilling and uplifting nature of the project and was inspired to enlist others to make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.

Making to Give

Accepting the Invitation

When Christine presented the idea of working together to craft a beautiful garment for someone who needed a touch of joy in their life, I was immediately drawn to the proposition.

 “Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.” -Christine Chitnis

I responded to the invitation without hesitation and soon joined an eager group of makers that Christine pulled together from around the world. Christine sought nominations from group members and two courageous women in my life were chosen as recipients of the gifts:

Related: 10 Reasons You Should Start That Creative Project

My dear friend Jen, a mother of three children ages 17, 15, 11 had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She just had a double mastectomy and was in the initial stages of chemotherapy treatment.  I knew Jen would be a perfect recipient because she loves both surprises and handmade gifts.

Jen is such a beautiful individual both inside and out and cancer and chemotherapy had taken away some of the beauty she enjoyed sharing with the world.

Jen’s husband Tim was thoughtfully involved behind the scenes at the start of the Alabama Chanin project by discreetly finding Jen’s measurements and giving input of Jen’s style and color preferences to help Christine chose to perfect garment.

She received the gift of the Classic Coat in a pallet of rich blues while going through a rough patch of her chemotherapy treatment.  She was absolutely delighted and touched by the surprise. When she opened the package and read all of the kind and thoughtful notes that accompanied her beautiful gift, she was moved by the group partnership and sentiments.

“Throughout my journey battling cancer there have been many unpleasant physical feelings along with feelings of fear and sadness, but along with these – joyful, delightful and happy experiences.  So many people have reached out to me to offer support.  It is this support that makes it almost impossible to have a bad attitude.  This gift definitely brightened my day!  Just looking at and wearing the garment fills me with memories of friendship and joy!” -Jen

Power of Handmade 
Power of Handmade

Betty, a brave woman in my family circle, was chosen as a recipient of a beautiful A-line Top to spread some joy, hope and light into her life.  Betty is a mother who has been enduring the most excruciating suffering of losing her firstborn child.

She experienced a preterm rupture of membranes at twenty-two weeks gestation while pregnant with her son Henry.  Henry was born premature on September 22, 2015 at twenty seven weeks with neonatal complications.

Henry was loved, cared for and supported by his mom, his dad and medical professionals in the NICU for two full months before he passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his parents. Betty is still grieving and will always have an emptiness in her heart, but being a recipient of this project certainly lifted her spirits.

“I was blown away by the kindness and intent behind this project.  I received the package in the mail on a particularly hard day.  The timing of this gift was like a smile from God, it was as if it was work from angels.  When I received the gift and read all of the thoughtful notes that accompanied the project, I cried happy tears”  – Betty

The power of craft The Power of HandmadeI was a participant in the sewing circle for Betty, sewing one of the four panels in her A-line tunic. Participating in this act of giving has not only been healing and supportive to these deserving women, but also for myself as a maker and giver.

Going into the project I did not anticipate how my involvement in this act of giving would elicit such inspirational happy feelings in my own heart. Participating in fellowship in this genuine act of kindness and creating something of such beauty and purpose to delight another individual has been such a wonderful experience.

I know that I have been inspired by Christine’s initiative and the comfort and joy that both Jen, Betty and the other women who were recipients of the project experienced as result of the efforts of our sewing circle.

It is my hope that our stories of this experience will have the potential to influence a ripple effect of generosity in the broader community of makers, doers and dreamers.

Give it some thought, and keep in mind you don’t have to be a master crafter to find opportunity to spread joy and light to others with a thoughtful handmade gift and also to experience the  fulfillment associated with “power of handmade”when creating something for others with love and intention.

Photo Credits: Top photo Forrest Elliott. Second grid of photos Christine’s Instagram. Photos 3-6 Megan Devine.


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