How to set up a craft/sewing club? Part 1: Basics

Hello friends,

Back in 2011, my sewing class mates and I decided to launch a local sewing club. With a fresh group of ladies the club was re-launched in 2014. Here are some lessons learned that hopefully will help you set up something similar in your area. Firstly the basics of setting up a craft / sewing club.
Ps: Common sense or not, first do your research to know if is there aren’t any similar clubs already running that you could take part.
Gather your members: If you don’t have any member yet look for people with similar interests on social media, local schools, libraries, put leaflets on your local craft store, sewing machine dealers etc. Spread the word out that you want to open a club.
With the list of people interested try to book a meet up in person on a local coffee shop to work details bellow. You will notice that only people really committed will join the initial meeting and take part in the future so having that initial triage will help when looking for a space.  For people that are interested but cannot commit yet, write their details on a separate list to invite them once club is up and running.

Common ground of engagement: Find out from your members how much time they can personally invest. That will influence how often/long you will meet:
Questions to ask:
What day(s) can you devote to sewing club?
What time works best for you?
How long can you meet?
How often can you meet?
Location: Establishing possible locations will depend of the craft. Knitters can meet anywhere and not necessary need to have an specific place booked. Sewing needs tables etc. Look for village halls, sewing shops, school halls/ rooms, community centres, craft shops, spared creative spaces like SPH.

Logistics: Think about what members will need to bring: Hand sewing/ knitting/ quilting/ embroidering etc only requires a nice ambient where members can sit comfortably and have warm drinks. Sewing by machine is more complex: There are machines to be consider, extensions lead & ironing boards. Make a list of what makes a space suitable. For sewing even the hight of tables can be a problem. Take a little spreadsheet of requirements when visiting spaces and bring to the first meeting and talk about the positives and negatives of each of the possible places. Listen for people’s recommendations and requirements.

Is important that the space have some legal insurance for club meetings so in case of an accident you don’t get in trouble. Ask for the maximum number of people that the space insurance covers. That can limit your club members numbers. Is there are free or easy parking available? Consider members mobility.

Common Goal: Casual members may simply want to do easy projects together, while passionate ones want more involvement and demanding  projects. Too much or too little time may make your members disinterested or overwhelmed. 
Questions to ask:
What they want to accomplish individually and as a group.
Please list and share their goals.
How much time do you devote on their hobby and what level do you consider yourself?
How big you want the club to be?
After the initial discussion you probably made loads of notes. Use them to  Define the club scope.
People want to know in a simple paragraph what is the club about , who is aimed for and how people can take part.

Why this is important? You want all members to establish a baseline of expectations. If you want people to engage in group activities having clear ground rules will help the group grow within a heathy environment. “oh but its just me and my friends now” I hear you say. That’s perfectly fine to start with a few months of informality but I highly recommend moving to a more organised frame of mind if you want the club to grow and succeed. Unless it’s only going to be you and your friends meeting at your kitchen. Than you don’t really need to “set up” a club.

Advertise the club
If you feel the club need new members let everyone knows new members are welcomed using similar tactics when looking for members to start.

Meet!
It can be a daunting prospect for everyone to meet up for the first time in the club environment.  Many questions will pop in your members head on :What to bring, what we will talk about it etc. My advice is to have a common project so everyone will have a list of what do bring and to expect. The space will get tested and from there the club members can decide based on it’s own goals what and how activities will run in the future.

Don’t be shy, if you have any particular question please ask and I will incorporate on the second part of this blog post: How to run the day to day of a craft/ sewing club.
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  • Interesting post Rachel �� I started a knitting group probably some 6 years ago now. It still has most of its original members and a few extras. Jo from Three Stories High has kept it going whilst I haven’t been able to go but recently I’ve been finding time to attend and it really is a lovely way to spend a few hours once a fortnight catching up on what we’ve all been making (many have converted to crocheting but I think I’ll always be a knitter!) and setting the world to rights. Much as I love the blogging community I don’t think it’s a substitute for real life contact ��

  • Rachel, thanks for sharing this info. Finding a suitable space is certainly one of the biggest hurdles!

    • indeed inf you want a free space. If you can organise a payment system thou got a better choice, So many halls that rents includes tables, cables etc

  • Absolutely, Sewing Princess. Our club, The London Dressmakers Club ( http://www.meetup.com/dressmakers/?scroll=true ) has a lot of trouble finding places to meet. As is pointed out, unlike knitting groups where you only need to carry needles and a ball of yarn, you need to find somewhere that can take sewing machines, cutting out tables, ironing boards etc. We have monthly meetings where we bring hand sewing, tacking, sneaky bits of cutting out in a cafe, group visits to related exhibitions and events, private access to costume collections but anything more complex demanding space and tools, such as workshops or fitting sessions, need members to volunteer their homes as venues. We have thought about hiring a space but the question of financing the hire cost proves difficult as people often drop out at the last moment. I am going to be following this blog subject closely in the hope that I get some good ideas that can be applied tothe club.