Above: The Stitching Smilers group poses for a playful photo representing the upbeat camaraderie displayed throughout their retreat and in the group in general. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Rendez-Vous Centre was filled with the whirring and clanking of sewing machines and the laughter of roughly 20 women who had gathered for a three-day sewing retreat over the May 5 weekend.
The Stitching Smilers group, which Morinville resident Anita Derouin started about a year ago, has grown from a handful of members to 19 in just 13 months.
“It’s wonderful. All these ladies are coming out to get to know each other,” Derouin said, noting that men are welcome, too. “I didn’t want it advertised as a quilting group. It is a sewing group, and if you want to do hand sewing, if you want to make clothes, just come out and enjoy the company of others.”
The Stitching Smilers welcome sewers of all types and skill levels. The group meets once a month to share laughs and techniques, although Derouin said there is a desire to meet twice a month.
“It’s usually the first Friday of the month, and then whatever two weeks later turns out to be,” Derouin said. “We meet from nine to four, and we’re very fortunate that our husbands chip in, and they set up all the tables and take them down for us so the ladies don’t have to.”
From May 5 to 7, the Stitching Smilers gathered for their first weekend retreat, smiling, sewing and laughing for 30 hours over three days.
“It’s marathon sewing. We get a lot of laughs. We get a lot of projects done—sometimes, if we’re not laughing too much,” Derouin said. “We have a few ladies that are not from Morinville. They’re from Edmonton, but they’ve been coming for a year. The group members said, ‘We’ll put you up, no problem.'”
Morinville resident Kim Gosselin is a group member that attended the three-day retreat. “I love quilting, and I love the camaraderie,” Gosselin said. “It’s like therapy in a way— sitting down sewing, and when I’m with other women, it’s the camaraderie.”
Another attendee of the three-day event was Cathy Turner, a Winnipeg resident whose family has origins in the Morinville area going back more than 100 years.
“My cousin, of course, still lives here on a farm, and when I heard she was doing a retreat with her sewing group, I said, ‘I’m in,'” Turner said. “I left Wednesday morning and drove 1400 kilometres. To get together and sew with others and see what everyone else is doing. You get inspired. You learn techniques, and you just share. Quilters and sewers are really good at sharing and teaching each other.”
With nineteen members and growing, Derouin encourages other sewers and quilters to join the fun. “Come out, have fun, meet some like-minded people, and have some laughs,” Derouin said. “We all give and share advice, which is always helpful. You can always learn something.”
For more information on joining the group, contact the Morinville Rendez-Vous Centre of Anita Derouin at 613-406-5107.
Below is a gallery of shots from the retreat