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Meet Lillis, our March Badass Women!

Our Badass Woman for March is Lillis Taylor, co-founder and executive director of the Birmingham, AL, non-profit sewing co-op, Bib & Tucker Sew-Op. I had the pleasure of meeting Lillis when I visited the Sew-Op last month to participate in the March Quilts project. It’s such a wonderful space, filled with fabric, color, and best of all…Badass Women of all ages!!! 

Meet Lillis, everyone!

 

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How did you get involved with your organization? How long have you been working with it?

I am a Birmingham, AL native and when I moved back to my hometown in 2010, I was itching to learn to sew. I joined the Birmingham Quilter’s Guild and met Ms. Annie Bryant, a then-65 yr old. She wasn’t comfortable at the Guild because so many folks were already very proficient in quilting and piecing. I told her I didn’t know anything but wanted to learn and she said the same of herself. We decided to start meeting weekly at Inglenook Library in Tarrant and since then, have become family to one another. Our weekly meetings grew and our need for additional space had us moving from place to place until we landed where we are today.

We chose the following as our mission: to cultivate skills for those who sew or want to sew (ages 9-99) where everyone can be both a student and a teacher.

In 2014, Ms. Annie and I decided to turn our informal sewing bee into a formal 501c3 non-profit. We chose the following as our mission: to cultivate skills for those who sew or want to sew (ages 9-99) where everyone can be both a student and a teacher. Our vision is to create a cottage industry of textile manufacturing that would create income opportunities for single parents.

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What’s your favorite part of working with your organization?

I love the diversity of our membership. I am a 35 yr old Caucasian female and Ms. Annie is a 70 yr old African American female. I have learned so much from her since beginning this journey and it is our camaraderie that informs the makeup of our membership.

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What would you like people to know about your organization? What might be surprising about it?

I think anyone who steps through the Sew-Op’s door, ends up leaving with a lot more than sewing tips. We’ve heard all kinds of stories from the women who spend time with us and for me, I feel as though I’m experiencing the 21st century’s version of the quilting bee.

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What’s coming up next for your organization?

The Sew-Op has donated ten bed quilts to the local YWCA homeless shelter; helped out with artist Amanda Browder’s installation for UAB’s Art Department*; collaborated with Browder to make three quilt tops; launched a successful Kickstarter campaign; and facilitated a public sewing project that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches (this project yielded 461 quilt blocks and in its second year will raise awareness about gender pay equity). At the end of 2015, we competed in UAB’s Community Health Innovation Awards and were awarded $13,000 to create a sewing training program, which we are working on right now. We hope this training is the seed for our vision of a cottage industry of sewing manufacturing in Birmingham.

 

What’s your next personal creative project?

The impetus for joining the Birmingham Quilter’s Guild was a collaboration with my father, artist Trés Taylor. In 2010, I designed a line of clothing using imagery from his artwork. We call this company, Tré Lilli and I have had the project on the back burner as I’ve been building the Sew-Op. I feel that 2016 is the year Tré Lilli comes back to life. www.lillistaylor.com has info about Tré Lilli and all of my other endeavors.

 

The laziest interview question ever: is there anything else you’d like to add that wasn’t covered in the questions above?

Bib & Tucker Sew-Op is a bonafide 501c3 so cash and material donations are not only greatly appreciated but we can issue legitimate receipts for tax purposes! We also happily welcome interested seamsters to visit us any Tuesday from 11-3PM. Ms. Annie is our welcome wagon and will make you feel at home. Also, men are welcome! We’ve yet to have an intrepid male become a regular…

Photos courtesy of Jared Ragland and Lillis Taylor.

*That’s my university! School pride! –Mercedes

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