BREMERTON — Though it’s a “community-building activity,” the motivation behind an upcoming event at Dylan Fabrics is also politically-minded for owner Melissa Dylan.
“It’s kind of a fun excuse to get together,” Dylan said, “and I guess show our solidarity about women’s issues and have fun.”
From 6-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, Dylan Fabrics is hosting a sewing event to make recreations of suffragette flags to use in the Women’s March on Seattle on Jan. 21 (which is being held in solidarity of the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, D.C., the day after Inauguration Day).
At Dylan Fabrics, anybody who wants to join in on the flag-sewing event is welcome.
“It’s meant to be a community-building thing,” Dylan said. “It’s meant to be a coming together. What it’s not meant to be is exclusionary. We don’t hate men, it’s really just about celebrating the women who have come before us and what they’ve given us.”
Dylan said she’s a lifelong feminist, so doing something like this is “kind of a no-brainer.”
“If it’s something to do with women’s rights and having a say, I’m usually one of the loudest people,” she said. “I feel lucky to have found like-minded people in the community.
“Women’s rights are human rights,” Dylan said, “and yet … we still have to get out there and make our points known.”
Dylan said never had that been more evident until after Election Day, when Donald Trump won the presidential election.
“There was a mean sign put on my window the day after the election,” Dylan said. “It was a sign that said, ‘Trump Wins! Exit visas are being accepted to never return. Thank you for your cooperation!’
“I guess the gist of it was, ‘Go away.’ I don’t know if it was necessarily aimed at me or the store or just human beings in general, but either way, it was a little unsettling.”
Dylan, who was born in Bremerton, said she was shaken and upset to see that message the day after the election, when she was already feeling “really raw.” However, following that sign’s posting, something much different happened.
“A ton of people from Bremerton really came out to show their love and support for us, to show they’re not going to stand for any type of hate speech,” Dylan said.
Which is why, when a customer asked how to make a flag to wave at the Women’s March in Seattle, Dylan decided to turn her regular sewing event into a Suffragette Flag Sewing activity.
“At the time, women used the flags as a symbol of their right to vote,” Dylan said about the flags. “Making the flags (now) is about honoring their fight and all of the gains they made, while recognizing that there is still a long way to go in terms of equal rights, not just for women but for minorities, immigrants, LGBTQI, disabled and others.
“To me, we’re symbolically taking up the banner where our ancestors left off. We march to remind the country that people are still being marginalized, that women still don’t have equal pay, that people still politicize our bodies, that violence against women needs tangible solutions and so much more.”
So far, Dylan said eight people have committed to going to the event, but she expects more after word starts to spread. Unlike past sewing events the store has hosted, she has no intention of limiting the number of people who can participate.
“We gather to gain comfort in the knowledge that we have sisters and brothers fighting alongside us for solutions, equality and love,” Dylan said. “Making the flags ties us to this history and gives us strength that change can happen. It honors and thanks those who have come before us for giving us the voices that we are using now.”
Dylan added that the event “comes from a place of loving and supporting one another, and wanting what’s best for everyone.” Participants don’t need to know how to sew to show up — others will teach you if it’s your first time, or you can join just to show support.
Registration is appreciated to ensure enough flag-making supplies are available. The cost is $20, which covers only the cost of materials used. If you can’t attend the event but wish to donate to have a flag made, that also is welcome. Visit www.dylanfabrics.com to RSVP or donate.
“These are flags that … are reproductions of the flags they flew to earn the right to vote,” Dylan said. “I feel like it’s just symbolic of women continuing to have a voice in our country’s policies.”
Learn more about the sewing event at www.dylanfabrics.com. To find out more about the Women’s March on Seattle, visit goo.gl/hK52Um.
Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.