Sewing Leaves, Sewing Words.

Betsy Renfrew

Betsy Renfrew


Kadija works as a seamstress in the backroom of downtown clothing shop. She is from Somalia but she cannot go back… She wants to make a shirt and pants for me because I teach her English. She makes all her own dresses and headscarves: red, purple, and blue, colorful and bright. First she sewed me a tunic that was soft as a sweater. The sleeves were too long and the width too wide but I wear it day in and day out. If I could sew I would make Kadija a cloth made of leaves and words. Leaves, because we often talk of food and gardens. Words, because she always wants to learn new ones…


I will pick up leaves fallen off trees at my spot on Elm Street and sew them together or string them onto a thread. I will wear one of these “scarves” and be creating another one or others as well. I will allow anyone who wants to sew a few stitches to do so. I will also have a shoulder bag over my shoulder that will store all my materials so that I can sew standing. (Walking and sewing might be too much of a challenge!)

In addition to actual leaves I would like to bring in cut pieces of fabric and paper (leaves of a book) in the shapes of leaves to use as well.