BHC Celebrates National Sewing Month with Launch of New Volunteer Activity

Whitinsville, MA (August 15, 2017) – With a nod to the rich textile history of the Blackstone River Valley, Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) celebrates National Sewing Month in September with the launch of a new volunteer activity focused on sewing and textiles. BHC is hosting an initial meeting of interested volunteers at RYCO Creative Sewing Center, 25 Carrington St. in Lincoln, RI, on Thursday, September 21 at 6: 30 p.m.

According to BHC’s Marketing Director, Bonnie Combs, there is great interest in sewing throughout the National Heritage Corridor. Combs often brings her own sewing machine to community events to demonstrate how to make reusable shopping bags out of t-shirts. “It’s a great way to repurpose unwanted textiles,” she explained.  “At the same time, it encourages the use of a reusable shopping bag, lessening our dependency on plastic bags.”  BHC also operates a Trash Responsibly™ program, which focuses on raising awareness about the impacts of trash on the region’s natural resources and which also promotes recycling as one means of reducing the trash. Just this year, BHC-sponsored projects collected more than 10 tons of residential waste, including 730 pounds of plastic bags and plastic film collected by Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational and Northbridge high schools.

Combining two of BHC’s key program areas, participants in this first activity will stitch together some fabric plastic bag collectors to help educate people about the recycling of plastic bags and plastic film. “There are still many people who are not aware that they can bring their plastic bags back to grocery stores and other large retailers for recycling,” Combs explained. With America Recycles Day coming up on November 15, this will be a great community service project to encourage more recycling of plastic bags and film. One other project idea is to make reusable shopping bags to help support communities that are passing plastic bag regulations. Grafton is the first community in the National Heritage Corridor to approve a ban of single use plastic bags. The initiative was passed at the May 2017 Town Meeting and will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

BHC Volunteers-in-Parks lead numerous activities throughout the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.  Some of those volunteer-led activities have so far included trail hikes, bird spotting, and supporting BHC’s annual GO! program.

The idea to create a volunteer sewing activity was also inspired by a volunteer research project underway in the historic town of Hopedale, MA, which is taking a look at records from the Hopedale Sewing Circle. According to Linda Hixon who is leading the project, women in Hopedale gathered together for more than 150 years and discussed love, death, abolition, equality, and much more, while working on textile projects in a group they called the Hopedale Sewing Circle. “Together, they forged a strong bond and left an overwhelming record of their deeds, accomplishments, and other happenings in town,” Hixon revealed.

While the first meeting of the volunteer sewing group is being held in Lincoln, RI, the group is likely to meet in different National Heritage Corridor communities throughout the year, including some historic sites such as the Little Red Shop Museum in Hopedale, MA, Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI, and others. Owning a sewing machine is not a prerequisite as BHC’s Combs noted she and other volunteers have acquired a number of machines that will be made available, and will accept donations of more sewing equipment, fabric and supplies.

To learn more about the volunteer sewing initiative, and to RSVP for the September 21 meeting, contact Bonnie Combs at 508-234-4242 or email at