The “No Sewing Sewer’s Group” met at Moss and Embers in Burns for the second time this fall last month.
Originally known as “The Needlework’s Guild” the group of nurses from Baptist Hospital in Nashville would gather together with medical office staff for a monthly meeting where sewing, cross-stitching, needlepoint, and related skills were shared.
“We started out with five or six of us, and we’ve been together for 35 years,” said Gisa Kopp of Pegram, originally from Italy.
For Moss and Embers owners Karen and Dan Adkins, the gathering was a sweet celebration.
“They ended up being our very first customers,” Karen said. “Joan had asked us several weeks earlier if she could bring the group to our store. The NSSG meets monthly, I believe, and each member picks a place to eat and a small business boutique type store to shop at; Joan picked us.
“We had planned to open on September 21, 2019 but ran into delays. When we announced our Grand Opening on October 12, 2019, Joan messaged me on Facebook saying that she had thought we would be open so she had everything scheduled to come to us and asked if there was any way we could accommodate.
“So, we ended up opening just for the NSSG ladies September 21 before we even opened to the public — we didn’t have a thing tagged, barely managed to get our POS system operational, and worked through the night to get as much out as possible. My niece, Alana, flew in to help us, and we had the best time.
Adkins said she was touched by the patience, kindness, compliments, and fun of the group.
“There were lots of laughs, lots of memories and Ms. Betty, their Queen, was actually the very first customer of all the ladies who attended.” Karen said. “We learned so much from that experience in terms of what we needed to get ready in order to be better prepared for our official Grand Opening.
The first stitch
Gisa’s daughter, Karen, who was a sixth-grader and had been assigned a sewing project by her art teacher, that set the NSSG in motion in 1984, with the initial home base being the home of Jackie Shields.
Gisa Kopp did not know how to cross-stitch, so she asked Shields to teach her.
The initial group consisted of Kopp, Shields, Joan Smith, Cindy Wall and Candace DeHaan. The group now consists of 14 members, with most of them nurses.
“We really did sew for many years, most doing cross stitch, two accomplished at French hand sewing,” Shields said. “Susan Slater completed a nativity for her church that is represented by beautiful panels of exquisite technique. Several did difficult pieces of antique samplers on linen, as exampled at the classes at Cheekwood.”
The group initially focused on sewing, and then added road trips in the spring and fall to a variety of historic bed and breakfast inns in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee.
“My favorite was the trip by train to Watertown, where there was a bed and breakfast and we had catfish for dinner,” said Betty Hughes, 87, who is known as “The Queen,” and has also delivered more than 100 babies in her nursing career.
Joan Smith, who is known as the group’s auctioneer, said that the group started out as therapy in dealing with the challenges experienced by nurses.
The group also an holds an auction twice a year for funding needs that a member or their family might have.
“We started out sewing, but then we soon shifted into more of a focus on travel and sharing stories,” Smith said. “With 35 years, you’re like a family. We all take care of each other through marriages, deaths, births, retirements, cancer and dementia. This is a loving group. Everybody is close, and we’re always there for each other. We raise money to take food to those in need, send something, offer diner cards. This is truly such a supportive group. We all de-clutter to have auctions with $200 to $300 going into our treasury.”
The group has traveled to stops in Huntsville, Ala.; Covington, Harrodsburg and Paducah, Ky., as well as Culleoka and Fayetteville.
Thinking back, the group laughed about eating in a jail at Fayetteville, where Hughes’ finger got smashed in the car door, and she had to go to the emergency room because it required a little more intense stitchery.
Smith recalled making a Disney-themed quilt for her second grandchild, but the pieces for the quilt were lined in red which bled through when she washed it, making the quilt all kinds of shades of pink.
“I guess this group just defines friendship,” NSSG member Connie Turner King said. “Always there for each other in simple ways as just a hug, in big ways as honoring special occasions weddings, children retirements, in support when needed as in attending funerals, feeding the family, countless hospital visits. Basically, we are a foundation of continuous — without question or judgment — support for one another. It’s hard to find peeps like that.”