DALLAS — As far as folks can remember, the Sew N Sews have been a part of the fabric of Presbyterian Village North retirement community (PVN), dating back to when it was built in 1980.
Some of the ladies are quilters; some have no sewing experience whatsoever. Regardless, their lovingly handcrafted items have brought smiles to thousands of recipients of all ages, from infants to hospice patients, for more than four decades.
This holiday season and throughout the year, the dedicated group of 10 to 15 senior women can be found each Tuesday morning in a room at the community that looks and sounds like Santa’s workshop.
Surrounded by colorful swatches of cloth, stuffing, ribbons and bows, the Sew N Sews produce a wide range of items designed to bring comfort and joy to the recipients.
Through the years, these items have included pillows, clothing protectors, walker covers and bags for assisted living residents. They've also made activity/stimulation blankets for memory care patients as well as keepsake items for hospice patients and their families and blankets for infants.
The Sew N Sews love all of their sewing projects, but the one closest to their hearts is the stuffed bears they make for PediPlace, a nonprofit pediatric health care practice for children from birth through 18 who are uninsured or receive Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) benefits.
Since the Sew N Sews began keeping records of their donations in 2015, they have delivered an impressive 11,000 bears, stuffed animals and other items.
“That translates to five bears a day or 35 bears a week for the last six years!” said the Sew N Sews group leader Janice Bently. “It really is a labor of love.”
Bently has been a member of the group for the last 14 years and its leader for the last 12. The other members believe she’s the perfect fit, considering she’s been a seamstress since she was a kid.
“I started making my own clothes when I was just 10 years old,” said Bently. “I made my own school clothes with my sister that was 13 months older than me. As soon as we learned how to sew, we made our own clothes because my mom didn’t have time. She had eight kids.”
When she’s not sewing bears, her stitches are winning awards.
Bently is a well celebrated quilter, winning many first-place awards for her projects that can be seen on display thorough her home. Her works of art make her happy, especially the 80” x 80” quilt that hangs in her hallway.
The piece titled “A Pineapple For My Garden” won first place in the sewing category of the 2015 Leading Age Texas Arts Inspire contest, a statewide competition. The piece which took her more than a year to complete is appraised at $9,000.
“I’ve thought about selling it, but I’m not sure I want to,” said Bently. “You got to keep some things for yourself, plus my husband Chester likes it!”
Bently is proud of her accomplishments, but her true pride and joy is the community of friends she’s found who share a mission.
“Every day you should just do whatever you can to make somebody happy,” said Bently. “It’s all about giving back. Don’t do everything for yourself, do [it] for others.”
She and her sewing sisters plan to keep sharing the love, one stitch (and stuff) at a time.
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