‘Sewing Buddies’ find common causes, companionship, love of sewing

Members of Sewing Buddies while making blankets for a pediatric group, from left, are Martha Thompson, Connie Rist, Joan Pfrommer, Vickie Hunt, MaryAnne Walls, Jan Gangwer, Linda Weir and Terry Grob. Not pictured are Carol Peterson, Carol Sass, Andrea Lambert Terri Neeley and Judy Morris.
Years ago, when they all lived in Concord Hills subdivision, some women discovered they had

something in common: a sewing machine.

“Several of us in Concord Hills had high-end sewing and embroidery machines and no longer had anyone at home to sew for,” Joan Pfrommer recalls, “so we decided to sew for charity. That was in 1999, before any of us had grandkids. It was a great way to use our talent to provide comfort to those who are less fortunate or have an illness or traumatic event in their life.”

Except for one, all the women eventually moved out of Concord Hills, but the group stayed together, picking up new members along the way.

“We’ve got them coming from Greenback, Louisville, Maryville — some come from an hour away to sew,” Pfrommer said.

They call themselves “Sewing Buddies,” and about once every three weeks the women lug their sewing machines into their cars and drive to Pfrommer’s house just outside of Farragut in Copperstone subdivision. She stores the fabric at her house.

They’ll stay for the day, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., sewing and chatting — but they are serious about what they do. They’re always looking for a need to fill and they have found plenty.

They’ve made more than 2,000 Christmas stockings, nearly 2,000 small blankets and quilts, 800 pillowcase dresses and more than 1,000 gowns. They have sewn blankets for soldiers being deployed and their families here, lap quilts for assisted living residents, totes for Katrina victims, stockings for nursing home residents, personalized blankets for dialysis patients, dresses for girls in the Philippines and Haiti and many other items.

To spice things up, they’ve made some road trips to quilt shows in Pigeon Forge, Chattanooga, Atlanta and Orlando. Member Jan Gangwer got involved after meeting a couple of the women at an heirloom sewing class at Gina’s Bernina Sewing Center about 12 years ago.

“At that time everyone from the group was from the same neighborhood,” Gangwer said. “They had a lot of projects going and needed more sewers. I have been sewing since I was a teenager — a lot of fashion and precision sewing. My specialty with the Sewing Buddies is doing whatever is needed. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, but most of all I enjoy reaching out to someone who may be going through a rough time, providing them with something beautiful we created for them. We all hope this adds a smile to their days.”

About 12 are in the group, and four to six show up on any given week. The operation is big enough that some women cut and some sew. One particular member, Marge Griffith, worked diligently with the Sewing Buddies from the beginning in 1999 until November 2015 when she was no longer able to help for health reasons.

“She cut out thousands of infant gowns, Christmas stockings and other items for the Sewing Buddies to sew together,” Pfrommer said. “As we stitched blankets, infant gowns, Christmas stockings, pillowcase dresses, crib sheets and many other items, Marge was kept busy pressing and doing hand sewing on all the items for the sewers. Her dedication and hard work has been greatly missed.

“We all enjoy getting together,” she added. “We’ve made a lot of friendships. We enjoy sewing and it gives us an opportunity to keep our skills going and making something for somebody specific. We have a different mix of people almost every time. We sewed [recently] trying to finish up some blankets for infants and children in Sevier County.”