The Story of how life-long best friends found each other and Sew Powerful

The Story of how life-long best friends found each other and Sew Powerful

By Jan Cancila and Linda Reid Faught

 

JAN CANCILA

I would say it started in 1954 or 1955 in St. Louis, MO., but I can’t be sure of the date. Imagine my good fortune when I discovered that there was a world of possibilities beyond playing cowboys with my two brothers. That's when I found Linda, or Linda found me, we aren't really sure who found whom. Then it turned out Linda was the same age as me and also had two brothers. We were both thrilled to find a playmate with so much in common and living only a block away.  We soon became inseparable best friends. The Christmas we were 5 years old, amazingly Santa brought us both hand-cranked junior Singer sewing machines.  Oh, the fun we had, making doll clothes, until. . .

 

LINDA REID FAUGHT

I was sitting at my little table in the back yard sewing a fabulous garment (once again - only 5 years old) while my mother was hanging the wash on the clothesline and I sewed right through my pointer finger.  How could I not fall in love with sewing after that?  But later that year mom and dad decided to move to a better climate for Dad’s asthma, so our family moved to Phoenix, AZ.  I can still remember waving goodbye to Jan as our car drove away.  At that young age, I don't think I realized how far apart we would be for the rest of our lives.  I was all smiles, but it brings a tear now when I think of it.  But, because of our wonderful moms . . . 

 

JAN

We stayed in touch, visited back and forth through high school. When Linda got married, I was her Maid of Honor. Then I got married, then with husbands and kids and jobs, the visits became less frequent. The phone calls and letters pretty much were limited to holidays or some big important news like babies being born.  We were friends but maybe it wasn't ever going to be best friend level. After all, we were living a thousand miles apart.  All the while, we were still both sewing, but there were certainly other more pressing priorities in our busy lives.

 

 

LINDA

In the 1970s we had a wonderful week-long reunion with Jan coming to Phoenix and in the early 80s another wonderful visit with Linda going to St. Louis for a week.  Those were very memorable weeks, but the greatest time was in the late 80s when our two families met in Southern California for a week, our 4 children got to know each other and we went to every tourist attraction available, each one more fun than the last.  We bought Mickey Mouse shirts at Disneyland and have an amazingly embarrassing photo of our group in matching outfits.  Jump ahead to 2008 when Jan surprised me by showing up at my 60th birthday celebration.

 

JAN

Kids grow up. You become a grandparent; a fun, less demanding job than being a mom. High charging jobs are replaced with part-time work and volunteering. Old hobbies, such as sewing, are dusted off and renewed. Granddaughters get cute little dresses and capes and purses and doll clothes and whatever else they ask to be sewn by Granny. Life takes on a different pace and you look for something to utilize your talents and time. I found Sew Powerful first in 2014. Someone in a Facebook embroidery group I belonged to posted something about an organization called Sew Powerful. On impulse, I followed the link and read about the work Jason and Cinnamon were doing in Zambia. Something clicked.  I downloaded the original pattern and made 5 purses that first year. I was thrilled to discover I had made 1% of all the purses sewn. I thought it would be a one-time thing and my 5 purses along with the other 500+ would solve the problem of poverty and keeping girls in school in Zambia. HA.

 

LINDA

I was still working in 2014 when Jan mentioned I should start making purses for Sew Powerful.  I read all about it but couldn't seem to fit it into my life at that time. 

 

JAN

In 2015 I didn't make any purses. After all, the problem was already solved, right? Except I kept getting Jason's newsletter and it seemed the problem was not solved and the need was greater than ever. What to do?  I did nothing, but my conscience kept telling me that was not what God wanted.

 

LINDA

In 2015 I added the care of my mom to my work-at-home job, but I longed to sew and create!

 

JAN

In 2016 I still had purses cut out from the 2014 original pattern. So even though the rest of the world was making the easier, nicer 2016 patterned purse, stubborn ole me sewed about 10 or 12 purses using the difficult 2014 pattern. But as the Facebook purse project group got going and I saw all the beautiful purses (Purses A and B), I realized I needed to welcome change and I finally made a 2016 Purse A in time to meet the Fall deadline. In October, off went my mixed box of purses to Auburn, Washington. Oh, and guess what! In the summer of 2016, my husband and I flew off to Arizona and had a wonderful visit with my true and real forever best friend, Linda.  Did I mention Sew Powerful during that trip? I don’t think I did.

 

LINDA

In the late summer of 2016, Jan and I had so much fun during a short Arizona reunion.  This time when Jan left, I cried for a whole day wondering when I would see her again.  And several months after her visit I lost my sweet mom. 

 

JAN

Sometime in 2017, while I’m on Facebook, looking at photos of gorgeous purses made by Judith Wells, Shirley Utz, Jan Paul, Leslie Unruh, and many others who are all now ‘regulars’ in my daily Facebook ritual, I had a thought. Gee, I need to get other people I know to sew purses.  Hmmm.  Who do I know that sews? Hmmm. There must be someone. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My very best friend in all the world, a woman with a heart of gold and a seamstress that would be the envy of the finest fashion designers in Paris, could make purses, too.  That, someone, was Linda. She will tell you how I got her hooked because I'm not sure.  I made purses too that year, but my contributions pale in comparison to my new recruit.

 

LINDA

HAHAHA!  “The envy of the finest Parisian designers” I certainly am NOT.  Jan had a large hand at getting me started with Sew Powerful but the faces of those beautiful girls on the website, reading about their lives and needs really got me started.  Now I knew exactly what to do with the stacks of fabric and trim.  I said goodbye to my job and became a full-time seamstress. From June until October of that year I made 75 purses.  Feeling useful and creative is such a gift!

 

JAN

In 2018 I was busy making purses and living life when I found out Sew Powerful needed volunteers to help at the 3-day International Quilt Show in Houston. It was my pleasure working in the booth, and getting to know Jason, Cinnamon, Leslie, Shirley, Pat, Sue, and Jan Paul in person! What a grand time we had spreading the word and recruiting new purse sewers. Shortly after that, I was asked to be the Houston Regional Coordinator for Sew Powerful. Since most of my professional career involved managing projects and people, this was a dream come true volunteer job. 

 

LINDA

I am constantly in awe of my sweet talented friend.   She is an energetic ball of fire that really gets things done.  Sew Powerful is so lucky to have her and so am I.  She is constantly thinking of others and always there to help those in need.  Oh, and guess who showed up at my 70th birthday party this year . . .

 

JAN

2019 has been a busy one for me. I have my work with Sew Powerful and a few other ‘projects' that I've taken on (I like to stay busy.) In January we did a Sew-A-Long to make purses and chat and enjoy each other's company. We have a Sew-A-Thon planned for July with the objective being to make 50 purses in one day.  However, the real objective is to get the Sew Powerful message out to Houston through the media blitz we hope to have in advance of our Sew-A-Thon. I found a wonderful partner in a local sewing training company and she is as excited about the Sew-A-Thon as am I. I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for me with Sew Powerful and with my life-long BFF, Linda.

 

LINDA

Everything she said!  Because of Sew Powerful, Jan and I can now communicate regularly through the Sew Powerful Facebook page.  It is astounding how fast Sew Powerful is growing.  I love meeting all the wonderful ladies from around the world on the Facebook page and seeing their amazing creativity.  It is surprising how much we all have in common, no matter where we come from.

 

JAN and LINDA

We hope that by reading our story of a life-long friendship, shared interests and a passion for Sew Powerful, you will join us in making purses to help to combat extreme poverty and to keep girls in school.

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