Meet one of our beloved OG Bay Area Aunties– Auntie Erica and learn why she sews!

“I have learned to sew through trial and error, and most recently vía YouTube.

My grandmother, Mimi, was a seamstress for Levi’s in the 60’s and 70’s, but she never had a chance to teach me how to sew as she passed away when I was 10. My mother however, kept my Mimi’s sewing machine (circa 1959) as a memory of her, never really sewed with it herself, but it was always there.

Now, I have a sewing machine that’s about 20 years old and I had originally bought it to make capes and tutu’s for my sons daycare when he was little. Sadly, right as I started to sew masks for the pandemic my machine started to give me a really hard time. My mom reminded me that she had my Mimi’s and so I used it make some masks. I of course thought of my Mimi as I sewed and I wondered how she’d feel knowing I’m using her machine. While I’ll never know, I think that the work we are doing (due to the US’s ass backward priorities) is something to be proud of. On the flip side, my aching hands from cutting, sore back from being hunched over sewing and overall fatigue is the opposite of what my Mimi wanted for any of us. Like many others, she emigrated from Nicaragua in search of the American Dream, and here I was, putting myself in this predicament. I’m a caretaker though, and if there’s something I can do to support others in need, I do it.

I’m very grateful, to be part of the Auntie Sewing Squad for various reasons, first and foremost the friendships I have made through this will forever be in my heart. We share sewing tips with each other, offers of encouragement, reminders of self-care and so much more. The resources of course have also helped me not have to choose between feeding my family rice and beans every day or buying more fabric, elastic, thread, etc. But, more than anything the friendships brought on by having this shared goal is what I am most grateful for.

The last time I checked I had sewn over 1,300 masks. The ones I am most proud of are some that I made while thinking of black communities on Juneteenth. I took my 10 year old daughter to the fabric store and we picked out various African prints to make these special masks. To me, this was a way to express solidarity with black communities and join them in resistance to the racism that plagues the US.
My son was going to perform at an event sponsored by United Playaz, a San Francisco-based violence prevention and youth development organization and I asked him to distribute them there. I feel that black adolescents are the ones at most risk of police brutality and racism in our society today and I want them to know that people do care about them. I provide them with masks because I want them to be well and protect their communities by wearing one.

Never did I ever think I’d be sewing masks for this long, but as long as there are communities in need, I will keep going. ✊🏽”