Sewing workshop helps LGBTQ students tailor gender-affirming clothes

There’s a saying in fashion: You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it. It’s a mantra for those who are motivated to wear clothes so they can be accepted as their true, authentic self.

It’s what inspired Threads that Thrive. It’s run by SAIT students for students.

President Cassidy Eldarazi said it’s where people learn how to alter clothes to fit their bodies — garments tailored to be gender-affirming.

Group working on garments.

“I’ve seen so much change when I find something that fits or I can alter something to make it fit better to my body. It’s a huge boost to my morale and body image and I’m less worried about how other people see me,” Eldarazi said.

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Shopping in designated men or women’s departments can be intimidating and sometimes risky for those who are navigating their gender journeys.

“When you are a queer person, shopping in a clothing store that doesn’t match your outward gender expression is scary. The fear of being outted, of being persecuted, it can be dangerous,” Eldarazi said.

Ryan Skyburn. Jill Croteau/Global News

Ryan Skyburn has been going to the workshops since they launched this past March.

“I identify as a transgender man. I transitioned from female to male when I was 15,” Skyburn said.

He said it’s been a life-changing experience.

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“It lights you up.”

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“Having something I want to wear it makes me feel like I want to get out of my house and that’s helpful for a lot of LGBT people who suffer from agoraphobia, depression and anxiety and other things so relevant to our community,” Skyburn said.

The workshops are monthly and are at My Sewing Room. Staff help teach the skills to sew.

Jamie Schnell. Jill Croteau/Global News

Threads that Thrive vice president Jamie Schnell said fashion designers are evolving to create clothes for the gender-fluid community.

“People are not always fitting into buckets. It started when they acknowledged not everyone is a size zero. They started to make things more size inclusive. They are making strides to make things more gender inclusive,” Schnell said.

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There are nearly 15 people every workshop and they rely on donated clothes from clothing drives.

“It’s fantastic we are able to connect people together that are going on this journey together and to be able to share their transition or being non-gender confirming and building up community and having a safe space to come together and work together on these projects,” Schnell said.

Threads that Thrive. Jill Croteau/Global News

Skyburn said his journey is evolving and he’s grateful to share these experiences with others in the workshops.

“It’s life-saving, definitely, because there’s something in me afraid that my right to be trans will be taken away, they will take my hormones away, they’ll reverse my surgery and give my ‘girl clothes’ again,” Skyburn said.

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“The fact is that I know I have the support here.

“The ways to getting those clothes is so much more instrumental than how the clothes fit my body.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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