In this episode we are introduced to the many talents of Peggy Creighton. We journey through Peggy's early childhood, her career in education and library sciences, her advanced degrees, her publications and her life, post-retirement. Peggy brings these life experiences to Sew Powerful, realizing God has been preparing her for this work since early childhood. Peggy currently wears several Sew Powerful hats and we talk about all of them.
Peggy Creighton, Talented Sew Powerful Volunteer
IN THIS EPISODE
Atlanta, North Georgia mountains, Georgia State University, advanced degrees, books written, how to digitize, notecard project, philosophy of retirement, Atlanta Parent Magazine, masters degree in library media, doctorate in instructional technology, Pixie Faire, Frog Pond Toys, Frog Princess Fashions
We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.
Georgia State University, https://www.gsu.edu/
Atlanta Parent Magazine, https://www.atlantaparent.com/
Pixie Faire, https://www.pixiefaire.com/
Frog Pond Toys on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/FrogPondToys
Frog Pond Fashions on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/FrogPrincessFashions/
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Peggy Creighton
Jan Cancila, Host 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Peggy Creighton, and Peggy is a Sew Powerful volunteer. We're going to hear all about Peggy's background and the work that she does for Sew Powerful, and you're going to be amazed at what you hear. So, welcome Peggy Creighton, how are you today?
Peggy Creighton, Guest 00:17
I'm great, Jan, glad to be here. How are you?
I'm fine. And where are we talking to you from? Where do you live now?
I live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just north of Atlanta, Georgia.
And are you from Georgia originally?
I'm not. I was born in Virginia and lived there until we moved to Atlanta when I was in high school.
Oh, okay, so what about post high school? Did you go to college after that?
I did. I went to Georgia State University and got my BS in education.
I know that the degrees don't stop there, tell us what else you've done in terms of earning advanced degrees.
Well, I have to tell you, since I've got my BS in education, I became a teacher. And you know, one thing that teachers had to do was renew their certificate. So rather than just get a few hours here and there and everywhere, I just stayed in school and got piled up those degrees, pursued my interest. So, I have the BS in education. And then I got a Master's in early childhood and gifted education and then about halfway through my career, I became a school librarian and left the classroom. So, I went on and got my BS in library media. And then eventually I got my Master's in library media. And then I got my Doctorate in instructional technology.
So technically, you are Dr. Peggy Creighton.
That's right, but nobody calls me that.
Well, I know but they should. And so, I'll have to be more deferential to you. So okay, so you're working full time, as a teacher. You are going to school part time to pursue additional learning and earning these degrees. But in the midst of all this, somehow you had time to do even more. So, you were writing. Tell us about that?
Well, I've always enjoyed books and reading and researching. And when my kids were small, I took them on educational field trips. So, I would write about those experiences. I wrote for a local magazine, Atlanta Parent magazine, for two and a half years. I did the cover stories and the feature stories for that. And then later on, I used my writing experience to write for school library magazines. A number of those for many, many years. And then eventually I wrote books. I've published five books. And I guess you could call my dissertation a book; that would be my sixth book.
Obviously, you sew, you've been making purses for Sew Powerful, we know that. Tell us a little bit about your sewing background.
Well, as long as I can remember, I wanted to sew for dolls. When I was a little girl, I had a little sewing kit. And I would make doll clothes for my Barbies, and my troll dolls and all these things. And when I was 11 years old, I got my very own industrial Singer sewing machine. And I basically taught myself how to sew. And I had that sewing machine for years and years until my son was born. I think the machine was 25 years old by then. And I've replaced it with another one, a Kenmore, that I had for 30 years after that. That was the beginning of how I got to be making purses for Sew Powerful.
Well, and I have to tell you, I have my mom's Singer, that's about 75 years old. So, if you get some of those older metal machines without the plastic parts, they live forever. Okay, so how did you first hear about Sew Powerful to begin with?
Well, when my granddaughters were born, I wanted to make them a little cloth doll. And so, I began making little stuffed toys and dolls for my twin granddaughters. And then I had made so many, and they got to be an attention grabber when other people saw them, that I kept making them and selling them at craft fairs. And I was doing that for quite a while, making dolls and toys and selling them at craft fairs. And then I heard about Pixie Faire and the doll clothes they do there. And so, I became involved with Pixie Faire because I thought maybe I could sell some of my designs there.
So, you went to Pixie Faire, and that led you to Sew Powerful. Is that right?
That's right. So, working for Pixie Faire, I very quickly learned about Sew Powerful and was inspired. The more I heard about it, the more I thought, well, this is something I'd really like to do. I'd love to give back. I've been so blessed in my life. And so, I read the book, and I found out who to talk to, and I contacted Sue Kirby and said, "Hey, I'd like to volunteer for Sew Powerful." And she said, "Well, we're glad to have you. What would you like to do?"
Well, don't tell us yet because we're going to get to all of that. But I want to explore Pixie Faire a little bit more.
What is Pixie Faire?
Well, Pixie Faire in a nutshell is the world's largest digital doll clothes market. And it's run by our very own Cinnamon Miles, the founder of Sew Powerful. And her brand on Pixie Faire is called Liberty Jane, which is named for her daughter. And Pixie Faire has over 100 designers that work and sell their goods there. And we all design patterns. We don't sell clothes or anything like that. We design the patterns for the dolls. And so, people come and buy their patterns for doll clothes there. And like I said, it's the largest doll clothes market in the world.
And what are your brands that you have listed on Pixie Faire?
I have two brands there. I have Frog Pond Toys, which is my dolls and my toys that I made originally. And then Frog Princess Fashions, which is the doll clothes. And the frog has sort of an interesting story because we used to live on a mountain in the North Georgia mountains. And there was a frog pond that we looked out on and kind of the beauty of the nature and the surrounding area. There was my inspiration daily. So I use that in the name. But FROG is also an acronym, and it stands for Fully Relying On God. And I really believe that my company is inspired, and God is my co-pilot. And so, I wanted to have that reflected in my name.
Well, our listeners won't be able to see this. But you have just designed a pattern for a jacket for an 18-inch doll. Can you describe that for us, Peggy?
Yes, this is my latest pattern on Pixie Faire, and it's just a little jacket that can be made in a solid or pieced fabric. I have some versions of it that are pieced together. But I think the the key feature of it is that it has machine embroidery to embellish it. There's a machine embroidery pattern. And there's embroidery on the back, and on the yoke, and on the hem band, and on the sleeves, and on the collar, and on the lapel, and even the buttonholes. It's a lot of fun to embellish with the embroidery, and I try to do that with most of my patterns. So, for everything I design, I'll do the sewing pattern, and then I'll design embroidery to go along with it. So, I have two patterns listed at once.
Well, so first of all, I wish that I could afford to have a jacket like that. But if that jacket were made and available for humans, it would be in the 900 to 1,000 dollar range. It's absolutely exquisite. So when you do embroidery designs tell us, what is that process, what is it called? And how do you do it?
Um, my embroidery designs are digitized, and digitizing is an interesting process. So I start by making a drawing, a little sketch, and I perfect my drawing. I either draw it out on paper or I make it on the computer. I can draw either way. If I draw it on paper, then I'll finalize my drawing, and then I take a picture of it with my camera. So, I have a digital drawing. If I draw it on the computer. I work it out until I'm happy with it, and then I save that digital drawing. And so, I'll take the digital drawing into my digitizing software. And then I replace the drawing with stitches. And so, I put down stitches for the entire design, and the stitches can be long or short. They can be a satin stitch, or they can be a fill stitch or a variety of different ways that I can fill out that design. And that's what digitizing is. And in the software, you can digitize for just about any machine that's out there on the market. And then people can buy those and personalize them with their own colors and threads and things like that. It's a joy to do. It's fun.
And you know, Peggy describes this process, but I have to tell you, I've tried to digitize before, and it takes a lot more brain cells than I have, because you have to know how to lay down the base stitches, and what goes over, it and to choose the right stitch so that the sheen of the stitches give the right shadow and effect. It's a very complicated process, and I can attest to the fact that Peggy Creighton is a master at doing this.
So Peggy, why don't we take a quick break and when we come back let's talk a little bit more about the work you've done specifically for Sew Powerful.
Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original bestseller, 4.9 out of five stars by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget when you place your order if you use smile.amazon.com and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.
Welcome back. We have been speaking with Peggy Creighton, who tells us about her life growing up in Georgia and Virginia. And then we were regaled with tales of her fabulous career and education and books that she's written. And then shortly after she retired, she began doing work for Pixie Faire. So, we're back here, and we're going to talk a little bit now with Peggy about the way she volunteers for Sew Powerful. Peggy, you have an interesting philosophy about what happens to people when they retire. Talk about that and how that led to your volunteer work and your work with Pixie Faire.
Well, you know, there's kind of a shift you have to make when you go from the working world to retirement, at least there was for me. So, I had to find a way to fill my days when I was no longer working in the school library or working with children. I still wanted to feel valuable and feel like I was making an impact. And so I began to sew more because that was something I always enjoyed. And just pursue ways to fill my time. And I heard about Sew Powerful, and I felt like I could really make an impact there, and I could give back. I read Jason and Cinnamon's book and saw how they had formed Sew Powerful to give back, and I said I want to do that. I'd like to be involved. And so that's how I came to get involved with Sew Powerful. And that's why I did it.
So you started out making purses and note cards as a purse maker, right.
And then it progressed from there. Tell us a little bit about the progression and your history with Sew Powerful so far.
Okay. So, I started just making purses, and I had been doing craft shows as I was making my dolls and toys and things like that. So, I had a lot of experience with craft shows. And when I found out that Sew Powerful was having booths at shows us how I could do that, I could do that. So, my first show was a little arts and crafts show here in Atlanta. It was fairly big one actually. But we had a booth there, and it was pretty successful. So, I went from there to volunteering at the Houston quilt show with you, Jan. And that was quite an experience, and it prepared me for the next show that I did, which was the Sewing and Quilt Expo here in Atlanta. And that was right at the time the pandemic hit. So, unfortunately, we only had a day and a half at that show, and it was shut down. So, we're hoping we can be involved in more shows in the future.
And so besides volunteering at the shows you took on some other official duties as well, can you take us through that? And you alluded to that earlier when you wrote to Sue Kirby. Tell us all about that part.
Yes. So, when I wrote to Sue, she was most gracious. And oh, yes, we'd love to have you and what would you like to do? And I told her I'd like do anything you need me to do. And so, she immediately posed the question, would I like to be a Regional Coordinator? So, I first volunteered for just the Atlanta area, but then later it expanded to
No, wait a minute, you volunteered for North Atlanta?
Atlanta is a really big city.
Well, I know. But but this keeps getting better.
Yeah. So, I started out with the North Atlanta area, because we were north of Atlanta, and it can take you three hours to drive just through the metro area. Anyway, so that eventually expanded to the whole Atlanta area, and then the Georgia region, and then the Southeast. And now I'm an area manager for the Southeast. So, I'm thrilled.
Yes, when Sew Powerful recognized this talent, we put our hooks into you. So besides making beautiful purses, you also have been writing note cards that go in each, and you were tapped last fall to lead a small team to expand the role of these notecards. Can you talk to us about that?
Yes. So last fall, we put together a talented team of ladies. It was Samantha Fahy and Leslie Unruh and myself, and we took turns creating notecard tutorials. We share those in our Facebook group. And now we've posted them for the whole world to see on our Sew powerful.org website. There are a dozen of those with many more to come. We hope to develop some videos and other things down the road. But that was a great start. And we hope that there'll be encouraging to people to see all the different ways that they could make note cards. Our notecards initially just were the little playing cards with the Sew Powerful logo and maybe a typed message on them. And so we'd like to inspire people to be as creative with the note cards as they are with the purses.
Well, and you have a philosophy about that. Because some people say, well, you know, I can sew but I'm not creative with paper crafts. What do you say to them?
Well, I would say that if you are made in the image of God, who is our great creator, that you have creativity in you, and that he can inspire you and inspire your creativity. And I would say that everyone is creative, and don't belittle yourself or your talent. But beyond that, I would say that the note cards are so powerful, they have such an impact on our girls. And if you think about the girl that you're sending that note card to, you can think of a way to impact her life through that card. Anything that you send is going to be a gift to them, and they will love it. And the note cards can change a girl's life, you know, that message of hope and inspiration and encouragement can literally change her life and the lives of others beyond her. She shares them with her friends. Not only can you change her life, but maybe her children and her family and friends, and you don't know the impact that that card might have on that girl. So don't let what you feel is a lack of creativity get in the way of what you can do with those note cards.
Well, and there might be people who say, well, I am creative in paper crafts, but I can't sew. So, what do we say to those folks?
We love those folks. We always need people to create note cards. Many times, we'll have a church group or a scout troop or something like that. They'll send in a box of purses, and we're so glad to get them but they don't have note cards. We always need extra note cards. Those are a true gift. We often have a group that will get together to sew. And some of the ladies are totally dedicated to the sewing and other people would like to participate. But they don't feel like they can sew, and so we invite them to come make note cards. It's a great way to involve all our paper crafty people, to involve kids and teens and things like that just to sit and write an inspirational note to a girl. And, wow, what a gift that is. I would love to be able to do that all day long. But I love to sew, too, so I'm torn.
Well, I know on the note card tutorial page, and you find it under the resources menu on the sewpowerful.org website. On the note card tutorial page is a link for writing prompts. So, if you're stuck, and you don't know what to say, it's my recollection that we have a two page list of different ways just to help people get started. Is that true?
That's true. And that's a great way to get started. But don't stop there. Your personal message means a lot.
We would love to have you write in your own words, but by all means, use what's there to get you started.
Well, as you continue to add new note card ideas every Monday.
Yes, we try to show that there's so many ways you can personalize your notecards. And don't be limited by what's out there already. People are always coming up with new ideas to use buttons or little scraps of fabric or stray threads, you can weave all those together. And we've got a tutorial on that, by the way, to make a little scrap piece of fabric, all kinds of things you can do to be creative and don't limit yourself.
Yeah, well, and you know, I want to say Sew Powerful just developed the Service Project Starter Kit. So, if your organization would like to do a service project specifically for Sew Powerful, and you're an organization that does many different things, but you'd like to do one project for Sew Powerful, the service project starter kit is available by request on our website. And this making the note cards is one way that you can do a service project. You can make purses as a service project, or you could do both, and the starter kit will have everything you need in there to get you going. So, we encourage you to do that.
So Peggy, you've had many great experiences in your life. But you've shared with me that there's just been some things growing up, as you look back, you see how they relate to what you're doing now. Can you share that specifically how it relates to the note cards?
Oh, yes, my father used to bring home scrap paper from his office. And I can remember as a little girl sitting with my sister and cutting and pasting and gluing and drawing on all that scrap paper. And we would spend hours doing that. We made all kinds of things, little paper purses, paper books, paper dolls. We played and played and played with just that paper. I laughed when I see my granddaughters doing the same thing today. It just thrills me to see them do that. But it also brings awe to my heart when I think about mighty God preparing me as a little bitty girl using that tape and glue and scissors, crafting little things. And that skill that He honed in me from early childhood He's now using to make notecards and inspire other people to be creative with note cards in Sew Powerful. And I'm just so grateful at His hand in my life. I can see it from the time I was a little girl until now, and how He's using that now is such a blessing.
And can you tell anybody who's thinking about getting started with Sew Powerful, but maybe they haven't done it yet? What would you say to them?
I would say if you feel an interest or an urge, it could be that you're being pushed along into that role that may be that little nudge or that little urge you feel is God speaking to your heart, and calling you for this service and follow it. Who knows that that you were born for this time to serve? And I would say that whatever you might feel your talent level is, it may not be what other people feel. We have people working at all levels and we love everything we see. Just because you feel like someone else's purse is better than yours, it may not be. We have girls who like the plain purses just as much as girls who like the fancy purses. So don't let what you feel is your lack of talent hold you back. We need you. We want you. We appreciate you. This is a place where you can serve and grow, and you will make an impact. We need you here.
Certainly, absolutely. Well Peggy, thank you so very much for your time today. It's been a pleasure to talk with you and learn about your background and just hear how God has brought your many talents to bear right here at this moment on Sew Powerful so thank you for sharing that with us today.
Thank you, Jan.
All right, we'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.sewpowerful.org. That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.