Sew Far, Sew Good
Considering how unprepared most us felt, we had a very successful first day of class. We started by assessing each student with a sewing test. Next, we spent some time oiling and tuning up our three brand new Singer treadle machines. The machines are beautifully old fashioned looking with tiny little waists. Since they don't require electricity and are not very heavy, you can set them up anywhere. We dragged them out to the porch where there was more light and a nice mild breeze. I'm still getting the hang of them and learned a lot by watching the women set them up. In addition to the non electric machines, we bought a few old fashioned coal powered irons and some spray bottles to produce steam. This was after I observed that one of the main problems with the quality here is the lack of professionally pressed seams. Next, we demonstrated french and flat felled seam finishes and explained that they were a quality alternative to serging seams. (Only one woman has a serger and everyone else would have to pay someone in town to finish raw edges with a serger).
Next we broke the 10 students into 3 groups. I am in charge of teaching the two more advanced students. They are a disabled man named Emma and a very intelligent woman named Sarah. Both Sarah and Emma have their own shops. Sarah's business is doing particularly well. She just aquired a second shop front that is on a busy road and it is stocked fabric and machines. Emma, however, has only a bare concrete space with two machines where he makes a very small living making school uniforms and doing alterations. His craftsmanship is very low, but he is eager to learn. Since Sarah is sick with malaria, I worked one on one with Emma and our translator Peter to show him how to use cardboard, brown paper, straight pins and a tracing wheel to copy a patten off a shirt. Though his legs are crippled, he is able to maneuver pretty well around the table and he picked it up fast. He opted to copy Peter's stylish western style shirt, which is slim cut and accented with piping and hand embroidery. Peter seemed very interested in the process as he translated and eventually began to hint that he would like to have the new shirt when it was completed. I told Emma, " great, you already have a paying customer." In the morning, I am meeting Peter early at the fabric store so that he can choose his fabric.
Meanwhile, Bobby and Lindsey taught the beginner and intermediate students two different simple bag projects. Most finished their projects and left happily with their brightly colored new bags. Tomorrow, they will start making a simple man's shirt.
Posted by Polly