Thursday, October 3, 2013

Seamsters of the World, Unite!

A friend who had just received a B.A. in Fashion Design and Merchandizing dumped a load of fabric in the back end of my car last May at her graduation party. It was dark and I couldn't see what I was getting, but it seemed important to offer her this service. She and her boyfriend were having a serious "clutter" conflict. "It's just so hard for me to throw stuff away. Someone has to want it."

Only this week did I drag it all out of my car. As I had suspected from furtive glances through the window, that "someone" would not be me. Most of it was lengths of cheap garment fabric--usable, but too bold, shiny, or polyester-y for my taste.

I offered the fabric on freecycle, and heard back from a local woman whose church has a connection to the Elikya Foundation, which (among other things) trains widows in the Democratic Republic of Congo to make clothes for a living. Perfect!

Kiva Microfunds is another way to support independent stitchers (and other types of small businesspeople or landholders) around the world. Instead of your money sitting in a bank, it is put to use by honest, hardworking people--who almost always pay it back on time. Here are just some of the tailors and seamstresses I've made loans to.

Hector, from Colombia (my very first loan), bought an overlock machine:

Ganbaatar of Mongolia was seeking wool. I like to imagine what he was making.

Agnes (Kenya) bought a sewing machine. With her profits from sewing, she has been able to send her two children to school and buy a milk cow.

Yoslaida (Colombia) had worked in garment factories. She and her husband wanted to start a business from home so their 3 kids could have a better life. Her dream is to develop her own line of clothing and be able to provide jobs for others.
Laura was a seamstress for 20 years in Argentina. She moved to Florida and has started her own alterations business here. Her dream is to make custom-designed wedding dresses.

I think of these men and women often. I am glad for the opportunity to help them pursue their dreams--those dreams that seem so familiar to me. 

I am also glad that they are not working in sweatshops.
Well, I should say, they are not working in someone else's sweatshop. Sewing can be hard work!


  1. blood sweat and tears are all fine and dandy, in fact they're a part of life, though when you have to watch the fruits of your labor taken from you by those who have never bled, swaeted, or cried once and already have more than you could produce in a lifetime, it takes a special kind of person not to go postal. personally i think we have too many of those special people and not enough postal workers....

  2. yeah, aren't postal workers unionized???