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Women begin pilot four session sewing course!

Posted by sebastianbrown on March 10, 2011

Teacher Edelsa on left, Vicky in center and Nathalie on right joking about group agreement

Yesterday morning, for the fourth week in a row, 15 Long Branch women gathered in the Carroll Avenue YMCA Community Center to officially kick off a four week sewing course. While demand amongst neighbors for such a circle–a safe space for women to support each other and to learn the extremely practical skill of sewing–has shown itself to be very high, we’ve decided to try our best to cap this first pilot ‘course’ at 15 members to encourage more meaningful relationship building. So to begin the meeting, the women sat in a circle with bread–home made by one of the group’s own!–and tea in hand to share check-ins and brief mutual support.

The group discusses the common agreement

Before jumping on the machines they all read aloud and then signed the common agreement around ground rules and shared goals that the group’s ‘core’–Alicia, Victoria, Emeiye and Nathalie–created. And as the ladies were beginning to circle around the group’s teacher Edelsa, Victoria offered a suggestion that the others emphatically agreed to–since there were 15 ladies but only 4 machines, while some ladies were practicing on the machines, others could be practicing (with Emeiye’s guiding hand) on the 4 computers stationed in the center.

Edelsa uses Emilia as model for group to demonstrate proper measuring

Nathalie translating the common agreement into English for Nana

By 10am, the group’s teacher Edelsa was using Emilia as a model to demonstrate how to do measuring. After that I had to take off to a staff meeting but from conversations with the ladies it sounds like the inaugural session was a great success! Turns out that both Nana from Clifton Park and Lilly Hamburger from African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation stopped by to see what all the commotion was about! We hope to have them sit down with the ladies soon to talk about potential partnerships.

One exciting possibility that the ladies are kicking around right now is that Edelsa (just as background, she’s been tailoring for 30 years, graduated from a tailoring trade university in Guatemala, and currently works in a small sewing shop in Langley Park) would offer 3 hour tailoring primer sessions to folks–willing to pay $30-50/session–on making your very own…purses, pillow cases, table cloths…whatever you want! Could be a chance to make money for individual members as well as be starter for group savings fund…will you be the first to sign up for the very first entirely (female) neighbor run sewing course in Long Branch?!?


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