Last Friday was a special day for our Make Welcome group for several reasons. We met for the first time in a new space, a large classroom at a local church that is a short walk from the apartment complex of two of our students. What a joy to have room to spread out, to set up a cutting table with mat and rotary cutters and to have more room to spread out fabric and see the possibilities of color and pattern combinations for the trim for our rice bag pillows. Creativity flowed!
At the beginning of class, we talked about the business aspect of our sewing work and gave the women the money they had earned from sales of items at the recent Harrisburg ARTwalk. This is the first time we’ve sold items and the first income they have received as a direct result of their newly learned and developing sewing skills. We continue to explore our options for future sales and ways of teaching both sewing and business skills.
Finally, we talked about the sewing machine earning/sponsorship program and showed the women the spreadsheet we are using to track class attendance. Each time a student attends class, she reduces the cost of her sewing machine purchase by five dollars. The women were excited to see how the price is coming down for them with each class. We realized that actually seeing the spreadsheet was a great incentive and made this program more tangible to them.
One of our students who is expecting a baby soon counted down the class times until she would earn her machine and decided that she wanted to go ahead and purchase it. The cost was not as low as it would be if she had waited, but she is eager to have a machine so she can sew at home after the baby arrives. So she paid her cost of the machine and it was purchased earlier this week. She’ll receive it at class this Friday. We are thrilled that SS will now have a machine in her home and excited to see how she will use it.
The cost of these machines will be subsidized by donations. We will be launching our Rally.org site soon for any of you who want to help make sewing machine ownership a reality for these precious women! Stay tuned …
[. . .]
We’ve had two wonderful Make Welcome Saturdays in a row - two weeks ago, the ARTwalk, and this past Saturday, a day of sewing for several of our Make Welcome students. We had a couple of goals for the day: first, to give them an opportunity to make an item from start to finish in one session, and second, to enjoy some uninterrupted creative time, something all mothers of young children appreciate, but which most of these mothers never experience.
Three of our students arrived at 10:30 and set to work sewing rice bag totes. They practiced using the rotary cutter and learned how to apply fusible interfacing. They used both straight and zig-zag stitching and greatly improved their topstitching skill. They worked steadily and didn’t want to stop for lunch until they had finished their bags.
If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may remember hearing about one of the older women in our class who has struggled with the sewing machine. She’s had trouble moderating the speed, sewing straight, and making mistakes. But Saturday was different! She seemed to be so at ease sewing. Her technique was much improved, her stitches even and straight, her confidence at an all time high! She worked steadily and without frustration and was the first one to finish her beautiful lined tote bag. The other women spurred her on with their encouraging comments. “SA is the first to finish!” they cheered, when she completed her bag.
At the end of our four and a half hours, each of the women had sewn a rice bag tote from start to finish and each one was so pleased with the finished work of her hands!
[. . .]