It’s National Sewing Machine Day today and what better time to update on how our men’s tailoring group is going!
Thanks to the unbelievably generous response from our supporters who kindly donated fabrics, sewing machines, buttons, binding, scissors, needles, pins – in short everything we needed to begin the tailoring group! – we are glad to say it is up and running – and flourishing. We now have 7 regular members with a view to 2 more joining shortly which is fantastic progress in a relatively short space of time.
Highlights over the past few months include being contacted by a Savile Row tailor named Rebecca who wanted to offer her expertise. Rebecca now volunteers with the group.
We have also been approached by a technician with a special love of sewing machines who wanted to enlist his skills. Bruce now volunteers every week, servicing the machines, being on hand to help with any problems and queries and generally making people feel less scared of using the sewing machine – an obstacle for many at the beginning!
Speaking about how the project has developed, Marj Watson, Senior Psychotherapist at the Refugee Council, said: “I am so proud of the members of the group who have embraced it so wholeheartedly and supported each other and produced such fantastic items of sewing.”
You can read more about each of the areas of our work below, starting with pillow cases and t-shirts…
The group began by making pillow cases as this is something useful to have but also gave the opportunity to get used to the sewing machines working with straight lines.
They then went on to make T Shirts. This was quite a challenging endeavour as it involved working with stretch fabric. Here they learnt how to pin, cut, hand stitch and machine stretch fabric. They also learnt how to stitch in a circle the neckline and also how to stitch a roll hem for the neckline.
This endeavour created an atmosphere of co-operation and sharing of skills within the group.
The group was taught how to use an over-locker which enabled them to finish their T Shirts – and ultimately all of their tailored items – to a professional standard.
Next up was suit bags. Creating these gave the group the opportunity to again work with non-stretch material, sewing curves, installing a zip, using binding and making loops.
After the suit bags each member of the group made themselves a duffel bag. This introduced the skills of sewing seams, making loops, attaching eyelets, overlocking edges, cutting cloth and free hand machine embroidery to monogram their bag.
This exercise was also useful because the duffel bags were made with a much heavier cloth, so this was an exercise in tension, appropriate thread as well as making loops and using chords.
Members of the group were given the opportunity to learn how to use different stitches for decorative purposes.
As the summer proceeded to reach astronomical temperatures the members of the group wanted to make some shorts for themselves. This gave them the opportunity to learn how to cut a pattern from scratch. By summer they were familiar with using chalks, pins, tape measures, pattern cutting paper and large scissors.