Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Project: New Friends from Distant Quarters

Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?

So, I seem to have picked up a new sewing student - just what I need to fill up my "free time", huh? ;)

Of course, it's all Ana's fault. She talked me into volunteering to help with the ESL classes being offered through her church, and that is where I met Mei. Mei is Chinese. She did a little bit of sewing back in China, with an old treadle sewing machine. But not much - for example, she has never put in a zipper.

Today was her second time to come over to sew. The first time, we used a Big 4 pants pattern and some of my remnant fabric to adjust the pattern to a size and style that suits her. Around the waist she fit into the size 8, but she has no hips, slender legs and is short, so we made quite a few adjustments.

I told her to take apart our muslin and trace the pieces to generate a new pattern. I thought you might like to see one of her pattern pieces, as she labeled in in Chinese:

Last week was her first time using an electric sewing machine, and today was her first time using a serger. The fabric she had picked out ravelled quite easily, so we used an overlock stitch.

This is so much more difficult than it was to work with Ana and Juana, for two reasons. First, of course, the language. With Ana and Juana, I translated my lessons into Spanish for them, so even if I didn't understand what they were saying to me, at least I was able to say my main points in words that they understood. Now, I'm relying on Mei's English - and I don't think she understands much of what I say. I need to get a Mandarin-English dictionary!

Second, given that she has done some sewing before, she has a tendency to do what SHE thinks is best, regardless of what I have asked her to do. This is probably made worse by the language problem, in that I cannot always explain why I want her to do something. So, we often have a bit of a struggle. For example, it took several, increasingly forceful attempts for me to get her to put her muslin on inside-out (so that I could take it in).

But, we basically finished her first pair of elastic-waisted real pants today (not counting the hem). She seemed pretty pleased. Here's the front view:

And here's the back view.

One of these days I'm going to learn how to say no... Then maybe I'll get around to my own sewing. ;)

I hope you had a great weekend and are ready for Monday. :)


BConky said...

I think that's a sweet thing to get wrangled into doing. I'm sure you will change her abilities even with the language problems and you'll be helping her so much doing this for her.