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August 5, 2015


One month in, one month out- Emily Winter MFA Textiles 2015

by emilywinter

This week marks the last of the first round of pilot sewing classes. I’ve been working with the same group of five Westtown clients (Yolanda, Cristina, Charles, Lawanda, and Santiago) twice a week for the last month. We’ve been focusing on getting comfortable on the machines, practicing foot control, and steering the fabric. We’ve been working on these spiral sewing samples, which is a great way to practice all these elements without getting caught up in or frustrated by construction.


Lawanda and the square spiral

Some folks (Yolanda and Lawanda) have experience sewing: Yolanda was one of the primary production sewers for the old weaving operation and is a really great sewer and teacher.



Santiago has taken to sewing like crazy: he is cranking out stacks and stacks of spirals

Others, like Cristina, have used sewing machines at home, but never anything industrial like this. This group of five self-selected, and there’s a full waiting list for next month’s class.


Cristina and the super spiral

They’ve been a great class: really excited and engaged, and more than patient as I myself get familiar with the industrial machines’ particular personalities. Also very willing and able to help one another. One of the underpinnings of this project (and my work with Envision) is a commitment to creating self-sustaining communities within and outside of Envision. This is so important in the context of Envision’s clients. So often things can fall into a client-counselor or student-teacher dynamic which minimizes the client’s autonomy and reestablishes the ability/disability distinctions. By creating a classroom setting where students and teachers are helping one another answer questions, these hierarchies can start to fade and reformulate.


The whole class

Starting next week, I’ll run a second intro class, working with another group of five, hopefully with Yolanda as TA. The folks from this first intro class will start the basic construction class: we’re going to work on a tote bag prototype. This class will introduce pattern cutting, pinning, seam sewing, and pressing. Updates to come!

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Judith Querciagrossa
    Aug 7 2015

    Love this, Emily!
    Would love to share it with a colleague who teaches sewing to the blind.
    Please add me to your email list.

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