We hire refugee women to sew products for us. But have you ever wondered about how we find our artisans and train them? The seeds of our initiative began as a sewing class in a small, crowded apartment with 5 refugee moms and 7 or so little kids. From there sprang this business, as well as an ever growing Refugee Sewing School! Now the two programs are separate, but complementary. The sewing class helps train and equip refugee ladies while we work at providing new economic opportunities. This fall's sewing classes are the largest yet. Here's an update on what they're doing in the Plaza Midwood area of Charlotte.
Written by Beth, the director of the Make Welcome Refugee Sewing School:
Our students have been busy learning new skills and working to improve on what they learned last year. Here’s a brief rundown:
Our Tuesday “Give Back” class has completed almost 25 pillowcases that we will donate to Beds for Kids. When our refugee students arrived in the United States, most of them came with little more than a small suitcase, a few clothes, and very few personal items. They were the grateful recipients of help in many forms - clothing, furniture, household goods, and more. The generosity of many helped them get on their feet in their new homes. Now, through our “Give Back” class, they have the opportunity to do just that, give back to others. After the pillowcases, our next project will be aprons for the Cooking School students at Project 658!
Our Wednesday Garment Sewing class has begun learning to sew with a pattern. We are using a cute,user- friendly pattern from Oliver + S. called the “After School Pants and Shirt.” So far, our students have learned all about pattern markings, layout, and cutting. They’ve sewn patch pockets and lined pockets, done beautiful topstitching, and most have completed their first pair of pants. They will sew a second pair of pants in a different size in order to master the new skills they learned with their first pair of pants. We are very grateful to Oliver + S, one of our first class sponsors, for their generous donation of patterns.
Our Thursday Beginner class started with the basics - learning how to fill a bobbin, thread the machine, and sew a simple straight seam. They’ve quickly completed two projects, pillowcases and the cute skirts from the Lazy Days Skirt pattern. This week, they’ll begin learning to sew tote bags.
Our Friday Advanced Class/Production team has been working steadily on an order for Amahoro Burundi. Make Welcome Co-Director, Lisa Roszler designed a really cute little stuffed cat. With their hand-embroidered faces and African print skirts, these kitties are a hit with everyone who sees them!
Follow Make Welcome Refugee Sewing School on Facebook for more updates on class needs and projects!