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Resource Library: Sewing in Another Country

I am excited to share with you a personal post from Gabby. Gabby is one of the women that writes for the blog, specializing in research of fabrics. At Fabric Mart, she describes all the fabrics that are put on our website and wholesale division. She has a lot of knowledge about fabric and sewing, especially from her experiences in Colombia, South America. Gabby speaks English very well, but sometimes needs some assistance in writing, therefore we've helped her make this post easier for our followers to understand. It is especially important to let you know this because there are different customs and regulations in Colombia that as Americans we are not used to. Enjoy this excellent post by Gabby!  ~Julie 

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to write about my sewing experience in my home country of Colombia. When I knew I was moving to the US, I packed my luggage with the usual things you think you will need: coat and warm clothes for winter and light clothes for summer. I also packed my daughter's toys she did not want to leave behind. Pictures of my family and gifts for my future new family were also part of my luggage. But there was not room for my sewing supplies. I never thought I would miss them so much!




In South America, sewing is a profession. Many people live from the income that sewing produces. We have department stores where the mass-produced clothes are sold, therefore, when you are walking down the street you see people wearing some of the same clothes. There are brand-name clothing stores with more unique clothes, but they are much more expensive. Having a unique look becomes more challenging because of this, so we turned to making our own clothes. 

In Colombia, the government protects the national production. Colombia is known for making cottons and wools-- but the import of these types of fabrics from other countries are not allowed because the government wants to protect the mills making these goods. Fabrics that are not produced in Colombia include: rayon, luxury wool blends (mohair, camelhair, etc.), linen and silk. These fabrics are allowed to be imported into the country because they are not affecting the production in the country. Designers pay very high taxes on these imported fabrics, therefore making the cost of the garments they produce much higher.

The designers "nicer" clothing items are exported to other countries, while the "mediocre" items are sold in Colombia. 


These are some pictures of dresses from "Colombia-Moda"
an International Fashion Fair, where more than 500,000 international 
designers participate every year.


Positive or negative, I cannot say that. I have seen my country raised in this field successfully and I am proud of it. However things are about to change. Our heroes, the United States of America signed a Commercial Trade with us allowing both countries to trade products in between without restrictions. Since we admire American products, I am sure we are going to get many of the fabrics, clothes, and tools that can be found here. I think Colombia's horizon in the sewing industry is about to expand for best.

I first learned to sew by watching my mother. She taught me how to sew and how to draw out patterns to create clothing. We would draw sketches of the sewing project we wanted to complete. Most of the time we would get inspiration from national famous designers. We would have special notebooks that allow us to calculate how many meters we would need for each piece of clothing. Next, we would go out to the market to search for fabrics. Fabric stores are usually confined in an area of the city or a department in a store. (We do not buy online-- most internet usage is used for communication or educational purposes.) Once we selected our fabric, we would sit down and draw the real definite design based on the characteristics of the fabric chosen (color, weight, drape, shine, etc.)


This book, Fashionary, is similar to the type of book we used in Colombia to draw and make conversions for our patterns. 


We did not have Vogue, McCalls, etc. to provide us with patterns. You may find Burda in some stores in the cities. When drawing your designs, you would also include sketches of the pattern pieces you will need to make your creation. We would then lay the fabric on the table, take out our tools, weights to keep the fabric steady on the table, rulers designed for sleeve cuts, waist, crotch,etc. We also use chalk, measuring tape, rulers, calculators and notebooks specially designed for drawing patterns on the fabric. (The sewing notebooks have pattern conversion notes, math conversions and other useful information printed on the last pages.) Once the pattern is cut, we are ready to sew and have fun!

We do not have all the techniques and fancy tools that I was glad to find here such as basting spray and other useful tools. We still enjoy using these techniques from my home country, but I am sure my family and friends will start enjoying these other tools after the "commercial trade". 


~Gabby~

Comments

  1. Gabby...Thank you, that is very interesting and I enjoyed reading about sewing in Columbia! We don't realize how much we have available to us here, and we do, BUT I do think YOU are the one who was blest. You said once the pattern was cut, you were ready to "sew and have fun". That is how I would feel too! Commercial patterns are wonderful. I couldn't begin to make my own patterns. At the same time, when reading about how you learned to sew, make your own patterns, and your special notebooks, I thought about all the "time" you had to spend with your mom. Sure we have had commercial patterns and wonderful tools available to us, and I'm very thankful for them, but those things can't give us "time" with our mom's. You were blest!!!

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  2. Dear Gabby, I really enjoyed your article. We may have more tools and supplies in the U.S. but it sounds like many more people in Columbia are able to share sewing. I have been sewing since I was a girl, following my elderly mother and recently departed aunt. Now, not one of my dearest friends loves to sew as I do. I am so grateful for the online sewing community, but it's not the same as having someone to sit beside you and sew or help you fit a garment.

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