This post will definitely bore some of you immensely! I give you permission to skip reading it all together if you aren’t interested!
Last May, for my birthday, Rob gave me a sewing machine. It’s only taken me a year to complete 2 projects! There were a few times I felt like throwing the machine because it was giving me a hard time (and no, it wasn’t operator error—yeah, right.) Honestly, I did a little sewing with my Mom when I was little and in theory knew what to do, but haven’t actually done it before. Here they are for those of you who are interested.
Shopping for the fabric was a lot of fun and challenging! It’s a little more of a process to go and find fabric. You don’t just drive down to Joann Fabric. I’ve been able to find a good selection on one of the streets in town, but it’s been hard to find exactly what I was looking for. The different vendors put out folds of fabric on the street and it has a big yard-sale feel. I’ve been looking for fabric for curtains for Tessa’s room, the boys’ room and Rob and my room for a while now. A few times I’ve found something I like for the boys and they just don’t have enough. What you see is what you get. Often the fabric is flawed and I have to decide if I can still work with it or not.
The best part, was that I started looking for fabric not long after I started language lessons. It has been a great experience being out on the street, trying out the Creole I’ve been learning, bartering, etc. I still remember the first time I looked with my friend Amy. I could hardly say anything and I was just taking her lead. A few months later, I wandered down to a vendor by myself while Amy was looking at something else, and bartered for the fabric for Tessa’s room all by myself. That was a first! When I found what I wanted for my room I was with Rob and could more clearly ask questions and articulate myself.
Here are the curtains I made for Tessa’s room. They are a super-simple style and were a great first sewing machine project. I found this fabric and bartered for it myself last summer. Then, I realized I didn’t have enough and found the same vendor on the street. Actually, when she saw me she waved me down and asked me if I wanted more, which was good for me because me Creole was still pretty limited! She didn’t have it out on display, but sure enough, she ran somewhere and came back with more of the same fabric.
Her room is pink and green and the white with green polka dots is a pretty accent. The biggest part of this project, and what used the most fabric, were the curtains made to cover her closet.
In December, I found exactly the fabric I was looking for for my room—a red and cream colored ticking stripe. Even better, I found plenty of it. The down side was that 2 of the 3 bolts I found had huge sections with flaws in the printing. I bought it anyway, knowing I’ve have to “degaje” it. There’s your Creole word for the day. “Degaje” means to “make do with what you’ve got; to use what you have and make it work.” We do a lot of “degaje”ing here in Haiti. It is very much a part of culture to “degaje.”
My Mom made us curtains for the windows when we lived in Florida that co-ordinate with our quilt. Both have the same ticking stripe. This time, I needed curtains for our closet and the doorway to our office. I decided to try something a little more complicated— tab-top curtains. This was where I wanted to throw the machine! One day, it would be working great, and the next I couldn’t get the thread to stop snapping or the needle through the extra layers of fabric. At one point I had to give up for two weeks because I was tired of trying to figure it out! Thanks to help from my neighbor and advice from Rob’s cousin, Becky, I finally finished them. They are not perfect, but after a year here, it’s nice to finally have curtains on the closet!
It’s been fun working on making our house our home in this way. I’m still on the search for the perfect fabric for the boys’ room.
The best part? I can look at these two projects and two things come to mind. First, I am slowly teaching myself, through trial and error and lots of advice, how to sew. Second, I can look at these fabrics and it reminds me the fun of learning how to go about buying stuff like this here. It’s kind of a concrete reminder of how far my language abilities have come, and how fun it was and is, to figure it all out!