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■Manufacturing clothes and accessories with pleasure and precision(Part 1) (2012/09/04)

Following our dispatch of volunteering specialists last January, a team of 3 persons led by Ms. Yuko Sato, part-time lecturer at the Kuwasawa Design School was sent to KnK's "House for Youth" in Battambang (Cambodia) to lead sewing trainings for girls working at the House's production unit.

Lecturer: Ms. Yuko Saito, SEMPRE Managing Director and Part-time lecturer at Kuwasawa Design School
Interpreter and assistant lecturer: Ms. Rei Moriya, 2nd year student (night classes) at the Kuwasawa Design School
Photographer: Ms. Chieko Moriya
Attendees: 12 girls from Battambang House for Youth's production unit

Cambodia photo 1We have organized and run a seven-day sewing training between 15th and 23rd August, 2012 for girls working at the KnK-run "House for Youth" production unit in Battambang. To evaluate the girls' sewing real capabilities, we were shown some samples that they made at Battambang while preparing our trip in Japan. We thought that their level was relatively high. However we found a certain number of peripheral defects such as significant size differences for identical designs, rounded corners or threads badly cut from the sewing machines.

It actually takes more than a sewing machine and treads to sew. Other tools are also essential. For instance eyeleteer or paddle tools are necessary to properly flip back the corners once the lining is sewn. Specific scissors or grid rulers are needed to cut precisely cloths and small scissors to cut minuscule threads. We thought that they may not have after all the proper sewing equipment in the first place and decided to bring the essential ones with us. 

[1st part of the training (4 days) - Manufacturing small accessories]
・Sewing (Dressmaking) tools
The first day, we introduced the sewing (dressmaking) tools and the ways to use them. We realized quickly that we were right when we assumed that the girls may not have the proper equipment, they indeed had nearly no appropriate tools. They were seeing for the first time all the tools we brought over. Besides, the tools they were using were all defective: gaps between cloth scissors' blades or bended rulers. We therefore replaced them all. Tools are key for manufacturing good products.

Cambodia photo 2Now well equipped, they started to make and draw the patterns themselves. To draw pattern grid rulers, sharpened pencils (to make sure there are not even 1mm gaps) and weights (to fix the pattern paper) are used. After explaining how to use the grid ruler, we taught while actually doing it how to set marks for seam allowances,Cambodia photo 3 for the fabric's thread direction and for fasteners' location. We then asked all of them to draw three different patterns for bags or purses. At the end they nearly mastered how to use the grid ruler. Drawing patterns seemed to be a first time experience for them and they started to draw the same way as the lecturer while enthusiastically taking notes. We think that by drawing patterns themselves they acquired a better knowledge of design and sewing processes. Since pattern comes in between design and cutting steps, they felt it came more spontaneously and their motivation rose even more.

Cambodia photo 4If a correct pattern is cut properly, the perfect size is manufactured. Since it was a bit poorly made, we strongly told them that if goods were to be shipped to Japan all operations needed to be made carefully and precisely. We emphasized that cutting was not an approximate operation but needed to be done carefully and that above all it was important not to make mistakes on the fabric's threads direction. That's particularly bad to make mistake on the fabric's thread direction when cutting clothes' parts. Girls lent forward to look at how carefully the teacher was placing the pattern paper over the cloth, placing the weight, using the grid ruler and marking with a chalk pen before cutting. Seeing directly how to operate meticulously and precisely, correct even very slight gaps were probably the biggest things they learnt. (To be followed)

*"Income Generating Activities (IGA)" actions in Cambodia and dispatch of specialists are supported by The Japan International Cooperation Foundation (JICF)

*The IGA project in Cambodia is implemented with support funding from the Japan International Cooperation Foundation.

Report: Rei Moriya, 2nd year student (night classes) at the Kuwasawa Design School

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