RAGS TO RICHES
Madam Chino has offered community education to all ages since 2005 through many organizations, including the UWM Studio Arts and Craft Center, Discovery World, Boys and Girls Clubs, Ujima Project, Agape Community Center, Fasten Coop Clothing Gallery, Student Conservation Association, at many public schools through the funding of Arts@Large, and most frequently through Waukesha Community Arts Project. WCAP is an after school art program for middle school kids. After school programs are very important, especially for this age range, because many children who are old enough to care for themselves are left alone between the time that school is out and adults are able to get home from work. Having something constructive and engaging to do in that timeframe is important for reducing risk of developing negative stress coping mechanisms and engaging in risky behaviors.
Through the cooperation and support of WCAP Madam Chino created this summer camp called "Rags to Riches" where students could spend the day learning about fast fashion, anthropometrics and patternmaking, and how to alter clothing using real sewing machines. This type of program is difficult to run with a single adult. The class was capped at 12 students, we had many adult volunteers who assisted by borrowing their sewing machines, assisted on each of the sewing machines and with patterning strategies, and drove us to and from the thrift store. The following photos are from the camp and were taken by the amazing Nancy Aycock.
On day one, we took measurements of our own bodies and learned how to apply them to patterns by "graphing them" as points. We figured out what sizes we were, based on how we wanted a garment to fit.
Day Two, we learned how to use the machine and worked on many sample pieces in order to apply elastic, pipe elastic, do pleating, and learn the functions and uses of multiple different feet.
Day three we took a field trip to Saint Vincent DePaul. We received a guided tour of the space and learned all about the mission of Saint Vincent. Saint Vincent provides living wages to workers, and all proceeds go to local cheritable causes. Saint Vincent streamlines useable waste by sorting it and shipping it. We learned not to throw away stained, ripped clothing. Our guide suggested that we donate it, however, by labeling it before donation, it will allow workers to identify more easily, what is what. These "rags" will be reclaimed by recycling the fibers. Nothing is actually wasted or thrown in a landfill. The scale of the sorting area was immense. She said at least a third of what they stored in back was Christmas decorations and seasonal goods.
Each student recieved a $15 dollar budget to purchase items they would bring back to WCAP, to restyle, reclaim, and reinvent.
When we returned to WCAP, we used "croquis" figures to trace clothing ideas onto a form using the light of the window. This helped us get ideas for what we wanted to create! Then we got right to work, using preexisting patterns or other clothes we liked, to trace and change to our liking, the shapes of our garments! Each student was lucky to have the help of an adult to assist in the transformation and use of machines.
We took before photos of the garments we bought... so that we could compare to the photos after! We were inspired by a blog called REFASHIONISTA where the author shows before and after photos of her design alterations.
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