There has never been more joy in our studio than last year when teaching women who were survivors of domestic violence how to sew their own clothing. Our weekly classes in garment construction were key to improving the self worth of over 50 immigrant women.
The importance of creating an empowering new start for women who have suffered abuse is vital in personal healing. Although there is much generosity in our communities and abundance resounds with clothing and accessory donations – the value of new articles of clothing and home decor is essential.
Not All Used Clothes are Vintage……
Since the mid-2000’s there has been a clarion call of “Recycle – Reuse”. Bins throughout communities are filled to overflow with clothing and accessories as each Farmer’s Market has a textile re-use section for collecting old clothes.
In our work with domestic violence residences we have be the recipients of used clothes for donation to the needy. We have also seen the bags and boxes of clothing which lays unsorted and in piles at various organizations throughout the city.
But are all used clothes usable. When we began to receive clothing it became clear that many people simply brought their laundry bags out for donation. Family members wanting to help, emptied out old dressers and suitcases from attics and basements. Sour and mildewed clothing or fabric with dry rot is the unfortunate result of these donations…..but it seems this is nothing new….
“The Freedmen’s Journal, (established in 1862 to aid the destitute freedmen and women of Port Royal, South Carolina) reported on the boxes, barrels, parcels, and bundles of new and used clothing and blankets received from branches at the Boston Headquarters for distribution. However, according to diarist Susan Walker, who was working for the Freedmen’s Society in Port Royal, South Carolina, such charity was not always from the heart. She wrote
“Yesterday I was all day assorting old clothes sent from New York for the negroes. Such old shoes and men’s clothing filled with dust and dirt! Women’s soiled gowns, etc. and rags I would not give to a street beggar, have been sent at Government expense, to be handled and assorted by ladies! Some new but more old. Could not the large charity of New York furnish new materials?”
Even in the 1800’s the need to restore the vitality for people in need with NEW items and NEW articles of clothing was key. The population that Ms. Walker was speaking of was a skilled transplated African population of seamstresses, tailors, weavers and garment workers who made good use of raw materials when forced to create clothing and merchandise for resale.
Our training program encourages women to take a new lease on life. Even if they bring items from the residences that has been donated, we teach how to improve articles of clothing by adding trim, altering the cut or changing the buttons. The donations of beautiful fabrics and availability of all materials needed afford women of the opportunity to create pieces they may have NEVER owned!
A rewarding life can be afforded to one who had a bit of creativity and the right materials – Sue Rock Originals enjoys making this possible for all to enjoy!