Experience: Learning to Sew
Thread a needle
thread a needle,
long long thread,
a needle, a needle,
long long thread
From One Direction, to No Direction
Am I the only one who remembers singing this song in primary school assemblies? Wow, I remember when we would sing all these rhymes when marching back to class. Who came up with that? This was my memory from schooling in Nigeria, not sure if the same is repeated in other countries! With that introductory song, I come to you with yet another post.
So, like I’ve said here and here, I returned to Nigeria in 2015. It was quite an experience, and you can read on my first reactions and shocks while I was still classified as ‘IJGB’ AKA ‘I Just Got Back’ here. I didn’t know what the next move was. I’d finished from high school and naturally wanted to go to university, but there was no concrete plan.
Back then I had the idea I was going back for university in Australia. A family friend in Australia, who I was close to, said I should learn a trade before going back. It was a great idea when I thought of it. People who could make hair were making money for themselves! I thought, why not go with sewing?
So, after a little search I found a sewing program which was very close to my house. Back then, I would catch an okada (motorcycle) every morning to and from the place (there’s different zones where I stay, the place was in Zone C while I stayed in Zone B). Looking back now, that was ridiculous! It was a walkable distance (depending on your fitness level and how stingy you are), but oh well. The weather was boiling at that time, so walking would’ve been uncomfortable.
P.S Just remembered, at this time I was still new to okadas. I used to clutch the drivers so hard! One of them started laughing at me, another told me to let go! Wow, how time flies!
The place was called House of Noch. It was quite a small building, serving as a fashion house, training school while offering laundry services. I remember vividly my first day. That morning, I woke up and I was so nervous. It was the first day of school for my brother and sister too. We dropped them off, and I then went with my mother to the corner store to get a book (for taking notes), and pens. She drove me to the place, and I felt anxiety descend on me. I even asked her to follow me inside or something, but nope! She just dropped me off, unbothered, and was on her way!
I walked into the place and it was dimly lit. I would be learning in a small room just slightly bigger than my room. There were three sewing machines in one corner, a long table for cutting, and then the electric sewing machine which was used by my teacher. I was scared. I looked at the faces of the other people there and was scared again. They were all older. My teacher was a man (I was so shocked, don’t even know why I was expecting a woman), and the other women were mothers or just way older. In no time, our small class of 2 grew. I started off not knowing how to pedal a machine or even thread it, but by the end I knew so much.
My first lesson was sewing a skirt with brown paper, then I graduated to fabrics. By the end of the 3 months, I knew how to sew a pencil skirt, 6 pieces skirt, a pencil dress, a top without and with sleeves. My only problem is neatness. I know other stuff, except trousers! Now it’s just left for me to channel all this knowledge and add to it. My sewing machine keeps calling me, but laziness won’t let me be great. Oh yeah, I have a sewing machine. It’s not electric though, It’s a manual one. I’ll definitely get to doing some projects!
Things I Took From House of Noch
A Fabric Obsession
I’m obsessed with fabrics. I love Ankara and it’s different prints and combinations. During the training, I got so many different fabrics, I realised how picky I was. Most of these fabrics are still waiting to be made into something beautiful, but I’m very particular because I don’t like feeling like fabric has been wasted. Sooo I’m a low-key fabric hoarder. I have many pieces, both Ankara and chiffon, in my collection!
A Business Idea
Later that year, my close friend Linda and I came together and created ELCI! Our business is called Elci Threads aka ELCI. We’re all about spreading positivity, being inclusive, as well as exploring the idea of sisterhood & women empowerment. Check our Insta! @elcithreads. Here’s some photos from us.
We’ll be selling pieces in Nigeria soon (and possibly looking for influencers *whispers*), so follow @shopginger.ng and stay tuned! Though I’m not the one who sews the clothes we sell, I know about fabrics, and also things like darts, cups etc. So, I’m not absolutely confused when the tailor is talking.
Learning is Much Better With Passion
I honestly never in my life thought I’d end up going to sewing class or getting into creating clothes. However, I was motivated to do my best by (1) the fact that the training was N60,000 – about $170 (lmao, I hate wasting money) and (2) I was really interested in it. This interest really pushed me, and I learnt really quickly.
By the end of the first week I could sew in a straight line, pedal.. in a month I could sew a pencil skirt, then later a top. It was just awesome. If there’s no passion, motivation will easily leave you. I also learnt bead making that same year, but it was for 1 week so I haven’t really gotten much from it.
Don’t Be Scared
If there’s an idea you have or something you want to learn, don’t shy away, go for it! You never know how it could change your life! Also, learn to be patient with the learning process. The amount of times I had to sit down and loosen what I just sewed with a razor blade was just painful (trust me, I cried).
With that said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Ha, peep me trying to look all mysterious-fashionista like in the above photo. I made the dress in this photo, and though it was quite baggy and needed more neatness, it was a proud creation! I took this photo on my 18th birthday. Peep the aunty Amaka shoes.
Have you learnt anything new this year? Have you learnt any hand work? If there was one thing you could choose to learn right now, what would it be?