RAI has made the following progress in fulfilling milestone achievements for the Seattle Public Utilities Waste Management Grant:
Sewing napkins demonstrates the ability to sew in a very straight consistent line, which is vital and often times the key component in sewing any product. Each side of the product is folded once by 1/4” and then folded over again at ⅜” and then edge-stitched. No irons or pins are used during the training process, as we are training the artisans with production-level efficiency in mind.
We use donated fabric and zippers from a company called Impwear to create medium-sized zipper pouches. While learning this skill, artisans are able to practice their straight stitch, sew in a zipper, turn corners, and topstitch a very straight line close to the edge of fabric. While sewing the zipper pouches, we encourage them to sew “production-style” which entails repeating the same step on multiple pouches before moving onto the next step. This creates an efficient method that will help the artisans sew a bulk amount of product quicker, thus resulting in opportunities for a greater wage.
Using donated fabric from a coffee shop renovation and upcycled muslin, we train our artisans to make a complete set of placemats and table runners. The placemats are cut into rectangles and bound with strips of muslin around the edges. The table runners are done in a similar manner, only using a much longer rectangle strip. A straight stitch is vital for this project and due to the length of the runners and the many straight edges of the placemats, the artisans are able to really focus on this skill.
Fabric baskets are made out of the same fabric as the placemats and table runners. The fabric is thick, upholstery weight fabric, so the baskets are able to stand on their own. Handles are sewn across the top using donated fabric from the same renovation. Training the artisans to make the baskets supplies them with knowledge in working with a much thicker fabric, sewing “french seams” which allow for a polished finish without having to overlock the edges, as well as sewing with vinyl for the handles, which is similar to sewing with leather.
Dishtowels with applique:
Our dishtowels are made with donated muslin and patterned fabric. The muslin makes up the main body of the dishtowel, while a patterned fabric is sewn to the bottom. Then, using either the patterned fabric or something matching, an applique is sewn towards the bottom of the towel. Since they are usually a seasonal product, the latest ones created were Fall themed with leaf appliques. Artisans making these dishtowels apply their existing skills in straight stitching to fold under and sew the edges, as well as attach the bottom portion of fabric. They are then trained to use the “zig-zag stitch.” Using the zig-zag feature on their machine, they sew along the very edge of the leaf all the way around, which keeps the appliqued fabric from fraying. Then, the veins of the leaf are sewn in by eyeballing it. This gives personality to the leaves, or other applied shape, and gives the artisans room for creativity.