Wednesday, 1 January 2014

West Africa Production - Phase Three: Garment Production

After our first samples had been tested, we set to work making the needed changes – the blazers were too long, the t-shirt were too wide, the shorts were a bit too tight and the skirts needed a few extra details. The whole process was pretty difficult for me, as someone who has never worked in patternmaking or design but who has specific ideas about what the final product should look like. Luckily, our tailor Diogo was super patient and really great at showing me his methods of cutting fabric and explaining techniques like darting which really helped me understand what changes we needed to make for our final run of garments.

Diogo in his atelier in Marche Santhiaba, Saint-Louis, Senegal

Once Diogo and I had decided on the final changes to make to the four different pieces we are producing, he set about the production – which included transferring patterns, cutting and finally sewing over 130 metres of fabric! Needless to say, it was a look of work, so Diogo called in his friend Atou (pictured below) and they worked together to complete about 75 pieces (plus a few extra surprises!) for Madame Tay’s first range of garments.

Atou (l) and Diogo (r) getting to work, Saint-Louis, Senegal

Atou and his machine, Saint-Louis, Senegal

Diogo has an atelier in Marche Santhiaba, the big textile market in Saint-Louis, in Northern Senegal. The market is buzzing from 6am to 11pm with the sounds of sewing machines and scissors slicing through fabric. Diogo’s atelier looks onto a long, covered passageway where apprentice tailors spend hours each day looping string to make fancy embroidery for dresses and shirts -  which are both really popular in Senegal for events and celebrations.

Detail of Diogo's atelier - superman, mannequins and posters of Senegalese religious leaders

Marche Santhiaba

The last part of the production was completed in Dakar, at Diogo’s family house in a suburb called Parcelles. We set up a temporary atelier with a borrowed table, a borrowed sewing machine and goats constantly sticking their heads through the window as Diogo worked.

Diogo's temporary atelier in Parcelles, Dakar

Madame Tay garments ready to be sewn!

Diogo cutting out some Madame Tay high waisted shorts.

Diogo and some neighbourhood goats.

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