LO­CAL NEWS Stit­ching and fixing

Le Messager Verdun - - ACTUALITÉS - DA­VID COX da­vid.cox@tc.tc

ECONOMY. Ho­mes­tea­ding is the in­crea­sin­gly po­pu­lar me­thod of li­ving a lifestyle of self-suf­fi­cien­cy, and as an emer­ging mo­ve­ment those lea­ding the charge are ta­king a risk. Aman­da Elias and Va­le­rie Schoof have em­bra­ced their own role in this so­cial economy re­vo­lu­tion. Usual­ly cha­rac­te­ri­zed by sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture and home food pre­ser­va­tion, the two en­tre­pre­neurs are brin­ging back a lost skill – se­wing.

In the heart of Ver­dun on Wel­ling­ton St., Ate­lier Fi­ber Arts is the culmi­na­tion of a life-long love of quil­ting and se­wing that Aman­da Elias has com­bi­ned with her sup­ply-train ma­na­ge­ment ex­pe­rience. Hos­ting work­shops and cli­nics, she is tea­ching an old skill to a new ge­ne­ra­tion. Some of the most po­pu­lar cli­nics are simple things like seams and how to fix a zip­per.

The en­tre­pre­neur be­lieves ho­mes­tea­ding is nee­ded to coun­ter the «dis­po­sable culture» that has been crea­ted around cheap clo­thing and dol­lar stores. «When I kept seeing ‘made in Ban­gla­desh’ and saw a spe­cial re­port on the 2013 Sa­var buil­ding col­lapse, I wan­ted to find al­ter­na­tives. Now I on­ly shop se­cond hand or lo­cal, or I make my own clothes,» says Elias.

She be­lieves that ho­mes­tea­ding is just people ta­king back the things that have been set aside over time.

SO far, SEW good

The idea came when Elias vi­si­ted her pa­rents in Bur­ling­ton, On­ta­rio. En­te­ring a lo­cal quilt shop, she saw a young man stit­ching a stuf­fed di­no­saur at a table with mul­tiple se­wing ma­chines. She chat­ted with the wo­man run­ning the shop who ex­plai­ned that they rent out the ma­chines and ran work­shops. Elias said that Mon­treal needs so­me­thing like that and the wo­man ans­we­red, «So do it!»

Short­ly the­reaf­ter, she loo­ked in­to how to make the idea a rea­li­ty. It has been al­most a year since Elias fi­ni­shed the en­tre­pre­neu­rial pro­gram at SAJE Mon­treal. The pro­gram helps en­tre­pre­neurs to so­li­di­fy a bu­si­ness plan and bring it to frui­tion. She took the courses they of­fe­red and was joi­ned by Va­le­rie Schoof who brought soap­ma­king and se­wing ma­chine re­pair. To­ge­ther they found a space and star­ted of­fe­ring work­shops.

«It has been hard, I have had to make a web­site, do the book­kee­ping, plan work­shops and run the space,» says Elias. Ha­ving Schoof has ligh­te­ned the bur­den, and has be­come a va­luable part­ner.

«I have al­ways lo­ved tin­ke­ring with ma­chines,» ad­mits Va­le­rie Schoof. «The se­wing ma­chines have be­come a spe­cial­ty. People are brin­ging in their old ma­chines and we fix them and teach them how to use one all in the same place.» She teaches small groups how to re­pair their own ma­chines.

Mar­sha La­wrence, an at­ten­dee, be­lieves that it is ano­ther step in re­co­ve­ring our past self-suf­fi­cien­cy. «It is a cot­tage craft hand­made in­dus­try that is ri­sing from the ashes of dis­po­sable fa­shion trends.»

As Ate­lier Fi­ber Arts Web­site points out, the ave­rage Ame­ri­can throws away 82 pounds of clothes eve­ry single year. The Ate­lier Fi­ber Arts are doing their part to end that waste.

(Pho­to: TC Me­dia – Da­vid Cox)

In Ver­dun, the Ate­lier Fi­ber Arts teaches se­wing to all who want to re-dis­co­ver the lost skill.

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