Sydney-Davies in Sierra Leone

The Dr Olivet Buck memorial fashion and sewing academy fundraising page now up

Please visit, donate and share. Your support is vital and greatly appreciated.

Following my trips to Sierra Leone last year. where I set up a small studio space to have my garments not just produced in Britain but Sierra Leone also (why go so far afield as to India/China etc when the will skill and need here is plenty. I'd rather invest in my roots, in Africa), I was deeply moved and inspired to do even more upon my return to London. Over the summer I took a big leap with a proposal to the Canterbury of West Africa. I am THRRRRRIILLLLED to announce that they have accepted my project and have agreed to provide me with Land space to build, from the ground up, the very first International Sewing School and production studio in Sierra Leone.

So so soooooo much to this story so PLEASE visit my fundraising page now LIVE! , have a read and hopefully I can gain your support. Donations are obviously the priority but just as important is spreading the word as you never know who it will reach down your chain.
REPOST, spread the word, tell your friends, family, distant cousin, neighbours cat, tell them all and help me make this iconic project a reality.

Much love and appreciation. Also please feel free to get in touch with me if you'd like to find out more or get involved in any way.

Thank you.

 

Sydney-Davies in Sierra Leone

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Inspiring and making a difference post Ebola

Join in #sdinsl

This page chronicles the inspirational story and journey of Designer Euphemia Sydney-Davies Designer at emerging fashion label SYDNEY-DAVIES a survivor and refugee from the War torn Sierra Leone as she returns from a landmark trip to her birthplace post Ebola to inspire the local young and able people and finding a way to give back to a land she loves but feels forgotten.

We will be sharing and revealing all step by step.

Do join in and comment.

We would love to hear from you.

All and any support appreciated..... Love ESD ✂️

Waterloo

Waterloo was the location of the main studio. Here I worked with 3 lovely ladies and a gentleman.

The studio was equipped with 3 industrial sewing machines, 1 industrial overlocker and 1 button hole machine.

Again most of them had some experience in tailoring however a lot of teaching and guidance was also needed. I enjoyed being able to pass on knowledge as they in turn also taught me a few things.

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TRAINING. An inconvenient Truth

This trip was a huge eye opener as I came to learn how differently things are done in Sierra Leone. Bearing in mind 3 out of 7 of the local people I worked with had some experience in sewing, this was the very first time they had knowledge of what 'patterns' are or the concept of pattern cutting.

Pattern cutting is the preparation of all the shapes and pieces that make up a garment, on paper with all the measurements and dimensions included so when it comes to producing the garment, the 'pattern' is simply placed into the fabric and used as a template. It was quite a shock to discover that there were NO clothing retail shops in the entire country, something that I still haven't managed to process or accept. This meant that all traditional clothing was made bespoke, hence no need for patterns as the local tailors simply chalk-mark each clients key measurements directly into the fabric and cut. This method also requires a great deal of skill as there is no room for error. All none traditional clothing slang named 'Junx' are all second-hand used clothing that arrives in Sierra Leone in bails and sold on the streets. This is such a heartbreaking epidemic that I will touch on later as it must be addressed.

I spent a few days introducing the team to the basics in pattern cutting and how it translates into a finished piece. We also worked on other 'mainstream' methods of sewing and fabrics that are either not commonly used there or available at all such as my signature Neoprene which are mostly used to create my outerwear pieces. They were also trained in setting up, maintaining and using the modern industrial sewing machines we worked with which I also discovered are a rare find in Sierra Leone.

This trip was mainly to test the waters and discover where the country stands in the garment industry. It was a truly demanding and heartbreaking one but also filled with hope and joy to realised the sheer amount of potential, untapped, un-nurtured and sadly under valued.

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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS... 'Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow'

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It didn't take very long to set up the studio because we had so many hands helping. Some of our immediate neighbours in the area had heard about the project and came over to snoop and help :) It was great to see such support and zeal.

We dedicated the first of 5 weeks to setting up the studio, and doing some basic introduction and training. I will disclose and explain in future posts just how important the need for basic training in main-stream clothing construction was.

And when I say 'main stream' I mean what what we wear here as normal clothing which is different to the local African fabrics, styles and way of working. Main stream garment design and construction was a whole new world to them and something I expected to face, but was not prepared for the scale of it. It took us about 2 days to set up the studio.

As you can see, we covered the machines and equipment in protective plastic. This was something we had to do at the end of every day to protect them from dust. The month of February falls in the 'Hamattan' season which is a very dry, hot and incredibly dusty season. This made work quite challenging but we worked through it. It was great to see the small space ready... Humble beginnings.

MEET THE TEAM

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Meet the Waterloo team Left to right.

Regina (next in command in my absence), Mbuya (a young girl who had dropped out of school), Princess (yes, Princess really is her name), Mohammed (aka mr Bobby) & The girl with dreams bigger than her (aka me).

I only took on two local people from the Regent area which is where I resides during the trip, to work with me on weekends. A young energetic and bubbly girl called Abi who I nicknamed 'Abstar' as she was an absolutely star and wasn't only eager to learn but also picked things up incredibly fast. The second, a local man called Moses who had some experience in fashion and garment construction. Later on I will share video interviews with some of the team.

Unpacking

Unpacking and setting up the Waterloo studio space on a very hot day, with a handful of the local people we worked with, teaching and training them in fashion and garment manufacture as they in turn help to produce our C.H.U.R.C.H. collection pieces.

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