This is our largest and busiest workshop area at Neema. Owing to the popularity of our tailored items we have many orders coming through the department each week, with many different designs being made up each day by our skilled tailors. From clothing to cushions, table-runners to stuffed owls our deaf and disabled artisans have a great work ethic and they are skillfully lead by Valeriana.
Valeriana an inspirational young deaf woman heads up Tailoring at Neema. With so many orders coming through her area, it is vital that she carefully coordinates her tailors and sets them targets for production each week. She expertly balances specific products for particular tailors according to their skill level and ability. She also monitors progress throughout the week to ensure targets are met and the customer is kept happy.
Mwalimu Dhahabu, is an highly versatile tailor and he helps to develop new design ideas into production reality. Once he and our Design Director have settled on a prototype, he then teaches one of our trainees how to make the product. He also runs classes of up to ten tailors at a time and is very good at encouraging even the least confident artisans to sew. His name means ‘Golden Teacher’ which is exactly what he is!
You will see from some of our photos that we tend to use hand or foot powered machines according to the ability of the operator. We tend to avoid electric machines because of unreliable power and also it means that trainees can continue to produce items from home as outworkers or if they go on to set up their own businesses – many people do not yet have power or running water in their homes.
We use a wide range of fabrics, mainly focusing on fabulously colourful African printed cottons, tie-dies and batiks. Some are made on-site such as our hand-dyed woven textiles or our batiked or tie-dyed cottons made by Patrick and his team. We also make the most of the amazing variety of traditional African materials available in the Kitenge and Kangas
One of our most popular products is our patchwork quilt made from African fabrics. Click here to find out more about how it is made.