Teaching in Puerto Rico

 

This is the view from one of the classrooms. The other had the same view along one entire wall.

This is the view from one of the classrooms. The other had the same view along one entire wall.

 

In all my years of teaching, I have traveled to some beautiful places, met beautiful people and seen beautiful projects.  San Juan, Puerto Rico, was one of my favorite venues, a place at which I taught several times for Luis and Rosa Medina, owners of the San Juan Brother dealership. They were absolutely the most gracious host and hostess that you could imagine.

Their 12 year old daughter helped out but spent most of her time in the classroom, sewing on the Quattro 6000D.

 

Rosa Medina and 12 year old Deborah, a sewing student! We all talk about learning to sew on our mother's old straight stitch machine or some even tell tales of learning on a treadle.  But Deborah is learning more than basic sewing on this technological wonder. June Mellinger, in ivory shirt, discussing project with two entrants.

Rosa Medina and 12 year old Deborah, a sewing student! We all talk about learning to sew on our mother’s old straight stitch machine or some even tell tales of learning on a treadle. But Deborah is learning more than basic sewing on this technological wonder.

 

On one of these trips, June Mellinger and I taught the classes and were asked to judge a sewing competition.  June, by the way, is Brother’s Director of Education in the US, president of the American Sewing Guild and just a terrific, fun lady.  We were absolutely astounded at the variety and quality of the entries.

The following photos show just a few of the beautiful items the ladies brought from all over the island. 

Nivia, designer of the amazing hemstitch, drawn thread and entredeux machine embroidery designs, lives in Puerto Rico.  Many of the ladies at the school had taken classes from her.  Consequently, many of her designs are featured on several of the garments.

The blue blanket uses the “Bebe” wing needle design, as well as decorative stitches.

 

Blanket features Niva hemstitching design and decorative stitching. The lace is spectacular.

Blanket features Niva hemstitching design and decorative stitching. The lace is spectacular.

 

A sweet white linen dress was bound in pink and embroidered with a delicate pink and green design.

embroidered white linen dress bound in pink

embroidered white linen dress bound in pink

 

These Latin ladies dress their little guys with as much detail as they do the girls.

This little boy’s suit in white linen and blue pima cotton gingham caught our eye. With the tropical climate of Puerto Rico, almost all the children’s wear is made of natural fiber fabrics  for their comfort.  Note the staggered lines of blue entredeux stitching down the front.

 

two-piece boy's suit of linen and pima cotton

two-piece boy’s suit of linen and pima cotton

 

A white linen christening gown was beautifully designed, featuring a trinity ring in machine embroidery and some very lovely wing needle decorative stitching that echoed the lines of the curved lace insertion.

christening linen

 

A sweet pink diaper set was machine embroidered with a bow.  The diaper cover is the same tailored style as the sets I bought in Old San Juan for Alastair.  Frankly, they look cooler than the poufy style we usually use for girls.  The piping is a lovely detail., accented by the decorative stitching.

 

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pink diaper set with piped diaper cover

 

A blue satin batiste matinee jacket was pristine in its presentation.  Another Niva design embellished the garment.  Ecru French lace and satin ribbon were the perfect finish for this sweet cover up.

blue satin matinee jacket with machine embroidered Niva hemstitching design

blue satin matinee jacket with machine embroidered Niva hemstitching design

 

Another sweet boy outfit was this sunsuit.  Made of blue babycord, the yellow piping gives it such a crisp look.  The sailboat embroidery is the perfect embellishment.

sunsuit of blue baby cord, piped in yellow, embroidered with sailboat

sunsuit of blue baby cord, piped in yellow, embroidered with sailboat

 

The work of one student, Haydee, amazed both June and me.  We were even more amazed when we discovered that she has been sewing for only one year.

A group of sewing friends, nicknamed “The Posse” by June,  had taken Haydee under their wings and the new student was soaking up techniques and skills with every minute she spent with them.  Theygathered weekly to sew and then sent her home with books to read and magazines to peruse.

Haydee loves applique’ and has a gift for fabric and design combinations.  The stitching and attention to detail was heartwarming.  More of her projects will be featured here in later posts, but this one was entered into the competition.

 

zPRSweetCherries

Haydee’s Sweet Cherries applique’ outfit

 

The classes were held at the Normandie Hotel, a 1920 beached version of a large cruise ship of the same name.  Cruising on this ship was the favored holiday of the builder’s wife.  Pictures of her with her husband and other guests on the ship line the halls, with the story of the hotel’s creation.

This painting done right on the wall and many others are nearly 100 years old. My class samples paled in comparison to the surroundings.

This painting done right on the wall and many others are nearly 100 years old. My class samples paled in comparison to the surroundings.

 

The interior had incredible mosaics, paintings and art deco architectural details.  The exterior is shaped like a huge ship, with  the hotel entrance at the prow of the boat.

intricately painted plaster sconces

intricately painted plaster sconces

 

The floors of the hotel wrap around a multistory central area where the restaurants and lounges are located.

 

The breathtaking views were regarded nonchalantly by the students, who, after all, live on a tropical paradise island surrounded by turquois seas.

The breathtaking views were regarded nonchalantly by the students, who, after all, live on a tropical paradise island surrounded by turquois seas.

 

The most outstanding aspect of these “schools” was the students.  Even  though fewer than half of them spoke English, and my Spanish vocabulary consisted of “Ola,” “Adios” and “Donde est el bano?”  we got along marvelously.  It was so heartwarming to see the English speaking students translating for their friends, and scurrying around the classroom to interpret questions for me.

Teaching there was an incredible experience, each and every time.  As I came across these pictures, I thought you might enjoy seeing what and how they sew on the island of Puerto Rico.  It certainly brings back happy memories for me.

4 responses to “Teaching in Puerto Rico

  1. HI Janice. What an amazing experience you had teaching in Puerto Rico. I loved the pictures of the garment and the students. And the amazing view out the window. Thanks for taking me along!

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Jeannie. Between the students’ projects and the beautiful baby garments for sale in Old San Juan, I was taken away, dreaming of the upcoming birth of my daughter’s first child, Alastair. Much as I love making infant clothing, some of the drawn thread work and hand crocheted baby booties just had to come home with me. I hope you have an opportunity to visit this spectacular island and see the extraordinary needlework for yourself.

  3. I love the pink diaper set with the piped diaper cover. The embroidery on the bottom of the dress is simple and sweet. Is this embroidery design available for purchase?

  4. Adrian, I have no information on the embroidery design. This was made by one of the talented stitchers in San Juan and was displayed for the competition judged by June Mellinger and me. It is lovely. Wish I knew something about it.

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