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.
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.
A sweet white linen dress was bound in pink and embroidered with a delicate pink and green design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The floors of the hotel wrap around a multistory central area where the restaurants and lounges are located.
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.