My childhood memories are too many, and the majority of the ones I cherish most were key to the development of my love for sewing, fashion and arts.
I took my first sewing class when I was 8 years old. I still remember that flyer promoting the classes daddy brought home so enthusiastically, within days I was already enrolled. Learning to sew with Belén Pérez that summer of ‘82, it’s something I’ll never forget. She taught at her house’s garage, a big house in Miradero Barrio in Mayagüez. I remember you could also climb up to the house by a spiral staircase from the garage, the stairs were made of metal and like those you find in theater’s backstage. Belén had a lot of experience teaching and even received a group of girls who came by bus from the summer camp of the former YMCA in Mayaguez.
In those classes I discovered the magic: Turning an insignificant piece of fabric in a piece of clothing that you can use, not only to cover your body but to express your personality. To this day, I share that moment with my students at the university and emphasized the blessing of handwork, and how we can find different solutions to the "problem" of dressing ourselves. The first thing we sewed was an elastic short pant. Mom took me to buy a solid cotton fabric and a commercial pattern of short pants in my size. The envelope had drawn all styles of patterns that were inside: with bows at the sides, little knots, with decorative pockets and even the "pamper" style which was very popular at one time.
I enjoyed every moment of the process. I went to sleep reading the instructions and watching those perfect illustrations indicating the steps to follow. I cut the necessary pieces for the selected style in the paper pattern, then in fabric. At the end, I put together the "puzzle" to achieve a garment that you can wear again and again. The summer of '82 was the beginning of many summers to come, sewing my own clothes and eventually pleasing my friends and clients. I have accumulated many experiences, and in retrospect, I realize that many have been key to guide me along the way. The more experiences a child has, the more options he/she has when deciding his/her career, or hobby.
Thank you Belén Pérez, for giving me those first classes; thanks dad, for being my accomplice on so many occasions; thanks mom, for taking me to the fabric stores and give me the necessary tools to create.