Economist as a Tailor: Creativity in the art of sewing, crafting and recycling

Jeemol Unni, Professor of Economics at Ahmedabad University dons the hat of a tailor with aplomb.

Sewing is a hobby I cultivated when I was a child, later as an adolescent and continued as an adult till the present! If sewing is being creative and creativity is in the genes, then I am sure it came to me from the maternal side of my family. My grandmother and my mother enjoyed sewing and taught me various tricks of the trade even as a child. Both of them had sewing machines. My grandmothers’ was what one sees in tailor shops in India, set on a table, with a pedal at floor level. The manual sewing machine was operated by running the pedal with the feet. Grandma would encourage me to run it and stitch in straight lines on old cloth even when I was a child. She taught me the etiquette of sewing, even how to hold a needle. You point the needle towards yourself when stitching by hand! She, my mother and the teacher in school taught me various kinds of embroidery stitches. However, my interest was more in sewing with a machine.

My mother had a manual sewing machine run by hand which she converted into a motor run machine. She made all my frocks and skirts and more for my cousins as well. She taught me to cut and sew dresses, how to cut the neck, the sleeves, and how to stitch it. Some of the gems she taught me was how to cut the cloth used to hem or stich the neckline. Strips of cloth are cut diagonally to allow for greater stretch while stitching the neckline. I have had a hand-run sewing machine for ages, with a handle that you spin to run the machine. Never converted it to a motor run one as I use it not-so-frequently given my full time profession as an Economist. 

 

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