Helen and Queenie
** Unless I have some crazy revelations, this should be my next to last travel post about China. I tended to write outlines up each night while I was gone (have to do something with all the jetlag and no access to sewing blogs!) and revised and organized on my 14 hour flight back into the US. I probably should have strung my posts out through the week. But, I’m an instant bloggerfacation kind of girl.
One of my surprises about Xiamen is that they too have a fabric ‘mall’. Unfortunately, I know neither the name nor the address. When we got to Xiamen we were assigned interpreters from the local college. They were the cutest things. Sweet and helpful. My first day there I let them know I needed to have my qipao altered, Liz needed a dress made and I needed some garments copied for my boss. We found this mall on the second go round. They were shocked that I made my own clothes. Not that they had stuff made. They just shopped at the mall. Typical teenagers, right?
Again, similar set up as in Shanghai. But, the fabric choices were limited. More suitings and shirtings than fine silks and fun prints. There were also several dressmakers and tailors who operated seperately from thier fabric.
On the basement level I was in search of the quipa pattern book I spotted in one of the shops. Unfortunately I couldn’t find one.
But, I saw this woman making strings of beads and beading fabric in another room. Watching her made my eyes hurt.
This woman was sewing all of the little jewelry bags that we get pieces in.
I did find someone sewing uniforms and was puzzled. I kept thinking, ‘why don’t they just order uniforms?’ But, then I realized that this *i*s where our uniforms come from! It was eye opening.
But, I did stumble upon several supply stores and stocked up.
Zippers were half a yuan each (don’t hate me) about 8 cents each. Yes. 8 cents. I bought two dozen in black and took their assorted package. Oh. Definitely wishing I had bought more of the assorted zipper packs. These are all 22 inches long.
Buttons were also 10 cents each in Xiamen. I exercised great control I think and bought these plus a gross of plain white shirt buttons. The gross was about $5 US.
And, the things I got which made my heart soar took true trans Pacific cooperation. While shopping in the supply store I saw they had industrial serger feet. Now, we all know that Gigi has been sewing it up in Florida binding any and everything. I know I want to buy an industrial machine within the next year or two. So, I asked how much the feet were. $4 each. Say *what*?
Apparently, ‘Great Knives’ are made in Taiwan — visible from Xiamen’s shore.
I emailed Gigi that night (her morning) asking her what feet I would want to buy so I could stock up there. To the rescue, she sent me a list of feet to look for and for the binders, she even saved me the mental (well cell phone) calculations and listed the widths in metric! In *metric*
Since I bought so many feet, they sold the binders to me at $2 a each. $2. And the regular sewing feet for the industrial? 50 cents each.
I also bought sewing machine needles for $1.50 for a pack of 10. And, they say ‘Shanghai Shaggong Sewing Machine Company’. I would have bought them for that alone. Not pictured, two of the biggest rolls of elastic you’ve ever seen for little and nothing.
It was also on this trip that I experienced my first squat toilet. My mom warned me. Katharine in Brussels warned me (omg K. Thank you for telling me about the spitting before I got there). But, it’s something to behold the first time. If you think you won’t use one. Then, you just just don’t have to go badly enough. To be honest, in a skirt, it’s far more sanitary that a sit down toilet. But, I was not coordinated enough to work it out with pants.
BTW, it was hotter than hell in Xiamen
The only makeup I wore for ten days was Neutorgena sunblock. Which, sadly, dried white in my eyebrows and no one told me. I only realized it when I started uploading my photos, LOL.