Its back-to-school time here in Barbados. September 5th is the 1st day of the new school year. All over the island its chaos – orderly and organized – but chaos nonetheless.
There’ll be excited children, nervous ones, scared ones (especially those transitioning from primary to secondary school), and frazzled parents trying to readjust to the school run after a long, laid-back summer. They’ll be running a little late, stuck in traffic, trying to get their charges off to school on time and still make it to work, hopefully only a little bit late. Because, come afternoon (2:30p.m. – 3:00p.m.), they have to be back at the school to do the pick-ups.
Then, of course, it’s the students who are old enough to take the bus themselves, so public transport will be filled to capacity, and then some. No one wants to be late for the first day of school.
Yep, it’s the same chaos every year, and those of us with no children feel like we’re planning a complex covert mission to get over, around, and through the tangle of traffic just to get to work with as little fuss as possible!
My favorite part of back-to-school is seeing all those brand new uniforms – only tertiary students don’t wear them – blues, green, turquoise, yellow, burgundy, grey, plaids, solids, etc. And the boys with pants in khaki, brown, navy, grey. Crisp white shirts & sparkling white socks, polished black or brown shoes. And everyone tries to express their individuality with hairstyles and backpacks.
My weekend was spent finishing off the little blue gingham uniforms for a friend’s 4 year old who’s off for the first time to regular school.
You’d think things would be different after so many years, but I’m always nervous to make things for people. I learned to sew free-hand – no fancy patterns – just the measurements, fabric, tape, chalk and a well-practiced eye for proportion. I always cross my fingers, say a little prayer and measure 3 or 4 times.
And, every time the first cut leaves me a little light-headed and wondering if I’m even as good as I think I am. And what if I ruin the fabric. It doesn’t matter that I’ve got plenty evidence in my closet that I actually do know what I’m doing. My saving grace is keeping a steady hand on those scissors!
So, this is what the uniform was to look like. The schools publish simple little booklets with drawings and instructions of how they want the thing to be.
Here’s my cutting table with the pieces – all except the pockets and little sailor color, which are in solid blue. My friend also wanted little knickers to go under the dress.
So, off I went……
Finally, my first prototype all finished and pressed for fitting. There were supposed to be 3 uniforms in all, so I made a paper pattern beforehand from the unstitched pieces so that any adjustments would be easy without ruining anymore fabric.