Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Recently, we had eight employees complete a month of sewing training led by our fabulous Australian master trainer, Suzanne Allibone. Along with the eight who learned to sew, Suzanne trained several Purnaa leaders to teach the sewing training themselves.
At Purnaa, we intentionally create opportunities for people marginalized by society, this means that we are often hiring those without formal educations, some without any formal job skills to offer. We conduct on-the-job sewing training to develop committed sewing staff who provide excellent manufacturing and production services. We believe that giving people the opportunity to learn skills for a job is very important and helps lead to fulfilled lives.
All of the trainees learned basic machine skills (machine & theory-based) and machinist skills (sewing skills) over a 4 week period. They trained on machine skills for single needle, overlock, and flatlock machines. Theory topics included parts & functions of each machine, bobbins, and needles, threading, tension, measurement systems, stitches per inch, machine maintenance, and safety in the workplace.
Machine control, accuracy, and speed were taught through multiple sewing pictures (with guidelines on paper) and sewing exercises (unguided lines on fabrics) which were repeated until they became competent in the task. At the end of each unit, they were timed racing against each other (and themselves) to measure speed and accuracy.
Learning is best done in a fun environment!!
The trainees completed two projects during their training. One was making tote bags out of scrap fabric to be used for customers in our outlet store. The other was making boys’ t-shirts, also made out of scrap fabric, and those that passed quality control will be sold in the outlet.
At the end of the four weeks, each trainee completed a basic machine skills test, a theory exam, and made two tote bags. They were assessed on the accuracy, speed, quality of workmanship, and following of instructions.
At Purnaa, we love to promote from within, creating an encouraging environment where our employees are equipped and mentored by other sewers. To train the future trainers, Suzanne modeled and taught most of the topics while they assisted with smaller tasks. In the second week, the trainers took more of the leading role while Suzanne observed and supported them. Other trainers joined over three weeks, each being given tasks to train the group on while Suzanne observed and reviewed. In the final week, the trainers did most of the teaching, with Suzanne’s support and involvement only as needed.
At the end of the training, we partied!! Celebrations to acknowledge the accomplishments of everyone involved are so important!
Meet one of our sewing staff and learn what it is like to be a sewer at Purnaa