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Vietnam Tour
Beverly Easterling, Magic Fit



I have just returned from a missionary trip to Vietnam.  What an incredible experience?  We have so much in the way of pattern, classes and sewing equipment that makes our sewing experiences fun.  I teach Magic Fit patterns and went to Vietnam to give the ladies there a pattern and show them how to use them. 

Going  to Vietnam as a missionary means that I spent my own money to travel and stay there and the patterns and supplies that I used I brought with me and donated them to the girls.  My church took up a collection that raised $700.00 that was used to cover material and expenses for this trip.  The total trip cost me about $2500. 

I went to Ecuador 2 years ago and was advised that everything would be available in Ecuador that I would need.  WRONG!  This trip I went prepared and took everything with me:  tape measures, seam rippers, seam guides and mechanical pencils with erasers.  I was able to get muslin for test garments and vellum paper to trace out patterns in Vietnam.  The most expensive part of the trip was the airfare to get there.  The Hotel for 9 nites was $114.00 and food was less than $200.00.  I was told that I was to but the lunches for the students each day.  We met for 7 days.  That was covered in the $200.00. 

We need to say a blessing over every piece of sewing stuff that we use and own.  I did not have the courage to tell them about the sewing machines and irons that I own.  They brought 5 sewing machines to this class:  4 treadle machines and 1 electric portable.  The machines were older than me.  The portable had a name PTATT on it.  I did some good demonstrating on that old electric portable.  I know how to use a treadle sewing machine but was not comfortable using one to demonstrate sewing techniques.  Our Church is hoping to set up a sewing workroom for these ladies, so I was commissioned to look for sewing machines to purchase over there.  The best domestic machine was only $325.00 and looked like something most of us would have traded in on the machine that we bought before the one we own now.  It did limited decorative stitches and a manual buttonhole.  They still sell treadle sewing machines.

There are absolutely no commercial patterns in Vietnam of any kind.  These girls can spend days trying to get a pattern to work.  When they saw how easy it was to get a pattern using Magic Fit Patterns they were just thrilled. 

The girls decided to make the 2 interpreters outfits using the Magic Fit pattern system that they had just used.  This is a picture of them working on one of the pieces (notice the iron).  It was so much fun to watch them.  15 students working on a top and pants for each interpreter.

Every one works on the floor with great comfort.  We worked in a nice house that was 4 stories high and about 15 feet wide.  The ground floor was a factory where they made garments that were sent to Poland.  They all worked on the floor also.  Watching them doing the boxer shorts was an unique experience.  They cut out the fabric from white single knit cotton and then screen printed the pieces after they were cut.

The fabrics in Vietnam were great.  But shopping was an experience.  They girls took me to several markets where we could purchase fabric.  The best selection was in markets where there were rows of stalls about 10 X10 piled high with fabric, each one manned by a merchant all wanting you to buy your fabric from them. 

The buttons were absolutely incredible (button shop picture 3)The prices were very reasonable.  Some I bought 14 for a $1.00.  I even found the rhinestone zippers for $6.00 for the longest one.

This a picture of me doing a demonstration on that old sewing machine (picture 1). We started on Wednesday and ended the following Wednesday afternoon.  We did not teach Sunday but they took me to the first markets for shopping, a typical "tailoring shop" (picture 3).  In just 7 days we accomplished a lot of instruction for these girls.  

There were 15 girls in this class.  Most of them were from Saigon which is now Ho Chi Minn City.  Some of the girls came from Da Nang, coming to Saigon by train that took about 20 hours.  They all knew how to sew and actually did sewing for people.  They refer to themselves as 'Tailors'.  We will be setting up a sewing shop for them in Saigon and in Da Nang so they will be able to support themselves. 



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