My first encounter with fabric stores in Lusaka was with a coworker, and a curtain-sewer/mine share owner!! The coworker introduced me to a curtain-maker, and together, the three of us went shopping for fabric for curtains. We went to about 4 different shops, each one different. This particular shop, Madina Sales, has everything from used clothing and shoes, to furniture, foam, and fabric! There are at least 2 branches of this store, and although some of the selection is available at both places, they are not connected – one must drive to both.
Much of the fabric, especially the drapery and upholstery fabric has bold designs and colors. I kept trying to describe what I was looking for, and the seamstress understood, but we couldn’t find anything matching my ideas. We finally settled on a tone-on-tone, pretty boring material for the curtains – and I really like them! This fabric (left) is NOT what I chose – I was just posing for the fun of it! We also went into a store that I have since been back to several times, on my own, named “Safiques.” In Zambia, every letter in a word is pronounced – so while you & I might say “saf EEKS” here it is prounounced “sat-ee-kays.” It took me a while to figure this out – for instance, a local furniture store is “Home Corp” – yes, prounced “home corp” – with the ‘p.’ Anyway, here are pictures of the outside and inside of Safiques. You can see my “shopping buddies” in this picture – my coworker in the orange shirt and a hat, and the seamstress in the pink blouse. Much of the fabric hanging from the ceiling is chitenge (“chee TEN gay)- cotton fabric, died in patterns, and used in 2-meter pieces for just about everything – a wrap skirt, a shawl, to carry food or packages, or to tie a baby onto one’s back – I think there are pictures of that in an earlier post. Anyway, no prices, fabric content, or width are marked. I was followed around by a salesman, who wanted me to buy any fabric I stopped to look at. I don’t speak the local language, and his English was not always clear to me, so there was a lot of going back and forth, before I finally selected the fabrics I wanted. The salesman told one of the cutters how much of each fabric I wanted, and when it was all collected, he brought it to the owner/cashier. They discussed the price, but not in English! Finally, I was told the final cost and I paid – so different from shopping in the US!! It’s difficult to browse, or hold fabrics up to each other, or figure out if it’s really cotton, or is it 1 meter or 1.5 or 2 meters wide, etc. Anyway, I finally got my borrowed (and wonderful!) sewing machine set up on the dining room table, and went to work! The sewing machine has all kind of fancy stitches, but I was very aware of my time limit (the friend who loaned it is on a month-long missions trip to Malawi), that I had never done fancy stitching, and I wanted to return the machine unbroken! I used our new dining table as my cutting board (very carefully), and moved to the wood floor, as the quilt got bigger. You can see some of my supplies – a ruler, pen and tape measure were how I measured the fabric – so the whole project is a bit sketchy! Anyway, here is the finished queen-sized quilt.
I think the best part was being somewhat successful in accomplishing something. Changing cultures can be a bit unsettling, and it was encouraging to see that I can still be competent and creative, rather than just bumbling along. That realization made the whole project worthwhile!