I loved crafts and hand-made products as far back as I can remember. I was always intrigued by process of design and making of a hand-made bag, shoe, and a piece of jewelry or clothing. That’s why I am starting a series of interviews in my blog called “Locally Made.” In these series, I will explore different places especially small studios and workshops where you can go and learn to make a hand-made product. The series will consist of interviews with the owners of these places and artisans who teach people a craft.
Since I am really into sewing, I made my first “Locally Made” interview with Raama Malkin who runs a sewing studio in south Tel Aviv. We talked with Raama about her studio, her background and why she started teaching.
SIP: What do you teach? What do people learn here?
Raama: I actually teach everything related to fashion. I teach both sewing and pattern-making—meaning how to sew a garment and how to prepare its pattern. All this is connected to design. Whoever comes here will plan the garment that s/he wants to make. S/he will also think about all kinds of details like three dimensionality, how the garment opens and closes. S/he would have to solve many issues related to design without even realizing that s/he is doing it. In addition to these, I also help people with their portfolios. I prepare students for Bezalel, Shankar or Wizo (art schools in Israel). We prepare portfolios especially intended for fashion rather than general portfolios. Whoever comes here knows that s/he wants to do fashion. In these portfolios everything is sewn here. Moreover, I also guide students who want to put together a collection.
SIP: In short people come here…
Raama: To sew.
SIP: Let’s talk a bit about your background. How did you start sewing? How did you progress?
Raama: I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
Raama: At the age of about 24 or 25 when I came back from a trip to Brazil. And I bought a sewing machine. And I began sewing. I did not know anything, it was really funny… (she laughs here) I remember the first time that I made a garment, I sew the darts and tried it on a mannequin and it was like woowww…It looks like a garment! Then I went on to study fashion design at Bezalel and I can’t say that I learned to sew there. But I did learn how to design.
SIP: To return to the first point that you made. How does one start to sew? You just buy a sewing machine and start?
Raama: It depends really on a person’s own initiative. It is possible to buy a sewing machine and begin sewing. But I think in order for it to be easy, it is better to learn a little bit. Because once you understand the logic, it becomes easier for you. It may sound funny but in sewing you should be able to see the next 20 steps ahead. Also, in the beginning I did not plan ahead so much when sewing and said that things will figure themselves out. Well, in the end they don’t…Then you have to unstitch the whole thing and begin from zero. And you do the whole thing as it should be done.
Also, in sewing, most of the work is planning, not really sewing. The work consists of planning everything so that it will be exact and pinning the whole thing. Sewing itself is fast.
SIP: Alright, let’s go back to your background. We talked about Bezalel…
Raama: I studied four years in Bezalel. Only in the last year, we had a seamstress in the department. And she was great. She taught me a lot. When I finished Bezalel, I said to myself if I wanted to become a fashion designer, I needed to know things better. So, I decided to participate in the program of Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare for pattern-making. It was a very rigid program and I did not finish it. However, I learned there a lot.
Then, I put out two collections of women’s clothes. I sold them to stores. At that point, I said to myself, what I am doing is not design. It is just following trends and trying to sell clothes. At some point I felt like a logistics manager. I told myself that I did not want to do this. Therefore, I started an MA program and meanwhile I began to teach.
(In the above photograph, the mirror in her studio reads “You are beautiful.”)
SIP: Why did you start to teach?
Raama: I began to teach because I was all the time alone in the studio. And this is something that no one tells you in a design school. They say, “It will be great. You will go out to the world, you will become a designer.” And when you are in school, you don’t really understand why there are so many designers who become lecturers and come to teach. Why do they become lecturers if they are such great designers? Well, this is because you are all the time alone in the studio banging your head to the wall. This is really difficult. And so I began to teach.
SIP: How did you decide to open this studio for sewing?
Raama: It is exactly for the reason that I mentioned above. Frankly, I will not lie, I also needed the money and I had the know-how. I had a studio downstairs that I rented with other people but they never came to the studio so I was always alone. Then, I rented this studio with someone who also never came. When I moved to this studio, I began to teach.
SIP: Thank you so much for your time.
Raama: My pleasure.
To learn more about Raama check out her website at http://www.beged.org/