Sewing in Cuba

By Kathy Mathews, Monday at 8:14 am

My husband and I just got back from 8 days in Cuba, a fantastic adventure! I am still mulling over all I saw and learned in our People to People government authorized experience. I am sure there will be more posts about this journey but I wanted to write first about sewing in Cuba.

Cuba sew re 2People to people trips focus on education and our trip included stops at schools, art communities, musical performances and other wonderful glimpses into a life very different than ours. We were able to meet and converse with many Cuban people and I have never been so happy to be fluent in Spanish.

What about the sewing in Cuba? I found it both in Havana and in the smaller towns.

My first find was this sewing machine in Fusterlandia, the home of José Fuster. His art first covered his house and then his whole neighborhood. Cuban people make art out of everything and put it everywhere.Cuba sew re 1

Also in Havana, we visited the community artist colony/neighborhood of Muraleando.  After a musical performance I wandered through the wares and asked about needle arts.

I was directed to a small area where the abuelas or grandmothers made items and sold them.

I looked up at the wall and saw a small quilt. I was a fan of the abuelas!

Each one had made one of the blocks, figuring it out from a book with scraps of fabric. It was not for sale but I bought a small doll, just to try and support these lovely Grandmas.

Cubasew re 6We visited the famous Hotel Nacional, built in the 1930’s for the rich and famous to play and stay in while in Havana. Nowadays it is still fun to see but a bit shabby.

I glanced at the floor and the tiles reminded me that the Moors had controlled Spain for 800 years, bringing their North African traditions of tiles with them.

In turn, the Spanish brought them to the New World, including Cuba.

And I saw quilt patterns!Cuba sew re 7

We were able to travel outside of Havana as well. I loved the town of Trinidad where there were many tablecloths and table runners available at various stores.

I bought a lovely tablecloth from this woman who put down her knitting to sell it to me. I plan to use it this Friday for my Dreaming in Cuban book club. Don’t worry, you know I will write about it!

Cuba sew re 3In the Trinidad area we visited the Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga which is located in the valleys that were previously the center for Cuba’s sugar plantations.

There were all kinds of women who offered their hand-sewn items for sale. I felt like they were my people!

I have to admit that I gave away money as well as the prices were so low.

Look at all the items they are offering. A whole row of it!

I talked with the ladies and spied this beauty. Yes, yo-yos! Quite a lot of them in fact!

Lots of work went into this and one of my fellow travelers bought it for about 8 dollars.Cuba sew re 4

love that women in a very poor country can earn some money for themselves. Cuba has a very limited free enterprise opportunities for its citizens but sewing is one of them. Plus, arts and crafts are legal to bring back to the USA.

I will write more posts as the weeks go by on the trip but in the meantime, I got to see how sewing enriches people’s lives in a land vastly different from our own.

Sew happy no matter where you are!

Cuba sew re 5Want to see more of what I am doing and where I am going? Check out my Facebook page. Like the page and join the conversation! If you want to keep reading my blog, you can subscribe. To do so, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. That’s all, you’re done. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

I wrote about Cuba before, specifically about the book Dreaming in Cuban. Check it out here. Cuba sew re 8


This entry was posted in Exchanges. Bookmark the permalink.