“The Art of Making Pillowcases and Curtains: Life of a Small Scale Tailor”

Written by Aira Atos, B.S. in Political Science III.

History of Making Pillowcases and Curtains

There are various reasons why a home is called a home, it may lie on the fact that it is where our family lives and we all know that our family is the most important persons in our life but what about our house? What about the chairs, the kitchen tables and the bed where we sleep in? For me this things holds a big part of my life, the way our home looks like reminds me of the memories and the happening that I spent with my family that’s why I consider my house and everything in it very close to my heart.

Take a tour in our house and I can guarantee you that the first things that you will look at are the curtains that cover the walls of our living room. They are normally bright-colored curtains that have flowers on it which was made by my grandmother and also our beds, particularly our pillows are covered with a similar themed pillowcase which is also full of flowers and laces at the sides.

Pillowcases are as old pillows and it was first used by the early civilization of Mesopotamia particularly the wealthier people who gets to have pillows to put their pillowcase into. It was even a symbol of wealth that the more pillows you have the more influence you have with people. It was used to alleviate and decrease the likelihood of people getting neck and back pain and with the use of pillows there is also a need for pillowcases to be made and beautify the outer appearance of the pillows.

Curtains are piece of cloth that is made to obscure or block the sun or in the case of shower curtains to block droplets of water, another example is the curtain that is used in theater that separates the stage from the view of the audience and can also serve as a backdrop of the performance. But they were not used solely for covering windows but were also used to divide spaces and act as a partition. According to history the first curtains were made from animal hides and were as large enough to cover doorways although it is stiff and does not drape well.

Each and every one of us has a passion in life that can either comfort us when we are stressed or we like to do that something just because. Many people finds there interests and passion towards music, acting, arts and crafts and dancing and to some others that can be more subtle or doesn’t require too much talent but a person can still learn and be good along the process and these can include hobbies that we can do while relaxing and enjoying the time that we have for ourselves. Fortunately, my grandmother whose age will reach 80 next year found her passion in life at a very young age, her curiosity to try things and to find a hobby that she can exert her time to made her discover her livelihood that made my existence today possible, because without her pursuing that passion of her my mother would not have been able to eat and live up to this day.

In her youth she studied in an elementary school in a town called Navitas in Aklan, there she was able to see that there is a livelihood in making pillowcases and curtains and by watching my great grandmother beautify her creations through embroidering them with simple designs of flowers my grandmother was able to tell herself that she needs to learn and make something for herself too. She told me that she was very excited every time her mother will take out her sewing kit and along with her aunts she would try to take little pieces of cloths and also take a single needle and make her way to the large terrace where the girls of her family would usually stay to make crafts for the house.

There she would try to ask her mother and her aunts on what designs are good and what are the steps that she needs to take so that she will be able to produce beautiful embroidery. Since then she tried to improve her skills and there came a time that she was given the opportunity by her mother to try their manual sewing machine which as far as I can remember still functions today, yes, rusty and is very noisy but the memories that she associates with that sewing machine makes it more important to her life.

When my grandmother reached her teenage years, she went to a school which is named Kalibo Institute which is by the way one of the oldest school in Aklan. There she attended classes and at the same time attends seminars for teenagers that would like to know different arts and crafts. She attended a particular seminar which according to her really improved her skills. She said that they were provided sewing machines and beautiful cloths and threads to make their pillowcases and curtains, the availability of the needed resources made her think that it was easier to procure when materials are complete, she made this remark because back in Navitas, they only use old blankets as their medium in making pillowcase. My grandmother is a very special person to all of us in the family; she is a very direct woman and would not be stopped or easily swayed once she has made up her mind, she also takes care of us when my mother is not around and goes to seminars and such.

My Lola buys her cloths in Taytay, Rizal where she goes twice a month to visit my cousins and check on them. What is amazing about Taytay, Rizal is that the cloths and even the dresses and t-shirts and shorts are very cheap and just like Divisoria, you can buy everything and would even get discounts if you know how to haggle.

Lola Mercy buys her thread in shops and would even rant about it being too expensive and she always compare things that she sees nowadays to the things that she was able to experience in the past. When I go home from school when I was young, I would always watch her embroider her curtains and as innocent as I may be, I always tell her that what’s the use of embroidering the curtains if all it does is cover our windows and make our house dark?

The art of making pillowcases and curtains was introduced to my Lola at a very young age and even up to now, maybe due to her strong bond with it, she still makes curtains and pillowcases for us and sometimes when someone wants to buy it she will gladly make some and sell it to them. I asked her if she considers herself an artist by making pillowcase and curtains, she told me that if doing what she loves makes her that then she would gladly accept and in the remaining time allotted to her she will try to tell other people about it and may be  teach us her grandkids to try and learn.

So what can I get from this research? There are some things that I would not have known about my Lola if not for this research paper, the simple making of the curtains was really alien to me because I did not really ask my Lola with what is the beauty of making it. The art of making a room beautiful with your stitches is a wonderful thing and despite the fact that it is very tedious to do I would still be really curious and interested with it.

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