Since the 1980's it has been common practice for me to show up at a factory (which sometimes was one person making more then you can imagine) in Mexico to have something made for a design project - a hotel, a restaurant or whatever.
I'm not doing design of projects anymore but I did want to have someone make a casual jacket for me with some fabric that I bought while in Houston at My Flaming Heart.
I asked around and someone told me of a lady who did mending and repairs but that no one was sure if she could make something from scratch. I went and banged on the big metal gate, as I was told to do as the woman lived in the back. A lady named Delores came to the gate and said in Spanish that she indeed could make something for me.
In I went with fabric and sample of what I wanted. It was a weak sample in that all I had done was pin a sample of what fabric I wanted where and also where I wanted one fabric on one side of the hood and the other on the other side.
This entire conversation was conducted totally in Spanish! When we finished, unbeknownst to her, I was so happy that we had communicated so well that I wanted to hug her. I restrained myself.
We agreed that I would return one week later at 11AM to pick up the finished garment.
I arrived on the appointed day at the appointed time. Delores was at the gate and said it wasn't ready. I asked to see the work done to date.
I was dismayed when only one piece, the back of the garment had been cut out. Oh my, I wanted to take it on my trip. I doubted seriously it could be ready in three more days. Delores surprised me by telling me to return the following day at 3PM. I left wondering if it would be a wasted trip.
Now mind you, I have flown into Guadalajara in the past to have 500 crepe paper flowers made with the need to fly out the very next day. At that time there was only one vendor in the mercado who could make them or who at least I could find. Every time I flew in, I also flew out the next day with a completed order.
In addition, I flew in to visit factories six weeks before the Hacienda del Sol in Tucson was to be installed. Almost all of the factories were on time. One was nowhere near on time and I couldn't believe that anything would be ready in six months much less six weeks. It all was and was exquisite!
I reminded myself of these two instances. I told myself that it would be ready the next day. I arrived about 3:15. A friend answered the gate and escorted me back to Delores' sewing room. There in all its glory, hanging on a hanger already pressed and ready was the jacket. It reminded me of a scene in Cinderella where Cinderella walked in and this beautiful dress was there just for her.
I examined the jacket (I have been an avid sewer since I was a teenager - that's another story) and it was made to my satisfaction. Delores had even used some of the fabric for the jacket to make the seam binding. She had finished off all the seams. I was and am thrilled.
She was so pleased at my happiness. She wanted me to share it with our mutual acquaintances, Donnis, Gayle and Jose Luis. I haven't gotten to do that, but I did want to share this with all of you.
As I drove home, I chastised myself for not having faith in this new acquaintance, Delores. I've never been disappointed before in over 30 years, and I certainly was disappointed this time.
The craftsmanship and unique ability of the Mexican artisans to create something from a photo or a sample is mind boggling to me.
In addition, the cost including three yards of fabric and the labor of Delores was a total of a little over $50USD!
Now, everytime I wear this jacket in all its Day of the Dead bright colors, I'll think of this little lesson I had this week. Of course I'll never forget Delores. In fact, I hope to see her often!