Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Some set their hearts on a rocking chair..

… the better to sleep out the days,
but I’m looking for a reason to kick and scream,
I don’t want to fade away.*

This weeks blog is again brought to you by the numbers eight and four (the numbers of women sewing, and volunteers in) and the amazing Chumbawamba, and their song, ‘Fade Away (I Don’t Want To)’ which accompanied me through almost every day of the the last few weeks of my last job. Seeing them again the other night was breathtaking and inspiring as ever. This song never fails to stir me, and makes me remember there are masses of other people striving for change and fun and laughter rather than just huge pots of cash.

So, what news since last week? I had a fabulous and much needed day off on Thursday last week, and just conked out on the sofa all day. I hadn’t realised how tired I’d got. I don’t think of myself as working evenings or weekends but I have done a few Saturdays recently, and have a few more to go, and the internet and my clever phone mean my email is always in my pocket. Some stopping time is vital.

Friday was a mixed day – I came in to an email saying the VAT man wanted a whole bunch of invoices to back up our claim, so I had to rush around sorting that out – he is one person I don’t want to make a mistake with! But then the day ended with some GREAT news! We have been awarded just over £10k by Community Action Hampshire/Community Grants to pay for us to develop support for our ever increasing number of volunteers. This means that (woohoo!) we can pay Della to do that work, as she will do it brilliantly, and she should be able to afford to not have to do other work and can be here full time, worry free, for six months! Break out the cake – this is a fab, fab thing. And another great thing – we had a teeny tiny mention in the Observer Magazine on Sunday http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/14/lucy-siegle-not-easy-being-green-buying-underwear and a flurry of interest and orders as a result. I’ve been trying to keep a lid on press and publicity until we are producing a surplus of pants (right now we are covering our orders not having spares) but it’s great to see our name in print and the interest it has generated is brilliant. I’m being interviewed shortly by a Welsh magazine – I suspect I’ll get my accent back after the phone call!

March’s fundrasiing theme continues and I was busy writing bids on Monday. We’re putting in a bid to the Southampton City COunil Runnig Costs Fund, and are preparing for our John Paul Getty Junior Trust visit. There are a few smaller bids going on too including one which we’re really hoping to get, from the Hilden Charitable Foundation. We’re asking for a whole bunch of stuff for craft and relaxation sessions as we want the women to be able to come in for non work reasons. They’ve really enjoyed the massage sessions so it woudl be great if we could offer things like mendhi (I can’t spell that – hand painted henna tattoos) and and just bring them together in our social space. I love mendhi and have a beautiful design on my left hand, done by Sacdiya’s friend at an event last week.

An ex colleague, my lovely desk buddy Clare, popped in yesterday with a slightly bashed flat screen monitor for us. It was great to see her here, and see our progress through her eyes. In a non eye swapping sense of course. When people come in every few months or so, I realise just how far we’ve leapt forward – being here day to day it’s easy to lose track of the progress. The Tuesday group are doing well, and lookign more relaxed here every week. Which is great.

Sadly, we’ve yet another problem with one of our machines, a tiny spring sprang out and is proving hard to trace or replace. I think we need a box of spare everything just in case. But aside from that, production is going well. The quality now is getting really good. We’ve realised that a few of the we sent out at Christmas, while good then, would fail our QA now. So if you bought then and found that the leg elastic was tight, I promise you things have got better! You have a collectors item there though, some of the very first pants we ever made. We’ve also effectively sold out of white pants. The white fabric works and handles slightly differently from the others and is both prone to catching in the machines, and hard to handle. We’ve gone through a lot of it making pants that aren’t anywhere near good enough to sell, and so have decided that until we can get some more, better fabric, white is off the menu.

Anyway, what’s happening today. One of our Tuesday students has swapped into the Wednesday group today. Z has a college class on Tuesdays now. I’m hoping she settles in well – she is apparently an excellent seamstress, has picked it up really fast, so she should keep up and do well. I’ve made some lunch to share, and I saw Samia bringing in a bag of something too. Mmmm… H is now off, we suspect with a brand new baby very soon – she’s not been in for a few weeks and is due any time. Today, the women are we are sewing, some University students on placement are policy writing, I’m doing this, and will be shortly working out some media stuff with Chris Smith of Swarm Communications who kindly volunteered to help me via an Unltd/Media Trust Media matching event. He’s very knowledgeable and I’m looking forward to getting some strategic plans in place, they make things work much better. It’s the lovely Janet’s last day of volunteering with us. so we are sorry to see her go, but making the most of her today.

But now it’s time for tea break, and then an interview with The Welsh Compass, a Cardiff University magazine. Hope you’re enjoying the gathering springtime, it’s getting warmer here and I’m now cycling hatless and without waterproofs, and most days, without lights. Lovely!

* Fade Away ( I don’t want to)

Some set their hearts on a rocking chair
The better to sleep out the days
But I’m looking for a reason to kick and scream
I don’t want to fade away
Fade away, fade away
I don’t want to fade away
We think that the power is in our hands
‘Cos we’re holding the remote control
Pile up the lot and what’ve you got?
Bitter-sweet nothing at all
It’s a mighty long way from my own front door
To the world we were going to make
We got bloodied and bruised for the old excuse
That it’s hard just staying awake
Wake me up if you catch me falling
Gently into the night
Shine up my shoes ‘cos I can’t get used
To the dying of the light
Some set their hearts on a rocking chair
The better to sleep out the days
But I’m looking for a reason to kick and scream
I don’t want to fade away
Fade away, fade away
I don’t want to fade away


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