Textile Toursim: Sweat Shop

I was able to rent a tailor (sewing machine) to do some in house uniform production.  Outside of the factory the uniform is proving to be a bit complicated for the average tailor or seamstress in the time I have remaining on this tourist trip.


FF Tamale Sweat Shop


Hand crank sewing machine set up in the front room of my lodgings.


ff Sewing Batik Uniform

Frau Fiber Batik Uniform

Completed Batik uniform.

FF Ghana Uniforms Hanging

Completed uniforms hanging.




Textile Tourism: Lawra, Ghana

I made an official visit to Grace, at  the Praise Jesus Weaving Center, in Lawra.  Grace was taught by Kente weavers to make a 18″ wide brocade cloth.  She creates a unique fabric, which is delicate yet firm, using sewing thread.  Grace has 12 apprentices who work for her in exchange learning a trade, in the hopes that one day they can start a business of their own.

Grace and FF

praise jesus weave room

Weave Room

praise jesus aprentance

Praise Jesus warp

Praise Jesus purchase


praise jesus cloth

Grace, like many of the weavers, sewers and dyers, requested I create a market for their goods.  So I purchased fabrics, which will be for sale at the Institute for Labor Generosity Workers and Uniforms.



Textile Toursim Ghana: Official Visit with Fugu Weaver

On my textile tour of Ghana, took her to Tamale, to meet with 3rd Generation Master Fugu Weaver, Mr. Sadik.  Mr. Sadik provided me with an opportunity to weave on his loom.  I also commissioned yarded to produce a uniform inspired by the Fugu smocks.


FF greets Mr. Sadik


Meeting Mr. Sadik

Mr Sadik instructs FF in Fugu Weaving

Instruction from Mr. Sadik

FF weaving Fugu



mr sadiks loom


Mr. Sadiks Loom Detail

FF Fugu Weaving Section

Frau Fiber’s Section

FF and Mr Sadik preparing the warp


Winding a warp

Textile Tourism – Accra, Ghana

I prepare to travel through out Ghana, learning about textile and sewing production.  To begin my travels I had a uniform made, so I can assimilate to local dress.  The fabric was purchased on a Sunday morning in Makoha Market, from Alime.  I purchased 6 yards for 80 CD.  28.18 Dollars, which is about 4.69 per yard.

FF uniform fabric vendor


The uniform was produced by Cadling Fashions, Ghana.  The cost for sewing was 50 CD, 17.06

LInda from Cadling Fashions


Here was the finished product.

FF Ghana Uniform


For more information on textile and apparel production in Ghana, check out CSULA Professor Carole Frances Lung’s blog https://freezoneregime.wordpress.com

Conflicting Reports

The Los Angeles Area Fashion Industry. A summary of data collected on Friday the 11th of April 2014.


The data was collected from:

  • CIT Commercial Services, one of the nations leading providers of factoring and financing to the apparel industry


  • California Fashion Association a non profit providing information for business expansion and growth to the apparel and textile industry in California


  • Sweat Shop Watch a coalition of over 30 labor, community, civil and immigrant rights, women’s and student organizations, and individuals, committed to eliminating the exploitation, which occurs in sweatshops; and factories in Southern California.


  • The Garment Workers Center, whose mission is to empower garment workers in the Greater Los Angeles area and to work in solidarity with other low wage immigrant workers and disenfranchised communities in the struggle for social, economic and environmental justice.



Los Angeles is strong

in the Fashion, Apparel and Textiles Sector,

consider the following:


  • 46 billion in apparel goods enters our ports annually.
  • This global industry has clear reasons for sustaining a permanent place in this region, which boasts a well- paid employment base.


“Yes, the conditions are better here, but the notion that we still don’t have sweatshops in the United States is simply not true,” says Marissa Nuncio, director of the Garment Worker Center. “It’s important that people are aware of the conditions that exist like poor ventilation and terrible safety violations.” One common, and hazardous, violation is locking workers into the factory during operating hours.


Didn’t we learn our lesson from the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire in 1911?


  • Given the enduring popularity of L.A.-based design, inspired by the sun and a vision of easy living, “L.A. Style” is constantly propagated by the national media’s obsession with Hollywood celebrities.
  • L.A. brands and the constant influx of new designer names command a premium in the capital markets.
  • Technology helps L.A.’s designers and manufacturers stay competitive, shortening product cycles and reducing costs.
  • L.A.’s textile industry’s advantage is design: the ability to diversify product lines and take on vertical operations. These processes involve many layers of expertise, speed, and a willingness to try new things.


Working Conditions in Los Angeles have Improved


  • May 2012, 3,770 independent fashion designers worked in Los Angeles, earning about 35 dollars an hour.



FITM – OTIS are listed as the best places to earn degrees in Fashion in Los Angeles: these schools cost well over 50,000 a year to attend. Students will graudate with 200,000 in student loans, one would have to work 6666 hours to pay off that educational debt.  


  • Wholesale apparel wages remain strong at $25 an hour, while basic manufacturing (cut-and-sew) apparel jobs offer $15 an hour, well above the California and federal minimum wages.


A problem for U.S. workers: Wage theft —a typical practice in an industry where workers often don’t speak English and may be in the country illegally. Wage theft occurs when employers violate minimum wage or overtime laws and keep those additional wages owed to employees. 90 percent of garment workers in Los Angeles do not receive overtime pay, even when they work more than 40 hours.


Unhealthy conditions persist because the laws on the books simply aren’t being enforced. California has some of the most progressive labor laws in the country, yet employers violate these laws all the time. Los Angeles has a handful of investigators to inspect the almost 4,000 factories, so for the employers, it’s a risk worth taking. If they get caught, the fine becomes a business cost.


The hurdles to overcome

  • New, young designers seek to enter this business, and more and more specialized women’s clothing buyers arrive from other states and countries. There is an important need to refresh the LAX airport terminal and the downtown Fashion District.


The structure of the Los Angeles garment industry encourages a “race to the bottom” for wages and working conditions.

Money spent locally by better paid garment workers means reinvestment in the communities where they reside. Census data shows that garment workers are concentrated in the poorer areas of Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley. The influx of earnings and spending would bring needed economic stimulus to these communities.


  • Our own export capabilities need to be enhanced, and cooperation between government and business is necessary to overcome barriers to exporting. One possibility is to create retail channels that focus on the “L.A.” brand.


Multinational companies are the major winners. Walmart, Nike, and Adidas freely import from countries all over the world for the lowest costs. Unrestrained quotas, has allowed the consolidation of manufacturing, contributing to the downward spiral of wages and working conditions.


  • A hard look at how regulatory decisions are imposed on employers in the apparel and textile area is necessary. Reducing financial stress on small companies never falls out of fashion! Let us enhance entrepreneurial expansion—that’s the spirit of the West in a modern form!


Certain segments of apparel manufacturing are likely to remain in Los Angeles. Los Angels is a center of fashion design and marketing. Many industry officials speculate that local manufacturing will specialize in items requiring small production runs, rapid turnaround, or strict quality control. For example, the one occupation that is likely to stay is sample-making because it requires highly specialized skills. Unfortunately, these occupations constitute only a small fraction of the industry. The shops that do survive will encounter increasing downward pressure on wages, and the workers can expect conditions to deteriorate.


How to support the Industry

  • Reforming immigration and work permit rules tops the list to expand the industry.


Many garment workers are immigrants and they should not be discriminated against based on this status, whether documented or undocumented, workers deserve justice, dignity, and liberty, including the full protections, rights, and responsibilities afforded by law to all members of the society.


  • Costly hassles that emanate from a multi-tier regulatory structure are worth a second look. Water access for denim washing is critical. Reducing discouraging and complex regulatory snafus will mean less hassle and more excitement, which builds more industry.


The Levi’s plant outside El Paso, TX, uses 15% of the city’s water supply, to provide customers with cool looking distressed jeans.


How would Los Angeles in a draught year face this level of water use?


  • Efforts to navigate red tape and successfully display and sell products in Asia could be worthwhile, since the paltry $50 million in apparel exports that left L.A.’s ports for China in 2012 is laughable.


American Apparel has opened stores in Asia, however this is not the solution. I believe it is essential to consume less, and to continue to develop markets for goods and services existing under fair conditions, we must as individuals and governments commit to sweat-free purchasing.



International Quilt Festival in Long Beach

On Sunday, Toro and I attended the International Quilt Festival.  There were some beautiful works, I found myself attracted to the Modern Quilt Guild minimal Bauhaus inspired designs.  I especially enjoyed seeing the hand quilted works.  Here are a few of the high lights









Ballad of a Garment Factory Collapse

In the heart of SAVAR, Bangladesh. In June 2013, the winds were hot and humid, as a building collapsed on
Raza Plaza eight stories high, and 1129 hard working people did die.


On the top floor of that building, eight stories in the air
these young men and women were working in an new sweatshop there;They were sewing disposable garments for a very low wage.
So tired and pale and worn-out! They were desperate for a wage.


There were no comforts, no fresh air, no light to sew by, and the stitchers, they toiled from early morn till darkness filled the sky.  When vibrations from an illegally built generator brought the factory down onto the workers below.


Then on that fateful free market day, when the worst garment factory disaster in history occurred! 
That poorly constructed building collapsed and fell into a rocky maze. 
So many innocent hard working people died, trying earning a meager wage.


Thousands of remaining workers mourned, they followed the sad families. 
The streets were filled with people weeping bitter tears.  The factory owner, said, “We have to learn lessons and get together – retailers, buyers, suppliers, and make better days”


100 years ago it took a fire, to hope for better days.


Frau Fiber 2013


image of collaspe building


This summer I am opening my headquarters –


ILGWU – Institute of Labor, Generosity, Workers & Uniforms


ILGWU is an organizational body and experimental factory, housing the archive of my work.  I am organizing the work in the following ways –


Department of Commemoration

KO Enterprises

Revolution Textiles

Inerrant Textile Workers Museum


Department of Generosity and Workshops

Sewing Rebellion


Department of Economic Development

Made in Haiti


Department of Labor

Collaborative Bicycle Powered Sewing Factory

I’m stitching to support the Sewing Rebellion

With the downturn in the global economy it has become necessary for me to join the forty-three percent of tailors and hand sewers who are self-employed.  (This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).  We hand sewers and seamstresses, provide an invaluable service to consumers who value their clothing.  I have found a nitch market, manufacturing garments for artists.  I am fortunate my skills and craftsmanship are appreciated.  I earn approximately $12.11 per hour, and hope to earn $25,200 to continuing supporting the Sewing Rebellion.

My first stitching project was a collection of garments created for CamLab a LA based artist collaborative.  I generated the following garments (see below), which were used in a performance at MOCA, as part of the engagement party series.  http://www.moca.org/party/camlab/

I’m open for other stitching jobs, so place your custom orders today!

Stitch In


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