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Looking After Mentors


by Duena Constanzia Moralez y de Zamora

If you are going over to someone's house to learn how to sew, construct armour etc, there's a few courtesy tips that are important to remember.

These people are taking valuable time to invest in you, make sure you're not a burden. It's mostly common sense and common courtesy but for some reason they tend to be forgotten. These include:

  • Be considerate of their time. You are asking them for their time, it is only reasonable to work around their schedule and for them not to have to work around yours. If for some reason that something comes up and they have to reschedule, work around them and try to be understanding.
  • Ensure that if you're asking for assistance for equipment needed for a particular event, that you ensure that there is sufficient time to proceed. Most people who are giving their time to others are highly likely to be already committed either to the event itself, other new people or may also need to ensure that they have sufficient equipment. If you leave things to the last minute, you may not get the response that you want, or you may become a burden to the person helping you. Let's not do that!
  • Identify exactly what you will need to bring (typical list below)
  • Do not expect to use anything from their stash of equipment. If you need to, bring replacement next time you are over. (Hide it in their house if they refuse it)
  • Call before you arrive to check if they need milk or anything
  • Bring a contribution of food/drink if you're going to be there over a meal period or
  • Confirm what the food arrangements are going to be
  • When you leave, ensure their house was in a better state than when you arrived (eg: help clean up after yourself and the workshop, put the books away, the plates and dishes etc)
  • See if there is anything that you can do to help them (eg: offer to sew their hems, offer some of your time to assist them in their projects - anything from painting banners, mowing the lawn, fixing a creaky door...)
  • Say thank you! (This is the biggest one that normally gets forgotten) *Consider a token or gift dependant on the amount of work/effort that they've put into looking after you. This could be a nicely worded card or letter. Or maybe a fabric gift voucher, or a beer! Depends totally on the personality of the person who helped you.

Doing this will make the time spent with you effortless and will encourage the person helping you to continue and be happy to continue helping you and others. It will not take long before the person helping you will view the experience as a chore if you forget these sorts of things.

Here's a list of things to consider/bring/wear if you were attending workshops/someone's house to make stuff:

To Armour

  • Check with whoever is running the workshop what you need to bring first.
  • Wear appropriate footwear
  • Ask before you use equipment
  • Follow instructions on how to use the equipment
  • If you break something, offer to replace it or assist in replacing it.

To sew

  • Thread (Same colour as the fabric you're using)
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Enough fabric (lining, interlining) washed and ironed!
  • Patterning fabric (calico or heavier for larger women)
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • Notebook and pen
  • Possible other things: Hook and eyes (tape or individuals), boning, bias binding, cord etc

Hopefully this will make your and your mentor's experience to be a positive one.