In Depth: Westitch

This is another installment in our series of interviews with student groups at Wesleyan.

Two of Rama’s finished sewing projects

For this interview, I sat down with Rama Al Nakib ’16, co-founder of Westitch, to talk about the group’s history, how it is currently structured, and the creative process.

What is Westitch?

Westitch is a do-it-yourself collective. We teach sewing, knitting, and clothing construction from scratch material or old items. My partner, Nicole Roman-Johnson ’16, handles the knitting part of the group.

How was Westitch founded?

Over the summer I was going through the list of extracurriculars because I wanted to join clubs. I’d already been sewing and like cutting up my own clothes really low key since high school but I really wanted to make it a thing that people would do here, because I know a lot of people are interested. So I signed up for a table at the club fair. We applied for funding through the WSA, which we used to buy machines, fabric, and lots of other supplies.
We started meeting regularly, but a lot of people had different skill levels. So when they would come, they’d feel like they were learning something they already knew, or not learning enough, so it was really difficult to coordinate. So what we do now is, whenever people just want to have time with the machines or personal time to learn whatever it is they want to do, they just email me and we schedule a time and do one-on-one meetings.

What do you see coming out of the group? Are people just doing individual projects?

People just do whatever they want and I’m just here as a resource. They can use it whenever. I’m just there to provide support and assistance as needed. It’s pretty independent.?There is a fashion show at the end of the year for student designers. I definitely want to incorporate people in the club and their pieces into the line. I want to make a Westitch line because we advocate individual expression rather than adhering to a certain preset corporate standard.

Can you tell me about any specific projects? What have you made?

A member of the club approached me to try and make this like, really strange like dress out of plastic pvc. And it was just very Yoko Ono in its aesthetic. I loved helping that person do that for a friend of theirs, because this person doesn’t make things for themselves, they just make things for other people, which I though was really cute.

I really like making dresses, but I’m trying to move on and start making actual decorations for my walls and stuff, and just things that I can use rather than clothing. It’s also just really time-consuming; making a dress takes weeks, whereas making something silly like a phone covers takes like a day.

What do you envision for Westich in the future?

As more people start coming, we’d be interested in getting more machines, so that more people can work concurrently. We’re definitely gonna reregister next year!

How can people get involved?

Just email ralnakib[at]wesleyan[dot]edu and I’ll add you to the listserv, or even just ask for a meeting. Any skill level is welcome!