And yes, that's a non-electrical treadle sewing machine, currently in use. My grandmothers both had a sewing machine like that. They're still in use in Sri Lanka – and likely other countries, too – because not everyone has electricity, not everyone can afford the required electrical bills to use an electric sewing machine, and if they're relying on sewing to earn their living, a day without electricity – which can and does happen – would seriously damage a tailor's income.
There are little hole-in-the-wall tailor shops all over the place. Some have electric sewing machines, some don't. And, well, technically, in Sri Lanka (so I’m told) tailors are men sewing for men while seamstresses are women who sew for women. Meh. I use the term tailor for both. 🙂
4 thoughts on “A tailor shop in Colombo, Sri Lanka”
We have them here, too. I have a picture of a man set up in a cubby on a corner, using one to repair shoes, if you can believe it.
I believe it. Although in Sri Lanka, I think they mainly repair shoes by hand, whether stitching or gluing. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s what I’ve seen thus far. 🙂
My Mother in law has a machine like that. She was using it for home sewing and clothing repairs but she had issues because any thread that wasn’t pure cotton got all tangled up and broke. The machine wasn’t able to handle poly cotton thread or thin fabrics. So she ended up getting a new electric machine but kept the antique one too.
Do they use only natural fabrics in Sri Lanka?
No, polyesters and acrylics and such are quite widely used in Sri Lanka. But in Sri Lanka, terminology isn’t at all clear…
Fabric content isn’t labelled, so if you specifically want a 100% cotton fabric, then you have to know yourself how to identify it by feel and such (you can use a flame and ash test, which is quite accurate) – shop clerks don’t know how. As far as they’re concerned, cotton refers to a type of weave and finish, as does silk. It does not refer to the type of fiber.
100% cotton fabrics, or silk, for that matter, are in the minority. Even broadcloth is frequently a polyester or a cotton poly blend. I and my sister can identify them because that’s just how we were raised, and we specifically look for all-natural fabrics because that’s our preference. Other people, not so much.
I wish all-natural fabrics were more readily found and/or identifiable there.