Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2015 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 23, 2015
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about two months before the event. This
year, we made costumes for 60 women,
60 men, 15 boys, 15 girls, and of course
the bride and groom characters. Seam-
stresses make the ladies dresses, while
tailors make the men s."
The seamstress-designers this year
were Sherine Marshall, Debra Bethel,
Virginia Peterkin, Allison Williams and
Eunis Winchester. Two of them shared
their festival dressmaking experiences
with us. Both work regular jobs and do
all their Tobago wedding sewing as a
labour of love in their spare time.
sewed 15 dresses
this year---14 red
and gold gowns
with a balloon hip
effect, and one
dress for the
Massa s Wife.
She is a nurs-
at the Scar-
said she would rush
home after work every day
to stitch the dresses at home
on her Brothers heavy-duty
sewing machine. Bethel is a
Tobagonian who lives near to
Scarborough; her mother is
from the Grant family in
Moriah, while her father is
She said: "It took me one week just
to cut out the paper patterns and cut
the cloth. And then it took over a month
to make the dresses. It takes seven yards
of cloth for each dress. I make them in
stages: I make all the bodices first, then
I attach back and front panels, then I
stitch all the sleeves, and then I make
the big skirts, and attach them.
The last stage is adding the
bows and frills on the
neck, arms and sleeves,
and the two sides of
the skirt edging."
Bethel has been
sewing for the Tobago
Wedding for more than
ten years now. "I ve
been sewing since
and so on.
learned sewing in school, it was like a
gift; after I finished school I taught myself
more sewing from books and from online
courses," she explained.
"At first, in the early years of sewing
for the Tobago Wedding, I was doing it
all myself---it wasn t as big then as it is
today---so sometimes I d be making cos-
tumes right down to the last minute.
Then I asked my cousin to help, and over
the years, more people helped."
Virginia Peterkin is another talented
Tobago Wedding seamstress who, this
year, made 30 costumes: 15
for the little children,
and 15 for the
teenagers and youth.
Virginia lives at Signal
Hill, and has a regular
job in the hospitality industry, in addition
to her seamstress work.
"I was born in Tobago and grew up
with my parents in Moriah. I went to
schooling in Trinidad and grew up there
when Singer used to have a sewing class
around 1979 in Trinidad. So I took it."
When she returned to Tobago, she vol-
unteered to help sew for the Tobago
Wedding in Moriah because of her strong
family roots there. She said her sister,
Sherine Marshall, also sewed for the
wedding this year: "She made the outfits
for the bride, the chief bridesmaids, and
15 of the older women, bright yellow
"This year I sewed outfits
for the children and teenagers---
all girls. The Flower Girls wore
bright flowered yellow and
orange outfits. It took one to
three yards, plus edging, for each
child s costume, and five yards
for the older ones, because those
have wider skirts to allow them to
dance and move, and hold the skirts
when they do the brush-back."
"It s a lot of work," she said---but it s
worth it on the day of the wedding, when
currents of colourful costumes flow down
Moriah s narrow, winding roads like a
beautiful river of multi-coloured gentry
with a sense of rhythm and style all their
From Page B1
A happy couple dance during the Tobago
Wedding procession in Moriah on Saturday
July 18. PHOTO: SHEREEN ALI
Costume design is an undeniable part of the spectacle as well as an
unsung example of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
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