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Aug 19, 2022

A Seamstress’ High Season

The reopening of schools is just a couple weeks away and children are preparing to re-enter the classrooms. School gears and a new set of uniform is just a few things that families and children look forward on a new school year. For some families, the hunt for new uniforms started as soon as the start of summer. Ready-made uniforms shops and seamstresses look forward to this time as it’s one of the busiest. This week’s bright side takes a look at the back end of uniform preparation through the story of Mrs. Skeen.


Sabreena Daly, Reporting

Kathleen Skeen is a seamstress. She’s been in the business for over three decades. If you ask her, she’d tell you she didn’t choose the profession, but rather it chose her. She’s busy at work sewing another uniform for a student. She couldn’t even tell me the number of uniforms she’s sewn so far. That’s because Skeen is busy at work in a seamstress’ high season.

Kathleen Skeen

Kathleen Skeen, Seamstress
“Right now, due to covid, it’s still not as busy as it would normally be; it’s a bit, but not as much. Before covid, it was a disaster.”


As her welcome sign indicates, it’s a profession with too much fabric and too little time. Some families place their orders months ahead to get the perfect fit of uniforms. Then, there are others that come trickling in at the eleventh hour.
Kathleen Skeen
“You find that sometimes a lot of people they come, and they want to come at the last minute. Some would come early. As school close some start to come. “I don’t want my uniforms late so I’m here.” But a lot of people wait until the last week. I have people that haven’t come with cloth as yet.”


For late comers, they run the risk of getting only one or two tailored uniforms to start them off. The perfect fit carries a sense of pride for the student wearing it, as well as the seamstress who tailored it. For Skeen, she can knock up a perfect set in three hours—two tops. The experience, she says, is generational teaching.

Kathleen Skeen
“Da like they say, it’s in the blood. My sister, Heidy, my aunt, my grandmother, several of us and I have a lot of cousins over the country sewing too.”


“Do you feel like this is your purpose?”


“Yes. I make people smile when they out on their clothes and they feel good. I used to sew queen’s dresses. I used to sew for Miss Universe in the past when they used to make clothes. I do have a lot of customers. I had much more in the past but since everything start coming in ready-made, it has depleted quite a bit except for uniforms. I used to do uniforms for B.T.L., B.E.L., different but I can’t do that anymore. Its too much for my body.”


Sewing uniforms is a labor of love that ultimately takes a toll on the body. Skeen is also part of the disabled community. She’s an amputee and member of the Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities.
Kathleen Skeen
“I have a prosthetic leg that I use and I remember after the accident, my sister said, “So what are you going to do? Sit at home?” She said, “Look yah gyal, you have yuh two hand, come back and work.”  So, I did that and from then it’s been thirty-eight years now. I think we all need to show that we care for people. That we want the best for them and for them to see that we are doing something for ourselves and for the community that they too can do it. Because many people think that because they have lost a hand or a leg that they can’t do anything again, but it’s not so. Life goes on and you have to make the best of life.”


Making the best of life for this seamstress and amputee is done one apparel at a time. Because of her age, this may be her last year in the business. But we learnt that she has other hobbies she looks forward to, like reading. For now, Skeen is hard at work on her last leg of a seamstress’s high season.  Looking on the Bright Side, I’m Sabreena Daly


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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