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Threading the needle for more than 50 years


Growing up, I have always been intrigued by the world of fashion, whether it be dressing up my Barbie dolls or watching my grandmother sew wedding and Quinceañera dresses, I found myself being immersed in all of it. From the sequins, the beading, the final product, the moment the customer puts on the finished product, I was entrapped by what my grandma Leticia Giron could do in a matter of hours, let alone what she could in days.

As a young girl, I never imagined myself doing what my grandma did, I would rather be dressed in the gowns she spent months making rather than making it myself. Though, seeing the process allowed me to appreciate what she did and her work ethic.

Being one of only a few, my grandma knows the ins and outs of old-school sewing, creating patterns by hand, and customizing each dress to what the client wants. She was never professionally taught besides learning from her mother, who was also a seamstress.

At the age of 14, my grandma sewed her first piece of what would eventually be hundreds and eventually started lending a hand to help her mother with the workload.

“In my family, sewing really started with my grandma, but it was my mom who taught me,” Giron said. “I started learning with my mom. She would put me and my older sister Vicky to sew the buttons on jackets or bead small sections of dresses.”

The idea of being a seamstress was not the plan my grandma had for herself, but when her mother could no longer work as much as she did, she tasked Lety to take on the work. For more than 50 years, my grandmother took on the role as the local seamstress.

From creating clothes for her son and two daughters, my grandma grew so much she now had a list of recurring clients. Eventually, my grandma became well known amongst neighbors and people across the city, allowing her to be a part of so many special moments. However, creating dresses for special moments did have its hardships.

“The hardest thing for me was having to let people down or making sure they were satisfied,” Giron said. “I had to learn what they want and who they are as a person to make sure they are satisfied with what they walk away with.”

Like most jobs, dealing with difficult customers or strong personalities tends to happen a lot more than one would think, causing workers to reciprocate negative energy and creating problems. For my grandma, however, she cannot afford to be rude to even one person or it can ruin all that she has worked for.

“It is hard for me to be as professional as possible; I have dealt with people who have difficult personalities, and I must keep a straight face even if I do not like what they request,” Giron said.

Aside from the negative, my grandma has found joy in what she does, especially when it comes to creating dresses for family members. Creating her daughters’ Quinceañera dresses, my mom’s wedding dress, or my prom dress, my grandma finds her passion in those she loves most.

“Aside from the dresses I made for my daughters, it is a dress I always dreamed of making, even though it was one of my most difficult to make,” Giron said.

Filled with tears, I knew exactly what dress she was going to refer to. My quince dress was a dress she spent months working on, and I could not be happier with how it turned out.

“It was a dress I knew I wanted to make and when I finished it, it was worth the sleepless nights to see you that day,” Giron said. “I do everything for my family, so seeing you wear it made it all worthwhile.”

The amount of work my grandma put into that dress and every dress she has ever made for me is countless, but I am so appreciative of it all. I only wish she would realize her talents and appreciate how amazing her work is. Getting older is inevitable, yet she pushes herself to still make dresses, including now my sister and cousins’ quinceañera dresses, who are only months apart.

Even if she hates to admit it or agree with me, she is one of many heroes and I am honored to see her work and I am grateful to learn small pieces of knowledge from her.

Itzel Giron is the audience engagement editor and may be reached at [email protected]; @by.itzel.giron on Instagram; @itzel_anahi_16 on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Itzel Giron, Editor-in-chief
Itzel Giron is a senior multimedia journalism and creative writing student at UTEP. She started her journalistic career at The Prospector in the fall of 2021 as a staff reporter and is now editor-in-chief. Thanks to The Prospector and her tenacity, Itzel has had the opportunity to be an intern with KVIA Channel 7 at El Paso. Itzel is also a freelance journalist, and her work has been published in The City Magazine, Borderzine and Walsworth Yearbooks. After graduation, Itzel hopes to continue her passion of journalism by working in broadcast television reporting on politics, entertainment and news.
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Threading the needle for more than 50 years