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#WhoMadeMyDress: Meet Patricia Jacobs head seamstress at Hannah Lavery

by | Apr 18, 2022

This the first in a five-part #WhoMadeMyClothes series that centres and celebrates the people who make our clothing for this year’s Fashion Revolution Week.

From helping her grandmother sew, to becoming the head-seamstress at Hannah Lavery, Patricia Jacobs tells her story of family, hard work, and community upliftment.

Hannah Lavery is a women’s apparel design house based in Cape Town. The clothing brand is eponymously named after Hannah who launch her brand in 2012. Their clothes are the midpoint between comfort and confidence – creating high-quality clothing that’s comfortable for busy, working women. They offer a diverse range of sizes for clothing that is made to fit you – not the other way around.

The team consists of compassionate women who love making clothes. All of their clothes are made in the studio in the Cape Town city centre. It was here that I was fortunate to meet Aunty Pat and hear her story.

Patricia Jacobs, also known as Aunty Pat amongst her co-workers, has been working at Hannah Lavery, where she is the head seamstress, for more than 10 years.

Patricia comes from a big family of five children and grew up in Athlone. She learnt how to sew by watching and helping her grandmother (pictured below). “I was a granny’s child”, she says. “We spent a lot of time together and she taught me so much. My granny was very skilled. She could make a garment without using patterns. She would cut the fabric and sew it by hand.”

Patricia met Hannah while the designer was still in college and began working for her soon after she graduated. Her role includes drawing out patterns, making a mock-up and then a sample of a new piece of clothing. Only once the sample is approved, does the garment go into production. She also oversees the other seamstresses and helps them in their work. She has been a part of the team from its infancy and still loves coming to work every day, especially since she accompanied by her daughter, Leigh-Anne (pictured below with Patricia), who works alongside her.

Although she was the only one of her siblings who learnt how to sew, Patricia has made sure to pass down her knowledge to others in her community and to her daughter. She has also taught groups of women in Khayelitsha as part of an upliftment programme.

“I love making clothes. It’s such a special skill,” Patricia says. She relishes in being able to turn a large roll of fabric into garments that people treasure. “It’s an art,” she adds. Seeing the end result and other people wearing it is what she loves most about her work. Seeing the Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, wearing Hannah Lavery was “an awe moment” for her. “Seeing other people wear the clothes I helped make, really puts into perspective the work I do,” Patricia says.

Her work gives her the flexibility to care for her family and balance her role as a mother. Her family is an important part of her life. She loves caring for her daughter and twin boys as well as her mother whom she says is very fortunate to still have in her life.

The Hannah Lavery team is a very close-knit community, and it feels like a second home for Patricia. She hopes to see more young people working in the industry and that the craft of clothes-making can be continued through future generations.

“It’s sad to see the youngsters not doing work with their hands, like we used to,” she says. “I want to be able to pass down the knowledge I have to the younger generation so the skill doesn’t die out,” she adds. She is looking forward to the business growing and having more people join the team so that she can mentor them and make them feel at home.

  • Images supplied by Patricia Jacobs
  • To learn more about Hannah Lavery, take a look at their website.
  • This article is the first article in a five-part #WhoMadeMyClothes series that aims to centre and celebrate the makers behind our clothing during Fashion Revolution month. To learn more about Fashion Revolution, click here.
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