Program sews together the social fabric

EVERETT — Sewing can be a quiet, solitary activity for Susan Chesney. It can also be a social event with a roomful of her friends.

As a volunteer with the Clothing and Textile Advisors of Snohomish County, Chesney attends regular meetings with about 40 other active members who love to sew at the Washington State University Extension Office in Everett. On Saturday, she plans to participate in the year’s first Community Sew Day.

“We get something accomplished but it’s also social,” said Chesney, of Bothell. “I like to see what everybody’s doing.”

The monthly sew-ins are held so volunteers can meet in one place and sew projects for local charities. Sewing kits and fabrics are provided by Clothing and Textile Advisors of Snohomish County in the Evergreen Room at the WSU Extension Office, 600 128th St. SE, Everett.

Volunteers bring their own skills and sewing machines, said Julie Sevald, publicity chairman for the Clothing and Textile Advisor program. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month, volunteers drop in and help with the day’s projects. Volunteers for this month’s Community Sew Day will help make fleece hats for foster children and shopping totes for Pathways for Women YWCA and Group Health, she said.

Lake Forest Park resident Carla Peery learned about the volunteer group at the Sewing and Stitching Expo in Puyallup. A sewing teacher for the past 30 years, Peery attended a few meetings in 1997 and has been hooked ever since.

“This is right up my alley, Peery said. “I’m kind of the silk guru around here. If anyone has questions they ask me, or if I don’t know I go to my teacher.”

Peery teaches fifth-graders how to sew pillows as part of a program at Silver Firs Elementary School in Everett and Totem Falls Elementary School in Snohomish. She doesn’t have a favorite sewing project she said, but her favorite pastime is definitely teaching others how to sew.

“I’m always watching for that sparkle or the ‘I did this’ moment,” she said. “Sewing a straight line can be pretty amazing if you’ve never done that before.”

Chesney wasn’t teaching others to sew before she became an adviser in 2007 but has volunteered during the past two summers at the group’s annual Camp Stich-A-Lot, where kids ages 8 to 17 learn how to sew.

“We teach kids who are very excited about learning to sew,” she said. “It’s a very fun thing.”

Chesney and Peery both like to make their own clothes and said it gives them a chance to be creative and make exactly what they want.

“They say I never see a piece of fabric that I can’t improve,” Chesney said.

Adults who are interested in becoming a clothing and textile adviser and teaching sewing and needle arts to residents of Snohomish County can take part in training beginning in April, Sevald said. The training will be offered weekly on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., from April 5 through June 7. Classes are $75 for 30 hours of training. Fifty dollars is refunded after 50 hours of volunteer time has been completed within a year of finishing the program.

“It’s what all of us go through to be clothing and textile advisers,” she said. “We’re always learning ourselves and our monthly meetings help our own skills.”

Sewing with others also means when the inevitable problem arises when trying to complete a project, there are more solutions.

“If you run into a problem you have a whole roomful of people where somebody’s going to know the answer,” Peery said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491,

You can help

The next Clothing and Textile Advisors of Snohomish County Community Sew Day is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Evergreen Room at the WSU Extension Office, 600 128th St. SE, Everett.

More info: 425-338-2400 ext. 5545,

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