Sewing classes are more than mending

Camp Stitch-A-Lot started in 1999 to help Snohomish County 4-H members enter their work at the Evergreen State Fair.

But sewing is so much more than a yearly project aimed at earning a blue ribbon.

Julie Sevald, publicity chairman for the Clothing and Textile Advisor program with the Washington State University extension office in Snohomish County, said sewing has a valuable place in today’s world.

“Clothing and textile advisers feel it is a valuable and worthwhile life skill,” she said. “We have a passion for sharing it with others.”

Recent Saturday sewing classes offered by advisers included zippers, pockets, buttonholes, pattern fitting, bindings, hand applique and embroidery.

Today is graduation day for a dozen new volunteer advisers, who have been studying since April. The trainees studied professional presentations, today’s textiles, pressing, class planning, learning styles, color and design, body proportion, fabric pests, basic sewing equipment and child protection.

Most importantly, volunteers learned how they’ll teach sewing skills later this month at Camp Stitch-A-Lot.

“We offer ages 8 to 17 sewing classes that cover many levels of experience, from beginning to advanced,” Sevald said. “Class sizes are limited to ensure a successful experience.”

They hope to have one teacher for every two students. Classes include bedroom makeover, an introduction to sewing, and basic and advanced levels of instruction June 23-27 and July 7-11. There are two sessions per day, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.

“The kids have a great time and are so proud of their creations,” she said. “We have a style and fashion show at the end of each week of camp that will melt your heart.”

For more information about summer classes, call 425-338-2400, ext. 5545.

Sevald learned to sew from her mother, Girl Scouts and home economics classes. She majored in family studies and consumer sciences at San Diego State University.

“It is great to design and fit the clothing from start to finish. I also enjoy home decor sewing, such as curtains, throw pillows and tablecloths, a skill I needed when we moved around a lot as a Navy family.”

My family had a recent emergency: A stuffed kitty almost lost her leg. I gathered my granddaughters, ages 2 and 3, and pulled out the old sewing basket.

Fascinated, they wanted to know all about pin cushions, thread, buttons, zippers, scissors and each tiny compartment with seldom-used sewing notions.

Kelbi and Peyton quietly watched me thread a needle and reattach Kittie’s limb.

It’s always nice to be Magic Grammie.

In a few years, we may even dust off my sewing machine in the storage room and shorten a hem. But is it worth learning to sew when you can buy a pair of kids summer shorts at Target for $3?

“Learning to sew is an artistically fulfilling and confidence building life skill,” Sevald said. “When you sew for yourself and others, you have a choice in everything from the fabric, color, style and size, while ensuring that it’s constructed to fit your unique body type.”

Students will learn that sewing is not just for everyday garments.

“It is an art form that can be used for home decor, gift items, holidays, formal wear, costumes and quilting,” Sevald said. “Consumer education regarding fabric care, laundering, maintenance of clothing and textiles, how to mend and repurpose clothing items are an integral part of the sewing experience as well.”

Maybe sewing students this summer will win blue ribbons, then mostly use hemming or button skills when all is said and done.

If they learn to amaze toddlers by saving a leg on a stuffed kitty, it’s well worth their education.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

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