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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." (Searchlight Pictures) 20210304
Masked in a nearly empty theater, a movie outing at last

Just four of us were in the audience for a matinee showing of “Nomadland” at Stanwood Cinemas.

Most Read