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Sewing classes gain popularity while students gain valuable skills

After school sewing clubs are sprouting up in districts all over the country, and many parents and businesses support the educational value that these clubs provide. Connie Tkach, a parent and experienced sewer from Puyallup, WA, started an after-school enrichment program called “Threads for Life” at Meeker Elementary two years ago. The year-long program meets every week with classes for both beginners and experienced sewers or returning students.

The students who participate in “Threads for Life” begin with basic functions such as threading a machine and winding a bobbin. After passing a “driver’s test” to demonstrate their knowledge of the machine, students can sew on fabric as opposed to paper. By the end of the program, students are creating clothing, tote bags, specialty pillows and more. The majority of these students are in the fifth or sixth grade.

Baby Lock, a St. Louis-based sewing machine company, recently donated machines to “Threads for Life” sewing club at Meeker Elementary School in Puyallup, WA. These machines include many computerized features that give children access to the latest technology while learning about the traditional art of sewing.

Sewing clubs not only provide a sense of achievement and a higher self esteem, but education in a variety of areas. In addition to learning about technology through computerized machines, students use math skills such as fractions and geometry to properly measure and cut fabric. The “Threads for Life” students also learned about community service by volunteering to help one of the Meeker’s second grade teachers who was doing a teddy bear project in her classroom. The second grade teacher needed corduroy teddy bears sewn together, so the “Threads for Life” students gathered in their free time and used their talent to construct the bears, ready for the second grade class to bring them to life.

While Tkach, a certified Clothing and Textile Advisor (CTA), was attending the Sewing Expo in Puyallup last year, she met Steve Jeffery, the president of Baby Lock. Jeffery was impressed by the “Threads for Life” curriculum and excited about a new generation of sewers. He decided to donate several machines to Tkach and her students.

“It’s a little something we can do to help young people enjoy the love of sewing,” said Jeffery.

Baby Lock donated nine computerized sewing machines and a serger to the “Threads for Life” program. In order to keep students up-to-date with access to the latest technology, Jeffery also offered to replace the machines with new models each year.

Additionally, Baby Lock retailers John Rendell and Robbie Burns offered to donate a machine, thread, fabric, and notions from their store, The Wild Rose Quilt Shop in Orting, WA. They also provide free maintenance for all of the “Threads for Life” machines and offer some discounts to students.

With so many schools cutting their home economics programs, dedicated parents like Tkach and sewing machine companies like Baby Lock play a vital part in keeping this tradition alive and exciting for future generations. This summer, Baby Lock retailers around the country will be offering classes during the summer with the Kid’s Clubhouse summer sewing classes from Baby Lock.

Baby Lock, a major underwriter of the popular PBS television show Sewing With Nancy® starring national sewing authority Nancy Zieman, offers a full line of products that enhance the love of sewing, including technically advanced sewing machines, sergers, embroidery products and exclusive software.

Call 1-800-298-8810 to find out more about becoming a Baby Lock retailer.

Reprinted from SQE Professional, June 2009