Sew crafty: Youth learn sewing skills through library class

No one taught Haley Lemert how to sew.

The 27-year-old Seymour resident had to learn by trial and error.

“I taught myself, so I’m definitely not the best at it,” she said.

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But given time, patience and a desire to master a new skill, Lemert has found sewing to be both personally rewarding and a way to put a little extra money in her pocket.

Lemert has been sewing for about three and a half years now, she said.

She makes and sells unique handmade dolls that are part punk, a little odd but a whole lot of cute and is always working on a new project. Her recent work has included decorative pillows, tote bags, makeup bags and pet scarves.

“I just learned how to put a zipper in,” she said. “So I’m figuring it out.”

Knowing how much she enjoys sewing and wishing she had learned at a younger age, Lemert decided she wanted to share her knowledge and ability with others.

As an employee of the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour, Lemert thought the library could offer a series of classes or workshops teaching kids how to sew.

“We get to help come up with programming ideas, so I took the idea to Lola (Snyder, head of youth services),” Lemert said.

To teach the class, Lemert would need the proper tools and materials, so she requested the library purchase two sewing machines, along with fabrics, needles, thread, pins, fabric shears and other sewing supplies.

With the library’s mission of helping the community “connect, learn and grow,” the program and funding were approved.

On March 9, Lemert led the first session of the inaugural Sew Crafty class. Four kids attended and learned how to make patterns and sew by hand. After the hour-and-a-half session, each walked out having successfully made a round pillow.

Some of the kids said they had seen their moms or grandmas sew before, but none of them had experience doing it themselves.

The second session was March 23 and introduced the kids to using a sewing machine to make pillowcases.

Those attending both classes were Bailee Loudermilch, 11, of Seymour, Lexi Richart, 11, of Seymour and Braxton Horn, 10, of North Vernon. Haley Roberts, 11, of Crothersville, attended the second session, and Taylor LeBlanc, 10, of Seymour was at the first one.

Horn said he registered for the program because his mom wanted him to learn how to sew.

“I really don’t know anything about it,” he said.

Richart was convinced to sign up by her grandmother. Although she had never sewed before, she said it was fun and she was glad she was learning how.

Lemert took time with each child individually to help them and make sure they felt confident about the skills they were learning.

Loudermilch was the first to try her hand at the sewing machine.

“It was scary,” she said. “It goes really fast, and I was afraid I’d sew my fingers.”

After practicing some straight line stitches, Loudermilch said she prefers sewing by hand.

“It might be slower, but it’s easier,” she said.

Lemert said she didn’t want the kids to feel uncomfortable with what they were doing, but she also didn’t want them to be intimidated by learning something new.

She was proud of all of the students for learning how to thread a needle.

“It took a couple of tries for some of them, but 10 minutes in, they were all threading their own needles,” she said.

Horn said it doesn’t matter how much he might mess up sewing. He knows eventually, he will get it.

“If you never try, you’ll never learn,” Horn said. “And you’ll never get better at sewing if you don’t practice.”

Roberts said when it comes to sewing, it’s better to try and mess up than to be afraid of it.

“If you try and it’s not right, then you try again and try, try again,” she said.

One of the kids’ favorite activities was picking out their fabrics for their pillows. Some had superhero prints, while others had camouflage, forest animal prints and sports-themed prints and even one covered in images of the Eiffel Tower.

To make their stitches stronger, Lemert taught them about using the sewing machines to backstitch, which proved to be fairly easy because the machine does most of the work.

“I definitely want to backstitch because I don’t want my pillow to fall out,” Horn said.

Two more classes are planned for April 20 and 27, where students will utilize both hand sewing and machine sewing techniques to make a doll. A new skill they will learn is how to sew on a button. Registration is required.

The classes are limited to 10 students in fourth through eighth grades. Lemert said she plans on doing another series of classes in the summer and would like to offer sewing classes for teenagers and adults, too.

She is looking for volunteers high-school aged or older to help out with the classes.

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What: Sew Crafty sewing classes

Where: Kids Korner room at the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour

When: 2 p.m. April 20 and 27

Who: Any student in fourth through eighth grades; the class is limited to 10, and registration is required

To sign up as a student or volunteer or for information about Sew Crafty or any other of the programs offered at the library, call 812-522-3412, option 2, follow the library’s Facebook page or visit myjclibrary.org.

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