Sewing workshops help 4-H’ers prepare projects for county fair

In Seymour High School’s home economics classroom, 4-H’ers work under the watchful eye of an adult volunteer.

Some of the kids have sewed for several years, but just in case they have a question or need help, there is an experienced adult right there next to them.

A few kids are doing 4-H sewing for the first time, so they are learning the basics and getting an opportunity to apply those newfound skills.

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Either way, the 4-H’ers find the time valuable because they are getting a good start on their projects or in many cases completing them.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays this month, the 96 4-H members in grades 3 through 8 enrolled in sewing or sewing for fun are invited to attend free sewing workshops.

“If we didn’t have the workshops, we wouldn’t have the clothing projects that we do,” said Jeanie Schneider, Jackson County 4-H sewing chairwoman. “When you see (projects) at the fair, it’s because of workshops like this. It’s awesome that the high school lets us use the facility.”

The second workshop session is today, and the others are June 19 and 26.

“Sometimes, we take a fifth Tuesday,” Schneider said. “At the end, if kids aren’t finished, then we divvy them up, and people will go to other people’s homes and finish their projects.”

The high school allows the 4-H’ers to use their sewing machines, while sergers are brought in by Schneider’s committee members.

Schneider said kids can bring their own sewing machine if they want. They also need to bring their own material and pattern washed and ironed so they are ready to go to work.

“We measure (the material), see what size they need to make before they cut anything out and go from there,” she said.

At the first session June 5, there were three kids who had never sewn before.

“They need to learn the basics, and they need to learn the terms of what they are doing,” Schneider said. “It’s a lost skill, but then yet with all of the younger ones coming up, I see they enjoy it, and it’s something where they can express their personality.”

One girl found a pattern on Pinterest, and Schneider and a couple of volunteers helped her make it fit within the 4-H requirements.

“With three of us talking together, we figured out how we can do what she saw on Pinterest to make it be 4-H appropriate,” she said. “They see things and they want to do those kind of things, and it just lets them have that avenue to do it.”

Jada Miller is in her second year of 4-H sewing.

“I couldn’t do it in Mini 4-H, so then last year was my first year doing regular 4-H, so I just thought I would try this and see how I liked it because I knew a couple of people that sewed already, and they liked it,” the Cortland Elementary School fifth-grader said.

She made a pillow for a 4-H project last year, and since she had extra fabric left over, she made an extra one for fun.

“I knew that was fun, so I wanted to do a pillow for 4-H this year and a skirt,” she said.

At the first workshop session, Jada received help from volunteer Lucy Dembek in making a half-elastic skirt.

When she gets to her pillow, she will use a dark blue pattern with a superhero theme.

“It looks cool, and I thought it would look cool for a pillow,” Jada said.

Grant Cooper, who lives in Brownstown and will attend the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center in the fall, is in his third year of 4-H sewing.

He is making a backpack for the second time. The first one he made in 4-H was black, blue and purple. This year, he is making one with black and white stripes, pink roses with green leaves and dark pink pockets.

Last year, he made a bunny with blue and white stripes, and the ears were pink and white striped. He gave that to his young sister.

“You can make them anything that they want,” Grant said of what he likes about making something for someone else. “You have the skills, and you can give it to them.”

Grant said he also has made pillows out of scrap fabric.

“It’s kind of like an adventure,” he said of sewing. “You’ll learn new things every time you do it.”

Jada and Grant agreed the workshops are beneficial.

“If you don’t have a sewing machine or a serger, they have those machines for you, so you don’t have to go out and buy one or try to borrow one, and they have people that can help you with patterns and everything,” Jada said.

“There are a bunch of nice ladies here,” Grant said of the volunteers. “They help us, and it’s really fun.”

Both kids are glad they chose to get involved in 4-H sewing, and they encourage others to pick up the lifelong skill.

“If I want to make something for myself or if I want to make something for someone else or if I just have extra fabric, then I know how to make some of this stuff,” Jada said.

“If they’ve never done it before, they need to try it because it’s really fun,” Grant said. “You can really make anything you want.”

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What: Jackson County 4-H sewing workshops

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and June 19 and 26

Where: Home economics classroom at Seymour High School, 1350 W. Second St.; enter through the bus lobby entrance off of West Second Street

Who: Open to 4-H’ers in grades 3 through 12; experienced adults will be on hand to help 4-H’ers with their sewing projects

What to bring: Something to carry and store supplies, a pattern if needed and scissors, pins and anything else that is required for their project; fabric should be laundered; youth planning to stay all day should bring a drink and either a sack lunch or money for lunch

Sign up: Preregistration is required and may be done by calling Purdue Extension Jackson County at 812-358-6101; students should RSVP for each session they plan to attend