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Cadi Gall, 9, works with a sewing machine during a Nash County 4-H Summer Program beginner sewing camp on Tuesday at the Nash County Agriculture Center.
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Telegram photo / Adam Jennings

Cadi Gall, 9, works with a sewing machine during a Nash County 4-H Summer Program beginner sewing camp on Tuesday at the Nash County Agriculture Center.

4-H camp teaches lost art of sewing


Staff Writer

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NASHVILLE – Several young girls Tuesday were learning an old fashion skill, which has become a lost art these days.

With the Nash County 4-H summer program in full swing, the girls were participating in the beginner’s sewing camp at the Nash County Agriculture Center taking place until Friday. Equipped with sewing machines, fabric, thread, straight pins and cutting scissors, the girls with assistance from adult volunteers were piecing together their own designed aprons. Brenda Wind, a 4-H sewing camp volunteer, said the children are learning the basics needed to sew.

“Right now, they’re learning such things such as how to read a pattern, how to cut the pattern, how to thread and trouble shoot their machines, how to sew straight or curved lines, how to hem and how to sew buttons on a shirt,” Wind said. “They’re learning what it would take to make a simple garment. Our goal here is for them to go home and remake the aprons or make a simple skirt.”

Cadi Gall, 9, used what she learned Monday to help her father with a piece of clothing.

“My dad lost a button on his shirt, and I was able to sew it back on,” Gall said.

The week-long beginner’s sewing camp will be followed by next week’s intermediate level sewing camp, during which participants get a chance to make a bucket cover to be used for a gift idea, store makeup, or garden bucket. Now in its third year, the sewing camp was derived from the 4-H sewing club run by fellow sewing camp volunteer Jane Tyson. The club also started three years ago.

Tyson said the 16 girls ages 9 to 18 met once a month through the school year for an hour-and-a-half, working on different projects. The young ladies created such items as pot holders, pin cushions and tote bags. Allison Strufe, 11, was part of the 4-H sewing club this year. Strufe was a student volunteer helper Tuesday going around assisting her peers on how to properly operate the sewing machines. Wind said Strufe made a tote bag, which won second place in last year’s N.C. State Fair in Raleigh.

“I enjoy being able to put things together,” Strufe said. “The hardest part is making sure you’re doing the right pattern and not sticking your finger.”

Tyson said during last year’s annual 4-H Holiday Extravaganza at the Agriculture Center, some girls in the club were able to make a profit off some of the items they made. Tyson does alternations in her spare time, while Wind makes show outfits for those in the horse show industry.

“Sewing is a skill you can make some money on the side, and it’s a very important skill that you never know you need,” Wind said. “When my mother died, my father sat down and made his own suit because he couldn’t afford to buy it. If you buy pants, they’re too long and if you know how to hem them, then you’re saving yourself some money instead of taking it to someone else. You can also make your own clothes or for your children. In this economy, it would aid someone to learn how to do this type of stuff.”

In this age of technology, children lack some of the life skills that the old generation has.

“They used to have home economic classes where kids learned how to sew or to cook, but they don’t have that anymore in schools,” Tyson said. “These children that come out of school now don’t know how to do anything other than put something in the microwave. They don’t know how to hem their own pants, and a lot of their parents never learned how to do those things. It falls back to people like us who do sewing camps to teach them something that will help them in life.”