When I got to Sue Silverstein’s art room yesterday there were three kids who showed an interest in learning to sew. Dah Blue and Folasade were ready to go. Tajon took the smallest amount of encouragement but once he got going, he quickly got serious about it.
Dah Blue had some experience sewing and after a little practice sewing straight lines, she drew a heart on two pieces of fabric and sewed them together.
It was Folasade’s first time sewing and I learned from her and the other kids, that she’s not known for being patient. So when she sewed her first two pieces of fabric together and it wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t very happy about it.
But she did keep working at it and when she saw the heart that Dah Blue made, she wanted to make one too.
Tajon had good control of the machine from the start. At one point he explained to Folasade that the foot pedal was like the gas pedal in a car. At first, it’s hard to figure out how hard or soft to press it with your foot, but it just takes some practice to get a feel for it.
Tajon, who was quiet and gentle, also had a feel for choosing fabric that went well together. I think you can see the pride he took in the work he had done in the photo Jon took of him.
This time we had an iron and ironing pad that Jon bought with money from the Army of Good. So I was able to show the kids how to iron the seams in one direction and even to just flatten out the fabric so it was easier to sew.
Forty-five minutes into the class, Hser Nay, Jayla, and Paris, who learned to sew last week, showed up. Tajon had to leave for another class so Jayla used his machine and asked if I could help her sew a checkerboard.
When Folasade saw what she had done, she wanted to do the same. Dah Blue had already helped her make a heart. And by this time, she had gained control over the foot pedal. We all clapped for her when she slowly sewed a straight line.
I got Folasade started on the checkerboard, but when it was time for me to leave, Jayla took over as teacher.
I told them all that when I came back after the Thanksgiving holiday, I’d bring pillow stuffing and we could make what they sewed today into pillows.
One of the things that I really appreciate about teaching sewing in Sue’s class is how much the kids who are learning appreciate it. There’s nothing fancy about it. We have a box of wrinkled fabric scraps and three sewing machines that are jammed onto one small table. There’s not a lot of space to lay out the fabric or iron it, but it doesn’t matter one bit.
No one complains that they don’t have enough space, that they don’t like the fabric, don’t want to share, or that someone is in their way.
They each take what is given without expectations of more and make something beautiful from it. And they take care of each other too. Helping, instead of ridiculing each other.
Sue said she’s working on making more space for us. And that would be great. But there’s something very special about this little sewing class just the way it is.