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Interest In Sewing Classes Surges

Maria Rodriguez loves to sketch dresses and tops. Classmate Briena Pocevicius thought about opening a dress shop filled with her own creations. By the end of their advanced sewing class, Maria, 15, and Briena, 17, will have made hand-tailored outfits.

As Fashion Week in New York wraps up today, the Omaha Bryan High School students represent the surge in popularity of sewing classes in the Midlands — and the expanding need for fashion design courses.

At Bryan, for example, enrollment in sewing and fashion design classes has more than quadrupled since the 2002-03 school year. Throughout the Omaha Public Schools, enrollment in such classes has more than doubled, increasing from 536 students in 2002 to 1,174 this year.

That’s a major change from two or three decades ago, when sewing classes were so last season to many teens.

There are many reasons why more students are picking up scissors and heading to the sewing machine. There’s the pop culture prevalence of fashion-forward TV shows like “What Not to Wear” and “Project Runway,” where aspiring designers face weekly challenges. And there’s a resurgence of crafting and do-it-yourself projects among all ages.

Next year, Maria, a sophomore, is hoping to take a computerized fashion design class. Briena, a junior, already has taken it — and gives it rave reviews. She got to see how the clothes come together using computer- aided drafting skills (as you would to design a machine part or house blueprint).

In Wakefield, near Wayne, students fashion their sewing skills into profits. The studentrun “T-N-T” (Trojans and Teamwork) embroiders shirts for local teams and organizations and even does mending for community residents. The entrepreneurs used their profits to buy more embroidery machines.

Several sewing teachers said that today’s students are less interested in making clothes than they are in making things like purses, quilts, even beanbag chairs. Krystal Kolb, family and consumer science teacher at Bryan, said she has seen growing interest in sewing for several years — and feels it in her full class schedule.

“If we could have more sewing classes, they would take them,” Kolb said. “The last two years have been crazy.”

In 2002, 56 Bryan students took two courses — one in sewing, one in design. This year, 251 students are enrolled in four — three sewing and one design. Omaha Benson offers three courses in fashion design and two in sewing.

College programs are seeing enrollment increases, too. The University of Nebraska Lincoln’s textiles, clothing and design program has watched its number of majors increase more than 22 percent from January 2000 to August 2007. The department is graduating more students than in years past — and placing them with firms including Martha Stewart and Kohl’s.

Michael James, department chairman, said pop culture may play a role, but he speculated that the influence of “Project Runway” is no greater than that of “CSI” to forensics programs.

“Why do they watch that show in the first place? Because they’re already interested in fashion and clothing,” James said.

Read more of this article in the Southwest Iowa News.

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Author, Instructor & Pattern Designer

Comments

One Response to “Interest In Sewing Classes Surges”

  1. Mary says:

    I think it’s great that more people are interested in sewing. It’s a lot of fun for me to teach classes to beginners and share the craft because I think there are just so many benefits.

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