Marisa Mayeda's tiny hands are steady as she smooths the fabric out in front of her and examines the stitches, checking for bunching or knots.
“Lay it flat, so you can see the whole thing,” suggests instructor Joyce Blaney. Mayeda obeys, spreading out the gorgeous patchwork quilt she’s almost finished creating. It’s one of five she’s making for the babies at Torrance Memorial Hospital.
“It’s her Girl Scout project,” explains Blaney. “Each kid got to choose what they wanted to do, and since Marisa loves sewing, she picked this.”
Blaney’s studio at Sew Creative in Redondo Beach is colorful chaos: bolts of fabric, scrap baskets, ribbons and lace. Pincushions dot almost every surface, and the hum of Singer sewing machines underscores conversation.
It’s unhurried and something of a throwback that most post-baby boomers would recognize as a home economics class—a part of American curriculum that has dwindled over the decades. It’s where Blaney herself learned to thread a needle 50 years ago, fell in love with it almost instantly, and made it a part of her life.
“I learned in a classroom of 30 kids and one teacher. She must have lost her mind,” she laughs now. “It was very crowded. I didn’t realize how challenging that must have been until I started teaching my own students.”
The previous owner started Sew Creative in 1989 before retiring, whereupon Blaney—who had been an employee for several years—bought it and has run it for the past 13 years. Any kid—or adult —can join classes, starting from age six and up. “I primarily teach classes every day after school and on Saturdays. It’s a great opportunity for kids to have a creative outlet.”
According to studies from the University of Missouri, an increasing number of millennials and younger kids don’t know basic home skills, including sewing, cooking, or doing laundry. Only 30 percent of young adults know how to properly boil an egg, according to one study.
Learning by example, such as watching your mother hem a pair of pants, has become less common with each generation. We microwave our food or eat out a lot more. Convenience has made it easier to forgo learning how to cook, and with home economics classes gradually disappearing in the education system.
“Schools are so much more about academics now,” Blaney observes. “This gives kids a chance to make something with their hands, to feel confidence and have something to show for their work. One kid even said that sewing helps her relax, to focus on the moment. I mean, that’s pretty important. She gets it.”
The Queen Amidala costume that Ava Brunner is making for Halloween exemplifies that sentiment. Resplendent in flowing white fabric and a complex pattern of scalloped ruffles, it’s an intricate and challenging design. Brunner, who has been coming to Sew Creative for five years, is now a pro seamstress at age 11, and plans to be an actor and fashion designer.
“There’s no deterring her. Once she decides she’s going to do something ... ” Blaney shakes her head admiringly. “Nothing stops her.”
Mayeda, working diligently on her blanket, just started sewing two months ago at her mother’s suggestion. She had never sewn anything before, but she had a goal and dove in with enthusiasm.
“I wanted to make a new bag for my birthday, but I didn’t know how. So I needed to learn,” she said.
Like her teacher, she’s found a new thing to love—plus a brand-new bag for her birthday this week. And come this January, five newborns will get handmade, hand-stitched blankets for theirs.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/evening-dresses