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First year after-school club teaches kids to sew

Club adviser Amanda Figi and Shelby Hennlich seated at the machine with Cadence Miller standing beside her. (Photos by Jordan Willi)1 / 2
NRMS students (from the left) Caitlin Channing and Paige Hildebrand work on their pillow projects during a sewing club meeting last month.2 / 2

Since she was a young child, New Richmond Middle School Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Amanda Figi had a passion for sewing.

Her love of sewing led to the creation of the NRMS Sewing Club, which started this fall and has 11 students coming to the after-school program held every Monday.

“I love to sew, and it is a passion of mine,” Figi said. “I think that the kids I have in class notice that I really like to sew and that I’m very happy to help them with their projects. Not a lot of kids know how to sew anymore, and it is a great skill that they can use later in life, as well as right now. They can create projects that allow them to be creative and challenge themselves if they want to.”

According to Figi, the class has students who are at a variety of skill levels, from students new to sewing, to those who took Figi’s sixth-grade FCE class or her summer stretch course.

“Some of the kids just want to learn about how to sew,” Figi said. “Some of the kids have sewn at home with mom or dad, or grandma maybe, so they thought that coming to work on something with their friends after school would be cool.”

The first project the sewing club is tackling this fall is a basic pillow with a pattern on the front.

“They selected their pillow designs from a craft magazine which they wanted to make,” Figi said. “The kids check in with me as they go along to make sure they are on track and to see what they need to do next to complete the project.”

Figi said she started the club members on pillows because they are a very basic project and are simple for kids who have just started sewing, and a way to gauge how proficient students are who have done some sewing before.

“With pillows, if a student comes in with little to no sewing background, they have a nice, basic place to start,” Figi said. “From there, they can make their way from that basic project to something more challenging.”

The club will go until the end of the semester, but once a student finishes their pillow, depending on how long it takes them, they can start another, more challenging project, or wait until next semester to start something new when the club starts again in the spring.

“If the same kids want to continue coming back, I’m more than happy to allow the kids who have been in the club before take on a harder project or work together on something bigger,” Figi said. “With our spring sewing club, I’m looking at doing a project where we might tackle something with a zipper. We will slowly work our way into more difficult things. However, kids can sure join the spring sewing club without having much knowledge of how to sew, and I’ll start them off with the basics like the kids who took the fall class did.”

One thing Figi is looking forward to when it comes to starting the second semester of sewing club is having more students with a greater knowledge of sewing who can help the less experienced students with their projects.

“Another benefit of the kids coming back to sewing club for another semester or year is that we will then have automatic helpers who can help the less experienced kids with their projects or help them fix a machine if it breaks down,” Figi said.

Figi said she would encourage any student who has any interest in sewing to join the club whenever they would like, or at the start of the second semester.

“The class is a lot of fun and is a relaxed environment,” Figi said. “They can just come in and work on a project at their own pace. I find sewing very relaxing and I have heard from the kids that they enjoy the sound when the machines are all running. You don’t have to make it to every meeting either. Just come when you can, and do your best. And have fun.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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