Athens Teen Sewing Club header

Sinya Arnold, a seventh grade student at Clarke Middle School, makes a handbag at Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, Georgia, on April 23, 2019. Arnold has been sewing for two years. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

Kids bustle about the colorful room, trimming fabric, threading sewing machines and taking measurements. The walls are lined with boxes of thread, fabric, needles and scissors. This is a weekly sight at the Lyndon House Arts Center as the Athens Teen Sewing Club takes over for the night.

While the club’s name includes “teen” in the title, the majority of the club-goers are between the ages of 10-12, according to William Stephanos, art education program specialist at the Lyndon House Arts Center. It’s held on most Tuesday evenings and gives students the opportunity to gain skills that they would otherwise not learn at school.

The club is free of charge but asks that the kids bring in five dollars to chip in for the pizza they buy every week. Around six people attend the club regularly and get to work on individual projects of their choice.

“It’s a club, not a class per-say,” Stephanos said. “It’s not strictly instructional, the adults are more of facilitators.”

The enthusiasm in the room is impossible to ignore — the kids treat the workshop as their own fashion studio in which they are designing their latest line. A young boy named Jonathan measures and cuts a brightly colored fabric, and when asked if he considered himself a professional, he responds, “kinda.”

Tabitha Fielteau, a sewing instructor at the club, combines her passion for designing, her experience in the fashion world and her ability to work with young students to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of designers.

Fielteau began sewing only seven years ago and now has her own line of bridal and evening wear and women’s motorcycle jackets. She was also a semi-finalist for Project Runway. While talking about her experience in fashion, several students approach her asking how to sew pieces of fabric together and what cuts to make.

Across the room, Toni Carlucci, an art education program leader at the Lyndon House Arts Center, is found organizing colorfully dyed fabric and instructing students how to thread machines. Carlucci teaches a class on screen printing and Japanese techniques of fabric dying in addition to helping out at the sewing club every week.

Stephanos and Fielteau discussed how many people are not aware of the amount of labor and effort put into making the clothes they wear every day and the idea that inspired the creation of the club. By teaching kids how to make garments themselves from pieces of fabric and a sewing machine, it shows just how much work is behind everything in our wardrobes.

“It’s important to get kids to connect with the source of your clothes,” Stephanos said.

Lyndon House Arts Center also hosts a summer camp that teaches kids how to sew and gives them a chance to showcase their work. Last year the garments made by the campers were displayed in the community for everyone to see, and Stephanos said it was a “very positive experience” for all of the campers.

To volunteer for the teen sewing club, you can contact William Stephanos at william.stephanos@accgov.com.

 

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