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Powell Middle School teacher steps back in time, starts sewing club


After home economics classes ended several years ago, 24 sewing machines were left in storage at Powell Middle School.

Pillow covers were no longer being made; fabric bags were not being sewn.

Last summer, eighth-grade math teacher Kathy Turnbull rediscovered her love of sewing, and it occurred to her that she could do something worthwhile with those machines at school.

Thus was born Powell's new sewing club.

Turnbull mentioned the idea to her students, and many of them jumped at it.

"I just said we're having a sewing club," Turnbull said.

The response from students, which she said she heard multiple times, was: "I'm coming."

The home economics teacher had used a grant to acquire the sewing machines and three sergers (fabric edging machines), two embroidery machines and computer software that goes with them. Turnbull has added to that with donated thread and a grant from the Hernando County Education Foundation.

"They were kind enough to give me $300," she said.

She said she hit up relatives for fabric.

The group, with a membership of about 25 regulars, including five boys, has been meeting since October. They started with Halloween bags.

"These kids were beginners," Turnbull said. "They had never seen a sewing machine."

They began simply.

"They learned about seams," Turnbull said. They practiced sewing straight lines.

"And they absolutely loved it. Some of them got very clever with what they did."

The next project was for Christmas. Powell principal Jamie Young requested stockings she could hand out as rewards.

"As a club, we cut them out, sewed them together, put the white trim on them and gave them to the principal," Turnbull said.

Now they are making backpacks and practicing making pillows. And since the venture requires supplies, the club is thinking about fundraisers. The first plan is to sell Powell eighth-graders school spirit pillows from a choice of options. They will cost $10 each; sewers can earn free ones by sewing five.

Another idea is to offer teachers and staffers a sewing service. The students will do hems, repair split seams and sew on buttons.

Most of the sewing club members are eighth-graders.

Marissa Taylor, 13, is a big Turnbull fan and decided to join when her teacher mentioned it.

"She seemed so excited about it," Marissa said.

Marissa talked her pal, Brianah Bardi, into joining, and they are both glad they did.

"I learned a lot of things I would not have learned," Marissa said.

"I think it's really fun," Brianah said. "I really like it a lot."

Some of the students, including Miranda Coddington, 13, and Nicolette Rodriguez, 13, are not only learning to sew; they are being introduced to ironing. Miranda said she had never really ironed before, and neither had Nicolette.

Shelby Goss, 12, a seventh-grader, had a few skills coming in, but said, "I wanted to learn how to sew well because I want to be a fashion designer.'

Elijah Quinones, 13, is one of the group's few male members.

"I think it's interesting, and I think it's different to try something new," he said.

Turnbull is assisted by Spanish teacher Luz Bauzo and Susan Hammond, who works in student support.

A big goal is to introduce students to patterns and help them learn to make clothes.

The sewing club meets on Thursdays after school, Turnbull said, and lasts until the final student finishes his or her project and is ready to go.

Powell Middle School teacher steps back in time, starts sewing club 01/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 6:10pm]
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