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Pasco students learn lots of lessons through sewing class

A retired educator intersperses math and vocabulary skills with lessons in sewing.
Noelle Gibson, 8, guides fabric under the sewing machine needle as she controls speed with a foot pedal. [Gail Diederich]
Noelle Gibson, 8, guides fabric under the sewing machine needle as she controls speed with a foot pedal. [Gail Diederich]
Published Oct. 10, 2019

Cora Sanderson and Meghan Meeker, both 10 and Lutz Preparatory School fifth-graders, settled down to sewing machines in Annella Martin Foshee’s home, ready for instructions about what they would create. Noelle Gibson, an 8-year-old home-schooled student, soon joined them. All three were wearing blue tie-dyed skirts they’d previously made.

Foshee has six sewing students. She prefers to work with two at a time, but sometimes includes a third. During the 1 ½ hours of instruction, Foshee’s lessons included more than joining fabric pieces. She included math, geometry concepts and vocabulary building.

Retired Pasco educator, now sewing instructor, Annella Martin Foshee watches Cora Sanderson, 10, prepare material edges for sewing a small drawstring bag. [Gail Diederich]

“Sewing is a creative way for kids to learn basic math skills and to experience the concepts of modeling and engineering, such as aligning lines and shapes,” Foshee said.

The project of the day was a small drawstring bag. Students worked individually as Foshee demonstrated.

“We’re turning the fabric down a quarter of an inch. How many quarter inches are in a full inch?” asked Foshee.

They moved to pinning fabric together and up popped a vocabulary lesson: parallel and perpendicular. Foshee demonstrated how to place pins perpendicular to the sewing edge to avoid the machine’s needle hitting the pins. The students listened carefully.

Casey Gibson, mom to Noelle, arrived with her daughter. She’s thrilled at what Noelle is learning.

“I’m so excited for her, and it’s great school work is incorporated into sewing,” Casey Gibson said.

Sewing students, from left, Cora Sanderson, Meghan Meeker and Noelle Gibson, look over different kinds of decorative stitching they have learned to make in their after-school class taught by retired Pasco educator Annella Martin Foshee. [Gail Diederich]

Teaching comes naturally to Foshee, a retired Pasco educator and administrator. Her parents were sewing machine dealers, so she began sewing when she was young. By 11 or 12, she was making her own clothes.

“Sewing gives kids the opportunity to develop patience, problem solving and the value of learning from making mistakes," she said. "Learning to sew at a young age gives kids confidence, which can lead to a wider range of future career interests.”

Foshee encourages students to learn about the sustainability of materials they use and to develop a sense of designing clothes that fit their body structure.

“I wanted to sew because my Grandma sews. I really like making something,” said Cora, guiding material under the machine’s needle and controlling the speed with a floor pedal.

“It was really impressive,” said Meghan about making her skirt.

“Armed with a few basic sewing techniques, kids can create all kinds of projects. I supply project ideas, but am always open to creating what the kids are interested in,” said Foshee.

Examples of Foshee’s teaching are on Instagram at AnnellaSews.

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