Perhaps you’re wondering why sewing and craft workshops feature in my work?
Well the short answer is a) because I enjoy working with children and b) I love the creative process, be it on paper, PC or fabric.
But it isn’t all about me! In this post, I’d just like to expand a little bit about what I think the kid’s get out of it..
1. Sewing is incredibly versatile– kid’s love it because it’s both a practical activity,(ie. the creation of a tangible item) and it also allows the imagination to flow. Simple!
I am extremely grateful to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff for giving me the opportunity to house weekly workshops as well as seasonal activity. The ‘Chapter Sewcials’ have been running close on a year and target kids age 8-12. Over several 10 week courses we’ve learned the basics on what to have in a sewing kit, basic stitches, getting to grips with a sewing machine and dreaming up wonderful ways to apply this knowledge.
2. I’m pleased to say that many of the children have been with me on the journey since the beginning; making everything from headbands, yoyos, embroidered pictures and even skirts and shorts. The pleasure and satisfaction that the kid’s have in making bespoke pieces is immeasurable and I firmly believe that tackling a project that involves maths skills, verbal communication with peers, reading and writing and drawing out designs is clearly equipping and helping the next generation to be thinkers and doers in all aspects of life.
3. I can also that many of the kids come away with an air of optimism; kid’s sewing (and indeed sewing whatever your age) is incredibly versatile and if designs don’t work out as planned, you know what, a project can be tweaked into something else. Shorts that have been way too tight to be elsaticated have been converted into ones with a zip, a cut through piece of fabric has been altered and covered with a fashionable patch..etc etc..you get it…problem solving is key.
4. Also, the group of kids (which are mainly girls but we welcome boys and boys do make great sewers) make new friends; hence the term ‘sewcials’. Craft and retail guru Allison Sadler used the term and I thought it hit the mark spot on with the weekly sessions- they’re a great opportunity to natter with new and old friends, not think about school or homework but focus on being in the moment of cutting, sticking and applying great design ideas to projects.
5. Hand on heart, I am probably not the best technical sewer in the world; my skills are all self taught; however, this field of craft and sewing is something I’ve grown up with and feel passionately about: there are countless documents by the Arts Council of Wales and other major public bodies and organisations using all forms of arts to tackle social deprivation, develop confidence and worth in communities etc but for me it all comes down to the satisfaction of thinking up an idea, making it and sharing it with friends. Plus I’m a rubbish dancer..
6. Oh and perhaps with my small business head on, I’m super keen to encourage the kids to think of turning what they love to make into a lifelong business; many of the kids have been buzzing with ideas of selling their goods at school fairs, getting work commsioned and even entering competitions.
So you see, all in all, kid’s are most definitely some of the most enterprising, enthusiastic and vivacious people I have the oportunity to get involved with and if and when it’s through sewing then all the better!
ps. do you know the thing that still stumps nearly all the youngsters the most? It isn’t sewing french knots, following a pattern or telling warp from weft? It’s how to thread and knot a needle. I blame the teacher…..
Oh!Susannah runs regular workshops in Chapter Arts Centre for boys and girls. Summer Secials are running on the 29th July and 5th August- book here.