Sewing Lab Exhibit: Resourcefulness and Creativity on Display

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” Student’s grandparents may have chanted this phrase.  Those living through the Great Depression and World War II lived by this mantra by not buying unnecessary things.  They grew Victory Gardens, and got creative in how they made money.  Their children and grandchildren, some now-current faculty and students, are manifesting the motto in other ways. Students in The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Sewing Lab created their own clothes and recently showcased them on campus.

Many of the students whose clothing was on display had not been able to find clothing in their size or desired style on the rack. Others repurposed and reworked old articles of clothing into new pieces; one student cut up her husband’s holed jeans to make pants for her toddler, thus extending their student budget. “It’s so rewarding to help them realize what they can do,” says Martie Heaton, adjunct professor in The School of Family Life (SFL) who oversaw the students.

In the Sewing Lab, students exchange goggles for thimbles.  Their experiments involve patterns and fabrics, rather than test tubes and chemicals.  Faculty members mentor student teaching assistants to become trained independent instructors.  These teaching assistants then help the students. The students have excellent and advanced sewing equipment, including:

  • Computerized sewing machine
  • Bernina super-steam iron
  • Cork surface for pattern-making
  • Rotary cutting surface
  • Pressing surface
  • Large desk

“Sewing skills contribute to fulfilling personal development needs and bring art, culture, and enjoyment to others. They produce joy in the simple act of doing them for the individual who loves them,” says the Sewing Lab website. “They provide avenues for income generation or serve as a stepping stone for employment. They enlarge abilities to gather, nurture, teach, and model. They expand and protect the nature and sanctity of family life.” Students in sewing classes learn how to sew skirts, pants, shirts, and anything they choose. There are more than 200 students in the five sewing classes combined. Approximately twenty students participated in the exhibit.

Like the Shoe Exhibit at our Museum of Peoples and Cultures, this exhibit shows that students in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are interested in what the things we wear say about us.