SENECA FALLS — Suzanne Mathewson, the circulation director at the Seneca Falls Library, has four children who know how to sew. Yet she’s aware they are in the minority.
“I have discovered that some adults don’t even know how to sew buttons on,” she said.
That’s why the Seneca Falls Library has launched its second set of classes aimed at helping youth learn this waning skill.
For last year’s inaugural class, participants made blankets. This year the students will hand stitch a stuffed animal — either a dog, elephant or whale.
The six-week session kicked off Monday night and the community room was filled with 15 students, Mathewson and fellow teacher Pam Behm, a page at the library. The first task of the evening was selecting an animal to make, then tracing its pattern onto newspaper and using the pattern to cut out fabric pieces. The students ranged in age from fourth-graders to a 17-year-old; several were home-schoolers and Behm said they were taking the class as part of their curriculum.
“I definitely have all ages and grades and I love it,” Mathewson said as she looked around the room.
Madison Barrows, 15, a home-schooler from Seneca Falls, took last month’s Christmas Crafting for Teens class, where the students made rice bags. That piqued her interest in sewing.
“The last time we had a class here I wasn’t very good at it but I went home and practiced,” said Barrows. “I’m trying to learn something new.”
So were 10-year-olds Mason Ntuala and Devon Angelo, both of Seneca Falls. Ntuala, who was cutting out his elephant pattern, said his mother has introduced him to embroidery but he’s never sewn before. Neither had Angelo, who was inspired to do so by his grandmother. He was keen on making a stuffed whale.
“I watched my grandmother sew a lot and she even made me a whole blanket,” he said. “That got me wanting to sew.”
Mansi Trivedi, 17, and Olivia Mestan, 16, were the oldest students in the class and sprawled out on the floor cutting their patterns. Frequent volunteers at the library, they signed up to make stuffed animals because “we’re still kids,” Trivedi laughed. Both had made pillows during home economics class in school, they said, but had not done any other sewing.
Trivedi added that the sewing class provided a nice break from her challenging junior year schoolwork.
The students are encouraged to work at their own pace and bring their projects home if they wish. If some finish before the six weeks are up, they can tackle another animal. Mathewson noted the fabric was donated by library patrons and other community members.
“I like that it’s a small project,” Behm said. “There’s really no reason to rush.”
However Georgia Beach, 11, of Seneca Falls was moving quickly. After cutting out her elephant pattern on pieces of gray and pink gingham fabric she turned to Mathewson and asked “What next?”
“So you can sew,” replied Mathewson, who took Beach to a bin of thread and buttons and demonstrated how to thread a needle.
Mathewson said some adults have expressed interest in a sewing class and one may be held in the future. She’s also hoping to add sewing machine skills to the mix in a future class, noting the library is working on becoming a pop-up Makerspace and will be purchasing a cricut machine and sewing machine to supplement its 3-D printing machine.