Guess what 20 dads got for Father’s Day from their children who spent a week at Sewing Day Camp with the Sarasota Chapter of the American Sewing Guild?
Try a remote control caddy.
It’s a rectangle of cloth with pockets sewn on both ends for TV and VCR remotes that can be draped over an armrest.
Pretty handy, huh?
Kylie Duquette knows so.
“The remote goes on the night stand and my dad tosses and turns so the remote usually falls off,” said the 10-year-old.
Who says sewing is a dying art?
Not these Manatee 4-H members, especially after learning the art of sewing on buttons, hemming skirts and making tissue holders among other wonders on new computerized Baby Lock Sewing Machines on loan.
“There are so many different designs you can sew,” said Mason Atkinson, 12, one of two boys in the class at the Harllee 4-H Center. “It’s fun.”
That is what Kathleen Heinicke, the chapter president and a shop owner, wanted to hear.
Along with a team of women volunteers, she was teaching the children a craft handed down from previous generations.
“Our mission is to continue sewing as a life skill,” Heinicke said. “They’ll be able to use their particular skills and their creativity. It’s amazing what they can sew -- birthday presents and gifts for their family. It’s very important to learn.”
They can save a few dollars, too.
“I have men and women who come to my shop to have buttons sewn on and do mending,” she said.
Heinicke’s words resonated with Diana Smith, the 4-H youth development director and Manatee County extension agent.
“You pay a fortune sometimes to just sew on a button or hem a skirt,” she said. “This gives kids an opportunity to learn some of those simple tasks.
“The hidden value is young people are able to develop a life skill they can carry on into adulthood. Whether they’re mending a garment, or using it as service project such as making blankets, they can have a relationship with older people or parents -- parents who probably don’t know how to sew, but want their children to know how.
“They understand that significance.”
Helaine Eckstein certainly does.
A native of Butler, Pa., she grew up on a farm and learned to sew through 4-H at the age of 10.
Sixty-three years later, Eckstein is still passionate about it.
“I made my own clothes from fourth grade through retirement -- dresses, blouses, skirts, slacks, slips. You can do anything with it,” said the former vocational teacher.
“I could’ve bought my own clothes, but I loved to sew. I had to ask my father for every penny, but he didn’t mind giving me money for abric. I got lots more clothes that way. I could make three dresses for the price of one.”
So is sewing a dying art?
“Yes, it is in a lot of places because they don’t teach it,” Eckstein said. “It is a life skill.”
A life skill Kylie Duquette is proud to possess.
Even if her friends think, “Sewing is kind of lame and basically only older people do it,” she said.
Kylie’s made pillows and quilts for her niece, thanks to Grandma’s nurturing.
“My grandmother sews all the time, so I learned from her,” she said. “I used her machine when I was 8 and now I have my own. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.