May 10, 2006 | By: Carol Lea Spence

It’s a hectic world, and often simple, pleasurable pursuits are neglected in the everyday rush. In the process, useful skills can grow rusty and knowledge can be lost. By passing along their own sewing knowledge, Master Clothing Volunteers are determined to prevent the demise of the art and craft of sewing.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is recruiting for the 2006-07 class of Master Clothing Volunteers. The program, begun in 1990, is designed to train volunteers to be paraprofessionals who teach clothing construction in their communities.

Marjorie Baker, Extension associate for clothing and textiles, is leading the effort to recruit new volunteers for the program. “I’m amazed at the energy and the enthusiasm that this group of ladies has,” she said. “It’s overwhelming when you go to their training in the fall to see how much excitement there is across the state of Kentucky for teaching others to sew.”

During the two-year program, participants will receive training in garment construction techniques. They will prepare samples to be used as teaching tools when they go back to their counties to work with Homemakers, 4-H and other community groups whose members want to learn how to sew. 

Baker said that anyone interested in becoming a Master Clothing Volunteer should have basic sewing skills. They also should have the ability to work with people, as well as the willingness to volunteer and give back to the community, she said.

Master Clothing Volunteers become certified when they give 100 hours of service back to the community over the course of two years. Hours spent working with community groups count toward those 100 hours, said Baker. Hours also can be accrued by attending events such 
as sewing expos where they learn new techniques and keep themselves current with the latest trends.

Though the main emphasis is on garment construction, Baker said that many Master Clothing Volunteers have branched out into other types of needlework and quilting.

About 90 volunteers are active across the state. The new class will accommodate 28 people. For information on enrolling in the program, contact your county Extension office. Recruitment runs through June, with each county setting its own deadline for applications. Counties will select qualified individuals to send to an area screening. At the area screening, two people will be chosen to send on to the state level. Areas may also pick alternates in case there are empty slots to fill.

Because sewing is no longer a requirement in public schools, Baker said Master Clothing Volunteers are the only source of sewing education in some communities. 

“Sewing is one of those important life skills that enhance critical thinking and math skills. It can provide a means for added income as well as be a stress relieving hobby,” she said. “We’re hoping that by getting these ladies trained and being paraprofessionals that they can help the Extension offices and their communities by offering that service to them.”



Marjorie Baker, (859) 257-7775