September 27, 2006 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Some women had never read a pattern or threaded a sewing machine. Some were merely rusty, wanting to brush up on skills they’d neglected for decades. They all came together recently at “Come Sew with Us,” a workshop held by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in central Kentucky.

The two-part workshop for adults focused on basic sewing techniques for both clothing and home décor. Jennifer Klee, family and consumer sciences agent in Woodford County, said Extension offers a lot of sewing programs for 4-H, but that not all counties have the same capabilities for teaching sewing to adults.

“So we decided to work together as a district, with the Master Clothing Volunteers and Extension personnel to teach a variety of basic sewing classes,” she said. “There are so many do-it-yourself shows on TV now and they make it look very easy, but you need those basic skills. So we’re trying to provide that base so folks can go home and sew up a storm.”

Though the workshop was designed to attract beginning sewers, Klee said the term “beginning” could include those who have never sewn before and those who have, but want to refresh their skills.

“’Beginner’ is in the participant’s mind,” she said, “but we’ll try to give them those skills to create some confidence.”

Workshop participants could enroll in one or both of the afternoon and evening sessions. In each session, participants could choose from four options: Sew-n-Wear, Home Décor, Tooling Around (becoming familiar with a sewing machine or serger) and Etcetera (creating personal accessories). 

Interest in this second-year of the program was high, with 50 people registered for at least one of the sessions. Klee attributes the strong enrollment numbers to a general rise in interest in the craft.

“I think a lot of folks have trouble with fit with ready-to-wear clothing, and when you sew your own you can really refine that fit,” she said. “A lot of people don’t like the cookie-cutter things that you buy ready-to-wear, ready-made. So that really gives you an opportunity to make your home unique or your clothing and your accessories unique.”

The “Come Sew with Us” program is expanding. The workshops were offered in two Kentucky districts in 2005 and in four districts this year. Next March, the program will be offered on a statewide level, in a retreat-like setting at the Kentucky Leadership Center at Jabez. Klee said that participants in local workshops would still find things to interest them at the multi-day state event.

“It, again, will be geared toward beginners,” she said. “The statewide program will have the same focus areas of clothing and home décor and those kinds of things, but will offer different classes.”


Jennifer Klee, 859-873-4601