Fort Dodge Senior High students are learning a valuable skill that doesn't require the Internet: sewing.
In Vicki Gustafson's Family and Consumer Science class, students are at work on the sewing unit. Having learned how to hand sew, students are demonstrating their proficiency with sewing machines this week.
"These are specific skills I want them to learn, everything from sewing on a button to repairing a tear on a piece of clothes, to gathering and stitching on curves," she said. "When they get these skills done, I let them choose a project that they want to make. Within their skill level, they can make whatever they want to."
Jazzmin Hughes, a FDSH student, takes her parts quiz in Vicki Gustafson’s Family and Consumer Science class Tuesday. Hughes demonstrates how to use the sewing machine for the class’s sewing unit.
In addition to basic skills, like threading the needle, students learn about the history of clothing, the inventors of the sewing machine, color schemes and current designers. They also learn practical skills such as following directions and maintaining the machinery, so they can troubleshoot any problems, Gustafson said.
"Hopefully, when they learn all these basics, at some point they'll be able to either sew for themselves or other people and be creative in that way," she said.
According to Gustafson, two girls in the class are using their newfound skills to make their own homecoming dresses.
"These girls will have a one-of-a-kind homecoming dress, nobody else has one like theirs," she said. "If they have the skills before the semester is over, they can be very creative in what they make and design their own fashions."
As beginner-level learners, the students aren't doing it on their own, though.
"Some of them needed them to be altered, so they're learning the whole process of maintaining and making their own clothes," Gustafson said. "Since they don't have the skills yet because we're just starting the sewing, they're mostly reading the patterns for the information. They're doing the pressing and some of the hand sewing and whatever they're capable of doing, and I'm helping them with the rest."
Sewing, to some, is an old-fashioned skill, anachronistic to the computerized 21st century.
"It does go way back, but it's still something we need," Gustafson said. "I have some girls who say if they lose a button they just don't wear that top anymore, they just throw it away. Well, that's not very economical. If they can at least learn to sew on their own buttons or repair their own tears they can still wear the garment."
Not unlike the school's other technical classes, Family and Consumer Sciences can prepare students for potential future careers, Gustafson said.
"The world is open for fashion designing and building a career from there," she said.
Gustafson is seeking donations of sewing supplies to potentially start a charity club, that would hone student skills while making items for charity.
"I thought, any fabrics we have, we can either make quilts or we can make blankets for new babies at the hospital," she said. "When we find where the need is, we'll be able to make things for them in our sewing club."
Among the items needed are short or long zippers, bias tape, thread, and buttons.
"We re-use those every year, we try to, but with 50 students this year its taken a lot more buttons," Gustafson said.
To donate, contact Fort Dodge Senior High at 955-1770.