Learning the basics of using a sewing machine to create a variety of useful items has been the focus of a group of youngsters and their mentors who meet each week at the county extension office.

“It’s called ‘Anything Sewing,’ and it started because we do quilting with the 4-H once a month during the school year through the 4-H fashion and interior design project,” said Connie Hoke, the 4-H fashion and interior design project adult leader and a member of the Val Verde Extension Quilters.

The quilters meet every Wednesday at the Dink Wardlaw Ag Complex, 300 E. 17th St., and have been meeting as a group for many years.

“Last year, we started a monthly meeting, and in the summer we did a beginner’s sewing class for kids who aren’t members of 4-H and who hadn’t sewed before, and they made pillowcases,” Hoke said.

There was a lot of interest in the beginner’s class, so Hoke said in July, she and other members of the quilting group decided to kick off “Anything Sewing.”

Up to nine youngsters, all of them between third and 12th grade, who attend the classes.

“This summer program is open to all kids,” Hoke said.

“My focus has been to teach them how to use their machines and how to be proficient with sewing. We work on a different project every time we meet so they can practice,” Hoke said.

Youngsters in the program started by making pillowcases, then moved to sewing small pouches to hold a toothbrush.

“That way when they go off to camp, they can put their toothbrush and their toothpaste in it,” Hoke said.

Last week, the youngsters crafted tote bags, and on Monday, the group worked on colorful table runners.

Several of the youngsters are also working on individual projects.

Hoke said the youngsters bring their own sewing machines.

“I really wanted them to learn how to use their sewing machines. That way they can fix their own clothes when they go off to college. They can make curtains for their rooms, anything. But it’s like anything else, getting good at it takes practice, practice, practice,” Hoke said.

Hoke said the students are encouraged to bring their own sewing machines so they can learn how that particular machine operates.

“Each machine is a little bit different,” she said.

The program begins at 8:30 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. on Mondays.

Youngsters bring their own sewing machine, lunch and the project they are working on.

Among the mentors assisting with the project include Hoke, Linda Cartwright, Pat Fritz and Irma Proctor.

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