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Sew much learning

By Staff | Feb 25, 2011

Scott Erlbacher runs the sewing machine pedal as Crawford County youth coordinator Mary Wadsworth shows him how to sew a straight line. Wadsworth has been on the Crawford County 4-H and Youth Committee for 20 years and is a 4-H leader with 25 years of experience.


Farm News staff writer

DENISON – When Mary Wadsworth considered teaching 4-H’ers how to sew, she figured her mother must be laughing in heaven. Wadsworth, who is the Crawford County youth coordinator, spent much of her time as a girl riding horses rather than sharpening domestic skills.

“I’d start sewing something and my mom or my sister Judy would usually have to finish it,” she said, reflecting on her childhood preference for horseback riding.

In her adulthood, however, Wadsworth has more than made up for her unfinished sewing with her ability to coordinate a workshop on the same topic.

Sandy Sharp, left, instructs Kyle Gruhn, center, and Kourtney Grimm on the functions of a sewing machine. Sharp was recruited by Mary Wadsworth, Crawford County youth coordinator, to help teach the workshop, which ran six consecutive Saturdays, finishing Feb. 12. The workshop took place at the Crawford County Extension office.

First, she arranged for some “knowledgeable help” from retired home economics teacher Sandy Sharp, a few volunteers, and several much-appreciated mothers.

Second, she acquired sewing machines and patterns from Iowa State University.

And, finally, she enticed 20 interested 4-H members to sign up.

The overall goal of the class was simple – have participants learn how to sew. “We wanted to make it a hands-on workshop, so we had them make their own pajama bottoms,” stated Wadsworth, a 4-H leader with 25 years of experience.

“We started by practicing on paper, sewing straight lines and curves while learning to adjust speed,” she said.

The participants not only learned how to thread and wind bobbins, they also learned to match plaids with the design going the correct way. In addition, they became familiar with many different fabrics.

“When the workshop is complete, the pajama bottoms can be used for fair exhibits and also modeled at the fair style show,” Wadsworth stated.

“I just thought it would be a fun for 4-H’ers to do,” she said, commenting on the crowd that signed up. “[The workshop] really created more interest than I expected.”

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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