Needle and Thread for Young Men at Youth Home of Mid-America

Story by Rylee Robinson

It’s not everyday adjudicated young men are found sewing their own creations, but with an innovative class centered around project-based learning this is a reality at Youth Home of Mid-America (YHMA).

A student from the YHMA created a pair of boots using the sleeves of a jacket and unwanted sneakers.

Students at the YHMA created things such as shoes, pillows, hats, mittens, and bags to be judged today by the YHMA staff.

Maren Scharf, the YHMA special education teacher, is getting her students involved in sewing, and putting on a recycled sweater/sweatshirt challenge at the YHMA.

Students are able to work alone or with a partner to create as many unique and outside-of-the-box things with one sweater or sweatshirt of their choosing. They will be judged on how many items are created and how much of the fabric is used, how creative their products are, and their workmanship.

The Johnston High School Family Consumer Sciences (FCS) class does a similar project making t-shirt pillows but the YHMA wanted to put a twist on it to fit the class interest. By letting the students take control of the assignment, Scharf knew that they would actually use what they were making and would become more involved in the project.

“Allowing the students to pick their own sweater or sweatshirt really let them take ownership,” said Scharf. “This got them interested in the class, and lets them be more innovative.”

Some of the concepts taught in class were done through collaborative peer work or independently, allowing the students to build teamwork and communication skills. The students learned crocheting, knitting, threading a sewing machine, and how to sew a button on to things such as pillows or shirts to take full advantage of their creativity and resources.

“This class gives real-life skills, ones that can be used daily,” said Scharf. “Simple things like fixing a zipper, or sewing on a button are skills that supply the students with their living needs.”
This friendly competition will conclude the student’s current sewing projects for the year. Teachers and associates from the YHMA will be asked to judge the products and award prizes for best craftsmanship, best creativity, and best use of fabrics with the least amount of scraps. Judging took place February 27.