By Roger Linnett
Five members of the Venice Boys & Girls Club’s Sewing Club were invited to exhibit their creations for the 700 plus attendees of the annual conference of the American Sewing Guild on Friday, August 19 at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A.
They were there as special guests of the ASG as a demonstration of the wonderful results of mentoring young students in the sewing arts, and to encourage the members of the audience to go back and start sewing programs in their own communities. The five created outfits in line with the ASG’s theme of “Hollywood’s Golden Age of Glitz and Glamour.” For most it was the first major sewing project they had ever undertaken, having first crafted purses, messenger bags and the like.
Esteyn Diaz, 17, the group’s only male, who has been awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising, designed and made a dark-blue, long-sleeve linen shirt. “It’s a perfect summer beach look.”
Ivette Flores, 16, who will also be attending FIDM next year, chose a short, summer dress in black with tiny red roses and red buttons down the side. “I chose the pattern from McCall’s, and the fabric because floral prints are trendy.”
Christina Garcia, 18, showed off her chic, black taffeta gown. “I imagined it would be something Grace Kelly would wear.”
Junuen Garcia, 16, matched a short black dress with a leopard-print top. “I wanted something I could wear for more than one occasion.”
Somone Glenn,17, crafted a beautiful, black silk, sequined blouse. “This look Rocks! especially with vintage accessories.”
In 2007 the VB&GC received a donation of two sewing machines and three boxes of fabric. But it wasn’t until a new volunteer, who goes by “Rose,” but could be a mistaken for Laura Dern, said “Yes, I can can sew,” in answer to Art Director Lalo Marquez’s question. “Great,” he said, “you’re the new sewing teacher.” A small office was converted to accommodate sewing machines and work tables. When the adjoining art room is in use the noise makes it hard to talk without closing the door, which makes the little room hot and stuffy. The club is hoping top move to a larger space soon.
The club really took off when the Singer Company donated a couple more machines, and VNC council member Challis McPherson, herself a member of the South Bay chapter of ASG, was able to get the VNC to grant funds to open accounts for material and notions at Fabric Planet, Lincoln Fabrics and JoAnn’s. She also put out the word with the ASG for more volunteers to help mentor the eager students.
The very popular club, dubbed “The Sew What? Club” has far fewer mentors than the many aspiring fashionistas clamoring to join. There are currently a half-dozen women, not all ASG members, who for the most part work one-on-one to teach the teenagers all aspects of sewing. While most are individual projects ranging from purses and messenger bags to pillows and pajamas, a group led by Barbara McDowell is learning to make quilts as a collective endeavor.The Sew What? Club meets Tuesday afternoons from Noon ‘til 6 pm on the second floor of the Venice Boys & Girls Club.