Think sewing and knitting is a lost art that was only for Grandma in her rocking chair? Think again.
Heather McNamara’s Family Studies students at Bear Creek Secondary School are changing that perception every day with their work. Heather teaches fashion classes at the west Barrie high school. It’s evident in the way she talks about and shares her class projects that she’s passionate about the subject matter and the work of her students. She instructs Grade 10 to 12 classes on theory and practical applications of fashion design, including hand sewing, as well as learning to use sewing machines and sergers. Students get to create fashion crafts like hand warmers, and can express their creativity by using abstract materials like toilet paper, tin foil and sticky notes to build high fashion replica items.
Their projects give back to the community too. The class recently created fidget quilts for Roberta Place seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Each student in the Grade 11 and 12 classes made a quilt based on a resident profile provided by Roberta’s Place. The profiles included seniors’ hobbies, past careers and favourite colours – all incorporated into the quilt.
“We were so lucky to be able to hand deliver the quilts to the seniors,” says Heather. “It was very rewarding for my students.”
Student Kelly Anderson notes: “It personally made me feel really good because my grandfather passed away having it (Alzheimer’s) and didn’t really remember anyone in my family. The project was hard but definitely worth it.”
Another community project the class contributes to on an ongoing basis is making colourful and cheerful pillowcases for a charitable organization called Cases for Smiles. The pillowcases are delivered to The Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto.
“I love that the kids get to practice their sewing skills and contribute to our community,” adds Heather.
The courses are part of the Social Science and Humanities curriculum. The fashion course offerings start in Grade 10 with an introduction to the world of clothing, and learning about techniques and technologies used to create garments and accessories. The Grade 11 class focuses on the world of fashion through theories, trends and consumer behaviour. Students use tools, technology and techniques to create items. In the Grade 12 World of Fashion course, students explore the world of fashion through practical skills application, research projects and the global fashion industry.