Here at the Sew-Op, we want to give major props to Sonya Muhammad. She is the program lead for Magic City Seams (the parent program of Magic City Seams Jr, MCS Jr). And last year, she ran a successful season of MCS Jr with 5 high-schoolers in the Sew-Op's shop. Students met with Sonya after school and created pajama tops and bottoms from scratch, learning to read and alter a pattern to fit them.
We were gearing up for a 2nd season of MCS Jr when Covid-19 hit and we had to shut down the Sew-Op shop. Viola and Sonya pivoted quickly and by May, students from all over Birmingham were applying to participate in a virtual MCS Jr session. Sonya learned how to utilize Google Classroom and started creating her virtual instructional studio. With 22 applicants, the June session started off with 10 students, 7 of which completed the full course with an 80% or higher (Sonya had weekly assignments, as well as the final assignment of sewing a pair of pajama pants from scratch, reading a pattern). Many of the students were reading patterns for the first time, and one had never even used a sewing machine before. Ever. Check out some of the final projects from the June session below.
Because of the high number of applicants for the June session, we quickly put the gears in motion to offer a July session. Three of our June participants ended up returning, and when that session ended, 4 of the 8 participants finished with an 80% or higher, sewing skirts from a pattern. Sonya chose a pattern with lots of variations and as you can see from the screenshot at the beginning of this post, the students explored those variations quite successfully! All three returning participants went a step beyond the assignments and created additional garments. One even braved "pleats" and followed the math instructions she found online.
The virtual version of MCS Jr was so successful this summer - funded in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts - that we are launching a September session that is not grant-supported. We've priced the cost of this session competitively so as not to create too much of a barrier for participation. If you would like to purchase a scholarship for one of the students on our wait list, you can do so HERE.
Our virtual program even managed to keep our favorite part of MCS Jr: Designer Fridays! Each week, Viola and Sonya scheduled a new guest for students to learn from. Guests provided tutorials relating to their field of expertise and then students got to ask questions about the industry. This is a really great part of the program because young people get to learn - first hand - from local designers about the opportunities available to them in the fields of design, fashion, merchandising, and more. Designers and entrepreneurs who helped out with Designer Fridays but aren't pictured below: Miriam Omura, Daniel Greer, Lacie Woodward, and Aaliyah Taylor.
Since the new "normal" is likely to contain face masks for months to come, we don't want to exclude those who can't sew...everyone can make a mask! You just need a t-shirt and a pair of scissors (preferably sharp!)
Bib & Tucker Sew-Op is a sewing co-op located at the convergence of Woodlawn, Crestwood North and Avondale.