- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

CISCO, Texas (AP) - Prior to this, Miranda Cochran’s sewing skills were limited to home surgery.

“I sewed-up my little sister’s pony,” she offered.

The Abilene Reporter-News reports toy repair aside, tackling pajama bottoms on a sewing machine was a big step for a 7 year old. But at the Stitches of Fun sewing and craft camp, on a recent Thursday, she kept at it.

She had, after all, just made a pillow.

“It was fun,” she said. “I liked it.”

Miranda bent her head to the machine, keeping a careful eye on the needle as it stitched her seam. Andrea Degelia, who ran the camp held inside the JT Ranch Quilt Shop, watched while lingering nearby.

Degelia is also the Family and Consumer Sciences county agent for the Texas A&M; AgriLife Extension Service in Eastland County. She had rigged a small book beneath the pedal on Miranda’s sewing machine so the girl could reach it and occasionally leaned in to assist when her youngest pupil needed her.

“This is our two-day sewing camp,” Degelia explained. “We call it ‘Stitches of Fun’ because we’re learning our basic stitches.”

Next to Miranda was her 10-year-old sister, Samantha. The two of them couldn’t attend both days, there are lots of summer activities to occupy a child’s time, but coming to this camp was especially important for Samantha.

“I just like sewing,” she said. “I help my grandma because she loves sewing a bunch.”

Their mother, Danielle Cochran, arrived to pick them up.

“Their grandmother is an avid quilter,” she confirmed. “So this is fun practice for when they are with her.”

Pajama pants weren’t the only thing the girls made, however. Samantha’s favorite was the pillow they’d put together that morning. An avid reader, she was going to use it when paging through one of the mysteries she loves.

Across the work table C.J. Chaney was grumpily working a seam ripper through her own pajama project. Beside her, Kourtney Peacock stoically performed the same chore. Both 12 year-olds had more experience than the sisters, but mistakes still happen.

“This is taking way too long,” C.J. harrumphed.

“It is a little painstaking, but your seam ripper can sometimes be your best friend,” Degelia said.

It is not my friend,” C.J. countered.

Degalia laughed.

“Well, it’s your friend because now you can put your legs in your pants when we’re done with it,” she said. “Without that, you wouldn’t be able to.”

It’s a learning process, and that’s why C.J. and Kourtney wanted to come in the first place.

“Sewing is just something that we both really like to do,” she said, adding that she appreciated the experience gained in this setting.

“We get to make fun projects at the end of the day, and we get to meet new people,” Kourtney said.

Kourtney also was a fan of the pillow they made that day. C.J.’s favorite thing so far is something she crafted at last year’s camp.

“The really cute skirt that I made out of some fabric,” she said. “I think sometime today I’m going to start on a blanket for my grammy and paw-paw, I’ve got the stuff for it.”

As time was running out, it was likely the girls weren’t going to finish their projects that day. The following day would have its own work, so they would have to likely finish them at home.

“Overall, we like for them to complete the projects and learn the different techniques that go with it,” Degalia said.

“But mostly, we want them to get the love of sewing, that it’s possible to make things and that it’s fun.”

Jerry Choate, the owner of the shop, echoed those sentiments.

“Children are our future, and that’s the bottom line,” she said. “Sewing builds self-esteem in children, it gives them the confidence to do the things that they don’t see a lot of other people doing.”

Back with the sisters, Miranda already knows what her next project is going to be.

“A dress,” she declared. “A red, fluffy dress. I want to be a dress designer when I grow up.”

Her mother said Miranda has already asked for her own sewing machine.

“So, we’ll have to see. Maybe Santa Claus?” Danielle Cochran mused. “Miranda is hooked.”

___

Information from: Abilene Reporter-News, https://www.reporternews.com

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