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Students in the Fashionista Summer Program at Giunta Middle School showcase their first finished product, a custom made pillowcase.

Skills for life start with one straight seam!

August 19, 2015 - Points of Pride

Maria Lazaro has a rule in her Family & Consumer Sciences classroom at Giunta Middle School:  BE CREATIVE.  That means her students are expected to be courteous, respectful, efficient, accountable, a team player, involved, valuable, and effective. Maria not only teaches skills in her Family and Consumer Sciences classroom, but she also teaches skills for life. 

     This summer, Maria offered a basic sewing skills class to a group of rising 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th graders who will be attending schools this coming year all over Hillsborough County.  All the students wanted to have fun this summer.  They are each very creative in their own way, and they all wanted to learn how to sew.  Little did they know that along with basic sewing skills, they were going to be learning how to get along in an unfamiliar setting, how to get to know new people of all ages, and that they would pick up a few life-skills along the way as well.

    The instructor, Maria, began very simply by teaching the students how to sew a straight French seam on a sewing machine.  She also showed them how to use guides so that their seams stayed straight; how to use an iron so that their seams were flat and crisp, and how to problem solve situations that arise in a new environment with new rules and new team players.  Tools such as seam rippers, bobbins, spools, needles, fabric scissors, dress patterns, and elastic threaders were quickly introduced and made available as needed.  For some of the students, the seam ripper became their best friend, as they practiced sewing seams until they were perfect.  Then and only then were they allowed to begin putting fabric pieces together, pin them into place, and use their sewing machine to begin construction of their self-created designs. 

    The first product was a pillow case designed with a colorful strip of material and a strip of ribbon or edging used as trim.  Once they finished the pillow cases, the BIG project was a pair of pajama pants, including an elastic waistband.  The students pinned the patterns to the fabric that matched their pillow cases, cut out the pajama pieces, and then began constructing the pants one seam at a time.  There was a lot of laughter and a few sighs of frustration, but for most part, all that was heard was the whirring of the sewing machines, the sound of scissors sliding through fabric, and an occasional whisper of “I did it!” carrying through the room.  Sewing skills for some of the students - certainly.  Life skills for all of them - definitely!  Be Creative.  Use guides.  Set your goal for straight seams. Finish what you start. Enjoy each other’s company. And don’t forget to laugh, at yourself, and with your teammates!

For more information about Family and Consumer Sciences classes offered in HCPS middle and high schools, please email program supervisor, Leanne Lester at


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