For the “Let’s Sew for Babies!” Intensive Learning class, a group of Upper School students spent the week of March 24-31 on campus learning about sewing in order to provide baby clothes for the Philadelphia Nurse Family Partnership, an organization that works to support young single mothers living in poverty. After 30 hours of sewing throughout the week, the 12 students created sundresses, pants, t-shirts, bibs, hats, and burping cloths for the infants in need. During Intensive Learning at Moorestown Friends, regular class schedules are suspended for one week before Spring Break for students and teachers to engage in an in-depth study of a particular subject, ranging from language immersion abroad to grassroots community empowerment.
This is the second year that Assistant Director of College Counseling Ashlynne Thomson and Art Instructor Margaret Van Meter have coordinated “Let’s Sew for Babies!,” as the students last year praised the benefits of the unit beyond the service aspect of the course.
“We have seen that students that sign up [for this unit] are fundamentally service oriented and want to make cute kids’ clothes,” said Mrs. Van Meter. “But our hope is the students also realize the value in learning to sew, a useful skill to know for the rest of their lives, while doing good, which is something MFS does all the time already.”
Although the 12 students began the week at varying levels of experience, every student left the class with the knowledge of how to operate a sewing machine, hand stitch, hand baste fabric, lay out a pattern, mark and cut, and prepare garments.
“Some students very quickly jump ahead to learn embroidery stitches, put in zippers and buttonholes, or create pleats, while others are our mechanically-inclined problem solvers that can fix any sewing machine when it malfunctions,” said Mrs. Thomson. “It’s a crash course in sewing but everyone has been inclusive and we help each other when we make mistakes.”
New for this year, the class visited the Nurse Family Partnership center in Philadelphia so the students could have a greater understanding of the work that the organization does, in addition to providing baby clothes to the young mothers. The students met with nurses and a few mothers involved with the program. To conclude the week of service, Mrs. Thomson and Mrs. Van Meter cooked brunch for the students while they debriefed on the experiences of the week.