Students taking sewing ‘driver’s test’


Sophomore Eliza Mitchell learns how to use a sewing machine, while her friend Brooke Jacobe, who is also a sophomore, practices stitching by hand. The girls are students in “Sewing for Beginners,” an Interim Term class.

Sarah Xu and Dylan Keller

“We have two purple elephants and two blue camels,” said Mrs. Betsy Durning, an English teacher in the Upper School.

It was not a normal day in science room 123, where Mrs. Durning had written the words “stitch it up” in big bold letters on a white board in the front of the classroom.

Colorful fabric with animal, plaid, floral and camouflage patterns blanketed the room’s shiny, black science tables.

Machines were sounding, students were talking among each other, and teachers, Mrs. Durning and Mrs. Lauri Anderson, were walking around offering their assistance. Each student was concentrating on the work at hand.

Nearly every space of the room was occupied by a student who was exploring the world of sewing. Three sewed stitches by hand, two ironed in a corner, one cut fabric, and others used sewing machines. 

 The room was alive. 

“Sewing takes a lot of patience and dedication, especially when threading the needle,” sophomore Eliza Mitchell said.

Each student is expected to be able to pass a “driver’s test,” as Mrs. Durning likes to call it.

The beginner sewing “driver’s test” consists of five goals each student must complete by the end of the course. Those goals include winding the bobbin, threading the machine, securing knots, stitching straight and turning corners.

“Sewing is frustrating to do all on your own, and sometimes it is hard to accept that making mistakes or not knowing what to do next is just part of the process,” said Mrs. Anderson, an Upper School learning specialist.

The teachers answered students’ questions and in some instances demonstrated what they needed to do.

“It’s easier than expected because they taught us everything very well,” sophomore Brooke Jacobe said.