It was out with the old and in with the new – but with a twist – as a group of newly certified stylists took to an impromptu runway in their end-of-session show.
The designers, young summer campers at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, spent two weeks learning about textile recycling and waste reduction while also mastering the basics of sewing.
Combining their learnings, the group first set out to repurpose everyday ties. After cutting the seams and ironing the fabric, they turned the ties into skirts, bags, belts and bracelets.
“You’re not missing anything because you can just make it into something even better,” said camper Nova Charton, 10, who made a skirt with ties.
Nova, like most students, had minimal experience with sewing prior to camp. Under the guidance of instructors from ricRACK, a nonprofit sewing and textile recycling organization based in New Orleans, the group learned how to read and measure patterns, pin and cut fabrics, and sketch and sew together their designs. .
Like the ties, the fabrics used in the camp were donated to ricRACK from a variety of sources, including retailers and film and television.
Alison Parker, founder of ricRACK, said raising the fashion consciousness of campers was one of her goals when she teamed up with the museum for the camp.
“Sewing is not just learning to thread a needle or sew on a button,” Parker said. “There is a social responsibility that goes into wearing and making clothes.”
During the fashion show, the group shared facts about textile recycling and its benefits. They explained that recycling prevents textiles from ending up in landfills, where they take hundreds of years to decompose.
Additionally, fewer natural resources and chemicals are used to create new clothes when people use what they already have. When designers recycle textiles, they get a cleaner, greener earth in return, the campers agreed.
Ogden education director Ellen Balkin said the museum has hosted different variations of the fashion camp over the years. She said the Parker’s emphasis on recycling and reuse aligns well with the museum’s goals.
“It’s about a sense of place,” Balkin said. “Exploring the land we’re on and learning to care for it.”
In addition to creating clothes and exploring the museum for inspiration, the girls also took movement classes from choreographer Liese Weber Hammontree, learning how fabrics move and felt so they can bring their creations to life.
“They put their whole heart and soul into this,” Hammontree said. “It’s been fun to watch them develop and find their fashion sense and confidence.”
More stitches to come
Now that their time at fashion camp is over, many of the students said they want to continue taking sewing classes and creating.
“In the end, it’s really cool to see it all done and remember the beginning when you first started,” said Phoebe Wells, 10. Phoebe, who also likes to crochet, said she was given a machine sewing for Christmas and that her next Project will use what she learned to make her cat a bed.
“I’m definitely going to make more skirts,” Nova said. She added that she plans to find things around her house to repurpose for her designs.
Year-round, ricRACK offers sewing classes for all experience levels at its brick-and-mortar headquarters at 1927 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. The group also engages in various community outreach programs and offers scholarships to qualifying students.
“What they can dream up, they can also continue to create with the sewing machine,” Parker said. “It’s magical to watch 8-year-olds and 10- and 12-year-olds discover that.”