The Harbinger Online

Featured Artist: Mrs. Cates

Mrs. Cates Featured Image

Q: When did you start sewing?

A: “I started sewing in eighth grade [when] I took a sewing class when I was at Westridge Middle School. I probably took sewing every year when I was in junior high and high school and then I majored in home etc. In college. When I first got out of college and I started teaching, one of the principals that I had introduced me to a local dress-maker, designer and then I worked part-time for her during the summers and after school.”

Q: What was the appeal of sewing to you?

A: “Because I was tall I couldn’t buy clothes off the rack that fit right, and so that was one motivation to be able to make my own clothes. And the other one is that I’m just a  creative person and it was just a creative outlet for me and I just liked doing that as a hobby.”

Q: Do you do any projects for other people or your kids?

A: “I used to sew for other people, I used to sew for weddings or alterations for people or sometimes I did custom sewing for people, but again that was back when I was single and I didn’t have other responsibilities. I probably have made a zillion costumes in the past for Halloween for my kids. My oldest daughter at one point wanted a Harry Potter costume so I made the tie, the robe. [I made] a lot of girly stuff like a queen costume and things like that. My husband always thinks of these great ideas that he wants, you know things sewn for the house or himself or whatever, so everyone always has a project for me to do. So I’m never without something to sew.”

Q: In your class here what are you teaching your students?

A: “The apparel 1 class starts off with making a cloth bag, we call it a green bag or an alternative to a plastic shopping bags, where they pick their own fabric and then they learn just the basics of how to sew through that project. And then after that they go into an elastic waist garment so they can pick a skirt or sweat pants or pajama pants or shorts, just something with an easy pattern. And after that they get to pick whatever they want to do. So I have people that are making things like placemats or stuffed animals, and other people that are making aprons, dresses, shorts. Everybody does whatever they’re interested in.”

Q: What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve ever worked on?

A: “That’s hard to say. I guess the most meaningful one right now would be, when they students have extra time they sew scraps together to make cloth blocks and we put those together to make quilts for the homeless. So they’re not wasting their time, they’re able to do something as a community service with the extra time they have. And that way we use up all the scraps that are extra that would have just been discarded and we also use the fabric from the interior design books. We have quite a few in the back room, and as I get new ones I then pull out the old ones and people use them. And so I guess that’s the most meaningful, I don’t know if it would be my favorite necessarily, but it has a purpose. I just recently made some bags as an example of projects that the kids could do next year. Since they’re all getting laptops they need a bag to carry their laptop, so I made that bag that’s over there that has that “LANCER” on it. That lancer strip is actually a piece off of an old band uniform that the previous sewing teacher, I don’t know why, but somebody asked her to do something with these band uniforms and she cut these off and saved them, thinking, ‘this is too good to throw away.’ But then she never had any time to do anything with it so I thought of the bag idea. And I have another bag I made that has the word ‘EAST’ that is also off of an old band uniform, that I put on the front pocket of just a regular shoulder bag. So next year the students can pick to make that or one of the other bags, you know to carry their laptop in.”


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