Niki peeked her head around the corner to let me know she was home from school. With a happy grin on her face, she told me, “I’ve got stuff to tell you. Actually…lots and lots of stuff.”
I chuckled and replied, “Alright. Let me get a drink and snack and I’m all ears.” If you know Niki, you know how much she talks when she gets excited. She realizes it too so she doesn’t get offended when I tell her I need to get a drink first.
She had her first “Introduction to Sewing” class in her Fashion Design program. She looked through the syllabus and was a bit bummed she was required to take the class. It’s going to be primarily review for her but there were a few new things (literally) that she’ll learn this semester. I told her to work on perfecting the review parts.
First class: How to thread your machine. 3 hours.
These are industrial sewing machines, mind you. They are not like the home machines – super fast and more intricate especially when it comes to threading the machine. You have to use tweezers for parts of it and there’s some work you do under the machine where you can’t visibly see it.
The teacher called the class up as she was talking to them. She wanted all the students to bring their notebook with them and take copious notes as she taught them how to thread the machine. Niki can thread the machine without looking since she took an extensive apparel design class her senior year of high school using industrial sewing machines. Her college professor noticed that Niki did not bring a notebook with her to the front of the class. She looked at Niki and asked her, “I suppose you think you already know how to thread the machine since you’re not taking notes?”
Niki looks at me and says, “Mom…there was no way around this. I was going to come across as sassy no matter what I said because of the way the teacher worded her questions.”
“Yes, I do.”
“How do you know how to do it?”
“I have one of these sewing machines at home.”
“Oh really? What model?”
Niki tells her. I have no clue what model she has without going to the basement and looking at it.
“Where did you get it from?”
“A tailor who went out of business.”
“Would you like to demonstrate to the class how to thread the machine before I show everyone?”
“If you want me to, I will.”
“Yes, I would.”
Niki sat down in front of it, threaded the machine, pulled out a scrap piece of fabric and did a test stitch on it. The two of them swapped places and the teacher meticulously checked Niki’s work. “Nice.” That’s all she had to say to Niki. The rest of the class stood with their jaws open.
The teacher finishes the lesson where students were raising their hands asking questions like, “What’s a bobbin?” “What’s interfacing?” After the lesson was complete, the rest of the class time was spent practicing how to thread the machine. The teacher gave Niki permission to help anyone who asked her for assistance – which were quite a few. Niki said she specifically did not touch anyone’s thread but helped step them through the process until they could do it on their own. At one point, one of the girls asked the teacher to come check her work. The girl did not thread her machine completely correct and the teacher asked if she had any help. The student told her that Niki had helped her. The teacher looked at this student and told her, “Then you made a mistake somewhere because she knows what she’s doing.” It turns out that this girl didn’t have enough tension on the thread and it was, in fact, the girl’s fault. Niki said she was fully prepared to take the blame if it was her fault but it was a relief that it wasn’t.
As her mother, I’m both proud but also hopeful that Niki takes this as an opportunity to excel in her sewing instead of being complacent.
The way this fashion program is set up, the students are assigned sections where they all take the same classes together through the entire semester. At one point, one of the girls was staring at Niki. Niki was getting a bit creeped out by it. Finally the girl asks Niki, “Are you Coffee Filter Girl?”
“You’re the reason why I destroyed my body mantle!” (The name of the project.) Then stomped off.
Apparently, there’s a large group of students that refer to Niki as Coffee Filter Girl and how amazing her project turned out. Niki had no idea until then especially because her teacher hated her project and gave her an A- with no explanation for why he took off points. Niki thinks she’ll now be referred to as Thread Girl also.
She went on to tell me about her other two classes as well. I love seeing how well she’s doing in her classes but I enjoy even more seeing the excitement and joy in her eyes as she lights up telling me about her day. Time will tell where she goes with this degree. She’s leaning towards either children’s clothing or special needs clothing but it could end up being something completely different after she does her five mandatory internships.
It’s amazing how experiences influence your children – from Niki coming into my special needs classroom after school and playing clay with the kids waiting for their parents to pick them up, to seeing me make weighted vests for the boys, to working at a special needs school herself in her senior year of high school. The first time she brought up special needs clothing to me – my heart melted. (Anything from making clothing for people in wheel chairs to autism to physical abnormalities) When she tells most people about sewing special needs clothing (when they ask what she’s going to do with a fashion degree), she says they give her confused looks because they don’t even realize there’s a need for it. Oh…there’s a need! Niki also really enjoys children’s clothing and historically accurate period clothing – the future holds the answer to the direction she’ll take with this degree.