WEST MILTON — Not quite a home economics class and not quite the average art class, Milton-Union junior high and high school students in Evelyn Brady’s Art through Design class are learning to be both creative and resourceful.
Brady’s class is a little different from the typical art classes offered in schools, teaching art through the study of iconic fashion designers, drawing, and creating simple sewing projects.
Brady offers the class at the high school and middle school levels. In Art through Design, students learn about art, but also how to create their own designs.
“I want them to see that they can do things for themselves,” Brady said.
She hopes to empower these students to think about what they want and make it happen for themselves.
Most students have little to no sewing experience before starting the class. High school students Kristen Dickerson, Allie Bohse, and Jessica Erwin said they’d never sewn anything before this class, but so far this year they’ve learned to make pants, handbags, and even more unusual items like pajamas for dogs.
“I like that you get to learn how to make things,” Dickerson said. This week, some of Brady’s students were learning how to sew in zippers by making cosmetics bags.
At the beginning of each semester, there are always sewing mishaps — shirts sewn inside out, pants put together backwards — but by the end, students have created items they can be proud of, Brady said.
“It’s so great to see them make progress,” she added.
Brady was recently awarded a McDonald’s Mac Grant, which paid for items like sewing machines, irons, other needed sewing tools. She was also asked to make a presentation about the class at an upcoming education conference at Wright State University.
During the class, Brady also challenges students to think critically about fashion and marketing, asking them to consider what makes something trendy and if brand names are really worth the big price tag.
“We are so consumer driven,” she said.
Brady said she herself often looks at a clothing item in a store and thinks, “I could make that” — an attitude she hopes to teach students as well.
She also takes a thrifty approach to this class, teaching students that these skills are not only useful, but can also save money.
“People don’t fix things anymore,” she said. “You’d be surprised what people throw away.”
Brady said she’s seen people discard coats with no buttons or bedding with rips, things that could be easily repaired if you know how to do it.
In some ways, Brady is teaching students a dying art. Since home economics is no longer taught in schools, fewer people have even basic sewing schools.
Recently another teacher asked Brady for some help mending a pair of pants and Brady told her to bring them by the classroom.
“Any kid in third period could do that,” Brady proudly said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 552-2205.