Bay Area Sewing Camps
Sewing seems to be having a resurgence in popularity these days, says Dori Duncan, owner of Camp Fashionista, San Jose. “Sewing wasn’t cool for a long time. It was something your grandmother did. It was something you did in Home Ec.” Now Duncan says she gets calls every day from mothers wanting to find a creative outlet for their designer-wannabe daughters.
Duncan is a favorite with fans of the show Project Runway because she has met the host, Tim Gunn. With 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, Duncan teaches her campers a range of skills – from basic sewing to pattern making. Classes are offered for ages 5-16. The youngest kids begin with hand sewing, while children 8 and up work on one of the 15 sewing machines. There are plenty of large tables where students cut out patterns and spread out their projects. Kids have made everything from glamorous gowns for their dolls to trendy outfits for themselves.
While the camp is open to boys, Duncan says most who sign up are girls. However, the boys that do attend have a blast, Duncan says. “They are so happy to find an outlet for their creativity,” she says.
Tuition is $299 per week for half-days (9 a.m.-noon or 1 p.m.-4 p.m.) or $550 for full days (9 a.m.-4 p.m.). It’s located at 1702 Meridian Ave., Unit K, San Jose. www.campfashionista.net.
Steve and Kate’s Camps
Style is one of six “studios” offered to students in pre-kindergarten through seventh grade. The other studios are music, breadmaking, animation, dance and computer coding. Kids can spend their whole experience in the style studio, or they can bounce around between studios.
In all cases, kids take the lead. Rather than offering a structured lesson with everyone working on the project, the camp offers materials and ideas for several projects. Counselors are there to help, but kids choose what to do. “Our goal is to have the kids be able to learn at their own pace and basically be able to create what’s inherently interesting to them,” says Mike Saperstein, one of the partners who runs the camps.
For example, the Style studio is stocked with yards of fabric and accessories like ribbons, sequins, lace, zippers and buttons. The kids can sew quilts or clothes, or knit sweaters and scarves. This year, the camp has also added a jeans studio, where students can sew their own denim shorts or pants.
When kids are ready for a break, they join outdoor recreation activities, including soccer and water slides. The goal is fun.
Tuition is $89 for a one-day pass (7:30 a.m.-6 p.m., includes lunch, snacks and all materials), $79 per day for five or more days, $69 per day for 20 or more days and $2,415 for the full summer. The camps are offered in 19 Bay Area locations. www.steveandkatescamp.com.
The Sewing Room Fashion and Sewing Camps
Instructor Jennifer Serr draws on her 20-plus years’ experience in the fashion industry to teach kids ages 8 through teens the tricks of the trade. They make “mood boards” filled with ideas and inspirations, and then use those to create their own collections. Students also learn fashion sketching and how to cut out patterns. They choose from Serr’s own designs. Finally, the students make finished pieces, which are then modeled on a runway.
“It definitely gives them confidence – it’s a complete confidence booster,” Serr says. “They create something. A lot of these kids want to learn to make something different from what everybody else is wearing.”&pagebreaking&The kids enjoy the creative experience and the chance to learn a skill that their parents may not have. “They’re full of joy and love for this thing that maybe their parents don’t quite understand,” Serr says.
Tuition is $390-$600 per week, depending on the program. The Sewing Room Fashion and Sewing Camps are held at The Sewing Room, 2434 Webb Ave., Alameda; Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda and The Sewing Workshop, 2010 Balboa Ave., San Francisco. www.jenniferserr.com.
Galileo Innovation Camps for Kids
These week-long camps offer a fashion “major” as one of 15 majors to campers entering fifth through eighth grades. The major is designed for students with a range of experience – from those who have never touched a sewing machine to those who have sewn their own clothes for years.
Grace Bregenzer, 14, of San Anselmo, says she learned a lot from the fashion classes she took here. “I already knew how to sew, but I got better at using the sewing machine,” she says. “There was a lot to do. They let you do your own thing and they have structured lessons.”
On the first couple of days, campers make a tote bag that can be as simple or as elaborate as they like. They then move on to modifying or upcycling an existing garment. They can cut a new neckline into a shirt, add pockets to a sweatshirt or sew on ribbons to a dress. Finally, they design a new outfit from scratch, choosing from a wide variety of fabrics and accessories. By the end of the week, they have their own fashion line to take home.
Like all of Galileo’s program, the fashion major is designed to teach innovation, says curriculum manager Jessica Ellis. “(Fashion) is a great way to express yourself,” she added. “You express yourself visually on your person”
Galileo Innovation Camps for Kids are offered at 15 Bay Area locations. Tuition is $499 per week (9 a.m.-3 p.m. per day, with extended care option from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.). www.galileo-camps.com.
Lisa Renner is a freelance writer in the Bay Area.