The Story Behind the Fashion Design Labs

By Zoe Moran – 10th Grade, Pittsburgh Obama Academy

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to teach kids to do something important? At the Carnegie Library in Oakland, kids are learning how to sew and recycle materials, such as t-shirts, into usable projects.

The main library has open labs for teens every Wednesday during the summer.  Last week, Jessica Smith, a librarian at the main library, taught students how to make a bag using a sewing machine and a recycled t-shirt. I talked with Jessica about her experience with sewing and the Carnegie Library Labs.

Jessica’s mother was a seamstress, and although she’s said she didn’t listen much when her mother tried to teach her, she knows the basics of sewing. She said, “I wish I had listened to her more, so now every time I see her, I try to get in a mini sewing lesson.”

As I talked with Jessica, she told me about how the idea of creating a sewing lab came about. For many years, the library had unused sewing machines in the back of a closet which were collecting dust. A visitor to the library saw the sewing machines and asked Jessica if he could try one out. He picked it up quickly, and Jessica got the idea to teach kids the basics of sewing.

Jessica said her dream job is working with kids at the Carnegie Library. She loves to see teens taking advantage of opportunities and learning new things.  Jessica said the objective of this fashion lab was for kids to get comfortable with the sewing machine and to teach kids to up-cycle with things like t-shirts.

I also talked with another librarian at the Carnegie Library, Mk Davis.  She explained that she sees kids use what they learned from labs in their own lives. This lab teaches kids skills they will use in the future, and it gives them a chance to try something new and different. 


Zoe Moran 2Zoe Moran is in 10th grade at Pittsburgh Obama Academy. She lives in the South Side and took a journalism class in school. She also enjoys photography.

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