The whir of sewing machines can be heard every Tuesday afternoon at the Pocahontas County Wellness Center in Marlinton, thanks to the sewing class taught by Cherri Hankins.
Young ladies from Marlinton Elementary and Middle schools are learning to read patterns and to use sewing machines. By the end of the class, each girl will have a pair of flannel pajama pants.
New to Pocahontas County, Hankins decided to offer the class as a way to get to know the people.
“When we moved here to West Virginia last February, I just sort of decided this was the best way to contribute to the community and by doing that, I would find other people that were interested in being a positive part of the community,” Hankins said.
Hankins and her husband, John, moved to Pocahontas County from Richmond, Virginia, after he retired from the Boy Scouts of America.
Starting the class was an easy decision for Hankins as she is no stranger to the classroom.
“I’ve been teaching weaving for about twenty years, and spinning, hand felting, and about ten years ago, I started teaching sewing,” she said. “I’ve been sewing since I was five years old.”
The class is the first of many Hankins plans to offer at the Wellness Center. She is working on the finishing touches of a summer camp for young sewers.
“It will be open to students age eight to fifteen,” she said. “Students like the girls I’ve got – returning students will pick up just utilizing the skill set they already have. They’ll sort of be intermediates. New students coming into the class would learn basic sewing machine use, how to thread a sewing machine, how to wind a bobbin and how to use a commercial sewing pattern.”
The week-long summer camp will give students a chance to create two items, unlike the current class which only has time for only one.
“The girls in this class are making just pajama pants whereas students doing the summer camp are likely to do a pair of pajama pants and then maybe a backpack or a pillow with a zipper in it,” Hankins said. “It’s all about teaching them specific skills. I want them to know how to do a zipper by the time they’ve had my class twice or have done one summer camp.”
Once the plans are finalized and the date is set, Hankins said information will be available at the Wellness Center.