Dowagiac business sees success teaching lifelong skills

DOWAGIAC Sew Can You is a fashion design school in Dowagiac. In June, business owner, Karla Arndt, will celebrate a year of success, teaching students the lifelong skill of sewing.

Arndt is a Dowagiac native, who moved back to the city after living in Chicago for over 20 years. There, she taught young students the art of sewing, but wanted to expand her practice to all ages.

The school aims to teach students how to use a sewing machine, but it also teaches confidence and patience.

"Patience is huge," said Arndt. "They learn, it's okay to make mistakes, especially here. It's one of the best things and the most positive things about sewing because without making a mistake they don't learn to do it the right way."

Arndt says Sew Can You fills a void in the small city of Dowagiac.

"It's another outlet for children who don't want to do sports or don't dance," said Arndt. "It's another outlet to come in, be creative, have fun and be able to wear and use what they do."

From doll clothes to blankets, hobo bags to graduation dresses, students use a variety of patterns and techniques to build a skill they can use for a lifetime.

"This is my passion," said 10-year-old sewing student, Taylor Palmer. "I really want to be a sewer when I grow up, and move to Paris and make a fortune out of it."

Another young student, 11-year-old Maggie Hadl says sewing is a sense of pride.

"I just thought it would be cool to come here and make my own clothes and go to school and show it off and be able to make clothes the rest of my life," said Hadl.

Plus, in addition to building creativity and self-esteem, Arndt says students learn the benefits of recycling.

"That's such a big thing going on now in our world, that it's catching on to the kids," said Arndt. "With the economy being what it is, clothes are expensive, so it's a way for them to personalize their clothes."

"I love Pinterest," said 17-year-old Katie Wilder, another sewing student. "I like doing things myself because it's fun."

Students will show off their work at an upcoming fashion show. The event is happening April 13th at the Action Building on Main Street in Dowagiac. Half of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Food Pantry.

For more information about Sew Can You, visit the Facebook page.

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