Sewing camp weaves together local roots, modern skills for Rowan youth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2022

SALISBURY — Sewing and textiles have a long history in North Carolina and that invaluable tradition shows no sign of slowing down here in Rowan County.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension held its Stitchin’ Time camp for youth from June 20-June 24 through the local 4-H program and interest was so high that both camps filled up almost immediately.

Laura Allen, an agent for the Extension who handles 4-H youth development, said that this is one of their most popular camps of the summer already and emphasized how many young people and parents alike came to appreciate the art of sewing in recent years.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down public places in spring 2020, the local cooperative went to work looking for ways to keep local young people busy and active.

One of the ideas that they pursued involved providing sewing kits to Rowan County residents and posting instructional videos on how to use them online.

The activity not only connected children with a lost practice that many have either forgotten or never learned across the country in recent years, but it also gave countless young people something new (and safe) to do during the pandemic.

Allen noted that feedback from surprised parents found that kids participating in the remote activity were suddenly able to sew holes in their clothing, complete creative needlework projects and more.

The response was so immense that the cooperative turned it into a 4-H summer camp this year, with sessions offered for 5-8 year-olds on Monday-Wednesday and additional ones provided for 9-18 year-olds for the remainder of the week.

In the classes, participants worked with and learned from local volunteers familiar with the rich history of sewing in the area, ranging from the textile industry’s major presence for Rowan County in the past to the barn quilts that adorn many farm doors around the region.

The camp mainly focused on giving the young people a chance to learn this valuable skill so that they could use it for their own needs moving forward, as well.

At the camp on Friday, the participants and volunteers alike were putting the finishing touches on designs they had worked on and Allen expressed optimism that future sewing events like this would be held again moving forward.

“We received a Robertson Grant (from the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation in Salisbury) that helped to fund the program and we’re planning on doing summer camps for sewing again next year, and possibly others in the spring as well.”

“It’s important that we work to teach new generations how to sew and with this camp we can help to do that for young people today.”

The enthusiasm expressed by campers of all ages was captured on their faces and the bonding between participants and volunteers alike served as a reminder of the connective tissue this experience has on Rowan County as a community.

For more information about future events being held by the Rowan County Cooperative Extension or its 4-H programs, go to the website at