• Adrienne Fawcett

Sew What Are All Those Dresses in the Window?

By Adrienne Fawcett


There’s a new face at 570 Oakwood Ave. in Lake Forest – actually two. Sew Confident is on the street level, giving passersby a view of sewing machines, design tables and colorful outfits on display in the windows. It is a sewing studio for children managed by local mom Vicki Pasma.

Students from St. Mary's pose proudly with the designs they created at Sew Confident. Her husband, Doug, operates Pasma Group Architects in a beautiful loft office upstairs. Pasma Group designs houses of worship, schools, athletic facilities and community multipurpose centers for clients located throughout the country. Both businesses moved into the building this past spring, and ideas for an addition are already percolating.


Vicki’s creative roots run deep. Her grandparents, who emigrated from Poland, designed and sewed wedding attire to make their living. Creativity was part of her family culture, and she has come to appreciate how much those influences were part of her development.


Wanting to pass this experience onto her own daughters when they attended Lake Forest County Day School, Vicki worked with friends to create an after-school sewing club in the Pasma home. She also chaired a quilt-making project that involved not just girls but boys, too. What impressed Vicki the most was the confidence that came alive as the kids progressed with their projects.


Now that her two girls are in their teen years, Vicki decided to turn her hobby teaching children to sew into a small business doing the same. Sew Confident offers sewing classes and private lessons for children. The course is based on a college-level curriculum that Vicki tailors to 8- to 11-year-olds. She targets second to fifth graders because she believes they are at critical point for gaining confidence. “Design and sewing just proves to be a great vehicle,” she says. “So much about identity is formed during those years of 8 to 11. I’m so passionate about teaching this age group because it’s really hard to change later, when they can’t see themselves as being able to create. If you don’t catch it by fifth grade, it’s really difficult to turn around.”


Sew Confident’s first workshop begins with deconstructing a dress. The children then design a collection that includes an outfit and accessories, and they create a pattern based on their own measurements. They also learn about fabric, color and the context of what makes an outfit dressy or casual. The students are then challenged to create an outfit they could dress up or down with accessories. The course ends with a fashion show for the students and their families.


But Sew Confident doesn’t have to be about fashion. While her students so far have all been girls, Vicki welcomes boys and will tailor the course toward items students seem excited to make. “Whether the kids are making fashion, gifts or precision kites, the design thinking process is the same,” says Vicki. “It's important that they have joy from what they are making.”


Vicki is building a design vocabulary into her students’ day-to-day thinking and teaching them skills they can apply right away. She recalls a friend who went to fashion school. When the friend was younger, she believed she was horrible at math, but when she learned to sew and went to fashion school, she needed math to do her work. Lo and behold: her friend became great at math.


Vicki also wants to empower children to create because, these days, many children spend much more time in front of a computer than they do with a paper and pen or scissors and fabric.


“When children finish their creations, they are so proud,” she says. "It’s such a sweet moment when they show their parents.”


Sew Confident classes begin at the end of August, are held once a week and run for six weeks. Registration is open at www.sewconfidence.com.