CROWLEY, La. — Acadia Parish 4-Hers earned more than just a cozy keepsake from a seven-month long sewing project. They earned valuable skills that can help them succeed throughout their developmental journeys.
The Acadia Parish Sewing Club, led by LSU AgCenter extension agents Megan Sarver and Kayla Segura, completed its inaugural year this week with a showcase of its participants’ first project—T-shirt quilts. On Monday, April 25, the group showcased their quilts for the community at the Acadia Parish 4-H Office. At the event, participants displayed their multicolored creations. They also heard from quilters from the community who shared their experiences with the textile hobby.
“They learned how to be flexible and patient,” said Kayla Segura, Acadia Parish 4-H agent. “They even mentored each other and supported other members of the club by helping each other with their quilts.”
The sewing club began as an offshoot of a Louisiana 4-H Fashion Advisory Board camp that was held last summer. There, the board highlighted sewing projects that could be demonstrated on the parish level. At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, Acadia Parish students in grades 6 through 12 were invited to participate. The quilting group produced a total of 39 quilts during the duration, meeting twice monthly from October through April.
The 4-Hers, with the help of adult volunteers and parents, completed the—sometimes tedious—steps to create their final products. From preparing the fabric to assembling fabric blocks, pinning, basting, hand stitching to machine sewing, the participants created their cherished keepsakes. But according to former 4-H member—now a parent volunteer—Allison Arceneaux, the club’s participants earned much more than that.
“My girls learned a lot of leadership skills,” Arceneaux said. “It also allowed them to meet other people in the parish. They all had the same likings. They all loved the creative aspect.”
Arceneaux’s two daughters Ava, 15, and Annalise, 13, were both involved in this year’s club. The mother, and Acadia Parish teacher, was a natural fit for the role of adult volunteer who assisted in planning lessons and guiding the group of novice needleworkers. She said she was involved in the sewing project all throughout her years as a 4-Her. Now, she is passing on the skills she acquired in 4-H to a community of eager young seamstresses. She said, as a volunteer, she learned a little about herself along the way.
“I gained the confidence in myself that I can do this. I can lead some girls,” Arceneaux said. “All those girls taught us a lot, that we all make mistakes. I learned with these girls that it doesn’t matter if things are not perfect. It’s yours and as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”
Ava Arceneaux, who attends Notre Dame High School, said the club gave her a sense of accomplishment once the quilt was completed.
“It boosted my confidence in my creative abilities,” said Ava Arceneaux. “Quilting also teaches you the importance of patience.”
Southwest Regional 4-H Coordinator Lanette Hebert attended the April 25 quilting gala and said the youth seemed fulfilled in developing their talent and connecting with others through the project.
“It’s wonderful to see the smiles on 4-H youth when they find a project that sparks their interest,” Hebert said. “The Acadia Quilting project club models the 4-H Thriving Model, providing a safe environment where caring adults help youth flourish by exploring their interests and passions.”
Segura and Sarver said the sewing club’s popularity and success this year will certainly lead to future endeavors. They said sewing club leaders will collaborate to identify a new project for students to complete for the 2022-23 year.
Learning about a new style of quilting and new techniques from generations past is what Annalise Arceneaux said she is eagerly anticipating for the next sewing club project.
Acadia Parish students or volunteers wishing to participate in next year’s sewing club can contact the Acadia Parish 4-H office at 337-766-8821. For more information, follow this link to the Acadia Parish Sewing Club Web site.
Members of the Acadia Parish 4-H Sewing Club posed with their completed t-shirt quilts at a gala held in Crowley on April 25. The quilts were the culminations of seven months of work put in by 4-Hers and adult volunteers. Photo by Kayla Segura/LSU AgCenter
Adult volunteers assist Acadia Parish 4-H Sewing Club members display their t-shirt quilts completed as the club's inaugural project. A gala held on April 25 in Crowley gave participants to show off their handiwork and to hear from quilters from the community. Photo by Lanette Hebert/LSU AgCenter