Let's Talk About Art: Sewing

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Sewing is not just your grandmother's hobby anymore.

The age-old art of designing and making clothing and accessories is a hot trend among young people, thanks in part to the DIY craft movement.

Pittsburgh-based teaching artist Lisa Leibering remembers helping her mother design clothes for her and her sisters. They would find inspiration from fashion shows and magazines, then draw up patterns to sew from scratch. "From an early age, I was exposed to innovation and design," she says.

She recalls being intrigued by her grandmother's scrap drawer, where she began to create more than just clothes. "I would spend hours stitching and tying together little pieces of fabric, making weird sculptures and clothes for my stuffed animals."

Her passion for fabric and thread eventually led her to study theatrical design and puppet-making.

Ms. Leibering earned a BFA in puppetry/children's theater from West Virginia University and an MA in theater for youth from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then she has taught a wide range of classes, including puppetry, creative drama and costume design. In addition to working as a designer, she's worked as costume shop manager for the Children's Theatre of Charlotte (North Carolina).

Beginning Feb. 8, Ms. Leibering will teach a six-week sewing class at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside. "Sewing Fundamentals" is geared for 11- to 14-year-olds who are interested in designing and creating their own clothes, accessories or decorative items.

Students can sew by hand or use sewing machines to bring their designs to life. "This past summer we even had a fashion show where students got to model the garments they made." she says.

"It's a very empowering thing. Creating your own clothing is truly an expression of identity and self-confidence. At the end of class, you'll have made something you can wear that is truly a reflection of who you are and your artistic sensibilities."

Ms. Leibering is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, where her research focuses on the connection between cognitive science and design aesthetics.

For information about arts classes for teens, visit: http://pca.pittsburgharts.org/education/pca/child-teen-family/all-courses.

This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

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