PCC celebrates first industrial sewing class

Pueblo Corporate College, a division of Pueblo Community College, is celebrating the completion of its first industrial sewing class. Students displayed some of their work at a Sept. 7 showcase.

The class become a reality thanks to a $41,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant from the city of Pueblo. The Corporate College was able to purchase 14 industrial sewing machines and hire fashion designer, sewing manufacturer and business owner LaDoris Burton to teach the course.

Burton taught herself to sew at age 7 by watching her mother. She received advanced post-secondary training in the profession. After spending more than four decades working in the industry in Buffalo, N.Y., she moved to Pueblo 12 years ago and started her own successful alteration and design business. 

“I met LaDoris about four years ago,” said Amanda Corum, executive director of the Corporate College. “She was the catalyst to making the class happen.”

The eight-week course met for four hours a day Monday through Friday. Students learned pattern making, clothing construction, alterations and manufacturing on cover stitch, serger and single-needle machines. They received sewing operator certification upon completing the class.

“It’s much bigger than just being a seamstress,” said Burton. “I want to revive a dying art. I want to revive sewing manufacturing in this area. These students can market their skills, whether it’s working in a factory or doing alterations. They can do things at home for their family.”

Students Emberly Duarte, Lisa Perri, Angela White and Adam Widdifield attended the showcase, each wearing a piece of clothing or an accessory they created in the class. Widdifield had no previous sewing experience but an interest in fashion and design; White and Duarte do home sewing and crafting; and Perri has a degree in apparel merchandising and wants to restart her career in the manufacturing realm.

“It was intimidating at first, but also very exciting,” said Widdifield, 21. “I knew nothing about these machines, so if I can do it, anyone can. This is something of value that you can take anywhere.”

Among those in the business community who are excited to see an industrial sewing class offered locally are the leaders of Fomcore, a furniture-manufacturing company that will open a Pueblo facility in 2024. Coincidentally, that announcement came as the sewing class was getting underway.

“We were thrilled to hear that PCC had already introduced an industrial sewing course, as this is a difficult skill to find in the market,” the company said in a statement. “By investing in this field, PCC has encouraged companies like ours to bring jobs and opportunities to this community. It is a skill that most people can learn, has great opportunities for people with physical limitations in the workplace, and is by far our largest and fastest-growing department.”

PCC President Patty Erjavec pointed out during the showcase that the first class at Southern Colorado Junior College – now PCC – took place in 1933 on the top floor of the Pueblo County Courthouse. The subject? Home economics, including sewing.

“The pendulum has swung all the way back,” said Erjavec. “Isn’t it amazing? I really do hope that LaDoris’s vision does come true.”

Local interior designer KC Savage attended the showcase and expressed strong support for the course.

“We need seamstresses. They are gone,” Savage said. “There are a whole bunch of us (in the community) who are not the science and technology type. This type of business fills your soul – and it makes money.”

Another class is planned, though details have not been finalized. Corum and Burton hope eventually to expand the offerings to include intermediate and advanced levels. 

Those interested in receiving information about upcoming classes may contact Izzy Ogaz at 719-549-3329. 

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