The Chiles Sewing Club seeks to make a positive difference in the community

It all started with the common thread of an idea at Chiles High School.

Sandie Hanna, a history teacher in the United States, was talking with some of her students about sweatshops. The conversation shifted to reusing clothes that were lying around the house. They pioneered the idea of ​​recycling old clothes into new projects.

“None of us knew how to sew,” Hanna laughed.

But in September, the band enlisted Martha Heath’s help with Sew Noles and released “Sew…You Wanna Change the World?”

Heath brought sewing machines to school, a dozen students set them up in Hanna’s classroom, and Heath taught them how to sew.

“I had no idea. I had no experience before that,” said senior Laura Suarez. “Machines can be quite tricky.”

The club’s first project was to create baby blankets for the neonatal intensive care unit at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. It was a small-scale project that taught students the basics of sewing. Students delivered 49 blankets in December and toured the unit. Principal Joe Burgess, who is involved with March Of Dimes, traveled with them.

“In the end it worked. But it was stressful because none of us knew what we were doing,” said club chairman Savannah Spannaus. “At the end of the day, it was really nice. It was nice to know that they needed it.”

Her next project is to create blankets for Refuge House, which provides services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Students work on the blankets in pairs.

“I like being able to achieve something, I like being able to do something for my community,” Savannah said. “It can be stressful sometimes because I don’t like to mess up and there are a lot of opportunities to mess up when you’re sewing. But in the end it’s really good.”

Now the club has its own space to meet in Chiles. It is filled with donated sewing machines of various brands and sizes. Some were donated to the school by alumni who still lingered on the Listerv mailing list. A woman who has taught home economics all her life donated her materials before moving into an assisted living facility.

Hanna hopes the rising juniors and seniors will step up next year to help lead the club and build the momentum to achieve more.

“It’s a working club. They come here, I literally make them sweat,” she said. “They’ve just been amazing. The big plus is, of course, they’re gaining skill and lots of compliments.”

If you would like to help, the club is looking for donations from:

  • Sewing machine
  • cotton fabric
  • Quilting supplies such as rotary cutters, self-healing mats, quilting rulers, quilting gloves and quilting safety pins
  • Thread
  • All Purpose Sewing Threads
  • Machine needles (SZ 10-11)

Sandie Hanna can be contacted at

Contact Ashley White at or on Twitter @AshleyyDi.

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