A handcrafted narrative

Chemistry teacher shares her experience with making her own clothing and connecting with students on a deeper level


Josie Fitzpatrick

Chemistry teacher Melissa Povey has a passion for creating her own clothing and started sewing in the second grade.

Penelope Neireiter, Staff Reporter

In today’s society fashion is dictated by trends. Nonetheless, Melissa Povey is a chemistry teacher whose passion for sewing and creating her own clothing has been woven into the very fabric of her life. From her early years watching her mother sew and learning to play with fabrics, Povey’s fascination with crafting took root.

Povey’s love for sewing was formed through firsthand experiences, sparking a lifelong interest in the art.

“My mom sewed and made my clothes when I was a baby, so I would play with fabric while she was doing that,” Povey said. “I started to sew some things in second grade.”

As she grew older, she embarked on a journey of self-expression. With each stitch, her confidence grew.

“I remember making my first shirt for myself in eighth grade,” Povey said. “Then, my freshman year I made this quite complicated shirt for myself, and I was so proud of it.”

Life has a way of shifting focus, redirecting passions. For Povey, a dedicated teacher, the demands of her profession meant putting her sewing aside for a little.

“Teaching took a lot of my time, so I haven’t sewed for a few years,” Povey said. “Now I am getting back into it. I could make a shirt or a dress in maybe a weekend if that’s all I do. But if I’m just working on something a little bit every night, it might take me a month to make it.”

With a concern for the environment, Povey picks her materials carefully, understanding the environmental impact of synthetic fabrics. For this reason, she gravitates towards environmentally friendly material.

“I strongly prefer natural fibers,” she said. “Rayon is a type of fabric made from wood fiber, and Linen and cotton are plant fibers. I feel strongly about trying not to use petroleum products because of the harm to the environment. Also, I feel like clothes that are [made with] natural fibers are better.”

Her passion for sewing has become a bridge, bonding her with her students on a deeper level.

“I really like how it’s been something that I’m connecting with students on, and how we can talk about knitting or sewing and do show and tell with each other,” Povey said.

Sophie Labiosa, a sophomore and modiste in her own right is one of Povey’s students, who shares a passion for crafting and clothing design.

“I really enjoy sewing because it’s a great way to create things that are functional, I can make clothes without having to go out and buy them,”  Labiosa said.

For Labiosa, sewing, beyond functional and creative purposes, also extends as a gesture of friendship.

“I like to make clothing for other people as a gift,” Labiosa said. “I think, for me, it’s less about knowing people who also have the same hobby and finding community, and more like being able to share my hobbies with my own group of friends.”

For both Povey and Labiosa, crafting is a hobby they are excited to dedicate more free time towards as the school year comes to an end.

“This summer, I want to try making pants, which I did once in high school,” Povey said. “It’s going to take me more time. So, I want it to be summer when I’m not distracted by grading and school.” 

The clothing industry is flooded with mass-produced fashion, concerning individuals like Povey who refuse to settle for poorly made pieces.

“I’m not going to pay that much money for something that feels like it’s really cheap or not well done when I could make it myself,” Povey said.

Povey has discovered the power and freedom of creating her own clothing. She has found enjoyment in one-of-a-kind pieces, in which it is not just a piece of fabric, but a story.

“When you make your own clothes, you can make them fit your own body well,” she said. “You can also pick the fabric and the pattern and make a unique thing to wear.”