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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Sewing and Neurodiversity, with Hannah Choi | Episode 76

Video: Threads Magazine

Sewing garments for yourself or others requires a lot of thinking, and Hannah Choi, an executive function coach with Beyond BookSmart, walks through what those brain processes are, to help you create a more joyful sewing experience. In this episode of Sewing With Threads, she also explains neurodiversity—how those brain processes work differently for everyone.


The mental skills we use to go through, or “execute,” our days are known as executive functions, Hannah says. They are considered high-level thinking skills. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and learning disabilities often experience executive functioning challenges, she says, but individuals without these diagnoses can, too. Stress, trauma, or any distractions in daily life can affect executive functioning for anyone.

8 Executive Functions

Listen in for Hannah’s discussion with Editor Carol J. Fresia about how the following eight executive functions apply to sewing a garment and how you can manage them:

Cognitive flexibility, or flexible thinking

Planning and time management


Impulse- or self-control

Paying attention, or working memory

Task initiation, or getting started

Emotional control

Metacognition, or knowledge about yourself and what works for you


Executive Functions in the Sewing Room

Deciding whether to sew a tried-and-true pattern or a new one requires one executive function, or mental skill. Determining whether you have all the supplies for your project is another. Transferring pattern markings, figuring out when to sew, what to do when you make a sewing blunder, and even deciding what time of day and under what circumstances you work best, require other executive functions.

Bodice pattern, tracing paper, shears, and colorful thread spools lying on a gridded mat
Gathering supplies, tracing and adjusting a pattern, and transferring markings all each require executive functioning such as planning, time management and working memory. Photo: Mike Yamin.

Sewing is a fun way to practice all these mental skills, Hannah says. Because of our neurodiversity, each person will want to customize sewing processes to increase their sewing enjoyment. Listen in to find out how.

To hear more from Hannah, check out Beyond BookSmart for Hannah’s blog and “Focus Forward: An Executive Function Podcast,” which Hannah hosts. For more information on executive functioning, check out this adult success kit.


This episode’s sponsor:

Cover of "Doll Couture" by Kenneth D. King

Hello. I’m Threads Contributing Editor Kenneth D. King. I want to introduce you to Lola the Showgirl, who has adventures and gets new fashions in my new book, Doll Couture. Lola, who happens to be an 11 1/2-inch fashion doll, is restarting her life in New York City, so she needs amazing outfits to match. Doll Couture walks through her story where we meet the new friends she encounters along the way. These friends help her and they make sure she has the fashions she needs for every situation. My book includes the patterns and instructions for each outfit so you can create your own doll fashions just like Lola’s. Check out Doll Couture by Kenneth D. King at Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, TauntonStore.com, and all fine booksellers.


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  1. fashionmavin | | #1

    This podcast was so fantastic and made me feel better about my experience with sewing and my lack of confidence in sewing and not feeling guilty if I cannot stand up to some of these You Tube gals that sew many clothing pieces. When I view them I feel I am not as good or fast or even able to do that. Hannah was amazing and hopefully THREADS Magazine brings her back to speak some more. Thank you.

    1. carolfresia | | #2

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the podcast with Hannah Choi. She's terrifically knowledgeable and compassionate, and has so many helpful, non-intimidating strategies for really enjoying your sewing. I loved talking with her and also came away feeling empowered to sew on my own terms.
      Thanks for your feedback!
      Carol J. Fresia, Editor, Threads magazine

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