Hello Sewing Friends and Enthusiasts!
I started sewing at my mother’s knee at age 5, and bypassed home-ec sewing in high school, because I was a better sewer than the teacher at that time. When my mom conceded I had become a Better Sewer than her (title won at about age 20), I gained the freedom to sew without her examining my hand stitches or ordering me to rip out uneven machine stitching. More freedom followed with two years of theatre costume design in college.
Fast forward to today, and I still sew for myself, and more than ever value the perfection and precision my mother taught me. I have continued to educate myself and am a dilettante of costume and textile art and history. I especially love the plethora of new books, magazines, fairs and conferences, new machines and materials, new techniques, magazines, and more. I have had a continuous subscription to Threads Magazine since issue #1. I am also a sewing teacher!
And yes, there is a renewed interest in sewing, knitting, various handcrafts, and a lot of skills (such as gardening and cooking) that were denigrated for too long by radical feminists from the 1970s; plus many public schools dropped arts programs from their curriculum. Several generations of young women and men were left out of the opportunity to learn how to create something for themselves.
Happily, in the last few years, many tv channels (esp. HGTV) have begun do-it-yourself programs, many new magazines are available, and the internet is a fabulous source for information and tools and materials.
I have been teaching sewing classes, mostly beginning level, at Sewing Arts Center in Los Angeles for two years. The majority of my students have never picked up a needle and thread in their lives. Those who come to class with the idea that sewing is easy learn quickly that a certain minimum effort is required, and that repetition is how one learns. That being said, I make my classes fun and fuss-free – a crooked seamline does not get ripped out, unless it is WAY-off, and garments and projects are very simple.
The reasons why my mother’s generation sewed are completely different than what motivates my younger students to enroll in classes. Sewing is not based in necessity or economy – it is basically entertainment, until the ones with determination to design their own ‘stuff’ realize what a fabulous area sewing comprises. Those who desire specialized instruction take private lessons with me at the store.
For anyone else who teaches, I would love to share with you my “Sewing Zone and Machine Etiqutte” techniques, which gets all but the most heavy-handed into sewing clean lines, and learning to analyze the results of their efforts. I tell them sewing teaches one to be observant on an intimate level.
The ‘discovery’ process is so gratifying to observe, and I am grateful to have an arena where I can pass on my knowledge and love of sewing to young people, as I have no children of my own.
Reaching these new sewers is a big challenge for publications like Threads Magazine, because as many of your readers commented, the articles slant towards the ones who already have a fair amount of sewing experience.
This subject needs to be pursued by Threads, because although my beginning students have little-or-no-sewing skills, most of the projects featured in Sew News are decidedly UN-HIP, and in Los Angeles, these young women are VERY sophisticated. There was an article in Threads about two years ago(?) that featured a very creative, resourceful, and no-rules-apply young woman who made very avante-garde garments for herself, and one would have thought Threads magazine had committed a heinous crime, judging from some of the snippy-sniffy comments to the article. I enjoyed it hugely, and wish you would do more like that article.
Los Angeles is a market waiting to be developed!!!
Thanks for the opportunity to comment, albeit a lengthy one.