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Conversational Threads

New interest in sewing.

JMelyn | Posted in Talk With Us on

I am intrigued by the following comment from the July 2006 issue of Threads :  “Imagine our excitement as we’ve observed a new interest in sewing sprouting up across the country” (Article – “Inspire a New Sewer Today!” page 50).  My assumption is that “sewing” means garment sewing and not quilting, which seems to be in a class by itself.

If it is garment sewing, I’m excited, too, and would welcome more information and observations from Threads and its readers to confirm this phenomenon.  Some evidence appears in the current issue of Threads (October/November 2006, page 31) in the inspiring article, “Find Great Sewing Classes.”  It was there that I learned about SewingLounge.com and StitchLounge.com where I spent at least half an hour absorbing the content and delightful photos, especially of the children in the Summer Sewing Camps at the SewingLounge (St. Paul, Minnesota).

What are your observations of a renewed interest in sewing? 



  1. KarenW | | #1

    Interesting question. I'm suspecting part of what Threads may be observing could be based on their circulation numbers as the magazine has evolved into one that's easier to use for newer sewers...

    I work for a large multiline machine dealer and also teach the adult beginning sewing classes.  Our kids classes are always filled.  That's a big indicator.  And on a regular basis we have people asking if we have kids classes or adult beginning sewing classes for adults who want to learn. Unfortunately those classes don't always fill but I attribute that in part to times offered, conflicts with family and other obligations, etc.  In the first one I taught I had two students in addition to the adult adults who were a high school senior and junior college age student.   Fashion and sewing classes at the jr. college in my area fill.  Fashion design classes are offered through the high school's ROP program.  Not sure how they're doing enrollment wise, but the fact that they're there show they're desired, at least for the time being.

    I suspect sewing machine sales also support this theory.  Not everyone knows there are specialty sewing machine stores!   At the Viking dinner for vendors at the Puyallup consumer show this year, sales figures revealed exactly what I suspected - a large bulk of sewing machine sales are taking place at non-dealer stores, i.e. WalMart, Joann's, Costco, etc.  I am guessing, but feel confident in my guess that this is the case in part because buyers either don't know about dealers and the service, classes, etc. available, or because they want to make a minimal investment as they are just getting interested or returning to sewing (and sometimes in the latter case anything new seems better than something 40 years old that's been in storage!).  The fact that so many machines are being sold in these types of stores supports the interest IMO. 

    BTW, I was just reading InStyle - September issue - and the first page of the article about Drew Barrymore talks about her making her own dress - her first sewing project - for some occasion, she was quite proud (unfortunately it wasn't shown in the article), said they had their own Project Runway on the set, and it was a lot of fun. 

    THAT kind of testimonial in a non-sewing specific magazine can inspire others without any other sewing experience or exposure.....


    1. JMelyn | | #2

      Thank you for your thorough and informative reply to my query about the renewed interest in sewing.  Your mention of the sewing classes at your community college inspired me to do a Google search:  "sewing community college." I was astonished to see the array of community colleges listed in various locations across the country that offer a variety of sewing classes.  It appears that the classroom model for formalized sewing instruction has not hit northeast Indiana.  The current trend seems to be short classes, or workshops,  offered by sewing machine dealers that meet once, twice, or three times to do specific projects. However, one dealer in the area is currently offering, in addition to other classes, a workshop on slacks fitting and construction. 

      I am planning to attend the American Expo in Novi, Michigan, at the end of this month.   I welcome the advice, comments, and opinions from those who have attended these shows (I see there are several, operated by different companies), as this will be my first experience.   I believe Threads will have a presence at this show.  


  2. Ckbklady | | #3

    I for one have noticed that my local Borders bookstore and Barnes and Noble superstore are both stocking many more sewing books lately. In the past couple of years the knitting explosion crowded out the sewing bookshelf, and for a time one could only reliably find a couple of sewing books - usually the Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing and the Reader's Digest Sewing Book as well. Now I see many funky hip books clearly targeting teens and 20-something sewing newbies. Look up "SewU", a new title, at Amazon.com to see an example of what I mean.

    Most of the new sewing books teach very simple projects - tote bags, pillows, some t-shirt embellishment, that sort of thing. Not a lot of Madeleine Vionnet going on here, but that's ok. We need newbies to keep the sewing world alive, and when they as a group advance their skills somewhat, I expect that we will see a once again burgeoning world of intermediate sewing publications.

    :) Mary

  3. onequarter | | #4

    Hi all,

    You bet I'm excited about a renewed interest in sewing garments. I've tried quilting, but I always go back to garment making.

    The thing for me is, I have stopped working 9 to 5. I contacted the local adult ed at the high school and made inquiries about sewing classes. I thought about teaching kids in the 5th grade or so. They said that the interest is mostly there for the recent college graduates who weren't exposed to home economics during their primary and secondary schooling.

    I am going to teach a skirt class that will include sewing basics. I've been looking at some blogs and books too and the 'street' clothing experiments are so much fun. There's deconstruction all over the place. People are taking things apart and remaking them, fuzzing the edges, leaving gaps. There's so much freedom. I know too that one Threads magazine showcased a young fashion student that had that kind of feel. I'm thinking I'd like a ride on this crest. Those young sewers have a fun and free attitude that is VERY different from the rigidity I experienced learning to sew.

    I think I'm going to learn a lot.


    1. JMelyn | | #5

      Applause to those who are teaching young people to sew, or who plan to do so! 

      I am grateful to the junior high school home economics teacher who taught me how to sew in the 8th grade, circa 1953.  Our first project was a dirndl skirt, three yards of cotton gathered on a waist band.  It was constructed with an an open placket, though I don't remember how the waist band was secured--perhaps with a button and button hole.  The skirt taught me how to sew straight seams, to gather by sewing two rows in an elongated stitch, then to pull the threads up so the skirt would fit nicely into the waist band.  To construct the waist band, we measured our waists, added an inch or two, then sewed up the ends inside out.  Without realizing it, we were developing some skills on the skirt project and learning some important sewing principles.

      Next came the sleeveless blouse, where we graduated to paper patterns, tailor's tacks, darts, facings, a collar, and button holes.  I can still remember the thrill of discovering how a flat piece of fabric could be made to conform to a human shape.  My blouse was constructed from red and blue polka dot fabric--35 cents a yard comes to mind--bought over the counter from a local dry goods store.

      From there it was a cotton bathing suit and a terry cloth beach jacket--then on to high school where I took clothing construction for at least two semesters.  There I made my own dresses, a blouse, and even a coat.  It seems to me that everyone sewed--it was the thing to do. 

      When I was 16, my mother gave me a Singer Featherweight sewing machine for my birthday.  I continued to use it for many years, making my own clothes, children's clothes, doll clothes, curtains, and even a shirt for my husband.  Due to graduate school and full-time employment, I stopped sewing in the  mid 1980s. 

      Then, in 2004, I shopped for a computerized sewing machine and bought a Bernina Activa 125S, soon graduating to a Bernina Virtuosa 155.  Although I have made several things for my grandchildren, it is now time to make some things for myself again, in my own style.  I'm inspired by David Page Coffin's book, "Shirtmaking:  Developing Skills for Fine Sewing." 

      I would enjoy hearing from other sewers who teach garment sewing, who are inspired to make and/or design some of their own clothing, and/or who have stories to share about how they learned to sew. 






      1. lwsews | | #6

        I teach beginning/intermediate sewing at a local quilt shop in So. California twice a month in the evening.  We started the classes after receiving so many requests (our local Joann's does not offer classes nor does the local sewing machine dealer). I have always wanted to teach sewing so I jumped at this opportunity.

        Each class starts with a demo and/or lecture regarding a sewing technique such as buttonhole placement, lapped, fly front, or invisible zippers, setting a sleeve, basic pattern alterations, etc.  then the students work on a project of their choice with assistance from me as needed.  The class size is limited to 8 so I can help everyone.  Our classes are fun and it is so rewarding to see the students grow.  I am really happy to do my part with this new interest in sewing!

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