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“Sewing is a skill for life.”

katina | Posted in General Discussion on

This article in the “The Scotsman” is most interesting. Perhaps sewing will experience a renewal of interest, as has knitting.




  1. Josefly | | #1

    The article is very encouraging, like some others we've read here in the States, about the rise in sewing interest and machine sales. But so far, the increase hasn't reversed the decline in the number of dress fabric shops. Perhaps that's because the younger people now showing interest are less wary of the online fabric sources?

    1. katina | | #2

      Yes, you're probably right, but I wonder how much of the garment sewing might be remodelling of existing items? Still, it's good news!

      1. Josefly | | #3

        Yes, that's also true, that sewing machines are being used for re-making things, too. The article you referred us to seemed to focus on new garment-sewers who want fashions or fit they can't find. But I suspect that home-dec sewing is the starting point for many new-comers. And I agree, that it's good news any way you look at it. Thanks again for posting the link.

        1. katina | | #5

          I'm glad you enjoyed it.

        2. katina | | #28

          Well, well - another article on the subject today.


          I particularly like this comment "rediscovering the lost joy of creative satisfaction" which all of us here identify with.


          1. Josefly | | #30

            Loved reading that article. The author does indeed express many of the ideas expressed here on this thread. She also mentions that some have explained the upsurge in sewing to the increase in home economics courses in the schools. I don't think that's the case in US schools, however.Knitting clubs were also mentioned in the article. Coincidentally, there was an article in our local paper recently about a knitting shop that offers luxurious yarns, but also serves as a gathering place for people to come and sit for hours and knit, talk, etc. They even have a pedicurist who works on feet while the hands keep knitting away! To me, the idea of these clubs is to put people in company while doing what they enjoy. One of the things about sewing, at least machine-sewing, is that it's a solitary activity - possibly one reason this forum is so popular, as it mitigates the solitude.

          2. katina | | #32

            Your point about sewing being a solitary activity is a very valid one. It's also not exactly portable. But what's so super about Gatherings is the wealth of knowledge and experience from all over the globe that we can access so easily.


          3. Josefly | | #33


          4. victoria0001 | | #34

            Really enjoyed the article and the encouragement for sewers today and tomorrow!

            Anybody who can get into a wee bit of sewing by machine or hand would understand how it can change, enlarge or enhance a person's life.  It is something that I marvel at and am thankful for having the opportunity to become involved with.

    2. damascusannie | | #7

      Here in the U.S. sewing machine sales are being driven to a great extent by the continuing interest in quilting and home dec as much as for garment sewing. A friend of mine whose family has been in the sewing machine sales business for over 50 years sells almost all new machines to quilters.

      1. Josefly | | #11

        That doesn't surprise me, that most home-dec sewing and quilting account for most new sewing machine sales. Both are outlets for creativity, and quilting particularly requires development of skill just as much as garment-sewing. But I keep looking for reasons to hope that the demand for garment fabrics will increase, so maybe the drastic decline in availability will be reversed.I've talked to some young folks recently whose goal is to become much less energy-dependent and more self-sufficient, so they talk about sewing as a skill they'd like to learn along with vegetable gardening, automobile mechanics, carpentry, food preservation, and the kinds of skills my grandparents found essential.

        1. damascusannie | | #14

          >>I've talked to some young folks recently whose goal is to become much less energy-dependent and more self-sufficient, so they talk about sewing as a skill they'd like to learn along with vegetable gardening, automobile mechanics, carpentry, food preservation, and the kinds of skills my grandparents found essential.~~These are the kind of people that I find myself talking to a lot since I had an article on non-electric machines posted at http://www.antiquequiltdating.com The want to reduce their energy usage and when they discover that they can sew without electricity and without sacrificing utility and quality, they are all for it. I got an e-mail today from a gal in Colorado who's looking for a treadle sewing machine.

          1. Josefly | | #15

            It's a refreshing change from the materialism that possesses so many of us. I often think of my grandmother, who was so grateful to finally get a washing machine, because she had to wash clothes in a big tub over a fire in the back yard. I tell my grandson of some of those experiences I had as a young child...seeing her milk cows, churn butter, etc. How did she ever have time to sew? ...and yet she certainly did. For her it definitely was a necessity. That being so, I wonder how she felt about doing it. Yet the kids I've enjoyed talking to are looking to "simplify" their lives. I wonder if my grandparents embraced electrical appliances as a route to simpler lives.

          2. damascusannie | | #17

            There's a tendency when simplifying to throw the baby out with the bath water. My husband and I were guilty of this, but after doing my laundry for a year with a wringer washer, I realized that it's actually simpler to use and automatic washer. Time-saving conveniences like washers and dryers, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, modern stoves, etc aren't the problem, the problems are budget-destroying luxuries. We did without many of the "necessities" that our peers had to have and I was able to stay at home with our seven children, we owned our home by the time we were 35, and we have never gone hungry although there were times when the meals were not particularly interesting. So, at age 45, I'm able to have the luxury of a part-time, stay-at-home job that's purely voluntary because we are able to distinguish between wants and needs.

          3. katina | | #19

            Labour-saving devices are great - frees up time for other things. Likewise in countries where domestic labour is readily available - if one is able to afford it and chooses to do so - much time can be gained and put to good use, and someone benefits from having a job.

          4. damascusannie | | #20

            I've told my husband that if we ever win the lottery, I'm hiring live-in help. I'd much rather quilt than cook, clean or do dishes and laundry and if I can pay someone else to do it, I'm going to! Remember Alice from the Brady Bunch? I want an Alice!

          5. katina | | #21

            When you get her, please clone and send to me. Thanks!

          6. damascusannie | | #22

            Will do. 8^)

          7. Josefly | | #23

            So true, about the real conveniences. I suppose it's part of my perverse nature that the things I enjoy doing become burdens when I feel I "have to" do them, and that's why I wondered if the jobs my grandparents had to do themselves were as enjoyable as the ones we do as a hobby. On the other hand, sometimes when I'm forced to do something, or obligated to do something I don't think I want to do, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy the actual work when I get started. I love that I get those surprises, even at my age!

          8. damascusannie | | #24

            Well, I do know this: I really and truly enjoy sewing, especially quilting, but sometimes it's just a chore that has to be done. And it's not just the custom jobs. Some of them are completely wonderful to work and sometimes my own projects, which I certainly love when they are done, are just work. I just finished a section on a quilt that I'm getting ready for a show and it was work, plain and simple. I'm happy with the result, but didn't particularly enjoy the process during this section. It was the same for our ancestors--sometimes they truly loved what they were doing, sometimes they didn't. My grandmother hates sewing, knitting, anything like that, even though she's very good at it.

          9. starzoe | | #25

            This is an interesting conversation for sure! Once, when my sons were in their early teens one of them told me that "Mom, you must like housework because you are always doing it". A little chat cleared things up.The "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" comment was an excellent one. We now have a dire shortage of food in some parts of the world and not only malnutrition but starvation is facing huge populations in large part because of the promotion of bio-fuel. Growers of corn, wheat, rice, etc. are getting higher prices for their product to become bio-fuel than they can get producing for food. We are putting vehicles before people.

          10. Josefly | | #26

            I wish my grandmother were still living, so I could ask her about her feelings about her work, which she was certainly good at, and must've taken some pride in. This has been an interesting discussion, and I'm grateful this topic was brought up.

          11. thehat | | #29

            Hi just that the jobs we talk about were a way of life and they were thought of as chores and time was thought to be a reminder to go to school and not so much as a dead line , As we look at our watch and our cell phones and start to mentally give our selves a limit on how much time we will allow for projects .

          12. Josefly | | #31

            Yes, I think your point about time and the clock is pertinent. Perhaps our grandparents approached their tasks a little at the time, without thinking "Oh, I've got to finish that job today," or "Since I can't finish it today I won't even start it." There are quite a few little mental tricks I play on myself to keep myself from accomplishing very much.

  2. rodezzy | | #4

    Hi Katina:  I read the article and am also encouraged by it.  I've been sewing since high school (never mind when that was-giggle) and the skill always resurfaces for some need, curtains I can't afford, bedspreads it refuse to pay hugh amounts of money for, and on and on.  I used to make all of my special occasion outfits in highschool for me and my best friend.  Dances, dress up day, casual day, picnics, etc.  I have occassionally used my sewing skills to make money in special projects here and there.  Simple things like baby quilts, quilted post cards for a fund raiser, gifts and so much more.  I can't remember it all.  I have done some alterations and repairs for close friends and family.  Sewing techniques learned in garment making also give you skills for other crafts.  I think all crafts have cross over skills from sewing.  The act of following directions, design, beading, furniture making, knitting, crochet, floral design, etc.

    1. katina | | #6

      Hi Rodezzy

      Yes, it's true that sewing is for life. It's not just a skill that you can use your whole life, but it's one that enhances your life. For all the years of my daughters' schooling, no other mom or dad in their classes could or would sew. One dad (a surgeon) did knit, and beautifully too. So I had a great time helping their friends. I did all manner of costumes; altered umpteen prom dresses (such gratitude!); Halloween was always a blast. But the best part was being at the machine while the kids hung about, making me endless mugs of tea, and chatting their heads off. It's a good feeling to be able to help.


  3. victoria0001 | | #8

    Thanks for sharing this article.

    The article is certainly encouraging and particularly since I have noticed recent closures of fabric shops; less Vogue patterns in their spring catalogue; less choice of good fabrics anywhere actually except for Paris.  Not one of my children have an interest in serious sewing  but I did give each of them a new sewing machine and encouraged sewing when they were youngsters.   So reading one encouraging article helps.  I am wondering why Threads magazine is testing out similar magazines such as Sew Stylish and the new craft magazine coming out in May with the inclusion of home decorating sewing.  I enjoy them all but wonder if home sewing of garments is now taking a back seat for awhile.


    1. katina | | #9

      I equipped both my daughters with sewing machines and all the paraphernalia when they left home; one sews, mostly home decor, the other doesn't. I agree with you and the others who notice that sewing garments for one's own use is in decline. Yet, here in Europe, the 'little woman who sews for me' is doing very well. In my area, many ladies of means and a certain age wear exquisitely made outfits, thanks to their seamstresses. There are gorgeous fabric shops - last week I saw a range of sumptuous handbeaded silks at (gasp!) 1200 Euro a metre. And they sell! But they are not sewn by the ladies who wear them. People treasure their seamstresses and like to keep them a closely-guarded secret, not wanting to share their expertise. Strangely enough, while I can buy (but very seldom do) all manner of extremely high quality fabrics, mid-range fabrics are impossible to find. For example, I want some basic denim, but can only find denim with lycra. Great stuff, but not what I need. Home decor fabric stores abound, with a huge selection - I've bought fabrics here for totes. BTW, I may have mentioned elsewhere in Gatherings, I go to an awning maker to put grommets into totebags for me. Here you pack your own groceries - people love my totes which I make as gifts.

      As you say, an encouraging article helps, so let's hope sewing becomes big again.


      1. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #10

        I've always wondered how a household could be run without a sewing machine. There are the usual home dec items to make and clothes to make. Then there are the repairs of both. With an active son and DH, the repair of clothing was ongoing, believe me. When I think of all the blanket binding I've replaced, blue jeans I've darned/patched, curtains I've made, it boggles the mind. Too, my DH could always come up with projects I "needed" to do. For instance, early in our marriage, we sky-dived. We modified our parachutes. He directed, I sewed. That was a fabric called rip-stop nylon. Very thin, but strong, translucent fabric. Later I made a 20-feet diameter Sioux tepee from heavy ducking, with flat-fell seams and a 5-feet drop cloth that fit inside the tepee that was used to hold straw for insulation in the winter.Later my DIL took up the mantra of projects for me, and I made all her bride's maid dresses, then costumes for a medieval play and a western saloon play her high school students were putting on. Easter dresses from my granddaughter. And it goes on and on.So I am back to my original premise -- how can you run a household without a sewing machine. My mother was a fabric artist who just thought she could "sew a little". I look back and am in absolute awe of her skills, and I learned so much from her. I hope there is a resurgence of home sewing.

        1. Ralphetta | | #12

          Even if they don't have a sewing machine, I don't understand how anyone with a moderate-low income can afford to live without some basic sewing skills. I remember vividly being at a party and hearing a rather short woman discussing a beautiful robe that she'd tried on. She sadly shrugged her shoulders and said sadly, "it was too long." I think everyone should know how to put in a hem. It doesn't have to be a work of art on the inside, just functional and decent on the outside. It's hard enough to find RTW, without eliminating things because they are "too long." Or, one of my pet peeves, little girls' dresses that are way, way too long, so they can grow into them. They look so sad and pitiful.I think that many of the fashion "looks" that young people put together, have their beginnings in the need to hide something that doesn't really fit. Tights..because the skirt's too short, layers of tops, because one doesn't actually cover or fit, baggy...because it's easier than actually making something fit. It's a smart solution.

          1. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #13

            I couldn't agree more. Basic sewing skills have saved me untold money over the years. Oh, I have a funny story about sewing. A friend of ours was getting ready to go on a week-long hunting trip when he noticed his camouflage coveralls need some repair. As his long suffering wife was working on them, he stood over her giving her instructions. She finally told him to go away. She finished the job and packed his bags for him. Imagine his surprise when he was getting dressed to hunt in finding pink rick rack trimming all the seams and hems on his camo. Moral of the story is: don't upset your seamstress.

          2. Ralphetta | | #27

            I love it! I like her sense of humor.

      2. victoria0001 | | #16

        I appreciate your comments and wonder if abundance today overrides quality.  I still sew garments and home dec. for pure pleasure and to have something of quality and one of a kind.  It is probably a very 'old fashioned' way of living now but I shall continue to enjoy every moment planning, creating and constructing.  Perhaps the saying 'everything that goes around comes around' will come true once again.  I do know that my adult children certainly have no time to sew as I did many years ago.  We had little choice but much imagination and desire.  It will be interesting to see where sewing goes in the next decade or more. 

        Such an interesting discussion. 

        1. katina | | #18

          Certainly is an interesting discussion! It's not old-fashioned to be creative and to want to be different, and you're right about abundance. It triumphs over creativity, provides no challenge.  I've done some of my best sewing when I've had to make do with what was on hand; same with preparing meals. And the pure pleasure of sewing is so relaxing in these hectic times.

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