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Sewing is Good For Your Health!

Ckbklady | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi everyone!

I am still wallowing in bags of fabric that I bought in Portland this week on my first fabric shopping trip in years. To gear up for a weekend of sewing (yippeeee!) I have been rereading back issues of Threads.

From issue #63 (March 1996) I came across a lovely point to ponder in Notes (p.72). The then American Home Sewing and Craft Association commissioned a clinical study at the time about the health effects of sewing. It was discovered that sewing was the most relaxing of a number of activities based on the physiological responses of the participants.

Now, I have been a full-time student juggling work, house, hubby and job for the past couple of years, and had almost completely lost touch with sewing, but I can tell you that spending a few hours this week in a fabric store or two and reading Threads and pawing through my bags of fabric loot has actually felt calming and soothing. Ahhhhhhh…. I’ll be positively dreamy by Sunday night! 🙂

Have you all experienced this? Do you know of any published info on the health effects of sewing? (The brochure produced on the study in Mar ’96 is out of print.) Would you agree that reading Threads should be added to the list of healthy pursuits? I’d love to hear your experiences!

🙂 Mary, sewing, sighing and smiling in Seattle



  1. fabricholic | | #1

    I love to sit down in the floor, where my stash and patterns are all around me, and just look and dream of what I will make with it. Sewing can be stressful, if something is not co-operating. When your sewing is going well, and it looks like you had hoped, there is nothing better. It is a sense of accomplishment and we are designed to be productive. I am glad you can enjoy your fabric!Marcy

    1. User avater
      rubyminky | | #6

      Marcy, this made me smile because I do excatly the same thing! It's one of those Sunday afternoon things to take all my fabric out of its plastic crates, refold it and think what I was going to make from it...though the only thing that's bad is that I rarely actually make it!

      1. fabricholic | | #7

        I know what you mean. If I had all the clothes that I had dreamed up, then my closet would be out the door.

  2. Jane63 | | #2

    I live in Australia and llove to sew. I call it my therapy, a time when I can be by myself and my dreams. I think I own more fabric than just about anyone else. I just can't resist the lovely colour or touch of fabric. I know I can't possibly sew it all and ever so often I give away a couple of large garbage bags but it never makes any mark on my stash. Jane63

  3. User avater
    blondie2sew | | #3

    Yes Yes and Yes!! To answer your questions!!This is why I spend a lot of time in the fabric stores it actually calms me...go figure!! That and when it is spring and such I like to go to the Green Houses as well...I think it is the colors!! And I can compare Green Houses (Garden Nurseries if you will) with Fabric Stores...My Why I sew is this " I breath life into every stitch I make" So with that said...Green Houses have Life, Color and are very calming..Fabric stores , I am sorry I even should add my Sewing room too...Have color and life will become from these fabrics/threads and so on!! I agree with Marcy to the fact that sometimes It can be frustrating but I call it a good stress!! A learning curve Stress... yes for me sewing is my get away..sewing calms me...sewing is a breath of fresh air on a spring day!! (Even in the winter time) Yes I too didn't do a lot for a time. life kinda took over but I did post in another thread that now I make my time..even if I have to schedule it!! It is like going to the gym for me...I need it in my life!!For all the effects it has on me mentally, physically and such. I love it, it is a passion and makes me a better me!! And Yes I think this Gatherings Forum is fun as well...my husband relates my addiction to this forum as me being on Crack...too funny he just said that today to me...I had to laugh..but what he doesn't know is that my passion is all your passions as well and I enjoy the learning the laughter, the fun...but most of all you and everyone can relate to me on this page!! Not all my friends can!!So there you go...Great Article...Thanks for sharing

    1. Ckbklady | | #8

      It IS wonderful, isn't it?

      I set up my machines yesterday (no dedicated sewing room - another reason I have sewn infrequently) and had to rethread the serger three times because it kept jamming. No worries - I just kept taking it apart, cleaning it and rethreading it. I didn't get a single stitch done before I had to stop to get dinner going, but I call what I was doing "sewing" anyway. It was nice to noodle around with the machines anyway.

      Maybe I'll have a half hour today....

      :) Mary

  4. solosmocker | | #4

    I remember hearing about that some years back. And yes, it puts me in the zone, almost narcotic. When I am in my studio I often look up and find its 4-5 hours later and I had better face the rest of reality. It is such a wonderful feeling to be totally engrossed in what you are doing. I read an article a while back and it described this feeling as being in "flow" and it was as good as heavy meditation for stress reduction. I agree.
    DH found out some years back that without my creative outlet I can get rather testy. He is much happier if I am sewing ;).

    1. Ckbklady | | #9

      If you remember hearing about the study, do you know where I can find out more about it? I cannot find the original brochure on the internet, but any articles on the subject that I could pull up would be great.

      Does anyone have a source for more info of this kind?

      My hubby is a woodworker, with the same passion for Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding. He feels the same relaxation benefits from his craft, but his produces waaaay more dust. I have just discovered Minky microfiber, so I may beat him at his game! ;)

      :) Mary

      Edited 4/1/2007 12:14 pm by Ckbklady

      1. solosmocker | | #11

        If I remember correctly this was in a newsletter sent out by the American Sewing Guild. This was a good 7 or 8 years back, mind you. I hope this helps. The name of their newsletter is "NOtions". I was not a member but we got the newsletter at the fabric store where I worked, long time ago!

        1. Ckbklady | | #15

          Thanks so much - I will call my local ASG rep and ask if anyone keeps back issues. I am eager to read the article, and maybe post it by my sewing machine.

          I've been toying with joining the local chapter of ASG for a while, but it sounds time consuming. Thanks for the reminder - I will post a thread (hey, a pun!!) and ask about ASG experiences by Gatherings members.

          :) Mary

      2. cafms | | #12

        Some time back I ran across this article when I was doing a class on sewing for/with children and found it interesting.  http://www.americanprofile.com/article/4603.html

        1. User avater
          blondie2sew | | #13

          oh my gosh thank you for this article!! I am loving it and I will certainly have this when I start up my program!! This is a great article!!Thanks for sharing

        2. Ckbklady | | #16

          Awesome - thank you so much! I don't have kids, but I know that same sense of accomplishment when I make a pretty gift for someone and they boggle when I say, "I made it".  It is marvelous to think how much good that can do a child, and it is terrific to see other posters here involve their kids in the sewing room.

          That made my day - thanks!! :) Mary

  5. victoria0001 | | #5

    Yes to everyone!!!  I totally agree.........oddly enough I've never needed recreational drugs to zone out.....off to my sewing machine, fabrics, patterns, books.....my space!!

    This thread should be proof positive that sewing is beneficial to your health!  I've been nursing a repaired shoulder and haven't been myself for ages but now I can see through the end of this misery and have picked up every sewing magazine out there just to try to stay in the zone!


  6. Teaf5 | | #10

    Maybe it's good for your health, but it's bad for my language: my husband asked me not to sew with the door open when our children were little, as they were learning too many swear words! One of my sisters calls her machine "the swearing machine," so I know that she "has words" with hers, too.Since I often have to sew under a ridiculous deadline, after a long day at work, or when I'd rather be outside, I rarely consider it relaxing. But when the weather is miserable, or I have time to follow an inspiration, I can easily lose myself in a sewing project for hours, so I can see it might have health benefits for some people.

    1. Ckbklady | | #14

      Aww, really - the "swearing machine"? I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

      My sewing machine is Fred and my serger is Mrs. Fred (from an old MASH episode decades ago) and I love them so much. I've neglected them lately, but I plan to spend the afternoon today sewing minky cushion covers for my neighbor's cats (seriously). I don't care if the machines jam - it'll all still be sewing to me! :)

      I am so sorry to think that you have urgent sewing deadlines - I hope that you still find it very satisfying and creative nonetheless.

      :) Mary

      1. Teaf5 | | #18

        I have a love/hate relationship with sewing deadlines: they often give me stress, but just as often stimulate me to highly creative directions I wouldn't consider if I had plenty of time. Something about that "last-minute panic" forces me to rise to the occasion...maybe because I have to think outside of the box?Plus, with a deadline, I will finish a garment; without one, it can languish for years. I love the "Fred and Mrs. Fred" names for your machines AND the project of sewing "minky cushion covers" for your neighbor's cats! Lucky neighbors and lucky cats.

        1. User avater
          purduemom | | #19

          It was good to hear that there is at least one other person whose creativity soars during that 'last minute.'  I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of deadlines.  It seems my daughter has learned by example!  Her best 4-H sewing has either been finished the night before judging or has been a last minute outfit thrown together as an afterthought.

          It seems that I am now also a little more motivated when sewing on pieces that are a notch above ordinary - the more intricate the details, the stronger the desire to finish it. 

          All in all, unleashing my creativity, together with a little music and a few pieces of dark chocolate have never failed to put me in a happier state of mind.


  7. pc3 | | #17

    Hi, I haven't read the article but I know from experiance this is true. My mom Who taught me and my 3 sisters to sew had a stroke 3 years ago and was in the hospital for 7 months until her death. This time was so stressful for all of us. But my sister and I would go into the sewing room at night and play with the embroidery machines and make stuff for her grandkids to chill out.
    Then last year I went through 6 months of kimo for ovarian cancer. I spent lots of time feeling really lousy, but being able to sit in front of the machine and work or play, helped me through all of that stuff.
    Glad to say I am doing better now but still spend as much time as possible with my Baby's. I have three embroidery machines and one serger.pc3

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