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What? Not many sewers?

lindamaries | Posted in General Discussion on

I was just reading a post that said that there weren’t very many sewers today.
I just saw some stats from Home Sewing Association that said there
are 31 million women in the USA who say that they can sew.
The survey said that 25 million sewers are under the age of 45 years.
The perceptions showed that sewing is not perceived as “old fashioned” or done by older women. It is becoming more trendy.
Most sewers learned when they were in there teens or pre-teens and were taught by family members. Only 15% were self-taught.

I think that is pretty neat that some people out there are self-taught. I bet they sew pretty good too.


  1. SEWWRITER | | #1

    Where did you read those stats?  I'm looking for info to provide to my local newspaper.  They're doing an article to promote our sewing guild.  I've looked at the press releases on the HSA website but can't find the same language you quoted.  Would love to have that information!  Many thanks.

    BTW, I am entirely self-taught.  No one else in my family can sew a stitch!

    Stephanie Corina Goddard                                                                                Member, Professional Association of Custom Clothiers

    1. lindamaries | | #3

      A brochure in my new member kit from HSA had the stats.

      Survey taken 2000.

  2. deepikap1 | | #2

    Wow Linda... those are some impressive numbers. Can I ask where you read those stats?

    1. lindamaries | | #4

      A brochure in my new member kit from HSA.

      Survey was taken 2000.

  3. lin327 | | #5

    I Love to Sew!  I was self taught until I took some courses at Ryerson.  I went into their design program after a year at the fine art school.  Most of what I know I had to teach myself.  Most courses are great for theory, but the only way to become a great sewing wizard is to SEW!  I've never had  a peice win a blue ribbon at the fair, but i've had a couple things in an Art Gallery.  I started sewing when I was four, stringing beads when I was six, and dyeing in high school.  I'm now teaching my six year old neice to sew.  She said sewing is the greatest gift I ever gave her.  She's teaching her friends in school, too.  Looks like the future of sewing is safe!

  4. rjf | | #6

    Hello again, lindamaries,

    That is interesting!  Now I'm trying to remember how many women there are in the US so I'll know what ratio of women sew.  One out of ten?  More?  Less?  And it's nice to know that there are so many younger women sewing.  They almost have to be self-taught because I don't think as many schools offer or require sewing as a course as in the old days. 

    It seems to me that good sewers feel as if they always knew how to sew.  It just makes so much sense to them that it seems like second nature.  So it isn't exactly like learning but just becoming aware of possibilities.  Does that make sense?


    1. lindamaries | | #7

      I just looked in an old Rand McNally Atlas 1997 (that was 5 years old). They said the populatin of men and women in the USA was

      266,890,000. (I'm glad they didn't put .456 on the end or something like that. I always laught at the fractions when they talk people.

      Like there is a person than really isn't all there!!!)

      No info on just woman, though.

      So just using this number: 31 mil divided by 266 mil is about

      12% population that sews. Now I think we are forgetting the men, too!! Hey, there are guys who sew and sew well.

      1. rjf | | #8

        Thanks for the information!  12%!  That's not as many as I thought but since it's a younger population of sewers perhaps it will be growing.  There's so much satisfaction in producing something tangible (and sometimes useful) that I think more people need to be introduced to those skills.  But I think I'm preaching to the converted!                rjf

  5. monkeyrocker | | #9

    Hi, (this is my first post by the way)

    I'm a youngish (23-yr old) sewer and know tons of other young women who sew. It's becoming quite popular among people my age (as are knitting, crochet, and quilting). Mags like Readymade cater to a young audience as do websites like craftygal.com and getcrafty.com; there are also lots of zines (small, mostly photocopied homemade magazines) that focus on sewing, quilting, and the handmade lifestyle.

    1. rjf | | #11

      Greetings, Monkeyrocker.  As one of those youngish sewers, would you tell us how you learned to sew?  Do you get together with those other sewers?  Do you have places to get good fabric?  And what most people on this site would want to know is "Have you started your stash?"

      1. monkeyrocker | | #12

        Thanks for the welcome and here's an answer to your questions, rjf:

        I've been sewing pretty much since I can remember. I learned to sew from my mother and grandmother(who made most of my clothing as a kid and also all of my halloween costumes--my vinyl Rainbow Brite costume complete with yarn wig was the envy of every kid on the block). I've been sewing my own clothing since I was about 11 or 12. Most of the other young sewers I know, however, are self taught or learn from friends. The getcrafty.com girls get together for "stitch and bitch" sessions all over the country (I have a few young sewing friends here in Tampa, and while in Portland, there were groups of as many as 15 women who would get together to sew/craft, potluck, and swap clothing we'd grown tired of). A lot of these girls tend to be unconventional in their sewing practices--many of us recycle old clothing to make new, reconstructed items with visible seams, screen printing and photo transfers.

        To answer the "stash" question: most of the girls I know, like me, have an obsession with vintage fabric and clothing. I have quite a stash of old and new fabric and more vintage patterns than I will EVER have time to grade to my size (including some beautiful 1930's patterns and the Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress from the Designer Vogue pattern series). My friend Meli (who's my age) has an entire room full of fabric--just think, by the time she's 30 she'll need an extra house just to store her stash!

        **Edited to say: Ooops! I forgot to answer the last part of your question. I used to live in Portland, and I'm sure as most of you know, the fabric shopping there is great. Now that I live in Tampa, I get most of my fabric online (I love reprodepot.com -- If you haven't already been to their site, don't look, you'll end up spending all of your money on their beautiful fabric). There are a few shops here in Tampa, but I'm so spoiled by FabricDepot, Mill End and Josephine's Dry Goods that it's hard to go into a Hancock's without cringing.

        Edited 8/1/2002 9:05:00 AM ET by MONKEYROCKER

    2. carolfresia | | #13

      Hi, MonkeyRocker!

      Nice to hear from you, and to learn a little about the emerging generation of sewing enthusiasts. Any chance you could post a few pictures of your creations in our "Photo Gallery" folder? We'd love to see what you've made.

      Be careful with that stash--you know it can grow on its own if not vigilantly tended to? It can, and will. You should see my basement.


      1. monkeyrocker | | #14

        I just got a digital camera, so I'll see if I can't get my boyfriend to take some pictures of my lovely items and put them up...

    3. zoolady3 | | #18

      I'm so glad to see "younger" folks sewing. I'm basically self-taught. My mother hated to sew--her mother made all her clothes and she never saw any reason to learn. Consequently she always had a dressmaker, and when I got to be nearly 6' tall at the age of 10 she started having all my clothes made by her dressmaker because she couldn't find anything to fit me in the stores. (I'm 47 and lived in a small town in Kentucky then). I'd watch Mrs. Saylor measuring and fitting and start asking her questions and pretty soon was using a borrowed sewing machine to make things. She was delighted because neither of her daughters cared to sew, so she guided me even though she knew it meant she'd lose a customer! I still have the 1967 model Singer Touch and Sew my parents bought me--all their friends thought it was insane for them to spend that much money (over $300) on a machine for a child. I've had other machines over the years but this one still makes the best buttonholes. I made all my clothes through high school and college and when I lived in Saudi Arabia my sewing skills were a Godsend because decent western-styled clothes were prohibitively expensive there. I still sew, but not everything I wear. I do home decorating, make all my evening and party clothes and many tailored items to supplement what I buy. I also used to do some theatre costume design, but now my job keeps me too busy for that. I find sewing a creative outlet, a bit of a money-saver, and definitely relaxing therapy. Keep it up!

  6. snivsl | | #10

    I'm a self-taught sewer.  My mother hated sewing and couldn't understand where I got my yearning to sew.  My Aunt let me use her ancient singer 36 yrs ago and I was able immediately to sew a straight line.  I finally bought my first sewing machine when I graduated High School and got my first job 2 wks later.  I bought the Vogue Sewing book and just sort of taught myself with that and the patterns.  My very first project (other than the apron I sewed in school) was a jumper and then a dress with sleeves.  I went on to F.I.T. and became a Fashion Designer on 7th Avenue with some top designers.  I'm now a stay at home mom in Canada and LOVE that best.

    so much for stats.

  7. user-222038 | | #15

    I grew up with a sewist mom who wasn't into teaching me to sew, but I took a class in junior high and liked it ever since.  I didn't get seriously into sewing (that is, beyond repairing things) until 25 years later, when my daughter was born in 1998.  Since then I've been a serious sewing "addict." 

    My "day job" is teaching English at a local college.  Whenever I mention to a student or co-worker that I sew, the reply is either, "Oh, I sew, too!" or "I wish I knew how!"  I think you're right--sewing is becoming more fashionable.  Machine technology is allowing sewists to do more--and more easily--than ever before.  And the craze in home dec, I think, is drawing more people into sewing.  Even my mom, who "retired" from sewing 15 years ago, is thinking about dusting off her machine!

    1. ccolehour | | #16

      Hi Monkeyrocker! I've seen you on Glitter (where I am cherylc). Nice to see you here as well.

      My mother taught me to sew. I don't think she really liked to sew, but she needed an outlet for her creative energy, and that was one that was acceptible for a woman. Later, she gave up on the acceptible thing and became a cabinet maker, and didn't sew after that. I made my first cloth doll when I was 5, and have been sewing ever since. I'm 35.

      I used to be the only young person I knew who sewed, and I was afraid that as I got older I would still be the youngest! I'm so glad that didn't turn out to be true. Right now I've got a foot in both camps: the younger, repurposed, silkscreen style and the more traditional sewing style. I find both to be very inspirational. Clothes should be fun to wear, IMHO.

      1. user-222038 | | #17


        I think you have me mixed up with someone else.  But it was nice to hear your story.  THanks.

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