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Blog about living a life to nurture, cherish and create.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Oodles of reasons to learn to sew

learn to sew
I was amazed when my three year old daughter came home from Pre-School last week with her first ever sewing. I had been impatient for the day when I could share my life-long passion for sewing with her but was nervous to introduce her to it too soon. I didn't want to put her off by trying before she was developmentally capable of the fine-motor movements. All the 'My First Sewing Kits' I'd seen had age recommendations of about 5+. I should have known that you need to follow your gut instincts with these things - you know your own child's ability and interests better than anyone. My daughter loves to make things - and sewing is her next step on her making journey.

This little anecdote from my journey through motherhood made me think about why we should teach children (and adults) to sew and the many benefits that can be gained from this wonderful skill.

  • Make do and mend - everyone should be able to sew on a button. It's wasteful not to be able to wear a garment anymore just because a button fell off.
  • Make adjustments - I'm only 5' 3" and while shops are getting better at stocking clothes for the vertically challenged not all trousers come with short legs. It's boring to have to do it but it's good to be able to buy the style you like and make them the right length. You can make many more elaborate adjustments (watch the Great British Sewing Bee to see some amazing transformations) but this is a useful basic skill.
  • Creativity -  sewing is where my creative imagination takes flight. I see a piece of gorgeous fabric next to another one and I imagine what I might do with them, what other embellishments I might add, how I will cut them, sew them, press them etc. You never know, sewing may be the home of your, or your child's, creativity.
    Monogram pillow
  • Problem solving -  to my mind problem solving is really a type of creativity, but I'm driving at the more practical types of problem solving here. How are you going to put that zip in? How are you going to fit that sleeve? How are you going to make this piece of fabric that's just an inch too narrow stretch to do the job? If you can solve these types of real problems in sewing you can probably transfer your problem solving prowess to other areas of life and work.
  • Mathematical skills - measuring and estimation are used constantly when you're sewing and they are important skills in mathematics that any primary school curriculum will try to develop. You could be working out if you have enough of a lovely piece of fabric in your stash to make the item you have in mind, or converting a pattern that's written in centimetres to inches. All of this is practical and useful maths.
  • Planning skills -  a good sewer will at least have an over-arching view of how they think they will complete each of the steps in a sewing project before they start. You need to make sure you've cut fabric with allowance for putting in the zip, or you've added the applique to the front of the cushion before you sew the back to the front. Sometimes there is fun in seeing where a project takes you but the more experienced you get the better you will be at planning it out.
  • Dexterity - you may naturally have nimble fingers or you may be a bit clumsy but using your fine motor-skills can only improve them, and you'll see benefits in other things you try to do e.g. planting tiny seeds or decorating the Christmas tree.
    Peg bag
    One of my first peg bags
  • Creating useful things for yourself and others - believe it or not the seeds of my handmade business started when I made three peg bags - one each for me my mother and my sister. I worked out a pattern and off I went. They were delighted and I thought - 'How exciting, I could sell these,' and, the first creation I sold online was a peg-bag. My business has evolved since then but this act of making something I needed was the beginning.
  • Opening up career and work opportunities - my lifelong passion for needlework has led me to having my own creative business which is an absolute delight! It may open up similar opportunities for others.
  • Making friends and deepening relationships -  teaching someone and sharing knowledge,
    Red bandana bib with white stars ByElsieB
    Bandana bib
    or even doing something you both love side-by-side can build a deep friendship. This may be with a mentor, a peer or a child but it's something truly worth having. I have been attending 'Sit and Sew' sessions in my village for the last year and it has been a great way to get to know people I wouldn't ordinarily have come into contact with. I learned the rudiments of my sewing skills from my mother which has given me deeper and wider respect for her skills and resourcefulness. I hope to pass these skills to my daughter, and add a dimension to our relationship in the process
  • Giving lifelong pleasure - sewing is something that you do from the age of 3 to the time in your life when your fingers don't work so well anymore (I dread that day). It keeps you occupied on a winter evening, exercises your mind and allows you to fill your world with beautiful things. Who wouldn't want to have a go?
    Personalised cushion ByElsieB
    Personalised cushion
At the end of the day, when you learn a new skill you never know what other benefits you are going to gain. Do you sew? When did you learn? What do you make? Have you taught anyone? What have you gained from your sewing skills? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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