Monday, May 3, 2010

Sew, Whatever Happened To Learning How To Use A Needle & Thread?

One of my daughters starts high school next year. She tried to select a beginner's sewing class as one of her electives, but, since only four other students registered for the class, it was canceled. You'd think that with the popularity of Project Runway, etc., a full class would be possible; but no. This disturbs me for several reasons.

One, my brother in law cannot sew a button on his shirt. I know this because he was given a shirt as a gift and the pocket seam was undone -- it just needed a few stitches to tack it in place on one side -- but he couldn't do it. I told him, "If you can sew a button on, you can tack that back down." He said he couldn't do that. And that he didn't bother to learn because the dry cleaners always did that for him. Now, I love my brother in law, but I don't want my kids that helpless.

Two, if I want my children to have sewing lessons (and at least the girls want them; they are interested in costume design as well as crafty things), I'll have to pay for them. I'd prefer that the public school I fund with my taxes would provide the education on such basics. And beyond.

Yes, I could teach my kids to sew -- at least what I know, remember and teach myself (see my Stitches In (My) Time post).

But you moms out there know how well that goes with teenage girls... Getting them to sit with me to learn basic sewing and repairs does not go over as well as teaching them "more fun" needlework and craft projects.

Like teaching my kids math etc., it works best when the school provides the core curriculum and I add onto it myself.

As long as we still wear clothes made of fabric, sewing should not be a lost art.

The good news may be that I'll find sewing lessons for all three of us girls... If I can afford that. (Hint hint, if you're in Fargo or know an inexpensive resource here!)

Image credits: Needlework Before Housework by Radical Cross Stitch (E-Pattern from Radical Cross Stitch aka Radical Rags at Etsy).


Little Black Car said...

Teenaged girls are too old, unless they have had a lot of exposure to DIY when they were younger. Readers should consider this a warning to start this sort of thing when their kids are younger, more impressionable, and less concerned about what's "cool."

Cooking and sewing are both terrific ways to teach kids how to follow instructions because they get a tangible, almost immediate, reward for doing things in the correct order and finishing the task completely.

Nicola O. said...

I don't know about teenagers, but my 9 year old just finished a sewing and needlework badge in girl scouts. Great way to pique the interest!

Try your local fabric store (JoAnn's?) for classes, or maybe a park district session in the summer time.

Another way to ease someone into sewing would be a group quilting project -- get a bunch of people to each contribute a square. Put them together and donate it to charity.

Anita Diaz said...

I'm so glad to find this site! I came here from "A Delightsome Life" after seeing the title. I love what you are doing here!! I can't wait to read more! I am a sewer, my mom was a designer, my great grandmother a tailor, and both grandmothers were amazing seamstresses. It saddens me to see fewer and fewer sewing. I make most of my table linens, etc., and love designing and making clothing when I have time. I have an 11-year-old piano student who is learning to sew, so I'm trying to help her learn the basics. My mom used to teach at a community college, but now all they have is upholstery! Can't wait to see your other tips as well. My grandmother was brilliant at creating something out of nothing. Funny thing is they were so "green" in their approach, which we are all trying to get back to.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when I was in grade 3, when we were about 8. We used to practice samplers of stitches at school. I think this was great. Then at high school, we learnt basic dressmaking with a sewing machine.

Anonymous said...

I learned to sew age 10, hemming flannel diapers by machine. The great thing is flannel is very forgiving, the hem was rolled about 3/8" but the topstiching had to be straight, and close to the edge, if it was not straight or too far from the edge, I had to rip it out and redo it. 4 dozen diapers makes 96 seams (salvage edge was not hemmed). By the time you get 96 hems sewn (36" long) satisfactorily you can sew a straight seam, the rest is easy...

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