Why Should You Learn To Sew?

Why learn To Sew ?
Hey everyone! I know many of you who read this blog already sew, but there area few of you who don’t yet and well, I’m going to try to talk you into why you should learn to sew! Here goes….


Like cooking, sewing often creates a mess, but the memories you create doing these things are what creates the fabric of our lives…..
Sewing has become fashionable again. Go into any bookstore and the shelves are now full of eye catching, modern project books about sewing for yourself and your family, and how we can bring creativity back into our lives. So why is sewing becoming more popular in an age where cheaply mass produced clothes are easily available and actually pretty nice looking for the money?
“Why learn to sew?”, I’ve had some women ask me. “By the time I buy all the fabric and notions and patterns I could just go to the clothing store and buy something cheaper”.
Or you might be thinking that you have always wanted to sew, but you just don’t have the time if you have children and a home to care for, or a full time job.
I’m going to compare learning to sew with learning to cook.

You could get by in life without learning to cook,  and instead go out for takeout, go to restaurants or buy prepared meals at the grocery store . Plenty of people do, as rising obesity rates in this country will show you. In fact, it’s more expensive to buy groceries and cook than to go to many fast food restaurants. But we do learn to cook because we enjoy it, it’s more nutritional, and it’s something we do for our families to show we love them. I like to think that sewing is like cooking and buying clothes is like going out to eat. It’s nice to have both in your lives. Sewing , like cooking, can be frustrating when you are learning, but once you learn a few great recipes or make a cute dress, people love, it’s such a rewarding feeling,

Why sewing is good for your soul and a virtuous hobby to pass down to your children

 Our fashion obsessed teens have been on a diet of what I call junk fashion. Things have gotten so cheap at stores like Forever 21, and girls buy lots of things that are trendy, but really low quality, wearing them a few times and then forgetting them. This enforces the idea of the throwaway mentality in our culture and as a mother of four daughters, this attitude scares me a little. Clothes are cheap, worn a few times and thrown away or left at friends’ homes, never to be seen again. This mentality is found in many parts of society today. Products and appliances are made cheaply overseas, and when they break we get rid of them and buy new ones. A generation ago if you bought a blender or vacuum that broke, you would take it to the fix it shop.

When people learn to make their own clothes they start to look at clothing differently, noticing the work and quality, or lack of it that goes into a garment. One of my daughters actually thought clothes were made by machines in factories when she was little, and was surprised when I told her that people sat at little tables sewing all day to make the clothing in the shops.

Sometimes when we are out shopping, I will read the Made In _ labels to my girls and we will wonder about the lives of the people who sat down and actually made these clothes for us to wear. I think it’s an important thing to do, just like realizing the meat at your table came from a living, breathing animal who was sacrificed for us to eat. My American Indian relatives would take time to thank the animals who died for their meals. Acknowledging the people who make our clothes in far away impoverished countries is a small gesture that sends out good vibes and consciousness into the world.

There are human rights issues that also need to be known about. Most of these cheap clothes are made in China and as consumers we should be aware that China is still fervently enforcing their one child policy outside the large cities. One garment worker in China was found to have two children and was put under arrest until she would agree to a forced sterilization. Forced abortions are also not uncommon, and are performed on women well into their third trimesters. So in a way we are sanctioning these human rights abuses when we buy these clothes. If you would like to learn more about the garment industry and the things that really go on in it, reading the book OVERDRESSED is a great place to start. I know it’s another thing to feel guilty about, but if we don’t educate ourselves, we will never cause the change that is needed.

 

Why sewing is good for your finances.

The US has been in a terrible recession which has gotten better , but is still pretty bad,  and we have had to get more creative about saving money. The silver lining of this recession for me has been having to make do with less which can really spark creativity. However, sewing isn’t necessarily a money saver. Fabrics can be expensive and many of the projects I’ve made could probably be bought cheaper at the outlet mall near my house, although they might be an inferior quality. So while saving money is definitely possible, if you are doing things like upcycling your old clothes or sheets to make dresses for your daughters, it’s something besides saving money that is driving this new movement in sewing. But saving money is still important!

Have you ever ordered something online and it doesn’t fit and you meant to send it back but misplaced the receipt or bought it on a final sale? That’s just money wasted and if you can sew you can alter things like that yourself and actually wear them. 
Or have you spent all day searching for the perfect dress never to find it? That’s time that could be better spent!  With basic alteration skills our clothes can be more flattering ,and we can even remake or upcycle things we already have in our closets or find at the thrift shop. When the skinnier leg jeans came in fashion, I just took in the pant legs of jeans I already had. If you are pregnant you can easily turn your jeans into maternity jeans instead of going to the maternity shop and buying something you are only going to use for a couple months.

Here are some of my tips  for sewing on the cheap and just cool info to know:

  • When it comes to sewing machines sometimes the older ones are actually better so keep your eye out for second hand machines you can find in sewing machine shops on consignment, on Craigslist or in thrift shops. I bought a 1982 Bernina at the thrift shop for 25 dollars and it works better than my newer Viking which I spent 400 dollars on.
  •  Some inexpensive but great fabric sources are  thrift shops, yard sales, rummage sales and flea markets.  I also buy fabric in downtown LA at the fabric district where there are incredible deals.  Keep an eye out for trims like zippers and thread and bias binding which are usually bundled in zip- loc bags at thrift shops. I like to buy sweaters at thrift shops and shrink them to make baby clothes . You can find  tutorials for that on this blog.
  •  Vintage patterns are fun to find at yard sales cheaply, and a lot of fun to sew with, but can challenging because the directions assume you can already sew as most people in the old days did. There are many websites and blogs that focus on sewing from vintage patterns and you can learn some great techniques on them. I also love vintage sewing books and have learned tons about sewing from them.
  •  For modern patterns, Joann’s has sales about twice a month where patterns are sold from a dollar to four dollars. And don’t forget to download your 40% off coupon before you hit Joann’s. Also, websites like Burdastyle.com have PDf patterns that are free. You just print them out and tape them together.
  •  Sewing blogs, websites and chat rooms are the newest and most inspiring way to learn as you probably already know if you are reading this article. There are answers to all your sewing dilemmas and you can make online sewing buddies too. It’s a nice and supportive community. Kollabora, Burdastyle, and Pattern review are all great places to find the sewing community.
  •  Don’t forget sewing classes in the traditional setting: Fabric stores, community colleges, and sewing conventions. There is nothing like learning from a real, live person sometimes.
  •  And last I have to recommend joining the American Sewing Guild. They have neighborhood sewing groups, hold seminars and have yearly conferences for members.

I hope you enjoyed my Why Learn To Sew post! Please share on your FB pages to help convince your non sewing friends to learn!

 

 


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About Justine

You made it to the end of the post! Please stop by often for a variety of sewing projects, clothes making tips , and stylish handmade living. Feel free to leave a comment and say hi!

Comments

  1. I’m off to share this with my sewing group now. Thanks for some great insights! :)

  2. If I wasn’t sewing, I would start right now!
    My favorite points are:
    - the educational side (remembering to our childs that someone soffer for sewing their cheap fashion dresses is a strong signal);
    - comparing cheap fashion to fast food: it’s one of the most proper likeness
    - skip the time spent around searching for the right dress that fit… priceless!
    I would add (as it is one of my Obsessions) Refashion, as a cheap font of good fabric :)

    MammaNene @ SergerPepper.com (via Diane’s link!)

  3. Love this article. My girls are 2 and 6. I am seeing my oldest with the same mentality of wear it today, throw it away. I think this also comes from TV shows/movies that encourage dress up but don’t show the care that goes into making each garment. I love sewing them things and would encourage anyone to take the time to do it. I like your comparison to cooking..just like making homemade bread, it might take more time and effort but the quality of the garment that comes out is SO much better than walmart could dream of!! Happy sewing…love your blog.

  4. great post justine! sewing can be very expensive but when i look at what is really lasting in my closet and my kids closets it is the clothes that i have made. the quality is so much better! i am actually taking the shirts that were store bought that didn’t last more then a year and cutting them up and making them into patterns. i already love their fit just hate the fabric. i just love a sense of accomplishment i feel after making something and love being able to pass that on to the girls. my kids already think that we make everything and just buy what we cannot make. society has made it too easy to become lazy and buy instead of learning skills to make things.

  5. Justine,
    Loved this post.. thank you for sharing.
    I love sewing…Always have …”even before it started coming back”. I love the beautiful
    fabrics… the fact that you can make all the decisions, even if it looks like the RTW garment
    you saw…yours is totally picked out by you..
    I was at a ladies clothing store the other day, and was looking at basic RTW button up blouses,
    good priced, looked well made.. My thought was, why are you going through the trouble to make
    these simple blouses? And then I remembered.. I love to sew, and I can make that simple button
    up blouse any color, any design and I can change the type of fabric if I want too.. Now… that is
    a fun reason to sew.. And like any other hobby, it is what makes us happy.
    As we sewers know…sewing is addictive… you just fall in love with the hobby, and you can never stop.ha

    • Amen, Justine! I have been sewing for as long as I can remember, for me sewing is very stress relieving. Sewing helps exercise the same passages in the brain that you need for math. I have young students who come to me to learn to sew, who are not doing well in school, particularly in math. After several years of sewing they are in regular math classes and doing well. My students are able to exercise their right brain while doing something creative that they love. A total win, win. You do not have to be a sewing teacher to share your love of sewing or to teach a friend.

  6. Nothy Lane says:

    I teach junior high and all the girls and many boys too are very interested in sewing. I always encourage them to take sewing (and auto mechanics) in high school. They are the only two classes that I still use to this day.

  7. Great post! When I first started sewing I was surprised at how expensive it was (even with my free bernina that was my grandma’s and is my favorite! ) but the skills are so valuable, I love making things, and I love that my daughter doesn’t have to have graphic tees or inappropriate styles (she’s four). I have also become much more picky about what I buy. Do you have a good resource for non pilly knits?

  8. This is a great post! I love sewing my clothes and clothes for my siblings…sure some of what I make could probably be found cheaper in a store, but I love the satisfaction I get from taking the time to sew something that can be worn. It’s a great feeling and I think others who sew can also appreciate the time and effort that goes into sewing garments. Sewing is a hobby I hope to have for a long, long time.

  9. Great article! Wearing handmade clothes give me so much more pleasure than going shopping! And in the end, it’s cheaper. I always try to buy fabric that isn’t too expensive. I can make a dress for 15 quid and it will still be better quality than clothes from Primark :) I wish I could convince more of my friends to start sewing. Most of them think they are not creative enough…

  10. Mie @ Sewing Like Mad says:

    I looove reading this and I LOVE how you compare it with cooking – YES!!!
    More…I want MORE articles from you ;-)

  11. Thank you for mentioning the ethical aspect of ‘why we sew’ in your blog.

    It is too rarely acknowledged that, although we in the ‘west’ expect to pay very affordable amounts of pounds, euros or dollars for t-shirts or dresses, people in the third world pay with their lives, freedom and/or their health and wellbeing to fulfil our fickle, superficial whims and expectations. The Rana Plaza factory disaster last year is just one example of this.

  12. Love this post. I am 28 and teach sewing at a high school and I always stress why it’s important to learn how to sew. Definitely will be bringing in some of these points. I focus on stress relief(they made New York lawyers quilt for an hour a day and their blood pressure actually showed a decrease over time), critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Some of my fiancé’s friends look at me funny when I say I sew, but their judgement goes right out the window once they/their kids get something handmade!

    For the cost thing don’t forget you can always make your own patterns without deconstructing ready to wear clothes!

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