Do you have a kiddo that’s interested in learning to sew? Maybe you’re not a sewer yourself and when you look at the investment it takes- the sewing machine, the materials and the time-- and you’re just not sure it’s totally worth it. Maybe you are a sewer and you’re not sure you’re quite ready to bring your child into the fold.
I totally get it. It can be completely overwhelming, but I promise, your child learning to sew is so worth it. I can say that both as a sewing teacher who has taught hundreds of kids and as a parent whose 8 and 6 year old love to sew.
So today I want to talk about my top 5 reasons why it’s so important to support your child’s interest in sewing!
Prefer the video version? Here you go!
In the beginning...
I’ve been teaching since 2015. When I started I knew without a doubt that I did NOT want to teach kids to sew. My own children were very young and the idea of sitting a kid at a machine was a little bit terrifying. I only wanted to teach adults. So I started with that, but it turns out that while adults wanted to learn to sew, parents REALLY WANTED their kids to learn to sew. And when you’re just starting a business you have to follow the interest and I put up a couple of kid classes.
That took off and we can have upwards of 40 kids in the studio a week now. I can honestly say that I can’t imagine running my sewing school without kids classes. I still love teaching adults and really love the balance of the two, but teaching kids is so much fun and a great reminder of how to have fun and creatively play every day with sewing.
But believe it or not, that Creative Play doesn’t even make it into my Top 5… after all, kids find ways to creatively express themselves in nearly everything they do and while sewing is awesome for that it’s not necessary.
#1 Eye-Hand Coordination
No, we start with #1: Eye Hand Coordination and Fine Motor Skills. Sewing is all about fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. From drawing straight lines to cutting straight lines to lining pieces of fabric up to pinning to sewing straight lines! This stuff doesn’t come naturally to kids, shoot it doesn’t come naturally to many adults.
Practicing fine motor skills is something we think so much about when our babies are working on picking up cheerios or stacking blocks, but by the time they hit elementary school -- I don’t know about you, but it wasn’t even on my radar.
But it one thousand percent it is a skill that is still developing and needs to be practiced. Now there is an age element to it. Right around the transition to middle school kids seem to pull their fine motor skills together more and lines are cut straighter, pinned better and sewn straighter. But I have noticed that the kids that are constantly practicing it get there faster than their peers who don’t. This is purely my own experience, I offer no scientific proof about this, but I see it all the time.
#2 Real Life Math Application
Now onto my number 2, and I love this one--- it’s real life math application! I love announcing to my classes “Its Sewing Math Time” because there are major groans but once they get over that they are in it. It’s algebra, it’s geometry, it’s adding fractions and decimals, it’s measuring.
I love to tell the story about when I was applying for graduate school. I took the GRE and I hated math. I did terribly in high school, I studied for this test like none other and was especially worried about the story problems they give you where you read a few paragraphs and have to come up with how fast the fly was traveling in the car or some nonsense like that. I was absolutely dreading this. So I go in and sit down at the computer and here comes the story problem. It went something like “You have 3 yards of fabric that is 45” wide. You want to make a quilt with 54 squares, how big is each square you cut so no fabric is leftover.” I threw out all those equations I had been studying and went deep into how I do my own “quilt math” and flew through it. The test was automatically graded and when I left the testing center the proxy said “Wow. You must really love math. You did so well!”
Math on a page is “eh” for many people, myself obviously included. Math in real life has purpose and helps us accomplish our goals-- whether it’s sewing a quilt or measuring a bag that will fit our laptop or making a pair of pants that will fit us. And just like anything else it takes practice, practice and more practice.
#3: Problem Solving
On to #3: Problem Solving. Here’s another one of those skills that has to be developed and sewing has opportunities galore for it. One of my kids is a natural born problem solver. She can take a step back and think several steps ahead and in all different directions. For my other kid, it is work. A lot of work. We constantly have to take a step back and say “What is the problem? What are you trying to do? How can you make that happen?” He has to train himself to think that way.
Sewers have so many opportunities for that training. Sometimes it’s looking at something and thinking “that doesn’t work, or that doesn’t look right-- but why not?” Sometimes it’s looking at a flat piece of fabric and wondering how do I make that round like a hot air balloon? Sometimes it’s looking at a machine that has thread jammed in it and figuring out how the whole thing works so it can be fixed.
And if these problems are making your head swim too then don’t worry! That’s what our video workshops are for but just the practice of working through problems is so important for development.
#4: Connection to the Fabric Goods
We’re nearing the end here. #4 is that sewers have a greater connection to the fabric goods in our world. Look around you. Everything you see that is fabric was sewn by someone. Not a robot, someone. Someone sitting at a sewing machine and most of us never realize that. I love finishing a fashion project with a student and having her say “now I know why it costs so much at the store. It takes so long to make!”. It’s easy for all of us to think that things just appear at a store for our consumption. Sewers grow a real appreciation for the amount of time, money and skills that are required to make so many of the items that surround us.
Last but certainly not least, in fact maybe most important is It’s Empowering. I estimate I have taught 1000 people to sew between my kid and adult classes at my studio. I could teach 10,000 more and I assure you that it will never get old to watch someone look at their first project and say “I actually made this!”. Never. It’s an incredible feeling to have, an incredible thing to be a part of and an incredible thing to watch someone experience.
You take fabric, thread, a sewing machine or needle and an idea. With YOUR skills you then create something that wasn’t there before. Something you can wear., hold things in, or give to a loved one. In fact, given the opportunity to “Free sew” during one of our after school classes about 4 out of 5 kids jump at the chance to make something for a sibling, a parent or their teacher. There is a pride and a feeling of accomplishment that they can make a project that will make a difference to someone else.
If there is one reason I love to teach over all others this is it. I love watching kids and adults become confident in their skills and themselves by sewing.
What's Your Reason?
I’d love to hear why YOU think it’s important for kids (and adults) to learn to sew so please drop a note in the comments.
And if you are ready to get your child in front of a machine either come check out one of our in-studio classes (if you’re in the Hartford area) or enroll in our Kids Learn to Sew E-Course which is the first part of our after school curriculum available in video workshop form so your family can learn to sew at home!
Until next time, Happy Stitching!