finding sewing’s lost generation

I’m part of a blog share with my friend Darlena at Parentwin.com.  This is my first post as part of her “craft central” section.  You should check her out if you’re interested in a great blog about parenting, current events, recipes, and more!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the lack of people my age who sew (awesome people in blog land aside). It struck me at sewing expo last month that #1 I was probably a good 15+ years below the average age of the other expo attendees and #2 garment sewers were clearly in the minority.

The fact is, I believe a basic knowledge of sewing and garment construction are important life skills, admittedly these are skills I am only beginning to acquire.
I think the lack of young adults that are able to sew on a button, hem a skirt, or even construct a garment has contributed to our disposable clothing culture and all the problems associated with that in terms of the environment, human rights, personal finances, and even personal sense of style/self image.
Besides all those heavy reasons, garment sewing is fun. It’s extremely liberating to know I can choose a fabric and pattern and put them together to create something that nobody else has, and was exactly what I wanted.

We could probably spend a lot of time analyzing the various reasons for the decline of at home garment construction- home ec no longer being required in school, cheap clothing from Old Navy, lack of exposure to everyday sewing (to name a few), but that’s not a topic I’m looking to dig into today, and I have a feeling I’d be preaching to the choir anyway.

The thing that interests me, is what happens from here.  What small thing can I do to get my daughters thinking about what’s involved with creating the clothes in their closets?
Of course they see me working in the sewing room, but seeing is very different from doing. I could sit my older daughter down at the machine and walk her through the basics, but she’s only 8, and I’ve only been sewing for a year.  Sewing hasn’t been part of her background, and I don’t want her to get discouraged when she sits down at a machine and a dress doesn’t magically appear 2 days later.  I want her to know what to expect of the process before she makes that first stitch.  Even if my daughters never want to learn, I want them to understand how their clothing came to be.  It’s not something I gave much thought to before I started sewing, but this is not at all an automated process.  Everything you wear represents time and effort that someone spent at a cutting table, a sewing machine, or a serger.  In the long term, I hope that I’m teaching my daughters to be empathetic, good global citizens, and conscious consumers.  In the short term, maybe they’ll appreciate their clothes more and not leave them in a pile on the floor.

Since this has been on my mind, when my 8 year old daughter came home with a paper doll and an assignment to dress up the doll to represent my child’s heritage, I immediately saw an opportunity to start getting my point across.
“Would you like to raid my fabric scraps to use on the project?”  You would have thought I was offering her tickets to One Direction, she was that excited.

To be continued…..

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