Monday, May 15, 2017

Should Sewing Be Taught to Children? Guest blogger Sally Perkins

I learned to sew in 4-H in the 1950s (my teacher /group leader was Mrs. Bechtold and of course, Mom helped), and my children learned the basics in a required home economics class in middle school in the early 1980s.  And now?  Let's have Sally, my guest blogger, tell us.

The teaching of sewing was absolutely essential for previous generations who were clothed by their own handiwork. But in today’s consumer society, where clothes are throw-away items, the art of sewing has dropped off the ‘life skills’ list. However, the last few years has seen the image of sewing transformed in the US. No longer the domain of apron-clad grandmothers, the revived craft is being taken up by younger women seeking a form of creative self-expression. And as adults are taking up the hobby, so are their children, resulting in a surge in sewing classes and boom in sewing machine sales.
What are the benefits of learning to sew?
Sewing is an expensive hobby, considering the outlay on fabric and equipment. So is it really worth it? There are obvious practical benefits of teaching a child to sew. The life-long skill will save them from costly clothing repairs and alterations in the future if they are able to hem a new pair of pants and darn a favorite sweater. But there are many more developmental benefits to be gained:
  • Help improve physical dexterity - Introducing hand sewing at an early age will help develop and mature finger dexterity and fine motor skills.
  • Teach discipline and patience - Learning to sew demands listening and following instructions. And once the basics are taught, a child will need to follow through a project in a careful and disciplined manner. Threading a machine, reading a pattern and cutting out fabric are all tasks that demand precision, order and patience.
  • Enhance math skills - The tasks of measuring, together with the addition and subtraction skills required when piecing fabric together, all help with the development of math skills.
  • Encourage creative expression - Once a child has mastered the basics, sewing offers a valuable creative outlet. Your child can select their own fabric and thread, and create their own designs be it clothing, accessories or toys. This may be of particular value to children who find it difficult to express themselves through writing and speech.
  • Build self-confidence and promote self-esteem - The satisfaction of completing a sewing project from start to finish will boost your child’s self-confidence and morale.
How do you teach your child to sew?
If you are a stitcher, share your skills with your child. Start with hand-sewing using non-fray fabric such as felt, then let them explore cottons and other materials. Introduce a sewing machine when you and they are ready and eager. Consider investing in a sewing machine with child-friendly features including large dials, good speed control and automatic needle threading. You’ll also find useful books on the market outlining simple first projects.
If you aren't a stitcher, don’t despair as many craft stores offer sewing classes for children. Usually lasting an hour a week, they should provide enough direction for your child to engage in a craft that will grow their self-confidence, inspire their creativity and, at the same time, give them a practical skill for life.
So, should sewing be taught to children? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’!

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