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Passing Along the Love of Sewing

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Kris replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 8:55 AM

Dear Jodie:

I agree that we have to entice younger people to begin sewing and quilting, but I believe that it has to be the teenagers that you teach.  I learned to sew when I was 13 and began with making my own clothes.  That was it for a long time, until one day my Mom & I walked into a quilt store looking for fabric.  That visit eventually led to a quilting class with my Mom.  I have since lost my mother, but have again picked up the "quilting bug" and have begun again.

The love of sewing has to come from family and friends and their appreciation of your work.  The creation of a quilt is by far the most gratifying job that I do.  It's not really a job to me, more like a Take Me Away, Calgon moment, like you said.  Sewers and quilters alike do it for the joy of it and no other reason.  Most quilters enjoy the whole process from start to finish and the internal pride at completing a quilt.  For me, there is nothing else quite like it!  We have to instill that feeling in younger people too.  Too many hand crafted occupations are becoming obsolete because we aren't teaching our children. 

It has to begin at home and grow from there.  I believe that quilting is a passion and passions are discovered, not necessarily learned. 

Kris

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My mom loved to sew.  My mom taught me how & her enthusiasm was contagious.  I love to sew.  Even when I worked outside of the home I made time to sew.  Now I'm retired and have time every day to do what I enjoy.  I taught my daughter and she too loves to sew.  She too works outside the home but still finds time to sew.  I tried to teach grand daughters but so far it hasn't stuck but they love to get what I make for them.  Since they know the basics maybe they will sew later.  Teaching passes it on.  That's the best way to pass the pleasure along.

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Jodi,

I think it is up to all of us to pass on the interest of sewing. I think no matter what the cost or the advertising, unless there is a person to encourage someone, they may be interested but will not try without the encouaregement.

My grandmothers started me out at a very young age making doll clothes. Sometimes no sewing envolved just wrapping and tying "clothes" on my dolls with their scraps. When that was mastered or not enough I was given a needle and thread. I am sure they were dreadful but was never told that. When old enough I joined 4-H and won many awards and loved it. My mother sews, but for some reason at that age I learned better from my advisors and home-ec teacher. By high school I was mending and repairing clothes for teachers, friends and even making all of my clothes. My mother had a stash of fabric and a machine and was welcomed to use it whenever I had free time never questioning me why or what was I doing.

I tried to raise my daughters the same. They are grown and all three know how to sew well. They don't sew on a regular basis. But 1 has made all of her curtains,1 makes quilts when she can, and the youngest recently asked if I had a easy pattern for her to make her son a pair of shorts. She hasn't yet, but she will. I have a bad habit of loving new sewing machines. So I have passed on my old machines to my daughters and now 1 to my oldest 7 year old granddaughter. I bought her 2 charm packs in bright colors and she made her baby sister a blanket. We quilted it together.

I work in a doctors office. We are lucky enough to have an extra conference room that is used very little. The nurses were interested in the work I brought in at my lunch to "work on". So we made a tablerunner together. They are hooked!!!!  All three are constantly working on something. We even bring machines to work even if we only get to sew for 15-20 minutes.

I guess my whole point of all of this is that it all started with a little interest with me at a young age and 2 grandmothers willing to let me play. Look at all of the people just in my life that that has encouraged not to even mention all of the people I have taught that have "caught the bug".  One grandmother has passed recently, sewed all of her life. The other is 93 now and still sews each day. We still get together to just play with material and scraps as much as we can.

Cheryl

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Children need to be exposed early to the love of sewing. I am fortunate to be one of the few HS teachers that still teach sewing. One of the students' favorite projects is a quillow. Because of being exposed to sewing in class I have had several students request and get their own machines and are still sewing outside of class.

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Sherril replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 10:18 AM

Sewing has brought me so much pleasure in my 44 years  that I can't imagine not knowing how to....or roaming through the aisles of fabric with my mind spinning on a new project!  Both my grandmothers and my mother helped to teach me when I was between 10 and 12 years old, and I am so grateful that they did.  Many times during difficulties in my life I have turned to this craft as "therapy".  I have stitched for myself and many others, but the joy is the same as I plan, cut, sew and finally finish something with my own hands. 

Those early sewing days have stuck with me...the successes as well as failures, because we learn from both experiences.  My high school offered what used to be called Home Economics and I furthered my skills there.  Sadly, you are right that many schools have discontinued this type of program.  I believe that children and young pre-teens (boys as well as girls) should be the target audience as we encourage others to sew.  It will instill in them a sense of accomplishment and give them something constructive to do with their time instead of constantly being on the cell phone or playing video games.  Sewing opens a young mind to creativity and to the realization of literally endless possibilities.  It helps them to appreciate the many colors and textures that are on the market now---quite a leap up from when my grandmother used flour sacks for quilts!  Everyone needs a hobby as stress release, and sometimes hobbies can turn into a business or a life's work!  Projects don't have to be expensive or elaborate, as anything you commit to do well will be worth the effort. 

With so much going on in the world that seems wrong, it's a blessing from God to be able to simply sew, relax my mind and give thanks for the multitude of blessings I have.  My husband put a small tv in my sewing room, so I have entertainment or music to occasionally break the quiet.  My pets are also on hand as the sewing machine hums, and I like to think that it's also "therapy" for them too!

Sewing is such a wonderful craft.  I hope everyone will find a youngster or dear friend to pass this great love on to!

**Piglady**

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Jodie:

To help a new generation of sewers catch the fever, they have to see what they can do with what they have available.  Altering a pair of jeans, a bag, a skirt, a shirt to make it unique or because they want to be sustainable but don't want to look like they're wearing last years fashion.  I'm of the age that I remember taking jeans and making skirts and I used that sad old thing that my mom passed on to me.  Then I made baby clothes, then I made......  I have done my share of sharing the passion wherever possible, but first they need to have some ideas of how they can create with just needle and thread and and old pair of jeans and dad's old shirt to create something they would actually use and be proud to be seen using. 

How do you get this message across, Facebook, You Tube, fashion shows at the high schools and middle schools, boys & girls clubs, even at the homeless shelters.  Once you teach people how to make it a valuable skill that will help them, they'll move to the next level once they begin to see the possiblities. 

So tell your mucky mucks to stop trying to sell the expensive products, show them what they can do cheap and easy and GREEN/Sustainable.  They'll create a whole new market because even if you're refurbishing an item, you still need a few things to give it that new feel. 

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acrabbs replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 10:26 AM

Hi,

I notice each time I shop for fabric that there are more and more new folks asking questions and I always share coupons and tips with them.  It is a joy to watch their faces light up.  Quilters are some of the nicest people I know. 

I always take my latest quilting project to work to share with the folks there and many of them who thought they could not make a quilt are now quilting just because I have made it simple for them and am always ready to help.

I have purchased the rotary cutting starting kits at 50% off and kept them to give as starter gifts to the folks who are genuinely interested. 

My Granddaughter and I have made quilt projects together and she is an avid crafter. She is an honor student and does not always have time, but when she gets a break she works on her projects and knows she can do anything she makes up her mind she wants to do.  Help is never far away.

A quilt group was started at our church and I have been busy with that as well.  It is growing and the folks who need a hug get a quilt very quietly.  It makes them feel good and it is something they have for years.  Some of the projects have been international projects and we also make quilts for chemotherapy patients at a local hospital.  The ladies each get a quilt for their chemo time and are told to bring it each time they go for a treatment.

We need to sell the art whenever we can and spread the word about all the joy that can be spread and enjoyed by sharing.

Anne Crabbs

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Hi,

Not impressed with celebrities as I am with the down-to-earth people.  Learn  how to quilt the hard way and then that person can really help someone else learn.  I learned to sew, knit & crochet, and hand embrolidery about 62 years ago.  My Mom was a seamstress, she made bridegowns, fancy dresses, and boys jeans; depending on priority.  My sister (10 yrs older than me) made all the gowns for the dil when my oldest got married and a friend of mine gave us a dil to wear and keep, and sis did all those adjustments.  Dil new she was one of the family and looked and was an extremely nice addition.

Having followed along w/tradition I quickly went through dolls clothes and people clothes and finally decided to teach myself quilting.  I thought I did a great job.  I like the quilting shows w/real people, Eleanor's shows taught me to have fun while I was learning.  Quilting people get my attention, celebrities don't; they have their job, quilters have t heir job.  I love "Quilt Out Loud"; it's fun.

I'm no expert but I love the fabric and learning stages and feedback from those who know what they're doing.

Jeanne

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I learn the basics of  sewing in school and I think the best way to reach young people is the internet.  Maybe there could be a website like face book or my space.  You could also have colleges interduce the craft.

Nacole Stone

nrstone3@verizon.net

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Linda replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 4:03 PM

Great idea.  I know I enjoy serching the web for ideas for quilts.  There are many sights.  Many How to's once you get the bug.

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Jodie, I have been sewing since I was a ***. I am absolutely positive the schools do great harm in not presenting available sewing classes to their Jr. High classes. Seeing the size of the problem, I am thinking clubs like the boy and girl scouts and 4-h clubs. Sewing and quilting has life long benefits and I think every child over age 10 should at least be offered an opprotunity to learn. I would be completely lost without my precious sewing machine and an unnamed number of quilt books. The way I see it, I have enough fabric to keep me in stitches for a very long time to come. That is a blessing. Maybe never a millionaire, (who cares!) , but endlessly rich in fabrics and "someday" projects.

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This would be my response to the Honchos:

We have all become so accustomed to the "Six million dollar man" endorsing hearing aids and the "Six million dollar woman" endorsing mattresses and every Big Name star endorsing milk, etc. that I think a lot of us no longer even pay any attention to those endorsements.  Here is what I think would get the attention of people who sew:  stop paying for endorsements and keep prices down.  I don't know a single quilter who would run out and buy a new anything just because some Big Name endorsed it (unless it was a Barry Manilow something and then I would!)  In fact, I think that most quilters would have at least one of EVERYTHING -- if we could afford it.  As a group, most of us love to try out the newest and latest tool, technique, fabric, pattern, thread, etc. and we'd buy them all -- if we could afford it.  And we're all addicted -- so we're just going to keep coming back for more.  So now Mr Honcho, you won't have to spend a whole bunch more money running a market research survey to determine your demographic.  We quilters want it all and we want more than we have room to store or time to use.  Most of us already have that and STILL, we continue to buy more.  If you want to get more people sewing and keep those already obsessed sewing, give us a good product at a reasonable price.

Every beautiful new fabric or really cool new tool makes us all so excited that we just have to tell somebody!  We'll do the advertising for you just as we've done for centuries.  And everytime we feel those creative juices flowing we just want to share our fun with others and most of us already do that too!  We'll keep encouraging others to learn this craft that we are so passionate about just because it's fun and creative and makes us feel good -- and we want EVERYONE to feel good.  It's just what we do.

In answer to one other of your questions, I believe (and I say this knowing that nothing applies to everyone) that it is easier to introduce younger children to sewing than it is to interest teenagers in it.  My grandma taught me to sew when I was 9 or 10.  I was very tall for my age and I made pants and shirts that were actually long enough to cover my wrists and my ankles.  More important to me, however, was the time I spent with my Grandma -- when it was just the two of us, up in her little tiny sewing room talking about silly stuff while we worked.  This is how we continue our craft -- by mentoring someone else just as we were mentored.  And, younger kids are always so tickled when they can make something and they're so proud of even their smallest accomplishments.  They are little sponges and they just soak it all up.  We're all so busy these days but that makes it even more important to spend a little one-on-one time with a child and what better way than to teach them a skill they will be able to use for the rest of their life.  I think the sewing junkie part comes later in life, but if the foundation is already there, it's just a natural progression.

Thanks for letting me add my two (Ok, it's probably more like three or four) cents in.

Christina

 

 

 

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One of my favorite sounds of youth was the sewing machine.   The excitement of a new dress or shirt, quilt or whatever, must have made it so..

 

One of my friends who is a retired home ec teacher holds a sewing class after school at the local jr high.  They start with something simple and move along to more difficult.

 

I teach one day quilt classes and welcome younger quilters.  The youngest has been eleven and several have been teenagers who have gone on to make quilts for their freinds and relatives.  Perhaps a free class would be good.  I only charge $20 to make it within most budgets and rotate simple designs - Trip Around the World, Log Cabin and Magic Triangles.  Those who have taken the basic are invited to try some more difficult designs using the basic designs.

Jeanette

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I have been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years.  This week I shared a couple of my summer project quilts with my fifth graders since we were studying geometry  -  especially shapes and angles. Both boys and girls loved the quilts I had spread out on the floor and listened to my brief history of quilt making and each quilt's story.

Your question got me wondering if there are any websites for the ten-fourteen year old group that teach sewing or quilt making projects?  So many families cannot afford to send their children to sewing classes.  However, used sewing machines are fairly cheap and easy to find.  Kids love to learn off the Internet.  Are there online sewing classes for young people doing simple projects?

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I agree with Jeanine.  My mother sewed all our clothes and as soon as I was old enough I joined 4-H sewing and never looked back!!! High school home ec class was next and when I married I made my daughters clothes and baby quilts and game-bus quilt for one son to suggle to.  I did this w/nothing but my own driving needs that was in the 1970's.   I bought patterens for baby quilts and made them before any of my daughters was even thinking about marriage and 5 years later when our first grandson was born in 1986,I was ready!   In 1997 I took my first quilting class and was a charter member to a guild 25 miles away!!!! Then one formed locally and now I belong to 3 guilds and have sooo many "sisterhood quilters" friends.  Yes, start em' young, make it easy.   I have donated a simple sewing machine to a 9 year old young lady who wants to sew quilts and she does great  for her age.  I don't think "celebrity" quilters are inspiring at all.  It is the "regular folks" that make the impressions!

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