Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top 10 reasons for learning to sew.



I learned to sew when I was little, taught by my mother, who was taught by her mother, and now I'm teaching my two daughters.
 Sewing used to be something that mothers did - a lovely old lady told me recently that when she got married, she bought a sewing machine, because 'that's what you did' and she taught herself to sew and make things for her house, and then her children.  Today she has her own hobby/ business making beautiful kids clothes.

 Today it is no longer 'what you do' to buy a sewing machine and learn to sew when you get married, but I believe it is still a fantastic a valuable skill to have. 

So I have written my own Top Ten Reasons to Learn to Sew! 



1. To save money
From basic alterations on new clothes to mending old clothes or even making your own clothes, sewing can save you a significant amount of money.  For example, basic alterations like shortening trousers or a skirt can cost from $10 upwards, click here to see a sample list of clothing alteration costs I found online.  I am a firm believer that anyone can sew - there are plenty of instruction on how to alter clothes online - google what you want to do, and you'll come up with lots of written or video how tos to help! 
Making your own clothes can also save you money - again there are literally hundreds of free tutorials and patterns to get you started.  You can use fabric from the clearance bin, or from a charity shop - or even alter bargain clothes from a charity shop to fit you. 
Someone whose blog I found recently took this idea to a whole new level when she set out to make 365 items of clothing in 365 days on a budget of $365!  Go and have a look at  A New Dress A Day- I was super impressed, I know you will be too!
It's not just clothes you can make either - home furnishings, table linen, costumes, bags, just about anything. Here's one example - a pencil case I made for my daughter from an old pair of jeans and scrap fabric. Cost to make $0!  A few days later I saw someone at school had a similar personalised pencil case they had bought online for $30!:


In the current economic climate, we're all looking for ways to save money.  For a small initial outlay for basic sewing supplies - needles, thread, scissors or even a cheap basic sewing machine, you can save lots in the longer term, certainly a very worthwhile investment!  I offer plenty of free tutorials here if you like, and I add new ones most Tuesdays so it's always worth coming back to see what's new.  Or look around for ones that suit and inspire you, there are hundreds out there!


2. Environmentally friendly
You can use your sewing skills to recycle or upcycle things instead of throwing them away.  We live in very much a throw-away society. More and more these days if something is broken it gets thrown away and a new one bought.  Clothes are something that often gets discarded when it gets worn, the zip breaks, the fabric stretches or it no longer fits.  Aside from mending broken clothing items so they can still be worn, there are endless possibilities for recycling or upcycling clothes, or even other materials which can be sewn. Here are some examples of my recycling and upcycling projects:

Insulated lunch bags made from an old silver car windscreen shade, an old dress, old car seatbelts, and old curtains:


A hanging hair tie/clip holder from a pair of kids jeans:







There are so many ways you can upcycle old clothes, rather than throwing them away.  I've started up a long term linky list for people to add their own ideas and projects here on a dedicated page - go and take a look at all the fabulous ideas people are coming up with - and feel free to add any of you own too!







3. Build your self-esteem
To have a skill - particularly one that enables you to create, make or repair something can be incredibly valuable in building your own self-esteem.  To be able to say - 'I made this' or "I mended this myself" is empowering and is also outwardly impressive towards people around you.  Anyone who has ever made anything, from a cake, to a piece of artwork to an item of clothing, knows the satisfaction gained when you've finished it, knowing you did it yourself.

As I am teaching my young daughters to sew, I hope I am helping build their self confidence and self esteem.  They love being able to use my sewing machine - something that was a little scary at first, but with practice they are quite capable now:


And the joy they get out of their completed projects, that they can show off to their friends is priceless!


Every Monday I host a linky party called A Round Tuit where anyone can come and link up their creative projects - not just sewing but any kind of craft and creativity.  The idea is for everyone to share their inspiration, motivation and encouragement by showcasing their own talent, and visiting other people who want to showcase their own.  A wonderful boost for everyone's self esteem!
Feel free to stop by any week to add your own links! It's like our own version of the 'show and tell'  we did in school!



4. Personalise things
When you sew something, you are creating a one-of-a-kind creation.  Even though you may use a pattern used by thousands of others, or fabric bought by others - you are making it, and that makes it unique.  No two handmade items ever turn out identical, that is the beauty of handmade, it's uniqueness. 
In terms of clothes, it is highly unlikely that someone would choose the exact same fabric and the exact same pattern as you, so you are never like to be caught out wearing the same outfit as someone else - bought from one of many high street stores.
Even if you buy your clothes from a store - you can add your own personal embellishments. 

There's always adding a name to personalise things - like my daughter's pencil case, or even the ability to make personal gifts for friends - things they can't buy in the shops, for example this pillow case for a friend's son who loves this particular TV channel! Sometimes the things we want just can't be bought in a shop......but we can make them exactly the way we imagine!




5. Gives you a skill
It is always good to have a skill- something that you are good at, something that you can use either for your own personal benefit and pleasure, or perhaps to use in a job. 
Sewing is a skill taught in many poorer countries as a way to earn a living.  It is a basic skill which used to be taught widely in schools. Sadly this seems to be fading away too.


6. Provides a foundation for your own business
 Many people would love to be their own boss - to work doing something they love, their own hours and make decent money doing it.  Well having the ability to sew could provide you with just that opportunity.
Making things to sell can become very profitable indeed.  Thousands  of people make things and sell them at markets, in shops, by word of mouth, or online.  Online market places are a very popular place for people to buy and sell handmade.  Here in Australia we have Madeit, where you can open your own store and sell your handmade goods.  A larger and better known version of this based in America is Etsy.

For some inspiration on starting your own business selling handmade, it's worth a visit to Etsy's 'quit your day job' feature - where people tell their own stories about how they set up and are now running their own business selling handmade.  It can be done - all you need is a skill of your own, and the determination to make it work!  The ability to sew, could be the key to a dream job!


7. Keeps a traditional skill alive
During the Chinese cultural revolution (1966-1976) many old traditional skills were forbidden as they were seen to be among the "four olds" (old customs, old culture, old traditions and old ideology) that had to be destroyed in order for China to move forwards.  Sadly many skills were lost during this time, although many people managed to hide important tools and works until the bans were lifted, and so preserved precious knowledge and objects which have been handed down through generations.  When I learned of this I found it sad to think of such talents and skills perhaps lost forever.

I'm not saying that sewing is going to be banned because it is old fashioned, but there is no doubt as a skill it is less prolific than it was.  Many schools no longer teach it to kids, and it is seen by many as something 'Granny' or "Nanna' does or did.  Sewing doesn't have to be old fashioned - funky, new and stylish things are being made all the time .  Sewing could give you the opportunity to show your own style - start your own trends!


8. Learn about fabric and techniques to better judge what you buy
When you learn to sew, you will learn what you are looking at when you buy clothes, bags and other fabric goods.  You will learn to judge when something is well made, and when something is likely to fall apart when first used.  You will gain a greater understanding of the quality of fabric and workmanship - and find yourself better equipped to spend your hard earned money on someone else's work.


9. You can help people around the world
There are so many charitable organisations that help less fortunate people worldwide through sewing! Yes sewing!  You can make things like toys and clothes to be sent to children in poorer countries.  A while ago, I made a dress to add to others being made to send to an orphanage in Africa:
  One wonderful lady called Sarah - has a whole website (Dolly Donations) dedicated to making dollies to donate to various causes,  She also offers free patterns on her site for anyone wanting to help out. 



10. Give unique gifts
What do you give someone who has everything?  A handmade gift!  As I mentioned earlier, they are unique and special, and can be personalised to suit anyone.  Each year I choose something to make for my daughters' friend's birthdays.  Not only is it cheaper than buying something, I know they won't already have one, and the gifts are always well received!  One year the gifts were my 'Little Jems' - Cute and furry little storage containers:

And another year I made lots of pencil and notebook folders:


Again, just have a look around the internet at all the fabulous ideas and tutorials for things you can sew and give as wonderful personal and unique gifts.
Using one of my tutorials you could make a beautiful jewellery bag:


Or perhaps a set of talking coasters for something a bit different!


There are thousands of wonderful, unique and creative ideas out there just waiting for you to try out!
So go on - get sewing!


What do you think?  Do you sew? Have I convinced you to learn if you don't already?
Leave me a comment, I'd love to know what you think!




11 comments:

  1. I sew for many of those reasons but I think the most important reason is that it is fun - when I can get all those benefits and enjoy being creative it is definitely a win-win.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. It's so great to meet you. I really need to get my sewing machine unpacked and back in action! I'll following now so I'll see you around!

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  3. Can you come and teach me please?!?

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  4. What a great blog post! So true, too.

    Following you back!
    Janice
    Celebrating Family

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  5. Hi, Jill! I got married at the ripe old age of 19, and promptly told my husband that I needed a sewing machine. So we went shopping and I bought a basic Singer, which I'm still using almost 17 years later. I love to sew, and just made my daughter a medieval-style dress for a school project. I rarely buy curtains because I can sew them to my match my decor.

    I'm a new follower, thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  6. Thank you for the mention! I love your blog too!

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  7. Good morning!

    I'm your newest follow via the Boost My Blog at Design in Chic!

    Come visit me at

    http://miscellaneousme.wordpress.com

    Cara

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  8. Hello! I wish I had paid more attention to my sewing lessons. It would certainly come in handy now.
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Hope you will keep reading along! I'm definitely following along now.

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  9. Great post!! Sewing is definitely a useful skill :)

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