Sew What You Reap

There is something so completely addictive about trims and buttons, ribbons, beads and threads that I really do think Kirsty Allsop said it best; ‘haberdashery is like a drug’. With her passion for vintage textiles and home decoration, she has reawakened an interest in embellishment of home decor and clothing that could be said to have spearheaded the revival in handcrafts – although any visitor to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace every October might beg to differ!

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That being said sewing is a dying art. When did you last pick up a needle or pull out the machine? Knowing how to sew is not vital to our families comfort or sense of pride. We no longer need to provide them with robust, serviceable clothing to go about their daily lives. And even if we did, time is portioned out on a sliding scale of importance; school runs, homework, activities, in fact the older the child, the less time you spend at home regardless of whether you work or not.

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Let’s be honest, it’s so much easier to pop down to the High Street or let the child in question browse the internet for their item of choice, but in doing so, we completely overlook the massive industry built around providing us with clothes for our backs. And how did they start their career path? At some point the vast majority of them learned to sew.

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So what happens when our children grow up with no knowledge of how their clothes are made, or the impact that has on the environment? Will they just assume that clothes come from shops? And what about when a button falls off? Will they just throw the garment away?

Maybe it’s time to get back to basics and introduce our children to a skill so many of us have forgotten. The satisfaction of making something for oneself is incredible, especially if you receive compliments about it. Children love to be the centre of attention and feeling that pride of achievement can give a much needed confidence boost to one who perhaps struggles with more academic demands. A creative pursuit allows their imagination to run free and knowing they can try out these ideas is very empowering. It gives a child control of what they’re learning and reinforces why learning is fun – when so much of their education is prescriptive.

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But let’s not forget the added benefits of handcrafts in general. Dexterity, small motor skills, hand to eye co-ordination all improve, the ability to follow instructions increases and practical mathematics; the sums required to measure accurately on the pattern pieces, are a direct reinforcement of the classroom textbook. These were all things the home sew-er of the past took for granted. Sewing can enhance so many areas of the curriculum, that it is a great shame so many schools have forgotten its value when, like Home Economics, this is an old skill with real benefit for the future.

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