The Lost Art Of Sewing

While Portia has been writing about all these great designers, I’ve been VERY busy putting together the SKIP tween clothing line. Researching all the best organic fabrics, deciding on patterns, and putting my own tween under the microscope as she tries to show her individual personality and still fit in with her peers.

You know how they say “best laid plans”? Well there I was, in what was my sewing area – that was going to be the future SKIP production area – really getting into stencilling fabric (yes Portia, there may have been Neil Diamond singing in the background and yes, I definitely need more practice) when not one, but two water pipes burst in the ceiling, which then flooded the entire bottom floor of our house.

This was months ago. And even though I’m still reeling from the chaos this has caused my family, see me having to move all that SKIP tween line up to the dining room table, and dealing with plumbers and contractors. Well,I’m happy to say,  I have caught my breath and am ready to dive in again. Yes, best laid plans.

I have always loved designing, redesigning and making different creations of any kind. I think at this point of my life, I have tried my hand at almost everything from making a traditional kilt for my daughter’s highland dancing, to making a tire cover for my salvaged 1968 Boler. I love anything that I can create myself, that has me buying material locally, and has me proud of myself for accomplishing a project I have never done before. And I also like to do all this, because it saves me money. Did I mention that I’m part Scottish? Yes, I do love saving money. I do love sewing and I am so inspired by all our hand-makers on our pages as they build their beautiful kids lines one piece at a time. But what saddens me is that sewing has become a lost art especially in our children.

Here’s a story for you. It’s 1973. I’m three years old and I had torn a hole in my beloved monkey puppet that had been my dad’s when he was a little boy. Near disaster for a three year old so, of course I took it to my German grandmother who I loved dearly, to sew it for me. Instead she wanted me to learn how to fix it myself. She sat with me and with all the patience in the world taught me how to hand sew and fix my little monkey puppet myself.

It’s because of this dear lady, that made for the beginnings of a life long love of sewing and a skill that would get me jobs, help other people, and yes (the Scottish in me says) save me a lot of money. As years went by, I started using a sewing machine more than sewing by hand, but it all started with a monkey puppet and my dear patient grandmother. Unfortunately, we don’t all have a German grandmother tucked away to teach us how to sew and unfortunately our generation is so busy that the time to teach these skills gets lost in the to do list.

My daughter just turned twelve and I really wanted to give her the same gift that my grandmother gave me, so there we are in our little sewing lesson, and I gotta tell you I didn’t have the patience that my grandmother had. At 6 years old, Santa gave her a mini beginner sewing machine which lasted but a minute. Then at eight, another machine showed up at Christmas, but that machine was a bust as well. It was a waste of Santa’s (wink wink) money. The next machine she received was my old one, when I treated myself to a shiny new machine, and bingo, that was the one she liked to use.

This was the machine to teach her with. So she chose a pattern and some cute pink fuzzy material and a cape was born. I think she cried about five times and certainly at some point, I started drinking wine. But we did it and I was so happy that I hadn’t ruined her fun of sewing. To save us both from that kind of craziness again, I decided to put her into a sewing class that she went to with a friend, absolutely loved it, and wants to continue. She now has the skills, confidence and a love of creating that will last her a lifetime.

Another experience that has given me hope for this art to make a comeback happened at my daughter’s school, where two amazing moms decided to teach sewing to the grade 6 and 7 classes.

That’s right, these two super moms volunteered to teach sewing to a group of tweens, not just the girls, but the boys as well. I personally thought they were crazy, but I asked if they needed support – which made me crazy as well. When I entered the classroom, I was amazed at the energy these kids had for sewing. It was so refreshing and great to see.

You could see a few that had no interest, but the ones that did were so proud of the projects that they finished. When it was the boys turn, I thought it was going to be hell, but they too  proved me wrong. They had even greater excitement than the girls, a greater love for creating, and a greater enthusiasm for showing off their finished work. There’s hope for the world.

I am so grateful to Ingrid and Dawn; those two super moms for giving this gift, this great craft to these kids. And for showing me that there’s still a love for this lost art of sewing because it’s people like you who are the German grandmas of our time.






4 thoughts on “The Lost Art Of Sewing

  1. Lorna says:

    Janet, Portia had some very real competition in the blogging business,
    Loved to re listen to the grandma stories.
    Way to go on passing on the torch to the Millenials!

  2. Helene Gartner says:

    Dear Janet, the article was very nice and well done. I was lucky enough to know your grandmother. It is nice to see that there are people who are still sewing and passing down the skill to the next generation. My name is Helene and you don’t know me, but I hope to meet you one day when I visit your mother.

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