Sewing lets kids create their own look



Even kids as young as 7 can give it a try

 Sewing opens up a whole world of possible projects that children can make once they master some basic skills. Vivian Burns, owner of So You Sewing and Design University in Sparkill, says children as young as seven can use a sewing machine with supervision. They can start hand-sewing much younger, using plastic needles and pre-cut materials. 

“Sewing is about creativity and making something yourself. Within two hours, you can make something!” Burns says.

She sells beginner kits for making all the classic “first projects” like aprons and pillows. But at her sewing studio in Rockland County, she likes to start beginners – both children and adults – with a pair of pants. “They’re pull-on, pajama-type pants. It’s a very forgiving pattern,” she explains.

It’s important to introduce one step at a time (i.e., cutting cloth, reading a pattern) with each step building on the previous one, to keep children from getting frustrated. Most of her pupils enjoy themselves once they get over the notion “that sewing’s just for old ladies,” she says.

Burns is doing her part to revive the once-common craft among today’s children. When they’ve gained some experience, teenagers and older children can dream up projects that their parents never attempted. Burns described how sewers can visit Goodwill or other consignment stores, find an item that intrigues them and completely redesign it. “You can take clothing apart, sew it back together, dye it, add embroidery or other embellishment,” she said, running through a list of possibilities. “Fabric can be expensive, so re-construction can be very cost-effective.”

To boys who are a little reluctant to sew, Burns likes to point out that historically, many tailors were men, and in fact the whole apparel industry used to be male-oriented. Sewing involves problem-solving and three-dimensional manipulation of material, commonly considered male strengths.

 

Carolyn Quoma is a freelance writer living in Beacon.