Well, of course, I would say that it’s important – I make my living at it and teaching it, but above that, why is it important for the rest of us?
Here’s a great article that talks about some of the important factors that sewing teaches us in school, things like producing/creating something with your own hands and mind, hand-eye coordination and (my favorite) problem-solving. In a 2018 article about how to prevent or slow dementia reads this:
Stimulation of the mind increases the number and strength of connections between the brain cells, strengthens the brain cells one has, and even increases the number of brain cells slightly. Examples of mental exercises that are particularly effective include solving puzzles, learning something new, reading challenging material, playing board games, playing a musical instrument, and dancing.https://www.dementiacarecentral.com/aboutdementia/facts/risk/#mental
Solving problems is not only one of the most common ways to slow dementia, it not only slows (and in some cases prevents) dementia, it also increases one’s self-value and worth as well as aids in decision-making.
OK so here’s the scenario on this: you are presented with a problem – say, how to sew a hem on a knit top – and you know of about 3 or 4 ways to do it on a woven, but not sure these will work on a knit. So you try one or two and the hem isn’t right – it’s wobbly, uneven or whatever – it simply-doesn’t work. So you try adding a little seam tame (I like Sewkeyse) and you use a double-needle (since that provides a decent stretch stitch, and a straight stitch doesn’t….well…stretch), and voilá – a hemmed knit top. So what have you learned here?
Those are the immediate benefits, but there are benefits far more than that. There’s the self-esteem value that comes from this that increases not only one’s immediately self-esteem (Hey, look, I figured out how to do this), but also revisits that “high” every time you see it again…..”Hey, look, here’s this top I learned how to seam so that it looks pretty neat!” Here’s the kicker on this….even if you learn from a teacher or someone else a technique, it’s you performing it or using it for the first time that becomes a problem-solving process for you as well.
This whole dress was an experiment – usually called a muslin. The idea was to check out (i. e. problem solve) a number of issues I had with the dress.:
Adding a collar was another must as I really like collars on me better than jewel-necklines.
So after working with this pattern then cutting it out, sewing it together, I learned a lot about the fitting and the assembly. And it turned out so well, I wore it to class (that means other students were looking at it and trying to figure out if they liked it for them too. As a teacher it’s my job to inspire, present new challenges/ideas as well as teach techniques. But it’s hard to express the elation I had when I first put this on. It wasn’t hemmed, but I could see instantly that it was going to work and going to make the point of what an Apple or Rectangle figure can wear.
What I felt was:
And so on and so on….and one positive thing builds on the other. It’s the doing that’s the key here and what leads to all that positiveness running amok. And that’s why sewing and learning sewing is all about. It not only prevents and slows the aging of the brain, but it also increases the sewist’s self-esteem and actually gives a high that increases the desire to do more….to create more…to make more…to take on more challenges and increases one’s ability and desire to tackle more problem-solving challenges, which increases the self-esteem, which increases ability/desire to take on more challenges, and so forth.
This makes the act of taking this away from students in school almost criminal. OK, I can hear it now: but who wants to learn how to sew when you can go to the store and purchase anything you need for way less than the cost of a machine and fabric, and the time it takes is too much time for me to spend. That’s true right now, but part of the reason this is true is that the retail consumer is so poorly educated as to what is durable, sustainable and long-lasting clothing that most of the time. This really doesn’t address the self-esteem that can generate untold positive feelings from transforming one’s own visions into reality.
The real crime here is taking away the high and joy of accomplishment; taking away the control of one’s wardrobe and most of all the quashing of one’s creative desires. This not only transforms from the task of doing but of the many tasks of thinking, reasoning and resolving challenges.
It’s a big secret that we sewists know and love. We’re hooked and have no intention of seeking any sort of 12-step program for our addictions!
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