Teaching Kids to Sew

Home & Family, Traditions
on February 20, 2005

Learning to sew helps children become creative thinkers, according to findings from a clinical study completed by the not-for-profit Home Sewing Association (HSA) in the late-1990s.

The study revealed that children ages 8 to 12 showed elevated creativity after sewing a simple project. Children who sew during these critical years of development show increased creativity and self-esteem and appear to build skills in creative problem solving and perseverance.

“In our family we all had to be able to sew a little bit,” recalls Tim Verner, 51, of Atlanta. “I can remember my grandfather making and sewing gun holsters out of old leather coats. He was definitely someone who could solve just about anything. I would think any skill that requires small details would help you divide problems into smaller pieces.”

Sewing’s multitude of choices—color selection, fabric options, design and proportion—help stimulate creative thinking skills. Completing a project fosters a sense of accomplishment. Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills develop through the use of the hands, and exercises in following directions along with problem solving skills are all added benefits of sewing experiences for children.

But the positive benefits that result from learning to sew do not necessarily hold true for some other well-known kids’ activities. According to Sewing Prose, a website with sewing lessons for kids (www.sewingprose.com), a study compared children engaged in various recreational activities: sewing, painting, watching television and playing video games. A test for creativity was given before and after recreation, and the two scores were compared. Tests showed that children with sewing and painting as their recreational activity scored higher than children absorbed with television and video games.

Sheila Randolph, a professor at Pima College in Tucson, Ariz., once ran a sewing school called Stitcher Studio, where—among other things—she taught summer sewing lessons for kids age 9 and up. She noticed an additional benefit to kids who learn to sew.

“Many of the kids I taught in the summers were troubled,” says Randolph. “After several sessions, I noticed their behavior problems were almost gone. I think the girls found something at which they could excel, and there was a sense of completion and pride.”

For more information about the Home Sewing Association, log on to www.sewing.org.

One lesson appears very clear: Provide your child with the tools for lifelong success by teaching her or him to sew.