Fabric and sewing with a side of creativity.
Sewing is an ancient craft, with a rich history spanning thousands of years. The art dates back to the prehistoric era of mankind that existed about 25000 years back during the Paleolithic age. Archeological historians believe that even before the invention of weaving fabric and sewing yarn, the early cave man used to create primitive garments by sewing skin, hide, bark and fur, by using thread and a needle.
The primitive man used needles made out of antlers, ivory, and bone. The Native Americans also made use of needles made out of wood and the barks of the agave plant. The existence of the earliest form of iron needles for the purpose of sewing dates back to the third century and is said to have originated in Manching, Germany. Apart from this, the archeologists in China also claim to have found sets of thimbles and sewing needles, in the mausoleum of an official belonging to the Han dynasty, which existed from 202 BC to 220 AD.
The thimble is actually a sewing device that is worn on the fingers to protect from any injuries caused by pushing the needle through hard surfaces such as barks and animal skins. Initially, the thimbles were made out of wood, bark and bone and eventually graduated to materials like porcelain, glass, and leather. In the later years, the thimble also started being used as an ornament when people started making metal and precious stone-studded thimbles.
In its initial years, the sewing thread was made up of natural resources such as plant fibers, veins, catgut, and sinew. However, with growing experience, man realized that instead of using a single strand, he could actually spin together several strands of animal and plant fiber, to make a more tenacious sewing thread.
Research indicates that the Phoenicians along with the Egyptians made new innovations in threads by making use of natural dyes from berries, to impart various colors to their threads. It was a few centuries later that the silk thread originated in the Far East, from the cocoons of the silkworms.
Most of the sewing had been done by hand, until the early twentieth century, when a sewing machine was finally developed and patented in the year 1930 by Barthelemy Thimonnier, who was also a French tailor.
Ever since, the advent of new technology, the art of sewing has never looked back. Although the several new patents and innovations have contributed to creating a more mechanized sewing era, hand sewing still remains one of the most popular and creative artworks of all time.
The history of the cotton fabric has a rich heritage and dates back to centuries ago. Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber that is extensively processed to produce the cotton fabric. The fiber is used both in its purified form and in the form of cotton blends. The ubiquitous popularity of the cotton throughout the world can be attributed to its various advantages.
Controls sweating and moisture
Cotton fabric breathes far better than any other oil-based synthetics, and helps in the swift evaporation of sweat and moisture from the body. The absorptive quality of cotton helps soak sweat away from the skin, and provides an airy comfort to the wearer. The millions of pores in the weave of a cotton fabric, allow you to stay cool and comfortable even in the most humid of climates, by preventing the accumulation of moisture between the clothing and your skin.
Does not require maintenance
The cotton fiber is quite robust and highly tenacious. The strength of the cotton weave implies that the fabric is very low maintenance, and does not require extra care for washing or ironing. The durability of the fabric allows it to be used for years on end, without having to worry about its wear and tear.
Provides a layer of insulation
The best part about cotton is its characteristic to cool you up in the summers and provide warmth in winters. The reason for this is that the fibers in your cotton fabric, trap air between them, and provide an insulation layer for your body. This phenomenon keeps your skin cool in the summer months and generates heat when exposed to the cold weather. Furthermore, the fibers hold the fabric away from your skin and provide an additional layer of insulation.
Provides high comfort
The fiber of the cotton fabric is extremely soft and has a high elasticity, which implies that it can be stretched comfortably to fit different body sizes and shapes, as per their requirements. Due to the softness and comfort of the cotton fabric, it is often used in making undershirts and underwear.
Resistant to allergens
The hypoallergenic nature of the cotton fabric makes it one of the most effective fabrics for people who are susceptible to skin allergies. The fact that the cotton fiber does not irritate the skin or cause rashes or inflammation signifies that it is also utilized in making medical gauze and bandages. Cotton is also the most preferred fabric for sewing baby clothes.
Apart from the obvious comfort and durability of the cotton fabric, it is also the most preferred fabric for the purpose of bright color-dyeing.
So you want your kids to learn how to sew. It is more than a hobby and a legitimate life skill, and kids pick up new skills fast. If you are able to interest them and get their attention with it, it can become a lifelong passion. How early should you start, though? Many children are accident prone and may not be too careful with the tools and instruments used in sewing. Machines can also be quite dangerous if not handled properly.
When should they start?
There is no fixed answer to that question, nor are there any right or wrong ones. It depends on the child. Start when they begin asking you about sewing. Many children start really early, around 4. If they show a certain liking and have the required hand to eye skill, they can start at 4. Some children take time but are highly spirited. Between the age of 4 and 6 is an almost perfect time to introduce children to it. You may have to sit with them and teach them patiently or enroll them in a sewing class, but it is wise to not let them start and work all by themselves. Over time, we have found 8-year-old children becoming adept at sewing, confident enough to sew by themselves. The best guide is your child, if they show the right level of aptitude for it, they will eventually advance on their own.
What about the machine?
Kid-specific machines are available in the market, but for the most part, they are nothing more than glorified toys. It is better to steer your child toward working on a real machine as early as you think is appropriate. Make sure you have a detailed safety talk with them. Do not teach them any short cuts or safety bypasses. Adults take things for granted at times, so it is better to make sure children take it one step at a time, safety is the number one priority, always. If possible, get a foot pedal that is pressure sensitive like a car pedal, and teach them to always go slow. One of the tricks that often help is to teach them how to steer the cloth from a few inches away so that their fingers are never near the rapid needle.
Start slowly and watch how fast children pick up this skill.
Sewing is an ancient craft with an exceptionally rich heritage. Learning to sew your own clothes can be highly beneficial in many ways. It is more economical and also helps develop a sense of accomplishment and pride. We are listing a few advantages of tailoring your own clothes, to help you understand the importance of learning the skill.
It saves you money
Being able to mend and repair your expensive dresses, and also creating new ones yourself can save you a lot of unnecessary expenses. A fancy dress at the mall is sure to cost you much more than a similar version that you can sew yourself.
It makes you self sufficient and confident
When you are able to design and tailor your own clothes, you feel less dependent on the market and the artificial trends. Being able to create something new for yourself and others, gives a boost to your self-image.
It brings out your creative side
Once you decide to give up on going to the mall and buying clothes that someone else has designed, and create something personalized yourself, you actually give a healthy boost to the creativity in you. You would be surprised at your tremendous capabilities, once you actually plunge yourself into it.
It gives you freedom
When you decide to sew your own clothes, you open up a huge number of opportunities and possibilities to experiment with your style. You can make a variety of choices regarding the fabric, the fit and even the style of your outfit. You can tailor the fit in a way that it flatters your body shape and even accentuates it. There is a plethora of colors and types of fabrics available in the market today. You have the complete freedom to customize your outfit as per your sense of style, right from the cut to the length of its sleeves and even the embellishments.
It makes you stand out in a crowd
Wearing self-tailored outfits can ensure that you never see another individual wearing anything similar to yours. Since you have customized your clothing as per your personal style statement, it is sure to be a unique creation amidst a sea of look-alikes.
For sewing your own clothes, you need to be good at the craft. You may take up sewing classes to learn the skill, and gradually become an expert in it. After all, learning something new stimulates your brain, boosts your confidence and gives you a reason to look forward to the new day with thrill and enthusiasm.
Sewing is one of the most personal, relaxing hobbies one could have. Imagine spending time crocheting, making patchwork quilts, or knitting sweaters. This will leave most women feeling good about themselves by the end of the day. Sewing does that to you.
More young professionals are taking up sewing as a hobby to beat the stress from their strenuous daily jobs. Medical professionals are also supportive of the idea that sewing can have therapeutic effects on people. Many people are passionate about their sewing hobbies and this is mostly because of the benefits the hobby has to offer.
What are the mental benefits of sewing?
If you sew regularly, you would have probably already noticed that sewing is one of the most calming activities. You do not need company and you can do the stitching by yourself. Some doctors have referred to embroidery as logic relaxation. The term came to be after they noticed that forming patterns and following them requires the practice of some logic.
Instead of sitting idle while you take your daily subway to work, you could try cross-stitching. It keeps your brain engaged while you develop and create patterns. Sewing is a self-induced state of focus and it is known to improve hand-eye coordination as well as concentration. An involving hobby like sewing is also known to light up your right hemisphere, which is where your creativity lies.
Your jobs can be very stressful with the ever-rising responsibilities and constantly looming deadlines. And stress will only eat away at your peace of mind. When you want some time off from your daily stress, grab your tailoring kit and sit yourself in a comfortable corner and get at it. This hobby is a perfect fit for what is called 'mindfulness'. It makes you very present in what you are doing, keeping you aware of your activity as well as your surroundings.
What are the physical benefits of sewing?
Sewing, as a hobby, does not necessarily require a lot of physical involvement, unless you use a sewing machine. Since it involves you mostly remaining seated, you do not get a lot of exercise from sewing. However, studies have shown that sewing decreases your blood pressure, making you more calm and relaxed. There is also a dip in heart rate and perspiration rate.
Sewing is indeed highly relaxing and is suitable of anybody of any age. So, pick up a needle and some thread and indulge in this stress-free hobby to help blow off some steam.
Embroidered garments are such beautiful pieces of art. And just like art work, they need special care. The embroidery on such fabrics is delicate and fragile so you should treat them with great care. If you are careless with these garments, the embroidery can fray, tear, or come apart, destroying the appeal of the garment entirely.
When you are handling these garments, you should keep your hands clear of oils and dirt so you do not stain the clothes. You must also protect your clothes from accidental spills, dirt, food items and more.
Washing care instructions
-Here are some washing care instructions for your embroidered garments that you could follow to help preserve them for longer durations.
-Always make sure your embroidered clothing is washed with a mild detergent. Strong soaps can be harsh and cause the stitching to become weak and damaged.
-If you are washing the fabric in the washing machine, ensure that the water is cold. Hot water can loosen the fabric and cause the stitching to come undone.
-Set the wash cycle in the machine to Delicate. It is important that these garments are not subjected to heavy-duty washing.
-If it is required for you to use bleach in your washing, use a small amount of chlorine bleach. You can also use non-chlorine bleach if needed. Make sure to follow the product instructions carefully.
-Before you wash your embroidered garment, rinse it first in lukewarm water to check for color residue. Rinse with cold water several times after until the water is clear.
-Remove the garments immediately after wash and hang them out to dry. Never leave your embroidered garments soaking in water. Do not leave them in a pile when they are wet either.
-No matter how wet your garment is, remember to never wring out the clothing.
If you embroidery is stained, do not rub the cloth. The colors can spread and ruin your garment.
-If needed, your embroidery garments can also be dry cleaned. Make sure you give your clothing to a dry cleaner that is reliable and knows how to handle delicate garments.
-Once you are done with washing your garments, take extreme care while ironing them. Always iron the garments on the reverse side or between two pieces of cloth.
Learn about the fabric of the garment as well as the embroidery. This will help you understand if you need to follow specific instructions regarding their care. Follow these simple instructions to help maintain your embroidered garments for much longer.
“Sewing mends the soul”, is a popular quotation, bringing to the forefront, the significant role that the thread and needle plays in our life. Seven year olds to ninety seven year olds can benefit from this simple but pleasurable activity.
From improving hand eye coordination to making a person mentally and physically alert, sewing has a lot to offer. It not only instills a sense of achievement in people, but it improves social life. The collaborative effect of sewing classes, induces new qualities like communication skills, appreciation and respect for your peers. It enables growth and self-development in a non-competitive environment.
While the motor-skills of children improves enormously through this activity, teenagers learn patience, perseverance and problem solving skills. On the other hand, it keeps loneliness at bay in the case of senior citizens, keeping them happy and mentally alert.
According to clinical neuropsychologist, Catherine Carey Levisay, creation through any activity, be it art, cooking or knitting plays an important role in improving our well -being.
Helping those with mental challenges
Sewing plays a vital role in helping people suffering from anxiety, depression and other disorders. The innate concentration required for the art of sewing instills a sense of focus in an individual. It acts as a de-stressor, replacing negative thinking with a sense of positivity.
People get so engrossed in the flow of the knitting process that their extrinsic worries don’t seem to matter. At a Ted talk in 2004, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi opened that by completely engrossing oneself in an activity, people spend that period of their life better than other times. He also said that people get so involved with the activity that they lose track of time and feel a sense of achievement.
Apart from enabling the generation of the happy hormone, dopamine, the community effect of sewing classes can help keep dementia at bay. Working wonders on one’s memory and attention span, sewing in a collaborative environment not only improves visual and spatial processing but also creates a friendly atmosphere as well as a sense of well-being among people.
Owing to the positive impact of sewing, sewing studios are slowly cropping up in cities. Author and sewing educator, Mary McCarthy has said that when she is in her sewing studio, her mind is free from worries and external influences. All her stress disappears as she begins stitching.
So, next time as you tick-off your to-do list, plan a trip to your nearest sewing studio. It might prove to be as relaxing as meditation.
If you’re planning to take up sewing classes to learn how to sew, owning a sewing machine can go a long way in help you learn quickly and efficiently. And with this in mind, when you are out in the market looking for one, you are bound to get confused with the innumerable brands, models, features and price range available. To make the sewing machine buying process less daunting, here are some useful tips that you can follow.
Know your sewing needs
Determine the purpose for which you need a sewing machine. Do you need one for home use or business use? What kind of fabric would you generally stitch: dresses, quilts, upholstery, or craftwork? The sewing machine that you would need for stitching dresses is different from the one needed for quilts, which is why this is a very important consideration. A basic sewing machine would be sufficient for most of the needs.
Consider the machine’s features
Based on what you would be sewing, decide what features you would need in a sewing machine. For instance, if you do embroidering often, you would need a sewing machine that comes with an embroidering feature. Otherwise, you can opt for a basic one. Similarly, there are many more advanced features that today’s modern sewing machines come with. Depending on your needs, choose the one that would be useful for you rather than wasting money on features that you wouldn’t be using.
Test stitch on the machine
Before deciding on the purchase, sit and stitch a sample on the machine. Assess it based on aspects like how smoothly it runs, how much noise it makes, how well the fabric gets weaved, how easy the buttonhole is, the quality of the stitch, and the amount of control the feed dogs have. This can help you evaluate different machines better based on your priorities.
Decide your budget
Decide what your budget is beforehand and start looking for sewing machines that fall within that range rather than simply wasting your time looking at high-end machines that you can’t afford to buy. Also, remember that good quality sewing machines aren’t available for cheap prices and decide your budget based on that.
There’s no easy solution to find out which sewing machine is the best option for you, but with these tips you can definitely narrow down your choices and make the selection process easier to find one that can give you several years of sewing fun.
A creative outlet
Sewing can serve as a creative outlet. Imagine you have a significant event coming up, like a wedding or a party? Wouldn’t you want to stand out from the others; at least as far as your dressing is concerned? Well, sewing can let you do that.
Instead of buying the same old clothes off the rack, you can up your style and creative quotient by making your own clothes.
To put it simply, sewing allows you to set the trends, not follow them.
Cut down on expenses
It is real easy to spend way too much money these days. If a pair of jeans do not fit right, they either throw it away and get a new one or give it to one of those expensive tailors to have it fixed. On the other hand, acquiring the skill of sewing can help you cut down on all that unnecessary spending.
If you have fitting issues, just use your own sewing skills to get it fixed. Did a button just come off? No problem. Just stitch it back on like a professional tailor.
Plus, you will never have to worry about ill-fitting clothes again. Also, your knowledge of the craft is bound to improve and you will start to appreciate well stitched clothes. To put it simply, you might turn into a fashion connoisseur of sorts.
Clothes are made in factories these days and that may be good in terms of meeting demand and shortening turnaround time. However, we all know what factories of any kind can do to the environment. Armed with the right sewing skills, you can do Mother Nature a favor by stitching your own clothes.
You can source materials from green manufacturers and use environment friendly dies. On the whole, you will make a positive impact on your own life as well as on our planet.
Sewing isn’t just about being practical. It’s also about having some fun. Believe it or not, sewing can actually improve your social life. For example, you can get your friends to join you for a sewing project or sewing class. That way, you’ll have fun and even teach your friends a valuable and useful skill.
It may be considered old school and even outdated, but knowing how to stitch with your hands is a valuable skill. It is easier to sew buttons on a shirt, fix torn hemlines, and repair small tears in clothes through hand stitching than take out a huge machine for such minor tasks. As a beginner, you need to familiarize yourself with a few basic hand stitches.
Running stitch: This is the foundation and most basic stitch of all hand stitches. It is mainly used to join two pieces of fabric. The advantage of such a stitch is it looks the same on both sides of the fabric and can be sewn on any side. When you do it right, you get a series of evenly spaced lines of thread holding the fabric together.
Back stitch: The running stitch may not be strong enough to sew tough fabrics and accessories such as denim and zippers. For these, you need the stronger and more flexible back stitch. It is similar to a running stitch, but with a slight variation where one side will have a running stitch and the other will consist of a series of overlapping stitches. The back stitch can be used to repair clothes that are badly torn or seams that have come undone.
Slip stitch: Covering up seams to give the fabric a neat finish is the work of a slip stitch. Items such as pillows, stuffed toys, necklines, and hemlines make use of the slip stitch to produce an almost invisible stitch line. The stitch works from the inside and makes the outside more appealing without leaving traces of the thread. Given that it is meant to be invisible the thread you use should match the fabric being sewn. It is a very important and useful stitch to know but is also quite difficult to master.
Whip stitch: The less-complicated sister of the slip stitch, the whip stitch is used to fix fabrics that are open at the seams. Unlike the slip stitch, it is visible on the fabric and sturdier. Apart from fixing clothes, it can be used to create designs and contrasts at the edge of fabrics.
Basting stitch: The basting stitch is a placeholder stitch used to hold two pieces of fabric together until they can be sewn permanently. It looks like a wider running stitch and is made with a thread color different from the fabric.