When I started teaching middle school six years ago, I had an idea. I wanted to teach my students how to sew. There was only one problem: I didn’t know how to sew myself.
I started watching how-to videos, and soon I was able to thread a needle, do basic hand stitches, sew on buttons, and even use a sewing machine. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I knew that if I could learn how to sew, then so could my students.
Each year, I give my students the opportunity to sew a teddy bear, and it’s honestly been one of the most rewarding lessons I do with them. They love sewing in school and look forward to it all year.
It might seem like a big statement to say teddy bears bring seventh graders together, but it’s absolutely the case at my school. Here are all the ways sewing in school has benefitted my students.
1. It promotes a lifelong skill.
Think about it. We all have a time where we need something stitched up or a button sewn back on. Being able to sew equips students with a lifetime skill that they will be glad to have.
2. It’s a great stress reliever.
We live in such a fast-paced world, and we all need those down moments. While sewing, your mind is completely involved in your project and your concentration is focused on your stitches, clearing your mind from any stress.
3. It will save them money one day.
Being able to sew means saving money. Rather than buying more clothes, students can replace their lost button or sew that seam that ripped open. And they’ll be proud that they did it on their own.
4. It helps debunk gender stereotypes.
Surprisingly, I think my seventh grade boys get most excited about sewing in school. They, and all my students, learn that sewing is a skill that is useful for any gender. Anyone can learn how to do it and be good at it.
5. It teaches resourcefulness.
Being able to sew teaches students that they can make their own clothing to fit their figure and style better. Also, they learn that they can use materials right at home to sew a homemade gift.
6. It grows confidence.
Completing a sewing project from start to finish fosters a sense of accomplishment, which helps boost self-confidence.
7. It encourages creativity.
Learning to sew increases students’ ability to draw on their creativity. Students are able to express their creative side by designing a sewing project of their choice.
8. It builds patience and perseverance.
When they first pick up a needle and thread, my students always run into obstacles. But despite difficulties, they have to stay patient and work through those challenges. In the end, it’s worth it when they see what they accomplished.
9. It develops problem-solving skills.
Beginners at sewing are bound to make mistakes. While I’m always available to answer questions, I’ve found that sewing promotes independent problem-solving. Students learn to look at a stitch gone awry or a misplaced pattern and determine the path forward.
Far from being a relic of gendered home ec classes of the past, sewing does have a place in our schools and in every student’s skill set today.