The Rebound Of Sewing
'Fess up. How long has it been since you yanked out the old Singer sewing machine and cranked out a pair of kitchen curtains or pieced together a Halloween costume for your kid? That long, eh? Then you probably don't know what's happening in sewing circles these days. Would you like to see?
But first, put the Singer back in its carrying case and hold on to it... It could be worth something. Then, "serge" on down to your local fabric store and check out the new machines. You won't believe your eyes. There's the LCD screen, embedded in the machine, activated by the touch of a finger and available in six languages. There are machines that run three, four, even five spools of thread at once, and offer 21 different stitches, nine types of needles, embroidery and monogram CDs and image editing. Then there's the accompanying computer monitor, which is wired to the Web, where you can download designs by simply clicking and saving.
That said, sewing in 2010 has held on to its roots with a tight French knot. Hand embroidery, tapestry, smocking, beadwork and applique are more popular than ever. And don't forget the star of the needle arts: quilting, which combines high-tech techniques, photographic transfer is one, with grandma's old-fashioned hoop stitches.
And if you are wondering what the heck I know about quilting, I am an expert on the subject. I had no choice, being that I was married to an avid quilter for over two decades!
The sewing industry suffered in the '70s and '80s as women entered the work force and were too busy to sew. Plus, ready-to-wear and designer labels were hot back then. But today, trends are different. People sew for relaxation and creative expression. They sew to create bonds with family and friends.
Kids and teens also are discovering the fruits of sewing: independence and confidence. (Why do you think the Girl Scouts offer a sewing badge?) And for their busy moms, both the Type A executive and the stay-at-homer, sewing relieves stress. A recent study proves what sewing enthusiasts already knew: Sewing is relaxing. Both skilled and novice sewers were hooked up to biofeedback machines and their blood pressure and heart rates dropped.
As a means of self-expression, sewing is cathartic, too. Each work is a personal triumph, whether it be a tiny doll's dress, three-piece designer suit or hand-painted jacket. Moving beyond fashion wear, today's textile artists are creating avant-garde wallhangings and quilts, which not only decorate bedrooms but hang in art galleries.
What's even more unusual about this pastime is that no one company has dibs on it. Sewing machine companies are headquartered around the world and include Bernina, Brother, Janome, Pfaff, Singer and Viking, among others. Via the Internet, thousands of sewers come together to exchange ideas and information; retailers and manufacturers contact, connect and sell to customers through company Web sites.
Home dec is in vogue, mainly due to the lower costs of fabrics and do-it-yourself construction. Window treatments, bedspreads, upholstery, pillows, nothing is out of reach of the home-decorating enthusiast.