Eva Sophia Shimanski, 10, picked out the perfect thing to wear on the plane for her family’s trip to Colorado last week: the dress she had just made at sewing camp. “It’s really comfortable,” she said.
Eva Sophia is one of many kids who have recently discovered the old art of sewing. Camps and community centers are offering more sewing classes for kids, as are fabric stores, individual crafters and some schools.
“I think it makes me happy because I’m using my hands,” Eva Sophia said. “I’m not just saying, ‘I want this and will you make it for me or buy it for me.’ ”
Up until about 40 years ago, sewing was a necessity: If you wanted something specific or special, you often had to make it yourself.
But starting around 1970, more women began working in jobs outside the home and had less time to sew. Stores began selling all the things people once made themselves, which meant even fewer people learned to sew.
“A generation was skipped over,” said Laura Kelly, founder of the Handwork Studio of Narberth, Pennsylvania, which runs sewing and needle-arts classes for kids (mostly girls, especially after third grade). It operates the sewing camp Eva Sophia attended at Sidwell Friends School. The camp expanded this summer to 12 week-long sessions, up from six sessions last summer.
“A lot of these moms would love to knit and love to sew, but they don’t have time,” Kelly said. “They’re making it possible for their kids.”
Television shows such as “Project Runway” have helped kids get excited about creating original designs. And sewing is “very powerful in terms of a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem,” said Judy Raymond, who works for the company that makes Simplicity patterns. People often use patterns when making clothes or crafts so they know how to cut the fabric pieces and assemble them.
It may sound strange, but sewing experts say even technology is making kids more crafty, because they love to post videos and pictures of their creations online to share with friends. Kids also enjoy the way fabric looks and feels after spending so much time with computers and keyboards, said Michael Greenzaid of G Street Fabrics, a local fabric chain that offers kids classes and birthday parties at its stores in Rockville and Falls Church.
“Sewing brings it back to the softer arts,” he said. “They think it’s very cool to make your own pajama pants.”