Sewing Teaches Kids Green Principles

January 26, 2011 View all articles in Family


If you're having trouble teaching your kids the concept of sustainability, that old sewing machine collecting dust in your attic could just be the solution. Personal sewing may seem like an outdated practice perpetuated solely by grandmothers and home economics teachers, but the Home Sewing Association reports an estimated increase of 5 million new sewers since 2000.

Proving that in the current economic and global climates, being capable of making your own anything is considered both a frugal and environmentally responsible skill. So it isn't surprising to learn, therefore, that sewing classes and clubs are growing in popularity and among a broad demographic, according to But how could sewing possibly encourage your child's understanding of sustainability?

Beginner sewing classes are a great opportunity for kids to learn about self-reliance, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fashion independence. All that's needed in order for a sewing class to offer all that and a lesson in sustainability is used, vintage, or just plain old materials. Look in your linen closet for old bed sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, cloth napkins, and curtains. And don't forget to look through those boxes in the garage labeled “old clothes.” If you really can't find any reusable materials at home for your kids to take to class, there are lots to be found in thrift stores. In an interview with Mother Nature Network, Betz White, designer and author of Sewing Green , says, “ The volume in one thrift store, in one town, on one day — it [is] an endless source of material.”

Once your kids know the fundamentals of sewing and repurposing, there are lots of ways they can makeover their hand-me-down or thrift store wardrobes. White says, “ Today's DIY movement is based on some of the same principles of ‘waste not want not,' but it is also a result of wanting to own things that are unique . . . Now, homemade is becoming a source of pride.” Your kids can express their individual styles by simply sewing new buttons onto jackets or shirts, turning long-sleeve shirts into short-sleeved ones, making long pants into shorts, or turning old pairs of jeans into skirts. Re-creations don't have to be limited to clothing, either: tote bags, blankets, pencil cases, book covers, and much more can easily be made out of old or used materials.

In no time at all, your kids will discover just how sustainable sewing can be and it will lead them to seek out additional ways in which they can reduce, reuse, and recycle.


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