Stitching, in most Indian households, was a part of the tradition handed down from grandmothers, mothers and other female elders in the family. A home-stitched craft used to be a prized possession for most kids, who tried to emulate the elders and created items of their own.
Consider Savita Gupta from Madhya Pradesh, for instance. Sharing her memories with Express Parenting, Gupta, who is now 50-years-old, recalled, “I was introduced to the art of stitching at home around the age of 11-12 by my grandmother and aunt. I gradually developed an interest on my own, later pursuing it as my career.”
With most children consumed by the latest technological wonders, not many have time to invest in the pleasure of sewing. And yet, it is an important skill that children need to inculcate. Express Parenting got in touch with some experts to find out why children should be introduced to the art of sewing.
When your child is handed threads and needle, he or she is exposed to a world of creative possibilities. Encouraging your child to embroider on a piece of cloth can boost creativity. “Sewing entails creativity, which improves the brain’s ability to grow new brain cells,” explained designer Reynu Taandon. The child can be encouraged to create new designs and patterns through sewing, which, in turn, will improve his or her power of imagination, added Asha Gautam, fashion designer.
Develops motor skills
Like every other form of art, it is only with practice that one develops precision in stitching. The act requires proper hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity to aim the needle and the thread’s desired positioning. This practice helps the child work on his or her motor skills. “Manual stitching lets the hands manipulate the needle and thread to gain an understanding of the thread going up and down and securing itself to the fabric,” explained Gautam.
Builds confidence, improves concentration
Gupta, who runs her venture Sheena Boutiques, pointed out how sewing can be beneficial in improving concentration levels in children, especially in the age of ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). “One of the skills that sewing requires is concentration. Children nowadays tend to be very distracted and sewing can help them improve their focus,” explained Gupta. Improved levels of concentration would also give way to an increased work capacity and better performance in academics, sports or any other activity the child takes interest in.
Moreover, the act of creating something with his or her own hands can help the child gain confidence, while reducing dependence on others, added Gupta. The child will begin to believe in his or her own abilities and try to hone them.
And Taandon agreed. “Learning the art of sewing can help one to be focused, find and build their self-confidence…It enhances one’s capability to learn copious amounts of patience,” she added.
With creative skills and growing confidence, the child would gradually learn to be less dependent on parents or family members every time he or she is assigned a project in school. One does not become self-reliant overnight. One learns to become independent gradually, which then influences his or her decision-making abilities too.
Some children might pursue sewing as a career opportunity to become a designer in future. Even if they don’t, one must note that stitching is an important life skill. One need not run to the tailor or elders in the family for every little piece of cloth he or she might need to sew. For instance, you can learn to sew a button or alter clothes at home or even if you are visiting the tailor, your knowledge about the art will help you guide him better. “By learning to sew, you get to make something useful and you can make tons of one-of-a-kind accessories, tote bags, scarves, home decor, garments, quilting, crafts, upcycling, among others,” Gautam added.
What are the basic stitches that children need to learn?
Your child need not be an expert in stitching. But these are some basic forms of stitches that may help him or her in future too.
This is the simplest form of sewing which consists of a line of small even stitches that run through the cloth without overlapping.
This form of stitch gives a finishing touch to the garment whereby the edge of a piece of cloth is folded narrowly and sewn to prevent unravelling of the fabric.
This form of overlapping stitch is made by starting the following stitch at the middle or beginning of the preceding one.
This is a closely worked looped stitch for making a reinforced edge, as around a buttonhole.
How can you make sewing fun for children?
Forced learning is never the solution. To ensure your child learns sewing, he or she has to develop an interest in the art. So, how can parents introduce children to sewing?
Asha Gautam suggested, “Ask kids to volunteer in your sewing project. Make it a fun exercise for them by using colourful embroidery thread and some Styrofoam plates, which are easy to poke through. Encourage them to make different shapes or tell a story through their stitched piece.”
Taandon added, “Once you have given them threads, let them play and stitch with different colours. Then they need to work on one motif or shape in one. They would definitely find it interesting.”