It’s hard to track growth in the kid sewing market, because usually parents are the ones buying the machines. But Janet Sway, who runs the National Sewing Council says her members constantly tell her that sewing camps for 8 to 18-year-olds are very popular. She thinks sewing-related TV shows deserve a lot of the credit. The latest special from the Style Network, Confessions of a Fashionette stars a 12-year-old who, according to her website, had her first trunk show by age ten. When I ask the Craft and Hobby Association’s Acting Communications Director, Victor Domine, about market data on young sewers, he has to laugh. His organization doesn’t collect that kind of research, he tells me, but he will say that his wife just splurged on a full-tilt electronic sewing machine for their ten-year-old daughter. “I was going, ‘Honey, you spent two hundred dollars?!’” to which she replied, “It’s a lifelong gift.”
The computerization of today’s machines is another factor that’s turning sewing into something other than what it was, something younger, more exciting. Unlike knitting or embroidery, machine-sewing requires technology. When the hardware beeps error messages or the needle starts acting possessed, kids consult manuals and online tutorials as technical as any software guide, and they look to role-models in maker communities way beyond the traditional crafts.
I was given a sewing machine for my 13th birthday. I started out making copies of my Beanie Babies– I loved figuring out what 2D pieces made up the 3D form. Then I moved on to purses and bags and haven’t stopped sewing since!