Sewing can make you rich and famous, if you're talented enough — just look at designers Anna Sui and Donna Karan. It's mostly the "rich"...
Sewing can make you rich and famous, if you’re talented enough — just look at designers Anna Sui and Donna Karan. It’s mostly the “rich” part that 10-year-old Olivia Viola is thinking about when she announces that her friend said he’d pay her $10 if she fixed his shirt. That same friend also offered her $50 to make a stuffed animal, Olivia volunteers.
She pauses, hovering over a piece of animal-print cloth that she’ll soon transform into a pillow. “I want that $50.”
Olivia is at G Street Fabrics in Falls Church, Va., enrolled in Getting Started Teen I sewing, learning the basics. Such as backstitching, which you need to do to make sure the seams stay together, and the importance of pressing and ironing the fabric before you cut to make sure the measurements are just so. She learns about cutting cloth (keep it flat on the table and gently slide scissors underneath) and pinning patterns. And the grown-ups in the store are learning, in the company of two 10-year-olds and two 12-year-olds, that sewing has become … hip?
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Industry insiders attribute sewing’s surge in popularity among young people to a number of factors. There’s the whole DIY (do it yourself) movement, for one. There are hot television shows such as “Project Runway,” and technological advances to sewing machines that make it easy for kids (and stitch-shy adults) to be creative.
Whatever the reason, youngsters are increasingly putting their foot to the sewing-machine pedal. Margo Martin, executive director of the Houston-based American Sewing Guild, said new chapters for young sewers are being added across the country; last year the trade magazine Sew News spun off a biannual publication aimed at teenagers called Sew Simple.
Of course, sewing isn’t always simple, as the girls learn in class. Olivia has grand plans to make a dress for her mother. A chiffon dress, to be exact, with lots of sparkles. But shiny fabric is tricky — and it’s out of her league, she’s told. Olivia looks momentarily crushed but quickly rebounds. For now, there is a pillow to be sewn — and, perhaps, a profit to be made.