Sewing is everywhere

A nice article about the new popularity of sewing originally published in the Baltimore Sun last week—

Younger hands taking up needle and thread
by John Tanasychuk

Until four years ago, Kerry Szymanski had never spent a minute at a sewing machine.

But in 2002 she decided the best way to meet people was to take a class. "I started taking sewing lessons," said Szymanski, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., "and fell in love with it."

So much so that she now owns Sassy BB, where her MBA and marketing background meet her newfound sewing skills. Along with sewing the purses that her customers design, Szymanski, 37, gives lessons to a generation of women - and men - discovering the joys of bobbins and seam allowances.

Blame Project Runway, the hit Bravo reality show that airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays. It has done for sewing what Sex and the City did for ... well ... single women living in Manhattan. Project Runway turns cutting, draping and transforming fabric behind a Consew industrial sewing machine into high drama.

Other signs that sewing is everywhere:

• In Style magazine recently showed readers how to transform last season's styles into this season's. (Prairie skirt to bubble skirt, anyone?) Real Simple magazine featured a four-page spread on sewing basics.

• New how-to books make sewing sound hip. Consider Sew Subversive (Taunton, $14.95), which teaches you how to turn a T-shirt into a tote bag, or In Stitches (Chronicle, $24.95), which includes instructions for a fabric tunnel for your cat.

• Teen and tween sewers are led by Emily Osment, the 14-year-old actress who plays Lilly on Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, who specializes in halter tops.

• Those ubiquitous home-decorating shows might not show the Singers, but the new pillows didn't get done without a sewing machine. Call it aspirational sewing.

Todays' sewers are motivated more by fashion and individuality, and less by practicality and economy.

The national Home Sewing Association reports today's 35 million sewing enthusiasts are "embellishing" and "adapting."

"It's not like we're making clothes from scratch," said Allison Whitlock, the thirtysomething host of Uncommon Threads, a daily show on DIY Network. "What girls and guys are doing is going to vintage stores and buying that shirt where the collar is a little too big or the fit isn't quite right. And then we're reconstructing them and adding our own flair to them, updating the style."

At Calico Corners home fabric store in Boca Raton, Fla., the average customer age gets younger every year.

"I think it's because of the exposure and interest generated by HGTV and the Internet," said Claudette Bublak, a Calico Corners employee for 33 years.

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