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Sew young

More young people are taking interest in a handy pastime

More young people are taking interest in a handy pastime

May 25, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Sewing started off as something her mother did, explained 15-year-old Lauren Bowis, who lives in Gerrardstown, W.Va. But now it's something Lauren wants to learn.

"It's fun. I like it a lot," said Lauren, as she fed black and pink fabric through a sewing machine during a recent sewing class north of Hagerstown, where she and several other teens and tweens were making pajamas.

Lauren is in good company. Industry experts say there are more young people exploring interests in homemade clothes and accessories - going against the perception that sewing and knitting are joys shared only among grandmothers.

"It's really the reason for the growth in the sewing industry," said Randy Herbertson, founder of Seesaw, the marketing arm for SVP Worldwide, which makes Singer, Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff sewing machines.

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Roughly two-thirds of the estimated 10 million novice sewers in the U.S. are in the 18 to 35 age range, Herbertson said.

The trend also is being felt locally.

"In the last six months, we've had younger generations coming in - anywhere from 14 to 26, and a lot of women in their 20s and 30s coming out of the blue," said Marshall Martin, owner of Wilson's Your Favorite Quilt Shop, where Lauren attended sewing class.

Martin said many of his classes now have waiting lists.

Susan Wolcott, owner of Y2Knit, a yarn and knitting shop in Funks-town, said she's seen a shift in her clientele.

"We actually have seen more young mothers who come in and knit and make their own clothes," Wolcott said. Y2Knit also offers instructional classes.

The motivation isn't necessarily to save money.

"I think their interest isn't, 'Oh, I want to make my own clothes,' when they can just go to Marshalls and get them for cheap," Wolcott said.

The fun is in the process, said Rebecca Crouse, a 27-year-old accountant from Martinsburg, W.Va., as she put the finishing touches on a quilt at Wilson's - her first sewing project ever.

"You generally think of it as an old person's hobby, but it's fun," Crouse said. "It's relaxing."

Crouse attended the class with friend and fellow accountant Jordan Pearson, 25, of Keedysville, who brought along her sister, Ashley Pearson, 23, and mother, Nancy Pearson, 58, who both live in Keedysville.

"I've fixed up the sewing room at the house," Nancy Pearson said. "We'll definitely be doing more sewing at home."

Marcey Jastrab, 37, of Keedysville, already is doing more than her share of sewing at home.

She has created an entire business from making clothes for children.

Jastrab - who said she's been sewing for most of her life - created The Blue Lady Bug (www.blueladybug.com) children's clothing business, shortly after she had her daughter Hadyn Reeves, now 8.

Her children's, costume-style playwear ranges from $20 to $50. Ready-to-wear clothes start at $50, Jastrab said. She swaps ideas with other home sewers at www.sewingmamas.com, a site for mothers who like to sew.

Jastrab said saving money isn't the reason she chooses to sew clothes for her husband, Scott Reeves, and Hadyn.

"I think my favorite moments are when she and I design something together and she dances around in it all day, and she's happy," said Jastrab, who home-schools Hadyn. "She says it has lots of 'Mommy love.'"

"I hope that from her own experience she'll learn how to do this for herself," Jastrab said.

Hadyn might be on her way. She's already made a tooth-fairy pillow and has sewn several dolls by hand, which she hopes to sell on her mother's Web site.

"I can't wait to sell one," Hadyn said.

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