Having been raised in an era when boys played sports and girls played house, I know there are far too many men who do not know how to sew. Even the simplest button replacement sends them to their wife, mother or closest alterations shop. Sewing is more than about buttons, though, and men will find they can save money and time, if they learn some basic sewing skills.
Gender molds have been broken somewhat for future generations. Record numbers of girls and women are playing sports and we are seeing more boys and men learning to sew. Gone are the days when men used tape or staples to hem their pants…at least they should be. Machines are affordable and many basic sewing lessons can be found on Youtube. There’s simply no excuse for anyone capable of holding a needle and thread to not learn to sew.
Rosey Grier made needlework cool
Rosey Grier played defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s. He was, and still is, a large, imposing man. When his NFL career ended he worked as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy and was guarding Ethel Kennedy on the day Robert Kennedy was killed. While he couldn’t prevent the assassination, he did wrestle the gun from Sirhan Sirhan. Nobody would call Rosey Grier weak. He is a man’s man. You can imagine the stir it caused in 1973 when Grier released his book, Rosey Grier’s Needlework for Men.
Grier isn’t the only tough guy to take up needlework for pleasure. Former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, Randy Grossman, is a whiz with knitting needles. He not only knits his own sweaters and travels to knitting shows with his wife, Grossman has held knitting classes for men.
Sewing and Needlecrafts aren’t just for he-men
Many men have learned that sewing can save them money and beyond that, it is an enjoyable and therapeutic way to spend time. You may not want to tailor a three piece suit, but having some basic sewing skills means your clothes don’t carry the added cost of expensive alterations.
You can also extend the life of a pair of pants or a shirt by learning to mend holes and tears. Even iron-on patches should be secured with some stitching and the first time you get stuck, you will regret having used a safety pin instead of sewing the button back on your waistband.
Sewing isn’t just about making and repairing clothing
Ask any boy scout and he’ll tell you there is more to sewing than making clothing. Tents are expensive and there is no reason to throw one away just because it has a few tears. With the high tech, thinner materials used in today’s tents, it doesn’t take a heavy duty machine to make repairs. Some repairs won’t require a sewing machine at all, but taking the time to stitch up smaller holes or tears will save you money.
What about your backpack? My daughter’s backpack this year got a hole near a pocket just four weeks into the school year. She carries almost 60 pounds of books and a backpack is the only way for a tiny dancer to carry that much weight without straining something. If you’re like me, you can’t replace a backpack each time there is a tear or hole. If your kids are rough on their school backpacks, or you want to extend the life of the pack you’re taking out camping, knowing how to mend them before the tear gets too big is essential.
Where to start?
So, you’re convinced you need to learn some sewing skills, or maybe you’d really like to learn to sew for enjoyment. You can find reviews of some basic machines here at Sewing Machine Lady and I will recommend a couple at the bottom of this blog post. If you are new to buying sewing machines, we posted earlier on tips for buying a sewing machine for beginners.
Basic sewing kit
- Sewing sheers – Invest in real sewing sheers. You won’t regret it.
- Small scissors for snipping threads
- Variety of thread colors for basic sewing
- Heavy duty threads for stitching buttons and mending heavy duty items
- Tape measure
- Needle variety pack
- Heavy duty needle variety pack
- Straight pins
- Safety pins
- A variety of buttons in basic colors
- Velcro – I use the stitch-on velcro because the iron-on never really seems to hold for me.
- Fray-check – This little liquid can save you a lot of trouble. It might not mend tears, but it can keep the fabric from fraying further around the area you mend.
Some of the items for heavy duty sewing I’ve listed above might not be necessary in every sewing kit, but they aren’t expensive and it is nice to have them on hand for the few times you find you need them.
Suitable Sewing Machines for Beginners
Brother CP-7500 Computerized Sewing and Quilting Machine
“Whether you are an experienced sewist looking to upgrade or a new sewist looking for a first machine, the Brother CP-7500, 70-stitch, computerized sewing machine with extension table has a wide array of features to meet your needs. Automatic needle threading, bobbin winding and buttonhole selection help make quick work of most basic sewing tasks for the novice and experienced sewist alike. Brother’s quiet dependability shines through in this sewing machine.”
Singer 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
“For a portable heavy duty sewing machine, the Singer 4411 packs a punch. At 1100 stitches per minute, this little powerhouse sews up to 60% faster than comparable machines. The heavy duty metal frame provides stability for this lightweight machine while the powerful motor sews through the toughest heavyweight materials.”