Hand Sewing

Sewing Kits Are Big Again

Mary Cassatt Young Woman Sewing in a GardenMy favorite gift I received as a kid was a sewing kit. My mom gave it to me when I must have been in about fourth or fifth grade. She had found a metal box with a hinged lid and carrying handles that flip down to the sides so you can pull open the lid. She painted it green and added decals of folk art children herding sheep and playing a lute. It was a box for collecting in one place the various needles and threads and other bits and bobs I’d begun accumulating as I began sewing and a place to add new tools as my skills grew.

I’ve moved home lots of times since then and the kit has followed me from home to home. It’s always placed somewhere close to hand on a desk or shelf, unassuming but always there when I reach for it. I always know where that kit is. It shows some wear now. It has some dents, and the paint and the decals are chipped. As it sits today on the shelf next to my desk, it contains a collection of sewing items that don’t fit neatly into my larger organizing scheme, such as it is, but that are really useful when I’ve needed them: an assortment of safety pins, iron-on patches, and labels with the names of my own now grown children that I once kept handy for sewing into their day school uniforms.

Sewing kits changed a bit for a while, sometimes shrinking to the size of a matchbox with a few threads in key neutral colors, a needle and threader, and tiny pair of scissors made to work not many more times than once . For a while there, they seemed to be a typical handout from airlines, a useful collection of the bare basics for making emergency sewing repairs while travelling.

Sewing Kits Are Back

Well, sewing kits are back. Real sewing kits. Good size baskets with fabric covered sides and wicker handles. Plastic boxes with lots of useful little compartments. Travel sewing kits that are large enough to include a measuring tape, a wide selection of thread colors, and practical-size scissors, all in sleek zippered pouches that tuck easily into luggage.

The growing popularity of sewing as a hobby is undoubtedly behind the initial resurgence of sewing kits. But practicality must be playing a role now too. It’s just a good time to mend clothes rather than discard them. A few simple sewing skills like replacing a button or repairing a fallen hem can return a piece of clothing to good use.

Even folks who have never sewn before can find YouTube tutorials showing how to replace a button and making a row of simple stitches. All they need is to have the tools close to hand.

The last time the economy took a big hit, about ten years ago, I was working in a large fabric store. When the fall gift buying season kicked in the sewing kits we had in stock sold out quickly. Even this big, regional fabric store that was used to predicting sewing trends was taken off guard by the high demand for gift sewing kits. So we helped customers pick out individual items to put together into gift kits.

I remember especially the father who came in to buy sewing kits for his two sons who had gone off to college. He wanted them to be able to replace buttons on their shirts.

This was originally going to be a post with recommendations of items to include in a gift sewing kit. But there are so many great kits available now that I thought I’d highlight some of those instead. These kits have collections of right-sized tools and efficient collections of threads that cost less than collecting all the items separately.

Online Sewing Kits

Sewing kits are great items to buy from your local fabric shop to give them your support. If your local fabric store doesn’t have sewing kits in stock, there are online options that are easy to order. As I researched the kits online, I found that a lot of kits on sites like JoAnn and Michaels were sold out. I guess they really are getting popular. Here are some options that as of my writing this post are available at Amazon (these are affiliate links):

Singer 07281 Vintage Sewing Basket

Dependable Singer with a vintage look

The same basket in pink and black:

Evergreen Art Supply Sewing Kit

A small, sleek zippered pouch with the essentials

Coquimbo Sewing Kit

Especially compact

[Image: Young Woman Sewing in a Garden by Mary Cassatt, Wikimedia Commons]