Sew,Papa,Sew!: Thoughts on Fatherhood, Sewing + Gender Expectations

on June 11 | in Interviews + Profiles, Sewing With Kids | by | with 87 Comments

From Kristin: When Sew,Mama,Sew! was born, I was the owner of a small line of children’s clothes called Go,Goose,Go! My daughter (Goose) was just a toddler then and would sit beside me while I sewed dozens of pairs of pants at a time. She would chant something along the lines of “go, sew, mama, goose, go, mama, sew!” while my sewing machine purred. When it came time to open the spin-off fabric store, the name came quickly.

Part of me loves the name and I’m proud of the implication– “I’m a mother and I sew for my family.” I also love the connection to our female ancestors through this craft that was, for centuries, the work of women.

Still, there have been times when I’ve had regrets about the exclusionary nature of the “mama” in the name. I’ve always been an advocate and activist for fair and equal rights of all people in all areas of life. I think boys have as much a place at the sewing machine as girls do and have tried to encourage our readers to teach all their children to sew. Yet the reality is that a very, very small fraction of our customers and readers are male. In the past few years we’ve welcomed a handful of wonderfully talented sewing and quilting men to our blog, but still, they are few and far between.

Today we’re very happy to bring to you a new series called, Sew,Papa,Sew! At Quilt Market last month, Thomas Knauer approached me about his ideas for the series, which I loved. By speaking honestly and openly, we hope to invite discussion about gender and sewing and what our expectations and perceptions are in the sewing community as well as in our homes.

Find more from Thomas at Thomas Knauer Sews. Thomas recently launched his second and third fabric collections with Andover Fabrics, Flock and Savanna Bop. (Find Savanna Bop in the shop!) Savanna Bop Flannels arrive later this summer, along with a fourth collection: Frippery! Thomas just had his first quilt published in a magazine (Cover of June 2012 APQ), with several more scheduled for publication later this year.

“Is it for me?”

Every time I finish another project, Bee (my three-year-old daughter) excitedly asks that same question. And the answer is always the same, “Of course it is.”

You see, I make things for my daughter; it’s what I do. I may sew as part of my career, but what I make is for her. The very first time I sat down to a sewing machine, almost two years ago now, it was to make her a dress. She was nearly two and I was feeling inundated with Disney princesses and Future Mrs. Biebers. The fabric is thin, the stitches are wobbly, but I love that dress. It was quite definitely for her.

The First Dress

When I say I make things for her it’s about far more than the actual objects that I make, whether they be quilts, dresses, stuffed animals, or what have you. And it is about more than Bee growing up with handmade things, objects with no commercial ties, objects that she sees comes together, things that are uniquely hers. What has become enormously important to me is that Bee sees me sewing– making her those quilts, dresses, and animals. It matters to me that she knows her Papa sews.

For Bee this all is perfectly ordinary, and that is how I want it to stay. Far too often when people learn that I made this dress or that quilt for Bee they remark on how cool or remarkable it is that I sew at all, utterly surprised by the idea of a father sewing. While I know that we sewing fathers are a small minority at the moment, both in the sewing community and the world at large, I don’t want gender norms to ever intrude upon Bee’s expectations. Some Mamas and Papas sew, others don’t; it’s that simple, at least for her at the moment. What people do and what they are supposed to do have not yet clashed for her, though she is already picking up on standard gender roles; it always starts far too early.

You see, she has inevitably hit that princess stage, even though she doesn’t really have a clue as to what a princess is. Until recently I could be a princess too, but not any more. At least she still wants to be a princess with a sword, a princess-knight. It makes me sad that I am now resolutely a king; her remarkable imagination is becoming constrained as she begins to follow traditional gender roles, and that makes the sewing Papa thing matter all the more. It matters right now, but also for the conversations to come.

A Princess + Her Sword

My wife and I keep kicking around the idea of renting a studio space for my ever-increasing quantities of fabric, computers, and sewing machines, and everything else that comes with a career in this industry, but I’m resistant to that idea. I want to keep my practice in the house as long as I humanly can. I fear that in professionalizing my practice and taking it out of the home it will become simply “Papa’s job,” and I’ll be taking something away from Bee’s experience of my sewing. I want what I do to be part of our home, and of her life; it may be my career, but it is also just what I do. I want her to come into the studio and play with me, to pick out fabric and make things with me, to watch and learn, eventually to have a space in there that is hers with her very own sewing machine. I want this all to forever be perfectly normal.

And that is really the point to me. I never want to point out to her that it is unusual to have a Papa who sews, though I do know she will eventually figure that out. I don’t want her to regard this as transgressive, just as I never want her to regard her own choices in life that way. I know she will see the norm, but I never want her to feel beholden to it.

Animal Parade Dress

I don’t see sewing as a statement; I don’t do it as a commentary. I sew because I fell in love with making things for Bee. It is that simple, and it is precisely this that I want Bee to see and understand. I want her to live her life, not one she feels she ought to live. While I want my sewing to be perfectly ordinary for her, I know there will be questions over time: “Why are you the only Papa here?” and the like, and when they come I’ll be ready for them.

Savanna Bop Quilt Detail

Hopefully those questions will never really matter much. Hopefully the burdens of gender expectations will always be light for her. Hopefully Bee will always ask, “Is it for me?” and over time she will learn that the answer is always yes, even as the question starts to mean different things.

We hope this starts a conversation… Tell us: If you have kids, what do you hope they will learn from your sewing? How do you hope to pass your practice down to them? Are there traditions that have developed with your sewing over time?

Comment on any post this week to win a copy of Sew What You Love: The Easiest, Prettiest Projects Ever or Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques! For more information on these books take a look at our June Book Giveaways post.

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87 Responses to Sew,Papa,Sew!: Thoughts on Fatherhood, Sewing + Gender Expectations

  1. SEO says:

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

  2. ebooks says:

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  3. Erin says:

    I think it’s totally awesome that you sew! I am an avid sewer but I knew knitter and it was a man friend who taught me to knit! Man-made rocks! As does woman-made. :)

  4. Samantha says:

    I hope my son learns that sewing is an art form. You can create amazing, beautiful and useful things. I also hope he learns that if you can make it (or learn to) then you should. There’s no better feeling that seeing something you made being loved and used!

  5. Casey says:

    What an inspiring story! My husband learned how to sew in design school, and he can make great technical pieces like backpacks and harnesses. My kids see me sew all of the time and think it’s so cool, but I have told them that Daddy can sew as well. Now he’d rather be in the shop then in front of a sewing machine, but at least they know boys can sew, too!

  6. Peggy Grow says:

    My husband learned to sew from his grandma and aunts. He used to sew all of his own Halloween costumes up until graduate school. I didn’t learn to sew until a few years ago, in my late 30’s, but now I am addicted. I love it because it links me with the women that came before me, it is an expression of my creativity, and mostly because I love that I can share my creations with my kids and others.

  7. Joseph says:

    I’m a man who sews. I’m also a man who knits. I grew up doing crosstitch and am proud to tell people these things. I learned to knit and sew as a combination of needing something to do, and wanting to make things that were either unavailable or unaffordable. As a new father it’s incredibly important to me for my son to be able to grow up knowing that he can pursue anything that interests him, regardless of the associated gender stereotypes. I want him to grow up capable, whether that means being able to install a sink or make his own clothes, and I can’t wait to help him learn these things.

  8. Good job!

  9. Kristy says:

    I particularly love the connection that sewing gives to Thomas and his daughter because that’s really one of my favorite things about sewing and quilting — what I am able to do for my family and friends and loved ones! It’s personal and done with love. Of course it can get out of hand too — my daughter now makes quite a few requests because she thinks I can do anything at a moments notice — but I love the joy on her face when it really does happen!!

  10. Shari says:

    What a lovely post. My husband has been known to stitch a couple of stitches with my machine, even mended his tool belt (he’s a contractor), and grumblingly helps me pin my quilts. Not many a contractor can say that. My 8 year old son loves to sew his own little quilt tops (charm packs are fabulous for this), and picked out the fabric and helped sew the projects for his big kid room.

  11. Water Works says:

    I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this issue. Part of our summer-at-home activities includes teaching both of our boys to hand stitch their patches to the their Scout uniforms. One son and my daughter are interested in learning to use my machine, so I’ll have some beginner lessons for them. I think basic skills are a must for all children, then if they show an interest we should encourage it. But, then, I’d have to share my cramped “Studio” space and I’m selfish :)

  12. Tammi says:

    I love this post. Thomas is a gem. I love his fabric, and even more now that I know more about him. When my son was young, I bought a new sewing machine and my older one became his. He sewed alongside me for a few years, then gradually sports and his friends took priority. I still know that he can “drive” a sewing machine in the future if he wants to make a dress for his daughter.

  13. Kiza says:

    This is awesome. I’m so glad that there are sewing Papas out there, like Thomas (and Paul, just above!). My son is four and just received his own sewing machine and is SO excited about it. He insisted that I start teaching him to sew when he was just barely two and I forsee him becoming quite proficient in time. My daughter? No interest. And that’s okay, her artistic talents lie elsewhere. :) But, I do love, love, love that my son has male sewing pioneers to look up to. ;) Thank you so much for starting this conversation!

  14. georgia says:

    My boys will know how to sew because it is a necessary skill. I also want them to love it! My 8 yr old son is a knitter. It helps with his need for order and control. Sewing and needle crafts can be therapeutic for everyone, regardless of gender. I feel like we’ve accepted this as a society. . . sort of. We’ll get there I hope. Lovely post, thank you!

  15. Steph says:

    Great post and I’m looking forward to more in the series. I have a 5-year-old son and I would love to teach him how to sew some day when he’s interested. I learned how to sew from my mom and I loved spending time with her in the sewing room. I don’t have a daughter and don’t see why can’t share this with my son. I think my husband is even a little jealous of my sewing skills–he refers to my sewing machines as my “power tools” and loves to give me feedback/suggestions on my projects (even when I don’t ask for it!). Maybe I’ll teach him to sew, too!

  16. Sally says:

    When I was 12 Billie Jean King challenged Bobbie Briggs and it’s been uphill ever since. Happily, I see NONE of this with my girlchild; she wants to be an engineer and has seen zero resistance. The doors really are starting to open; so much so that the kids simply do not perceive them, isn’t that great?
    It’s been just as hard for the men; we chose to have my husband be a SAHD and there were Moms at the beach who wouldn’t socialize with him, people who thought he was a slacker, and a general assumption that he must be under my thumb. Slowly, slowly, things are starting to move.
    On the crafting front: men have always been the most-trusted tailors; perhaps the current biases are based on the fact that we’re mostly talking about crafting for the home?? Either way, I think those walls are starting to crumble too. As far as my kids are concerned I don’t care if they work in crayon or cotton or hot glass or words, as long as they understand the love and skill that go into all such work.

  17. Raphaele says:

    “Some Mamas and Papas sew, others don’t; it’s that simple,” : that’s the spirit Bee. Thank you both for this brilliant post, I also think that men should not be so excluded form the crafting sphere and we should not consider them as novelty when they join.

  18. Jenny C says:

    Fantastically written!
    I’m concerned that lots of children in today’s world will not get a true understanding about what “work” is. Lots of parents today, do not work from home and so do not get a chance to teach their children “on the job”
    I grew up on a farm and we all saw what happened on a daily basis as we were beside our parents learning how to build, fix and grow things. I’m lucky that I can stay at home with the kids and try to give them a sense of “work ethic” and perhaps ignite a passion within my children, to build, fix and grow.
    I going to continue teaching my five year old boy to sew over summer! We are growing a garden and we try to fix things that are broken or need repairing.
    Skills for life!

  19. Dolores says:

    This is a wonderful post and I love your idea of Sew Papa Sew. I have two boys and a girl, the boys love me sewing and one of them is fascinated with the sewing machine but my daughter who just turned two is the only one who says “I want to do sewing”. My husband was having a look at our oven which broke down on Sunday, the eldest asked me for his toy hammer and then I found him playing with his toy tools when he’s not normally interested in them at all. I find it interesting that they already feel like their role models are their Dad for the eldest and Me for the youngest (the girl). The middle guy is just happy chugging along playing with all manner of transport and watching the sewing machine. Is it innate? I think it definitely is since we have never steered them one way or the other. Even with two older brothers my daughter wants dolls and prams and kitchens and everything pink!!

  20. MarciaW says:

    While the males in the family didn’t make clothing, being able to use an awl or large needles for lacing leather, making a drawstring crocker sack, a tie on a hat, chaps, fixing a horse blanket, threading chimes, patching a canvas awning, or assembling shade cloth, etc. was something they did. It might not be pretty stitches like a seamstress, but it would be sturdy and last. Plus, my late father was pretty good at helping with the sewing machine and treadle when one fell ill (non computer).

  21. Cathy says:

    Thomas, you are awesome, and I look forward to seeing you later this year at Sewing Summit. Your article was thought-provoking and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I found myself nodding in agreement and reading excerpts to my husband (who also can hand sew).

    My grandfather both knitted (he owned a sweater factory, in fact) and sewed. Sewing was passed down, first as a necessary skill, then as a hobby through the generations of our family. Both my sons took sewing in school. One son now makes his living as an artist; although his medium of choice is paint, he will also sculpt or sew if he needs to for a project. His daughter, my granddaughter London, is almost 3 and already loves to play with my fabric, buttons and lace. And I look forward to having grandsons to whom I can pass on basic sewing skills.

  22. DebbieKL says:

    Great stories! I’d love for my kids to appreciate the satisfaction and joy of creating for others and yourself. My son recently helped me make fabric bookmarks for his teachers and he was very excited and proud to give the gifts!

  23. chibidani says:

    I hope to teach my kids to sew. I have three girls, the eldest is almost 6, so none of them are quite old enough to sew by themselves. However, the two that are able to help like to do so, but pulling pins, pushing the reverse button and other simple things. I am sewing matching dresses for my 2 older girls, and they’re really looking forward to having something mommy has made for them to wear.

    My husband will probably never be a sewer – he tolerates my fabric collection. His interests lie in 3D art and model kits, which I know he fully intends to share with our girls when they are old enough.

  24. Kelly M says:

    What a sweet, sweet story (and papa!). I have two sons who I will be more than happy to share the experience of sewing with when they are old enough to learn. I, too, want to prevent the onset of gender specific roles as long as possible. It is hard in a gender- specific world, but I think the more we become aware, the better off we’ll all be!

  25. Jay says:

    Great post. As another Papa sewer, although nowhere near Thomas’ level, it was great to see this! I haven’t done much in the way of clothing for my daughter, but I hope to. One of my best afternoon’s was spent teaching her and 2 of her friends to sew when they wanted to make little doll sized pillows. And, it didn’t phase any of us that they were being taught to sew by a dad.

  26. Robin E. says:

    Oh, I wanted to add that while my husband doesn’t sew, he does hand embroidery, as as work with metal and gardening. I sew, as well as knit, photography, and occasional wood working. Around here creating is about doing what interests you.

  27. Robin E. says:

    What I want my children to learn from my sewing is the joy of creation. I really don’t care much if they also sew, or if they create in another manner, as long as they find something to create. I strongly feel that creative people, people who spend precious time and energy making things just because they can and not because they have to, are happier, more well rounded people.

    My teen has recently started working with metal, building things like a small working jet engine and drafting plans for a rail gun. It’s not “crafty” in the traditional sense, but at it’s heart it is little different than me batik dyeing fabric and then making into a dress. He is creating. It makes us both happy.

  28. Beautifully said! And having you sew at home means that her friends, both girls and boys, will see it, too. That’s just lovely.

  29. I think it is great to open up a discussion about the possibility that the appearance of “mama” in the site’s name could be exclusionary. Papas who sew certainly deserve to be championed. However, what I find exclusionary about the plethora of blogs based on mamas who sew or craft is that it excludes those of us who can’t have children or don’t want to be mothers (or fathers). It can be very hard sometimes to not feel part of the mummy club, particularly when so many sewing and crafting blogs are written by mums, some of whom make a point of only featuring sponsors and guest bloggers who are mums to the exclusion of others. I love to make projects for children and even design and share them on my own blog and I think mums have the hardest job in the world and should be celebrated, but I wish there was more acknowledgement for those of us who aren’t mamas or papas.

  30. Kris says:

    I wouldn’t be a quilter today if my Mom-in-Law hadn’t taught her son, my husband to sew…he in turn taught me!

  31. Tammy says:

    Great article. Year before last my husband bought me a long-arm quilt machine for Christmas. Shortly after, we traded it for another brand that I liked better. When I went to take the classes that came with it, my husband joined me. He was, of course, the only man in the class. I’ve had the machine a year now and I’ve yet to make a quilt. My husband has quilted two charity quilts and a twin size quilt his grandmother pieced for a great-granddaughter. Maybe some day I’ll kick him off it so I can give it a try.

  32. Wendy Crim says:

    I love love love this. It is resonating with me a lot right now. It is just what I needed to read. Thank you. Keep sewing! You sound like a great family.

  33. Anshu says:

    Very thoughtful post. And very sweet too.
    I would like my daughter to inherit love of sewing from me of course…but more than that, I want her to develop an appreciation for the process and creativity. I want her to feel the joy and satisfaction of creating something, or transforming some raw material into something more functional. I think I want to inspire her to choose some form of expression, be it sewing, singing, dance, painting whatever…just because it makes her happy. Just for herself…not because it is what she is supposed to do…or to prove her worth to someone else…because if you do something just for the joy of it, it stays with you forever. Everything else may change…this won’t.

  34. Paul in boston says:

    I sew with my teen daughter. We make comfort quilts together that are donated to cancer patients and hospice. We have also made a couple of quilts that she has on her bed. Her goal is she wants 12 quilts, one for each month of the year, be it a valentine’s quilt, a summer quilt, a fall quilt. We made a giant halloween quilt together, 2 sided, and she loves it. When she was smaller, her love was her stuffed polar bear. We made a polar bear quilt together. When she got her princess bed (with a canopy), I got artic animal fabric to make the replacement canopy. She has polar bear window treatments that I made for her.

    I haven’t made a lot of clothes. just a couple of holiday vests. We make a lot of pillowcases. Whenever she has a birthday of one of her friends, her gift is always a pair of pillowcases. She and I shop my fabric stash for fabric that is meaningful for the recipient. But no one gets a matching pair, they are coordinated in some way by theme.

    I’ve sewed with my teen son as well. He has a MLB (major league baseball) quilt for his bed, as well as MLB curtains, and MLB pillow shams. He has worked on donation quilts with me and with his sister.

    My wife will sew on a button by hand, but leaves the sewing machine to me and the kids.

    My daughter is now telling all her friends that the two of us will be making her prom dress next year for the junior prom. We bought a pattern, and have talked about fabrics.

    I think it is important for fathers to be a part of their kids lives. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  35. Jen says:

    Thanks for this post. Very insightful.

    I love that my son has grown up watching me make things. I love that when he sees something he wants, his first response is often to ask me to make it for him, rather than to buy it for him. If only I could knit him a matchbox car! Still, making things ourselves shows our children how to be industrious, how to do for themselves, how to make use of what we have. At 4, he already knows how to use the sewing machine and how to embroider abstract designs. So far, he doesn’t have any concept of sewing and making as a gendered or female activity. (Probably the fact that we are a two-mom lesbian household is a factor here.) I want to keep it that way. The more we see all kinds of people doing all kinds of things, the better. Everybody should do everything. I’m glad to see men sewing. I’m hoping for the day when we don’t have to remark on it. Thanks again. Great post.

  36. Erin says:

    I have two daughters and hope that one day they will have a little interest in sewing. If anything I hope it teaches them the joy of making something with your own two hands.

  37. mak teh says:

    hello there, yes my father sews at home, he made our national dress for every Eid celebration,my mom didn’t.I only sew home deco and bags.

  38. Catheryn Smith says:

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article about Popa sews. I’m 65 years old and my dad sewed I had forgotten but when you needed a repair or pants shortened he got out his metal tape measure oiled the sewing machine and got the job done. Thanks for the memory.

  39. Dina says:

    I enjoy reading about Thomas, and his sewing. I come from a family that has pushed against gender stereotypes. At one point, my mom was the only woman working for Shell Oil Company who was not a secretary. That was in the 50’s. Today, I have a daughter who loves to play with bionicles, and has turned her nose up at every doll she has ever been offered. Sometimes I wish I could make her something cute and frilly, but I still have a great time making her fun clothes. Now, at nine, she is picking out fabrics, and helping me with the designs. My husband sews, too. It is a fabulous creative outlet.

    I’m very interested in seeing where this conversation goes!

  40. Lara says:

    Beautiful.

  41. PS I don’t think the series was saying anyone should have to sew either. I think I’m getting sleepy enough my words aren’t as clear as they ought to be!!

  42. Interesting series. I don’t think anyone should feel like they have to sew, but I do think it is ridiculous that so many people, both men AND women, don’t know how to do simple things like sew a button back on or fix a simple tear or sew on a patch. I think those are life skills everyone should know regardless of gender!
    My almost-three-year-old son definitely at this point thinks the point of sewing is for me to make stuff for him, lol, despite the fact that he sees me make things for other people too.

  43. Ginger says:

    If my sons want to learn to sew I’ll be glad to teach them. If nothing else they will learn how to sew on a button and simple mending.

  44. Bonny Boettcher says:

    I sew and my husband turns wood and is in to Ford Mustangs. My six year old daughter loves fabric and has a growing stash and has her own sewing machine. She has turned wood with Daddy (he brought her kid sized tools). And at 4 could spot a Mustang in the dark by it’s tail lights about 100 yards away. She has more Hot Wheel Mustangs and tracks than most of her guy friends. Yet she loves pink, purple and glitter. I think of her as well rounded.

    Not sure if it is because we do not let her watch commercials and limit her media. Or she is just young and knows she can love what she wants to.

    I just hope that she can stay loving what she wants not what others think she should.

  45. Genevieve says:

    What sweet memories she will have of you. Hope you always get to work from home!
    Genevieve

  46. Colleen says:

    I love that you are a dad who sews for his kids. Alas (princess talk)I have no kids but I love sewing for others. Especially things I know they will love!

  47. Alyce says:

    What a fascinating post!! Can’t wait to read more!! It’s interesting… “traditionally” tailors were men, but these days it’s all changed!

  48. Lorrie says:

    My husband can use a sewing machine almost as well as his power tools, but rarely does. However, he’s not averse to stitching up the occasional seam, or mending something that I haven’t gotten around to. In the general scheme of things, though, I prefer him to use the power tools (too noisy and he’s much better at measuring wood than I am) and he prefers me to use the sewing machine (I have more knowledge there)

  49. rachelmp says:

    Great series! I feel blessed to have four creative children and I am happy to encourage them to each be creative in their own way. I saw a message from my 18 year old son at University emailing his residence to see if anyone had a sewing machine he could borrow so he could make his Mexican themed costume, which made me smile

  50. Ellen says:

    Beautifully written. What a lucky girl you are, little Bee.

  51. What a beautiful story and idea/attitude! I look forward to more from Thomas :)

  52. Valerie says:

    Great idea for a series! Much of sewing is very logical and orderly which would fit my husband to a “T”! Maybe this will inspire him!

  53. Fenna says:

    I plan on teaching my boys to sew! The oldest (4) bought himself a 10 cent toy sewing machine when he was 3 at a garage sale and frequently ‘makes’ things. He’s eagerly awaiting his chance at using my old sewing machine, soon!

  54. Vicki says:

    There have been times throughout history when sewing was actually the mans domain so a man shouldn’t feel strange about sewing.

  55. Jacqui says:

    It’s an interesting subject and I’m looking forward to more posts! I don’t know any guys who sew, but my brother certainly used to sew a bit when we were kids (he sewed his finger on a treadle sewing machine), I wonder if he would consider himself still able to sew? I should ask! My husband made a tapestry cushion years ago because he was fascinated with my work. He made the cushion, enjoyed the process, got it out of his system and never did it again! He’s very keen for our daughter to learn needlecrafts though. I have great sympathy for guys who see because it’s not always easy for women to talk to non-crafters about what we do because of the reactions we often get, but I imagine it’s doubly worse for guys!

  56. jen says:

    I hope my girl learns to do things in her spare time vs. just playign video games or watching tv. I also hope it helps inspire her creativity and that she learns pride in making and doing things herself.

  57. Katy says:

    Great start to a new series and that sounds like a wonderful thing to teach your daughter as she grows up.

  58. Kristen says:

    Elegant words from a talented man. Sew, Papa, Sew is a wonderful idea and yay for it taking wing and flying.

    Adorable dresses for your daughter. What memories are being made each time. Lovely.

    I’m glad more men are stepping out and saying they sew. To me, it’s perfectly normal. The more the merrier and maybe we can all learn something new from each person that shares.

    I’m all for learning new things no matter who is teaching me and you, Thomas, have taught me much lately. And made me think.

    Thanks for a great series to look forward for reading.

  59. Tricia says:

    I love this! My dad was the one who taught me to knit, he learned from his mother.
    One older male quilter who I know expecially enjoys quilting for the geometry :)
    I’m surprised more men don’t sew – a sewing machine is basically a power tool after all!
    I plan to teach my son to craft along with everything else I teach…starting with lacing cards, and working up to more complex projects.

  60. Phyllis B. says:

    This was a great article! I have loved sewing since I was 8 years old …oh my, I’ve dated myself ….I’ve been sewing for over 40 years! My love of sewing was passed down to me from my maternal grandmother, 3 aunts and my dad. Even when my children were very young I made most of their clothes. I loved it! My sons (4 sons and 2 daughters) often saw me at my machine or hand sewing. So, when I saw that my two older sons were mending their pants I was pleased…I thought at least they did it! Initially, I fell in the trap of expecting my daughters to want to learn to sew, but it was the opposite. It was 2 of my sons!

    Recently, I found out that my spiritual mentor sews all of his ceremonial clothing and anyone else that has newly come into the group. I thought it was such a wonderful nurturing gift to others. And he wasn’t concerned about what others thought about it either.
    I believe that individuals should be encourage to preform whatever task that they are capable to accomplishing. Besides it doesn’t matter who (male or female) completes the task just as long as it is completed. And it’s even better when it’s fused with love.

  61. kristin says:

    oh what a great series! keep sewing, papa! i don’t know any men who sew either, but it is a funny gender gap – it’s sort of like cooking, where women seem to cook more in the house, but more men are professional chefs. it seems more mamas sew in the home for their families, and more men are designers (though i think it’s bit better gender balance than with chefs from my outsider’s perspective). this will be a really good ongoing conversation…

  62. Kristin H says:

    My dad sewed bags and other containers for camping equipment. He was fairly good at it, but never managed to get along well with the sewing machine, something always went wrong.

  63. YC says:

    The gender split for things like sewing clothing or cooking always seemed odd to me. Women “traditionally” cook at home, but gourmet chefs are almost all men. Women predominantly populate sites like this, and yet, there’s no gender issues in being a male tailor (or maybe I didn’t pick up on them).

  64. Addy says:

    This is such a nice article! My bro-in-law knits, much to the surprise of others. I think it’s dandy. :)

  65. Kathy B says:

    I love that you sew for your daughter! I love that you are teaching her that anyone can do anything!

  66. Irenoski88 says:

    I don’t have any children but I would really love to pass my practice down to them whenever I have kids. At the moment I’m really enjoying some sewing time with my father, he became really keen on quilting and sewing when he retired and I think he’s very talented, my grandpa was a tailor too!

  67. craftytammie says:

    I am completely floored by the fact that he has only been sewing for TWO years! He has amazing talent. If you haven’t seen some of his quilts, you should take a look. I remember being surprised to find (online) men who quilt. love it!

  68. Cindy says:

    What a great writer! Loved reading his thoughts on family, sewing and being true to yourself. Thomas is a wonderful addition to your blog!

  69. Maggie Magee says:

    I love this post! Here in NC my son-in-law is the one that stays home with the kids. He builds ukeleles in his shop attached to the garage. My daughter is a patent attorney and the breadwinner. It was a decision by both who would look after the kids. I keep telling him that he should learn to sew–he would be a great quilter! In the meantime, I’m teaching my 9 year-old granddaughter–she receoved a sewing machine on her last birthday as a present from me, and is doing quite well learning. Her little brother likes to see what we are making. If he want to sew, he shall learn too.

  70. Christine Bolin says:

    How cool! I new a guy who owned a tuxedo store and he sewed for work and he finished sewing his wife’s formal dress for a partyone year. I love the animal parade. And, I think you do a great job.

  71. Sonya M says:

    What a great series! I don’t know of any men who sew, but think it is an absolutely normal thing to do! Many women have been known to be excellent carpenters, landscapers, builders, etc, why can’t men be talented sewists!

  72. Amy says:

    What a great article!

  73. Charity says:

    The animal parade dress is just wonderful!

  74. Amber says:

    I hope they learn that you don’t have to buy everything, you can make things with your own two hands!

    At my boy’s 1st birthday, I made them a fun quilt with their favorite cartoon character as the main idea and focus…they still love them. For their 5th Birthdays, I let them pick out fabrics and a quilt pattern to make their own. My oldest picked out a ton of different themes and we made a whirlygiggle quilt. It’s adorable, and totally him! My youngest just turned 5 and he is just starting to look at designs! I can’t wait to make his quilt too! I let them sit in my lap and help sew a few seams, and they love it!

    Boys can sew too, hurry for Sew, Papa, Sew!

  75. mjb says:

    This is a great start to this conversation.

  76. Rebecca S says:

    As someone who has a concentration in gender in my criminal justice degree, I find this new series to be refreshing! It really is fascinating to think about the many ways gender discrepancies exist within our lives, outside of the obvious hotly debated issues.
    I’m only 23, so I don’t have kids, but I do have a rule with my sewing…I’m sure that most people are familiar with the incidence that when people find out you sew [close friends, family, etc] they ask you to make them something, or repair clothes. My rule, man or woman, is that you must sit through me teaching you how to do it. I’m not going to sew a button back onto my boyfriend’s pants when I can teach him and he can do it himself. Hopefully even these little sewing lessons will be passed on to future generations so that sewing won’t die out!

  77. awesome new feature, glad to get a man’s perspective!

  78. Kathy Laird says:

    My husband learned to sew as a boy. He made hand puppets. When he joined the Army at 17, he was the go to guy for teaching others how to mend their clothing. Now when my sewing machine acts up or I just forget to do something that it requires, he’s the one to troubleshoot the problem. He doesn’t enjoy sewing anymore, but the point is that he knows how. He is an IT guy. When the company that we work for needed cable management for a booth that they had made, he brought my sewing machine into work and sewed them himself. People were shocked and amused that he was sewing. I was proud of him!

  79. Mary P says:

    This is a beautiful post and I really think it is so necessary! I am hoping that my daughter learns to make things, to be creative, to learn a skill that she’ll have for the rest of her life. Being that we are a math-inclined family, I am also hoping that she learns mathematical reasoning skills as well. I’m hoping to get her involved as early as possible (she is 14 months old). At the early stages that might involve picking out fabric and measuring. As she gets older it would involve sewing and cutting. If I have a boy in the future I will make sure to involve him as well.

  80. Jeni says:

    My dad may not have sewed, but he did knit, tat, and crosstitch. He was also a Civil Engineer, Bridge Inspector, Storyteller and Clown among other things. He knit because he was out of town for months living in a one-room apartment away from our family – so, he taught himself to knit outnof boredom. He tatted out of a love for knots (and the tediousness of it, I think) And he picked up crossstitch because he wanted a fox on the bwckmof a shirt, and my mother and I both redused to do it for him. I grew up knowing it may not be “normal” for everyone, but it was for us, and I was proud of him. I studied architecture, and moved in with my to-be-husband owning way more tools and power tools than he did. I have a daughter,and am expecting in November – if it turns out to be a boy, I fully expect both of them to sew and craft and woodwork. Why shouldn’t it be “normal”?

  81. Truly Myrtle says:

    What a lovely post. Bee is a lucky wee girl :)

  82. anna says:

    wow, this is awesome! very excited to read more in this series!

  83. Samina says:

    I think that gender has no role in crafts. My 4 year old son wants to learn how to knit & sew & I intend to teach him when he becomes coordinated enough to have a got at it. Not too soon, though. I don’t want to share to the good stuff in my stash yet ;-p

  84. Oh my goodness. I love this! I think this is a brilliant thing and I thank you for doing this. Our girls and our boys need to see the value in all of the choices they have before them. Shoot, they need real choices. My daughter is fairly nontraditional and it hurts every time I see another child reprimand her for it. Four years old and they have already learned to police the gender expressions of other small children. I do what I can and each time it happens I hold my breath that she stands by her choices and doesn’t change them simply to fit in…but it helps to have others out there doing it as well. So thank you for that. ALL Of our children deserve nothing less than to be true to themselves, whether that be along traditional gender norms or not so traditional and as if often the case, somewhere in between.

  85. Patricia says:

    Keep sewing, Papa!

  86. cat says:

    Oh, those dresses ! Make me wish for a girl (after my 3 boys, not sure I’m up to it really !!!)
    It’s lovely ! well done sewing papa !!

  87. Han says:

    My Grandad was an upholsterer by trade so sewing a button on a shirt or something like that came completely natural to him.

    My other Grandad was a carpenter by trade – I don’t think it came as naturally but since my Grandma had her stroke and can no longer sew herself he’s learnt and is proud of the fact of what he can do with a needle and thread – he rocks!

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