14 Unexpected Benefits of Hand Sewing | the ReFab Diaries
Every now and again I'll go on a mending or refashioning spree, and I'll share it with you guys. What I don't share are the many times I thread a needle to stitch on a button or repair a small hole in a shirt I love ... or put small darts in a dress otherwise too wide for my daughter; by hand. I was raised by a tribe of woman who sewed - not in some precious, artistic way... it was simply a survival skill for them, like being able to boil an egg. I realize that this mindset has shifted, and our generation is more likely to replace than repair. So I recently gave the 7.5 year old Ms R her first lesson in sewing on a button. And as we worked together, I realized again how valuable it is for her to learn things like this. Why?

image by Bailey Bastings

Well, that's the topic of today's light-hearted guest blog. Annabelle Short is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years. She's also is a mom and loves making crafts with her children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). Annabelle writes about crafting, sewing, and parenting and is currently a chief crafter and writer for Wunderlabel. You can visit her blog to learn more about her. Over to her! 

Image by Sew4Home

Online sewing tutorials generally begin with the instruction to "get hold of a reliable sewing machine." However, for most of our history, if anything was to be stitched together it was done by hand.

There are a few myths about hand sewing that I want to dispel. For example, some people still believe that hand-sewn items are weaker than pieces sewn using a machine, but that really isn't true. Nor are hand-stitched items less "shapely" or designed. In fact, hand sewing delivers some benefits that machine sewing just doesn't. Here are 14 reasons why you should considering stitching your next item by hand.

1. Improves coordination

When you sit down to sew by hand, your mind and fingers need to work in tandem. This is good for everyone but is an especially productive way to help kids develop fine motor skills. Hand sewing can also help older adults stay both mentally and physically agile.

2. Reduces broken-needle stress

You are sewing with a machine and all of a sudden you hear the dreaded crunch and snap your machine needle hitting a pin that you forgot to remove... this won't happen with hand-sewing!  :)

Image by Miss Sews It All

3. Highly portable

Whether it’s just adding a button or fixing a torn skirt at work, there’s no need for you to pull out your sewing machine for a quick and easy fix. You only need a needle, thread and scissors and you're good to go!

4. Better sewing option for delicate fabrics

Some fabrics are better sewn by hand, especially if they’re likely to stretch, bunch or fray. For delicate fabrics, nothing beats working by hand.

Image via MyKofia

5. Affordable

There are two ways you could get started with your first sewing project. You could purchase a sewing machine and all the extras (bobbins, bobbin storage, needles, and all the nuts and bolts that go into keeping your machine running well) then find somewhere to store it in your home. Or, you could just grab a needle, thread and scissors and get started immediately.

Sewing by hand is obviously a very frugal option, right?

Image via The Spruce

6. Maintains vintage techniques

What do homespun Renaissance skirts, beautiful Victorian gowns and vintage embroidered handkerchiefs have in common? Well, they are all hand sewn using techniques once passed down from generation to generation. Yes, machines can do embroidery. But it's a beautiful thing to learn to do yourself.

7. Relaxing

Like knitting and playing the piano, sewing requires serious coordination between mind and body, resulting in what some psychologists call "flow". Getting lost in work like this is a great way to forget the stresses of your day.

8. Quiet

Sewing machines are, well, loud. With hand sewing, you don’t have to worry about disturbing others in the room when working on your project. Or, you can even take your sewing outside and enjoy some fresh air while you work.

9. All-rounder

Whether you want a simple straight stitch, a blind hem, or an extravagant feather stitch, hand sewing can easily handle it. Similarly, with only a few small tweaks to your needle and thread, you can quickly switch from slippery satin to sticky vinyl, or from fine silk to heavy leather.

10. Reliable

Do you remember the time when you sat at your machine to work on your project and realized your needle was broken? Or, even worse, when your machine broke down right in the middle of something you were working on. These issues are pretty unlikely to hold up your hand sewing projects.

Image via The Spruce

11. Offers endless features

While sewing machines offer endless features, so does hand sewing. You’re really only limited by your imagination, curiosity, and ability to find tutorials on YouTube!

12. More social

Have you ever heard of a ‘a sewing bee?’ These sewing groups are not that common today, but they are a great way to socialize with other sewers as well as an opportunity to get some creative stitching done. There’s nothing wrong with machine sewing classes. They’re nice, but often they’re more solitary, as each sewist practices with their machine and it becomes difficult to chat. So go out and see if there’s a sewing bee near you, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can start your own!

13. Slower

Hand sewing is slower than a machine.

“But, wait a minute! How is slower a benefit?” True. I agree, in some cases, it might not be a benefit. But in a busy, over-scheduled life, sometimes it’s quite nice to take a minute or two, pause, and focus on what you’re doing. And, many sewists report that they make fewer errors when hand sewing because you notice a little sooner when something is going wrong.

Image via Hipstitch

14. Designer quality

Many people still have the misconception hand-sewn items look cheap and weak. It's not true. Yes, if you're using low-quality fabric it won't look good, but that's true no matter how it's made. A carefully sewn garment will not only last longer than "fast fashion", it will also save you money and result in a garment unique to you. Just imagine for a second: how wonderful it would be to have a closet full of items made by YOU? And, to add a finishing touch, visit Wunderlabel to get some custom labels.

Over to you.

What's your preference - hand sewing or machine sewing? Both? Share your experiences in the comment box below!

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  1. I do like my machine! My Grandmother started teaching me when I was about 8. She made all of my Mothers professional clothes and a big majority of my sister and my clothes. She also taught me hand sewing! But as much as I love my machine I love hand sewing even more! It’s as you said, relaxing, quiet, and you can do it anywhere!! Thanks for the reminders!


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