November 2, 2020 Hand-stitched blanket

The History and Art of Hand Sewing

There’s something very special about handmade gifts like hand-sewn blankets and scarves. Whether making one yourself or receiving one, it’s easy to feel the love and care the maker put into the craft. Hand sewing is an ancient art that requires precision and is for beginners and experts alike. Over the ages, it has evolved and remains a skill that many crafters embrace. 

The History of Hand Sewing

Historians believe that hand sewing is between 20,000 and 25,000 years old. During the Neolithic period, ancient humans’ focus changed from hunting and gathering to producing food and agriculture. During this time they began to settle the plains and made advancements in their tools and their farming practices. They began creating art, including sewing and weaving. Some of the first articles of clothing crafted crame from furs and skin. Needles of this time were made from bone and horn, and animal sinew was used as thread. 

Iron needles were invented sometime around the 14th century, but these needles didn’t feature the eyes that we recognize in modern needles. The eyed needles were invented by the 15th century. Sometime later, steel was used to make the needles. Nowadays, steel is still the material of choice for hand sewing needles. 

Hand sewing remained a popular craft throughout thousands of years of human history. When the sewing machine, which was invented in the 19th century, was released to the public there was a swift decline in the production of hand-sewn garments. The sewing machine made it easier to mass-produce articles of clothing and other crafts and made clothing more accessible. 

But nothing quite matches the look and feel of hand-sewn items. 

Hand sewing became a niche skill that was utilized while creating high quality tailored clothing and Haute Couture fashion. It remains popular among hobbyists and textile artists as a way to express their art and create something that is uniquely beautiful.

Pros and Cons of Hand Sewing

Pros:

  • Details – Hand-sewing provides crafters and artisans with the ability to create precise and decorative stitches in whatever they are creating. You can pick and choose the types of stitches you use in your project. The possibilities are endless!
  • Better Control – When working on smaller projects, repairs, or adding decoration, hand sewing gives you control over what you are doing. You can choose how you want to attach a fabric, how long your stitches are, and where they go. 
  • Perfect for Beginners – If you’re just getting started, sewing by hand can teach you so much about the art. All you need is a needle and some thread to get started. Hand sewing can introduce you to stitch construction and the different types of stitches. 
  • On the Go – Hand sewing gives you the freedom to work wherever you go. Feel free to take your project with you while you wait during errands or while vacationing. 
  • Relaxing – There’s nothing quite as relaxing as sewing– it’s like a form of meditation. Focusing on a project can allow you to unwind and let go of any stresses or troubles you are currently experiencing. 

Cons

  • Time-Consuming – Because hand-sewing is such a precise art, it can take a lot longer to complete a project than using a machine would. 
  • Inconsistency – It can be hard to ensure that every stitch is exactly the same when hand sewing. The length of a stitch or the distance between them can’t always be identical– but this is also a part of the appeal of hand sewing. 

Hand Sewing vs Machine Sewing

Hand and machine sewing share a couple of similarities– they both require a needle and thread and they both can be used to create a variety of crafts including clothing, cozy blankets, and face masks– but they are still very different.

Machine sewing is a far more efficient way to sew and can cut down on the time it takes to complete a project exponentially. But it can be costly and there is more of a learning curve to understand how to set up and properly use the machines. You will also have far less control over the complete product this way. 

Many people are turning to hand sewing as a way to get in touch with history and create something on their own. It’s a great way to get used to the art and build up your skills. It’s also a very helpful skill to have. You can learn to repair clothing and reattach buttons before moving on to creating beautiful gifts for your family and friends. At Minky Mamas, we like to connect to our roots and deliver hand-sewn products of exquisite craftsmanship. Browse our products for examples of hand-sewing at its finest.

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