Is sewing turning into a Millennial dominant hobby? And what does that mean for other generations of sewists?
The other day I was working on a project with my hands and I wanted to listen to something, so I thought, why not a sewing podcast?
I got three minutes into four different podcasts and turned my SXM music back on (in this case, jazz.)
I happened to notice that almost all these podcasts (from mainly smaller podcasters) were either all millennials or they were aiming content at them. And the topics overwhelmingly focused on a millennial lifestyle which is pretty radically different from a GenX lifestyle. What happened to all the Xers who sew? Oh yes, we’re caring for teenagers (or launching them to college) and caring for aging parents, saving frantically for retirement which is looming on the horizon
Is sewing turning into a Millennial dominant hobby? I hope so! Bet you weren’t expecting that. But yes, it’s up to all of us to pass down the tradition of craft and making, of creating. Most of the designers now designing sewing patterns are millennials. A few may be Xers, but the boomers are largely retired from the industry now.
Back to those podcasts. They did not resonate with me, which is why I turned them off. The podcasters I happened to find weren’t managing teenagers’ sports schedule and a full time job. When I don’t sew, it’s not because I was bingeing the latest TV program on Netflix or Hulu, it’s because I’m with my kids at a hockey rink, ball field, performing arts center or taking care of my house and dog. Otherwise, I’m sewing, believe me. With the nanoseconds of time I have, there’s no luxury of time to stream shows on Netflix (I have Netflix, my kids watch it.) If I weren’t married, I’d sell my televisions. They’re simply never on when I’m home alone* (kidding, I do yoga on YouTube each day and I listen to hours of instrumental and atmospheric music on my TV when I work.)
The podcasts talked of leisurely planning of projects, of sinking in to the moment. I’m more “let’s see how many things I can mend and how fast I can sew that garment before I have to go pick up Kid 2 from that field and Kid 2 from that event.” Kid 1 plays hockey in another city entirely, so if I’m doing THAT, I’ll be gone from 4:45pm to 9:45pm. I’m not sewing that day at all.
At the same time, I’m also not interested in the couture discussions (or the process) of many boomer-aimed media (like some sewing magazines). I don’t have time for that either and if I never have to wear a zippered woven pencil skirt or a formal gown anywhere again, it’ll be too soon. I don’t have time for that either.
GenXers are in their mid 40s to late 50s now. They’re among the smallest generation, sandwiched between the big Boomer and the big Millennial and Z. They have GenZ kids.
Gen X is not seeing themselves in many sewing pattern companies’ marketing. Models are contemporary to the designer’s age, and only a fraction (SewOver50 did a study of this), 1% are older models (overall). I’d love to see representation from midlife models in Millennial brands. And midlife is 50 plus, not 41 😉
I’ll argue that GenX grew up without the need for formal clothing like Boomers sewed. We started work when Casual Friday was first a thing, and then we quickly joined tech companies where it was casual most of the time. And GenX grew up without sewing that much either – home ec classes, popular with boomers, were phasing out. Many Xers were latchkey kids, their parents back at work. There are simply fewer of us. Millennials grew up even more casual, and the trend isn’t going away. I do love that they are embracing more tailored clothing – the movement in the wide leg tailored pant is an example – but I hope they don’t go too far. I still want elastic waist pants to sew!
Millennials embraced the hand crafted movement, almost as a backlash to our over consumerized society. I’m grateful for the indie sewing movement – and even in the “big” pattern companies like Simplicity et al, and BurdaStyle, their designers are younger and younger now. Lines like the KnowMe featuring young Millennial designers of color is a fresh breath of air in a sameness of blush pink Millennialism, while still being millennials!
Is sewing becoming Millenniaized? I hope so, for the future. Bring it on, twenty and thirty year olds!