by Danny Harrington, Founder & Director, ITS Education Asia
I enjoyed this article in The Guardian the other day not least because it confirms something we have known and been doing at ITS since 2009 – that sewing workshops provide a space and a meaningful activity in which people from any walk of life and at any age can come together and gain value in their lives.
I’m not able of course to say with any scientific certainty why this is the case but anecdotally it would seem to link to a number of factors. First is the pace of modern life. This is undoubtedly faster, especially in large cities (perhaps no coincidence that places like London in the article, or Hong Kong for ITS are centres of sewing popularity), and many people feel the need to slow down, or at least have spaces in their busy lives that run at a slower pace. Sewing workshops are certainly calm and friendly spaces with gentle chat as a background to participants’ concentration as they work on their skills and creative projects. Really it falls into the active meditation tradition.
As a corollary to that, many people are forced through an education system, often by those around them with good intentions or else through a self-imposed feeling of the need to “get on”, into careers they have no real interest in and which have long hours and high levels of stress. Very few people can work in high stress environments constantly and especially if they feel they have arrived there through no real choice of their own. Our workshops often have a lawyer or a banker quietly enjoying the chance to slowly allow their creativity out and work within an open and free space with a variety of pointedly different-minded people who happen to share one interest. It cannot be healthy to spend our entire lives surrounded by only like-minded people or only people who are determined for whatever reason to present only one conformist persona to those around them.
Thirdly we see people who may want the chance to gain a new skill and see where it leads them. I might note the fast pace of life but I do not judge it. It is what it is. One of the great characteristics of modern societies like Hong Kong that I have enjoyed is the culture that allows anyone to start a business if they choose. So while some people are in a mindset of trying to gain employment in “stable” careers, others are looking to follow their dreams more independently. Often the former, having given themselves a stable financial platform, gained valuable business experience, or simply realised employment is not for them, will jump off into the wild and exciting world of entrepreneurship. Sewing is a skill that underlies all fashion and we often see people coming along with an eye on a future business idea. Indeed, we have helped to launch a number of people into these dreams.
And some people come to get out of the house and because it’s their hobby. And that’s fine too. We don’t have to over-analyse it
See all our sewing and fashion classes here