THE BLOG

Give the Needle and Thread a Chance

12/03/2014 14:01 GMT | Updated 12/05/2014 10:59 BST

With a needle and thread you can sew on a button, make a beautiful dress and also have rewarding career. So why is it a shrinking part of our national curriculum?

The current Education Minister seems to believe in an even narrower academic curriculum. I'm not saying that Michael Gove's core subjects like Maths, English and Science are not important, but why should they be more important than practical subjects like Textiles?

I was a 'victim' of our culture of giving higher value to academic subjects. It was only after graduating with a languages degree that I finally realised that the creative route was meant for me. Why couldn't I see that? I think because I knew that my parents, teachers and society would value my academic achievements more.

But what about the girls in my Textiles class who weren't 'good at school' but had a found a subject they could shine in? What room do we make for them now? Education should be about finding what you're good at and taking it with you in life. We need to give children more options so they can discover what is right for them. Why has school become such an academic factory? And is that really standing them in good stead to get a job that they want?

It was only the other day that BBC News reported on the 20% annual growth of the fashion industry. And it is also true that we are starting to see some manufacturing move back to the UK. ASOS, the online fashion retailer, has set-up its own stitching academy here in the UK, to meet the demand. On that note, I trained with Bruce Oldfield, the British couture designer, and not one of the seamstresses was British. It seems there is a disconnect between Mr Gove's national curriculum and the needs of the economy.

However, sewing is not just about meeting the economy's needs. It can also satisfy something deep inside many of us. Helena Jedlinska, a Textiles teacher from Langley Park School in Bromley, told me how her Year 10 class, who are fully-armoured with every gadget and phone there is, enjoy nothing more than sitting down and hand embroidering. I see this every day in my sewing café, Sew Over It, where class after class is full of people looking for something they don't get in their working life. Something tangible. The jobs that the academic conveyor belt prepares us for rarely provide us with a result we can touch. And it leaves many wanting.

When I sit down and make a dress, or whatever takes my fancy, I find myself switching off from the whir of my mind and enjoying the simplicity of using my hands to create a beautiful object. For me, there is no greater pleasure.

But even if you don't want to make your own clothes, we could all do with some sewing skills. Every farmer, politician, nurse and plumber have clothes with buttons that will fall off and granny is no longer there to sew them back on. So please can we make sure that sewing doesn't become a forgotten skill.