Portfolio of Research Studies

Is Sewing A Fading Hobby

The following research project that I conducted in 2018 is one that was of great interest to me as it touched upon a familiar theme from my childhood - sewing. Both my Mum and my Nan were massive sewing enthusiasts so I was very familiar with the world of haberdashery as I was growing up. It was never something that I was overly interested in pursuing myself, but finding myself dropped back into the world of sewing created a unique sense of nostalgia while conducting this research project on behalf of a national UK based retailer of sewing machinery. 

Research Objectives and Methods

The objective of the research was quite simple at its core - find out if sewing had become a fading activity. This part was simple. I surveyed an even split of respondents aged 18-40 and 40+ to garner their level of interest in sewing as an activity for them to partake, using a sliding 5 point scale to assess the depth of their interest, if any. By splitting the respondents into a generation gap, we would be able to see if one demographic presented a significantly higher interest than the other. The expectation before any results were collected and analysed were that there would be a higher level of interest within the 40+ age group, a projection shared by other sewing led communities, playing into the assumption that sewing is a hobby that is decreasing in popularity. The secondary research objectives revolved around diving deeper into the reasons why the respondents do or don't have an interest in sewing as a past-time activity. From these questions we also hoped to identify potential barriers that are restricting people from becoming more invested in sewing. 

In order to collect reliable data, a large sample size was needed. The sample also needed to be random in order to capture a fair and even representation of the overall audience being evaluated. One of the major limitations of this study is that it will be near impossible without conduction a much larger survey than what we can budget for to gain a genuine representation of the true popularity of sewing between generations. However, our hope is that by using a total sample size for our survey of 10,000 people - randomly selected - that the results will be reliable and effective enough to offer some insight. In order to gain an even 50:50 split between demographics, some responses were discarded. 

The survey was published online via SurveyMonkey and made available for responses via an online survey provider in our bid to target a broad and varied sample of respondents. Upon completion of data collection, we ran the results through data analysis software in order for us to easily compare the findings and report on the results of our research. 

Is Sewing A Dying Hobby?

According to the results of our research project - yes it is. While 42% of the respondents to our survey in the aged 40+ demographic scored their interest in taking part in sewing as an activity of 3+, 29% of the 18-40 demographic surveyed in this sample responded the same. As we stated earlier, this shouldn't be taken as gospel that sewing is in fact a dying hobby. However, it does offer some informative insight into the apparent decline of sewing as a national past-time based on a reduced sample size, as was projected in our pre-research predictions. 

One of the most interesting findings of the project was one of the factors that respondents stated as their reason for getting into sewing as a hobby. The activity being passed down to them from an older relative was the most popular reason for respondents in the 40+ demographic citing for being introduced to sewing. Although this would seem like a sustainable model that would allow the activity to be successfully passed down and retained from one generation to another, based on our sample base, this would seem to not be the case. There was also some positive correlation to this finding based on analysis of the potential barriers to partaking in sewing activities as nobody introducing the younger respondents to sewing being a predominant barrier that was frequently cited.

Amongst the other frequently cited barriers were a lack of knowledge about sewing which could be somewhat tied in to a lack of an introduction at an early age to the activity. Similarly so, interest amongst the social group that you part of being either low or non existent was also a key defining factor in the drop in popularity. Another somewhat frequent response was a lack of easily accessible supplies. This was a finding that I somewhat disputed. 

Upon some further research into the online presence of sewing stores, combined with Google Trends analysis of high volume sewing related search terms, it would seem that there is not only an abundance of sewing stores operating both online and offline, but also a high frequency of searches based around buying intent for sewing products. The most common search terms centred around consumers looking to buy sewing and embroidery machines, along with fabrics and a variety of different sewing patterns. Upon further analysis, it became quickly evident that there is no shortage either of suppliers and volumes of choice from said suppliers. For machinery, the market is dominated by a few key players in terms of manufacturers that have built up their reputations as market leaders over an extended period of time. As far as sewing patterns go, a similar story seems to be being told within the search results with a few key suppliers, some offering a huge collection of sewing patterns. Consequently, it would appear that, at the very least within the online world, there is no shortage of suppliers of haberdashery supplies, and furthermore, no lack of variety in the choice of supplies and alternatives. 

Further Research

As has been stated several times within this article, in order to further validate the findings present in this research, a similar study of a significantly larger sample size would need to be carried out. On a personal level, it would be extremely interesting to see if someone ever did take this challenge on so that we would be able to see the results of a larger scale study and compare the findings between the two. Furthermore, it would be valuable to sewing enthusiasts and companies operating within the sewing industry, if further researched detailed in greater depth some of the reasons listed for respondents both getting into sewing and feeling as though they weren't able to get into sewing.