Sew Your Blues Away! – How Sewing Fights Depression

sewing fights depression

[Update 2020: In this time of great global turmoil, job losses, and isolation due to the new social distancing norms brought on by the virus, depression is more a threat than ever before.  We wanted to republish this extremely popular article we wrote a couple of years ago about how sewing fights depression.  Please share it with your friends, especially the older people in your life, who are likely to be more isolated than ever.]

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 350 million people worldwide who suffer from depression.  It is also found out that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to men. The thing is –anyone can get depression and that includes you and me.

Sew Your Blues Away


Indeed, people around the globe can get depressed regardless of their socioeconomic standing or age. This is not exactly a very encouraging piece of news but it is also a fact that we can combat depression and one of the ways in doing so is to take up a craft like sewing.  You can literally Sew Your Blues Away!

Many studies indicate that sewing is good for both our mental and physical wellbeing.  Just to reiterate, aside from the obvious benefits of sewing like having an up-to-date and well-fitting wardrobe or getting rid of missing buttons, it is also good for your health!

sewing fights depression

When we focus all our physical and mental facilities on a sewing project, we stop worrying about our everyday problems like paying utilities, issues at the office or family conflicts. And although these problems do not necessarily go away, we do not let them bring us down and we allow ourselves time to rebuild.  And in the end, we have a new dress in the closet too;)

Crafts like sewing allow us to relax from the pressures of daily life. Simply speaking, it makes us feel good. It is also a very useful craft to pass on to our kids. Nowadays, there are so many low-quality clothes available in the stores. And most young people just buy them and wear them a few times then forget about them. The day may even come when “disposable” clothes will come in fashion. Think of the strain that will give our environment.  You can be sure that if people learn to sew their own clothes, they also look at clothes in a completely different way. They will start to notice the work that goes into it and the quality of the fabric, notions, and style that comes with the dress.

Sewing Helps the Brain

Studies show that sewing helps develop a hand to eye coordination that is good for the brain. It also keeps ours fingers agile and nimble. In addition, it is always good for our self-esteem when we mend our daughter’s clothes and watch her wear it again and again. If you have never done this, try it, it sure feels great and that is good for the heart too.

sewing fights depressionIn short, mentally engaging movement helps to break the cycle of negative thoughts, as well as allowing the brain to recover and improve by generating newer, healthier brain cells.  Specialists state that an engaging hobby is often more effective than just taking an antidepressant, which typically targets only one neurotransmitter.  While sewing not only heals, it also improves the brain's resistance to future bouts of depression by reminding our brains that we have an impact on the world around us.  Neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, author of Lifting Depression supports this conclusion when he said: “Hands-on work satisfies our primal craving to create solid objects and it could also be an antidote to our cultural malaise(unhappiness).”

Sewing is fulfilling because we can see the end result. It could be the curtain that is now hanging in your window or the dress that your daughter will be wearing on her graduation day. It is also great for your social life.  If you enroll in a sewing course, you will meet new friends.

And with sewing becoming popular again, you can also join any of the hundreds or thousands of sewing circles on the internet. In some places, you can find sewing circles meeting regularly to collectively do a project, host a get-together or simply compare notes.

Here at So Sew Easy, we have a large and active online chat group and sewing circle with some 30,200 members.  I'd like to think that this helps all our members with a healthy sense of community.  I know it certainly helps me.  If you'd like to join, just pop over and see us:

So Sew Easy Facebook Chat

So if you feel like the strains of everyday life is getting to you, just take out your sewing machine and fabric and start to sew your blues away!

If you need someplace to start, here's a handy list of easy sewing projects for beginners.

easy sewing projects

Easy Sewing Project HERE

Do you agree that sewing helps the brain and fights depression?  I'm certainly convinced.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

If you know someone who could benefit from sewing their blues away, don't forget to share this article with them.  Perhaps they'll too get started on this wonderful pastime we all love so much and be all the better for it.

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78 Responses to Sew Your Blues Away! – How Sewing Fights Depression

  1. Linda C. in AZ says:

    I am a 60 year old sewing instructor and find my therapy is helping others to be successful at this wonderful hobby. Many of my students took home economics in high school, but had teachers who expected perfection, and they felt they were never good enough. As a result, they never sewed again and were approaching retirement, empty nesting, and grandchildren. I encouraged them to attend my classes and help with sewing service projects. My students have included a woman with a TBI, an autistic elementary student, a scout working on a service project for Beads of Courage, folks with PTSD and others who struggle with daily living, depression, anxiety, etc. Many have become lifelong, true friends on this journey and I am extremely grateful Thanksgiving Blessings to All.

  2. Sharon Shortland says:

    this is so true. I recently had to monitor my blood pressure for one week, usually the middle of the day reading was quite high, when I was working, but I noticed that if I was sewing it was lower. So the science proves it!
    I think that anything where you are working with your hands and creating things gives such a great feeling of satisfaction and boosts your confidence once it is finished.

  3. Marg says:

    Great article. I recently learned that my cancer has returned so although I think I handle it pretty well, it certainly is a black cloud over my head! Since I had to stop work I have thrown myself into reorganizing my sewing room so that I can have a nice clean place to work when I feel up to it. I too find that sewing is so great for keeping your mind occupied – just the sound of the machine whirring along calms my mind and helps me focus. I love being creative and really believe this is what keeps me from getting down about my situation. My newest venture is using vintage sheets to make a quilt (have the sheets and have cut some blocks, but not actually started the sewing part yet!)

  4. Mary says:

    Mayra, thanks so much for posting this article again. Would you consider posting it on an annual basis? I’ve been sewing for over 50 years and suffering from suffering from bouts of depression since I was a child. For the last 25 I’ve been living with ongoing depression and have some cognitive issues as a result. This means much ripping out but it doesn’t stop me from sewing. For years I’ve been describing sewing as my therapy and it is the perfect addition to the medication. Even in the winters when I’m sleeping most of the time due to SAD I still sew when I’m awake. It’s my only salvation. Meds don’t do a darn thing for SAD in my case. Please keep up the wonderful work on your site as it is such a wonderful source of inspiration.

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Mary thanks so much for your kind words and support. I’m glad to hear that sewing does seem to help with your condition. Yes, we’ll look at posting this article annually to keep this important info fresh in reader’s minds. Kind regards, Mayra

  5. Donna Bannigan says:

    I have been unable to work for nearly 4 years due to a number of issues, depression being one of them. Last year, I took a chance and started helping out a local small business, whose owner does tailoring and repairs. It’s only one or two days a week, but getting out of the house makes a huge difference. The owner is now a good friend of mine, and is so determined that my life improves, that she takes time out of her busy workdays to teach me new techniques, and help me make my own clothes!
    You guys may not know it, but you’ve also played a huge part in my self-improvement. I always have a tab open in my browser with this blog, waiting for the next entry to expand my skillset, or a new project to practice with. If there’s a new technique I’m not sure of, I know that there’s either a post here with the information I need, or you guys have already linked to the site I need. Sometimes the comments on a particular project will have a tip or two, to help me understand the techniques better!
    Thank you so much, to all who write for the blog, and those who comment with the tips and tricks. I hope one day I’ll be able to help someone else the same way, and pay it forward. I’ve discovered a new love, and a way to keep myself so busy, I just don’t have time to overthink anymore!

  6. Melissa says:

    This is a great article. I love sewing and other crafting. Keeps me busy and also occupies my mind which never seems to stop running three steps ahead of me. This article turned out to be very important to me. My 26 yr old daughter suffers from depression and anxiety. It hinders her ability to do homework for college and affects her life in general. When she’s not doing schoolwork she sits on her iPad and plays mindless games. After reading your article I realized she never does anything else. She used to paint and knit. While she does not sew, your article reminded me how important it is to keep her mind occupied when she’s not doing anything else. It really helps. So I talk to her and suggested she keep her paints and knitting nearby so they are handy and easy to access. She thought that was a great idea. I think this will make a big difference in her life so I have to thank you for this article. In the meantime I will continue sewing to keep my own sanity. It makes me so happy and relaxed.

  7. Vickie Potter says:

    Thank you, Mayra, for keeping this article going. I’ve read it before but today it really sunk in. When my kids were little, I sewed for them to help save some money. Fabric was cheaper then so it really did save money. When they grew up and left home, I lost touch with “my baby”. 4 years ago, I met a cousin I never knew who lives only a couple hours from me. She, her mother, sisters and some friends have a quilting weekend from September through April or May and do a Quilt Round Robin. She invited me to join them even though I’d never made a quilt before and hadn’t sewn in many years. So I pulled “my baby” out and dusted her off. Now, 4 years later, I’ve made 3 gorgeous round robin quilts as well as 3 others for my husband and some baby showers. In the middle of all this, I found SSE – before you joined Deb. I love all the patterns and have made a few of them. I’ve gotten better at making things and a year ago, hubby bought me a new “baby”. I no longer go into funks, no longer find myself lost or getting down. My therapy is my Singer and all the fabric and patterns in my craft room. Whatever strikes me that day is what I work on and when I stop for the day, I’m a new person. Thank you and Deb for all that you do to feed our “therapy” needs. We need more like you!!!!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Your words really touched me, thank you for taking the time to comment. But, you also explore an issue that has been in the back of my mind for a while. Sewing is better done in a group, where you can share ideas and stories. Talk about everything and nothing at all and laugh. yes, sewing is your happy place, but good is it if you can not share it and you have made a great universe for yourself. I suspect you will live long and a happy life. Hope many can follow your steps. Keep in touch and what a wonderful quilt it is, thank you for posting the picture, my favorite part of a comment!:)

  8. Debbie says:

    Thank you Mayra, you are singing my song.
    Also it helps to read the comments of other people using the same therapy.
    All day I have been tearing up thrift store cheap sheets to crochet rugs.
    Tonight I have been sewing strips together to press. Its awesome. I usually work night shift and when I am off duty there’s not a lot to do outside the house. Sewing has saved me for many years. Supportive sewing women have been a blessing too.

  9. Sue Liska says:

    Something I noticed, not a criticism but an observation regarding the picture of the young lady with long dark hair with a white blouse sewing on her machine. She is sewing from the wrong side of the machine-from the back. Does anyone know how this came about? Just curious.

  10. pj says:

    This was so apropos for me today, as I was sewing I was thinking about the stress I have been under lately, and how hiding in my sewing room has been helping me. I have been gone through my left over fabric for pieces that I have kept that were too small for anything and using them to make grocery bags, which most stores do no longer give out in the stores. I have decided that I would make a bunch of bags, take them to different activities I go to and see if anyone would make a donation to the food bank and receive a bag.
    So this has been a double bonus for me, diminishing stress by sewing and doing something for charity which always makes one feel better.

  11. Joan Maddox says:

    Sewing is my traquilizer. I can sit and rip seams many times and not get frustrated. The sound of the machine is very soothing

  12. Sherlrina Thomas says:

    This is so very true! Wish many others could take up a craft of some sort and realize how helpful it is to accomplish something when everything around you seems so gloomy. I also love your patterns and they have greatly helped me in my low times. Thanks so much for sharing

  13. Jeanne Savela says:

    Hi Mayra, I’ve been sewing for five decades. I suffer with Major Depression, and sewing supplements the medication I am on. I am very creative and productive, so sewing isn’t all I do, but sewing is my go-to when I don’t feel well. When I’m feeling especially bad then I sew for charity, and that doubles the feel good effect that I need. Great article, thank-you.

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Jeanne, thanks for your comments and for sharing your experience. I’m so glad sewing helps you too. Kind regards, Mayra

  14. Julianne Simpson says:

    I call my sewing room my mental health space. Sometimes, I am away from my space for too long. When I recognize that I am in need of a “fix” I return and try to complete an easy project just to get the juices flowing. I am a retired Occupational Therapist and understand the idea of creating to improve your life’s outlook. Thanks for your website and ongoing sewing support.

  15. Carole D. says:

    When I was a young mom, I lived in a very remote place with two young children. My husband was always away for business. Sewing has saved my sanity. Moreover, it was a time when I developed my skills. I ended up being able to sew snow suits!!! Since my two sons were slim, none of the american patterns fitted. So I then discovered Burda which made patterns for slim boys. I would go eye shopping in fancy clothes boutique, and replicated what I saw. Fabulous and inexpensive.

  16. Tora says:

    Over twentyfive yars ago when my daughter died in cancer at the age of only three, I used my sewing skills to help me through a very difficult time. I then realised that I have done so even earlier in my life, but I hadn’t quite understood that sewing was so important to me. Now I know that I need to keep on sewing to keep me sane. Wenever life feels a bit hard, I end up at my sewing machine. But also when things are alright, it gets even better when sewing!

  17. Fran Bott says:

    Having suffered from chronic pain for over 20 years, I can fully vouch for the healing power of sewing and other crafts. Even on the worst days, I try to do some sewing, etc. as it takes my mind away from what is hurting. I may not get much accomplished, but the little bit that is accomplished is much better for me than extra medicine.

  18. Brooke Lanigan says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I definitely feel this applies to me. Since retiring I seem to fall into depression more and more. I just head to my sewing room and get my brain going… really does help the blues to go away.

  19. Ann Marks says:


  20. Virginia Lowman says:

    I’ve made a lot of the baby burp cloths for shower gifts. You can’t have enough!

  21. jennifer winters says:

    oh my I don’t know how I every made it thru all that I did without sewing it helps a lot and when the sun is out oh my the brain is just waiting for a new project to start; gardening helps a lot too.

  22. Karen says:

    I agree with this article but did you notice the young woman is sitting at the back of the sewing machine. Pretty hard to see that way.

  23. Hi Mayra!

    I’m a student at Duke University doing some research on how sewing can benefit mental health. I noticed your article that you wrote on this topic. Might you be available some time this evening or tomorrow morning for a call so I can ask you a few questions about the impact sewing has had on your life?
    Let me know and looking forward to hearing from you!

  24. Robin Widger says:

    I definitely agree that sewing fights depression. I’ve been sewing for most of my life and I’m sure it has helped me avoid depression. In any case, thanks so much for sharing these facts with us. Helps make sense of something I think I already knew but I’ll definitely share this with a few friends who could us a boost.

  25. vicki gasorski says:

    what a great article! having fibromyalgia, I have also found that sewing distracts me from my pain. Like you said, our minds are occupied on something else.

    You mentioned throw-away clothing. I vaguely remember when some company tried to do that (many, many years ago). It didn’t work LOL But it would have an effect on our environment.

  26. E.Soto says:

    Hola All of you , I really interesting learning how to do sewing , And I m Deaf myself . Yes I have been lonely and depress for long time until fews month ago , got new sewing machine I start learn how to use sew, I learn a lot . This sew really give me spirit and mind peaceful , sew is my new hobby now …Hope understand this comment with my poor english language

  27. Judia says:

    Great article!! I was a psychological major in college and have always loved sewing – the creativity, the sense of accomplishment, the quiet time, and the final product. I have an additional theory about why sewing chases the blues away, and that is because our eyes are focusing on COLOR in the fabric! We all have our personal.favorites. I know I can spot a bolt of cloth in the fabric store (or even looking online) from 40 yards if it has my favorite colors in the pattern … just looking at our happy colors” changes our brain chemistry. I also totally agree than being involved with a sewing group and enjoying communicating with people with like interest has its own rewards. We have a small group at our church that gets together and makes chemo hats for cancer patients, some are distributed to local homeless shelters, victims of domestic violence, and even some are given to the police to carry in their squad cars to be given away when they see a need. It is amazing how being committed to making one that a month for someone less fortunate puts our personal blahs in perspective and makes us feel great!

  28. Fantastic article. Sewing helps me a lot with my depression and anxiety and it’s great to see in writing how beneficial it is to our health. Hope you don’t mind but I will be sharing the article on my blog (

  29. Nicola says:

    Great article and it’s how I got into sewing initially. Hope you don’t mind but I’ve shared it on my blog

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Nicola, thanks for checking. Yes, we’re very happy for you to link to this article from your site. I think it is useful and important info so hopefully as many people as possible will be able to read it. Glad sewing has helped you too. It definitely helps me. Kind regards, Mayra

  30. Bijoux Ward says:

    This article is great. Thank you for reminding us how sewing and other hobbies are good for mental & physical health.

    I live (exist) in a stressful relationship and try to cope by doing things I enjoy doing. It takes effort for me to start doing them, but once I do start, I realize how much better I feel and less stressed I am, at least while I am doing something. I feel I have accomplished something as well.

    I try to stay positive though it is hard. I don’t know many people where I live and have not joined any groups. Few things are nearby and affordable which is another matter.

    Thank you again, this article has now given me more hope to enjoy life.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Bijoux, believe it or not I have been exactly where you are, what I did is I opened my home to others to join me and I found a few good friends. If you live in a small town I can assure you are not the only one feeling the same way. Reach out to people and they will come specially when you have something in common and as wonderful as the world of sewing. Let me know how you do. Kind Regards,

  31. Suzie says:

    I’m almost 65 and I’ve been sewing off and on for 45+ years (learned in Home Ec), sew almost everyday. I would use the excuse that it keeps my brain young, who knew I was right! Yay sewing!!

  32. Judy says:

    The universe works in mysterious ways. I just had surgery and decided I needed something to keep my mind off the discomfort of recovery. So, I pulled out a quilt I was working on and got to sewing. It was just what the doctor ordered. I opened up my Pinterest to look up a binding pin and this article was the first thing on my feed. How crazy is that!?!

  33. Shelly says:

    I figured this out a couple of months ago. I didn’t feel like doing anything, and I wasn’t sleeping. This went on for about 3 weeks until it was time for my sewing circle to meet again. I almost called and cancelled, but I forced myself to go. It was all I could do to muster up the energy to get everything together and into the car, drive over there, and unload everything; but I did it. It was the best decision I made. I sewed for three hours, loaded everything up to go home, and sewed for several more hours. I had the best night’s rest that night that I had in almost a month. I now make it a point to sew at least three or four times a week.

  34. Dianna says:

    Wonderful article. I have a chronic illness that gets me down. Through pulmonary rehab, I seem to be breaking through and pulled out my old friend to sew again. Makes me feel a certain satisfaction to create something wearable.

  35. Vivian Backes says:

    I love this aritcle. I never realized it but that must be why I sew. “I have to be in the mood to sew”, that is what I would say. Now this article explains everything. Sewing creates something new and beautiful and in the process it clears my head. Sewing gives my mind the rest it needs from daily stress at work or family issues. Im 61 years old (wow that seems harsh to see that on paper, 61) and I was taught to sew by my mother at age 8. I have sew all my life and have never thought about why I sew. Now this just makes me love sewing even more, its for my mental health. BRAVO ON THIS ARTICLE….

    oh PS I found this site by looking for a easy sew shrug. I made one last night from your instructions and I love it. I will send a picture when I wear it with my Kentucky Derby outfit with my handmade hat included. I also hula hoop and these shrugs are going to come in handy with my hoop outfits….. so excited about this new find.

    Im going to love receiving your Newsletter…
    thanks, Vivian

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      You are welcome Vivian, welcome to SSE!

    • Rebecca Dockum says:

      Vivian, you rocked my morning! Picturing you in your Derby hat and also hula hooping is inspiring!

      • Vivian Backes says:

        Hi Rebecca, I am so proud if I inspired you… Pick up a hula hoop today, find a hoop tribe in your area…. its wonderful. You must be a seamtress so you can make hula hooping outfits, there is a need out there for we handy sewing people.

  36. Charlene says:

    I really appreciate this article and can identify with it. I believe every bit of it speaks truth. I live in South Dakota where it is winter nine months out of the year; well, it seems like it anyway. I have seasonal affective disorder, where the lack of sunlight causes depression, and August through March can be really tough for me. Sewing has helped me by always having a project to do. When I don’t feel like doing anything else, that sewing project I’m in the middle of calls me to come and work on it. Like the article says, when I’m sewing, I forget a lot of my other “troubles” and feel happy with the creation that is emerging right before my eyes. Thank you, SewSoEasy, for putting this out there!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Charlene, thanks for sharing and glad you enjoyed the article. Hopefully spring is now well on the way there for you now there in South Dakota!

  37. Pam W says:

    I definitely sew to manage my blues and my stressors. When I felt down and have trouble sleeping I like to see – the fabric feels good to my hands, keeps me from eating (yay), and makes me feel better when I make something – showing me completion when I can’t solve some other things and lifting my sense of accomplishment. And by funny happenstance, the author of the book that was recommended was one of my college professors! 🙂

    • Avis says:

      Pam W. – thanks for the reminder that focusing on a sewing helps one avoid eating! Food is my go-to stress/depression reliever. I’m printing out your post and putting it on the fridge!

  38. Susan Johnson says:

    I agree with all the above and also say sewing is my therapy. I recommend a crafting hobby of some sort (with others)at times is beneficial to our mental health, Creating something beautiful out of a pile of stuff is to me very pleasurable and rewarding. Im sure those group quilting bees were indeed a support group for the pioneer woman of long ago.I know my meetings with like-minded women, talking, sharing laughing, and learning is a blessing for me.

  39. Natalie says:

    I couldn’t agree with this more! I have suffered from bouts of depression for years and have always felt sewing is my release. My husband even agrees that sewing is my therapy and will often encourage me to forget about everything else and go sew. (And has even come home with fabric to encourage me!). I truly believe sewing brings peace to the mind, body, and spirit!

  40. Rebecca Dockum says:

    This makes me ponder about the women who made quilts during the depression. Was this a form of therapy? What about the sewing bees? Did this also provide some sort of support group? It seems society’s lean to individualism has lost the art of healing emotional well being in sewing and group crafting. I have always said sewing is my therapy!

What do you think?