Today I read a post by Becca at Red W Sews about why she sews; it is a pensive entry and has inspired me to write about why I sew and what it means to me…
Sewing has only been in my life for two and a half years. I didn’t start sewing out of a desperate need to make clothes; I just fell into sewing. My first makes were cushions and curtains, but then I made a skirt and fell in love with the process. It was much more exciting that sewing straight lines for miles hemming a curtain.
So I guess you could say dressmaking chose me (it didn’t really, it was a random interest that developed).
At the time I started to sew I was very ill and although I was volunteering at a local charity, I was unable to take on a proper paid job. So in many ways – although I did not consider this at the time – it was an escape route from what I was dealing with.
More than that, I was enjoying learning a new skill, and developing my techniques. I got frustrated at being a beginner and wanted to be better, like yesterday. As I made progress and improved, it made me feel good about myself at a very low point in my life.
I’m an overthinker, a worrier, and whenever I was focused on sewing – whether that was choosing fabric, cutting it, sewing, watching a video or reading a book – it would take my mind off other stuff, in turn this reduced my anxiety and made me happier.
I then got to the point where I was able to go back to work part time and my time sewing became more limited. This is the point where, historically, I would have normally lost interest. I didn’t; it grew. It helped there was a fellow sewist in the office, I guess.
I would take my makes into the office and I would love it when I impressed my colleagues… it was absorbing more good feeling around sewing.
Then we moved cities and I changed jobs, eventually going full time. My sewing was even more restricted because aside from the limitations on time of working full time, I was also dealing with chronic fatigue; it was a constant battle between feeling worn out and need to rest, and feeling frustrated I wasn’t sewing with each passing moment.
I have never really been into fashion, and I don’t have a very strong opinion on the state of RTW clothing so I don’t sew for these reasons. Some say sewists are thrifty but in this day and age its far cheaper to buy RTW, especially when you factor in time spend making a garment. I have always struggled with my weight (this is another post) and I do like that I can fit a garment to flatter my figure, not buy a piece of clothing in the hope that it will be close to a good fit (invariably it is not).
However, for a long time (until the last few months really) I hadnt been sewing garments for me because I did not want to accept the weight I had developed. It was only when I started blogging about the wardrobe architect than this changed. I still felt a huge sense of achievement making clothes that looked like they were sold in a shop with fabric chosen by me. Some say I have a distinctive style in terms of fabrics I choose and I like that.
I love the process of choosing a pattern and fabric. Weighing up in my head what I want the garment to look like and assessing which fabrics are best suited to this. I also like purchasing fabric for my stash to use later, when I find the right pattern or when I do not have funds to buy new fabric.
And I am set up. I have all the sewing equipment I could ever want or need. Should I find myself too ill to work again, or indeed set up as self employed working from home, I wont need anything (apart from more fabric, obviously) and I like that. It gives me a sense of security, that whatever happens I will have my sewing to fall back on.
When I read Becca’s post and she asked about wanting to sew versus needing to sew, I thought to myself I don’t need to sew, I sew because I enjoy it, and yet when I think about it sewing means much more to me than enjoyment.
This perhaps became most obvious when my sewing machine had to go in to be serviced a few weeks ago. It is a good machine that I really enjoying having and using. And when I found out it was staying in the dealers shop for longer than anticipated I became very upset. I didn’t expect to feel like this. I do sew a fair bit, it is my central hobby, but I never thought it would be the end of the world to go a few weeks without my machine. On the contrary; I have my overlocker so I could sew if I wanted to and yet I found myself in actual tears because I was without a machine. It surprises me how little I know myself at times. I ended up purchasing a cheap bottom of the line machine to tide me over, and this turned out to be a good decision as the dealer has told me he needs to send my machine back to the manufacturers.
I fantasise about giving up work and running my own pattern making company, and maybe that will happen some day but it is a long way off. Right now I am all about gaining experience. I do tend to go OTT with my projects though. I have three projects on the go right now and about 5 others my brain is nagging me to start. I don’t have the time but I will find it somehow, because I need to…