Thursday, 17 November 2016

Why I Sew

I haven't been in the sewing room as much as I hoped these past few weeks. Overtime, allergies, and a sore back has been challenging to my work / life balance. Everyone is celebrating the unseasonal warm weather we're having but it is what makes this allergy season the worse ever. I'm praying for snow and that it will bring an end to these endless sinus headaches. Then maybe I'll feel like spending more time focused in the sewing room. Until then...  

I'm often asked if I made this or that and why I sew. Sometimes the reasons why I sew have changed over the years, different factors come into play. However, one reason has remain constant, I enjoy sewing. I really do, even though my one and only goal this year has been to rediscover the joy of sewing. Last year, I was constantly asked to sew things that I had no interest in sewing. I was feeling used and unappreciated and discovering the joy of sewing was all about putting an end to that silly business and rediscovering the joy of sewing that once filled the sewing space.

Now, I'm not a totally selfish sewist. Mama R's wardrobe has been created and financed at my sewing table and it has been an absolute joy to dress her. And there are little girls who were dressed in Lynn Mizono's dress that filled my heart with joy. If you haven't made this pattern, I highly recommend if not for the cuteness factor alone. Every time I finish one it puts a big smile on my face. And there are other reasons why I sew.  

Reason #1: A Sense of Accomplishment

I have to admit that I like the feeling of accomplishment and seeing a project from start to finish. I like to research how-to tips and tricks to achieve a technique and look that I'm after.

I was over-the-moon when I finished the red cape inspired by a Kate Spade cape that I spotted in the retail landscape. After all the time and money spent on this project, one could argue that it would have been more economical to just purchase the Kate Spade cape. But the sense of accomplishment that came with that project is priceless. I wouldn't have traded that feeling for anything.

Reason #2:  Heightened Sense of Awareness & Protest

From the first time that I picked up a sewing needle as a wee little gal, I have seen a lot of changes in not only the sewing industry but in the quality of fabric offered in the fabric stores to the changes happening in the retail landscape.

Judith Weller's statue of The Garment Worker {Source}

In North America, over the decades, the sewing industry was dismantled and shipped overseas chasing dreams of higher profits off the backs of cheaper labour and lower safety standards. In return, consumers paid lower retail prices in exchange for lower quality goods. I felt conned by these cheap goods that made it into my closet. As a result I returned to sewing. And eventually, I joined the RTW Fast. It was tough at first, but now it is a sense of pride. After reading Elizabeth L. Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion there was no way that I could continue to hide behind the veil of ignorance. The reform of education saw the decline of home economics classes that were traditionally offered in the last century. This drop was argued as necessary to focus on the three R's but policy makers failed to see that sewing helps to develop those skills. Instead, it helped to develop a consumer unable to spot and appreciate quality goods allowing the rise of cheap ready-to-wear to take hold. Meg L. Noonan's The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat heartbreakingly follows the trail of a quality workmanship on the decline and how bespoke clothing is a highly sought after luxury out of the reach of many consumers. The meaning of bespoke is being transformed as marketers hi-jack the term to sell other products, dismissing it original luxury status.  I sew today with a heightened sense of awareness that I can control the quality of the garments I make by choosing natural fabrics that are less prone to pilling to choosing techniques to produce quality construction.

Reason #3:  The pure and natural mood altering experience

I sew for the mood altering experience that sewing gives me. From the excitement of finding a bolt of fabric in the store that triggers a plan for a new project.

Scooter print fabric and the perfect buttons, Mitchell Fabrics.
I have never left a fabric store without encountering something that inspires me and gets my mind thinking even if I leave empty handed. Under the best of circumstances, sewing is a stress reliever. The five senses are at play during the sewing process. The smell of a piece of cloth, whether it is leather that makes you consider making a handbag or moto style jacket or just that funky smell that sends you out the door. Sight of wall-to-wall buttons on someone's blog offered at a Paris shop invoke dreams of travel.

The sense of touch as one's hand strokes the soft nap of a piece of velvet or velveteen to reveal the different shades as light reflects off the surface. The symphony of sound that fabric makes with movement. Along with the sounds and sights from sewing equipment all contribute to the mood altering experience that sewing provides.

So, there you have it, the top reasons why I currently sew. What are yours?

Happy Sewing!




  1. Beautiful post. I am a beginner sewer and I still felt where you were coming from. Even the sinus and allergy issues,I share those issues with you. You do such beautiful work. Also, what is the McCall pattern number for the pattern you are showing in Reason 3? Thank you

    1. Thank you. The McCall's pattern 8943 in the picture is a Lida Baday design. It is out-of-print, circa 1997 but I found it on Etsy. There are several copies currently available on Etsy ranging from size 4, 8, 14 and 16. I haven't checked Ebay but that might be a source as well.

  2. Read today on Business of Fashion site that disposable clothing is responsible for 10 percent of global emissions, mostly because it's produced in places that burn coal for power and requires long-distance shipping.

  3. Sewing is a joy to me as I build a beautiful garment from a flat piece of fabric. The construction is so appealing. Color and drape of fabric also give me pleasure. Great post!


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