why I sew on KCW

what makes me sew: brienne

Hello, readers. Brienne Moody here, one last time this season to talk about the why.

I spend as much time as I can making things. And even when I can’t, it consumes my thoughts. And kids things in particular. As I considered this post over the last few weeks, I couldn’t come up with exactly what it was that compels me to make. Compulsion is the nature of it, to be sure – but why?Feathered Vest By Brienne

There was a time when my marriage was new and my babies were both so little and unfamiliar that hand-making helped me to make sense of domesticity – a concept that I had always flailed hard against.

Feathered Vest 2

But that’s not why for me anymore.

Feather Vest Front By Brienne

As I worked on this leather-feathered vest (using this pattern), I finished listening to a novel, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. About midway through, the book’s writer answered this question for me and much more eloquently than I could have.

“In the evenings, she lit a lamp and unfolded the fabric on the table. Following the pattern offered a kind of comfort, a quiet balance [to her day’s work which was] coarse, exhausting [and unpredictable]. Sewing was different. She knew if she was patient and meticulous, if she carefully followed the lines, took each step as it came, and obeyed the rules, that in the end when it was turned right-side out, it would be just how it was meant to be (205-6).”


That passage about a woman sewing a coat for a child is one that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Even though she’s musing there about stitching, the passage also contributes to the book’s persistent theme of impermanence. The stitching, it helps us to cope with the fleeting nature of things. Of kids and of youth and of thwarted meant-to-bes. And, I think, that’s why I do it.

Baby in the Hood Jacket By Brienne

What makes you sew?

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  • Reply Nicole February 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

    This made me teary! (The idea of kids growing always does.) It is beautifully put.

    • Reply brienne moody February 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! 

  • Reply sou enim February 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Oh, I loved this book! (The first one I read after years of only reading handbooks, sewing books, ecucational books, books about psychology, homeopathy…).
    Sewing (like other things done by hand, drawing, crafting, baking for pleasure) is a cure, I think.

    • Reply brienne moody February 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Oh good, I’m happy to hear from someone else who read it! I loved it too – I’m partial to it of course because the landscape there sounds just like where I live:) I definitely pictured myself as a Faina character in my teens and early 20’s:) 

  • Reply Dorie February 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    oh, this post is beautiful. Sewing is a concrete mark of productivity in uncertainty for me, for sure.

    • Reply brienne moody February 18, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      That’s it, Dorie. A concrete mark of productivity in uncertainty. Very well put. I like that. I’m getting some fodder here for a whole series of posts, I think…

  • Reply kristin February 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Beautiful post, Brienne!  I have often thought about why I prefer sewing for kids than adults, and I think part of it is the permanence but not TOO MUCH permanence of the projects.  Like they’ll always grow into/out of something so there’s always more to make, you can be more daring with colors and prints if you want to but sometimes it’s fun to make neutrals too, you can make it fit your kids’ particular bodies just right…and if you have a flop, that’s okay, it doesn’t take much fabric.  Sewing is so calming, though, and I love the order to it.  You can totally immerse yourself in a project and lose whatever stressed you out that day.  Just follow the instructions and it’ll all turn out well…hopefully (if it’s a well-written pattern that is).  😉    

  • Reply Annika February 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

    What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Why do I sew? If someone had told me even just four years ago that I would love to sew within a few years, I’d have called him nuts. I hated sewing, knitting, crocheting etc. when we learned it in school. I’m not a very patient person, so all those time that back then it took me to just sew a straight line by hand, drove me crazy. Then 3 years ago I found all those wonderful sewing blogs and were hooked by the possibility to decide myself how I want the garment to be. After sewing my first lines on the sewing machine I was like “Oh, that is so fast!”, which is so much more my piece of the cake 😉
    What I love most about sewing is now the challenge and the steep learning curve. I learn something new with every piece of garment that I make and in between have even grown some patience as I now that it’s well worth it…
    Also, you now that I’m a scientist. Even though I also work in the lab, I almost never have something in my hands when the work is finished. “Just” some more data, a new article in a science journal etc. Creating and having something “real” afterwards helps me to keep the balance…
    Btw: I’ll answer your comment and email later today…

  • Reply laura fisher February 19, 2014 at 3:43 am

    I’ve been holding back reading this post until I wrote my own.  I think so many of us can relate to the “persistent theme of impermanence” and, yes, thinking of children growing always makes me tear up as well!  Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply gail February 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    thank you for sharing that lovely passage, and your thoughts on why you sew. it’s a rather fascinating topic, i think, and your post is just beautiful.

    • Reply Brienne February 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Thank you, Gail. I’m glad that you commented because I had a chance to discover your lovely space! I love your son’s Latte coat! And I’m happy to hear that someone else is so enchanted with Posie Gets Cozy. I spend more time there drooling over the lovely scenes than I care to admit:)

  • Reply Laura February 20, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I love your perspective on this. I never expected to love sewing so much but it really is the whole process that appeals to me. That vest is amazing too.

  • Reply abby @ thingsforboys February 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Such a lovely post to read. I’ve never really thought about why I sew…I still don’t know! I love your knitted hat and the vest is gorgeous!

    • Reply Brienne February 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Abby! Thanks for your comment. It’s tough to come up with stuff for boys (as you most certainly know) so I was excited about this vest. I was thinking about the lost boys from Peter Pan or Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream or something…

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