Monthly Archives:

May 2014

Jenn from A Jennuine Life on KCW
spring

why I sew: Jenn

Today’s post is bittersweet; it’s at once a post I’ve been looking forward to writing, and also signals the end of my time here contributing at Kids Clothes Week.

Folks, I’ve been thinking about the  question “why I sew?” for weeks.  In the past, my answer might have been something along the lines of how it’s a counterbalance to my analytical mind.  But when I began really pondering my motiviation and writing things down I found that’s not really the entire answer – there’s many reasons why I sew:

Why do I sew

Sewing Appeals to both analytic and creative aspects  Sure, sewing is more creative and that does enable a sort of balance to my left-brained tendencies.  I’m an Accountant, and true to the stereotypes, I do like things to tie and tally in both my professional and personal life.  Sewing is also in itself at once both precise and pliable – it’s a marriage of the two aspects.  So if you are accurate in cutting pattern pieces, and align/pin/sew with precision, you will end up with a great result.  Within that are so many little creative tweaks and nudges that can affect the final product.  Case in point  – the rainbow dress I made for Arden’s 4th birthday – what a heady feeling to get all those curved seams to lay so nice and flat, and the matching across the zip was such a rush!

Rainbow Dress Collage

There’s an alchemy to sewing  From an idea plus pile of fabric to a finished garment, there’s a transformation that occurs with sewing which is greater than the sum of its parts.  Add in drafting your own pattern from a design you’ve imagined, and it’s even more magical!  I also love refashioning to sprinkle some extra ingredients into the equation, like in my REduce, REuse, REFASHION! project I made while competing in Project Run & Play.  The coat is made using salvaged leather from my sofa.

REfashion Collage

Sewing is introspective which also brings in a couple other aspects I wrote down: it’s my happy place and that there are parallels to distance running.  Let me explain…  I used to run marathons, and part of what was great were the long runs and how it was this stretch of uninterrupted time with just my own head.  Now that I don’t have my long runs anymore, working in my studio is the closest I get to that happy place.  In some ways it surpasses the “in your head” time of distance running, because part of what I used to think about while running was things I wanted to create, and now I get to be in that peacuful state while I’m creating.  I love the way it feels to be working on a sunny afternoon with the light streaming in through the French doors, or after the girls are in bed and I’m listening to satellite radio with a glass of wine on my cutting table.

Tabletop

It’s something I can do at home Let’s face it – when you have young children, you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time in your home.  Lot’s of other activities are out when you’re waiting for little people to wake up (or rather, hoping they’ll sleep longer – amiright?) so by turning to sewing, you’re able to use that time to accomplish something.  Something way more fun than say, cleaning house!  I know a lot of my friends began sewing when their children were young, and that’s when I began to get a lot more serious about it.  It’s a way for me to create for the people within my home as well as to outfit my home itself.  Pulling something into your home environment (clothing your family or improving your home) that would otherwise take you out of it (going shopping) is a pretty cool thing to do!

LOL Swing Top

Sewing is an accomplishment Big or small, when I sew I’m CREATING.  That’s an accomplishment.  Learning a new skill?  That’s an accomplishment.  Creating a tutorial to show someone else how to sew something – wait for it… – That’s an accomplishment.  I like having a goal or a finish line to strive towards (see reference to marathons above), so tackling a big project gives me great joy, like the PVC Playhouse & Sunshade I made last summer.  Let me tell you, the sense of satisfaction I get when I see my girls enjoying themselves under it’s shade makes every moment I spent creating it worth it tenfold.

PVC Playhouse Tent Collage

And let’s not leave off simply that I like to create and to see my girls wearing things I’ve made for them.  There’s a satisfaction when friends or strangers comment on something they’re wearing that I’ve sewn.

Maybe not the most succinct explanation for why I sew, but I do think it’s the most honest answer I can give.  Are any of my reasons for sewing the same as yours?

Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW
spring

why I sew: Renee

Ever since I read the ‘Why I Sew’ posts from last seasons KCW, I’ve been thinking about this very question. Like many adults, I’ve given a few different hobbies a try and they have come and gone, but for some reason when I started sewing it became not just a hobby, but a passion…. an obsession even. It’s sometimes hard to explain to others that you’re a sewer – ‘oh’ they might say and change the subject or (even worse), ask you to mend something….

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I’ve followed Brooke and Erin’s lead and jazzed this post up a bit with some project photos – you can click on the photos for more info.

My grandmother was a seamstress for her career. She made custom wedding dresses from her home and has only recently stopped sewing regularly (she’s almost 90). About two years ago I had an epiphany – she has a lifetime of sewing skill and knowledge and I decided that I needed to learn from her before it’s too late. I wanted to be able to chat sewing with her, understand her craft and through a shared passion, understand more about her. She lives too far from me to give me one on one lessons, so I knew I would pretty much have to teach myself and then go to her for advice when I got stuck on something. I’m so proud of the fact that we can and do chat sewing now. When we have a cup of tea, I take my latest projects and I cringe while she examines my seams! This lady is a perfectionist in her own league.

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Whether the love of sewing is somehow innate, I don’t know. Both she and my mum knit beautifully too, but my knitting attempts have been abominable. Wanting to emulate my grandmother may have started this journey, but it is not enough on its own to keep me at it day after day. After a great deal of time thinking about why I sew – here is what I’ve come up with.

For some reason, and I don’t know exactly why – sometime during high school I pigeon holed myself as someone who is not creative. I did well in science, particularly Biology and decided to study Biotechnology at university. That was it – I would be a scientist and in my mind scientists are not creative people. This of course is a complete load of c#*p. Every person has the ability to be creative – including scientists (how do they make amazing research breakthroughs without creative thinking?). A few years at home with small babies created a need to feel useful again in some way – I wanted to create something and feel the sense of achievement I used to get from paid employment. Through sewing I’ve come to that realisation that I am creative and I love it!

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I’ve become addicted to the creative process – gathering inspiration, wandering through fabric stores feeling the weights and textures of fabrics, imagining what garments these fabrics could possibly become. Now when I’m stuck in the tedium that sometimes comes with the small child routine, fights at the diner table, making school lunches and washing more dishes – my head is filled with thoughts of new projects……… and this makes me happy.

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And you know what else, the sense of achievement that sewing has given me lead me to tackle another long held goal of mine – to swim the 1.2km Pier-to-Pub ocean race in Lorne, Victoria. It was something I’d always wanted to do and in January this year, I did it! Guess what, same as sewing, with a bit of training and the right tools, there’s nothing you can’t tackle.

Renee swim

So that’s it really – I know many of you will relate to my desire to sew all the things all the time. Brooke really hit the nail on the head in her post when she said ‘Now I sew because I have to’ – yup! I don’t care so much whether the kids wear what I make for them (well maybe a bit), it’s the process that gives me the return. Have you given this topic much thought? Are your motivations similar to mine or completely different? Do share!

 

Brooke from Oliver's Fancy on KCW
spring

why I sew: Brooke

“Why would I make that when I can go to Target and buy it for $10?”                                  “That’s nice for you, but I don’t have time to sew.”
“How do you find time to make all those things?”                                                             “That’s a lot of work. Not really worth it in my opinion.”

Have you heard any of these? I get these questions from people quite regularly as a matter of fact. I have a few sewing friends in town, but not many. Many of my friends and acquaintances appreciate the sewing I do, but from afar. They just don’t quite “get” me. Ya know what I mean? That’s what I love about this online community. There are so many like-minded people who totally understand my fabric hoarding tendencies, crazy urge to sew last-minute gifts and messy house because I’ve spent all week sewing kid’s clothes. (Note: because I find blog posts without pictures to be very boring I’ve uploaded some pics of various sewing projects I have done over the last few years. If you are curious about any of them just click on the picture to be taken to the blog post.)
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But really all that doesn’t answer the basic question of why I sew in the first place. It all started almost 6 years ago with a desire to learn how to quilt. Contrary to many others, I did not grow up sewing with my mom. While my mother does know how to sew and did sew me a few garments when I was very young, it’s not her passion and she never truly enjoyed it. Once she had 5 of us kids to take care of, she put the sewing machine aside except for small mending projects.

Vintage May Redo (4 of 10)
Growing up, I was the bookworm who would much rather have her head in a book than anything resembling home-ec. I took a basic sewing class in high school, sewed a hideous, ill-fitting skirt, tried out a few other big box garment patterns (without success), and then lost interest in sewing. That mentality carried me through college until marriage. But something happened after I got married. I had always harbored an inner desire to learn how to quilt, so that summer after I got married, I took a quilt class at my local quilt shop…and the rest, as they say, is history.
The quilt class not only taught me how to construct a quilt, but it also gave me a refresher on sewing basics and techniques. I became fascinated with the craft. I can’t really explain my fascination except maybe to say that I’m the kind of person who always needs to be learning and growing and now that I was done with college and book-learning, I had found another outlet to fulfill my inner need for learning.

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The first year, it was mostly quilting and small household projects: pillows, placemats and such. Then I got pregnant with our first son and started experimenting with children’s clothes (mentioned on my previous post.) It seems like it’s a never-ending ascent to learn more and more about the craft of sewing. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. At the beginning, it was just something fun that I’d always wanted to learn. Now it’s much more than that. It comes from a deep-seated need to create that I never knew I had. The feeling of taking some flat pieces of fabric and creating something 3-dimensional that’s both useful and beautiful with them…well, it’s become a high for me. Now I sew because I have to. I have always admired artists, but never felt that I had the creative gene. I have now found my creative gene- it’s taking fabric and creating things with it. I mean, the possibilities are endless!

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In addition, sewing is also part of a challenge in our family’s goal to live a slower, more intentional life and be better stewards of our Earth. Sure, I could go to Target and buy the same top, or pair of shorts, or whatever else you want for cheaper and much less work on my part (and on occasion, I do). But when I create it with my own two hands, it not only gives me a feeling of being self-sustaining, it also aids in the goal of less sweatshop clothing, more ethically-sourced, etc, etc.

Art Gallery Sugar Pop Top (1 of 4)

So that’s probably more information than you ever wanted to know about my sewing journey, but I’m all about the information overload. I feel a bit vulnerable sharing something this personal with all of you, but I hope you enjoyed reading a bit of my story and maybe you could emphathize with one or more parts of it? What about you? Do tell me! Has sewing always been a part of your life or is it something you more recently picked up? Do you have that same inner need for creativity that I experience?