Frequent readers (if I have any?) will have noticed that things have been a little quiet on the dressmaking front here lately. Sorry. It’s been a kinda crazy couple of weeks, but I promise to get back on it soon.
But while I haven’t had a lot of time to sew, I’ve been playing along with #sewphotohop. It’s a sewing challenge (organised by the lovely Rachel at House of Pinheiro) that runs throughout September, asking you to post a sewing-related photo every day inspired by a particular theme. There’s a chance to win prizes from the sponsors, so of course, I wanted in!
Here are the themes and sponsors:
It was all quite easy until the 11th, when the theme was Why I Sew. And suddenly I thought “Oh my god, why do I sew?” and for at least 10 minutes couldn’t think of a single reason at all. Then suddenly I thought of all the reasons at once and they were competing for space in my brain, and I felt the need to write them down before I lost them all again. Maybe it’ll be useful one day.
So, in no particular order, I sew because…
- I got it from my Mama, and she got it from hers! This is the reason I gave on Insta, along with the image below. The lady in the photo is my maternal grandmother Elsie (known to me as Nanny Vogel) circa 1960, and the little girl is my mum. Nanny Vogel was a prolific seamstress – she made basically all the clothes she owned, and sold handmade leather gloves to order. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was six so never taught me directly, but she did teach my mum who is herself a very accomplished maker of small items and has a shop on Folksy. They probably aren’t the reason I sew now, but it was definitely their influence that started me off. I get the sewing gene from them.
- Most RTW clothes don’t fit me. I’m tall, with broad shoulders, big boobs, small waist, wide hips, short legs. I mean, we all know that clothes now are generally designed to fit and flatter a slimmer, more boyish figure. Nothing new there. In fact, I read somewhere that 75% of the clothes sold in the UK are Size 12 and under, so the fashion industry is undoubtedly biased. But to think that a clothing retailer might mass produce something that comes even close to fitting my unusual shape is kinda mad. Of course they wouldn’t, because I’m the only person they could sell it to. And I’ve no doubt there are thousands of people out there who feel exactly the same.
- Because it helps me break the cycle of fast fashion, whilst still indulging my love of clothes. This is a big one. Because fast fashion is rapidly eating up our planet, and destroying lives. I won’t write too much about it here, but I will recommend watching The True Cost if you haven’t seen it already. It’s a feature-length documentary by Andrew Morgan which looks at the problems created by throw-away culture. I know it sounds really depressing but it’s actually quite optimistic as it shows how we can all make a difference. Please watch it. It’s on Netflix now.
- Sewing gives me complete autonomy over my own image, which is the coolest thing ever. So if I ever think “Man, I really want a black sleeveless culotte jumpsuit“, I can design and make the perfect one. My choices aren’t dictated by trends, or sizing, or budget – only my imagination, and the time I’m willing to commit. It’s liberating.
- Sitting at a sewing machine is much more enjoyable than traipsing endlessly around Topshop, getting angry at the loud music, then crying in the fitting rooms. I’m sorry, but it just is.
- Sewing is cheaper than therapy. Sewists say this a lot and the phrase has become a bit worn, but there’s definitely truth in it. There’s something very meditative about making – there are elements of creativity, precision and process, which exercise parts of the brain that most of us just don’t use in our day-to-day lives. Sewing provides opportunities for quiet solitude when it’s needed, and lively interaction when you’re ready. And when you’ve made something, the sense of achievement and the thrill of having something new give you a welcome rush of endorphins. I’ve sewed my way through some of my most difficult experiences. It doesn’t solve problems, but it helps.
- Sewing means I’ll always be able to give a gift, offer a service and have something to wear. It’s an infinitely practical life skill which ultimately saves me some money and means I’ll never be broke. As Nanny Vogel would have said: it’s making something from nothing.
- It’s provided me with opportunities. Because of sewing I was able to quit my job and retrain as a Design and Technology teacher. It’s still very early days, but right now I really love it and can’t believe I never did it before. The more I study education the more certain I feel that I’ll be good at it, and the happier I am about dedicating all my working hours to something really worthwhile. And, of course, I’m writing a blog. A couple of years ago I would have been too embarrassed to publish anything, but sewing has compelled me to start writing, and find my own voice.
- Instead of impulse buys, my wardrobe is now made up of high-quality, enduring items that I love to wear again and again. Because there’s just no point putting so much time and effort into something I’ll never wear.
- Because it’s so great when somebody compliments your outfit, and you can reply “Thanks, I made it“. Seriously, it never gets old. Most people just look at you in amazement, like you’re some sort of wizard.
There are probably more, but I haven’t thought of them yet. I’d love to hear your reasons – lets keep adding to the list, yeah, and keep championing craft? And if you’re reading this and you don’t sew already, but are considering it, then try it. I promise you it’s great.