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I Used to Resent Sewing

What happened when I stopped letting sewing be what others expected it to be and made sewing into what I wanted it to be for myself, by Saki Jane.

Posted in: Creativity & Mindset • January 31, 2020

Wouldn’t it be nice if all our love letters to sewing could be short and sweet like this? But I would be lying if I said I’ve always loved sewing the way I do today.

In fact, I used to resent sewing. I even used to resent others who found joy in it, because I couldn’t. I viewed sewing as a chore, and every time I’d sit down at my machine, I had to do so while dragging my own feet.

Being the young girl who made prom dresses for herself and her friends made sewing a part of how others saw me, and as I aged, I held stronger to the uncomfortable feeling of indignance that I was assigned this skillset as part of my identity from such an early age. I rebelled—I didn’t want to be told that I could hem pants to cushion my income or that fashion school was too expensive or that I could go into garment production as a career. Ironically, I rebelled against the one artistic medium that made me feel the most confident and free in my creativity because it was expected of me to make it into something that served me financially.

So I put my sewing machines in the closet and only begrudgingly pulled them out once a year, if they were lucky, to make myself a birthday outfit.

I tell you this honestly, because I need you to know that it’s normal to not love sewing in every phase of your life. It’s okay to feel like you haven’t drunk the kool-aid in a while. It’s okay to let it go sometimes and to let it come back when you’re ready for it. It’s okay to let it serve you when it does. It’s okay to accept a rare commission on impulse and instantly regret it. All of these feelings are okay, and they are equally normal.

A few years ago, I realized that people no longer knew me as the girl who sews her own clothes. It came as a surprise because I truly believed that this was a part of my identity that didn’t need maintenance. I thought it would always just be there—as if once established, my relationship with sewing didn’t need to be taken care of. As if sewing were somehow exempt from the laws of reality.

Around the same time, I moved continents with my now-husband, to a country with a language I didn’t speak and needed something to fill my days. So, possibly for the first time in my life, I sat at my machine and sewed clothes purely for the sake of giving myself something rewarding to do. I started my blog and Instagram and joined the thousands of people in the online sewing community who sew just because they love it.

And now I understand that every aspect of garment construction is what puts me in my flow state.

The time I spend petting fabric at the fabric store is time spent learning about the drape and feel of various fibers.

The time I spend cutting out fabric is time spent getting to know the properties and behavior of the textile I’m about to turn into a garment.

The time I spend at the ironing board pressing seams is not time spent not sewing. It’s time invested to make those seams look more professional.

The time I spend prepping my seams with pins only makes the process smoother.

It’s never about how quickly I can pass my fabric through my machine—it’s about listening, seeing, and feeling the way the fabric reacts and manipulating it gently to do what I want it to do.

When I need to get out the seam ripper, it’s not sewing’s fault. When I find myself messing up frequently, it’s a clear indication that my hands are working too fast for my brain—it’s time for a break, a glass of water, some stretches, or even walking away from my project so that I can come back when I’m ready and give sewing the attention it deserves.

I pursue the ideas I dream about, and I say no to the ideas that don’t make excitement swell up inside me.

It took a few years to get used to this shift in my relationship with sewing, but I’ve learned that the biggest shift was that I stopped letting sewing be what others expected it to be and made sewing into what I wanted it to be for myself.

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