Recently, for the month of September at least, I participated in the #sewphotohop sponsored by @HouseofPinheiro on Instagram. It was really fun and quite a challenge to post (almost) every day, especially while moving. It also made me realize how much I still haven't done in the sewing world, like refashioning a piece of clothing or collecting enough "trims and haberdashery" to take a picture of.
One of my favorite prompts was from early in the month: "Why I Sew." Looking at the posts from that day, there were so many different and interesting reasons that people sew. And it got me thinking about my own reasons, beyond what I posted that day.So, now that I have a blog, I get to enumerate them for you. I know, right? Such power!
Top Five Reasons I Love Sewing:
5. I get to make the clothes exactly how I want them
Pretty obvious, right? I think this might be in the top five for everyone. It goes, "Nothing at the store fits the way I want it to, so I'll make it myself." And that's definitely a part of it for me. I have a large butt and a smallish waist, so finding pants that fit is not great. But also not impossible. I've found that J. Crew pants fit like a dream. So I can't totally claim fitting as a reason to sew.
I can claim style though. I sometimes get a singular vision of a piece of clothing that I want and I search high and low for it, usually to be disappointed. About 8 years ago, I got it into my mind that I wanted a pair of red jeans. And not just red, but bright, lipstick red. I cannot tell you how long I looked for those things before finally, after months, finding them at Urban Outfitters (not my favorite store, to say the least). But I had this idea that wouldn't quit. If I had known how to sew back then, I could have just found a fabric and a pattern and whipped them up, thus avoiding the whole headache.
Now, I can get an idea, like making a tartan plaid pencil skirt, and I have to say, it's a heck of a lot easier to find a matching fabric than to hope some designer out there had the exact same idea that I had and it's still in stores. And voila, a tartan pencil skirt.
Point one, sewing.
4. I save money
Ok, not all the time. Sewing a simple top is probably twice as expensive as buying one at H&M. That's where reason #5 trumps things. But sewing a dress is sooo much cheaper than buying one.
I must admit, I have expensive taste. In my early twenties, I did the whole Forever 21, H&M, Zara, quick, cheap consumable road but I ended up with spending a lot of money on trendy, short-term clothing that I didn't want to wear after a year or two. Then I started shopping at J. Crew, and I swear, ten years in, I still wear some of the stuff. And not just dresses, but shirts too.
The problem is that J. Crew is expensive, especially for dresses. So if I can make a dress for around $50, I've already saved about a hundred bucks compared to if I were to buy a pre-made ready-to-wear dress. Living in New York City, that hundred bucks is precious. (Preciousssss....)
Even when the fabric is more expensive, there's also the mere fact that if I made it, I'm more likely to wear it, it's more likely to be my style and it's probably going to last longer than something I bought. So, if you consider the price per wear of the clothing you sew, I'm basically printing money every time I sit in front of my sewing machine. (Or at least that's what I like to tell myself).
3. I have a creative outlet
Some people meditate, I sew. I know that this is the same for a lot of sewers out there. It's an escape. It's an outlet. It's freakin' zen, let me tell you. There's no better way for me to calm my nerves and free my mind than to sit down and only focus on the task of cutting, pinning, sewing and ironing. It's basically valium, but instead of weird side effects, you get something you get to wear.
And it's easy to express yourself through sewing. I can't really draw, so making my own clothing is the closet I can get to actually making art. And that's pretty boss, if you ask me.
2. It is a giant ego boost
Ok, I know I may come off as a giant, megalomaniacal egoist here, but sewing is a great way to boost your self-esteem. Now, I'm not saying that I sew just to seek compliments from people, but I can't deny that it's a great added bonus. Especially as a woman, it can often be a struggle to feel body-positive and proud of your own abilities and if sewing can help with that, I'm gonna keep doing it.
Plus, the look on people's faces after you say, "Thanks, I made it" is probably the best thing ever. I mean, I wish I could bottle it and drink it out of a nice mug on cold, winter nights.
Too much? Eh, I don't care.
1. It's one giant puzzle!
You know those tests they have to take in high school that tell you what careers you would be best suited for? Well, every time I took one, it told me to be an engineer. Like, every single one. I mean, it's not surprising. I was big into science and loved learning how things worked. But I never really wanted to go into engineering. It sounded very dry to me. No offense to the engineers out there - what you do is really cool - but I wanted to do something creative and in fact, even though I went to college as a Chemistry major, I graduated with a degree in Film Studies and French.
If only I had known that sewing is basically a form of creative engineering! I mean, it's a giant puzzle that you get to wear. You get your pattern, cut out your pieces and then you're responsible for putting it together so that it fits you. The entire time, you're problem-solving, like figuring out why the neckline is gaping or how to change the seam allowance so it doesn't pull. I swear, every time I sew something, I gain white matter in my brain.
I also specifically pick patterns to try new skills. I rarely sew the same pattern twice and every time I decide on a new project, there is something new for me to learn. Has anyone seen the sewing technique checklist on Fiona's lovely blog Diary of a Chain Stitcher? Well, I'm slowly working my way through it, and I couldn't be happier.
So that's it, folks: the top five reasons I sew. I have to say, it makes me incredibly happy to make top five lists, and maybe it's because I've seen High Fidelity more times than I can count, but that's neither here nor there.
Now, I'm curious. What are your reasons? Let me know in the comments!