My husband spent most of last weekend watching the cricket. Faced with a free weekend and no commitments I decided to sew for two days.
I made a few items but the solitude also gave me a chance to think about why I was sewing.
Here are my reasons.
- I am always seeking perfection
- This is what drives me. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a perfectionist, but I think I know what great looks like. So while I am happy to wear “good enough” clothes, eat good enough food, and to do as well as I can at work, I still have a vision in my mind of where I would ideally like to get to. This is my primary driver – my sewing can become a meditative act as I strive to be better. Of course if I worked on one thing – zips for example, or French seams – for days on end I might reach a very high standard. Unfortunately I would be bored beyond belief, so I try to improve incrementally. New projects are sometimes just about trying a new fabric, or a new technique.
- i enjoy the mental challenge
- There is also the desire to win, or dominate, or succeed with something that is quite hard. Not really, really hard like running a marathon, or always thinking before I speak. But challenging enough. I actually enjoy reading the instructions for something that I have not done before and puzzling it out. Or constructing a garment without a pattern or altering an item to fit. I get a great sense of achievement from this.
- I need a creative outlet
- I believe we all need an opportunity to be creative. Some people can sing or dance – I wish I was one of them. I envy people who can write, draw and paint. I am not much good at these things. I am not actually very good at sewing, or making textiles. But I do put in significant amounts of time and consequently I have reached an acceptable standard ie I can make something I am happy to wear. I like sewing as a hobby now that I have a degree of competence, and I shy away from things I am generally hopeless at – like skiing, for example. Making beautiful things is inherently satisfying and, as it uses physical as well as mental skills, it also provides a good contrast with my job (which is mainly about communication).
- I get nice feedback
- Most of my endeavour is solitary and I enjoy my quiet time alone. But when I surface I do like someone to notice what I have been doing, to comment positively on it, or if the work is not so good, to help me with suggestions on how to improve. Even though I am becoming more mature, my ego continues to yearn praise. I know how nice it is to receive compliments and I try to give as good as I get. This is what the “sewing community” actually comes down to, in my view. There is definitely some great sharing of expertise out there – I have many generous contributors who help me with my projects. But even more important is the affirmation we receive when we go public with our efforts.
- I like clothes, fashion and style
- I find clothes – their history, origins, cultural meaning and manufacture endlessly fascinating. A dress is never “just” a dress. I enjoy making clothes as it allows me to say what I want to say rather than what is created by another designer or company. I can wear something no one else has, allowing me to express my individuality. I want a good fit and more choice over colour, fabric and style
- I make clothes that suit and fit me better than RTW
- The last reason is the one that women usually give for why they sew. But ask yourself this – if you had lots of money would you get someone else to tailor-make your wardrobe? And do you have plenty of clothes, but keep on making more? If so, like me, this is probably not your primary reason for sewing.
Why do you sew?