You don’t have to sew to be an accomplished woman, but every woman needs a diverse skill set and a creative outlet. Could sewing be for you?
I’m talking about sewing as craft, and it’s making a comeback. There’s a growing desire to customize our clothing, get crafty and make things with our own hands, and go local and not big-box with our purchases. Skillful sewing makes these things possible.
Some women see sewing as a way out of the girls’ fashion dilemma. They’re making their daughters’ clothes instead of buying off the rack, customizing fit and length to suit their tastes, and creating their own fashionable, modest apparel.
And adult women are sewing their own clothes so they can have exactly what they want.
My mom sews, and when I was in grade school she equipped me with a basic knowledge of how to work with patterns and her fancy Bernina. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t actually make anything more exciting than headbands and hair scrunchies.
One summer in my late teens, I decided I wanted a pretty halter dress to wear to a party. What I really wanted was Cameron Diaz’s dress from the karaoke scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding, but I couldn’t find anything like it anywhere. So I made one. Actually, it turned out so well, I made three. (I couldn’t find a pattern for the style I wanted either–so I altered a blouse pattern.) I was surprised that the limiting factor wasn’t my skills–it was the fabric selection.
It was enormously satisfying to create three darling dresses from my own pattern all by myself. The compliments poured in. I couldn’t avoid the “where did you buy it?” line of questioning–and finally admitted, with some embarrassment, that I’d made them. To my surprise, the compliments really poured in after that!
I haven’t sewn much since that summer, mostly because I don’t own a machine. But I’m thinking of taking it up again, especially as I reflect on the creative satisfaction of conceiving and crafting a nice garment yourself. (Of course, there can be enormous frustration in it as well. But my daydreams focus on the upside!) And when you’re finished, you get to wear your creation! It’s a very tangible success, much like cooking–but the results last much longer.
If you’re thinking about plunging into sewing, do it for the right reasons. Some advocate sewing for reasons of thrift and frugality, but unless you’re making your child’s wardrobe out of old curtains a lá Maria Von Trapp, sewing isn’t cheap. Good machines are expensive, and even basic models run at least $100. Fabric prices vary widely, notions like buttons and zippers must be purchased, and the time investment can be significant. After adding up all these costs, a $60 sundress can look like a bargain.
Readers, do you sew? What have you made lately? What advice do you have for us newbies?