So if you are interested in learning to sew, but are a little hesitant to actually get started, here are my reasons why you shouldn’t wait any longer, and just do it.
(1) Sewing is about self-sufficiency
In the old days, everyone (well, maybe most woman) sewed because they had to. Someone had to make quilts to keep themselves warm at night, or mend torn clothes because they could not afford to throw them away and buy new ones. You might think those days are long gone (thanks, Walmart!), but you know what, I have a feeling those good old days are coming back.
The days of $5 shirts and $10 sweaters made in China will be over soon. The world is running out of oil. The price of cotton is on the rise. Long-suffering garment workers in third-world countries are demanding better pay and working conditions (as they totally should). Soon, it’ll be a matter of economic necessity for us to stop and think before tossing that pair of toddler jeans in the bin just because there is a hole in the knee area – or that once-pristine white bib that now has a patch of spaghetti sauce stain on it that doesn’t come off.
That’s where your sewing skill comes in handy. How hard is it to mend torn jeans, and maybe apply a faux leather patch to make the jeans cuter than it was before? Not hard at all. Or appliqué a little heart-shaped fabric over the spaghetti stain on the bib? You just saved yourself a lot of money and made your kids happy. And you didn’t even need a sewing machine. Same idea if you lose a button on your skirt, or buy a dress that should be 5 inches shorter. Being able to sew is like being able to change a lightbulb yourself and not call an electrician. It’s empowering.
(2) Sewing saves you money
It is related to my first reason above, but sewing does save you money. Especially if you are in an anti-“made in China” (pro human rights) mindset, or if you have a taste for having beautiful things around your house (luxury items are always expensive!)
Here is a stack of double gauze handkerchiefs I made last night (yes, in one night). I was inspired by necessity, as usual, because the kids and I all have a cold and are in constant need to wipe our noses. Sewing skill required: minimal. Money saved: ??? I think I’ll list these handkerchiefs in the shop for about $10 each… See, I hope you don’t buy them and start making your own instead!
(3) If you sew clothes, you’ll wear clothes that fit you better.
Do you find it difficult to find ready-made clothing that fits you well? People come in all sorts of shapes, so it’s no wonder that most people won’t fit into standardized sizing of ready-made clothing. For instance, I always have trouble finding pants and skirts that fit me – if it fits snugly around my waist, it is too tight around my hips. If it is just right around my hips, the waist is too loose. Same story with the tops and dresses, because I suppose an average size 4 mannequin would come with a bigger bust than I do.
So when I first took up sewing, I made a few skirts. They were not very well made — the supposedly “invisible” zippers were very visible, and I chose wrong fabrics (I used a lot of quilting cotton for wearables, which was a mistake — but more on this in a later post). But I wore them all the time anyway because they fit me. And it’s such a joy to wear clothes that fit you properly. These days I don’t have much time to sew my own clothes. So even though I can probably make better-looking skirts now that my sewing skill has much improved, I still wear those wonky skirts I made years ago because they are so comfortable.
And the problem of fit isn’t just with grownups. Children come in all sizes and shapes, too. If you knew how to sew even the simplest garments, like summer shorts and simple dresses, your children will thank you.
Here’s an example. I made these wide shorts for my two-year-old son , who has a lovely curvy bottom. Combined with a bulky cloth nappy he was wearing at the time, I had a hard time finding pants that would fit him (and not be a mile long). So I found a pattern for wide shorts, and cheap cotton seersucker fabric I found for $5 a meter, and made several pants like these. Each took less than an hour to make. My son loves them, and wears them all the time even on freezing cold days.
(4) If you have kids, they would LOVE the things you make
It’s true. I know I’ve written about Miss M’s famous inclination to reject the clothes I lovingly make, but deep down she really adores that I make things for her. I know this because when she goes to daycare of preschool, she proudly tells everyone “Mommy made this!” (Or this, or this….) Kids know that you are taking the time to make them something special. And even if it is a really small thing, like an appliqué on an old bib, they feel the love and appreciate it – even when they don’t quite like the way it looks.
(5) And finally…. sewing can be fun.
Sewing is fun for me, and for a lot of hobby sewers. It offers a creative outlet in an otherwise-hectic life filled with mundane chores — be it a nine-to-five office work or taking care of little ones day in and day out. You don’t have to be a “creative” person to begin with. I believe for a lot of people, like me, creativity comes with practice. There are lots of beautiful fabrics in the shops, and easy-to-follow instructions or patterns. At first all you do is just blindly follow the instructions, and that’s totally fine. Because when you end up with something you created, it’s very satisfying. Over time, with practice, I bet you’ll find that you are a creative person after all, and may start making your own patterns, modifications, and even fabrics.
Well, I rest my case for now. My next post will be how to find a cheap sewing machine.