Last week I saw a television spot, which gave a short biography of the wife of someone who is in the news quite a bit right now. The reporter/commentator referred to the wife’s modest upbringing, with a statement that her mother even had to make her childhood clothes for her (to drive home the point about them not being wealthy, I suppose.) The reporter then went on to say that now this wife only wears the finest (sniff, sniff) tailored suits, as if to imply that wearing all those homemade clothes is something she’d rather forget.
Well, pardon me, but what a disparaging thing to say about sewing! Obviously, the reporter has never experienced the satisfaction of sewing for herself or for someone else, nor does she have any idea how ubiquitous home sewing was in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
This little tag can tell you exactly why a mom sews for her child...
And this little tag can tell you why those of us who sew, do so for family and friends of all ages.
All of this got me thinking about the pleasure I get out of sewing, of being creatively busy, and well, I just thought I’d share some of my thoughts about why I enjoy sewing, and especially fashion sewing, so much. I know there are some of you who are not sewers, but I’ll bet most of you have a mom, or aunt, or sister, or know someone who is, so I hope my thoughts will have some relevance for you, too. So here goes – my essential eight:
#1: In 1970 when I was still in college I asked for and received The Vogue Sewing Book for Christmas. Its first chapter is entitled Fashion Sewing as an Art Form and this is a direct quote: “A person who sews is a creative artist because she individualizes fashion to her own special preferences and requirements.” Plain and simple, I like being creative and an artist.
Here is my copy of The Vogue Sewing Book, with its slipcover. I can't say enough good things about this book! Copies of it appear for sale on eBay and Etsy occasionally.
Here is a fly sheet which came with the book. Listed right at the top is "Fashion Sewing as an Art Form."
#2: The pleasure of choosing and handling beautiful fabrics is indescribable – go to a store like Britex in San Francisco and you’ll see how intoxicating fine fabrics can be. Yes, I’m a hopeless textilian.
#3: The saturation, variety and combination of colors in silks and wools, in linens and cottons is visually so satisfying and inspiring.
#4: I am a very goal-oriented person: I love the practice of starting a project (garment) and seeing it through from start to finish, and then once it’s complete, moving on to another one. In other words, sewing is composed of finite steps – there is a beginning, a middle, and an end – and then you have (hopefully, at least) something to show for it.
#5: I love detail work (like hand-sewing) – and good sewing has lots of details to it!
#6: Vogue patterns – and especially the ones from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and the designer ones – are such a pleasure to use. Most are gems of design, construction, and style.
#7: Speaking of construction, the challenge of putting the parts together, and figuring out the intricacies of construction is just so much fun. When I get a new (old) pattern, the first thing I do is take out the instruction sheets to read them. Hm-m-m, do you think I might be a little nuts – or just an engineer at heart?
#8: I get the heebiejeebies if I sit too long – and sewing is definitely an active sport! I’m constantly up and down from my machine, back and forth from the ironing board, standing at my work table, picking up pins off the floor, etc. etc. No fanny fatique from this activity!
I’ll end by deferring to a great American writer for his poignant statement about women who sew: “It is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their hearts than while so occupied.” While I can only hope to strive towards high thoughts and accomplishments, being at home with one’s heart is always a good place to be.
Years ago, a friend had this quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne done in calligraphy for me. I framed it and have it hanging in my sewing room.
Oh yes – about those finely tailored suits referred to by the clueless reporter? I can show her more amazing patterns for beautiful suits than she could ever imagine – and in my next post, I’ll be writing about my newest creation. Yes, it’s a suit!