Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That Love/Hate Thing

There are several discussions going around on the boards and on blogs... 'What do you love about sewing?' or 'What do you hate about sewing?' that have kind of made me remember...and think.

I remember my sister (who used to be a fairly accomplished seamstress; she made a leisure suit for Dad when she was in high school, but has gotten away from it) and I discussing 'What do we hate about sewing' once upon a time many, many moons ago.

Back and forth between us, we listed all the things that we found tedious and uninspiring. Keep in mind, this was back in the day before either of us needed (or realized we needed, anyway) any fitting changes made to a pattern. As well as I can remember, here's what we listed:
cutting out the pattern
laying out the fabric (we used a chest freezer for a cutting table; access only from one side made it, um, challenging)
Cutting interfacing
Fusing interfacing (it was cheap pellon then!)
tailor's tacks
finishing the edges (no sergers then! Everything was zig-zagged around)
stay stitching
sewing darts (how could anyone get those points smooth and even?)
gathering anything
putting in zippers
turning collar points
top stitching
sleeve plackets
trimming/clipping/grading seams
marking/trimming hems
hand sewing (buttons, hooks/eyes, hemming...)

In short, just about every single operation involved in the construction of a garment (except buying the fabric!) was on the 'Ick List'. But we both agreed that we 'loved to sew!' I remember pointing that out and we both laughed. It didn't make sense.

But realistically, any of those things is very tedious and not-fun when done as an isolated task. But constructing a garment is so much more than the sum result of a bunch of isolated tasks. It all works together. For instance, making a dart isn't fun...but watching fabric take shape as the darts are completed is.

And that's what we all love about home sewing...watching that garment move from a concept and flat yard goods into a three-dimensional garment that reflects the individual's style. When each of the elements are integrated into the whole, it does become greater than the sum of the parts. (Of course, improved equipment and techniques have probably improved my attitude somewhat in the interim also).

But to me, though, sewing is freedom. Freedom from the dressing room, freedom from the fashion cycle, freedom from poor quality/inflated prices, freedom from manipulative marketing strategies. (Well, sort of. I have been known to be suckered by enticing pattern envelope art...).

And I *love* freedom! ;)


  1. I agree.
    Freedom, baby! It's a very groovy thing! Had to add a little Austin Powers.
    Just have to say how impressed I am with your list. Gives you quite a sense of accomplishment, I'm sure. Gonna have to start me a list...

  2. It's funny, I was working on a garment last night, and was really enjoying myself. I realized that I much prefer when I do all the steps (cutting, interfacing, sewing) organically as I need to for a project, rather than doing all of one kind of thing all at once. It's probably less efficient, but it feels like less of an ordeal, and after all it's supposed to be fun! :)

  3. LOL. I was thinking as I was reading the list, that you had just about everything we do during sewing a garment on it! All those little things add up to a having a one of a kind garment, in the end.