Contestant Question: Why Do You Sew?

on July 22 | in Contests & Giveaways, Interviews + Profiles | by | with 9 Comments

sosm_bannerWe have a new question for every round of The Super Online Sewing Match so we can get to know our contestants a little better. (Here are the answers for Round One.) Today’s question: Why do you sew? Our eight contestants are finishing up their Round Two Challenge, a Roller Skate Dress that must be finished by tomorrow at midnight! We’ll share their entries on Wednesday…

Are you participating in the Community Match? Answer the question in the comments below. Why do YOU sew?!
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Sue from A Colourful Canvas

The one word answer would be “creativeselfexpression,” but that isn’t really one word. For me, sewing is an effortless way to express my creative self. From the start of a project through to the completion, my creative self is in happy mode. I love colour! I love pattern! And seriously… I get a bit giddy in a fabric store. Now, I did say that sewing was an effortless way to express myself creatively, but that’s not to say I don’t try to improve my technical skills. I love the mental challenges that sewing provides me. When I’m sewing, I’m focused. It’s very meditative. As I’m actively engaging in the creative process, I am letting go of my busy mind, and for me that is magic. Sure, I sew because I want a dress (or even a slipcover) that is uniquely me; but the deeper, undeniable reason for sewing is the joy that I feel when I’m creating.
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Ashley from Ashley Lotecki Illustration & Design

There are multiple reasons why I sew, so I will describe a few. I am a very tactile person, so nothing brings me greater joy and relaxation than creating things with my own hands. In fact, I am rarely without something in my hands if there is an opportunity; I’d much rather listen to an audiobook or half-watch TV so I could sew or draw instead of doing something (like playing a video game) which requires full body investment (hands and eyes!). Sewing has an end result such as a garment or some other creation. The fact that I can actually wear or use this piece I’ve sewn only further enhances the tactile experience. The idea of being self-sufficient and more sustainable is also very important in my life. Sewing gives me the ability to source materials, such as my frequent practice of cannibalizing second-hand garments for fabric to give them a second life. It also allows me to customize things to my own body and measurements, while making something completely unique that represents my own style. And where the quality of a store-bought garment is not always initially obvious (zipper breakage, fabric not colorfast, chemical washes, etc.), I know exactly how I have put together my garment at each stage and with what materials. This also ties in with more sustainable living, as I have the ability to construct things I know will last a long time and can be repaired if needed. The other part of why I sew is the same reason that I love costumes so much. It’s the process of translating something two-dimensional into something three-dimensional and “real.” In terms of sewing, you are taking pieces of fabric, paper patterns, measurements, things that are all completely flat, and transforming them with your own hands to create something 3D that is capable of holding a person’s body inside! And not only that, it’s possible to even transform the shape and aesthetic of the body as well. That is a pretty exciting thing, don’t you think?!

Pictured are two costumes I constructed from scratch, including hand painting and silk screening all textile artwork, plaids, and stripes. The graphics used to create the silk-screens I also digitally sketched myself, referencing the characters they are based on.
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Melissa from Scavenger Hunt

I sew for a few different reasons. For one, I enjoy being able to take an idea and turn it into a real garment. I love vintage clothing and I find often myself taking inspiration from vintage styles, or even making a copy of a vintage garment I like that’s out of my size or price range (or doesn’t actually exist at all!). Knowing how to sew allows me to create my dream clothes for myself!

I also sew in order to have clothes that are uniquely mine and which look and fit exactly the way I like them. As opposed to buying a ready-to-wear garment, when I sew something for myself I can make it exactly the way I like in terms of fit, length and style. I enjoy the process of constructing a project (although there are times it can be very frustrating!), challenging myself, learning new techniques and seeing my skills improve.

More than anything, I think that sewing fulfills a basic need I have inside to make things and express myself creatively. I just makes me happy!
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Nicole from Nicole at Home

When asked the question “Why do you sew?,” I had some trouble coming up with an answer. I’ve always sewn, so it never occurred to me to question why I do it! Logically, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense to sew your own clothing; in my experience, it’s usually not less expensive, it takes a lot of time and can be fairly frustrating. Even the perfect fit can be elusive when sewing for yourself sometimes! At the end of the day, I sew clothing and housewares because I like creating something beautiful and functional and I enjoy the individual challenges of each project: creating the perfect pocket or line of stitching, and making an item that looks store-bought (or better!). Plus there is something incredibly satisfying about using a simple napkin, making a bed with a quilt or wearing a dress made by your own hands.

This photo is of linen napkins I sewed to coordinate with dishes inherited from my grandmother (who was an incredible seamstress herself).
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Ngoc, on Flickr and Pinterest

I don’t remember doing many arts and crafts as a child. What I did spend a lot of time on was putting jigsaw puzzles together on the living room floor. I got a lot of satisfaction from completing those puzzles. With sewing, the part I enjoy the most is seeing all the pieces come together. Having a completed sewn item is like finishing a puzzle– I feel proud, just like I was all those years ago.
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Kelli from True Bias

I was once told that a mom should create one thing every day that is permanent. I often feel like my world is full of chores that never stay done– cleaning, cooking, bum changes and bath times. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and feel blessed that I have the opportunity to parent these small children, but I love the sense of accomplishment that I feel after I create something. There are many reasons why I sew, but I think that this is at the core of it all. Sewing is “my thing.” When I have time to myself I choose to sew and it’s about the only thing that can keep me awake past 10 pm these days. I am proud of the garments that I create and it gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride to wear something out into the world that I made.
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Charise from Charise Creates

Sewing is a completely gratifying process for me. The key for me is creating. All the possibilities in a piece of fabric are so exciting. I love taking fabric and turning it into something beautiful, practical and often wearable. The process of taking an idea to design, then execution and finally making a usable item is incredibly satisfying– an item to use in every day life. I also love that there is always something new to learn in the pursuit of sewing, that I will continue to learn new skills over time. It is truly a life long passion and endeavor!
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Lori from Girls in the Garden

I often tell others I sew as my talent; others can sing or draw or paint, which I cannot do. In fact, when my girls were young, they would say, “Mom, don’t sing.” I followed their young wisdom and continued to sew and sew and sew. I found it was a way to make them unique and fun clothing that didn’t cost as much as ready–to-wear. I also found it was a way to relax and enjoy some “me” time. I would always come out of the sewing room a more relaxed person. Occasionally, when all four girls were very young, my husband would highly suggest I go sew… Um, I wonder why? The main reason I sew is I absolutely love it. To select a yardage of fabric and a pattern, then turn it into a garment is such a fulfilling process. I enjoy each step, from the cutting to working through construction or fit issues and finally the finished item. It is a sense of accomplishment and pride when you see the garment on the body and know you did that. Sewing is what I do and what I love to do.

Just for fun, here’s a little bonus photo of Lori’s twins when they were younger, in clothing made by Lori:

What about YOU? Why do you sew? Tell us in the comments.

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9 Responses to Contestant Question: Why Do You Sew?

  1. Mary says:

    I sew for my sanity. I started sewing when I was 10 as we did’nt have money for clothes. As time went on I learned to copy the things in the store(you did’nt want any one to know you made your clothes) as time went on I sewed for my self because I was 5′ 6″ and weighed 85 lbs. As time went on I wanted the cloths that were at Nordstrom,Robinson’s, Imagins” so I bought books and learned Coutour sewing. I made all my daughters cloths, and sewed for my grandchildren.
    While working -I had a very stressful job. My girlfriend who worked in a fabric store said” set a timer and you have to quit when it rings! and no sewing because you are in the middle of a seam or collar. It took me some time because it frustrated me to quit. But in time it was great I would finish a blouse in a week or a skirt. I had the satisfaction of doing something that wouldn’t be juged by a supervisor.
    I also quilt- every one in our family has a quilt. I feel that I’m leaving a piece of my self. behind.I make charity quilts,love baby cloths. I do needle work and use it on my clothes. My favorite is applique, right now I’m making Little 6×6 min quilts, they have flowers on them.
    . My cloths are the color I want and the outfit is what I want, and it fits. If someone wants to know where my out fit came from-I say a store called “MY CLOSET” and some people know I sew.
    They don’t understand why I sew-because I can buy it at the store. And theyfeel I’m wasting my time. I don’t- I have so much satisfaction in creating something.

  2. Karen says:

    I started sewing out of necessity when I was in junior high school. At 5’11” it was the only way I could get pants that were super long — the style back then! I struggled a lot in the beginning, but thankfully my mother was an excellent seamstress and taught me so much. I soon became pretty good at it and I enjoyed the attention I got from having one-of-a-kind outfits. I was pretty shy, so it was a pleasant surprise. I sewed all of my own clothes through high school, college, and seven years of a business career, then taught sewing classes for children to make a little money on the side when my kids were born. Then . . . I took a long, long break. And I’m just now getting back into it, after years of doing nothing but mending! I’d forgotten what a thrill it is to walk into a fabric store and get lost in it for hours. It’s like coming home again!

  3. y .sharpe says:

    I sew because I find it very relaxing and an unwinding time for me especially after a days work. Now that I am retired , I am taking time off from quilting for the summer. in the fall I will take it up again maybe for smaller projects rather than quilts. Take note My e-mail is also changed.

  4. Joyce says:

    I sew for all the reasons others have mentioned. But as a child my Mom and Grandmother sewed and to me it seemed magical that they would take a flat piece of fabric and make me wonderful dresses :-) I just had to learn to sew and begged to be taught. At 8 Mom finally gave in and started letting me sew. Decades later I still make some of my clothes and love to quilt and embroider. Great post!

  5. Nell says:

    I sew to earn a living. I have raised three kids on my expertise with a sewing machine as a seamstress and then a tailor. I retired as a tailor several years ago but no one who sews ever retires. I have a college degree in computers, but after working at that for a year, I had my first child and went home to raise him. After seven years of marriage, my husband died and I went to work for tailor shops to help raise the kids. It was easier to sew rather than go back to college to learn what I had missed in computer in seven years. I started sewing at 12 and at 67 am still sewing. Creative and fun most of the time.

  6. Jereena Ameen Hussain says:

    I started sewing pillows and alterations when I was 10 years old for my Mom. Later did some sewing out of necessity. Now I sew for fun because it is therapeutic and I need that. I sew for Ronald McDonald house and its very rewarding. I joined sewing groups and Craftsy sewing classes to keep my creativity alive and to learn new techniques. I recently started my blog, “cooksewcreative.blogspot.com” to document my projects, not actively posting because I am still in the learning process in blog-world. Now that I am expecting a baby girl end of August, I am excited to sew baby projects and girl dresses. Also I love to give as gifts my sewn projects. Nothing more satisfying than that. Someday I’ll have a organized sewing space until then the dining table is taken.
    Thanks,
    Jereena
    Love your blog,
    Jereena

  7. Cathy says:

    My initial reason to begin to sew was necessity. There were 5 kids in our family when I was growing up, and, the summer I was 11 years old my mother came to me and said she could no longer make all of the kids new fall clothes on her own, and that it was time for me to learn to sew in order to make my own school clothes. Over the years, those reasons to sew have changed. From the need for recognition during junior high and high school, to the need to make some extra cash during my early years of marriage and starting a family. I am so fortunate that at this point in my life, my sewing is personal, and enjoyment. My kids are grown and gone, I now have a grandchild (and yes, I LOVE sewing for her), but the true reason is now my own personal well being. My full time work outside the home is in a very busy, high stress role for a large corporation. Many days, I leave the office and head for home feeling that I have accomplished nothing. All I need to do is head upstairs to my sewing room, search through my large stash of fabrics, patterns, and based on the time I have, pick a project and sit down and create something wonderful! It keeps me sane, reminds me of my creative side, and usually I am able to complete something and get that great sense of accomplishment that the corporate world does not always provide after along day. It also reminds me of the love of a wonderful spouse who taught me early on as he assembled his workshop that you must have the right tools for the job, and has had those words used on him at our local sewing machine retailer many times! He has helped me put together a sewing room with everything I need to be organized, so I have that “retreat” to go to. I hope some day my granddaughter will give me the joy of asking grandma to teach her to sew.

  8. Bev Read says:

    I LOVE to CREATE!!!! I get a real sense of satisfaction,in making my own patterns and “creating” exactly what I want or need! It is truely relaxing to sew and sew the day away. I LOVE the looks my creations get.The OOh’s and aaahhs!!! They REALLY make me feel GOOD!!! I get so excited when ,I come accross fabric,buttons or trims.It is like Christmas day,again and again!!! I have sewn since I was 6 ,I am now 60 and cannot wait till,I have time to sew. The whir of the sewing machine is music to my ears!!!!

  9. Karin says:

    Hey everyone,

    I sew because I really like to create things with my own hands. When I look at something I just finished it feels like I am proud of myself that I have created this. You must know that I have a very “normal” day time job in an office. This job is not creative or inspiring at all. Thats because I love to let out my inspiration and creativity in sewing =)

    Thanks for this sweet post.

    Greets from Berlin

    Karin from peppithecat.blogspot.de

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