What is keeping you from sewing more? Yup…that’s me and grandma in the feature image at the top 😁. I remember the first time I had a sewing machine, it was a gift from my mother at Christmas a few years ago. When I told my friends that my Christmas gift was a sewing machine they laughed at me because they thought it was “very grandmother”. The sewing machine was not a surprise gift, I asked for it because I was dying to start sewing. I had grown up watching my grandmother sew on a daily basis and the curiosity to learn about this world killed me. At first it was quite intimidating, I guess I saw my grandmother sew so easily that I thought that just by having the machine I could create almost anything. I remember reading the manual and not understanding half of what it was saying, so that’s when I decided to take my first sewing course. Over time I have understood that the beginnings in the world of sewing are complex, not because it is difficult to sew, but because it costs to start, or rather, to know where to start. It took me several courses and several years to be able to encourage me to make my first clothes and today I understand the value of knowing how to sew.
If you ask me today why or what to sew, being so easy to go to a store and buy clothes already made, I would say that the possibility of creating is what really moves me. This, mixed with other things, for example, the savings that represents being able to make your own clothes and even the income you can have making clothes for third parties. Since I find numerous advantages in knowing how to sew, I will list them in order:
1. Fitting / Garment Adjustment: this is one of the advantages that I have profited most from. All my life I have been very thin, so much so that it has always been very difficult for me to get clothes that don’t fall. Especially pants, skirts and dresses. One of my last desperate measures was to buy clothes in the kids section of the stores, and I still find it hard to find sizes that fit me well. Over time I have realized that it is very problematic when we have a body that does not conform to the commercial measures we find in stores, either because we are very thin, very tall, very low or have more curves than these sizes “admit”. In the past the clothes had to fit almost perfectly in the bodies that wore it, this was because most of the clothes were made to measurement. There were no pants that were too short, not too long, or clothes that would fall off or, on the contrary, not close. With the arrival of industrialization, clothing, like almost everything else, begins to be mass-produced, standardizing the sizes based on the most “common” body types. That unfortunately left out too many other bodies. If we think about clothing and attire from a psychology perspective, it is known that a dress is highly expressive, to the point that at some moment in the history of mankind, clothing ceases to fulfill a uniquely functional role and becomes a means of communication. If we think about it, clothing is a tool that, without us wanting it, communicates about our mood, our socioeconomic position, can indicate our political preferences, and even, sometimes, our profession, as when we see a man with a black cassock, and in this example we can see how marked is the loss of functionality of the clothes: a priest must wear his cassock regardless of whether it is a hot day or not, because this coat serves for something more than to cover his body, this clothing communicates to society that he is a priest and probably also communicates to which religion he belongs. When I think about the power of clothing, I ask myself why we let others dress us, and yes, the answer is often that surrendering ourselves to mass-produced clothes makes life easier in these times. But the truth is that, at some point, after spending years trying to find clothes that fit my body well and allowed me the comfort I want, I realized that sewing opened thousands of doors, not only to save money when getting dressed, it gave me the possibility of creating clothes that would communicate who I am and more importantly, to be able to wear clothes that were really designed for my body, and with this I refer to both fitting and comfort. By the way, if you are looking to buy fabric, I made a list of 35 online fabric shops (no affiliation with any).
2. Durability: once I started making my clothes, I realized the poor quality with which the garments of most brands are made. Normally, self-made clothes are much longer than mass-produced clothes. This is a point that also adds to the saving capacity. But not only that, knowing how to sew even allows you to modify those garments that you have created over time, giving rise to new garments and, even, to be able to modify the sizes of your garments as your body changes over time, because yes, all our bodies change over time. Conclusion: sewing ALWAYS means saving.
3. Highest Quality: this is one of the points that has surprised me the most. As one learns about sewing techniques and you gain experience, you can create high quality garments, without spending anything extra. The clothes we find in department stores are usually the result of clothing processes that are impoverished every day to produce more clothes at a lower price. The truth is that, most of us who learn to sew, will maintain a low production, even if we sell the clothes we make. Maintaining low production is always synonymous with high quality sewing processes.
4. Healthier: this really is a point that has gained importance in recent times, following the movements that have emerged and that invite us to return to a natural and healthier way of life. It is impressive the ignorance we have about the amount of chemicals that are present in clothing. The garments we buy in most stores are treated with a large number of substances that prolong the life of the color, retard the combustion of the fiber, prevent wrinkling, etc. and studies in recent years state that most of these chemicals can become very harmful to health. Virtually all the clothes we use will be contaminated with pesticides, lead, bisphenols, etc. And this information does not appear on the labels, but the truth is that most garments created through mass production processes will not be respectful of the environment, or its workers, or our health. Unless the label indicates words such as organic, ecological, free of …, most likely we are facing garments contaminated with numerous chemicals. And yes there are clothing brands that offer us more respectful garments with our health, but it is also true that their price is usually much higher than what we are used to. Currently it is increasingly common to find fabric stores that offer us organic fabrics and free of many toxic substances. Buying these fabrics and creating clothes with them ensures us to wear much cleaner clothes and free of many chemicals. At the end of this article I leave links to some stores where you can find fabrics of this type, just be sure to type in their website’s search engines the word “organic”. As a general rule, depending on how important this point is for you, keep in mind that the purest fabrics are raw, that is, those that do not go through dyeing or printing processes. Whenever you see organic fabrics, which are also sold in their natural color, you will be in front of safer choices for your health.
5. You take care of the environment: as I mentioned in the previous point, the amount of toxic substances involved in clothing production is impressive, and the countries that suffer the most from the fashion industry are developing countries. The fashion industry ranks second in the list of most polluting industries in the world, preceded only by the oil industry. The truth is that there is no real solution to this problem today, because even organic cotton implies alarming pollution. According to the BBC, an organic cotton t-shirt takes up to 5000 gallons of water for its production. Given this, we can reaffirm what was previously said about the advantage of sewing our own clothes to create more durable garments. While it is true that we can take care of our health using fabrics such as organic cotton, the greatest contribution we can make to the environment is to bet on better quality garments that last for several years, if possible, always betting on natural fibers, which they will decompose faster than synthetic ones.
6. Social responsibility: this is one of the hardest truths to face. Unintentionally, every time we buy from a mass production store we are contributing to the exploitation of thousands of people in underdeveloped countries. Large clothing brands have outsourced their production in countries where labor is cheaper, guaranteeing that they can sell more, at a lower price. Regardless of whether you make your own clothes or not, it is important to raise awareness about it, knowing that every time we buy clothes whose label indicates their manufacture in China, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, India, etc., it is most likely that those clothes have been made by a human being exploited, unless the label indicates responsible working conditions, of course.
7. You can do what you want: going back to the most superficial points about making clothes, one of the great advantages that I find is that I can literally do whatever kind of garment I can think of. I don’t need to go through thousands of stores to find what I have in mind, and even when we do those searches, sometimes we find garments that don’t work for us or that are too expensive. Once you enter fully into sewing you forget that search and possible disappointments. Sewing opens many doors for you when it comes to outfits.
8. You give more intimate gifts: this seems silly, but, if you still don’t sew, you can’t imagine the satisfaction of giving someone a gift made with your own hands. From clothes, to dolls for the children of your family or your friends. People greatly appreciate being given a personalized gift and, of course, I will mention here again the great savings that represents.
9. Improve your spiritual health: this is undoubtedly one of my favorite points. Over time I have learned the wonderful advantages of having a hobby, and it’s not just about finding something to entertain yourself with. Sewing is one of the most relaxing activities I have found, even at the beginning, when I was frustrated during learning, I found a space for me in sewing, where no one else could enter. The benefits of having hobbies that involve manual work and creativity are wonderful, helping to reduce anxiety and contributing to the treatment of conditions such as depression. It doesn’t matter if you decide to venture into sewing or not, what is important is that you create a space for you, where you can explore especially your creative part, and this goes especially for those people who have not-so-creative trades or jobs. Cheer up and try everything that sewing can bring to your mental and emotional health. You can read more on this in an article published in The Guardian about “The calming effects of sewing can help people express and calm themselves“.
These are just some of the thousands of advantages that I find in the exciting world of sewing. I know that I have extended myself but it is very necessary to tell everything positive that I have found in this lifestyle. Sewing is also a language, it is a way of putting a little of us in everything we create and few things are as comforting as that.
As for learning, yes, I’m not going to lie to you, starting to sew takes time and desire, and depends on how perfectionist you are (in the bad sense of the word). I remember that, when I started sewing, it took me a long time to encourage myself to complete my first project. I was so perfectionist that I didn’t dare to create anything if I didn’t know that I mastered all the knowledge and techniques required. And over time I realized that the best way to learn is to make mistakes, even if it sounds very cliché. When I finally encouraged myself to sew projects, I realized that errors in sewing, for the most part, can be rectified and, in the worst case scenario, projects that went wrong would serve as a learning tool. My biggest suggestion is that you start from the beginning with projects, even if they are very basic projects like a cushion. If your concern is to waste fabrics in these first trials, buy only cheap fabrics, which are on sale or even remnants. The most recommended to start in sewing are fabrics such as cotton, linen (although wrinkles a lot) and in general fabrics that have no shine, elasticity, hair, plaid or striped patterns. Start NOW, don’t wait any longer and never let perfectionism make you fall into the trap of not starting nor taking risks.
So, as I asked at the beginning, what is keeping you from sewing more? 🙂