Today, clothing can be purchased for pennies, almost literally.
The expansion of the fast fashion industry has made clothing an almost disposable commodity, and a highly addictive one at that. In that landscape, the idea of sewing your own clothing seems quaint to most people.
After all, why spend your precious time and money creating something you can buy at the mall for a few bucks?
But some of us look our over the sea of clothing racks and sale tags and don’t like what we see. Instead of abundance, we see an overwhelming glut. We see devaluation. We see waste.
Even if you don’t care much about the ethics of fashion, chances are that you have felt overwhelmed on a personal level by abundant choices and cheap prices. There’s just so much.
It is that very landscape that drives us to become more creative, to explore other ways of understanding our clothing, of finding meaning in the objects we surround ourselves with.
Sewing does more than allow us to make some cool stuff. It is something that has brought genuine joy into my life, and in some unexpected ways.
Joy through creativity
Most of us get into sewing as a creative pursuit. Something inside us is itching to play with fabric, texture, and color. We want to make something beautiful.
This kind of creative expression is a pure joy in itself. The urge for self-expression comes from deep inside, and could be realized through painting, knitting, sculpture, or making balloon animals. Whatever. But for some of us, sewing is the medium that works (or one of them).
There’s another aspect of these kinds of creative pursuits that is often overlooked, and that’s the pleasure we take in learning new skills and getting better at something. No matter who you are, it’s thrilling to watch yourself get better at something you care about.
Finally, there’s another layer of creativity. Not only do you get to express yourself through the things you make with your hands, you actually get to wear them on your body out in the world. That means you get to share them with others.
Planning the things, making the things, and wearing the things all become part of a process of exploring who you are.
Joy through appreciation.
Through the economics of fast fashion, clothing has come to have very little value for most people.
Restoring that value is one of the gifts sewing can bring. The more I sewed, the more I slowly began to see that clothing isn’t some commodity that magically pops out of an automated factory.
All clothing is handmade, in one way or another. Making clothing takes time and skill and real human hands. It has worth.
Learning the value of clothing can translate into a lot of new attitudes. For me, it gave me the sense that I needed less of it, but I wanted what I did own to feel special.
Sewing also taught me about what makes something high quality. Being able to see the markers of quality and read past marketing hype helps me make better decisions, and feel good about the things I do buy.
Sewing also helps me appreciate my time more. I’d rather spend 6 hours making a dress in my studio than three hours working extra hours to pay for a dress that has less importance to me.
Joy through community.
Finally, sewing can connect you to a community of women (and some men!) who share your oddly old-fashioned appreciation and creative obsession.
You can connect with them through classes, through your local shops and studios, at events, or just online. I’ve never met a group of more warm-hearted, kind, and creative people than those I’ve met through the sewing community.
Not everyone gets it, and that’s ok. They might have their own creative pursuits.
But for me, nothing beats getting to wear the things I’ve created every day, and all the joy that comes with them.
What are the biggest joys that you get from sewing?