For National Sewing Month, I was asked to answer this question: “What does sewing mean to you?” It took me a bit to figure out the answer, but once it popped into my mind, it was obvious: Sewing to me is a source of pride.
I didn’t set out to learn to sew; I came to it as a supplementary skill that I needed to learn when I was studying costume design. And honestly, I wasn’t particularly excited about it initially.
I had to take Costume Construction as one of my required classes. It was a challenging class; we came in as beginners to intermediates (I was a beginner) and were taught advanced techniques immediately. It’s funny—to this day I’m never quite sure if something should be classified as intermediate or advanced because I didn’t progress through them the usual way. It was a steep learning curve, and I barely kept up. I struggled, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it very much.
After I graduated, I found myself working in the costume shop of a local professional theater. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it was a job in the theater, and I did have the skills, after all. But a funny thing happened… I started to enjoy sewing. Once the pressure was off, I found that each time I finished a project, I was impressed by what I had accomplished. And each time I felt that glow of pride, I liked sewing a little more.
The more I sewed, the easier it became, but I never stopped being proud of what I had made. I remember how excited I was the first time I made a welt pocket. How good it felt that the design I created for fairy wings made with fiber optic fabric was chosen from several options. How I became the go-to person when a skirt needed to be bustled attractively. How even after stitching a sequined waistband onto a many-layered skirt, fighting with thread that shredded every ten stitches, I was proud of powering through and completing that challenging step.
Strangely, perhaps, for a skill I never exactly sought out, sewing has had a huge impact on my life. Of the three long-term jobs I’ve held since graduating college, I got two of them because of my sewing skills. And to this day, I am proud of everything I make—just as proud of the blouse I made in four hours as I was of the historical design I draped and spent weeks constructing.
I enjoy sewing now. I do it for fun. I look forward to begin able to spend my free time at the sewing machine, and I feel so lucky that I get to write about sewing, read about sewing, learn about sewing and actually sew as part of my job.
Now that I think about it more, I suspect that the reason sewing is special to me is because I really did struggle with learning to do it. Because it was so hard for me in the beginning, the fact that I am a proficient stitcher now makes me feel truly accomplished… and so very proud.