It’s been about a year since I got back into sewing (for, like, the 20th time in my life because always REASONS…). This time, it was pregnancy (OMGexhausted for nine months) and recovery and motherhood that put the brakes on my creativity.
Finally, about a year ago, I had a baby who would nap in her crib instead of only on me or in a moving stroller, and I was determined to do something for myself, for what felt like the first time in months. I unearthed my sewing machine from behind boxes of breast pump supplies, already-outgrown newborn clothes, and detritus from a career that already seemed like a lifetime ago.
I started slow and with low expectations, but was soon spending every naptime moment I could snatch cutting, pinning, pressing, and sewing. I don’t think I can accurately describe how much empowerment I got from returning to my sanctuary in sewing. I stitched up more than I could reasonably wear, and gleefully photographed everything along the way, thrilled that I could feel like ME again — not just a walking milk source, or a glassy-eyed zombie or a scared and lonely new mother.
Sewing provided so many of the things I needed: control, creativity, personal autonomy, a feeling of progress and completion, and a way to measure success outside of salary or ounces of milk produced.
I sometimes struggle with the feeling that I shouldn’t spend so much mental energy thinking about, when it all boils down… clothes. Like, shouldn’t I be solving the world’s problems, or pondering life’s larger questions? But regardless of how much time I spent planning, scheming and designing and generally thinking about… clothes…. the true result of my year of sewing was a return to myself, stitch by stitch.
I remember the feeling of greed I had for months after dragging my old Kenmore clunker out — greed for more time to sew, more energy to create — and I recognize that feeling in retrospect as a craving for balance, for a space for me as just myself, and not a mother or wife or patient. Thinking about sewing wasn’t just thinking about… clothes… it was claiming space for myself, both in the physical world and in my own mind.
It’s been an amazing year of sewing — by far, the best I’ve ever had. I sewed more, challenged myself more, tried more fabrics, and absolutely upped my game. The intense need to sew as a therapeutic salvo has quieted, but the thrill of starting every new project remains.
I meant to just write a year-end review (as you do in the sewing interwebs, right?), but there’s not a single garment I made that means more to me than the overall experience of finding joy in creating after months of crushing doubt and struggle.
I wish such an experience for anyone this year who needs it, for whatever reasons. Sew and create and dream and heal and grow.
Beautiful message and SO well said!
Exploring, growing, being at peace…through craft. Wonderful at all stages of life; being discovered by me as I age and deal with the onset of various debilities that significantly change my previous activities. I go into my sewing studio and am calmed…stretched…invigorated…impassioned.
Invigorated — that’s the perfect word for it! Sending all the best sewing vibes to you, and yes: sewing forever!
What a lovely post! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog — you have a wonderful sense of humor.
Thank you so much, Susan! So very much appreciated!
What you say here really resonates with me. I’m not a new mom (my kids are teens), but I’m struggling to make space and time for myself. I’ve also worried about obsessing over something that on the surface seems so frivolous, but it’s not, is it?
Thanks for your comment, Amy! Make that space and find that time. Carve it out with your bare hands! It’s essential. It’s not frivolous — there are so many more layers lying below that “making something to wear” level. That’s just the pretty cover of some serious process-based learning and creating. Wishing you good sewing karma this year!
This is such an awesome post and perfectly encapsulates how I feel about sewing ALL THESE YEARS LATER! Congratulations on a wonderful year of sewing, self care and finding yourself again! Can’t wait to see what 2019 brings to you. Happy New Year!
Thanks for your kind comment, Carolyn! I love that sewing can be lifelong passion that grows and changes with us as we move through different phases of our lives.
These are beautiful thoughts on sewing. I am so glad you were able to use your skills and talent to find yourself again. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for 2019. Oh, and those cat pants are to die for!
Thank you so much, Sarah! I am also curious to see what I’ll do in 2019…
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I reiterate what a lovely post this is. I started sewing again a few years after I had my son and have not looked back. I guess you put into words, what I felt and what the sewing means to me too. I’m not that interested in ‘fashion’ but I love the make what I want to wear and I love making stuff for some people.
I love hearing that this feeling is shared! I’ve always been into sewing, but it’s never been quite so personal until motherhood.
Thank you so much for this post – “crushing doubt and struggle” has plagued me since August. I know I need to dive back in and see what happens.
Yes! Dive back in, but with no expectations or goals — just as a kind of freeform experiment. Exactly what you said — see what happens. Sending you all the good wishes!
lovely and honest article. we are at very different seasons of life but I believe ( if I can remember back that far ) , although I found Motherhood and even domestic life very creative , I DID need to carve out something totally for myself I made wine