why I sew: Brooke

“Why would I make that when I can go to Target and buy it for $10?”                                  “That’s nice for you, but I don’t have time to sew.”
“How do you find time to make all those things?”                                                             “That’s a lot of work. Not really worth it in my opinion.”

Have you heard any of these? I get these questions from people quite regularly as a matter of fact. I have a few sewing friends in town, but not many. Many of my friends and acquaintances appreciate the sewing I do, but from afar. They just don’t quite “get” me. Ya know what I mean? That’s what I love about this online community. There are so many like-minded people who totally understand my fabric hoarding tendencies, crazy urge to sew last-minute gifts and messy house because I’ve spent all week sewing kid’s clothes. (Note: because I find blog posts without pictures to be very boring I’ve uploaded some pics of various sewing projects I have done over the last few years. If you are curious about any of them just click on the picture to be taken to the blog post.)
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But really all that doesn’t answer the basic question of why I sew in the first place. It all started almost 6 years ago with a desire to learn how to quilt. Contrary to many others, I did not grow up sewing with my mom. While my mother does know how to sew and did sew me a few garments when I was very young, it’s not her passion and she never truly enjoyed it. Once she had 5 of us kids to take care of, she put the sewing machine aside except for small mending projects.

Vintage May Redo (4 of 10)
Growing up, I was the bookworm who would much rather have her head in a book than anything resembling home-ec. I took a basic sewing class in high school, sewed a hideous, ill-fitting skirt, tried out a few other big box garment patterns (without success), and then lost interest in sewing. That mentality carried me through college until marriage. But something happened after I got married. I had always harbored an inner desire to learn how to quilt, so that summer after I got married, I took a quilt class at my local quilt shop…and the rest, as they say, is history.
The quilt class not only taught me how to construct a quilt, but it also gave me a refresher on sewing basics and techniques. I became fascinated with the craft. I can’t really explain my fascination except maybe to say that I’m the kind of person who always needs to be learning and growing and now that I was done with college and book-learning, I had found another outlet to fulfill my inner need for learning.

April (1 of 5)

The first year, it was mostly quilting and small household projects: pillows, placemats and such. Then I got pregnant with our first son and started experimenting with children’s clothes (mentioned on my previous post.) It seems like it’s a never-ending ascent to learn more and more about the craft of sewing. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. At the beginning, it was just something fun that I’d always wanted to learn. Now it’s much more than that. It comes from a deep-seated need to create that I never knew I had. The feeling of taking some flat pieces of fabric and creating something 3-dimensional that’s both useful and beautiful with them…well, it’s become a high for me. Now I sew because I have to. I have always admired artists, but never felt that I had the creative gene. I have now found my creative gene- it’s taking fabric and creating things with it. I mean, the possibilities are endless!

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In addition, sewing is also part of a challenge in our family’s goal to live a slower, more intentional life and be better stewards of our Earth. Sure, I could go to Target and buy the same top, or pair of shorts, or whatever else you want for cheaper and much less work on my part (and on occasion, I do). But when I create it with my own two hands, it not only gives me a feeling of being self-sustaining, it also aids in the goal of less sweatshop clothing, more ethically-sourced, etc, etc.

Art Gallery Sugar Pop Top (1 of 4)

So that’s probably more information than you ever wanted to know about my sewing journey, but I’m all about the information overload. I feel a bit vulnerable sharing something this personal with all of you, but I hope you enjoyed reading a bit of my story and maybe you could emphathize with one or more parts of it? What about you? Do tell me! Has sewing always been a part of your life or is it something you more recently picked up? Do you have that same inner need for creativity that I experience?

This article has 20 comments

  1. Annika

    Wow Brooke, that completly took me off guard: Did you just look into my inner self and write about me? This is exactly (!!!) how i would describe why I sew. I don’t have much time now, but I’ll come back here or write you a more detailed email. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Angela

    So beautifully written. I too feel most of my friends don’t “get” the sewing thing.  I’m so passionate about sewing, it’s wonderful to have a community online who does. I recently bought some dresses for my little girl from old navy because they were having a big sale and the dresses were really cute and only a few dollars. Except everyone in my small town had the same thought and there’s always someone else wearing the same dress at church. I’ll stick with the handmade dresses 🙂

  3. Erin Keith

    I love this Brooke! I think the same about so many of these things! I have very few “in person” sewing friends, and many times if I’m out and get a compliment on one of Hannah’s outfits I won’t even tell them that I made it, I’ll just say thank you. My husband thought I was crazy for this, but I said, “Well, I’m not sewing because I want other people to think it’s great, it’s because I want to think it’s great!”

    And yes, the inner need for learning. Yes, yes, yes. I used to think, “I’ll never sew something really complicated, like jean,,” and now I think, “I’ve never made jeans before, I need to add that to the list.” So fun.

    Loved this, not too personal at all! I felt so vulnerable with mine as well. I guess we are used to writing so much more about our clothes than how we feel. 🙂

    1. Brooke

      Yeah it’s much easier to show off our clothes than to share our feelings! And my to-learn list is growing as well. So want to tackle womens jeans soon. That’ll make me feel like super woman. Lol. 

  4. Charity

    My sewing journey is pretty similar to yours! My mom knows how to sew and sewed a few garments for me as a kid, but she doesn’t love it either and didn’t really teach me much about it…. I vaguely remember her showing me how to thread her machine, and she bought me my first sewing machine, but that’s just about it. She didn’t sew much with 6 kids, though she occasionally does again now that her ‘baby’ is 13. Everything else I know was learned from books, blogs, my grandma (who lived in a different state and taught me how to use a pattern on a week-long visit), and studying already made clothing.
    I sew for the customization, the pride of making, and the removal of ‘fast fashion’. =)

  5. kristin

    Yep yep yep, ditto on all fronts!  I get those comments all the time (and they always feel like insults), I didn’t have any local friends that sewed (though now through blogging I’ve met some!), and I have that urge to create and also to de-stress.  Plus it’s just fun to make stuff and have your kids run around in it!  Totally with you.  I love our little community so much!!!

  6. Amanda

    This is lovely! I think the “Why I Sew” posts are my favorite! 🙂 I totally know what you mean about the people who just don’t understand. My own family “gets it” because they all do other creative-type things but I feel so silly talking to my husband’s family about sewing or creating because they are not makers. At all. And I really only talk about sewing (or even mention sewing!) to friends with similar interests. It’s so nice to have an internet community to relate to, though doesn’t it sometimes feel like you are living two separate lives? Cool, internet crafty you and lame mom who doesn’t know anything about the “cool” TV shows and movies because she spends all her time sewing and blogging you? Maybe that is just me, haha. Anyway, thanks for sharing! You do beautiful work! 🙂

  7. Elizabeth

    Yes- this is all so true!  I’ve sewn since childhood but it really became a huge part of my life when I was home from work after having my daughter.  I needed something new to learn and engage with when I was no longer spending my days teaching elementary school.  Finding a community of people who also love to sew has just made it all the better.

  8. Linda

    Love this post!  So much of this resonates, with me, too.  I have always had a bit of a creative spark, and sewing and designing is my outlet for it.  There is a gal at work who thinks I’m nuts because I take on so many last minute projects as gifts.  That’s who I am, though.  I may have to write a blog post about this myself! 🙂 
    Thanks for your post! 

  9. honeymadeit

    Like so many others here, your story spoke to me. I wouldn’t have anyone who understands why I do this if it wasn’t for the sewing blog community. Your reasons for sewing are my reasons. I love the high I get when a project turns out well. I pray that when I die there will be a project at my sewing machine for someone to finish. I hope my great great grandchildren will be wearing little things I made their parents and grand parents. My grands are now wearing things I made their moms. Funny children’s styles don’t change too much from year to year.

  10. Molly

    Wow. That is exactly how I feel about sewing, and your story is very close to mine. My grandmother was a wonderful seamstress, but I did not start sewing seriously until I was in college, and I love learning more and more. I love the creative-ness and creativity of it. Thanks for your post!

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