why I sew: Erin

Hello everyone!  It’s Erin here, for a last round of chatting about sewing.  This time, the “why,” something I always am interested in hearing opinions about.

I was really interested in writing a post about why I sew because it is something that I am often thinking through and my answer is constantly evolving.  Why DO I want to sew clothes for my kids? There are beautiful and sometimes cheaper options in stores, and this is taking my free time!  Why?

Square Ears

The first garment that I ever sewed was just over a year ago, and on the heels of just having spent a month knitting a scarf for my son.  It took me several hours one weekend to put together a dress for Hannah, but I was finished with it by Sunday night, and I was floored.  I truly felt like a magician.  On Friday there was just a pile of fabric, and on Sunday evening there was a dress, a wearable dress that didn’t look tacky or awkwardly handmade.  I was boiling over with pride and buzzing a bit from the possibilities that lie ahead.

I think that is a little bit of my answer.  The buzzing.

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That successful dress was my fuel at the beginning.  We were headed to the states for a month, going to the beach and to visit with various family members in various locations, and that was as good of a reason as any to fill my little peanut’s wardrobe with summer dresses.  So that is what I did.

That was another motivation: my cute girl in cute summer garments.

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I think any sewer can agree that some motivation comes from knowing that you can make something as good or better than what you can buy in stores, and often for much less money.

That was a motivator too: thriftiness.

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I also could not ignore the empowerment.  That wonderful feeling that I had taken a problem and was doing something about it.

I mentioned this earlier this season, but I will always feel a strong fondness towards the Bubble Pocket Shorts for pulling me out of an ugly episode of mom guilt about my petite daughter and my inability to find shorts for her one afternoon in the store.  I went home, bought the pattern, and sewed up these beauties while she napped that day.  While I sewed, I reminded myself that my little girl was fine, I was doing just fine as her mom, and if I couldn’t find shorts that fit her, then I would MAKE shorts that fit her.

Mini Me 14Romper pants

The more that I sew the more I keep breaking the sewing “rules” that I set for myself.  My most recent broken rule was, I’m not going to sew clothes for myself.  But then, over the past month, I have been.

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I remember deciding that I was not going to sew with knits, because it was just not worth my time or effort.  We can all think of a variety of stores where we can find cute knit clothes for our kids, and there is no reason to put so much effort into items that are just play wear.

Hannah s Large Navy Floral Raglan 19Kaleidoscope Top and Berry Picking 17

But sometimes those stores are full of knits with characters on them, or strange phrases, or slews of kitties (come on H&M!), and the knit items I can make myself are just better.

Hannah Green Floral Playdate Tunic 3Jayce Bimaa Hoodie 8Red Poppy Raglan 5

Plus, some of those patterns for knits aren’t that difficult to put together in the first place, so maybe they are worth the time and the effort.

Yellow Striped Bimaa  8Lulu Purple Floral 1

As I’ve continued to sew different items through different seasons, I’ve realized that my initial motivators have subsided a bit.  Sometimes sewing saves me some money, but sometimes it doesn’t. If I want to try a designer or better weight fabric, use fun embellishments, stock up on a few basics, and buy the pattern, it’s not always the less expensive option.  But I’ve found that the itch to make clothes is as strong as ever.  I finish at least one garment a week, but I am usually working on several.

OurFamilyFour2Hannah s Liberty Collared Nessie 1

I recently realized that items that I used to put off because they seemed too difficult now look more like good challenges than impossible obstacles.  This is a good thing.

Minty Family Reunion Dress 9

 Now I have a notebook with a list of garments that I’ve never made, techniques that I have never tried, and presser feet that I have read good things about but never used.  (The rolled hem foot is next on my list!)  I plan to cross as many of these items as I can off of my list by the end of the year.

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I’ve realized that, for me, sewing is no longer a means to an end.  It’s not just a way to give my daughter a vacation wardrobe for less money, or clothes that better fit her frame, or my son a special Lego shirt.  I sew for my kids because I love them.  I don’t think that it is the best way, or the only way, but it is one of my ways.  Dressing them in something that I put so much work into feels the same as preparing their favorite dinner, giving them a thoughtfully chosen Christmas present, pushing them endlessly on the swings, or rocking them in the middle of the night.  It’s good, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s tedious, but it is all an extension of my love.

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  Furthermore, now it’s a hobby.  A good hobby that sometimes fills a wardrobe need, sometimes saves money, sometimes has me tearing my hair out, but almost always leaves me with the pleasant feeling of accomplishment and tangible evidence of hard(ish) work that has paid off.

V Neck Geranium 2Meadow Sally Dress 10

Last week I ran into an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a few months.  After a few moments of exchanging pleasantries, she fumbled out, “So, are you still doing the sewing…thing?”

I realized that explaining why I sew to someone who doesn’t sew, is a bit like a marathon runner trying to explain runner’s high to a person who doesn’t like to run.

So I simply said, “Yes, I am.  I really enjoy it.”  And I think that was the most thorough answer that I could give.

If you’re interested in seeing more about any of the projects that I’ve shared here, you can find them all on the iSew page at Our Family Four.  Please say hello and thanks for letting me share with you!

This article has 14 comments

  1. renee

    How awesome it is to be amongst those who understand us! Yeah, the buzzing – especially when you think the project is going to be a failure, but when you finish it actually worked out great – I LOVE THAT!! Love your style Erin 🙂

    1. erin

      Renee, I totally agree! There are a few projects that I almost didn’t finish because they looked strange in the middle stage, but ended up great in the end. There is no pat on the back as satisfying as seeing it on your kid though, right? So fun. 🙂

  2. Amanda

    I love this! I think your reasons for sewing are similar to my own. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I make something that can actually be worn, especially by my daughter. It feels like I am doing something special for her and (hopefully) making something that she will always treasure because her mother made it just for her. I do know what you mean about trying to explain it to non-sewing people, though… they just don’t get it. I guess that’s why it’s so nice to have the internet to share projects and find others with the same interests. Kid’s Clothes Week has been one of my favorite ways to connect with other sewers! 🙂

    1. Erin Keith

      Amanda I completely agree!! KCW has been one of my favorite ways to find new sewing friends (and people who’s instagram feeds to stalk!) And yes, it does feel like I’ve done something special for my kids whenever I hand them something that I’ve made, I hope they treasure it and don’t just talk among themselves about how lame I was when they’re older. 🙂 You’re sewing is beautiful, you should be proud!

  3. Lightning McStitch

    Very well said. My motivation is very similar, because I can and because I enjoy it. It’s just the icing on the cake that my kids now turn to me to ask me to make something (often insanely complicated) just assuming that I could do it. The images accompanying your post are beautiful. Congratulations

  4. Natalie

    Such a great post – and I completely agree with your reasons for sewing.  That sense of satisfaction for having completed something you can actually see.  I also LOVE that my 3yo chooses the clothes I’ve made him (incorporating race cars, dinosaurs etc) over any store bought items.  That alone makes it worthwhile!! 🙂

    1. Erin Keith

      Thanks Natalie! I think we can all agree that the tangible proof of your work is really great. 🙂 And yes, both of my kids choose my makes all the time over their other clothes, and I squeal just a little bit inside every time. 🙂

  5. Brooke

    So well put! Yep I love the buzz of possibilities. Also that we sew because we love them- so true! Exactly how you put it is how I feel too! And I can’t believe it’s only been a year since you’ve been sewing garments- you are so good at it! I kinda chuckled at the “sewing…thing” comment. Totally heard that before. 

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