why I sew: Renee

Ever since I read the ‘Why I Sew’ posts from last seasons KCW, I’ve been thinking about this very question. Like many adults, I’ve given a few different hobbies a try and they have come and gone, but for some reason when I started sewing it became not just a hobby, but a passion…. an obsession even. It’s sometimes hard to explain to others that you’re a sewer – ‘oh’ they might say and change the subject or (even worse), ask you to mend something….



I’ve followed Brooke and Erin’s lead and jazzed this post up a bit with some project photos – you can click on the photos for more info.

My grandmother was a seamstress for her career. She made custom wedding dresses from her home and has only recently stopped sewing regularly (she’s almost 90). About two years ago I had an epiphany – she has a lifetime of sewing skill and knowledge and I decided that I needed to learn from her before it’s too late. I wanted to be able to chat sewing with her, understand her craft and through a shared passion, understand more about her. She lives too far from me to give me one on one lessons, so I knew I would pretty much have to teach myself and then go to her for advice when I got stuck on something. I’m so proud of the fact that we can and do chat sewing now. When we have a cup of tea, I take my latest projects and I cringe while she examines my seams! This lady is a perfectionist in her own league.


Whether the love of sewing is somehow innate, I don’t know. Both she and my mum knit beautifully too, but my knitting attempts have been abominable. Wanting to emulate my grandmother may have started this journey, but it is not enough on its own to keep me at it day after day. After a great deal of time thinking about why I sew – here is what I’ve come up with.

For some reason, and I don’t know exactly why – sometime during high school I pigeon holed myself as someone who is not creative. I did well in science, particularly Biology and decided to study Biotechnology at university. That was it – I would be a scientist and in my mind scientists are not creative people. This of course is a complete load of c#*p. Every person has the ability to be creative – including scientists (how do they make amazing research breakthroughs without creative thinking?). A few years at home with small babies created a need to feel useful again in some way – I wanted to create something and feel the sense of achievement I used to get from paid employment. Through sewing I’ve come to that realisation that I am creative and I love it!


I’ve become addicted to the creative process – gathering inspiration, wandering through fabric stores feeling the weights and textures of fabrics, imagining what garments these fabrics could possibly become. Now when I’m stuck in the tedium that sometimes comes with the small child routine, fights at the diner table, making school lunches and washing more dishes – my head is filled with thoughts of new projects……… and this makes me happy.


And you know what else, the sense of achievement that sewing has given me lead me to tackle another long held goal of mine – to swim the 1.2km Pier-to-Pub ocean race in Lorne, Victoria. It was something I’d always wanted to do and in January this year, I did it! Guess what, same as sewing, with a bit of training and the right tools, there’s nothing you can’t tackle.

Renee swim

So that’s it really – I know many of you will relate to my desire to sew all the things all the time. Brooke really hit the nail on the head in her post when she said ‘Now I sew because I have to’ – yup! I don’t care so much whether the kids wear what I make for them (well maybe a bit), it’s the process that gives me the return. Have you given this topic much thought? Are your motivations similar to mine or completely different? Do share!


This article has 14 comments

  1. Brooke

    “They might ask you to mend something”- haha. So true! People, sewing is not mending! I put off my own mending bc I dislike it so much. Your grandmother sounds amazing! What a talented lady. Also I felt the same way about not being creative and I’m glad we both found our creative mojo!

  2. Laura J.

    You are so lucky to still have your grandmother around to talk sewing with. I learned a lot from my grandmother (and more from my mother), and so often when I sew I think about how amazing it would be to share my work with her. But she is gone, so I can’t.

    As far as the addiction — I recently realized that I can no longer lie in bed at night and dream up new things to make! It’s too stimulating. I won’t fall asleep. Sometimes I’ll even get up and start pulling fabrics and trims together. Instead, I’m trying to disciple myself to lay there and think about boring stuff, like cleaning.

  3. Shelly Rhodes

    My grandmother also taught me to sew. She was a professional seamstress also, and her attention to detail taught me many lessons that I would have  never (or at least taken me much longer) learned from a book or class setting. She is now gone, but I have her old machine and I use it daily. Frequently when sewing I hear her voice reminding me of something or laugh to myself about a memory of her. It is the best gift she could have ever given me. I love her dearly, miss her muchly, and will never forget the woman she was! 

  4. Jenya

    I started sewing for practical reasons – I wanted to make clothes for my skinny daughter that would actually fit her without spending too much money. Once I started sewing I realised it was the most wonderful way to get some ME time and the sense of accomplishment. It was a beautiful escape from a certain degree of the sameness of every day routine. I sew most of my daughter’s clothes. It is important to me that she is involved in the process and that she likes the final product and actually wants to wear it. My grandma also was a great sewist. She passed away when I was a teenager, but I feel some connection with her when I get to use the fabric she bought many many years ago. I guess I could live without sewing, but I would rather sew 🙂

  5. Brienne

    Mending! Yes… I have a closet full of men’s pants waiting to be patched. And they probably never will be. There is an art to it but that’s not ALL there is to it! Very cool on your swimming goal too:) 

    1. renee

      yes! you are right, I love the methodical process of following instructions but there are also the creative components of fabric, notions and altering patterns. It’s always interesting to see sewers with strengths and talent in different areas.

  6. Natalie from Sewoutnumbered

    Such a fabulous post Renee!  Throughout all of these posts I’ve been sitting thinking, yep…yep…that’s me… so I guess many of our motivations must be the same.  The sense of satisfaction for having MADE something I can actually see and feel is definitely up there for me.  I was thinking the other day how funny it is that my nearly 4yo is constantly in his own little world of octonauts at the moment, and then I realised, I spent probably 90% of the day thinking about sewing, so who am I to judge?!  haha 🙂

  7. abby @ thingsforboys

    Since reading this, I’ve been trying to think about why I sew.  I think it’s because I don’t know anything different. I grew up in a family orf makers, if you wanted something you made it…that way it was just right. I think it’s so ingrained that I can’t help myself!

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