When I first started really sewing clothing in 2017, it was mostly something to do with my time while being a SAHM. Soon after, I began to experience immense joy at things fitting me better than the store, at being able to make one-of-a-kind things for myself and the fam, and the overall appreciation I began to develop for the skin I’m in. I never could have imagined that this hobby of mine would become such a huge part of my identity, but it did. I am forever grateful for these few life lessons I’ve picked up along this journey.
1) The body I have is the body that should be celebrated.
If I knew I’d have learned this all important lesson while sewing, I would have started sewing when I was a kid. Depending on who you ask, society tells me different things about my body and how it “should be.” Some say I’m ideal. I’m petite and have a small waist. Others say I’m too short, not enough boobs and butt. Still again, I’m small, but not skinny, my bust and hips are usually a size or two difference. The “industry” says my body isn’t “standard”. As if this wasn’t confusing enough, throughout my life I’ve been teased or self-conscious for a host of things body related. Even into adulthood, I held onto a few of ’em and spent far too long comparing my body to others. I’m sprouting body hair in competition with my husband, and postpartum hair loss mode seems to have been stuck in the “on” position since our son’s birth almost 7 years ago. For the past decade, I’ve been in the same 10 lb weight range, but my boobs have been everything from a barely there B to a full D, and my hips and waistline have changed at various points in my life. I’d be lying if I say I didn’t have serious curve envy of some of the sistas I see on my newsfeeds, knowing that my body likely won’t ever look like any of theirs. One day I realized that staying in that mindset was unhealthy! Wishing for any body that wasn’t mine was pointless. My body is how it is. It is beautifully and wonderfully made and one a kind, just like I am! I don’t have many curves, but I know how to style what little I do have to achieve sexy when that’s what I’m going for. The beauty is sewing is making things to fit me…not the me I wish I was, but the me I actually am. I declared 2023 my year of self-love and I’m finally loving the skin I’m in at age 35. I believe this is truly worth celebrating!
2) Mistakes are okay.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying I am or have ever been a perfectionist, but I will say I’ve always loathed the idea of “failure”. Got a 94 on that assignment? I’d cry because it wasn’t 100%. Got second place in a contest? I’d lose sleep for days, pondering what I could have done differently to get first. Didn’t stitch “perfectly” or line up seams on that dress I posted? I’d wait on the edge of my seat for someone to comment about my ugly stitching (that’s never happened, btw, but the mind is a funny thing). The idea of failure and mistakes were so cemented in me as some sort of negative, a sign of a deficit within me, that it wasn’t until I was a barely full grown adult (talking 30, here) that I accepted that it’s alright for me to make mistakes. Within sewing, literally every single time I have made a mistake, there was a lesson in it. Sometimes it was simply to slow down. Sometimes it was to re-read the instructions or pay more attention to what I’m doing. Other times, the lesson was to step back and realize I wouldn’t be capable of completing this task until I leveled up on something by researching the heck out of it. While I still try to be thoughtful and make all decisions with care, I can appreciate mistakes now for what they are, instead of ruminating on all that I am not when I make them.
3) My creative energy doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
Looking on any social media platform, it looks like many sewists are out here banging out new makes everyday. And they are fire…not talking basic t-shirts and leggings. I know me, and I I know my tendency to compare. “Dang man, why can’t I sew stuff like that?” Because I have 18977542388484 things to do during the day and when I’m finally done and have free time I want to make something quick and satisfying. “Yeah, yeah, but why can’t I just start it now and then finish it like….whenever?” Because I don’t function like that and will drive myself bonkers intentionally taking 10 years to make one thing. I really love making things I can be done with in a day or two. I am a semi-slow sewist these days from fabric cutting to hemming, and that feels long enough. I’m in 4 classes each semester, so if I’m not in class, I’m doing homework. If I’m not doing something school related, it’s work. If neither of those, my family is being tended to. Always something lol! One day I hope I’m in a mental (and physical) space to be more creative and adventurous with my makes, but I don’t have to beat myself up over it. I am who I am. They are who they are. We all do what we want when we want, and I’d bet money people do whatever feels more natural or compelling to them. In fact, I have read some say that they find long sews therapeutic and they get lost in the process. That sounds like such a divine creative space to rest in….maybe one day I’ll get there, but in the meantime, I’m good where I’m at.
4) My style is mine alone.
Making my own clothes, I don’t have to follow trends or make what everyone else is wearing. I love specific styles of clothes and can remake the same patterns over and over in different fabrics, and that’s my prerogative. When I used to shop for clothes, I ended buying a lot of things I wanted to love because it’s what was for sale, and oftentimes they didn’t fit me very well or didn’t feel like me while I had them on. Making my own clothing, I’ve learned a lot about what I need for fitting, and I can accommodate that. I know what fabrics I like on my skin and what colors and/or prints I’ll grab everyday (knit florals 😛). I’m fine with not being a trendsetter. I’m comfy and cute in my own eyes, and ultimately that has to be enough for me.
5) I do not have to monetize myself doing something I do for fun.
I have seen an increase in social media influencers proclaiming the need to monetize everything we do. While I agree that many of them have some extraordinarily valuable resources and methods for monetization, what I don’t agree with is that people deserve shade or condescension for choosing not to monetize themselves. And it hasn’t always even been the content creator making the comments, but sometimes just supporters/commenters about “giving things away for free.” I absolutely enjoy sewing. I absolutely enjoy writing. I absolutely enjoy sharing. But, I have the tendency to ghost at my leisure. I can write 1 post a year or 1 a week and I don’t have an obligation to do either. I have this freedom because I don’t rely on income from my passive blog posts or social media shares to pay bills. My husband’s salary and my part time work more than support our family, which allows me the ability to keep my sewing stuff a no-pressure hobby. This is not to say that one day I won’t do the research or put in the work to do so (I mean…I plan to sell my own patterns in the future, so there’s that lol), but in the meantime, it’s okay to just do what I do because I enjoy it, not because I need to make a coin from my every move. Many coin/stamp collectors, vintage car lovers, and various other hobby enthusiasts invest money in what they love and often don’t ever see an ROI. It’s okay to just do what you love because you love it, even if it is “an expensive hobby.”
6) I don’t have to be an “expert” to teach someone something new.
Dating back to first sharing my sewing makes, I’ve always gotten questions on specific garments about how my hem looks so “perfect”, how did I get the gathers to neat, how did I modify x,y,z? In the beginning I always felt reluctant to share things because I didn’t want people thinking I’d taken on a self-proclaimed professional role in the fashion industry. At some point, I realized that a lot of the organic learning I’d picked up had come from other people like me…just out here doing our thing our way! I am a walking disclaimer: I am self-taught. I google and YouTube a lot. I mess up. I am not a professional…in fact, I have never taken any sewing/fashion related classes until I started community college last January! Despite that, I do think there is value in sharing what I learn, my processes, my ways of thinking. The sweet messages I have gotten from people thanking me for helping them with something or telling me they used one of my blogs, as well as the tags that I’ve inspired a garment proves that what I do is helpful, even without being an “expert.” I will never talk down on someone for not having any certifiable qualifications. I mean…if we are being honest, we’ve all been led astray at least one time by a source we thought was reputable. I love sharing and helping where I can. If my “credentials” aren’t up to your standards, that’s fine too—there are many other sources you can utilize 😘
Sewing has been such a joy, even for all the stress it causes sometimes (hello, seam ripper). Work & hobby-wise, I can’t see myself doing anything more fun, anything more fulfilling than creating clothing with my hands and feeling so rewarded with the finished results. I’m so grateful for everything sewing has taught me and look forward to the next 5 years of growth. Has sewing taught you any life lessons that are share worthy? Drop me a comment, if so!