"Why do you sew?"
If you're a maker, you've surely been asked this question a time or two (or several dozen - but who's counting?) The population at large seems to come from two schools of thought when they hear someone has made their own clothing.
1) Amazement. People are usually amazed that someone can just take a flat, 2-dimensional piece of fabric and create real, actual clothing. Often that amazement is followed by stunned disbelief. "Wait, you like actually made that... with fabric or something?!" Eventually they wrap their brains around it and if you're lucky, you'll receive the ultimate compliment... "It looks like you bought it at a store!" and/or "Can you make me one?!"
2) Bewilderment. The second line of thinking most often encountered is bewilderment. Often people just can't fathom why you would ever spend the time and resources to MAKE something yourself when you could just go to the store and purchase it. These people are usually also amazed but for their purposes something handmade is inferior.
The answer as to where our itch to stitch comes from is different for everyone. For some, it's a source of pride and accomplishment, being able to create something tangible and useful. For others it's a point of creative outlet and personal style expression. For others still it's a necessity, being able to create custom fit clothing that wouldn't otherwise be available to them. Many a would-be seamstress has turned to fabric and thread after the frustration of poorly made and ill-fitting store bought clothing.
A hundred years ago being able to make your own clothing was an absolute necessity (unless you were wealthy enough to have a personal seamstress). It was a highly prized skill that was taught to each generation. The garments were sometimes crude, made from feedsacks and scraps. But for a special occasion one might spend countless hours on hand stitching details for a wedding or baptismal gown.
Over time we became a more commercialized society, looking to third party providers and mass-produced retail. The skills handed down from one generation to the next became fewer and fewer and eventually sewing as a life skill stopped altogether. Somewhere along the way, sewing became obsolete.
But sewing is making a comeback. Whether you're one of the few who were taught by a grandmother from another generation, a self-taught seamstress or someone who studied textiles and has formal fashion training, we're bringing custom clothing back into the mainstream. Today's makers are changing the face of what it means to wear 'handmade'. They're designing their own fashions, drafting their own patterns and constantly searching for the best fabrics and notions to make their pieces unique and special - something mass produced could never deliver.
So raise a glass to the new sewing revolution, grab your favorite pattern and some pretty fabric and scratch that itch to stitch!
Alexis Davis