Since I started sewing I've been greeted by many different reactions to my favourite pastime. Some people think it's cool, others are baffled by why I would bother; some think it's only a hobby pursued by their grandma's generation; others are intrigued and ask loads of questions about where I source fabric from etc. To answer the question many are thinking when I tell them I'm a seamstress, sewer or sewologist (!), why learn to sew?
Is sewing difficult?
Not really. Many people are scared because they have had a bad experience learning to sew at school and that has lingered, triggering bad memories of sewing. To be honest, I didn’t like sewing at school either. 10 sewing machines, 30 kids, 1 teacher, not really a recipe for success especially when the machine is constantly jamming and the room is echoing with cries of "miss....miss....miss?...."
But really, sewing is not difficult. Threading the machine is probably the hardest part and that is like riding a bicycle, once you've got it, it becomes second nature. You can start with easy projects and just ease yourself into harder things, that way it's not a ridiculous challenge and you keep learning new things as you attempt new projects.
If I'm no good at creative things can I do it?
Yes, sewing can be creative and imaginative and artistic, but it can also be logical, practical and mathematical; sometimes more so. I often compare learning to sew with putting up a set of shelves. Most of us can follow a simple set of instructions to put up a set of shelves from Ikea for example. Sewing isn’t that different; at first you are just following a set of instructions, putting together pieces of fabric to make something new.
Will sewing my own clothes save me money?
Probably not much. You could probably get fabric and all the other things you need to make clothes cheaper than you could buy them (depending on the fabric you buy), but if you measure it out in time it takes you then it definitely won't save you any money. But that's not the point. The point is you are doing something creative, indulging in a hobby you love (hopefully) while creating a useful product. But more importantly, in making your own clothes, you are beginning a journey in rejecting rabid consumerism, dirty corporate practices and brainwashing that tells us what to wear and when.
And I bet you'll go off shopping once you start sewing and then you'll definitely save money!
How can I get started?
Funny you should ask...hello there, I'm Layla, I teach people to sew! No really, lessons are probably the best way to get started and if you can't come to mine I recommend you find someone else. I learnt to sew by tricking my mum into spending the weekend with me then trapping her in a room with lots of fabric, sewing patterns and a sewing machine. After a weekend of sewing I felt confident enough to have a go at some things by myself (when I say by myself, I mean I called my mum every 5 minutes and then sent her photos of bits I was stuck on...thanks mummy!). If you don't have a lovely sewing mummy (or auntie, friend, grandma, grandpa...) then taking classes is definitely worth it, especially if you have a machine at home. Once you get shown how to do the basics you can practice away by yourself, with the help of a good book, or with the wonderful resource that is the internet.
Will I be able to make clothes straight away?
You could do if you want to dive straight into the deep end. However it might be better if you started with a few simple projects first to get used to sewing in straight lines before you attempt something a bit more challenging. If you come to my classes, you'll be sewing clothes by the third class....just saying!
Sewing clothes can be a bit scary at first, especially if you're using a pattern (which for some reason they make impossible to understand), but if you have someone to walk you through the basics you'll see it isn’t as impossible as it seems. Eventually, with practice, you begin to notice that most clothes construction has the same steps and it becomes second nature.
What other benefits to sewing are there?
- When you become more skilled you can recycle unwanted or old clothes, helping the environment in the process.
- You'll stop funding big high street corporates and their nasty, corrupt practices.
- You're becoming self sustaining, taking back a basic skill we need to realise basic physiological needs- shelter or clothing our body. In our modern age many of these basic skills have been lost in the pursuit of capitalism, relying on others to fulfil these basic functions while we make money. Through learning to sew and make your own clothes you are retrieving these basic skills and putting your finger up at the capitalist system!
- You'll be extremely proud when someone compliments your work and feel even more awesome when you give people presents you made and they don't believe you made it!
- And finally, it's fun!
For more ideas on why you should sew and the evil that is caused by buying clothes:
Ideas on how our shopping habits and take on fashion has changed to be more detrimental to the world.
I promise I wont be offended if you don't come to my class, but I really suggest you learn how to sew! What do you think, have I changed anyone's mind?