My Thoughts on Sewing

Sewing Fisherman's Wife, 1890
by Anna Ancher

I may have mentioned here before that sewing is difficult for me. Not the actual sewing itself, per se, but the act of sewing. There are so many little things that add up to SEWING, that many times I find it overwhelming: the sewing machine to set up, a space to be cleared in my tiny sewing nook, patterns to lay and cut, fabric to mark, instructions to be deciphered, and then the sewing. And then, of course, there's the time. And the energy. So many things work against me in my endeavor to sew something that many times I am conquered.

And yet I don't give up. Things may languish for some time before I work myself up to sewing again, but they wait patiently. The ones I sew for don't wait, for they grow like crazy - and that is part of the challenge!

I've often wondered why I sew in the first place. I think in some ways it was one of those things that I thought, "I could do that," and so I did it. That's the way it was with making quilts. I am not a quilter, and yet I've made a few quilts. (I even have one partially made, still in a box from when my husband and I were engaged over 10 years ago!)

It is when I finally make the time, brush away any excuses or other things begging for my attention, and start to sew, that I remember. Sewing soothes me. I find I can think more clearly, more slowly, more honestly. It is an age-old act of creation. Machine sewing is a wonderful modern marvel, but hand sewing is what really grounds me.

In a world that is so fast-paced, always reaching and yearning for the new, taking part in an old, slower craft, puts modernity in its place. It has nothing on the generations of a craft that has provided so much for so many. It has no claim on the centuries of drudgery, of necessity, but also of the artistry and the beauty that we still marvel at today.

While the things I sew may not be all that wonderful, they never existed before I created them, and that is an accomplishment! It is easy to compare and wish our talents were that of so-and-so, but I wish we wouldn't do that. I wish that I didn't do that! With each step of the process, I am learning and my talent is progressing, however slowly. And that is how I have to sew. In painstaking steps. Many times I have to break them up over days or even weeks. Pattern cutting one day, marking another, sewing the next, and finishing yet another.

And so, I partake in the act of sewing. It's hard, and challenging, and frustrating, but wonderful and satisfying. I hope to sew my entire life. I hope to teach my children the honor and usefulness and the heritage of sewing. For it is one that is gratefully alive and strong, even in these modern times. It is one positive thing humans will never be able to do without, and that is my favorite historical heritage of all.


  1. This is so beautifully expressed. It is wonderful to reach out to a slow craft that helps to ground us in this fast-paced world in which we live. And I love that painting!

  2. Beautiful!! I agree with you about hand sewing--so grounding!!

  3. Although I do not share your sentiment about hand-sewing, I do love sewing when I get into it. I agree that since I don't have a dedicated sewing room, it is daunting to set up the machine for a project.

    I do however like the magic of taking cloth and thread and turning it into a three-dimensional object--usually one I can wear ;)

    I will try to embrace the slow, methodical beauty of hand-sewing, but I'm afraid I am far behind you.

    1. I do like a mix of both machine and hand stitching. I've been sewing a few 1940s things, but found myself missing the simpler, slower sewing methods of the 18th century. It's nice to be able to go back and forth in my sewing centuries. There are some great little sewing books on hand sewing techniques! I'm not the best hand sewer, but I think it's a skill worth pursuing. :-)


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