What Are The Possibilities?

When you talk about sewing and sewing your own clothes, this question takes on a certain aura that it doesn’t normally in other areas.

Think of the possibilities in cooking?
Think of the possibilities in architecture?
Think of the possibilities in designing?

They all are filled with excitement and can motivate us into action.

Think of the possibilities in sewing your own wardrobe?
What is your immediate thought:  Ugh!….I can’t do it!…I’m not qualified!…Where do I start?!…Are you kidding?…why would I do something like that?!

This is the immediate perception of sewists – that they posses some secret gift or knowledge or power to sew that most of the rest of the world can’t even hope to accomplish much less dream of doing.  It is a skill done on a machine that is way complicated. It’s an endeavor that requires buckets of time.  It’s  plainly hard.

So let’s think outside the box on this for a minute and see where this leads us.

Where do our minds go when we think of sewing your own wardrobe bringing you instant respect, admiration and even adulation.

This is true – it can, but it may not be the first thing you think of.  When you think of the possibilities of cooking, people are more likely to think creative than perfunctory;  designing even more so; and a lot in architecture.    But in sewing, well, you’re handy and then of course there’s the “Oh wow if you can do that for yourself, then you must have enough time to sew for me, your friend, a whole wardrobe of clothes, because everyone knows that once you know how to sew you can sew anything and it doesn’t take long because I could go buy it for cheap, so why don’t you make it for me as a favor!!!!”

OKTHEN – that was fun wasn’t it  How about turning the tables here and thinking outside the box.

What if we approach from the same point of view that others think of designing?…..or architecture?  What if we believe the cache and style it can bring to our wardrobe and our persona?  Does that really happen.  You bet it does.  If you don’t think so, talk to the stylists who dress the Oscar hopefuls – even if you don’t win an award, you can get almost as much press for wearing  killer outfit as you can winning the award.  Ask Sharon Stone who wore the famous GAP shirt to the Oscars and threw them all for a loop.  She wasn’t even up for an award that year!

Ask any wardrobe consultant or costume designer if wardrobe and what you wear make a difference.  My favorite of this is Jane Birken in Evil Under the Sun who plays a mousy housewife, weak and susceptible to all sorts of maladies and sicknesses.


When it turns out she’s a fashionable con artists – all made believable by costume within one movie.

Or how about those stars that can magically transform themselves from one character to another:

merylstreep It even works with our political leaders.

angelamerkelSimply one dumpy jacket can make a huge difference.


hillaryclintonEven within a short period of time.


Looking further outside the box, sewing gives you choices that you can’t even dream otherwise. Shopping is actually the limiting choice;  whereas sewing is not.


This is exactly the same person, and the RTW dress on the left adds 20 lbs.  She is not that heavy.  The outfit she made on the right reflects her true size, which she never could have worn without making the outfit.

Granted I see this every day with my clients and my students.  I’m in that position.  I see the products of my students and I can see the alternatives to shopping.  Shopping is great for those clothes that don’t really matter – like knock-around things.  This is the deep, dark secret that those of us who sew our wardrobes know.  We are not perfect sizes;  we do not have knowledge from the gods;  we don’t even have unlimited perfect techniques.

So what do we have?  We have practice.  We have skills that we’ve honed.  We have skills that we know how to use.  We have experience of working with fabrics and techniques.  But most of all we think of ourselves as creatives;  as artisans; as makers (especially in Europe); as proficient in our skills.

How would you reflect on your sewing if friends thought artist when they heard sewer?

….or that they thought accomplished?

….or excellence?….or envy?

How would your sewing be different if you were thought of as magical rather than perfunctory?

How would your perception of sewing be different if you were thought of as creative rather than replaceable?



Leave a Reply