November 27, 2014

Giving thanks for sewing

It’s Thanksgiving today in the United States, and although I’m not American, I have come to have a fondness for this holiday of my adopted home. One of the nicest things about it (apart from having a chuckle at whoever thoughts of melting marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes) is the tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and everyone saying what they’re most thankful for. Yes, it’s sort of mushy, but it’s nice to reflect on the great things in your life and share them with others.
So, I thought today I’d share what I’m most thankful for in relation to sewing (of course family, friends, health and my general good fortune come first!).
I’m thankful for the online sewing community
The online sewing community is how I learned to sew, how I got better, and the source of so much of my sewing-related joy. Until I had sewing friends in real life (of which more shortly!), sewing bloggers were my only outlet to natter on and on about my obsessive hobby, and the wonderful thing is quite how large and welcoming the blogosphere is. I’ll admit that to begin with, sewing bloggers seemed like untouchable celebrities to me, and everyone seemed to already know each other, and maybe even be a bit cliquey. But then I found out that if you want to join in, you can! I have to say for a clique they do a very bad job at being cliquey, because arms are wide open. So thanks, online sewing community, for crowd-fixing my green cashmere coat, teaching me how to put a zip in, and always being there for me on Instagram when I’m in a fabric store on a business trip, urging me on to buy!

I’m thankful for the sewing friends I’ve met in real life

When I first started blogging I didn’t imagine for a second I’d end up with friends all over the world who I’d meet in person! My main posse are the ladies (including Katy & Laney, Ping, Carrie, MacKenzie, Jessica, and the two Sarahs) at Grey’s Fabrics in Boston, a fabric store three blocks from my house which has Wednesday night Crafty Foxes get-togethers where we drink wine, hem circle skirts and generally make sewing related mischief. However, I’ve also met amazing groups of women in New York City, upstate New York, Austin and London, and one of the things I now look most forward to on business trips is putting out a batcall on Instagram and seeing who’s in the neighbourhood. I think my non-sewing, non-blogging friends think of what I do as a bit geeky and solitary, but it’s turned out to be anything but. Also, an observation: women who sew seem to be not only incredibly nice but remarkably intelligent, accomplished and go-getting. If you want to meet more sewing ladies too, just let people know you’ll be in town and you’ll be amazed by what happens!

I’m thankful for my new body confidence
I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s really nothing like sewing for changing your body image. Forget about trying to fit into a size X – just make something in your size instead! My occasional attempts to buy RTW just reinforce how much sewing has done for my self-confidence. And reading lots of plus size sewing bloggers has also really helped re-orient my mental image of what women look like, and how I look relative to them. To wit, here’s a picture of me in a bathing suit that is on the internet.

I’m thankful for fabric shopping adventures

I travel a lot both for work and fun, and having a hobby like sewing has made my travel so much more fulfilling. Not only do I get to meet far-flung members of the sewing community, but searching out fabric stores has often added so much to my trips. Fabric shops are rarely tourist attractions, so finding the local garment district is often a great way to get into totally different areas than you’d usually visit, and interact with locals – even if they do often seem quite confused about what you’re doing there. Additional bonus is you can pick up interesting fabric at often low prices, and then when people ask where your blouse is from you can see “oh this fabric? I picked it up in Paris, DAAAHLING”

I’m thankful for the growth of the plus size sewing community
I’m really proud to have been part of the Curvy Sewing Collective, which goes from strength to strength. We get comments and emails all the time from women who are so happy to have found the CSC, and who relate intensely to the experiences of our contributors. Beyond the CSC, I’m so thankful that some pattern companies are starting to cater more for plus sizes, from StyleArc who have all their patterns up to a size 30, to Colette who are extending their existing collections up. There’s still a long way to go – the proportion of all sewing patterns that are available to plus sizes is tiny – but I’m glad that the industry seems to be going in the right direction.
So that’s me. What are you most thankful for, fellow sewists? Let’s be mushy for a day.

10 thoughts on “Giving thanks for sewing

  1. This is a lovely post and happy Thanksgiving! It’s so lovely to hear what a positive aspect of your life sewing has become and I must admit to especially liking your comment about sewing celebrity status 🙂 As an avid reader of many blogs but only a beginner sewer myself (6 whole things whoo) I totally put experienced sewers on pedestals, including you! I’m really enjoying my sewing journey and proud of how I’m improving but such a long way to go.

  2. I’m grateful that sewing has given me pleasant and productive to do that’s just for me. I’m grateful that I’m a place where I feel comfortable enough to say no to people without guilt. I’m grateful for friends who have my back.

  3. What a lovely, warm post – Happy Thanksgiving from the UK!

  4. Anne says:

    What an uplifting post.

    I’m like you, thankful for the on-line sewing community and the positive wibe it gives out. I have learned a lot reading blogs for all around the word. Written by and for ordinary people with a passion for sewing, like me.

    I just started my own blog after thinking about it for a year or more, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to give something back. (hopefully)

  5. donna says:

    Just wonderful! Many thanks to you for your thoughtful posts and helpful FBA tips. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Unknown says:

    I’m thankful for sewing blogs like yours. I started out, in sheer frustration, trying to make clothes for myself and hating the result. It took a while to work out that what I was hating was the generously-proportioned body beneath the clothes, not the garments I produced.

    Instead I put my sewing efforts into making dresses with love for my daughters and shirts for my husband. But I couldn’t leave the sewing blogs alone and the more plus size bloggers I found and the more I admired their style and outfits, the more I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. I deserved nice things too.

    I read about techniques and scrutinized all your beautiful seams and awesome fit while my occasional forays into RTW made me realize that shop-bought clothes rarely had the finish or panache I could achieve in my own sewing. I stopped feeling that what I made was inferior to the stuff in the boutiques.

    I’ve only just begun to use the glorious fabric in my stash for myself. My fit isn’t perfect but it’s a lot better than that I can find in RTW. I can tweak patterns with carefree abandon to get what I want and I wear my ‘me-made’s with pride.

    I don’t know anyone else in ‘real life’ who sews. But I lurk online with a fabulous posse of ladies who have taught me so much, not the least of which is that I’m pretty fabulous too. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Margo B says:

    Ahhh…! Such a nice post and I feel many of those same sentiments about the online sewing community.

  8. Well ain’t this just dandy? What a lovely lovely post. I totally agree with every bit of it: women who sew are 100% wonderful. Really like the bit about fabric shopping in different parts of the world too. Sewing is a key that opens a million doors: to new friends, better body image, funny shops and errrr…. debt! 😉

  9. Heather Lou says:

    Ya girl! I feel the same way about all of this.

  10. Beautiful post! I never would’ve guessed how much community and friendship I’d find in what seems like a pretty solitary hobby. And it seriously warms my heart every time I hear someone say how much more comfortable they feel in their own skin now that they make their own clothes. I’ve always had a weird relationship with clothes and body image, but I definitely feel much more confident and much less self-conscious now, and I’m glad to hear that others do, too!

Let me know what you think!