Why I Sew

16 Apr

Sewing room sneaky peek

“Why do you sew?” This is the question that I get asked on a near daily basis – evenly distributed between curious blog comments, emails, face-to-face introductions, and random strangers who compliment something handmade that I happen to be wearing. Obviously, I am happy to talk about sewing until I start seeing eyes glaze over (oh, who am I kidding, I’m not gonna let that stop me one bit), but it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed at large on this blog. Since I’m currently in this weird blogging purgatory where I have finished projects but can’t take photos due to the current torrential downpours going on right now, let’s talk about it! And have some new sewing room sneaky-peeks while we’re at it πŸ˜€

As some of you may know, I learned how to sew through self-teaching. I’ve been around sewing my entire life – my mom made a lot of curtains, stuffed bunnies, and Easter dresses throughout my childhood, and I even had my own little sewing kit that I’d use to fashion Barbie-sized clothing and quilts. I started using her sewing machine when I was around 13 or 14, as someone on my favorite AOL message board (haha YEP) mentioned that they would sew up the sides of their band shirts to make them fit better. MIND. BLOWN. I used sewing strictly for alterations for a few years, and it wasn’t until I was 20 that I started trying to use sewing patterns. I learned everything – from threading the machine, to deciphering the pattern jargon, to learning new techniques – from books and the occasional internet research (I didn’t have internet in my house 10 years ago, so most of my early knowledge came from reading the Vogue Sewing Book cover to cover, like a freaking novel). That was back before blogging really took off, before sew-alongs were a thing, before I even knew that there was a site like Pattern Review and definitely during a time when we gave indie pattern companies a wary side-eye because we weren’t sure if they were to be trusted.

When I started sewing, I never had any intentions of eventually having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I never imagined that sewing would ever earn me any sort of income, not outside the random $10-$15 for an occasional pants-hem. I never really thought about it while it was happening – it was just, oh, great, a new hobby to immerse myself in! I did eventually start selling the clothing that I was making, as a way to offset some of my costs and give myself the go-ahead to sew up looks and fabrics that I’d never personally wear. That lasted for a few years, and it was pretty fun! I ultimately closed down the line because it was taking up too much of my selfish sewing time (NO RAGRETS).

noragretsI’ve been perfecting my craft for nearly 10 years at this point (I don’t count those early days pre-20 because, honestly, the only action my sewing machine got was nipping in the side seams of whatever random band shirt I’d bought the night before. Seriously. Soooo many band shirts), which is kind of crazy to me! I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past, but this one has definitely stuck around the longest, and turned into an actual passion as opposed to something I do every few weeks so I have something to chat about at parties.

So, with all that being said – I give you my top 5 reasons (in no particular order) as to why I sew.Sewing room sneaky peek

REASON #1: Mood-Altering Abilities

I love sewing because it’s a good mood-changer for almost any situation I encounter. If I’m bored, it’s entertaining. If I’m feeling stressed, it’s relaxing. If I’m angry, it calms me down. Everything about the entire process – from planning, to cutting, to prepping, to stitching, to finishing – makes me feel drastically better than I did before the project started. Truth, if I go too long without getting some creative release taken care of (such as those couple weeks during our recent move), I start getting angsty and upset. Sewing just makes me feel really good, which is more than I can say about other hobbies. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t peel myself off the couch after an afternoon of TV binge-watching and think, “Man. That was a productive day.” And hey, since sewing is considered entertainment – it’s REALLY easy to justify spending money on it πŸ™‚ Ha!


REASON #2: Problem Solving

I am a problem-solver at heart. Give me a dilemma, and I’ll roll it around in my head for a few hours (or days) and try to come up with the most effective solution. I was one of those math nerds in high school who loved both Algebra AND Geometry. Figuring my way out of puzzle keeps my brain active and happy, and sewing is a really good way to incorporate that into my every day life. I love being presented with a challenge – whether it involves fitting, fabric, or finishing – and kicking that challenge right in its big, stupid ass. I’m not really a brain expert here or anything, but I like to think that exercising that part of my brain that solves problems and figures out puzzles makes me a better problem-solver overall, in all aspects of my day to day life. Whether or not that’s actually true, of course, is up for debate, but again – it makes me feel good. I like feeling good.


REASON #3: Level 10 Bartering // Income

When my sewing skills were still in their infancy, I learned a lot of what I know just from hacking away at alterations (first, my own, later, everyone else’s). I hemmed pants, I shortened bridesmaid dresses, I repaired couch pillows and cushions, I made custom curtains (fun fact: one time I made curtains for Emerson Hart. Those celebrities in Nashville, they’re everywhere!), I made dog clothes and Halloween costumes, and I also made about 100 flat-sheet sleeping sacks for a local hostel (you wanna know why I can sew in such a straight line? I had a LOT of practice making those sacks! ha!). I advertised on Craigslist and charged low rates, and made some decent money over the years. Not enough to quit my day job, obviously – but enough for a night out of drinking, or to pay for gas for the week, or to add to my savings for an upcoming trip. I was pretty poor during most of those 10 years – I was an irresponsible 20something with loads of credit card debt who spent way too much money on cigarettes and alcohol – and these random little alteration jobs kept me afloat when I needed it most. This is something I can always fall back on – and I still do, from time to time. When I was jobless during the last month of 2013, you best believe I was hawking the alterations like a crazy person. Not only was I able to cover my rent and bills – I also was able to tuck some money into savings. Yay!

I do pretty all right now with my current work, so I’m not dying for additional income right now – but I still using sewing as the bestest bartering tool. Like that one time when I had to take to small claims court that asshole who hit my car (AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT) – I bartered with my lawyer friend, who agreed to represent me in court in exchange for making him a Princess Peach dress for Halloween.

Check out the finished man-sized Princess Peach dress that I made for my attorney (yes, he's awesome)! Last year, I was in a minor car accident that the insurance refused to pay out (despite none of it being my fault), and this guy was nice enough to repr

I cannot make this shit up. Again – sewing is the best bartering tool evarrr. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a lawyer otherwise, but I *can* afford my time! Also, I won the case. Mostly because it was total bullshit, but, I digress.


REASON #4: Makes Me A Better Consumer

Y’all. For as much as I’m a bleeding hippie about a whole myriad of aspects in my personal life, I used to be a really really terrible consumer. I spent way too much money (see above RE: credit card debt) and I treated most of what I bought as disposable. I didn’t have a lot of control in a lot of really important parts of my life (early 20s were a very dark time for me, to put it mildly), so I shopped. A lot. Sewing helped me get out of the funk in two ways – for one, it gave me something to be happy about and have control over (see reason #1) and it did a number on curbing the consumerism. Once you see how much effort goes into making a single piece of clothing – even a simple fucking tshirt – it becomes a bit mind-blowing to realize that there are stores selling that shit for as little as $2. How? I also started noticing just how crappy the quality is on a lot of the stuff we buy – awful fabrics, pieces cut off-grain, horrible seam finishes, bad fit – especially when you compare it to vintage pieces, or hell, even shit from 15 years ago. All that being said, I really drastically cut down on the amount of stuff I was buying – mostly because it seemed ridiculous to pay $$$ for something horribly made that I could do a better job of myself at home. Once I started getting picky about fit and realized that I was going to have to alter everything I bought, it made clothing shopping even less appealing. I gradually pulled back from buying new clothing over the years, and as of now, I’m rocking the almost-entirely handmade wardrobe.

Also, I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion when it was published, and it totally blew my mind. If you’re one of 3 people who hasn’t yet heard of this book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It will change your (shopping)life.

Sewing also played a part in getting that credit card debt finally paid off once and for all. I spent nearly an entire year living as shitty as possible and funneling the majority of my income into that stupid debt. When I say majority, I really mean it – I gave myself $20 per pay period (so, $40 a month) to spend on fun money after my bills were paid. Everything else went back into that looming debt. It obviously sucked and I’m definitely planning on not ever going through that again. Also – what can you do with $40 a month? That’s like 2 movies, or a month of REALLY shitty cable (or, for me – one night out at the bar). Lame! I sewed my way through my stash, and re-upped with monthly trips to our flea market (where $40 actually does go pretty far!). Instead of going out to the bar, I stayed home in my sewing room. Not only was I keeping myself entertained, I was also contributing to my wardrobe (because, again: $40 a month.). I made additional income from alterations, which I also dumped right into that debt. I was able to pay that shit off about a month earlier than I had anticipated, and I’ve been debt-free ever since! Yay!


REASON #5: Complete Wardrobe Control

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is why the majority of us sew – it gives us complete control of our wardrobe! It’s pretty awesome to be able to choose what you wear based on what you want, and not what’s just available in stores. It’s mind-blowing to be able to finish a garment and know that it is going to fit you just the way you like, without needing a bunch of alterations. And don’t even get me started on the merits of having control over the fabric – how many of us have used novelty bedsheets or ridiculous quilting cotton to make a crazy dress?

New garment sneaky peek

I started sewing specifically for the wardrobe control – beginning with those band tshirts, and making my flares into skinny jeans (because I couldn’t find them in stores, because it was 1999 and everyone worshiped The Flare). I started using patterns because I wanted cotton sundresses made out of ~quirky~ fabrics (mostly those novelty bedsheets, of course). I used vintage patterns because I wanted a vintage wardrobe without paying a hefty price for my pieces. I continued sewing and honing my craft because I want clothes that fit my body and are made of natural fibers, in colors and patterns that I like (versus whatever is available at Express this season). I want clothing with special details and one-of-a-kind designs. I am inspired by the clothing I see- from designers on the runway, to costume design in movies and television, to rando people walking in front of me on the sidewalk – and I recreate it in ways that work for my wardrobe and lifestyle. While I do occasionally complain about how there are RTW fabrics that I never see available for the home sewer, that’s a pretty small drop in the bucket compared to the choices we DO have over the typical clothing consumer. Sewing isn’t exactly known for saving you money these days (I mean, unless you’re ripping off really expensive designer shit), but it certainly puts you in charge of wearing what you want, which to me is worth far more than saving a little bit of cash. I always think back on those skinny jeans that I wore when I was 14, surrounded by a sea of flares, and it feels pretty good to know that I don’t have to put myself at the mercy of whatever is currently in style. I wear what I want, and I give no fucks.


So that’s the story of why I sew – in a nutshell, it makes me happy! I like being happy πŸ™‚ Now tell me – why do you sew? What gets your little (sewing)motor going? Do you aspire to the eventual 100% handmade wardrobe, or are you content just pushing out the occasional fiber art because it makes you feel good? Time to get our chat on!


170 Responses to “Why I Sew”

  1. amaranthadesigns April 16, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Loved reading this post! I’ve never really thought about why I sew, it’s just something I’ve always done, but I guess I can give a few reasons: It makes me happy, I get a tremendous sense of achievement when I’ve made a garment which fits, flatters and is unique.

    Now I guess the uniqueness is the main thing for me – I used to say I was anti-fashion, but actually I just realised that if I wore styles and colours which flattered my body, it made me happy and people would compliment me on how good I looked. (I think if you feel good wearing something, you convey a happiness which other people can see – just my little theory!) It might be fashionable, usually not, but I really don’t care. I also love that “flash of inspiration” I get when I spot a fabric and can just “see” a garment made up in it and I just have to recreate that vision despite others saying, “oh my god, you can’t make a dress out of that board short fabric”. Those same people had to admit that my board short fabric dress was pretty funky and looked fab! πŸ˜‰

    Er, sorry, I’ve gone off on one! Apologies for the very long comment. Needless to say, I love your blog, love your style and at times you totally crack me up! (That’s a compliment btw!)

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

      Don’t even apologize, I looove reading long comments (almost as much as I love making them myself hahaha). I totally agree with you feeling good with what you’re wearing and conveying happiness – I believe that “flattering colors” and “favorite colors” tend to be somewhat mutually exclusive, maybe not necessarily because we are drawn to the colors that look good on us, but rather because we feel good wearing our favorite colors and it actually shows on our faces! So I totally get the same concept extended to full-on clothing πŸ™‚

  2. bergonia April 16, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    Thanks for sharing this. I absolutely love following all of your sewing adventures (can’t think of the right word but you get the idea I hope). I don’t comment a whole lot but I do read them all. I feel like most of the reasons you sew apply to why I used to sew in high school (yay modified band shirts!) and why I started sewing again in the last few years (bleh to crappy quality and ill fitting clothing that cost too much over time). It’s super motivating to follow your blog so I wanted to share that seeing what you make is not a reason I sew but adds to my excitement about sewing. When I see how nicely something you’ve made turns out I get excited that maybe mine will look that good too. Often with your detailed posts they turn out better because you share so much amazing info. Thanks for sewing and thanks for sharing.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      I’m so glad to hear that you find my postings inspirational and helpful! πŸ™‚ Hearing (or, reading?) stuff like that makes me really happy and motivates me to keep this blog alive and kicking πŸ™‚

  3. Hailey U. April 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Thank you for such a fun and thoughtful post! I, too, have been in a relationship with my sewing machine for many years, in a variety of fashions. After graduating nursing school, I went to work in mental health. The work is very rewarding, but it is often very temporary feeling. Small successes are overshadowed by the chronic nature of many illnesses. I found that sewing was something tangible that I could accomplish to refuel my batteries. Since then, I have found many other benefits, many of which you enumerated above. Your blog has been a huge inspiration to me. Thank you!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Sewing is really good for refueling one’s batteries, I totally agree with that! Even if you need to refuel after a sewing disaster/wadder, you just pull out the ol’ TNT and make something that is guaranteed to work for instant gratification πŸ™‚

  4. V Reed April 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    The number one reason I sew is because it makes me happy and damn it, I deserve happy! πŸ˜€ Number two reason is my daughter and not for the reason most people expect. Not that I don’t love sewing up girly girly skirts and dresses! She’s nine, but extremely tall for her age, which puts her in a size 14. I don’t know if you’ve noticed what teenage girls are wearing these days, but I wouldn’t let her out of the house in most of it if she were 14, much less 9. I sew loads of clothes for her and I’m super lucky that she loves wearing mom-made clothes. She’s even learning to sew herself, making pretty aprons as Christmas gifts this last year. I can’t say how proud I am to be encouraging the next generation of sewists!

    Those reasons are followed in no particular order by fit, fabric and style. I may have to order most of my fabric online, but I still end up with amazing clothes in fabrics I couldn’t find in stores, plus they FIT!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      OMG FORREAL. Teenage girls are definitely wearing some… interesting fashions. I wouldn’t want my 9 year old wearing that shit either! That’s so awesome that your daughter loves her mom-made clothes, and even more awesome that she’s apparently caught the sewing bug! You’ve probably spoiled her for life in regards to ever actually buying clothes πŸ˜‰ (which I don’t think is a bad thing!).

    • hearthie April 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Ohmygosh. Yes. My 10yo is tall & plump and she wears a L in the teen clothes and NO. Just no. Fortunately she’s more conservative than I am – she refused to buy a skirt at the Gap the other day ’cause she felt it was too short. (It wasn’t but I can certainly deal with THAT problem).

      Always with the tall/big kid stuff. I’m sure you remember the heartbreak when you hit size 6 and the cute fluffy appropriate children’s clothing turned into tween stuff… and your child was still in kindergarten… and … NO. -shudder-

      (I sew about half of 10yo’s clothes).

    • Angela April 16, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

      Oh yes… my daughter is 16, 5′ 11″ and built like a model. Does she appreciate it? NO! But, clothes off the rack are not designed for the tall – wow, some of those dresses are tunics on her, and just NO. Not happening. NO.

    • Krystina April 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      YES! My daughter is in kindergarten and already it’s slim pickings in stores. I’m going to have to buckle down and make a bathing suit, because the stuff I’m seeing in stores in her size scares the sh!t out of me.

      • mary April 25, 2015 at 9:45 am #

        Jalie to the rescue! That skirted two piece is soooo nice for swimming lessons. She can even go to the bathroom in spite of ‘swimwear stick’ issues.
        I raise the center fronts of the bottom panty pieces and skirt by an inch, curving the upper to meet with the as-drafted side seams(otherwise the slight pot makes the bottoms roll down a bit.) I didn’t need to make any other changes to the bottom.
        If she has narrower than average shoulders you’ll want to turn the upper back into an x, other than that…. all good.

  5. Najah April 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Kick-ass post! I started sewing because I’m short, curvy, and 98% of RTW doesn’t fit me. Now, it’s a necessary addiction. Like crack that feeds the soul and clothes the body.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      I like your way of thinking! πŸ˜‰

  6. Paige April 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Ummm…you got any more pictures of that pineapple thing? I’ve scoured your site more times than I’d like to admit…and I don’t remember that pineapple thing. It looks like a crop top/midriff dress/something I NEED TO SEE NOWWWW.

    Great post, btw. I sew because I’m cheap and not a damn thing in the stores fits me with my large waist/hip differential and short crotch length. I’m so tired of feeling ugly in clothes I paid way too much money for. So I sew to make me feel good (and maybe to recreate all the Polly Pocket wardrobes I adored when I was 11).

    • Alicia April 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      Girl, I concur with your sentiments about it de-stressing and un-angering.
      Also that it engages the problem solving parts of ma brains. But thats what design is. Problem solving. Whether is furniture or fashion. And a huge YESSSS to appreciating whomever makes our garments (if not us). The first time I made a pair of panties I walked over to the husband and said “I’d just like to take this moment to thank every person that has sewn my underwear for the past however many decades” for real tho. They didnt fit so I put them on my dog and drafted another pair but it was awesome.

      • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

        Ok, but now it’s time for the real question: DID THEY FIT YOUR DOG? πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

      The pineapple thing is a dress! It’s the most recent thing I finished that I haven’t been able to take photos of yet (except for that one, ha). JUST TRYING TO TANTALIZE YOU NOW. Hopefully the weather will clear up long enough so I can get some photos and post it up soon! πŸ™‚

  7. Kat Larson April 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Great post! And good reasons to sew!

    My mom got me a sewing machine 2 years ago for Xmas. I had grown up watching her sew elaborate Snow White costumes for me, Hammer pants in crazy colors and patterns for my older brothers and I (Yes, M.C. Hammer c. 1990ish), funky purses made of cat-patterned materials (which sorry mom, they are all hideous!), and my favorite thing she would make were aprons with ruffles. I would have her sew them for friends for their birthdays, and eventually, I had my own ideas about how to sew aprons and wanted to whip something up. Unfortunately, my mom is a terrible sewing teacher/control freak and it was no fun to try to learn from her or use her machine, so she bought me my own. My first project was an Oompa-Loompa costume for my son-who at the time was about 18 months old and have the perfect proportions for that. I would have made him a Garden Gnome costume, but something about a tiny Oompa-Loompa running around the neighborhood asking for candy sounded much more exciting. I spent about a month on it, drafting a pattern on old left-over newsprint from college drawing classes, basically tracing some of his clothes and measuring his squishy-chunky thighs several times, popping in the DVD that came with the machine every time I had to rethread and referencing the manual about every 5 minutes until I had created my very own Oompa-Loompa! Once that was done, I fell off the wagon and went on a Pinterest binge and found a super cute retro high-waisted skirt I wanted to try making. Mostly to cover the damage and mom-tummy that the Oompa-Loompa had caused. I wore the skirt to work, and something odd happened. Male coworkers were the first to compliment the skirt. Not only did it make me a little uncomfortable to be wearing a skirt (I never wear skirts or dresses), but my male coworkers who I would assume don’t give 2 shits about what I am wearing, were actually noticing and giving out compliments to this new creation that covered the unsightly and unrelenting post-baby bulge. Yay! Then My dad was getting remarried last fall, and I found yet another skirt on Pinterest that was just a random fashion photo, with a broken link. I would not be able to purchase this pink flouncy skirt that would make me look like a cupcake, so I had to make my own. Of course, not knowing what I was doing, I made it out of jacket liner, but ya know what? I don’t know if I could have pulled it off with any other material, and the finished skirt looked EXACTLY like the photo! Again, compliments were received, and that goes back to the whole idea of “sewing makes me feel good” that we are all experiencing in our own ways. So now that Halloween has come and gone, and I have no more occasions to dress me or anyone else up for a while, I have to start looking for my next project.

    Thanks so much for all your posts and your hilarious enthusiasm which continues to inspire me to sew! Here is a virtual hug! (((HUG!)))

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      I love this! I wish my mom made me hammer pants and cat-patterned purses! She did make me stuffed bunnies with full wardrobes and the frilliest/ruffliest/floweriest church dresses (because this was the 90s and I LIVED AND BREATHED Laura Ashley), so I can’t complain too much πŸ™‚ I also love the idea of a tiny Oompa Loompa running around and collecting candy! Garden gnomes are totally adorable, but nothing can compete with a baby Oompa Loompa. Nothing.

      Hugs right back to you! β™₯

      • Wendy April 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

        I have the Hammer pants pattern if you’re looking! Of course it’s in a huge size to fit my 6’5″ husband so you’d probably be able to fit a dozen of you in themπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜‚. Just discovered your blog and I’m getting so inspired to get back into sewing clothes again – maybe even for me!

    • zaynabsophiarose April 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      Just curious oompa loompas from the gene wilder film?

      • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

        I have seen photos and I will say – yes! Oompa Loompas from the Gene Wilder film (aka the only one that matters! Sorry, Johnny Depp! :P)

        • zaynabsophiarose April 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

          Oh I wana see too! I am glad I am not the only one that thinks that version rocks! In fact, I refused to let my son watch the Tim Burton version because I thought it doesn’t compare.

  8. Michee Rose (@elfieodette) April 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh god I love you! I’ve been sewing a bit longer (20yrs) but it’s only in the past 10yrs that I’ve paid much attention to it. I sew for many the same reasons you do, even if I took a very different path. πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing everything you do.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

      I love you too! β™₯ πŸ™‚

  9. Mandykatt April 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Yes! On almost all of that. Sewing makes me happy, and it soothes the math nerd who needs to figure out fitting. It lets me make clothes that fit perfectly, and in fabrics I want. I am taller than average, with a full bust and flat bum. RTW clothes look terrible on me. Shirts pull open or strain themselves, pants hang limply in back and look sad.

    But the best part? Now I can get my own fabric custom printed in whatever print I want and entirely make a garment just the way I want it! I bought a dress with cats on it for my daughter and desperately want one for myself. I could buy 4 toddler dresses and mash them into 1 adult skirt, but that’ll run me $80 and limit me. So, instead, I can buy a vector on shutterstock that is super close to her dress print, and have it custom printed on whatever fabric I choose. I may still spend $80 on it, but I can buy enough to make whatever I want. I β™₯ sewing.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      I totally agree with you! If I’m going to sink $80 into fabric, at least there won’t be any seam-ripping involved (as you would with 4 toddler skirts ::shudder:: haha) and you best believe I’ll be buying enough to make an entire cat mix-and-match wardrobe πŸ™‚ Sewing is the besttt!

  10. hearthie April 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Put me firmly in the category of a seamstress who sews because otherwise she looks absolutely awful, lost in a sea of RTW horror. I sew most of my things, other than workout gear and tanks/tshirts. (I don’t like working with knits).

    I can A) fight the good fight and fit a dress with lines I’m pretty sure will work well on me (thanks, Vogue Sewing Book – and others – for actually answering this question with real answers instead of hints. No, my wide, square shoulders do NOT look good in kimono sleeves) and make it up in a couple of different fabrics and get loads of compliments… or B) wear RTW and have all of it be ill-fitting and be at the mercy of whatever color and cloth are in this year.

    A wins hands down. I’m not particularly detail oriented, and it’s been a slog to force myself to do things properly in order to have a good result, but DANG – the good result is worth it.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      The good result is totally worth it! Getting to that point can be borderline painful sometimes (especially when you fall down the muslin spiral, or worse – end up with a very expensive wadder as a result), but nothing can compare to the amazing feeling of satisfaction you get from cracking the code and ending up with something amazing πŸ˜€

  11. Caitlyn M. April 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    I sew because I’m an extreme type-A personality and I’ve found I need to have hobbies that produce tangible results to feel satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing games (board, card, and video) and binge watching TV as much as the next person (this weekend and Daredevil on Netflix cannot come soon enough), but if I go more than a few days without feeling like I’m going to have something to show for my time, I get cranky. Making things also helps me feel connected to other people, which is good because I’m introverted and going-out-to-meet-people-to-make-friends is not my idea of fun. But going out to by fabric or yarn and chatting with a fellow fiber enthusiast about this pattern or that project, or commenting on blogs and getting the thrill of seeing a reply? Good times.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

      I’m with you on needing a hobby that produces tangible results! I don’t think badly of people who don’t have these sorts of hobbies, but for me – I like to feel like I actually produced something! And I really love how the love of sewing has really brought this community together – I’ve met sooo many people over the years, and every single one of them has been awesome. Can’t say the same thing about every person I’ve ever met off the internet, but sewing folks are pretty a-ok πŸ˜‰

  12. Ms Cleaver April 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Yes! I sew because I love the feeling of “I made that.” There is something so satisfying about the product of your own two hands, even when it’s imperfect. Especially in this day and age when we’re so removed from the production of most goods we consume (food, clothing, furniture, etc.). I think it’s the same reason I love gardening.

    And yes, I get to pick the styles, colors, flavors that appeal most to me and make them to a quality I prefer.

    And I sooo hear you on the solving puzzle thing, though for me that’s not as much sewing as it is designing knitting patterns. When I sketch something out and have to figure out how to actually make it!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      I totally agree! Knowing that you produced something with your two hands – imperfect or not – is SUCH a good feeling!

  13. francesca April 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    Great post Lauren! I get it a lot too – in Malta very few people sew now, luckily there are still some dressmakers so we still have a couple of fabric shops. I’m all about 1, 4 and 5:). I get so cranky if I don’t do something creative after the day job:) even if its just some knitting or crochet in front of The Americans…. what cracks me up is when someone says is it worth it? Last one was this well-off looking female in a badly fitting dress…. i rest my case.
    I started when I was a kid, and learnt a little bit from my control freak aunt, who was the type to take over and not let you watch cos it made her nervous. I mostly learnt from the tutorials in Birds, believe it or not. Made my wedding dress too. Then Mango invaded Malta and suddenly it was easy to find nicer stuff than the usual choice between rubbish, Benetton and Max Mara. Long break when i knitted like crazy and back to sewing a few years back after getting into vintage looks.
    Can’t say its helped my credit card tho – I can’t resist a piece of wool or linen jersey to save my life, and my fabric stash rivals my yarn stash, which is saying something….

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

      Haha I used to be the same way with my credit card & buying fabric. Then I spent a year paying off debt, and since I wasn’t really buying anything, it totally reset the way I feel about what I buy and where my money goes. Now I’m a much more thoughtful purchaser (well, at least when I’m not in the Garment District πŸ˜› but even then – I don’t buy it unless I actually have the money to pay for it!).

  14. Aleksandra @ Liveaboard Takes the Suburbs April 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    First off, I love you. This post is the absolute best. XD

    As for why I sew, which I could probably write an entire post on myself, I think the main main reason is I can’t ever find what I want in stores. I want full skirts and I want them long enough for my 5’9″ long-legged body. But there’s also a definite social justice reason underlying it. And it’s just plain fun. I can put on a book on tape or a tv show and zone out in my sewing room all day and be happy as a pig in mud.

    I’d love to see myself at about 85% self-made clothes. I’d like to try making jeans, but I also really really love my Levi’s. Same with bras. And I don’t see myself able to crank out enough cardigans to fill my work wardrobe anytime soon. So it’s a balance. But all my good stuff is definitely the stuff I’ve made.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

      Love you too, girl! β™₯

      I am always impressed with people who can find their balance with sewing/buying. For me, everything gets extremely black and white and it’s one side or the other, no middle ground. But, man, if you can find jeans and bras that fit the way you like and you’re happy with them – why mess with a good thing? I can totally be on board with that πŸ˜€

  15. Beth April 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    I guess I’m one of those 3 who haven’t read “Overdressed….” yet BUT I just did find it at my branch of our local library system (yay!). So I’m about to join the masses — a place where I do not usually find myself. (LOL and happy with it.) Our mom sewed our school dresses (how I longed for a Cinderella label dress instead of sitting down and being poked by a forgotten pin), prom dresses, wedding dresses, etc. My sister sews a LOT (she’s the one who introduced me to your blod; thanks, Paula!) although I’ve never done much in that area. Now, knitting is something totally different. Seems I’ve always got several cool and awesome somethings on my needles. And now you’ve tempted me to give sewing another try. When I get finished moving (yeah, me too…) and actually have a place to sew, I’ll keep you posted. McCall’s used to have a “Make It Tonight, Wear It Tomorrow” group of patterns. Maybe that was what did me in. For me it was more like, “Start It Tonight, Work On It For 3 **&!-ing Frustrating Months, and Pitch It Into The Garbage”! Glad you’re hear via blog to be a little (or not so little) voice to keep me going!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

      I got mine at the local library too! (and I was on a waiting list for like SIX MONTHS before I was finally able to check it out – I guess that was a popular book in my city when it was first published haha!). Also, those “quick and easy” type patterns are complete and total LIES. I don’t know anyone who’s actually finished one of those things in an evening.

  16. rillafree April 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Love this post and sounds like a familiar tale! I sewed when I was a teenager because I was not near too many shops and had no money. I’ve always wanted to have a choice about the styles I wear and the no money continued into my thirties accompanied by sewing jobs, study and debt. I too worked hard to pay off the debt and now don’t even go into my overdraft! I started because I couldn’t afford what I wanted to wear, but now I do it because I know it’s better and am now looking to use more sustainable fabrics. Whatever the reasons though, sewing is so much fun and now I have children and there is no way the are not going to have a go! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

      Paying off debt feels AMAZING, doesn’t it? Well, not the payment parts – until you make that final payment, then you’re all “hells yes I am an awesome person, look at me adulting and shit” πŸ˜€

  17. mariezjohansen April 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    GREAT post! I think that we all have odd 20’s…they seemed to always be filled with sunshine and a lot of shadow! bravo for you and clearing your debt! Well done! I began sewing when I was 8 or 9 and no one in my family sewed. I too am book learned- give me a good book and I can do anything! I agree that sewing is the great stabilizer…it is a great way to re-focus your mind. I am a quilter mostly, although I began sewing with making clothes. I have a yen to make clothes again though, mostly because of my love of linen…but bedsheets are a great idea! Thanks….a new follower.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

      Oh, bedsheets are the BEST when you are first starting out! You can get all those crazy colors and patterns, and it’s a nice big piece of fabric for usually really cheap (assuming you thrift them, which is what I did!). I still use bedsheets, but mostly for muslins now. I buy the discolored ones that I know no one else is going to get and tell myself that I am recycling πŸ™‚ haha!

      • hashigal April 21, 2015 at 5:22 am #

        That’s such a great idea! I have issues parting with stash for muslins, so I end up with so many things of questionable fit. And getting the fit right is a fair portion of the reason to sew.
        Recycling for the win!

  18. Eryn @ StyleSewMe.com April 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Oh boy, your story brought me back to my days of paying off debt! I did the same, I took $10 out of weekly paycheck and after lots of sacrificing, I got out of that hole never to go back again.

    Great read and I’m >>>here<<< with you on all of those reasons! I'm tall with T&A so fit was ALWAYS an issue for me with OTR clothes. I love putting in the time to get my fit right now, even though I avoided fitting adjustments like the plague when I first started sewing! Hehehe!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

      It feels REALLY good to clear it all out though, doesn’t it? Honestly, I think the hard way was the best way for me – because I know I’m never going to put myself through that shit again (same with when I quit smoking – cold turkey, and I was sick for like a week. Didn’t feel normal for a good 6+ months. NEVER EVER EVER AGAIN hahaa).

      And I totally avoided fitting adjustments in the beginning, too! Figuring out sewing was hard enough without throwing in a damn fitting curveball πŸ˜›

  19. Eryn @ StyleSewMe.com April 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on Style Sew Me and commented:
    My sentiments exactly!

  20. Anonymous April 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Loved reading this, Lauren. I sewed from the age of 9 to 32 just about everything that I and my three children wore. The kids were born after I was 22 πŸ™‚ I love the blogs and other parts of the online sewing community. Wish this had been around when I was a young woman. Often felt that I was sewing in isolation, since the art of sewing garments began to fade in light of the crafts/quilting craze of the early 80s and beyond. I actually had two sisters-in-law who mocked my sewn clothing, even though my mother-in-law (their mother) was an excellent seamstress and made many designer quality garments for her children and grandchildren. For some of my generation, store-bought clothing represented a move up and away from a rural and low-income background where sewing was necessary. Glad to see a return to admiration for these garment construction skills.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

      I wish the blogs had been around when I was learning, too! I might have saved myself a lot of wadders, or at least made all my awesome sewing friends a few years early πŸ™‚

  21. vaxtorino April 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    I really want to say something totally relevant but I’m too overcome with the sudden realization that I NEED THOSE PINEAPPLES

    • vaxtorino April 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

      In the interest of relevance, I will add my two/three/eight cents – I actually only started sewing when I got my job, since I was/am surrounded by fabric and sewing stuff all the time. I used to knit/crochet a lot but it aggravated my tendonitis, which sewing doesn’t do (as much). I also tend to pick up hobbies and get super into them for months and then just lose interest one day, which also happened with knitting, but so far sewing has stuck. I think that’s because it’s more instant gratification (I can finish something in a week whereas knitting something half the size would take me forever, give or take) and it encompasses so many different things.
      I *am* trying to have a more me-made wardrobe because I can never find anything I like at the store, but that’s probably because I’ve spent so many years hating clothes shopping and clothes in general that it’s hard for me to find things that I actually like. I’ll admit that a good part of the last 3 years has been spent making stuff that’s more “oh! shiny!” than “oh I’ll totally wear that”

      I’ve considered doing sewing on the side for some extra dough but I’m hesitant because I know for a fact that when I start doing something to make money, I hate doing it (took me almost three years to finish making a poster for a friend) and it drives me crazy because I’m a huge perfectionist. Of course as I say that as I’m working on my first sew-for-pay project which has actually been fine since it’s 100% construction and 0% cutting and fitting and all of the frustrating stuff that the person I’m helping is dealing with (sorry not sorry)

      • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

        Oh yeah, throwing money into the mix is a very easy way to hate it. That’s why my money-making has always been pretty sporadic and I have no problems telling someone I don’t want to do it (well, I tell them I don’t have time haha). Also, sewing for profit when it doesn’t involve cutting or fitting (such as what I do for Elizabeth Suzann clothing) is basically the best of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:47 pm #


  22. Jen April 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    The two things I sewed in my 20’s – a fitted princess seam bodice made out of white eyelet and lined with a bed sheet- drafted off a top I liked that was a smidge too small.

    Amazing curtains and under curtains from decadent fabrics in color combos you’d never get at a store.

    In my 30’s

    After baby 1 I designed the “babywawl” which is a zip in jacket extender to wrap your regular winter coat around you and the baby in a soft baby carrier worn on the front of you so that I could protect my tiny baby from Minnesota winters.

    Then a bombshell swimsuit for that postpartum friendly and still funky vibe…

    Then high waisted yoga pants and high necked workout wear so when I teach yoga I’m not flashing my students with any body parts they don’t need to see. And I have clothes that aren’t see through (ever noticed how many yoga pants go completely see through at the back when you bend over? As a yoga teacher I can assure it it’s almost all of them).

    And then I made ginger jeans because if you haven’t sorted it out from the list above I get a unique buzz from the punk-frickin-rock vibe of making something that most people wouldn’t dream of making.

    Also I have two small children so being able to point at something and say “I made THIS” (and it’s not a sink full of dishes or a pile of dirty laundry) helps me get through the relentless I-do-the-same-thing-everyday feeling.

    I also love making something and then finding it RTW later and laughing because I’m usually about 6 mo ahead of the game (and I read no Fashion anything so I must be picking up the radio waves with my tinfoil hat)

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      Unintentionally being ahead of the fashion trends cracks me up sooo much when it happens. Must indeed be those tinfoil hats, because I’ll be dammed if I ever so much as glance at a fashion magazine πŸ˜‰

  23. shoes15 April 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    Great post. I recently picked up sewing apparel again after a long hiatus (got turned on to sewing from watching Pretty in Pink one too many times in high school). I made a winter coat and I got all these admiring comments from my friends, but inside they were thinking, “Who has time to sew her own clothes like some peasant? Go to the mall already!” You know what, I am a peasant at heart. I love it.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

      If being a peasant means you have beautiful, unique and well-fitting clothes that are made to YOUR liking – well, I’ll happily be a peasant for life! πŸ˜›

  24. Amy April 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head here, I sew for similar reasons but really identify with the hobby/keeping occupied and not spending loads of money on RTW clothes, I’ve definitely gotten more picky since I started sewing

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

      I try to tell myself that being picky with RTW means I’m spending sooo much less money. Dunno if that’s actually true (I mean, I go crazy when I’m let loose in the Garment District, so there’s that), but it makes me feel better nonetheless πŸ™‚

  25. ellegeemakes April 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    Fabulous post that really got me thinking! My recent efforts in my sewing room have been about wardrobe control as well as about personal expression. As the quality of my own sewing improves, like you, I’m less tolerant of RTW (at least the type of RTW I can afford) and prefer the fabric quality and choices I have as a seamstress. However, there are things I don’t enjoy sewing and that’s where I draw the line and succumb to the pleasures of shopping RTW (jeans and pants mostly, although seeing the your makes has inspired me to try again.)
    Ultimately, though, I love the pleasure of it, designing the project from fabric choice to seam detail. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, prompting me to consider my motivations. I love it!!!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      See, I thought I’d hate sewing jeans too, but it turns out I reeeeally love it! Something about all that precision and topstitching (and using a hammer, because wheee) just really gets me going. I have a beloved brand of RTW jeans that fit me great, but I enjoy making them so much, idk if I’ll be buying more anytime soon!

      • ellegeemakes April 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

        You’ve inspired me. Well, I’m going to have to give it a try – – the idea of all that top stitching is starting to excite me. LOL How weird is that?

  26. Kelly Mannino April 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    Barring a couple of personal details, I could have written this post myself! I even texted a few chunks to my husband in excitement that you were able to put into words what I’ve felt, but not really expressed to him very well. Thank you!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      Oh, that’s awesome! Glad I could help πŸ˜‰

  27. catherine April 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Well, let’s start with I can remember the first time the girl across the street put a needle and thread in my hand… (I was about 4 or 5) I used to tear up my own clothes to make doll clothes. Then I turned into a 6 foot 175 lbs teenager who didn’t fit in anything…. Didn’t quit fit in anywhere either… So I sewed. I left home at 16 with my sewing machine. Apparently, my grandmother that I didn’t know was a master seamstress, so it’s also in my blood. Now, between the internet, instagram, and a class at a local adult school, my sewing has taken off at warp speed. At fiftythreewhoopdeedee, I am making all kinds of crazy things and loving them all. The local thrift store is also a beneficiary of the things that aren’t quite right, or I’m just tired of them. I have an idea in my head for a new blog, but I’m too busy working, sewing, and vacationing to write it, so I enjoy yours and a cast of others. Just know, that the stripes on my Birthday Dress 2015 matched because of you… And that I always look forward to what comes out of your sewing room. I have just returned from my birthday season extravaganza, and as soon as my stuff is put away, I’m headed to the sewing room. PS, you ever find yourself in San Diego, you’ve got a place to stay, or a fine meal! Thanks πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      You have no idea how happy that makes me about your matching stripes! YAY! Matching stripes for life! πŸ˜€ And you best believe, if I’m ever in your area, I’m totally taking you up on that offer πŸ˜‰

  28. rryberg1 April 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    I started writing a blog post about the same topic this week. I think we even have the same title…I haven’t finished mine yet, though. I agree with so many of your points.

    For me, sewing is a “flow” activity. Flow is a psychological concept where you are so engaged with what you’re doing that you lose track of time. It seems to float by seamlessly (see what I did there?). It requires the perfect balance of challenge and enjoyment, and for me sewing is the perfect activity.

    It’s also an ethical thing for me, inspired by Overdressed. I want to work on buying more American-made materials, but don’t really want to deal with the extra hassle, if you know what I mean (sad but true). I saw a survivor of the Bangladesh garment factory collapse speak a few weeks ago, and my commitment to making instead of buying has been reinvigorated.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

      Ooh, let me know when you publish that post – I’d love to read it! All the responses on this post have been absolutely fascinating. I love hearing people’s back stories πŸ™‚

  29. Splinters&Stitches April 16, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    I would agree with most of your reasons for why you sew, because I share them. One thing I’d (slightly!) disagree with is sewing to save money. Sewing your own baby stuff can save quite a bit, and I’ll admit that the only reason I even tried to pick up sewing again was because I had a kiddo and we were dead broke.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

      Oh, yeah, you’re right about that! Some baby stuff is INSANELY expensive!

  30. Kay April 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    I have been sewing since I was about 3 years old. My mom was a professional tailor, so I learned a lot from her. I do not get to sew nearly as much as I want to due to work, and helping on our farm. Right now, we are in the middle of remodeling our house, so I haven’t sewn in weeks. 😦 I sew because I love knowing that I can take care of myself, so to speak. I am a pretty self-sufficient type of gal.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

      I like that whole aspect of being able to take care of ourselves. You know if there’s ever a zombie outbreak, everyone is gonna be fighting to have us in their crew! πŸ™‚

  31. Erika April 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Sewing makes me happy and it is a wonderful stress reliever! The more that I do it, the more that I keep wanting to, and I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel compelled to browse the dress sections at my local department stores. I can make what I want, when I want, and how I want it. It is a wonderful thing to be able to do! Great post!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

      Ooh, no, you gotta still browse those dresses! Get some sneaky inspiration and all that πŸ™‚ haha!

  32. Alicia @ Pandora Sews April 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Love this post! There are a few reasons I sew. I like that sewing is mine and all mine. My husband and son have no interest in it, so it is a competition free zone in my house. I don’t have to worry about feeling insecure because I feel like someone else in my house is better at it than I am. I also like to sew, because I am both analytical and creative, and sewing feeds both sides of my brain! Then there is the tactile side of sewing and walking through a fabric store and feeling all the fabrics. Most of all, I sew because like most in our community, it makes me feel good in so many ways: sense of accomplishment, having clothes that actually fit, using my creativity, showing up to a party knowing no one else will have the same damn thing on!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

      Hell yes! I agree with you on all points, but especially the community and those one of a kind party dresses! πŸ™‚

      • LinB April 17, 2015 at 11:47 am #

        Idk about one-of-a-kind, lol. I met my best friend in college when we were both cutting out our Christmas formal gowns in the commons room. Same pattern, same view; same color; one dress was velvet, one was velveteen. She lent me fancy shoes to wear with my dress. We made sure to sit near each other at the big dance. She was an amazing person.

  33. Nathalie April 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    With my low budget I can only afford to buy clothes in chain stores. Clothes with a low quality of course. But when I sew I can make clothes of a better quality that fit me much better. It’s definitely no couture but nicer that what I buy RTW. But than I also don’t have any occasions to wear couture.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

      Who has occasions to wear couture? Because I want to find them, and be their friend, and get invited to these fabulous parties that they’re apparently going to. I’m with you- I ain’t got no place in my life for couture. Really nice RTW-quality is good enough for me πŸ™‚

  34. vickygorry April 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Two reasons: to have clothes that fit, in styles I love and the fabrics I choose; and to inspire my children – currently my 12 year old (the oldest) plans to sew her own wardrobe (my work here is done) and is so excited to be sewing that she inspires me right back. Great post πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

      That’s so amazing! Starting ’em off early, I like that πŸ˜‰

  35. justsewtherapeutic April 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    I really love the anticipation of each sewing project, the initial spark of inspiration, finding the right fabric and pattern, watching it come together, it’s a bit like opening a present really slowly. So I guess the main reason I sew is as an outlet for creativity but the process also helps me focus and distracts me from all the boring day to day stuff. It’s also a bonus that I have a wardrobe that actually fits (being able to sew sleeves that fit my diddy arms is amazing) It’s such a relief not having to rely on what’s in the shops and contend with sizing and changing room mirrors!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

      I can’t even tell you how happy I am to not have to deal with shops and sizing and fitting room mirrors! That alone has been LIFE-CHANGING. What is it with those fitting rooms, anyway? Do they purposely make the lighting and mirrors that way so you look as awful as possible? I don’t even understand it.

  36. paisleyapron April 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    My mom and grandma both sewed their own clothes and taught me how to do it. It was only natural that I started making my own clothes around age 12. My first garment was a total wadder, but I got better at it. To top it off, we had access to designer remnants at the local fabric store in my Grandma’s little town. So by the time I was an adult, I was spoiled by having nicely-made, well-fitting clothes. When I had no time to sew for myself and no money, I had to resort to wearing t-shirts and jeans. Now I sew to alter things I find at the thrift store to fit, and to make things I want to wear that I couldn’t afford to by RTW (and they probably wouldn’t fit anyway.) I totally am in your camp about the problem solving (GO Algebra and Geometry!) and the stress relieving. And I do love having beautiful finished products and the ability to fix clothes for my tall, lanky kids.

    However, I hate home decorating sewing (sewing for miles and miles!) and I made a few of those sleep sacks for camping trips. I admire you to the nth degree that you were able to make so many. It would have killed me.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

      Hahaha, well, I just told myself I was practicing my straight lines (and I honestly think it paid off!). Plus, there was money involved. And I was poor. Can’t argue with that πŸ˜‰

  37. zaynabsophiarose April 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Brilliant post and thanks for sharing. I had always seen my mum sew things like curtains, sofa covers, stuffed “do not disturb” signs shaped like cats! (She worked at a hotel and they found out she could sew, the signs were cats after the hotel mascot- Mouse the cat). But the machine was a no go area for us kids. BUT she traveled to see family and I took that machine out to sew myself a skirt…I broke the machine…or so she said! I couldn’t work it out how to use it, i was 14 and there was no manual and internet was never heard of until a few years later. So I drafted a gored skirt not knowing what I was doing and got her friend to make it for me on my mum’s apparently broken machine. It was poo, it was too long and it sat all weird, but I wore it loads, I made it work…for me. I always had an issue with clothes, I have long limbs, and sleeves are always short especially if you want tops to be more fitted, and having hips that can bear elephants, you can you imagine the drama of wearing a RTW dress, and so I would take my dresses to be taken in at the waist and towards the knees so I wouldn’t look like a rectangle. But I wanted to do it myself! So when I finished uni I decided I was going to design my clothes and make them, I should have started with patterns but I had no idea about them, and when I did, a sewing teacher said I wouldn’t understand them (she lied to me 😭).

    Since creeping your blog (I spent days reading all your posts on my phone- I think I have damaged my eyes) I have been really thinking about making all my things, basics, underwear etc. My kids really appreciate I sew. my son (9) wants to have ago on the machine and I am sure he has some crazy ideas of what he would like to make (batman with a touch of Toad of toad hall and a sprinkle of Mr bean). My daughter (2.5) loves watching me sew, knit, crochet, I am sure her taste will be better than my son’s.

    Lastly, yay to you for paying off your debt, I sense it was a heavy burden on you and an accomplishment that you feel good about.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:09 pm #


      Also, I think you need to give that son of yours a chance with the machine. And then show me what he made, because I have a feeling it’s going to be something crazy epic (epic being a word I don’t use lightly).

      And thank you! Paying off debt was a huge accomplishment – and it’s benefited me in so many ways outside of just the monetary aspect. I seriously feel like I can do anything at this point.

  38. zaynabsophiarose April 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Omg sorry I had no idea I wrote so much!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      No apologies! You know I love long comments πŸ˜€ haha!

  39. Melanie April 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Excellent post! I just discovered your blog a few days ago, and I’m not ashamed to say I have thoroughly stalked the hell out of your pages and photos, and I love every bit of it! I have only recently decided to get back into sewing, mainly so I can have control over my clothes instead of the other way around. I’m 35, and I don’t care to dress like my 25 year old friends anymore, as cute as they all are. I also just finished reading Overdressed, so I feel a real desire to move away from my old destructive shopping habits. I have to admit, though, I am a bit terrified to start sewing for myself, but in a good way! I figure I’ll start small and work my way up as I go, and eventually, I’d love to have a mostly me-made wardrobe. I used to sew all the time; I learned in middle school and took a sewing class in high school, and kept it up for a little while, but then life got busy and I just stopped doing it. I’m hoping it will be more like riding a bike and less like torture, but either way, I’m just really excited to learn and make mistakes and be inspired!

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      The whole learning and making mistakes and then learning from them is the best part about sewing! I think you’ll be surprised at how much you remember, and how much that inspires you to continue pushing forward and really nail down your skills πŸ™‚

      Also, I’m soooo sorry if you lurked all the way back to the beginning of my blog! It was a bit of a hot mess back then (not because it’s something juicy and gossip-worthy, but just because I was trying to find my ~voice~ and lord, my photos sucked haha). But I’m glad you like what you’ve seen πŸ˜€

      • kalidikeds April 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

        Pshaw, I loved the earlier posts, too! That’s the most inspiring thing of all, seeing all the amazing improvement over the years. You wouldn’t believe how encouraging that is to newbie bloggers like myself. πŸ™‚

  40. Jeannetta April 16, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Girl, I Looove you, and I don’t even know you! I really enjoy your damn blog. I look up to you as a fellow sewist! You are http://www.thebomb.com

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Best compliment ever!! πŸ˜€

  41. Angela (@AMCBW) April 16, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    I also went a little crazy in my early twenties with the credit card (OF DOOM, as I call it). And I paid on time, so they kept increasing my limit- up to 20,000!! Early twenties suck, all black and white and fatalism, I think. Still paying that damn card off, although now it is a personal loan through a credit union with a TINY bit better interest rate and a specific payoff date.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

      They kept increasing my limit, too! Although not up to $20k (and thank god, because I would have spent the shit out of that). Yay for working on paying it off and even bigger yay for coupling up with a credit union so your interest rates are more manageable πŸ˜€

      • LinB April 17, 2015 at 11:43 am #

        Our seemingly-insurmountable cc debt results from needing to replace a furnace, in February, right before the 2007-8 national economic catastrophe. Sigh. That furnace will end up costing us about $10,000 in the end.

        • LLADYBIRD April 17, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

          Oh man, that SUCKS!! On the plus side, at least your awful debt happened due to an actual need… I can’t say the same about my debt (let’s see – lots of bar tabs, lots of cigarettes, lots of stuff for ex-boyfriends who never paid me back, an ugly couch that I DIDN’T NEED, etc etc).

  42. gingermakes April 16, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Fun post, dude! For me, sewing is a major energy outlet. I’m a high-energy person and need to have something to do all the time, so I love that there’s always something fun to sew whenever I have the time and when I don’t have time to sew, I can daydream about the next project! I also love having clothes that are totally unique. In the early days of eBay I used to love buying 60s and 70s dresses for about $10 and taking them to my tailor, who would take them in at the side seams for $11- a totally sweet unique dress for $25 or so! But gradually eBay got more and more expensive and I couldn’t afford it anymore. It’s so fun to make my own unique pieces and on the plus side, my handmade clothes are a lot lighter on weird polyester content than my eBay clothes! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Oh, I can totally see you in some 60s-70s shift dresses – I can only imagine how cool you looked! Thank god for sewing, because even that sort of vintage is getting mega expensive these days (and you’re right about the lack of weird poly in your me-mades – that is one thing I’m happy to leave behind with the vintage, haha!)

  43. Jackie Shepherd April 16, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    You are awesome. I wish you lived in my neighborhood.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Hmmm, well, where’s your neighborhood? Is it a cool one? πŸ˜€

  44. justineabbitt April 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    I loved your story! I sew because I love it! I can really focus and get into a zone. After I read overdressed I tried making my entire wardrobe, too. For me and my daughters. I felt so guilty about fast fashion and put a lot of pressure on myself to sew everything .But recently I’ve rediscovered shopping again. There are only so many hours in a day and I was sewing almost all day! I just am really picky about what I buy now. I want sewing to be fun and not stressful. So I sew some and buy some.

    • LLADYBIRD April 16, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

      I think it’s awesome that you found a good balance with sewing and buying, and were able to eliminate the stressful part of sewing! I think if I ever got to the point where I was feeling stressed with my craft, I’d totally start buying again too. Sewing is supposed to be fun!

  45. violicious April 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    I sew in times of stress too! I love your blog.

    • Erika April 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

      Love this post! I started sewing because everyone else had a clothing allowance and I didn’t. So I Op-shopped, and a lotta that shit needed altering or fixing. Also Mum had a stash, so I stole that. That was 15 years ago (or more I’m not counting) I sew because (like most) I want something that is unique, fits and is out of fabric that I like to wear. I’m not convinced that my sewing skills have improved all that much. But I’m having fun, that’s the main thing isn’t it?

  46. Marsha April 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    So glad you wrote on this topic! And yes…I too…love the pineapple fabric! Can’t wait to see your finished dress. I have lovely pineapple upholstery fabric just waiting to recover my favorite, comfortable, overstuffed-swivel chair. I have fond memories of sitting on my mother’s lap and putting my finger or a pencil (LOL & yes I did and yes she let me!) on the end of the wheel as it spun round and round. She says I asked for my own needle and thread when I was 1 and 1/2 years old—-which gave to me. I even remember sewing with the cardboard forms, yarn and plastic needles as a toy and you stitched the outline of the doll clothes! I’ve really dated myself now! I have sewn off and on my entire life. Made my first dress which I actually wore in 3rd grade and haven’t stopped since.

    What I have discovered for me is that sewing is extremely therapeutic! I have solved many of my life’s problems over the years at the sewing machine. There is something about having closure when you complete a project as much of life is unfinished tasks and we never seem to get closure or handle on them. And I sew for the sheer joy and relaxation! Just planning my next project is always refreshing and centers me. Such a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment
    in wearing something that you yourself have moved from a plain 2D paper, pencil and fabric idea to an actual wearable item that has life and body of it’s own. Not to mention it fits like no other and no other will have one like it! Might be best part of all!

    Nice to know I am not the only person sewing for multiple reasons. May not be the cheapest therapy out there….but most definitely the most productive!

  47. jen @ the stitcher and gatherer April 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Sure you don’t really want another comment to read, but here we go anyway! I am very similar in my reasons. It makes me happy basically. I have never felt good at anything, but sewing is like a secret ninja skill that is rare and therefore worth more points! Very few people sew and so even though i suck in the sewing world, to the outsider i have skills. And it is nice to feel like you are a good at one thing in life. It really buoys your spirit when other stuff is shit/hard!

    I love the fact that there is never a dull moment, there is always so much to learn: so many patterns, fabrics, techniques, notions to choose from: making a unique project every time. I love the learning, i love feeling the accomplishment of learning a new skill. I am super passionate about the ability of sewing to empower. Not only through the skills we learn but because we have the ability to make our own fashion statement. Our sense of who we are, especially when young, is very wrapped up in our appearance after all.

    I hate the idea of fast fashion, and in fact our consumerist society full stop. I don’t buy clothes anymore, i actually just can’t! It makes me feel wrong to buy when i can make. I have very little money and i don’t want to be spending it on poorly made garments made by people in terrible conditions. So i buy fabric second hand which cuts down the cost of sewing a huge amount and is way better for the environment. I am just setting up a little online shop selling second-hand/vintage fabric and patterns that i thrift. So there’s that too, sewing is hopefully going to give me a little income!!
    Lastly, i love the connenctions i have made through IG and my blog, and sewing groups here in Canberra, Australia. Sewing people seem to be on my wavelength and i have met the most lovely people all over the world. That, my friend, is gold.
    Sewing is the best, the end.

  48. Shanna April 16, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    I sew because I desperately want to do something creative yet I have little to no artistic ability (unlike the other women in my family). However, I am a damn good instruction follower so sewing patterns are awesome for that! And I get a lovely piece of clothing that everyone is dead impressed with.

  49. Laura April 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    I started sewing because fabric talks to me. I see a print and I almost always know what it’s supposed to be. I asked my mom to show me how to thread her machine, and made mistakes, and ruined stuff and was sad and became really patient and thorough about when to put a project down (it was really hard). I learned SO much about sewing from making Donna Karan for Vogue patterns in the early 90’s. Eventually I went to an Apparel Design and Manufacturing program at our city community & technical college where I learned manufacfturing processes and got trained on industrial equipment, which was amazing and awesome. I never worked in the industry, because I was a single mom with little kids needing more responsible employment, but I sew for all the same reasons, and Makers gotta make. I would guess 3/4s of my wardrobe is me made, and I occasionally do custom stuff for people who really know what they want. I am sort of thrilled to be making my 16 yr old’s first prom dress for this year. It’s inspired by an awesome green gown Angelina Jolie wore to the Golden Globes a few years ago..I have to sew because that’s the only way I get to wear my dreams. I need that whimsy.

    • paisleyapron April 17, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

      Those Donna Karen for Vogue patterns in the 90’s were awesome. My mom made me a blue raw silk wedding suit out of one of them and I still love to look at it.

      • mommylap April 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

        Weren’t they? I had a maxi babydoll dress out of georgette, that even though it was boxy and modest was the most comfy and somehow sexy dress ever.

  50. alice April 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    Lauren, I loved reading this you’re such an inspiring sewist, I do of course love reading about your makes but an insight into why you sew and your top reasons for sewing has been a great read! Many of the things you listed are reasons for why I have gotten into it too, I started with knitting tho, knitting is my first love! But sewing gets faster results, I’m getting into more now and loving it! for me, I definitely am sick of the quality of clothes available within my budget, so this year I’m only buying second hand items or making it myself l, so far so good! Would love for you to write more on this topic if you can!

  51. kten April 16, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    I can totally relate to your #2. I looove problem solving and creative outlets too! So over time sewing has started to fill those needs for me more and more. It’s funny because before I had enough space and equipment to properly start garment sewing, I kept finding myself making random things (and to be honest sometimes still do), excessively complex excel spreadsheets at work, pop up cards for non-holidays, a christmas topper angle out of two old beer cans one time, my coffee table, one time I even tried to refashion an old moo moo someone gave me by carefully taking it apart, saving all the thread and then using the same thread and sewing it back together by hand…as I’m re reading this list, I’m sounding crazy even to myself. Anyways, before I was sewing regularly, I would get that ‘maker’ itch every month or so if I didn’t have an outlet. So, that’s about 3/4’s of why I sew. I like the challenge of conceptualizing something and then creating it. The other 1/4th is that I like to see peoples reactions when I tell them I made what I’m wearing. Total self promotion, but sometimes a little pat on my own back just feels good. If you work hard you should feel good about it, right? Anyhoo, thanks for sharing your reasons and thanks for writing your awesome blog, you make great stuff and you’re totally motivating.

  52. Lauren (LadySewalot) April 17, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    You pretty much nailed why I sew in your post! I’m still in school so I have pretty much no income, and buying fabric works out cheaper for me to make things with. Especially if the fabric is donated to me or found in a charity shop. I also love having a creative hobbby that kills 2 birds with one stone, having something to wear at the end of it. I just love the choices and the freedom that you have when you make your own clothes. RTW just can’t beat it. Because of the sewing I’ve done over the last few years I’m going to uni to do Costume Construction next year and I CAN’T WAIT.

  53. Kate Carvalho April 17, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    Great post, thanks for sharing! I sew for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I LOVE IT!!!

  54. Rachel April 17, 2015 at 2:32 am #

    I remember when you posted saying that your debt was sorted. Such a good feeling. I sew for the thrill of being able to make what I want to wear and for the challenge. I love stretching the grey matter with sewing.
    “No regrets? Not even one? Maybe a letter?” Bahaha I love that scene! πŸ˜ƒ

  55. SeeKatSew April 17, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Great post! Thank you for sharing so much of your personal life, I love reading these type of posts.
    I had taken home ec in highschool and made the usual, boxers and a bag. My mom hated it when I touched her sewing machine and her machine’s bobbin hated me so after 17 I had no interest. Then a few years ago my now ex boyfriend left his terrible sewing machine behind (military men can sew fyi) and I took a refresher sewing course and made some terrible garments on that machine. I was so impressed I could follow patterns and then I became obsessed with internet sewists who blogged their beautiful creations and their sewing woes. These bloggists inspired me so much and helped in the process that I upgraded my sewing machine and started my own blog. Your blog is one of the first that I started following and has been SOOOO helpful, I know you have helped so many others as well. Anyway, I sew because I can! And it stops me from shopping, and now I feel guilty trying on RTW clothing, and then tell myself I can make those clothes so why bother buying them?

  56. Jay_Rupe April 17, 2015 at 2:46 am #

    You’re such an inspiration to me! Really, you are! Each week when I’m reading the blogs that I follow and I see you post about completed projects it make me want to drop everything that I’m doing and start sewing clothes. I’m still in that alteration and curtain making phase and the extent of clothing that I’ve completed are pajama pants and a unsuccessful attempts of clothing patterns. It’s very encouraging to read about how far you have come, especially being self-taught (as am I!) Thanks for the insight!

  57. eimear April 17, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    great post, and i have not read all the comments but pretty obvious you have nailed it! i have been mulling over my last year of sewing/blog and totally agree with the ‘complete wardrobe control’ – best of luck in your new home

  58. Summer Sunbear April 17, 2015 at 4:10 am #

    Great post! I can really relate to a lot of these reasons.
    I sew because it’s helped me through some tough times, because I want clothes that fit, because I don’t want to support sweatshops, because I want my clothes to be unique, but most of all because I’m completely addicted πŸ˜‰

  59. Violet April 17, 2015 at 4:48 am #

    I have just started sewing again this past month! I’ve made four skirts (two of one pattern and two of another) and next up is my first blouse. I learnt to sew a little from my Mum when I was a kid and made the odd thing over the years but I never appreciated the wonderful, de-stressing feeling of making a piece of clothing or the joy of knowing I made the thing I couldn’t find in the shops. Some overwhelming things are happing for me at the moment and sewing gives me the headspace to step away from it and focus on nothing but the task in front of me. Thanks for writing your post, looking forward to seeing the pineapple dress!

  60. BeckyLeeSews April 17, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    (Go get a mug and pull up for this one). So as a general rule, I don’t sleep. Those nights I get a good 8 are far & few between and last night was not one of those nights. I began reading your post on my phone at lunch and wasn’t able to finish it even though I was as engrossed as one of my torrid Renaissance romance novels! (Yes I love them and they sell by the millions so I’m not the only one). I woke up around 1230 and began to consider why I sew. Then I reached for my Surface tablet and not only finished your post but read for the next hour pouring through everyone else’s. I never realized I had so many soul-sew sisters! As a kid, my mother sewed most of my clothes and Halloween costumes, Christmas choir dresses, etc. (she wasn’t a quilter). My dad was enlisted military and we didn’t have a lot of money so RTW clothes were the exception vs. the rule. Some of my best memories as a child are spending hours in the aisles of Salgee’s, a local fabric shop. Mom allowed me to watch her at the machine but I never sewed a thing myself. In fact, I failed that portion of HomeEc in 8th grade. There was something I could never wrap my mind around when it came to measuring things correctly, pattern fit, ease, etc. It wasn’t until my 40’s when I finally figured it out. My mom is a leftie (I don’t mean politically but she’s that too, a bra burning feminist, bless her heart) and I’m a visual learner. So I learned how to sew mirror-image backwards. I even used to iron backwards – with the point of the board toward my right hand vs. left. I figured it out when I was watching a video of Kim Jolly from Fat Quarter Shop pin her quilting pieces together in the opposite direction that I was taught to do. Once I cracked that nut, things began to fall into place, especially the concept of depth in a pattern. The book, Fit for Real People changed my garment sewing world. Throughout my 20’s, even though my garment sewing skills sucked, I still made curtains, pillows, clothing repairs, and sewed on lots and lots of patches.
    I was in the US Air Force for 20 years and retired back in 2003. My desk job usually required that I wear “blues” that only had stripes sewn on the sleeves. Once 9/11 happened, everyone went straight to BDU’s every day. On the BDU uniform, there are a set of stripes on each sleeve, name tape over one front breast pocket, USAF tape over the other, command and unit patches centered on each pocket, and career field badges go over the USAF tape. So a minimum of 7 patches on each BDU shirt at $2.50 per patch to sew them on at Base Alterations. Oh, and you’re required to have a minimum of 3 sets of BDU’s to remain deployment ready at all times. WHAT? Add all that up and what you get is Becky undercutting the BX and making extra dinero on the side with her mad patch-sewing skills. Fast fwd to my grandson arriving in 2011 and I’m now a pretty serious quilter. Take THAT mom!
    Sewing eased my soul when my father died last August. I’m an only child and he and I were tight. During my 10 days of bereavement leave, there was a lot of down time between visits to the funeral home and legal crap, plus a lot of sleepless nights filled with grief. Sewing kept my mind occupied and my hands busy. I actually finished 4 UFOs before I went back to work. I sewed like a fiend and it brought me peace using up those hours where’d I’d otherwise be a puddle of sopping tears in a 12-pack.
    Now I’m wearing me-mades to work and rarely shop for clothes anymore. I used to shop at Dress Barn a LOT but we merged units a few years back (I’m still serving as a government civil service employee) and one of the implants shopped there too and had about 3 of the same blouses that I did. OH HELL NO! Oh the horror of showing up wearing the same friggin’ outfit. Enter garment sewing. Today she is my boss and the other day I recognized one of the tops on her that I gave away after I saw she had the very same as mine.
    So sewing is a part of me and always will be. Why do I sew? I guess I just…do. Oh and congrats on getting out of the debt hole. Been there/done that. Well done.

  61. Kimmy Rocket April 17, 2015 at 5:39 am #

    In a nutshell, sewing a garment means there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. I find this process EXTREMELY satisfying. The buzz I get from finishing a garment is similar to the one I get when I tick something off my ‘to do’ list, with the added advantage that I then get to waltz around in my me made dress, skirt, jumper etc., so it’s the hobby that just keeps on giving. I think it’s the ideal hobby for a goal-oriented person who likes to traverse the road less-travelled.

  62. Hila April 17, 2015 at 6:08 am #

    I sew because I cant stop buying fabric πŸ˜’

  63. Maria Rydqvist April 17, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    I just loved your post Lauren!
    I have gone from sewing β€œfancy wear” that I never wore, to β€œeveryday wear” that I actually wear. Started sewing back in high school β€˜coz I needed a dress for a traditional (folk) music gig. Then it went on to party wear.

    I hated sewing I school. Never got the hang of it. Then I found myself in need of a dress that I just could not buy. I had to sew. So I sat down and learned as I went along.

    Strange that, that I only just turned to my sewing machine when I needed a party dress. I put down TONS of hours, not to say money, on a dress, or skirt, that I wore once. If that.

    I read some years ago a blogger (forgotten who, unfortunately) who wrote about the craziness of sewing something you’d wear only once. That got me thinking…

    And I also like the list in the Colette Sewing handbook (https://www.coletterie.com/colette-patterns-news/thank-you-and-colette-sewing-handbook-update):

    * Will I feel good in it?
    * Will it be comfortable?
    * What will I wear it with?
    * How often will I wear it?

    I test all my ideas to that list – tell you, it has saved me some time!!!!

    And thinking about what I sew has also help me, foremost in NOT buying fabric 

    And you, Lauren, has helped me the most! Now I dare sew in jersey, tricot. I have made a hoodie, starting on panties (I laughed when I read Alicia’s post, I can soooo relate! I have no dog so my first pair went in the trash)

    So thank you, Lauren, for giving me help and inspiration!!!
    Though I have still not come to terms with twin needles! You tried to tell me how it’s done when we met up in Nashvile. But I gotta tell you. I’ve given up. I use my serger… tricky but I get the hems done

  64. Sewing Tidbits April 17, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    This truly is a great post!!! Your number one reason is also mine. I just feel better if I sew! Sewing=best cure for an anxiety attack! Also, I move a lot (to different countries) and when you have no friend/family around you, sewing is a great best friend!!

  65. Carolyn April 17, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    Fantastic post, Lauren! I love everything about it. πŸ™‚ The best part is that your passion for sewing really shines through (not surprisingly), and I find that passion is really contagious. I’m glad I read this first thing in the morning because now I’m going to be pumped about sewing all day!

  66. ShanniLoves April 17, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    Love this post and I can’t wait to see the rest of your sewing room! I’m a mood sewer as well and I find when I’m extremely pissed off it calms me down so much just to go clean my sewing room up.

  67. iorhael April 17, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    For me, sewing is a hobby and a way to be all alone in my work/sewing room doing what I love. The uniqueness is also an important point : I’ve just started a dress with a great navy and red fabric with lobsters on it because I’m invited to the wedding of a French/Canadian couple. Lobsters are a common point between France and Canada, so I figured this would be PERFECT. I also dream of a skirt with jellyfish on it. Not the cute cartoonish jellyfish, the realistic ones. I hate jellyfish, but they’re so weird (in a good way -is there a bad way to be weird?).
    I sew most of my daughter clothing since kid’s clothes are so expensive regarding the ridiculous amount of fabric they require, and I guess my 5 year-old daughter is spoiled forever : she just can’t imagine why you couldn’t have any piece of clothing you want. Once she went with me to a shop since I needed a new sweater. There was one in yellow but the cut was ugly, and one in a boring color, nice cut but not in my size. Her reaction : “So what ? Just ask this one in yellow in your size!” Err… Honey, that’s not how it works for most people…
    Anyway, I don’t sew very often for myself since I have two daughters to dress, but I’m definitely planning to change that ! The good thing is that I can wear the clothes I make for myself for years, so with just one trouser here, one t-shirt there, I’m slowly building my homemade wardrobe.

  68. Devon April 17, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    I LOVE THIS!! you are awesome. this is why i sew: http://patchworkthreads.com/products/i-sew-v-neck (just kidding)

  69. Sian April 17, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Any tips for a complete novice?! I’d love to get started but don’t really know how! I’ve tried looking for sewing classes but can’t seem to find anything!

    • LinB April 17, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Your local community college should have information on beginning sewing, through their home economics department. County extension offices often offer such classes. Local fabric stores, too, sometimes have classes at times that are convenient for their customers. Best way to start on your own is to get some sharp scissors, some pins and needles, a basic book about sewing, and jump in. It’s only paper and fabric. Even if you mess up, you’ll learn something — and there are few irredeemable “mistakes.” Everything else is just a “design decision.”

    • LLADYBIRD April 20, 2015 at 8:32 am #

      LinB has some great tips for looking for a local class – I also agree with just trying it out on your own! Find a tutorial online that you want to follow (or check out a “how-to” book with some projects that you actually want to make) and teach yourself πŸ™‚

  70. craftsanctuary April 17, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    This pretty much sums it up πŸ™‚ I think the biggest point of solidarity for me is maintaining an elevated mood, and staying happy. I, too, start to get depressed or fidgety or just plain unhappy when I don’t sew for a while. Likewise, when I feel out-of-whack sewing can get me back on track like nothing else! As weird as it sounds, I also like being alone with the fabric and thread. Its almost like meditation for me!

  71. Denise Thompson April 17, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Love this post! Many of my reasons for sewing are the same as yours. But I love taking a piece of flat fabric and making it into something usable and wearable. And believe me, I have a basement full of fabric stash now that I need to work through! I do love the control sewing gives you over your own wardrobe choices. Even the Tshirts I make are made much better than what I usually find in the stores.

  72. feministgina April 17, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    I love this post! I’m usually sad when I see posts that don’t have pictures, haha, but this was a good one (plus you threw in a few pictures!). I think of myself as a person who sews because it’s hard to find clothes that fit, but I guess I’m also someone who likes to feel like I’m doing something productive with my time. My old hobby was card-making, but it got to the point where I had more cards than I could reasonably send people without looking crazy, and you can’t make enough selling cards to be worth it, so I was glad when I learned to sew. I sold all my card-making stuff to buy a nicer sewing machine eventually because I just wasn’t using it at all. Sewing is the most productive-feeling hobby I’ve ever had, and I love that about it. I also know I’m not saving money as a general rule primarily because of the investment I’ve made in sewing machines and tools, etc, but I have some sources for well-priced quality fabrics, so I know I never could have afforded to have the number of options in my wardrobe that I have if I was buying RTW.

  73. LinB April 17, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I truly think that for some of us, sewing — and needlework in general — is in our genes. Certainly the personality archetype of Maker is genetic.

    Just think, some of us might not ever have been born had sewing not kept our ancestors alive! Ma Kettle (I call my parents Ma & Pa Kettle: google it, if you don’t recognize the characters) found an old diary in one of her dead relative’s boxes that told how a female in the family was able to fend off starvation during Reconstruction by taking in sewing. ((Reconstruction: a horrible, horrible time of starvation in the Southern U.S.A., after the War Between the States.))

    Finding out that grandmothers and grandaunts and distant cousins were all excellent needlewomen can confirm that the itch to create useful items with fabric is an itch that is fine to scratch. You can’t help it. It is part of your DNA.

  74. Bethy April 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    I started sewing with a very specific goal in mind. My brother was getting married and I was to be a bridesmaid and wear blue. I had about 2 years before the date (long engagement thankfully!) and so I figured it would be a cool challenge to learn to sew and get my chops up to the point of making a blue dress in time for the big day.

    Along the way I made all sorts of fun things and very quickly discovered that amazing “in the zone” feeling you get and how sewing makes hours seem like seconds. I eventually made the dress and it was a hit and I just didn’t want to stop.

    It is also kind of awesome to smugly look at stuff on a rack and say “I could make that” and then go do it. So yeah I continue to sew to maintain smug points. πŸ™‚

  75. Jessica April 17, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    What a lovely post! One of my favorites on this topic. I sew for many of these reasons, but these days writing has become my primary “creative” hobby and sewing is what I do when I want something to bring something beautiful into my life, need to spend time in a meditative/calming space, and/or just need to relax and decompress! Which has made me OK with a smaller, simpler wardrobe than I ever thought possible (I’d always been big on variety and not repeating outfits). Quality over quantity, and you really can’t beat the quality of something made by your own two hands.

  76. Kit April 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    YOU are really inspirational! I had to really think about the question. I buried my mother in February (well not really buried because this is New Orleans and everything is above ground) and I had to sort through her huge house which had all my hand made clothes from my grandmother. (Being her only granddaughter had its perks.) My grandmother was an expert, her mother was as well, and my mother sewed well, but preferred to purchase. I got my first sewing machine a Singer straight stitch in 1967. I just turned 7 and I still use it. What a tank. Sewing for me was a “pick-up hobby”. You select a pattern, fabric and notions and make something. Now, I am no hotshot seamstress, but I have lot of patience and read lots of books, and I found that I really enjoy making clothes. The whole process is joyful. Not like antique restoration which involves lots of mess (my hands tell the tale) or painting where I focus so intensely, I can’t see straight, THEN I find your blog and WOW! I just want to make lots of gorgeous clothes. Now it is an obsession. So here I am, about to bring home my mother’s machine to add to my collection of 6 (I gave one to a good friend) and I will set it up next to my grandmothers. And once the estate is settled, I will sew something beautiful on her machine with some silk she bought during her travels in Thailand.

    Gee I’m long winded, but I just love your blog and thank you for the inspiration.

    • LinB April 21, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Oh, what a wonderful tribute to your relatives! And very therapeutic for working through grief.

  77. Margo April 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    I love this post Lauren and it has made me think about why I sew. I always love making things…anything and my mom was a great home sewer and I used to stand at her side watching her sew at the machine. I would ask her for every scrap of fabric. The difference between the two of us..my mom and I… She sewed because she had to and I sew because I love to. I feel pretty blessed.

  78. Lisa | Paprika Pat. (@paprikapatterns) April 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Hi Lauren, I loved reading your story! First, hats off for living so frugally to pay off your debt – I still have my student loans looming over me and I’m afraid I’ll have to do something similar, soon. Sewing for me is freedom – to create whatever I want and to make something I have in my head a reality. That’s why I love pattern making too, even more freedom. And there’s also the hippie in me that wants to know where my stuff comes from. Same with food – I have come to distrust the part of society that provides us with goods. And third, the sense of accomplishment it gives me, it makes me feel capable and I love to continually learn new things and master techniques. Being/becoming good at something is amazing.

  79. Katie Perry April 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more!! I’m also self-taught and I love love love looking at the things Ive made over the years to see the obvious progression in my skills (thank god for Youtube! So many tutorials for the visual learners like me!!). And hitting those sewing milestones feels like such an achievement (like making your first coat… jeans and bras i’m looking at you next!). I’ve also found in this last year that when I’m out clothes shopping I just cant possibly pay all that money for something that I could make! πŸ™‚
    Mostly though I love the online sewing community. I love reading blogs like yours to get tips and inspiration and a sewjo boost when i’m running low. More than once I’ve bought a pattern straight after reading your blog post on it! Its a great thing to be a part of!

  80. Ellen April 17, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    I sew for so many reasons. I have sewn for over 50 years. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, but through sewing I had nice clothes. When my kids were little, I could make them unique, cute outfits. As teens, they appreciated that I could make them one of a kind clothes. When working, teaching 6th grade, I had less time, but sewing was a creative outlet. Made more quilts than clothes. Taking fabric and creating something useful and distinct is probably the reason I sew. It makes me happy, gives me a chance to go into my sewing room and just relax. I tell people that I am still married for more than 40 years because I have someplace to get away, to be myself. I love to sew and always will. It is a part of who I am, just as knitting, weaving, and painting are. Of these though, sewing probably brings me the most joy.

  81. symondezyn April 17, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    It’s cool to read about what drives you to sew, and it’s inspiring πŸ™‚ You have been doing this for so long and have truly earned the high level of skill that we all admire so much – it’s easy to think it comes naturally and to thus be discouraged when we can’t execute the same level of professionalism, but it’s heartening to be reminded how far you’ve come and how hard you’ve worked for it, so thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    Me, I’m still working towards making what I dream in my head actually happen in real life LOL, but I’m getting there, and even though my welts sometimes fray and my buttonholes and zippers are sometimes wonky, at least my sleeves and pant legs are long enough, and my bust isn’t exploding out of my shirts and jackets LOL. That’s a pretty awesome feeling πŸ™‚ It’s sometimes frustrating but when you figure something out or really nail a technique, nothing beats that satisfaction. What really keeps me sewing though is my undying and unfettered love of fabric… I can’t express in mere words how much i absolutely adore everything about it: texture, colour, pattern; it’s endlessly fascinating! πŸ˜›

  82. Erica Thatcher April 18, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    Dude. I remember those unfortunate days of not being able to find stretchy, skinny pants anywhere. I did my fair share of pegging pants for myself and my punker friends! I’ve moved on to bigger and better projects and continue to impress myself. And my grandma!

  83. SC April 18, 2015 at 2:32 am #

    I sew for 3 primary reasons, one of which you already highlighted: total wardrobe control. My style has evolved quite a bit over the years, and for a while RTW was sufficient…but it’s just not anymore. I hate shopping for anything but shoes because nothing is ever “just right” – wrong color, wrong style, weird details, wtf pockets, etc. I also have a short pear figure (13 inch difference between my waist and hips, heyooo!)…so you can imagine how that goes with RTW. Everything needed alterations (especially dresses, which I do love to wear!), and good tailors are expensive and hard to find. With sewing, I can make what I want to wear (as in, what I feel good wearing!), and it’ll fit correctly. Blissful!

    Second, which is related to #1: total *quality* control! If I pick a bad fabric, that’s my fault…but with RTW, garments made with good fabric are expensive and are sometimes not even that great of a quality (like silk tops with serged insides. I can’t even). I made the mistake of buying an H+M shirt last September and it is pilled to hell and looks cheap af. I don’t need a million pieces in my wardrobe, but I DO want what’s in there to be well made and built to last…which I can control (to a certain degree, of course) if I make it myself!

    The third reason is that I’m introverted, to what some people might call an extreme degree. I spend a lot of time by myself (by choice! No lonely here), and sewing to me is the ultimate solo hobby. I don’t *need* (or want, really) anyone else around when I’m sewing. It’s hard to explain: sewing lets me think about things without other people around, it’s my quiet time, etc. πŸ™‚

    This was an excellent post, I really enjoyed reading all the comments too! πŸ™‚

  84. Helen // Grosgrain Green April 18, 2015 at 5:01 am #

    Great post! I love reading about what makes people tick like this. Like you I sew for a number of reasons, but mostly it’s just because I love the process. That mood changing point is spot on. Sewing has proven to be very cathartic for me at some bad times. I have never considered myself particularly creative, but the processing of taking one flat piece of fabric and turning into a 3D piece of clothing is something that never fails to give me great satisfaction. And yeah, then there’s that whole uniqueness thing. And the part where I can decide at 11pm the night before that I am making a new top to wear out to dinner the next night (like I did yesterday). And I didn’t even need to go to the shops!!!

    I often bemoan the “lack” of available fabric, but you make a really good point about the choice we *do* have.

  85. Becky April 18, 2015 at 5:59 am #

    #s 1 and 5 are definitely the big ones for me! I actually did sew quite a bit of my teenage wardrobe, because it was one of the only ways I could find skirts long enough for my high school’s dress code and I despised the idea of being a walking advertisement for Abercrombie, like many of my classmates were. And it’s been a lifesaver while I’ve been pregnant, since I really hated the colors that most maternity tops were in this year (seriously, why so much taupe?), and I was able to get myself 3 pairs of pants to get me through the cold season for just the cost of a yard of Jersey, thanks to my mom getting rid of some. It’s also nice to know that I do have the option of occasionally doing a project for someone else for a little extra cash, and the money I’m bringing in from the one private sewing student I’ve taken on recently, to supplement my erratic music income. Especially since I’m transitioning to mostly stay at home mom life, it’s good to know I can still make a little financial contribution other than saving us the cost of daycare!

  86. Veronica Darling (@veronicadarling) April 19, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    I sew for a lot of your reasons listed… and could probbo list a whole blog post as well… I REALLY like your explanations (as always) because the detail is really cool… and yes, we all have saved heaps of money sewing and not consuming but for you to see your credit debt go, and strive for that… so cool. I was thrifty for most of my 20s, and a bit of a saving homebody (I got free drinks, free gigs etc through work mostly) and sewing REALLY contributed to my identity while setting up my savings… totally can relate.

    But the main reason for me is always (at 4’11 and a busty petite) the fit and body love… I don’t want to be disgruntled by the RTW fit, and feel shit about myself. YAY for self problem solving and working it out what works for you! ❀ the skills of sewing!

  87. Akram Taghavi-Burris (@akramsideas) April 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Lauren thanks for sharing this. I sew for many of the same reasons, but most of all it makes me happy, as you say at the end of your post. We should all find things that make us happy πŸ™‚

  88. Jet Set Sewing April 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    I started sewing as a child/teen to get clothes we couldn’t find or afford in my northern Michigan town. Retail was completely different then, and there was no H&M, so you got a few “good” clothes twice a year, and sewed the rest. I started up again in my 50s for access to luxurious, classic designs that fit…again impossible to find in stores with paying a fortune. Also, to explore vintage designs from the inside–it’s as much about research as product. And it’s fun!

  89. allie sugar April 20, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    loved reading thissss so much. i’m kinda at the beginning of my sewing journey and i’m not gonna lie… it’s hard. i keep giving up and coming back to it. my aunt used to sew and she was like some kind of wizard with a sewing machine. i wish i had begged her to teach me when i had the chance because being a weirdly pear shaped girl, finding dresses that fit right everywhere is like the seventh ring of hell.

    xo, allie

  90. Rachel April 20, 2015 at 6:17 am #

    I have always sewed ever since my mom taught me when i was little.

    I have only just come across your blog and this is in fact the first sewing blog post i have ever read.
    Hopefully you will post a lot more engaging content and i will become a regular reader.

    Rachel _x

  91. Jane April 20, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    I loved reading this post. I’m a lapsed sewer who buys patterns and fabric but hasn’t even cut anything out for five years since becoming a ‘serious grown up’ so busy being busy. My dirty little secret is that I love hemming, mending and those interminable secret cross stitch kits that take about a year to finish and when I do I just shove them into a drawer. There’s something meditative about the motion of stitching and the concentration you have to devote to what you’re doing that calms me down.

    • LinB April 21, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Jane: Go thou immediately and take those finished kits out of the drawer, and use them to decorate a garment — pocket? Yoke motif? Part of a panel of a blouse? You can line the backs to make them hold up to wear better. Since you like to mend, you can amuse yourself by sewing them onto existing garments, even if you aren’t hiding a tear or a stain. Even if no one but you ever notices the lovely hand embroidery on your clothes, you can hug that knowledge to yourself and enjoy your handiwork. Don’t hide your light, let it shine!

      Thus endeth the lesson.

      • Elizabee September 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

        A friend gave me a stack of cross stitches she made when she was pregnant with her daughter, over 40 years ago. Recently, her daughter had a serious health scare that thankfully turned out alright. I found those cross stitches and made them into a quilt. I mailed it off to the daughter. I received a reply that she hadn’t stopped crying all day and that she remembered those cross stitches from when she was little and her parents were still together. There was so much love in the quilt, over the decades – I proudly say it is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever made.

  92. Laura April 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    What a great post! It’s made me think about why I actually sew too. I feel like I’m at a bit of a crossroads with my sewing right now. I learned to sew when I was about 9 but we never had an encyclopedia of all those sewing techniques so pretty much everything I’ve ever sewn has has some sort of made up type detailing! It’s only in the last few years that I’ve worked out that I can alter patterns to fit (I know, slow right?) and I’ve become aware of all the ‘right’ ways of sewing things like zips or pockets! I’m also now a mum so the patterns I used to gravitate to are really appropriate at all so I’m embracing knit fabrics which is a learning curve in itself.
    I used to sew because I could never afford to buy the things I liked or I could never find what I wanted but now I’m not so sure why I sew. It’s certainly not cheaper since decent fabric in australia is so darn expensive!! And the cost factor does make me think twice about making something vs buying it especially with things like tshirts which I have only recently started making and the outcomes aren’t necessarily up to scratch!
    I guess when it comes down to it I sew because I love to create things. Now my goal is to go back to basics and learn how to adjust patterns and improve my finishing skills. And then hopefully I’ll have a wardrobe filled with beautiful clothes that fit and that I love πŸ™‚

  93. Elena Knits April 21, 2015 at 5:12 am #

    I have exactly the same reasons. It’s funny though that I like the flare and I make pants like that nowadays while you did the same when skinny pants were impossible to find.

  94. Hannah May 3, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I have been saving this post to read when I have a bit more time and it’s really interesting to see why other people sew. I love to sew too, mainly so that I can make the things that I want and can’t get hold of and it’s nice to have things that no else will have.

  95. janlittrell May 13, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    Girl, I love you! I’m 64 years old, and I love this new generation of sewing bloggers–you, Colette, Tilly, I could go on and on.

    I am old enough to remember when there was a ClothWorld in every community and everybody made at least their kids’ clothes, then no fabric stores at all (unless you went to Britex in San Francisco–the first time I sew five floors of fabric, I damn near died–or Mood in New York), and now great online resources for home sewers. I love it! This is truly a sewing renaissance, people, and I am loving every minute of it.

    And to think I used to think “blue-hairs” were old ladies in Buicks. πŸ™‚


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