Random notes · Sewing

Why I sew

Often, I’m asked why I sew.

It’s such a simple, yet not so obvious question to answer.

Why would a (busy) mother of three, handling a full-time job would want to sew clothes for her children (considering that I’m not really forced to do it and there are so many other options available) ?

After all, sewing handmade clothes for your children can be expensive (just consider the cost of fabric, notions, patterns and time needed to make the actual garment) when compared to store-bought clothes (you can always find a cheaper version in a retail store). And as we all know children grow in a blink of an eye so there’s no real justification for buying/making expensive clothes – still I have insist on making good-quality clothes using natural fibers, such as tana lawn, linen and wool, and clean classic lines that withstand the test of time.

Here’s the reason why I do it:

My late grandmother (which I never knew) was a seamstress, working from home to balance the family income. She also sew the wardrobe for her three daughters (including my mother).  I’ve heard countless stories, from my mother and aunts, on her exquisite taste (inspired by fashion magazines) and flawless sewing skills (that made her so proud), even if none of them inherit her love of sewing.

Still, and although she never quite enjoyed it, my mother learned to sew (and knit) and made me some wonderful garments while I was little (times were rough back then and sewing was a necessity). These garments are now part of my dearest childhood memories.

These dresses, most of them truly “handmade”, were featured in some of my all-time favorite photos and I often share them with my children, telling them over and over again the story that was behind a particular fabric or pattern. They always bring back so many lovely memories ….

While I was growing up, I had my first attempts at sewing (self-taught during my college years) and, after a long hiatus, I started to sew again when my little girl was born.I had my hands full, with 3 kids, a full time job and there’s was really no need for me to sew her clothes.

I had no formal sewing instruction but relied on the support of so many talented (and generous) seamstresses from all over the world (blogs and Flickr groups are among my major sources of inspiration). I’m truly thankful for all of those that shared their knowledge with me (thank you!).

Despite being time-consuming (as is shopping in my humble opinion),  expensive (especially, if you don’t know how to shop wisely) and exhausting (when you try to do it after a long day), I was (as I am today) still deeply committed to do it.

My kids, my family are truly the reason why I sew.

You see, I’m creating our (family) memories …

(and loving every bit of the process, along the way).

So, if you don’t mind me asking: why do you sew?


Ana Sofia

20 thoughts on “Why I sew

  1. This such a beautiful post!
    It has touched me deep inside. I have dressed my babies with rompers made by grandmother and that is invaluable to me, specially because she never met them and I know she would have been so proud!
    My mum made all my clothes from Burda patterns so I guess I sew because I didn´t have any other option but to play along!

  2. Such a beautiful post! I love the photos, the old and the new ones. I started sewing children’s clothes to save my sanity, and also to find twin clothes that weren’t too matchy-matchy…but for me now, it fills in all of the blanks in my life(of which there are few, thankfully). It challenges my brain, gives me an opportunity to be creative, and makes me proud of making something useful, and lovely and it also relaxes me. Watching my own children sewing now also makes it all worthwhile.

  3. Such a beautiful thing to share, thank you.

    I like to think that my children feel I have taken a bit more time and interest in them by making them things. I listen to what my eldest wants and watch with delight when she twirls around in something she asked for. I know, in a way, sewing things for my family makes me feel useful and productive at a time when I chose to give up my career to raise my wonderful family. My nan was also a seamstress and my mum says it is a little part of her living through me. Seeing as I loved my nan to bits, I embrace that totally!

  4. Lovely post, Ana-Sofia…..
    Why I sew? Despite growing up with a mum who sews (beautifully), I was never interested, even though mum tried to teach me over the years. I still have clothes that mum made me, and that my girls wear from time to time. However, I started to sew as I love fabric, and couldn’t justify buying any if I didn’t use it! Now, however, I can’t imagine my life without it. And you are right, it is about creating memories for our families as much as anything else.

  5. How sweet, when you think of it the way you put it, we aren’t just sewing, we are SOWING beautiful seeds that blossom into these cherished memories, and much much more! Love and Peace to you and your precious family Ana Sofia!

  6. Beautiful!
    I sew for me.
    No longer having a career I see my sewing as that and I am sure it has kept my brain active through years of raising babies.

    The wonderful friends I have made online are the cherries on top!

  7. Wonderful story Ana Sofia. And a good question! I have quite enjoyed reading the comments so far.

    My great grandmother and family were milliners and embroiderers in France. My grandmother (whom I never met) was a seamstress in England. My mother showed me how to operate a sewing machine when I was 4. Perhaps for me sewing is a genetic trait; it’s inate. And while I have yet to produce anything as exquisite as my great grandmother made, I simply enjoy the process of creating something with fabric.

  8. Loved your blog post:) I purchased my sewing machine two years ago and like you, so thankful for blogland and Flickr! Following tutorials on blogs is how I learned to sew and using google and you tube videos:) My daughter,son in law and grandkids are a military family and live miles away. So to “feel” a part of their lives, I wanted to sew clothes, decorations, etc and send a part of me to them. My grandson will be 4 soon, and he told his mama a few nights ago, ” I just love these pajamas grandma makes me, you should get a mixer and make stuff like grandma does mommy:)” so that is why I sew…

  9. Beautiful post! I sew because it’s one way I can express my love for my children. Every stitch is a silent “I love you” to them, every completed garment a hug to wear. I sew because I love my children so very much. I want them to have clothes as fine and special as they are.

  10. What a great post!
    I sew because I didn’t want my kids – especially my girls – to wear mass produced, “daddy’s little princess” t-shirts with glitter and look like everyone else.

    My mother couldn’t sew a stitch, but I had all my special occasion clothes sewn for me by my mother’s aunt – she was hump-backed, and about 4’8″ tall. She made me absolutely beautiful clothes on her old Singer sewing machine with the foot pedal. I went with her to fabric stores and loved the process of picking the fabric and the patterns. I can still feel her standing next to me, with pins in her mouth, turning me around with her chalk hem measuring gauge blowing chalk around the hemline…

    I actually found a vintage pattern that my aunt used to make me a dress that I have a photo of – me in a purple velvet dress (similar to O+S school photo dress) – I’m going to make one for my youngest daughter…..

    So, that’s why I sew!!!

  11. I love all of your photos! I, too, am self taught and sew because it is fun and I might have a slight addiction to fabric! My girls are still at ages where they are so proud that I made them something and tell all their friends and teachers that I made their dress or skirt; it makes them feel special. They all want to sew and stitch, too. So much I do as a mom of 6 is never done; there’s always more laundry, more meals to make, more floors to mop, more events to take kids to that I enjoy sewing to have a finished project. That’s why I sew!

  12. What a wonderful post.
    So much of what I have read has brought tears to my eyes, both happy and sad. I was taught to sew by my grandmother. She was so very dear to me and I miss her painfully as there is a new baby in our lives that will not know the joy of that woman. I remember very well being 5 years old sitting at my grandmother’s machine sewing my first garment, a wrap skirt made from light blue chambray with large patch pockets that were also stitched into the side seams. I have boxes of handmade clothes that were made for me and my other 3 children by my mother and grandmother. They are true treasures, that have been handed not only down but around. Recently my mother made the new baby an AMAZING Christianizing gown that is already regarded as a family heirloom. I clearly identify with sewing memories and the pride that come with watching the ones you love most, love the things you have made for them.
    I have had access to a machine all my life and have spent my life sewing for myself, once I started having children it was a no brainer that I would sew for them. From the most basic sleep pants for bumming around the house to tailored men’s shirts, baby gowns, and heirloom portrait dresses. I take such pride when someone ask me where I got something and I beam back…I made it or even better yet when one of my children wearing one of my creations stands very proud and announces My MOTHER made it for me!
    All 3 of my “big” kids know how to sew as I have taught them yet much to my chagrin none of them have developed the deep love that I have…GIVE IT TIME, I remind myself.
    Thank you for asking that I take the time to remember why I sew

  13. This is a lovely post, and one I can identify with also. My reasons for sewing are very similar to yours – my childhood is filled with memories of ‘helping’ my Nannas and my mother sew, and some of my favourite outfits as a child were the ones that had been lovingly handmade for me. I also love having an idea in my head and seeing it come to life. The fact that I get to do that while creating precious memories for my girls to grow up with is just the icing on the cake.

  14. Thank you all so much for your comments and sharing!
    It did took me a while to write this post as I often struggle with what I should and shouldn’t share here. I realised that for most of us, sewing is about memories (keeping and making new ones) and it goes far beyond a “nice hobby”, which I admit is also important for my family budget.
    I second your comments and see myself in so many of them- We are indeed connected in more ways than I could imagine – in spite of the the geographic distances. I am sure sewing is an act of love, as it has been for generations, and it’s so very special to learn that we still manage to find time to do it.
    Happy sewing, my sweet and dearest friends! Thank you, thank you for taking the time for sharing your memories with me 🙂

  15. What a lovely post, such beautiful memories for you with the garments sewn by your mum. I started sewngfor my girls because I found it difficult to get things that properly fitted my very tall children.
    If the waist fit, pants would be too short and dresses were never the right length unless I bought a size too large in the body.
    Now I sew because I can create items that are completely individual, age appropriate and fit the girls well.
    I, like you, love that they know I sew things because I love them and want to do something special for them, I hope that they remember special dresses when they too are adults.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Karen (love your blog!)
      I am sure that our kids will have some lovely memories of their handmade clothes when they grow-up – I have great memories of my mother knitting (she didn’t really like sewing, but loved knitting). Handmade clothes, made with love, will always have a special place in our hearts 🙂

  16. I love this post! I sew because my grandmothers both sewed for me and my brother and I still have that clothing. My daughter now wears these items, and they have stood the test of time. The clothing I make for my children holds up much better than our store-bought items and the kids LOVE what I make them. Plus, shopping with three children is a nightmare. Honestly, I’m better off making Abby a pair of leggings, because if I wait for a “good time” to go shopping she’ll never get them! Lastly, I sew because I love it, plain and simple. I never get tired of sewing; I love the feeling of creating things out of fabric and still get giddy and excited over new patterns. Everyone should have a hobby that brings them joy, even when life is really busy.

    1. I totally agree with you Calia!
      At the end of a busy day (or any other type of day, really) sewing makes me feel so relaxed and happy! I do love sewing and being able to create something beautiful from a piece of fabric – it really makes me feel great!
      And yes, it’s way too much better than shopping with three children – and I know they love it so much as I do (and better yet, when they manage to help me with the cutting and actual sewing)

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