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Sew satisfying

October 24th, 2004 · 2 Comments


I’d been talking with Abigail about making a dress for a while and last weekend we did it. In July I had laid the pattern out on the butterfly fabric she selected, but I made errors with the folding and pinning and didn’t have the energy to try it again. It lay on an ironing board in our bedroom for weeks, nagging me in silence.

Motivated by upcoming deadlines and some dead time on Saturday and Sunday, I decided to try to finish it. It was probably my first sewing project in a year or two. I made a number of mistakes. Instead of the advertised “2 Hours”, it took me at least 6, including cutting.

Yet I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the sewing. After we had finished, I carried it around in my hands, feeling our labor. Then I realized that most of my day is spent performing perpetual tasks. I do dishes, sweep floors and fold laundry. Teaching the girls is constant. Although I like gardening, if I weed beds or prune plants, sometimes it takes only a few days before the work needs to be done again. I buy groceries and cook meals. I pay bills. I read the newspaper and blogs. What I do in one day, I do in the next.

Even writing – such as writing on this blog – which is fun for me, often leaves little sense of absolute accomplishment. I can spend hours working with words but then decide that it is not quality writing or worthy of sharing. At the end of an hour of typing and thinking, there’s nothing tangible to show for my efforts. Hit the wrong button and it is gone for good.

But after spending two afternoons sewing and snipping, I had a dress I could hold in my hands. It wasn’t perfect. My goal in sewing is to finish the project rather than to fashion something flawless. The pockets in the pattern were a bit obscure to me, so I made my own, tracing around the lid of an old oatmeal container. It is a simple pattern with gathered skirt and lined bodice. Abigail adores it, and would wear it all the time if I would let her. Together we made a scarf from the scraps, and she wraps it around her neck every morning when she dresses.

I think of writing as one of my stronger skills. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve put time into reading and composing pieces again, and I haven’t been sewing or doing other projects as often. I like to write and I stay up late, unaware of the time, as I happily type into the night…

It was also a great project to share with my daughters. When possible, I tried to let the girls help, letting them press the pedal or help guide the fabric beneath the needle. They like to construct three-dimensional objects from paper and I’m hoping they will begin to work with cloth also. Already Abigail and Michaela had some ideas of what to make from scraps lying on the floor, including the scarf. We all enjoyed it.

Making a dress for my daughter showed me how satisfying it can be to work with my hands in three dimensions. Words come and go on a blog page. But sewing stays.

I’ll still be writing and blogging here. Words are some of my most favorite companions and cloth can’t quite compare. I like the conversation and interaction that happens through posts, and especially the people I’ve met.

Yet there are different kinds of creativity and I think that they can each inspire the other…I hope that when I am writing I am making shapes and seams that can be as durable as the pieces of cloth I sew together….

Tags: family

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Oct 25, 2004 at 11:21 am

    It’s a beautiful dress, and teaching your daughters to sew is a wonderful legacy. I’m full of admiration…

  • 2 jenny // Oct 26, 2004 at 11:46 am

    Awesome! I am impressed and proud of you!