For ages I’ve struggled with admitting that I’m slow at sewing. I always look jealously at those online sewers who produce gorgeous garment after gorgeous garment with scarcely a pause. How do they manage it? I’m learning, (slowly!), to embrace my slowness this year. I’m trying to enjoy the process, reflect on that and learn that I don’t need to produce more than a handful of good quality additions to my wardrobe each year.
1.It’s a hobby and not work
The world of work can sometimes be frenetic. There’s often a rush to get a belated project “out the door”, and quality is often overlooked. Sometimes conscientious, considered work is not even appreciated. There are times when speed is necessary in life admittedly, but there is always something lost on the way. Sewing something beautiful, with an investment of time and care is my way of bringing the speed vs diligence scales back in balance.
I’m sure there is nothing unusual about being a working mum, in fact it is probably the norm these days. It can be frustrating to find that my hobby is the thing that comes only after everything else has been done each day. Generally, I squeeze my sewing into small gaps. Often days will go past when I only manage to sew one seam. Big projects, like a jacket will often take weeks to complete. It’s disappointing that I don’t find more time, but all that matters to me is that I do get some hobby time and I enjoy it when I can.
I’ve realised that I scarcely ever just pin a seam or hem and then go straight to the sewing machine. I like to tack / hand-stitch it all in place before machine-stitching.
Why do I do this, possibly needless extra work? I do find that pinning often doesn’t result in the straightest, most precise seam. Precision isn’t important all the time, but sometimes it can be critical. For example, I always tack a zip in place as it always turns out better when I do this.
If my life depended on sewing quickly I’m sure I’d change this habit. Certainly when I’ve been in a hurry I have just pinned a seam and machined it. I even have some Wonder Tape, which perhaps I should use more. This could hold my seam more securely than pins while I’m machining and might be a good alternative. But for now, the tacking is my favourite; it’s so reliable.
4. I’m a traditionalist
There are some times when it really pays off to sew by hand. A hand sewn hem will ensure that the stitches are invisible on the exterior of the garment. I realize you can also achieve an invisible hem with your machine using a blind-hem stitch, but those hemline stitches are never nearly as invisible as the ones you can sew by hand. I always feel that the extra investment makes a hand-finished garment particularly special too.
5. I enjoy hand-sewing
Strange as it may seem, I actually enjoy sitting listening to music or watching the TV whilst hand-sewing. It’s something to do to keep my hands busy, but doesn’t engage the brain much. It’s just the perfect thing to do at the end of the day.
In the words of Carl Honore’, author of In Praise of Slow – “Being slow, means never rushing, never striving to save time just for the sake of it. It means remaining calm and unflustered even when circumstances force us to speed up. One way to cultivate inner Slowness is to make time for activities that defy acceleration – meditation, knitting, gardening, yoga, painting, reading, walking, Chi Kung.” I would add sewing to that list!