The Psychology of Sewing….

Hi Everyone!  I wanted to share with you what I learned from writing and producing my own pattern fitting series.  Other than the obvious things like writing, photo editing, and committing to an 8 week series, my eyes were opened to something I hadn’t thought about before.  This was a Monumental Task for me and I’m happy I did it and very proud of what I produced especially when I read great comments and messages from YOU.   I learned a great deal from YOU my readers that sent emails and private messages as well as a woman I met at Jo~ann Fabric’s that was kind enough to share her interesting perspective on “fitting” in general.

What I learned from her was rather startling and not something I necessarily expected.  I learned that there is a psychology to sewing!!  I went into producing this series thinking that there just really wasn’t great “user friendly” information about fitting out in the market place.  I’ve read many threads on message boards with complaint after complaint about how frustrating fitting can be.  I’ve never participated in classes on fitting or in any of those seminars that I read about others attending.  I’ve spoken with a friend that attends those classes through the ASG that they pay large sums of money and later are still disappointed in many cases.  That’s what motivated me.  The idea of helping others get back to doing what they say they LOVE, Sewing for themselves!!    
Personally, I started hand embroidery at the age of 4.  I found creating through the art of embroidery amazing even at that young age.  Taking colored threads and using a needle to create designs on pillow cases and table cloths were what we did as a family.  I remember my pride in the finished pieces and how my Mother and Grandmother would Smile.  So my natural progression was to learn to sew on a sewing machine soon after, which I did.  As I approached high school and beyond I continued to sew even when it was unpopular.  I always thought of sewing as completely liberating and a wonderful way for self expression.  It always gave me a good feeling to wear something I’d made, especially if I got compliments.  After graduating college with a degree in Fashion Design I went into the Bridal Industry.  Still, I knew nothing but sheer JOY in the Art of Bridal Design.  Designing gowns that would be worn for the most special day in a girls life was exciting to me.  I not only enjoyed my career, but I also continued to enjoy sewing for myself. 

It wasn’t until much later that I became aware of  others having frustrations with sewing.  I knew that being disappointed it can also lead to frustration.  HOWEVER I thought that the frustration stemmed  from not being able to fit patterns and thus not being happy with the finished garment after spending time, effort and money.  In writing this series, many have shared with me in private emails and messages that this was in fact the case for them.  However, I also learned from one woman that there is also a much deeper problem to address. I began this series not wanting to call “fitting issues”  PROBLEMS.  By calling something a “PROBLEM”, we automatically attach something negative to it and it becomes an issue we take personally.  After speaking to the woman in Jo~ann Fabrics on the subject of “fitting”, I learned that there is more to the story.  I learned that “fitting” really isn’t the only issue for some of you.  As this kind soul shared, she used to sew EVERYTHING for she and her family.  As she got older, her body changed.  So I asked her if that was the reason she stopped sewing, that she had a hard time fitting her new shape?  She said NO.  She could fit her new shape just fine, it was that she didn’t like the way she looked in her sewn garments.  She’s unhappy with herself and that she never had to deal with these issues when she was younger.  I was shocked in what she revealed to me.  The root of the problem is that she’s unhappy with her body and doesn’t enjoying the process of sewing for herself any longer.

I was somewhat blown away by her candid admission and although I don’t think that everyone feels this way, I can only take in what I learned and share it with YOU, my readers.  Are there others that are avoiding the enjoyment of sewing because they’re unhappy with themselves? It was particularly sad for me to hear this because I get so much enjoyment out of my craft as well as teaching.  I never thought there was a psychology to sewing other than the sheer joy I feel in creating something myself.  In light of learning this information, I asked myself this question.  “Do I feel I wasted my time writing and producing this series to help people?”.  The answer is simply put, NO.  I’ve received so many nice comments and support from many of you that I feel confident that my efforts were helpful and appreciated.  I feel there are reasons for everything we do and even though there may be others that feel unhappy about sewing for themselves, not all of you do.  

So in closing, I’m grateful for writing and learning through this series, but at the same time a little sad that some people may feel unhappy with sewing for themselves.  I certainly hope that she was in the minority with her view of sewing.  I can’t solve those issues for anyone.  They have to be worked out by the individual, in their own time frame, through their own efforts.  What I can and will continue to offer is good information to those that may change their minds and work through their issues.  I will be here when they are ready and want to rejoin us and enjoy the art of sewing once again.  I will always cheer everyone on, encourage you with your creations and continue to push your creativity to a new level.   

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10 Responses to The Psychology of Sewing….

  1. Bunny says:

    First, your series is wonderful. Don't question it's value or effect. Next, I have run into this with many woman friends. I am 63 and have many friends who know how to sew and sew well. Now all they will make are quilts. That's fine but more than once I have been told by them the same thing your acquaintence at Joanns told you. "I don't enjoy sewing anymore. Oh, I can fit, I just don't like how it looks." I often think to myself, "do you have any idea your view of your self could improve in well fitting clothes instead of the shapeless garments you are buying off the rack? but having been brought up to be Southernly polite, I pretty much say nothing. Often I have offered to help them in any way, picking out patterns, the sewing, the fitting, nope, don't like the way it will look. I think it is sad to give up on oneself like that. We are certainly all worthy of better. When given the opportunity, I like to show them pics on line of bloggers who are clearly post meno and/or not fashion models and look fabulous in their gorgeous clothing. While I weigh pretty much what I did the day I got married, my perkies have drooped and my waist has widened like others. I think this makes it doubly important to get proper fit down. We have to stop expecting ourselves to look like cover models and actresses on TV. We need to be happy being an experienced, wizened mature women whose pride in self shows in how we face the world. No one expects us to look like Heidi Klum. But to just give up as many I know have? I also find it so upsetting. There is absolutely no need for it, at any age, any size. Off my soapbox……

  2. Thanks Bunny for the nice compliment about my series and for sharing your view of how many of your friends look at sewing for themselves. Shame….has my wheels spinning.

  3. I have been following your series and have learned a lot. I am attempted to learn how to fit clothes because, as I have aged and changed, off the rack clothes just don't fit. My amazing revelation after trying to fit a blouse with you, is that I now know why they don't fit. In my case, this has actually helped me feel better about myself. I am the way I am and it's the garment industry and advertising that should feel bad. Just because I am a little shorter in one area and a little wider or narrower in another should not make me lesser. I am excited to be able to make clothes that fit my body. You have also been so helpful to my daughter (I am the one who wrote about finding the right size for her). And for the record, it's just as hard to fit a 5'9" skinny body as it is a 5'4" wider one:)

  4. Jenny says:

    I love this series! Thank you so much for all of the time and energy that has gone into this.
    I have to say that I discovered sewing only about a year ago. When I was a child, my mother used to sew for us but we never paid any attention to the sewing machine. My sister and I just wanted to play outside all day! Well, throughout most of my life I was thin and I didn't really have any issues with RTW. The last few years of my life – my body changed. Some changes were due to a medical issue that I'm finally coming to terms with and I attribute part of those changes to the way I felt about myself because of that. Because of my weight gain and (it's been really hard to lose much) I found RTW didn't fit me anymore. Just buying larger sized clothing didn't work because all of a sudden my body proportions didn't match the standard sizing. For example, if a dress fits on top – it does NOT fit at my hips! and vice versa – if it fits my hips – it doesn't fit on top – it's too big. I didn't know what to do! I couldn't buy and wear a skirt because they kept riding up on me. I was so uncomfortable. Now that I sew – everything is different for me and I'm so happy I taught myself to sew. I wish I were my thin self again but I'm really becoming happy again and that means so much more to me than the # on the scale. And I think it really has to do with learning to sew my own clothing. I feel good in my clothing again. 🙂
    I think you've hit the nail on the head with this post.

  5. Mary says:

    It's the numbers. When I started to take sewing seriously, and teach myself some little bit of fitting…I was really worried about the measuring. It was easier for me to hang onto my RTW size, even though I knew it was a fabrication. Thankfully, I have moved past that mindset due to wonderful bloggers like yourself. Thanks so much for this series. I have learned so much.

  6. Thanks homespuntails for following along. I'm glad you realized the problem is not with you and are happy with the person you are. Now you can make clothes that flatter your shape, fit and you will feel wonderful because of it.

  7. Hi Jenny!! You're so welcome and I'm glad you're finding my efforts helpful!! I'm so glad that learning to sew has made you feel great about yourself again!!

  8. Hi Mary! Yes, you're right. They are just numbers and once you let go of that, you're free to fit and flatter your shape perfectly!!

  9. Nothy Lane says:

    I have feel that way – that I'm not the shape I was and I don't like the finished garments. I personally sew for relaxation so I kept at it. I've learned that different styles flatter me now in ways they never did…I could never give up sewing, it is my stress-reliever. I hope the woman you met perseveres and learns to accept herself.

  10. Hi Nothy!! I agree, it's all about finding what looks good on you and never giving up sewing. Keep on doing what you enjoy!!

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