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Weekend: Is Sewing Cool?

weekend_12_19

Have you ever seen the movie, Jump! I was recently introduced to it, and for those who haven’t watched it, here is a brief rundown. It follows competitive jump rope teams as they try to achieve their ultimate goal – world champions. Yep, you read that right. There is a sport dedicated to jump roping just like football, soccer and tennis. I didn’t know such thing existed either! Candid and intimate, the film shows the dedication and commitment players have towards the sport. This is their life. There is also a strong camaraderie, you quickly realize that the teams are a family with slogans and saying just like us sewers (me-made, UFOs, FBA, oonapallooza).

What hit home the most was their struggle to “prove” to non jump ropers that jump roping is cool. I get this response when I tell people how I spend every ounce of my extracurricular time – sewing. “Oh, you sew?” The responses get even more awkward when I tell them I make and teach lingerie, especially to men. Maybe you’ve received these responses and maybe you haven’t, and you may want to respond to them this way and maybe you don’t: “Yeh, and I sew cool shit too…” I’ve always been a sensitive to bullying, mocking or belittling. My philosophy is that as long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, albeit not hurting yourself, I’ll support you. Personally, I admire people who do something unique and different. Wife carrying, royal shrovetide football… did you know there’s an extreme ironing sport? Now that’s cool!

Do you get slack for being a sewer? If so, how do you respond?

40 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mary Danielson

    Maybe it’s just being in Austin (and a college town near it), with its massive hipster culture, but I almost universally receive positive reactions to my sewing. People of our generation, specifically, have rediscovered so many other classic pursuits that sewing seems to be bundled right into the do-it-yourself, back-to-basics groundswell we’ve seen in the last few years. People find it fascinating that I sew, completely freak out when they find out I blog for Mood’s sewing network (So many closet PR fans!), and generally think it very, very cool.

    And if they don’t? Well, they won’t be getting fun handsewn presents! Also, pardon the French, but: fuck ’em, if they snark on it. Being accomplished is never something to belittle.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Your French is welcome anytime on the blog, especially when backing up this argument. Fuck them is right!

      A mentor once said that belittling is usually a reflection on the person, not yourself. So, if someone mocks me for sewing, their negativity stems from their own problems and you shouldn’t take it personally.

      I admit that as I’ve gotten older (I’m certainly not old), that people are more receptive to my hobby. I don’t know if that’s a cultural shift or if it’s because when I was a teenager, if I wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing, I was considered a loser.

  2. Reply

    Jodie

    People are generally very curious and often disbelieving when I tell them I sew my own clothes – I often get people inspecting hems to “check” it’s not factory made! There’s a lot of questions too, I think many people love the idea of making their own wardrobe and maybe just need a little encouragement to give it a go themselves. I certainly have never been made to feel uncool (about sewing anyway!)

    • Reply

      maddie

      I haven’t had someone spot check what I’m wearing, but I have had they respond with, “Did you make what you’re wearing?” Most of the time, I am 🙂

  3. Reply

    amanda

    I’ve had mixed reactions too- when a friend recently mentioned to someone we work with that I sew and had made the dress I was wearing he said “What, you sew? With a sewing machine??” as if it was the strangest thing he’d ever heard!!!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Yes! As if seeing machines only existed when dinosaurs roamed the earth! I’ve received that bewildered response too.

      • Reply

        amanda

        It was said in such a condescending way too as if sewing was something only little old ladies do!!! I just replied that not only did I have a sewing machine but also a degree in textile design which had come in quite useful 🙂

        • Reply

          maddie

          And I’m sure you looked way better than her in your me-mades!

  4. Reply

    Elena Knits

    I don’t have a very active social life right now due to some health issues, and that makes me socialize more with the sewers on internet. Anyway, my friends always appreciate my sewing and knitting but they don’t really know everything that it implies. This year I spent a lot of time at home improving my sewing skills, and when I’m ready to go out again, I’m sure they will appreciate the uniqueness of my garments.

    • Reply

      maddie

      First, I’m sorry to hear about your sickness. I hope you get better.

      In my experience, unless you’ve actually made a garment from start to finish, you can’t really appreciate or understand the work that is involved.

  5. Reply

    Amy W

    I actually have several friends that sew, so our non-sewing friends tend to be impressed with what we make. I actually enjoy going to baby showers when other sewing friends are there because it’s so interesting to see the different items that are hand made. I also do some crocheting and have a coworker that does as well, so we’ll chat about that. I haven’t met anyone that talks down about it.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Can you invite me to your next party? I want to go!

  6. Reply

    Vicki

    Mostly people just look at me in a confused way when they find out I sew. They often love my clothes but are really just at a loss of what to think about the whole thing. Once they get over the shock, however, they waste no time in asking me to sew, hem or repair something for them. LOL. To which a reply, I would be happy to teach you………no one has taken me up on that offer yet.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Ah! Yes! I’ve received that response to make/alter something for them, in which I reply, “No, I’m a selfish seamstress and only make things for myself.” : )

  7. Reply

    Kate McIvor

    I get compliments on the clothes I make for myself, even though people think it’s kind of weird. I have hope that the stars are aligning to make home sewing cool — people are shopping from home instead of on main street or at the mall, store bought clothes are crappy, factories are burning, local food is popular, and blogs like yours are making sewing cool for cool people. We need to teach the world the joys of sewing at home!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Amen, sister!

  8. Reply

    Suzanne

    Sewing is cool. It wasn’t when I was growing up (jordache era), but who cares now? Still, I don’t usually tell people I work with that I do. Mainly because I work in a profession where it’s understood that you will devote all your personal time to your work (it’s a cool profession, but it doesn’t see passed itself sometimes, which is another reason to keep sewing!) Still, when someone compliments or asks about some particular outfit, I say that I made it. The usual response is impressed combined with, “how do you find the time?” Of course, it takes forever for me to complete something, since I’m stealing an hour before bed most days!

    • Reply

      maddie

      You go girl for finding the time to sew despite your busy work schedule! With a full time job as well, I sympathize with you.

  9. Reply

    Kelley Vito

    Vicki – YES! I finally had to start telling friends that I would be happy to teach them because their “little” projects really start to add up.

  10. Reply

    eimear

    my favourite quote lately is ‘authenticity is not needing external approval to feel good about your actions’, – i only got one strange reaction recently to my sewing (it was a snigger and i was appalled at their bad manners), any other time i mention it – its 80 % positive and 20%do you do alterations? aaagh – to which i reply – ‘no i don’t,’ and then half of them will say ‘is this because you are too nervous / unable’ (probably hoping i will rise to the occasion) and my only and honest reply is – that ‘i don’t do alterations as if i do, i insist the person sits in and learns how to do it for themselves for the future ‘ at this point the remaining 10% have lost interest…………(and probably paying a fortune for hemming)

  11. Reply

    Katie

    I’ve never really received any negative reactions to me stating that I sew my own clothing – usually people are impressed (especially the older women in my family). Mainly my problem is that people don’t understand the time and skill that goes into making your own clothing.

    Many of my friends ask me if I can make them something (I usually tell them a reasonable price, but they still think that it’s too much), or they say “well it must be so cheap to make your own clothes.” What they don’t realize is all the time that I’ve devoted to growing my skills – and that my time is indeed worth something (a lot!!).

    I offered to make a friend a shirt for Halloween, and he said he’d pay me – but then he only paid me for the fabric and buttons. It was a collared shirt that took me 7 hours! Now, it’s partly my fault for not standing up for myself more (something I’m trying to work on when it comes to the idea of sewing for others)… But it’s also his fault for thinking my time is worth nothing (we both work in creative professions where time = money, so I don’t really get his “misunderstanding”).

    All that to say – my biggest issue is that people (that I know) look at sewing as if you just whip something up in an hour and there’s little to no effort, skill or time involved… and that pisses me off 😀

    • Reply

      maddie

      I agree! My brother continues to ask me to make him a 3 piece suit. Ha! Yeh right!

  12. Reply

    Ann Marie

    Because I sew AND I sew a historical costumes, I get more raised eyebrows and “why”s. Those people will not be getting hand made gifts either. 🙂 Spending time with like minded people is always fabulously reinforcing and relaxing.

  13. Reply

    Shakira

    Most of the time I get positive reactiona abs wows on my sewing and just sometimes I get someone who asks me “why?? You can get good deals on cloths without the hassle ..” as if I sew just to save money.. Sometimes they ask me how much it cost me to make the coat I’m wearing for example and they try to compare it to prices on sales.. I just smile and explain that I do it because I looooooooove it and it’s my passion. And yes, I get asked about alterations as well and I always do it for a reasonable fee. This helps me make some money to spend on my beloved hobby:)

  14. Reply

    Victoria B.

    I’ve seen a change from when I first started sewing to now, as back in my 4-H days I remember it not being the coolest activity of choice. The shift I’ve seen comes mostly from my friends, family and coworkers (which makes sense because I see them the most). When I’m wearing something that’s “different” they usually say something along the lines of, “that’s really pretty, did you make it?” because they know that I sew. I love that I have that attached to me now.

    But I agree with Mary…while most of my feedback is positive, if anyone was ever negative they just wouldn’t get something super cool and handmade from me. 🙂

    • Reply

      maddie

      No way will someone get a handmade gift from me if they belittled my beloved hobby! Hell no!

  15. Reply

    Melissa C

    Weirdly just today I told one of my classes (I’m a high school biology teacher) that I sew all the clothes that I wear to work. I work in a seriously deprived area where not only is the area financially deprived but there is a huge skill deficit (cooking, sewing, crafting etc). So my admission that I sew was met with wonderment and disbelief. I did spend the next five minutes trying to prove I had actually made my outfit. =P. They couldn’t believe that clothes could be made by just a person. It started quite an interesting (albeit completely off-topic!!) conversation about the role humans play in manufacturing. I say sewing is the new black!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I wish I had a teacher like you when I was a student. I really commend you for teaching a lesson I wish I had heard in school.

  16. Reply

    business--psychics.com

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this psychic weblog’s articles or reviews daily along with a mug of coffee.

  17. Reply

    Lady ID

    I tend to get very positive responses when I say I sew, maybe it’s because I’m in a creative field but they tend to like what I’m wearing and I mention that I made it (if I did). A lot of Nigerians have custom clothes but they have tailors or designers make their clothes so it’s not a big deal in one sense. In another, the fact that I designed and sewed it myself can be.

    On another note, the font size in the comments is incredibly tiny. I’m having to squint at it which is not normal for me. I love the redesign but I thought I’d mention that in terms of UX.

  18. Reply

    justine

    People are impressed and seem to think it’s some kind of special talent but one they will never have time to learn. It does take years and dedication to get good at garment sewing and design but anyone can learn. They just are into other stuff, I guess. A lot of people who only sew occasionally think it’s just too frustrating.

  19. Reply

    Anne

    I’ve retired from the rat race and started to learn to sew last year. Many are impressed when others tell them I sew – interestingly, though, what I mainly hear is that someone either sews or used to sew all her own and her childrens’ clothes but doesn’t now. I’ve only been asked to sew or alter by my daughters, fortunately – and my mother, who is registered blind asked me to do a simple repair on a pair of trousers. I don’t yet wear many of my own garments, though.

  20. Reply

    Katie

    The reaction I most commonly get is “oh I’d love to be able to sew but I’m just no good at [insert skill here].” Which is annoying in its own way since they don’t seem to realize that I wasn’t either when I started and it takes lots of practice. I do think people are more accepting of different hobbies as you get older, though. I can’t imagine telling my high school classmates I sewed — I would have been labeled an even bigger loser than I already was!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thank God high school is over, right?

  21. Reply

    Carolyn

    Like many of the other commenters, I almost always get a positive response when I tell people that I sew. I think there comes a point where no one really cares what your hobbies are, and hobbies just add an interesting new dimension to your personality, regardless of exactly what they are. I always enjoy finding out what people choose to do in their free time. Getting someone to talk about their passion usually sparks a great conversation!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I totally agree that passion is a trait I look for in people. I’m a very passionate person, so I’m naturally attracted to people who are the same.

  22. Reply

    Adeline

    Generally people marvells at me sewing my own clothes and i hope it csn ignite more people from where i come from to want to learn sewing too. There is hardly a sewing community here and i’ll love to see one.

    • Reply

      maddie

      There isn’t a big sewing community in Philadelphia, So I feel like I’m in the same boat as you. Keep up the good work!

  23. Reply

    Francesca

    this post resonates with me, as I usually get really positive reactions to my clothes from my family and the people I work with – who now actually tend to take it for granted that I’ve made what I’m wearing, and are taken aback when I’m wearing one of my few store-bought things…. which date back to a while ago, as since I got back into sewing in a big way I haven’t bought anything wearing wise except for tights and shoes!
    And then you meet the idiots. The ones like the little photocopy place where I’ve occasionally printed AO patterns. But why do you sew? Is it because you like it? Duh…. or, recently I was having lunch with my big sis and a couple of people she knows. This woman, who was older than me, and thus would have had the dressmaker culture that was around in my island till I was a teenager, said “But is it worth it”. Um. I’m like “yes, because that way I get things I want, that fit me perfectly, of a quality and finish I can’t afford”. And this woman who is definitely better off than me, sitting there in her illfitting Maxmara stuff, keeps on saying “but all that time” and “is it worth it” till finally I politely changed the subject. booooring. I find this so sad!

  24. Reply

    Birgit

    I’m lucky enough to only get positive responses so far. People mostly admire the fact that I’m able to create a piece of clothing from scratch. I’m always a bit hesitant to tell people I’m wearing something that I made, but then my friends tell them ‘she made that, how amazing is that?’ haha.

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