Monday, 19 May 2014

Why I love to sew (especially for my kids)

Over the next few weeks, interspersed with my ‘normal’ blog posts (52 project – which I need to catch up! And other random posts), I plan to share some ‘sewing for your kids’ type posts. This is one that I’ve been wanting to share for a while; on why I sew for my kids. And why I love doing it. (Illustrated by a few pics of some of my fave projects over the years!)

[ Noah's blazer, Isy's PJs]

I only started sewing (in earnest) after I had my kids. Sure, I sewed a bit as a kid – my Mum is an awesome sewer and got me a kiddie sewing machine and old black Singer as a kid, but I had the attention span of a gold fish. Seriously! I left a large trail of unfinished projects.

Fast forward twenty or so years and I had just finished quite a few years of study and was working hard. My Mum very generously bought me a sewing machine (still the one I have today), but it gathered dust for a few years while I was working. I’d work long hours, come home exhausted and creativity was the last thing on my agenda. I think on one occasion I tried to thread the machine and it freaked me out. My husband, whose Mum had taught him to sew so he could make sails for his model boats, had (much) more skills than me!


[ Isy's dress, Noah's tank, Noah's Arrow Top ]

But then I had Noah and everything changed. I think having kids/ being a stay at home Mum gives you both less freedom, yet more freedom. That’s a bit confusing, so I’ll explain. As a Mum, you might not be able to go to the toilet by yourself or get optimal sleep for a few years BUT you have the freedom (in those pre-school days at least) to choose how you want to spend your days. Today we’ll go to kindy gym, today we wont. Today I’ll sleep when you sleep, tomorrow I’ll sew. For me, I used this freedom to learn new skills, which at the same time I think, kept me sane, gave me a sense of achievement and fulfilment and helped me to meet new people.

I decided, quite early on that if I was going to do this stay at home Mum thing, I was going to enjoy being at home, rather than resent it. I was going to enjoy my environment and never get bored. And truthfully, I don’t think I ever have. I’ve suffered a little from cabin fever yes, but bored – not really.

[ Little Liberty Leggings ]

There is a lot of fulfilment that comes from being able to make something too – especially for my kids. Kids clothes are great to start on, they are small, simple (no darts etc that you find in women’s clothing) and my kids LOVE it when I sew something for them, For me it’s just another way I can show love to them, by sewing it into every stitch. There is nothing better than being able to look over a finished garment and see that you have achieved something today, even though despite your best efforts your kids are still squabbling and your house keeps getting messed up, no matter how much you clean it!

And then, inevitably, frustration sets in. You pass that super beginner stage where even threading the machine is cause for celebration and then your aspirations start to exceed your skill level. You see your flaws and want to be better … but this is a good thing! I’ve shared this before, but I’m going to share it again, it’s just too good!

Reading back on what I wrote just now, I remember that I had planned to start this post in a completely different way. (The way I write is very similar to my creative projects – I have so many thoughts I just can’t do them all!)

Anyway, I meant to open with the question that I get asked all the time, “Why do you sew kids clothes, surely it’s cheaper to buy?” Yes, sometimes – but often I can’t find what I want (what I have in my head) in the store, so I decide to make it – does this mean that “my work is [almost] as good as my ambitions?” Well it’s definitely improved over the years (my blog is evidence of this) – and besides, it’s not just the result I enjoy, it’s the process, the community and the learning. And hearing your kid say, “Yes, my Mum made my top. She can sew anything!” And that is priceless.

So, why do you sew/ make for your kids?

Jenny x


Nat @sewoutnumbered said...

Such a great post Jenny! Sewing for your kids is so satisfying, especially when they choose to wear their handmade items over store bought :) I always have to be learning something new which I think is also why I love it so much! There's always something new to make or a different skill to learn.

Pauline Smythe said...

I thought my kids were completely over me sewing for them - they're 16 and 18 so Mum, how embarrassing right? But then they discovered Colette patterns. My 16 yr old has just begged me to make him an Albion duffle coat out of some beautiful hunter green wool he found in my stash. I made toggles for it - actually he helped, it was a real DIY project involving wood, leather and expensive glue. He wears it everywhere. Then his 18 yr old brother got in on the act when he saw the Negroni matched with a bit of Liberty on a blog and did the sums. Suddenly I'm the means to the coolest, most original shirts in town.
Who would have thought?

Barbara said...

Wow such a great post. You are absolutely right about getting and losing freedom (although I work parttime, but I try to do the "plan your own day" on my days off).
I really need to dust off my own sewing machine!

Leonie said...

Love this post Jenny! and I love your approach to days at home with the kids! Well done you! Love that sign - nothing great was ever achieved without a lot of hard work and blood,sweat and tears. I think it's something that many people struggle with especially in this age where many things are gained instantly. I want to sew more clothes for my kids but for now... I'll just stick with what I can and feel like doing. Funny my sewing machine only came out about 2.5 years ago after gathering dust for many years too :) Love your work x