5 Reasons Why It's Important To Learn How To Sew
Whenever someone asks what I do for a living, the best answer I have been able to come up with is "I make sewing patterns." Which inevitably leads to wide eyes, an audible gasp, and then the sigh: "I have always wanted to learn how to sew."
Almost always, we have all had a mother or a grandmother that loved to sew. But somehow, it was never passed down to us. And we just never really made the time to learn, since it was never an actual priority. Sound about right? So my question to you is: Why? Why do you want to learn how to sew?
The answers I have received in the past vary from woman to woman. There's: "I want to know how to hem my pants." Or: "I just want my clothes to fit right." And of course: "I have this beautiful dress just sitting in my closet because it's ripped and I have no idea how to fix it."
However. While you may have your own, personal reasons for wanting to learn how to sew, I'm going to give you 5 more.
To give it to you quickly, here are my 5 universal reasons on why I think sewing is such an invaluable skill:
- You can make your own clothes. (Obvi!)
- Free alterations. (For life!)
- Also, free repairs for life. #yesplease
- Helps lower the impact on the fashion industry.
- Discovery of a brand new, positive creative outlet.
And I can already hear my busy ladies out there: "But I just don't have the time to learn." Girl. I don't have the time to read 30+ books a year, but I make it happen. Because it's important to me and because I enjoy it immensely.
Whether it's to help yourself out financially or just for fun, keep reading to see why I think now is the time to commit to learning how to sew.
Why it's important to learn how to sew, reason #1: Make your own clothes
Have you ever seen a dress in a store, and said "I need that in my life. Now."? And then you look at the price tag: $275. Ouch. Most people aren't able (or just plain willing) to spend $275 on a dress. Even one they have a deep seated, nonsensical connection to. It's hard to explain when you develop such a deep attachment to an article of clothing. It really doesn't make sense, but it absolutely does happen.
And it actually happened to me last year. I was with my husband at the Fashion Valley mall here in San Diego, and we were walking to the Apple Store to get new batteries for our iPhones. I saw it, and quite literally stopped in my tracks: This beautifully pleated dress from Vince.
However, I can't afford anything at Vince. So I gaped at it, took some photos, and decided I would just try to make it myself. For a fraction of the cost. (Which I actually did! Make sure to check out the full post on that sewing project--It was a difficult one.)
If you see something, you can make it. The sewing world has been making patterns for decades now. There is an extremely high probability that the dress you loved in that store is available in a pattern that you can find, and then purchase. For like $20. (Or, if you're more advanced, you can just make the pattern yourself, like I did with the Vince dress. #girlpower)
After buying the pattern, you can choose the fabric you love, the color you love, the texture you love. You can work on doing an exact replica of the dress in the store..
Or maybe you think it would look great in blue, instead of the black that was on display. You do you, because, you know, you can.
Why it's important to learn how to sew, reason #2: Free alterations (for life!)
I know so. many. people. that continually buy clothing from a retail store, even though it doesn't fit them well. Or at all really. And I've heard all the reasons: "I bet my mom could hem this real quick for me." Or: "I can just take this in to a tailor, it's on sale!" I get it.. But no.
If you knew even just the absolute basics of sewing, you would be able to do about 95% of the alterations you would ever need to do. Really. Of course, there are the extreme alterations--Like wedding dresses and tailoring mens' suits.
But for the most part, alterations are so. incredibly. simple.
Again, there are exceptions, but most general alterations (i.e. Hemming ANYTHING, taking in the waist, shortening a sleeve, changing out a button etc. etc.) are all very, very simple adjustments. And by learning how to sew, through all different types of projects, you would be able to do pretty much all of your alterations yourself.
Grab all of your supplies, a glass of wine, put on an episode of whatever. And instead of paying a tailor, you can buy yourself a book (or whatever your reward incentive is--mine are books, always) for all of your hard work.
And really, who wants to ask their mom to hem their pants? #notme
Why it's important to learn how to sew, reason #3: Repairing oldies, but goodies
Oh, repairs. It's a love/hate relationship. Isn't it a bit heartbreaking when the seam rips on one of your favorite dresses? Or when your best coat loses a button in the middle of winter? I feel like when this happens, way too many people just give up and throw the article of clothing in question away. And to me, that is what is heartbreaking.
For the most part, repairs are so incredibly simple. (Even easier than alterations, tbh.) Again, there are always exceptions, but generally speaking--Repairs are pretty easy. They just take a little bit of time.
All of the hard work has already been done, you just need to (quite literally) stitch the garment up a little bit. It's almost like a tiny little facelift, which we all are going to need at SOME point.
When I was working in New York I would do all of our in house coat repairs. I never took a single class on how to do repairs or alterations.. I just picked it up from sewing tons of different projects throughout the years. And you can too--I promise.
It is literally THE WORST to lose a button on your coat in the middle of a New York winter, and not be able to fix it. To not close your coat in February is not an option. Knowing how to sew and being able to do simple repairs would save you from many a horrible trudge to and from the subway.
See notes above on tailors overcharging, as well as taking repairs to your mom. It's just not necessary my friends. Also--We just so happen to have created a pretty comprehensive guide to repairing your own clothes.. Make sure to check out the full post!
Why it's important to learn how to sew, reason #4: Lower your impact on the fashion industry
As I am sure you are aware, the fashion industry isn't known for being the most ethical or environmentally friendly of industries. It's definitely not the worst, but it's definitely not the best. What might I be referring to? Concerning ethics, I'm referring to the fact that the fashion industry still promotes the use of animal fur, which absolutely blows my mind.
I love animals so incredibly much, and it makes me sick to think of people wearing their skins. I will never forget my first winter in New York, and the first time I saw a woman walking around in a fur coat. It literally stopped me in my tracks, I could not believe it.
Sweatshops are also still pretty dominant in the East, with absolutely horrible working conditions.
When I say the industry isn't the most environmentally friendly, I'm referring to the fact that there are so. many. factories that don't properly dispose of their waste, or are just completely wasteful in general. The industry is definitely getting better on this point--There are so many more sustainable brands that are trying to stop the wasteful nature of the fashion industry.
For those brands I am eternally grateful. Every single one of them counts, truly.
By sewing your own clothing, you lessen your impact on the fashion industry. You aren't supporting the brands that severely underpay their workers, or work with factories that don't care about the environment. You take your support for those two very unfortunate elements of the industry out of your equation, and lessen the demand for them.
It may not seem like your single contribution makes a difference, but IT ABSOLUTELY DOES. Don't ever think otherwise.
Why it's important to learn how to sew, reason #5: Discover a new creative outlet
And lastly, this is the fun part. We are all looking for creative outlets--Whether it's redesigning your home, learning how to paint, or going to a cooking class. Sewing is just another way to be creative, and it's an outlet that I don't think most people consider.
I think people often see designing clothes as being the creative part, but not so much the sewing. However--I would argue that sewing your own clothes absolutely can be creative. You find the design you want, pick your fabric, your colors, your thread, your buttons..
Almost every creative outlet out there involves working with your hands, which is what sewing is all about. Every single part of sewing up a project involves those 10 little fingers. And once you get reeeeally good at sewing, you don't even have to think about it sometimes. Your hands just know, and they make the moves that they need to.
One of the funner parts of a creative project is the end result--In this case, it would be your sewn up piece of clothing that you then get to wear. Most projects are only ever seen if someone visits your home and sees your painting on the wall, or eats the meal you've cooked.
But with a sewing project, your creative work is on display for everyone to see, everywhere. Pretty cool, right?