Hand sewing is easy!
Surprisingly how little of it anyone does anymore. Is it an essential skill we could use all the time… for hemming?
You would not believe how we all make excuses for not hemming something. It seems so hard. Well, I am here to tell you, yes, it takes a little time, but it is also very gratifying.
How easy would it be to make a small seam if we only thought of it as something we do as a fundamental skill like any of the others? If there is a rip and what do we do, tape it, staple it, or glue it, instead of grabbing *a sewing kit?
At one time, they used to be in hotel drawers and included in any handy emergency kit. I haven’t seen one included in a long time.
…But I get people asking me if I can fix a button or sew a little seam that ripped. But most of all, to hem the simplest of straight edges.
Sometimes I think a little dingle ball or fringe would look good on my jean pockets or the neckline of a t-shirt… And I do grab a needle and thread and sew it on.
Have you ever wanted to tack a rolled-up sleeve that was all floppy? You grabbed a needle and thread to attach it better. You look and feel so much more comfortable. Even if the sewing shows or is ripped out from a too-big basting stitch, nothing else will rip, and it is charming. Add a quick sewn-on decoration too!
*I assembled some sewing kits as giveaways with my upcycle clothing orders while writing this blog.
Make a gathered shirt hem or sew pants that are too full to be flattering. Just thread the needle and make some big stitches for a gather there. Rei Kawakubo of Commes De Garcon did that in her line from the eighties. She made a rushing where you stitch two rows ¼” apart and pull them together placed randomly, but yours can work quite traditionally; just use big stitches and double thread to keep from breaking. Use big stitches, pull, and knot, and there you go.
Sewing is straightforward; although it looks great, it does not have to look perfect.
Hand-sewing is so foreign these days that we now have a name for hand-made clothing at home, a Slow Fashion. When I hand-sewed my first big sewing project as a kid, orange zinnia corduroy overalls, people were surprised it was possible.
After years of *hand-sewing clothes for my dolls, I was that girl. It did not seem possible to hand-sew a whole outfit, but I did. It was more accessible and convenient than setting up the sewing machine and hoping the tension worked.
This little girl is me. The outfit is entirely hand-sewn. It is a pair of overalls and a peasant blouse. If I could make this outfit at ten years old, anyone can. It did come years after sewing a lot of doll clothes by hand.
I decided to sew my clothes by hand when my mother encouraged me to find fabric to start. I went to the store with my best friend to buy fabric and a pattern to make whatever we wanted to wear, and I didn’t have a sewing machine. In those days, we had to buy a pattern from the store, but these days you can get patterns for free.
My mother was not the most domestic.
Though she famously made a zebra print long skirt, I have to find that picture! She made it, and I have only seen the orange sheath dress in black and white photos, but I see the color from an early childhood memory. She used a sewing machine that had been long gone.
My mother did not want to inflict homemade clothes on us, eat liver, or live with antique furniture. Funny, then I grew up to make many of my clothes, love liver on occasion, and appreciate antique furniture to the extent that it is ok to paint.
When things get back to a new normal, we are giving away little pre-threaded sewing kits to use for those quick fixes.
*Playing with dolls can be a game to keep girls from growing up too fast. People say girls mature earlier than boys. That’s not true. An interesting article about girls, especially young BIPOC girls, getting treated as if they were adults, and a wonderful woman who noticed, brought dolls for all the girls she encountered in her work to play like the kids they were.