Skip to main content

Sewing as a Spiritual Practice


Somewhere at the end of a thirteen hour workday, there is peace. After the phones, the email, the commute, and the drudgery, there is the machine, and where the machine meets the fabric, there is a measure of happiness.

Projects come and go, sometimes before they're ever finished; no point going too far down the wrong path. Some sewing earns money, some of it even prepaid, but it's never just about the money. It can't be. It must be about the work, the quality, the sense of internal harmony that comes as I watch the foot glide down the seamline. 

Away from the needle plate, I am split, scattered, overworked; but there at the machine, I have some control. If I measured it right, and cut it right, and kept my seams straight and even, I will get the result. And as I go, I learn more and more, until I can change the patterns and adapt the designs and build things that better suit me. And that makes me happy.

But there's something else. The more I can control my sewing, the more confidence I gain for other aspects of my work. Every time someone compliments my work, I grow a little. Every time someone offers me money for my designs, I move a little closer to the day that sewing is all I do, everything I need.

My focus on the foot may seem obsessive, and maybe sometimes it is, but as I zoom in on the seamline, my problems can't hold on, and a lot of them go flitting off into space, never to return. I am achieving, I am doing well at doing well. I shift from a human doing to a human being, simultaneously creating and being re-created by the work. 

It is a fine, fine place to be. I highly recommend it.

Popular posts from this blog

strategic sewing

Enough diversions into the theory of motivation and how the mind works -- let's get it working!!

Trying to take a more strategic approach to sewing, I spent some time looking for a somewhat smaller bag pattern than my current one. Don't get me wrong, it's a great pattern, but it's larger and very hard to cut the pattern down. I found Kwiksew 4093 to be a very good, strategic choice:


This pattern supports two different size bags, both capable of a quilted "patchwork" look. The quilting doesn't just happen on the front, it can be extended to the sides and strap, as this diagram shows:
The pattern pieces are neat, with seam allowances assumed but not marked, which allows me to more easily reconfigure the parts. I can create:
a purse made from a single piece of fabric (if the pattern is symmetric along the grain), a quilted patchwork, or a standard front-back-gusset arrangement, all by combining pattern pieces before I cut.

In addition, this pattern uses a muc…

Summer Vacation

I took the summer off. Not sure exactly why, except that I couldn't find the perfect gusset.

That might be the strangest summer vacation story I ever heard, and I haven't even told it yet. But bear with me.

In case you didn't know, the gusset is the strip of material that gives a bag width. See Google for more on this. Making a really nice bag means sewing around the curve in three dimensions. That's hard to do, so most videos today demonstrate box corners, which make the bag round with a kind of rectangular bottom.

Box corners are weird to me for several reasons. First, you get these floating, short seams at the bottom. Second, these short seams are hard to sew straight and even, so they often look seriously homemade. Third, the top and bottom of the bag aren't the same shape, so there's some difference in how the bag feels – and carries – from bottom to top.

But mainly, I don't like it because it feels like a cheat. I know some people like these kind of b…

Conserving Willpower

A little time management goes a long way.

At this particular moment, 90% of my projects are waiting on somebody else. Maybe it's a decision, or some data, or something I just can't do, but the work is idled just the same.  It would be easy to feel frustrated, but it's really an opportunity for gratitude.

First, I'm grateful that I can actually know where my work stands. The whiteboard in my workroom has a brief list of priorities, down the right side. All I have to do is look, and I remember the current status of that project.

Second, I'm working my priorities. Every day starts with me trying to move #1 forward. Every phone call or e-mail has me checking the list to see if I should switch to a higher level project.

Third, my willpower reserves are "pressed down and overflowing." Since my brain isn't in spin mode, trying to figure out what's next, my head is clear, and I don't have that feeling of an unknown task in an unknown state looking ove…