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Why I sew & what it means to me

In the about section of this website you can read my initial reasons. But since it has become so much more to me. After my first classes I shared my excitement with some friends and the question of why one would want to learn to sew came up. And this made me think to share all the reasons why I sew. Recently I stumbled across some older pictures of my first projects and was really pleased about the long way I had come. When I started, almost 3 years ago (wow I can’t believe it’s been that long already), I just wanted to try out a new hobby. I lived on a small island in Malaysia and wanted to escape the island fever. I shared with my mum that I was looking for a hobby and she mentioned that she always wanted to learn how to sew. We found a small shop which sold mainly Singer and I bought the cheapest non branded machine. I didn’t want to spend a fortune in case I won’t like sewing. Looking back now, the machine wasn’t great. It was (or is) very loud and the foot paddle gets stuck some times. I was very determent to make it work and pushed through the initial challenges. Sometimes, my partner says the swearing has reduced since I have my new sewing machine from Brother :D

I love looking at these old pictures. It brings a big smile to my face. As a beginner, I started small and have sewn up a lot of tote bags. Tote bags are a great way to start sewing as you end up just sewing straight lines and practice keeping that seam allowance. Another great beginner project to practice those straight lines are quilts. I made two: one little quilt which Molly, the cat, uses now to snooze on, and another one for my nephew. Because there are so many little pieces to join and top-stitch, it really ends up being a labour of love.

Hobby & Therapy in one While sewing is a great way to pass time, it can also be so relaxing - unless you have to unpick something. Some projects might be quick, others can take a little longer, some are simple and others more challenging. Whatever project you might choose, it surely will help you to take your mind of and help you relax.

It helped me a lot during times where I wanted to leave the island I lived on. It certainly wasn't an easy life but we made the most out of it and it brought sewing into my life. At other times it brought me joy that I made something that fit only me and more recently it took my mind of a job and company I didn't like working for (which I quit since). Imagine that I used to be so frustrated and angry coming home from work and the soothing sounds of my sewing machine made all the anger and frustrations fade away.

My first garment was a skirt - basically a large rectangle to cover the widest part of my body with an elastic at the top. I still have the skirt, although it doesn't fit me anymore but I keep it as a memory. My first dress was a tunic (see picture above). I copied an existing tunic dress which has an elastic under the bust for fitting. That is another great tip for first garments - anything with an elastic. You might not like it but at least it reduces the amount of fitting involved. Now I have moved on to more advanced projects. My proudest one is still my Anorak. This year I would like to make a coat for my partner and myself. I think I will start with that around September to ensure I have enough time till December (Christmas holiday at home).

Stressless shopping I know I am not alone when I am going to say, I don’t really like shopping for clothes. I am a pear shape and finding clothes that fit can be exhausting and frustrating. While the unflattering light in clothing stores is one complaint, the other would be finding the right size for me. If it fits at the top, it’s too tight at the bottom and wise-versa. When you sew for yourself, it doesn't have an industry-defining size. It is whatever size you want to it be :) But also think about the quality of the clothes you buy. I remember buying T-Shirts/Tops in one of the high street shops and while it was soft and great at first that feeling faded soon and didn't last me more than 6 months. Ok, I didn't pay a fortune for it but that is not very lasting and at what cost has it been made (scroll down to Sustainability & Fast Fashion Sources).

The first fabric shopping had been quite difficult. A lot of times I thought cottons were too thick to wear (considering I lived in 30+ degrees weather with high humidity), I knew I had to learn with these fabrics. And I am glad I did. Although I might not wear these garments anymore, it has perfected my skills. Cotton is a great fabric for beginner and offers a lot of fun prints.

Shopping online for fabric can be quite hit and miss. I certainly have a few fabrics in my stash I wanted to know what they feel like because someone in a YouTube video has spoken about it. Again, I am glad I did it. I now use these fabrics for samples of my classes, or toiles.

During my travels in South East Asia as well as London and Australia, I managed to touch as many different fabrics as I could find to have a better understand of drape and structure to improve my online ordering. Now that I have learned more about fabrics, I am willing to spend more on high quality fabrics to make lasting garments rather than just looking for bargains. The only stressful thing about online ordering and shipping from UK (or elsewhere) to Dubai is the waiting for delivery.

I also buy only natural fibers. For once, I don't have to worry about melting Polyester under the iron but also living in a hot climate it makes more sense to have breathable fabrics.

Have a look at my different Fabric & Pattern Hauls and check the blog post I wrote about Fabric Shopping on Tour.

Sustainability & Fast Fashion

This is an on-going topic and needs to be spoken more about. I would like to share a few sources with you to highlight this topic:

Love to Sew Podcast - the girls covered two episodes on sustainability & sewing and they are really insightful.

We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet.

-Fashion Revolution-

People might not be interested in making their own clothes but they should more and more ask who made their clothes. Check out all details about the initiative Fashion Revolution.

I am sure many other sewists agree with me on the above. What are your reasons? Comment below.

Sewing is no longer your grandma's idea of crafting. Sewing is fashion and you can make it yourself.

For any newbies out there - particular in Dubai - join me to learn to sew and create your own fashion.

Thanks for hanging out with me. Happy Sewing!

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