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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, January 9, 2015

If you really loved me there would be welt pockets

I am sure I am not the only sewer who went through this before the holidays, probably months before.

You have family and some of them are far away. 

You want to give them something special, something of yourself, something they can't get at a store. You hope for those "my mom made it" connections. You want them to see in something from your hands your feelings for them.

I saw a Pinterest saying a while ago.

It said "I wouldn't miss you if you were here."

Boom, right to the heart that one.

Now those are words you can't say out loud. 

Not to a child who is living their own good life in the place where they should be. If you said it you wouldn't feel any better and they would feel much worse.

So you keep those thoughts to yourself or you tell them to another mother so you don't have to explain a thing. Someone reading this right now knows exactly what I mean.

And you decide to make them something instead.

But because you have so much to express, you want a project to match. To a sewer that means real good fabric and something that requires real work. 

On this basis I decided before Christmas I wanted to make everyone shirts. My job intervened however and I only got one made, which made me feel terrible in case it looked like shirt boy was more loved than napkin girl or heaven forbid more than the girl who got tops ordered online.

The thing is when the wrapping paper settled Christmas morning, it turned out everyone was pretty happy, maybe the online top recipient the most.

But we did discuss sewing over the course of the day. Two of my children, my son's girlfriend who is a hobby herbalist, and my son in NYC had requests: 

  • I would love an apron to wear when I work with plants. Would it be too hard to have pockets on it?
  • Mom I really need a bag for dirty clothes when I travel. I don't know if you can do this - but a sort of square bag with a drawstring you can pull on top. He even sent me dimensions.
A bag and an apron.

This made me feel so bad - that's it? - till I figured it out.

If you don't sew, what matters most to you is something you can't buy exactly the way you want it yourself, not the complexity of the project.

Like that time I made my mother those elastic waist A-line skirts out of quilting cotton and all the ladies at church wanted to know where she got them.

So maybe I learned something.  For years I have given made-by-me gifts with the comment "Hope it fits, it nearly killed me to make it." Not completely cool or in the spirit really.

When sewing to give you have to look at what the recipient can't do themselves, rather than through sewer's eyes.

What do you think?


Jean Miller said...

Your comment, "Not to a child who is..." brought tears to my eyes. Love reading your blog.

Jean Miller said...

Your comment, "Not to a child who is living their own good life..." brings tears to my eyes. She is only three hours away, but I miss her and her little family. Among other, much bigger gifts, I made her little boy an apron as she requested, and hot pads for him and her, the kind she likes. Not too thick. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it very much.

Cactusneedle said...

As hard as it is for us, it's better to make something that they request. You want them to think of you when they use the item, right? If they ask for a particular item, you can be assured they will use it often, therefor thinking of you often. :)

KellysSewing said...

I think you are a very wise woman. Can you repost this on your blog next November? I really want to remember this.

Kay said...

Egg-zactly: "If you don't sew, what matters most to you is something you can't buy exactly the way you want it yourself, not the complexity of the project." And the things that are simple to make often are received with as much - or more! - enthusiasm as the hardest to make.

This year I made only 1 gift; a crocheted, hooded cape. My DIL made a specific request, and there was no pattern even close. My past crochet experience is scarves and chihuahua sweaters. But the internet is a wonderful thing. I looked up the cape on Google Image search ( see it here at http://www.farfetch.com/shopping/item10823746.aspx), found out how to do a bobble stitch, and ordered white yarn. Then more white yarn, then 2 more orders. It took 17 skeins in all, and countless hours. I'm so glad she's small! But it turned out beautifully, and she loves it. About as much as my other DIL loved the frothy little scarf I knitted with 1 skein of angora/silk lace yarn in about 3 hours. Both gifts were 1 of a kind, and They reacted to the finished product, not the work that went into finishing them.

I do have to say I'm exceedingly proud of figuring out how to do that cape. And I saved $5,400! :-)

SewRuthie said...

Great stuff. Make a lovely apron and a great laundry bag and all will be happy!

Accordion3 said...

I reckon all gifts are about what the giftee wants/needs not what the gifter wants/needs to do. So much more easily said than done!

Love the requests for an apron and drawstring bag. I've had similar requests for something really simple but much desired. I've also had the request to "just take up the cuff a few centimetres, you just cut it off and stitch it on??

Oh well!

Jacq C said...

Beautifully said, you are so eloquent. My little niece asked Santa for an Elsa dress but she doesn't like scratchy seams. Every french seam I made on that dress was worth it, she's barely taken it off! Bet they will be the best apron and drawstring bag ever :)

Diana said...

I realized this quite a while ago however I do still like to make Christmas presents. My theory now is ... I'll make them something they didn't know they wanted, aka this year's twisted fur infinity scarves which were a great hit !

Catherine p said...

You are so smart. Better something they really want and will use with loving thoughts than something that will be put away as unneeded.

donnyb said...

This post totally resonates with me - with our son on the other side of Canada and our daughter soon to head off to another continent. So I make "care packages" of things which I know they like (sewn or baked) and which make me feel in touch with them. I look forward to reading your blog, even though I don't usually comment. Lyn (in Vancouver)

Laceflower said...

Nail - Head, you hit it. I don't know how people who don't sew get through the day!

garnet128 said...

Well said! I would ask you to be my mom, adopt me maybe, but I think I am older than you. Oh well, I guess I just have to continue to absorb your incredible wisdom through your blog.

Summer Flies said...

Exactly. Well put. I get requests from my niece (who I am happy to oblige as she so appreciates it)..well not even requests, she mentions she can't get 'x' exactly how she wants it and I say "is that all??"... same the really simple stuff like a yoga mat carry bag and a pair or shorts in lycra to go under a wetsuit when caving in NZ (don't ask). So easy... about 1 hour each project and BAM she thinks I'm the best aunty (out of 5 that's pretty good!). I love making people I love the little things they really want and they think you are a magician... ta da!

Anonymous said...

This is so true, my daughter on the east coast wanted me to sew a hood/scarf combo in spiderman fleece. she's 20.......

Bunny said...

I so get all of this. I think most sewing mothers will.

"I wouldn't miss you if you were here." That's what our kids tell us. It is to the point where they have greatly facilitated moving back to their area and frankly, at this point, we are both looking very forward to it. It all circles round. But there is nothing like knowing your children are caring, productive adults who can support those they love. When you are away from them that really warms the heart. Great post.

Digs said...

Great post. The "could you make me this simple thing that would make my life easier" really resonates.