I’ve seen a lot of talk ’round the ol’ blogosphere lately about the much-used and maligned term “selfish sewing” to refer to a sewist sewing something for him/herself.
I wholeheartedly agree with Robin’s assessment that the term “selfish sewing” is pretty derogatory and de-values the work a sewist does for herself. There’s no reason why we should be expected to just make things for other people and be dubbed “selfish” when we don’t.
So while I agreed entirely with the sentiment, somehow her alternative term, “self care sewing,” just didn’t sit that well with me either. It wasn’t until recently while my mind was wandering during my drive home that I finally put my finger on why.
As I drove down Ward Parkway headed home from my office, my thoughts wandered to the whole “selfish sewing”/”self care sewing” conundrum, and I thought to myself, “Why do I have to call it anything different? Why can’t it just be sewing?”
And that, my friends, was my problem with the term “self care sewing.” As someone who sews for herself 90% of the time, pretty much all my sewing could be dubbed “self care sewing.” And while it’s true that sewing does good things for my mental state, and I definitely feel like I deserve to spend this time on myself, all things associate with the words “self care,” it still seemed like singling out sewing for myself with a special name makes it somehow unusual. And it’s not, at least not for me.
Do I distinguish between sewing I do for my kids, my husband, my friends, my house, with different names? No, I don’t. For me, it’s all just sewing.
Now I admit that as often as I hear “selfish sewing,” I hear people use the term “selfless sewing” to describe things made for other people. And I’m not a big fan of this term either. Describing something as “selfless” indicates to me that it’s not enjoyable. If I were to describe making N’s Geranium dress or J’s Poastal Pants or Albert’s Jedediah Pants as “selfless,” that indicates to me that I didn’t enjoy making them or would not have otherwise chosen to do so except for the fact that I wanted to make my case for sewing martyrdom. And that’s not true.
I rarely take on projects that I don’t enjoy or get something out of. I really like all the patterns I used, and I enjoyed making something entirely unique for my kids and my husband. And it turned out that J’s Poastal Pants were probably his most-worn garment last summer! Albert’s Jedediah Pants are probably the highest quality garment that I’ve ever made, I learned a TON, and he wears them all the time.
In the almost 3 years that I’ve been avidly sewing, there are probably only a few projects that I really didn’t enjoy making. For example, I kind of despise making crib sheets, even though I’ve made a total of 7 in my short sewing career (and will be making a couple more for a friend having her first baby) and I practically wanted to poke my eyes out while making the curtains and rocker cover for Baby J’s nursery. I guess that’s about as close as I’ve come to what I would dub “selfless” sewing. And I got something out of even those projects. I love how Baby J’s nursery turned out — it’s one of my favorite rooms in our house. And I love seeing my friend’s excitement as she plans and decorates for her first long-awaited baby, and I’m glad I can be a part of that.
So I guess this is my long way of saying why do we sewists always insist on de-valuing what we do by trying to distinguish and justify it? Why does any of our sewing have to be “selfish” or “self care” or “selfless”?
It’s all just sewing.
All the sewing that we do is valuable and valued. Everyone we’re sewing for, be it ourselves, our family, or complete strangers, deserves to have something special. We needn’t be derided or sainted for doing something we enjoy doing. So I at least, will keep on just doing what I do.
Join me in the revolution! Just sew!