Just Sew

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.

A few weeks ago, Robin from Pattern Revolution wrote a post pointing out the negative emotions that term connotes, and proposing an alternative term, “self care sewing.”

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!

Creative Counselor: Just Sew

0 thoughts on “Just Sew

  1. Yes! I love this. It seems to me that it’s mostly moms who use that term, most everyone else just calls it sewing. Mommy guilt I guess. I love sewing, and most of it is for me- and I don’t feel bad about that (most of the time).

  2. i completely agree with you! but i also agree with the mommy guilt–those pleading eyes every time i bring home new fabric… “is it for me???” sigh. i do enjoy sewing for my family, but i really have to shift my mindset. i’ve spent the past week making stuff for my oldest daughter, and i have to eliminate my sewing-for-me plans from my head in order to focus on her. actually, i think i’ve made more garments for others than for myself this year… but you’re right. it’s all just sewing!

    1. I get those pleading eyes too when I bring stuff home. I still don’t feel bad claiming it for myself but I do sometimes remind myself how much J especially loves it when I make something for him!

  3. I appreciate this being said. I imagine selfish sewing as sewing extravagantly for oneself without a care for anyone else. Sewing keeps me sane, well most of the time, and sewing for myself is better than me going out for retail therapy.

  4. Amen. Couldn’t agree more. Selfish sewing is about as bad as “Mom Guilt”. I’m 100% sure Royce thinks “Just Golf”. He doesn’t “Selfish Golf” when he goes out once (or more) a week. Anytime I can spend with my machine is a treat…no matter what I’m working on (ok except hemming pants and sewing on buttons bc those things are boring!).

    1. Yes those are boring! I once put off finishing a shirt for about 4 months because I didn’t want to sew on the buttons!

      And Mom Guilt is totally overrated.

  5. Ok, I’m not a mom, but I completely agree with this! 90% of my sewing is for me and I don’t feel selfish, I just do it to sew. I sew for my siblings too, and I do it because I enjoy it. I wouldn’t sew for them (or myself, for that matter) if I didn’t enjoy doing it.

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