I’ve always loved working with my hands, especially in ways that combine the creative with the highly technical. Throughout college I worked repairing books in my school’s library, and when I graduated I worked for a sculpture conservation firm. Worried that the chemicals I was inhaling on a daily basis were going to cause me to grow extra fingers, I went back to school, this time to study library and information science. I’ve since graduated and become an archivist. I work in a very small, specialized archive, and while I enjoy what I do, I spend a lot of my day sitting in front of a computer, and I missed making things.
So I started to sew. I had some experience, having made dance and theater costumes throughout college, but I had never really taken the time to learn to do it right. I was determined that this time should be different.
As it turned out, teaching myself to sew has been an almost philosophical endeavor, or at least an exercise in self-betterment. Through sewing, I am learning to slow down, to be present and patient and precise. I am learning that I should strive for excellence rather than perfection, and that I can hold myself to a high standard while simultaneously giving myself the credit I deserve for the things I have done well. I am learning to be aware but uncritical of my own body.
I am also learning to think more about consumerism, about where the things we buy come from and what that means for our world. Sewing is wonderful in that it frees us from being beholden to clothing companies with questionable ethical practices and helps us to break patterns of hyper-consumption. But it is easy to fall back into those same patterns when it comes to fabric and all the other accoutrements of sewing. And because fabric is rarely branded, it can be even more difficult to find out about the conditions under which fabric was produced than it is to find the same information about clothing.
Keeping this in mind has led me to start collecting and sewing mostly with vintage materials. While my style is not overtly retro, I love starting off with something that has a history. It feels good to rescue these lovely, storied things from basements and attics and turn them into something that feels really special. Recently, I’ve started selling some of my collection on Etsy. I hope these pieces will make their way to others who will treasure them for their history and give them new life.