Yesterday in my belly dancing class we learned to hold the veil and work with it while dancing. Holding the veil hurt the claw part of my hand, because I’ve been handsewing more of late. The pain in my extremeties served a bittersweet reminder of my love and bondage; it spoke aloud of something that will be with me for the life I have, as long as I’m able:
Because I love sewing. Times one million.
I’ve been sewing since tempus immemoria, i.e. always. And over the years I’ve been annoyed by, to some extent large or small, the following:
1. The elitist, sizeist, racist, ableist, etc. buffet our current glut of craft books and websites are serving up. This needs so much unpacking I had to write up a separate post.
2. “You should / could sell those!” Really? Because I’ve never heard anyone say that before. Or no wait, I hear it all the time.
I understand this is delivered as a compliment 99.44% of the time. That’s cool. And it’s interesting that from the lips of so many springs the concept that the ultimate compliment is deigning my work fit for commoditization or earning potential. Huh.
A tip: those who sell things usually mass-produce them at some level. This is not for everyone. Some of us who sew shudder at the very thought of making two identical pillowcases (hello!), let alone churning out one after another diaper cover. Some sewists thrive on this sort of thing, sure. I personally know several. But when someone spies my crayon roll- up (genius!) and says you should sell those, they don’t seem to realize if I took their “advice” I’d be making a bunch of crayon roll-ups instead of other stuff, and the resultant item would be something that would either end up being more expensive than I could unload easily, or it would necessitate a whole wholesale fabric / factory-style construction / mailing center / production workshop. And me making the same thing over and over. And: no.
These days I simply smile and say, “If I sold them I wouldn’t have time to sew for my family.” Ralph says I’m getting good at this.
What I say to other crafters:
“Wow, that’s fantastic.”
“How long did that take you to make?”
“Do you sell those?”
“I’m impressed. How long have you been making those?”
3. “My mom/Granny/whomever used to make all our clothes.” Really? Did she do anything else, ever? Did she bonsai kitten you into a glass jar so you didn’t grow?
I have no doubt some moms (grandmothers, aunts, fathers, etc. etc.) did in fact make close to 100% of their progeny’s garments (though: socks? underwear? shoes? really?). However the number of times I hear this, I’m pretty sure many have exaggerated. Before I sewed a lot I used to say this about my own childhood wardrobe and I think I’ve even heard my mom say it. Until I look at the pictures in the photo album and yeah, I’m rockin’ some homemade digs but a lot of non-homemade stuff too. To the extent cheap labor and crappy enviro-pillage occurs it’s currently a bit cheaper to buy ready-made (although not necessarily quality) than the materials and time-effort going into homemade. This wasn’t always the case, though, and some people did used to sew quite a bit.
It annoys me to hear it because it’s all part of a conversation that cheapens the time and effort needed for high-quality, sturdy clothes. As if a half-hour a day thrown here or there could clothe a growing family.
What you could consider saying to crafters instead:
“My mom/Granny/whomever used to sew clothes for me. I loved (/hated) them!”
“How much time did it take to make that?”
“How much time do you spend sewing?”
“I seem to remember my mom made so much of our clothing. I wonder why so few do so now.”
4. “Will you make me one of those? I could pay you [ some incredibly small amount for your time and the materials ].”
These days I will do it for free or not at all. Because first off, again, my goals do not include earning currency. Secondly, if I charged someone a fair price it would be more than most people are willing to pay (trust me!). So the offer of $25 for a full dress and pintucked pinafore, including fabric costs, is insulting (true example!). But a request for a gift is flattering (I may not say yes, but it never hurts to ask).
5. “OMG I would love to sew but I just don’t have time.”
Right. I have loads of it to spare! Why don’t I come over and do the rest of your lifework so you can sew, if you’re not too busy!
OK, no more sarcasm, but: Hey guess what! I made all that time! I elbowed other things out of the way! It has been long, mostly joyous, occasionally hard, haul! It’s not like I just had time lying around!
6. “OMG, did you make that? That is so cool! I totally want to sew but I just can’t get past blah-blah, one time I made such-and-such, and everyone loved it blah-blah”
My sewing is All About You, so thank you!
7. “You need new curtains? Why don’t you just make them? You can sew anything!”
FUCK YOU*, I totally hate sewing lots of things, including home dec, duvets, cushion-covers, etc. Just because I can make things doesn’t mean it wouldn’t kill my soul to undertake the effort (recent potholder-fail, I am looking at you!).[ / asshattery, mine ]
* I don’t literally think “Fuck you” towards hardly anyone, it’s more like I think “fuck you” towards curtains.