The Bustier Vest is on a manequin


Hand sewing is easy! 

Surprisingly how little of it anyone does anymore. It is a basic skill we could use all the time… for hemming?

You would not believe how we all make excuses for not hemming something. It seems so hard. Well, I am here to tell you yes it takes a little time but it is also very gratifying.

How easy would it be to make a small seam if we only thought of it as something we do as a basic skill like any of the others?  If there is a rip and what do we do, tape it, staple it, glue it, instead of grabbing *a sewing kit?

At one time, they used to be in hotel drawers and included in any handy emergency kit. I haven’t seen one included in a long time.

…But I do get people asking me if I can fix a button or sew a little seam that ripped. But most of all to hem the simplest of straight edges.

Sometimes I think a little dingle ball or fringe would look good on my jean pockets or the neckline of a t-shirt… And I do grab a needle and thread and sew it on.

Have you ever wanted to tack a rolled-up sleeve that was all floppy, you grabbed a needle and thread to attach it better? You look and feel so much more comfortable. Even if the sewing shows or it is ripped out from a too big basting stitch, nothing else is going to rip and it is charming. Add a quick sewn-on decoration too!

*While writing this blog I put together some sewing kits as giveaways with my upcycle clothing orders.

It is so very doable to make a gathered shirt hem or sew pants that are too full to be flattering. Just thread the needle and make some big stitches for a gather there. Rei Kawakubo of Commes De Garcon did that in her line from the eighties. She made a rushing where you stitch two rows ¼” apart and pull them together placed randomly but yours can work quite traditionally, just use big stitches and double thread to keep from breaking. Use big stitches pull and knot and there you go.

To emphasize:

Sewing is pretty easy and although it looks great it does not have to look perfect.

Hand-sewing is so foreign these days that we now have a name for clothing that is hand-made at home, slow fashion. When I hand sewed my first big sewing project as a kid, orange zinnia corduroy overalls, people were surprised it was possible.

It wasn’t so weird to me after years of *hand sewing clothes for my dolls, yes I was that girl. It did not seem possible to hand sew a whole outfit but I did. It was actually pretty easy and maybe more convenient than setting up the sewing machine and hoping the tension was working.

This little girl is me. The outfit is completely hand-sewn. It is a pair of overalls and a peasant blouse. If I could make this outfit at ten years old anyone can. It did come years after sewing a lot of doll clothes by hand.

How I decided to sew my own clothes by hand was when my mother encouraged me to find some fabric to get started. I went to the store with my best friend to buy fabric and a pattern to make whatever we wanted to wear and I didn’t have a sewing machine. In those days we had to buy a pattern from the store but these days you can get patterns for free.

My mother was not the most domestic, though she famously made a zebra print long skirt, I have to find that picture! She made it, and the orange sheath dress that I have only seen in black and white photos, but I see the color from an early childhood memory. She used a sewing machine that had been long gone.

My mother did not want to inflict homemade clothes on us, eat liver, or live with antique furniture. Funny then I grew up to make a lot of my own clothes, love liver on occasion, and I can appreciate antique furniture to the extent that it is ok to paint it.

*side note: When things get back to a new normal, we are giving away little pre-threaded sewing kits to use for those quick fixes.

*Playing with dolls can be a game to keep girls from growing up too fast. People say girls mature earlier than boys. That’s not true. An interesting article about girls, especially young BIPOC girls get treated as if they were adults, and a wonderful woman who noticed, brought dolls for all the girls she encountered in her work to just play like the kids they actually were.

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