Last year I started sewing again. Before then, I had really only mended, or made items for the girls. Some really cute pinafores, in adorable prints, that they barely wore. My sewing machine just gathered dust for many years, with too many things on the to-do list for sewing to rise to the top. But then…one day as I was innocently scrolling through the squares of other people’s lives, I was motivated to sew the Fen Dress from Fancy Tiger Craft. I saw it on the Insta world of Taproot Magazine’s editor, Amanda. It was love at first square. That very day, I bought the pattern, went to my local fabric store, and found some inexpensive cotton yardage that would become a perfect dress. It was perfect.
I absolutely absorbed myself into a project that was for me, a gift of radical self care that I didn’t even know I needed. The first Fen I made is a representation of so much – trying something and really going for it, even though I didn’t totally know what I was doing. Making mistakes and learning so that the next dress I made was a little cleaner. I learned I could sew straight lines, despite what my inner critic would say. I learned I could make a beautiful neckline, and pockets, and that my iron was happy to be used for something other than fuse beads.
Since that first Fen, I’ve made pajama pants in every size for kids and big kids, and skirts with big pockets, and dresses with pockets, mermaid tails, hipster jogger pants, pants for myself, dresses, skirts for friends … my sewing table is a little reprieve from the to-do list. It’s a gift to myself, and a gift to someone else who gets to wear a handmade item. I’ve found other small pattern makers, like True Bias (hello Hudson pant and Ogden cami) and Sew Liberated. It feels so good to not only make my own clothes, but also to support small businesses that represent mamas, women, like-minded sisters who are living their intention out loud.
But here’s the deal with sewing: You don’t just get to sit down with your fabric and start sewing. There are so many steps before you even get to sit down to sew seams. There’s printing the pattern, and cutting and taping and laying the tracing paper down and cutting out the pattern, or having the pattern printed (for my most recent pattern purchase, the Hinterland Dress, I actually sent it to Pattnersy to have it printed and sent to me). So then I get to wait for the pattern to arrive, and will cut it out, and THEN I get to cut fabric. And then there’s the pinning, and the threading of the machine, and making sure I have the right needles and notions. It’s a reminder of slow living. Not rushing the process. And — that before the glorious dress or skirt gets made, ready for pockets to be filled with all the treasures I (or my littles) can imagine, there is work to be done. The slow and steady work to prepare for the masterpiece. And the slow and steady work is not only important — it’s mandatory.
So that’s where all this is leading to today: the slow and steady work, that feels hard and heavy and boring, is a huge part of the path. If I want to make a dress (which I do), I have to sit down and do the steps to even get to cut my fabric. If I want to live my most intentional, conscious, tender, vulnerable, heart-wide-open life, I get to practice in the quiet moments of life. I ground myself through yoga, through self-care, through the foods I put in my body or don’t, and speaking my intention. Apologizing when it’s necessary, and it’s necessary a lot, and staying in the conscious conversations that matter. I can just look at the picture of the dress and think it would be fun to make, but stop because there are too many steps before I get to sew a seam. Or I can walk though the less glamorous places to get to the glorious place I want to be. I get to choose which path I take, every day.
I’m choosing to take the steps. Baby steps. And wearing my handmade wardrobe in those little baby steps.