When I was younger my life’s ambition was to become a fashion designer. As a child, I taught myself to sew by hand and made clothing for my dolls. When I became a bit older, I was given a sewing machine for Christmas and taught myself how to use that as well. I started modifying handed down clothing by sewing on accents, cutting off sleeves and raising hemlines. This gradually led to practicing basic original designs until I learned how to perfect them. While a career in fashion is not what I am currently pursuing, sewing still allows me a creative outlet.
Sewing for the modern woman seems to be, on the whole, a long forgotten skill. Spending an afternoon practicing a stitch can come across as antiquated ‘woman’s work’, especially when it is a hobby and not a career path. A trip to the fabric store is usually punctuated by awkward conversations with elderly ladies buying itchy floral fabric and doily-like lace. In this day and age, sewing is no longer a young person’s game.
Despite its archaic implications, sewing can be an excellent mode of self-expression. I recently taught myself to knit since it requires much less equipment than fashion design and is more conducive to a student flat. While I am still learning all of the unique knitting stitches, I can’t help but miss the freedom of my needle and thread. Being able to drape a piece of flat fabric onto a form and manipulate it to create something three dimensional pales in comparison to the scarves I am limited to at my current level of knitting. Sewing enables you to shift something from a mental representation into real life. Learning and practicing construction also provides a deeper understanding of how garments will fit.
Needlecraft is no longer taught in most schools, but I do believe that it is a valuable skill to have. If you have an eye for design and a passion for fashion, tailoring might be the new activity for you. It is easiest to get started by working on smaller simple items such as a tote bag. With the internet now at our fingertips, there are many readily accessible tutorials online to help beginners learn. The Mica Home Store on South Street has a basic selection of needles, thread, and pins. There is nothing stopping any lay person from entering the world of fashion design, and it doesn’t require a formal education either. So pick up some supplies, start sketching out your designs, and get stitching!