How will I make this Beautiful?

How I have not been writing about this sewing class I’ve been taking this whole time, I don’t know. I guess I’ve just been kind of focused on being there and not reflecting on it until it was over. That doesn’t mean I haven’t taken a ton of photos though.

I mean…come on.

Taking this sewing class has simply been something I did because I’ve wanted to for so long and the universe was like here ya go. So although there was a part of me that was reluctant to “sacrifice” my time, I knew that I was really just responding to a lifetime being intimidated by something my mom did with ease in my household for years as I was growing up but the part of me that has been rapt with fascination by Fashion, Project Runway and DIY craft for years said yes.

The most frightening and at the same time most amazing thing to me about sewing anything is taking a piece of cloth and having to trust that if you follow instructions you will turn that raw textile into something functional and beautiful.

For example.:

Our teacher will have us cut out squares of denim in order to make welt pockets for a messenger bag which was our second project. When I’m looking at these pieces of denim I’ve cut with my clumsy non expert fingers, all  can see is ragged edges and potential disaster. LOL!!!

It’s awful but true. And with things like this I become an obsessive perfectionist, which means nothing good, which means I over correct, over literalize, and then I become paralyzed. I’m doing nothing but looking down and grumbling internally.  I can’t do that in sewing class. I have to just listen, trust, watch and do. Next thing you know I have this fucking clean, beautiful, dope ass welt pocket with sharp, pressed corners and I’m like, did I do that? How did I do that?

But I did. I did it. I’m doing it. It’s being done.

Fabric is a material a medium for construction just like anything else, like brick, paint, food, paper, yarn, ideas. Everything we wear started out as raw unshaped material, as an idea. Sure, machines do a lot of the work that creates much of the apparel we purchase these days but that was only after the pattern and blue print that was created originally by human minds and hands.

Like many of us, my mind sometimes grinds on itself at the thought of having to make something I have never made before that I could easily go out and buy. Especially with a craft I have no confidence or practice in. Most women even now own a needle and thread or a sewing kit. Wait do you? I do. But I was raised by a certified West Indian seamstress. Well anyway, even if we do have needle and thread, we rarely if ever use it. We think ourselves incapable of creating things that will be as beautiful or functional as something we can purchase elsewhere. Who has time for that?

Well you have time for whatever you make time for. And making something, anything with your own hands requires you to first understand that everything made by man can be made by you. Then you have to let go of the ideas of what it means to be the person who makes these things so well because you won’t create anything the way others do. You will follow the same instructions but you will do things differently. We may all have the same projects but what we produce will not be like anyone else’s.

I love to see the smile on my teacher’s face when he looks at each stage of completion in our garments, because each piece he sees, he’s never seen before and he can see the commitment in our work. I imagine that that feels very rewarding for him on many levels. Because creating something is like giving birth but helping someone to discover their potential to create something they never thought it was possible to create. That’s got to be an amazing feeling.

Because I’m a philosopher at heart, I’ve been asking myself questions about my life based on what I’ve been learning in sewing class about molding fabric into garments. Questions like, when you acquire a material with a vision in mind for your life and end up never using it, or start using it but never finish, what does that mean? Why do you feel like you can’t take that raw material and make your life beautiful especially if it’s material that you were born with? What’s stopping you? Fear of failure? Lack of confidence? Low self esteem? Laziness?

Of course these are all questions I’m asking myself. Is that why I have a collection of unfinished projects, or finished projects with no direction that are never revealed, never made functional?

This sewing class has only been about six or seven week and not once have I ever felt like a failure. I’ve felt intimidated, challenged, frustrated and impatient but never like quitting. My natural tendency towards a love of making things as well as an inherited attention to garment structure prevails . And I just always keep in mind that on the first day of class our teacher’s one and only demand and challenge to us was that:

“It must be beautiful.”

That is literally his motto. And you know when it’s beautiful and when it’s not and part of that knowing has to do with how it will function both practically, aesthetically and emotionally.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask for at all, not from sewing class and not from life.


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