It’s Just Sewing

I was having a typical conversation about my work with my roommate, discussing my multiple costume jobs and costume shop procedures, when he exclaimed, “It’s Just Sewing!”  This wasn’t the first time I had heard this point of view.  Numerous times people have expressed shock that I was paid for sewing.  How could I be paid for something that is so easy?  Since I know how to sew everything why would I charge money to do something that comes quickly to me and takes virtually no time?  Even though I no longer work as a costumer, after learning how the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013 killed over 1000 garment workers and injured about 2500, I was hopeful people might see the result of not thinking about how our clothing is made and who makes it.  Although Fashion Revolution Day is upon us, it unfortunately seems that sewing is still regarded with these attitudes:

Sewing is easy, I can’t believe you get paid for that.  Yes, sewing is still seen as women’s work.  If it is something your grandmother could do quickly and simply, why should you have to pay for it?  Because if you sat down to actually do it, you would know how complicated it can get.  All fabric seems to have a mind of its own and isn’t always easy to work with at first (or ever).  And, just like everyone else, seamstresses have days at work where nothing goes right.  We can’t avoid mistakes completely, which means going back, correcting our missteps and adding time to something that seams “easy.”  Sewing takes skill and time, but most people don’t understand that until they sit down at a machine and begin working.

If you know how to sew, you can sew everything.  Maybe there is someone who knows everything about sewing, but I have yet to meet them.  There are people I’ve met who know everything about a specific time period or style of clothing, or they are excellent tailors who thrive in menswear.  However, I haven’t worked with someone who has worked with every single kind of fabric and knows every detail of sewing.  If you’re sewing a material you’ve never worked with, chances are you won’t instantly know how to handle it because it will take time to learn how to work with it.  Like any subject, sewing takes practice, time to learn and everyone’s skill level is different.

You must want to sew all the time.  When you sew for a living, the last thing you want to do on your free time is more sewing.  I mostly worked on alterations in costume shops, after eight hours of hand-sewing suspender buttons to a pair of pants and adding Velcro or snaps to a garment to make it functional for fast costume changes during the show, my hands and wrists were sore and tired.  Going home to do more sewing was the last thing I wanted to do.  After a full day of office work, do you like to voluntarily take your paperwork home with you?  Probably not.  That’s exactly the attitude I had when it comes to sewing after working in a costume shop.

Since you work as a seamstress, you must love everything related to sewing.  Even though I was a seamstress, I am also a human being.  I enjoy things outside of sewing, including baseball, hiking, photography, yoga and a small group of British actors.  When I see a performance I look at the costumes, but it’s not the only thing I watch.  I see how the costumes contribute to the whole production.  Instead of just staring at the lead actor’s shoes, I look at the cohesion of the designs, acting, script, dialogue and storyline.  When a family member asked why I hadn’t read a book she recommended about seamstresses, I wanted to tell her, “My whole life isn’t about sewing! My life isn’t just pins, needles and thread; I am more than a seamstress.”

Perhaps it may not be possible to change how people perceive sewing unless you have them work on a sewing project.  It would be wonderful to be able to, but until that’s possible, I hope more people see the important lessons from Rana Plaza.  Those who make our clothing, whether they are garment works in a foreign country or costumers for a local performing arts company, take on complicated and difficult tasks that not everyone can do.  The work they do is more than “just sewing” or “women’s work.”  On Fashion Revolution Day, when I ask #whomademyclothes on social media, I recognize all seamstresses, tailors and drapers with respect and agree that they all deserve basic human rights.  I will continue to advocate for them until others feel the same, even if that means I have to go to every home with a sewing machine and sit everyone in the household down for a sewing lesson.

This post is part of Inspire Me Monday hosted by Create With Joy, Flog Your Blog Friday hosted by With Some Grace and Sweet Inspiration hosted by My Sweet Things, Repurposing Junkie, Kreativ K and Boondocks Blog.

With Some Grace
My Sweet Things

18 Comments

  1. Keri

    Brooke, I only know how to do basic sewing, so I’m amazed by someone with your talent and skills.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Keri. I can’t wait to check out your blog, it sounds fantastic and I love that you’re into re-purposing.

  2. fancycorrectitude

    So much I didn’t know about sewing! Thanks for sharing!!

    Adi xx
    http://www.fancycorrectitude.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks. I’m glad I could bring a new point of view to your knowledge of sewing!

  3. Trendy Chickadee

    Such an amazing skill to have – I’m jealous!

    XO
    Molly
    http://www.trendychickadee.com

  4. Amy Arnold

    I think sewing well is so hard! I can totally see why you are paid for it.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Amy! I’m glad there are a few people out there who truly understand the work that goes behind sewing. I’ve run into so many people who don’t understand the difficulty and the kind of skills you need to have to sew.

  5. CHRISTINA KEY

    Interesting post! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing. ♥

    XX,
    Photography & Fashion Blog

    http://www.CHRISTINAKEY.com

  6. asallows

    I think sewing is incredibly difficult! And takes a tonne of practice. I wish I could sew well!

    https://forsevenseasons.wordpress.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Always good to find more people who understand that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. Trang Do

    I know how to do sewing! Such an amazing skill! Great post dear!
    Xoxo,
    Love from http://www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m glad to find more people who know how to sew and appreciate the work that goes behind it! Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

  8. KreativK

    Hi Brooke! My mother was a seamstress and showed me some basic sewing. I do own a sewing machine and I’m glad to know how to trim curtains, make some pillow cases and easy “stuff” like that! I know it’s not that easy actually and takes a lot of time and concentration, so it’s definitely not just sewing! It’s so much more! I can’t even think of the time and effort it takes to make dresses or anything difficult like that! Thank you so much for sharing at Sweet Inspiration #4! Have a lovely weekend!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thank you for sharing your personal sewing experiences! As you mentioned, some tasks can be easier, but no matter what project you take on, it’s not as easy as it sounds or looks. That’s great you are still sewing and appreciate the effort it takes! Hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

  9. jennie1969

    I love sewing, but I certainly wouldn’t just be volunteering my services for free! I don’t think most people I know can sew, even the simple basics, so I am pretty sure they would agree with paying someone for their skill. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Jennie! I’m glad there are people out there who realize the skill and dedication it takes to sew. I’m also excited to meet another seamstress! 🙂

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