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Readers, sometimes I get so caught up in the drama of whatever sewing project I’m involved in that I forget why I’m sewing in the first place. Does this every happen to you?

Here are my personal top ten reasons why I love to sew.

1. It feels great to make something out of virtually nothing.
It still amazes me that I can turn ordinary fabric and some thread into something I can actually wear. If the fabric is cheap, even better, but it’s not essential; I’d sew even if it weren’t!

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2. Sewing is a fantastic creative outlet.
I have always been interested in the arts, be it film, theater, music, fashion, or dance. For me there is nothing more fun than choosing a project (ideally some long-forgotten vintage pattern), finding the right fabric for it, and then slowly watching it be transformed into a three-dimensional garment.

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3. I love the challenge.
Sewing is challenging in countless ways. As I mentioned, it feels great to start with something mundane (bedsheets!) and see what I can turn it into; it’s fun to push ourselves and go beyond what we think we can do. Isn’t that part of the reason for the popularity of shows like “Project Runway?” (What will they be asked to sew with next: packing peanuts, cardboard, and bottle caps? Go for it!)

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4. It’s exciting to work with my hands.
Most of us are no longer doing work — let alone earning a living — that involves making anything. But there are few things as satisfying; it seems to be part of our human DNA. I don’t entirely understand why, but it is.

5. When you’ve finished a project, you — or someone you love — has something new to wear!
What could be more thrilling after spending hours sweating over a sewing machine and fussing with pattern matching and buttonholes than to have a brand-new outfit — or two!

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6. Sewing feels like self-sufficiency.
To use a sewing machine most of us depend on electricity, which we’re probably not providing ourselves, as well as on the people who weave the fabric, create the notions, design the patterns, etc. Still, doesn’t being able to sew feel like taking care of your needs yourself? For me it’s up there with growing your own tomatoes or drinking milk from your own cow (something I have never done, mind you, but the idea appeals to me).

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7. Sewing stimulates the mind.
There is SO much to learn when you start to sew: To read and, if necessary, alter a pattern. To understand fabrics — what they’re made out of and how to work with them. How to use a sewing machine. How to assemble a garment, to give it those professional touches, and so on. What could be more exciting than learning so much?

8. Sewing connects you to others.
Granted, compared to knitting, sewing is solitary (with the exception of quilting, perhaps), but think of all the fantastic sewing communities out there, like BurdaStyle and Pattern Review. In the past two years I have met so many talented, inspiring, intelligent people through sewing, not to mention through blogging about sewing!

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9. Sewing is sexy.
OK, I’m kind of reaching a bit on this one and I can’t back it up with hard evidence. But sewers, I ask you, isn’t it kinda’ sorta?

10. Sewing is resourceful.
You get to have the clothes you want and nothing you don’t. You’re not lured by the 40% sale at Gap, from which you return home to find that you’ve spent your hard-earned money on something you care about very little. Who hasn’t got caught up in the frenzy of a sample sale and lived to regret it when you tried on your purchases again at home or, years later, discovered those pants (with tags attached) that never did fit right, still hanging in the closet?

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In closing, why do you like to sew? What are some of your top 10 reasons? Have I left anything important out?

Do tell!

~Peter

When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”

110 Comments

  • Mlonghs_large

    May 30, 2011, 03.00 PMby mlssfshn

    When asked by a friend,“what would you do if you couldn’t sew?” I couldn’t answer, sewing is a big part of who I am, and without it I wouldn’t be complete.

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    May 30, 2011, 01.01 PMby fashionfreek

    Sewing makes me haaaaappppppy! :-D:-D:-D

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    May 30, 2011, 11.15 AMby ichigogirl

    Peter, you nailed it with your list! Such a great top ten of reasons! That’s why I sew too. And sometimes because I want something that I can’t find in the shops, or something that I could buy but that’s just a LOAD cheaper to make myself. But most of all because it’s fun to wear things I’ve made by myself :-). And yes, at least men seem to tend to think it’ s sexy to learn that the clothes they like on the girl they’re talking to are actually made by herself. Or maybe just fascinating (I’ll go with sexy)!

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    May 30, 2011, 08.24 AMby temwapo68

    I love to sew because it is my passion, the creativity, the challenge and the end result of it which makes someone proud of achieving.

    I have been sewing since my teen years and am not stopping yet!

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    May 30, 2011, 03.33 AMby corinneski

    Peter, you’re absolutely spot on with your Top 10. Add to that sweatshop labour, excessive markups, poor fit, poor construction and terrible fabric – oh, where does it end?

    BTW, love your work and you’re one of the great gems in this world.

    2 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      May 31, 2011, 12.44 AMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks, Corinne!

    • Enlarged_hilarity-copy_edited_large

      Jun 2, 2011, 01.07 AMby Testosterone

      Fellow gemologist,

      I couldn’t agree with you more about Peter!

      Great comment!

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    May 30, 2011, 02.35 AMby thesnakeships

    Because nearly everything I find in shops is ugly, none of it fits, and 99% of it was made in a sweatshop.

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    May 30, 2011, 12.34 AMby gillthecat

    hey peter surely one up man-ship, truly nothing is nicer than in reply to ooh thats a lovely skirt, the smug joy of replying i made it,, then to make that thought even better the fact that the fabric cost you a few dollars,, maybe im just a bit evil but i do enjoy the slightly superior stand, on skill, on cost on environment, and on style,, i of course agree with all your other salient points, but these are a few of mine,,

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    May 29, 2011, 01.28 PMby rachelhead

    because it is a tradition! mom did, and her mom, and my great grandma actually ironed for a living. When faced with alzheimers, my great aunt Mid taught her husband to quilt. He made several before he passed. I always had handmade Easter dresses and halloween costumes. Sewing adds to the specialness of life.
  • Degas37_large

    May 29, 2011, 11.22 AMby fifilina

    This is a great post, thanks Peter!

    So many reasons but a couple of important ones for me. Firstly, it’s a chance to be creative, which my work doesn’t really cater for. Secondly, I love the challenge and being able to develop a technical skill outside of work.

    Additionally, my sewing (and op-shopping) has got me involved in student theatre over the last couple of years. Sewing for the stage is a completely different story to dress making but just as fun.

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    May 29, 2011, 08.52 AMby dj1

    I started to hand sew when I was young because I wanted clothes for my barbies and christie dolls and we couldnt afford it .. That started life long love affair with sewing …I love to create latest from the pages of the fashion mag and not have to pay those prices …..now I like to create stuff from my brain……

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    May 29, 2011, 07.52 AMby flowergirl22

    the creativitity of the mind is the most important to me,, my job is very demanding. and this is the way to keep sain, alive inside and focused on work,,, I can not have a day where I dont feel like i am at least holding my latest piece for a short while even in bed.

    some some seewing and crafting its a life line,,

  • 03f03cec456ae55f491ab461479a278aeae30374_large

    May 29, 2011, 05.44 AMby folaafua

    Hey Peter, I LOVE to sew because it allows me to create something beautiful for others…namely my daughters. I just finished my youngest daughters prom and senior graduation dress. I Enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve been sewing since I was 9 years old and that has been for many years. It has been therapeutic at times and kept me sane during extremely difficult times. For me, I can usually see the finished project or at least a general view of what I want to make and then the “fabric” begins to almost speaks in a way. You probably think that I’m nuts, but there is a symbiotic connection while I am working with it. Anyway, I am too addicted. Also, I do agree with all of your points. Thanks for the post.

    1 Reply
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      Jun 2, 2011, 05.34 AMby bjorkroly

      i do agree with you , i too love to create … the process that goes with it and seing the end rusult is exciting hihihi

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    May 29, 2011, 05.44 AMby folaafua

    Hey Peter, I LOVE to sew because it allows me to create something beautiful for others…namely my daughters. I just finished my youngest daughters prom and senior graduation dress. I Enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve been sewing since I was 9 years old and that has been for many years. It has been therapeutic at times and kept me sane during extremely difficult times. For me, I can usually see the finished project or at least a general view of what I want to make and then the “fabric” begins to almost speaks in a way. You probably think that I’m nuts, but there is a symbiotic connection while I am working with it. Anyway, I am too addicted. Also, I do agree with all of your points. Thanks for the post.

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    May 29, 2011, 03.39 AMby Lucha Suarez

    Oh Peter, your posts thrill me! I agree with every reason you gave us here. I fell in love with sewing long before I ever sewed a stitch! When I walked in to westchester fabrics with my mother at 8 years old for her to buy the things she needed for my halloween costume that year, it hit me! My mother told me to choose the fabrics that I liked the best and I thought, the possibilities are endless! That is my number one reason why I love sewing until this day, the possibilities are endless. For the garment and for me. I may never win a gold medal, or an oscar or get my PHD, but every garment that I make feels like a great accomplishment!

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    May 29, 2011, 01.54 AMby mskelly

    Great post, I had to stop and think for a while as it was hard for me to narrow it down to a few reasons why I sew there are so many. Firstly, I sew because I just luuuuuuuuuuuuurve fashion! Tops, jeans, skirts, heels, dresses I love them all and I like to mix and match old vintage stuff with new stuff and be original with my sense of style. I love being creative, it’s also a great challenge as you said. I also like to have clothes that fit well too. Also it’s pretty much part of who I am my mum can and does sew, my gran did sew when she was alive so I kind of grew up around the sewing machine. Out of my h sisters I’m the only one that got the bug from my gran and mum. At the end of the day I heart sewing and always will :D

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    May 28, 2011, 04.57 PMby turtlegirl00

    my husband thinks sewing is sexy!! :) he laughs at how “into I get” and when I sew in a tank and boyshirts so I can easily try the item on. This is a great post and I agree wholeheartedly with all ten reasons. I also simply love instant gratification! :)

    2 Replies
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      May 29, 2011, 01.13 AMby Peter Lappin

      And you experience instant gratification…sewing??? LOL

    • Ghetto_girl_goes_to_colo__large

      May 29, 2011, 01.28 AMby turtlegirl00

      sometimes more than others—I will give you that! :)

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    May 28, 2011, 01.08 PMby Tokie Ang

    sew is challenging!! u might afraid in the beginning..but when u start, u can’t stop!! more and more things u can learn from sewing..not only the pattern, but also fabrics, sequins, and arts!!:D

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    May 28, 2011, 12.59 AMby gedwoods

    Don’t mind me, I’ll just extend your list a little, Peter!

    11) Sewing is empowering – As has been indicated, sewing things oneself that used to be in the hands of the conglomerates is a way of taking back some of the power into our own hands. This was one of your points in a previous post, for that matter. Sewing is a way for each of us to gain power over a part of our lives that wasn’t under our control before we learned to sew.

    12) Sewing is a gift – even, if you like, one of God’s gifts. Sewing is about making our clothes, and clothes are at the very root of our life here on Earth. It is likely that sewing was one of the very first things we humans taught ourselves to do, way back before the earliest emergent civilizations. It is a historically continuous activity that comes with being human.

    13) Sewing is “appropriate tech” – it can be very low tech for all sorts of garment projects, but it can also be very high tech, working with some of the most advanced machines in existence, with new technology fibres, conductive thread for building electricity into our garments, and so forth.

    14) Sewing is transformative : I know, this seems to be my favorite word these days, but, to be fair, learning to sew transformed my life, and not in any minor kind of way. What I do today and even how I’m setting out to make my living is very different than what I was doing before I taught myself to sew. As witnessed by others, sewing does seem to have this transformative property, at least for some of us.

    15) Sewing is global : Just as you say that sewing links us to other people through online networks and so on, it also links us to people across the planet. People everywhere on Earth sew, regardless of income, culture, gender, or anything else that usually separates us from each other.

    16) Sewing is sheer, unadulterated pleasure – I know you already have this one in a somewhat different format, but for me this IS the number one reason why I sew. Is there are part of our brain that is hardwired to like sewing? Feels like it, a lot of the time!

    As always, Peter, thanks for challenging us to be playful!

    4 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      May 28, 2011, 01.02 PMby Peter Lappin

      Great comment, Gedwoods, thanks!

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      May 29, 2011, 11.23 AMby fifilina

      “sewing is global” that’s beautiful, I really like that.

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      May 30, 2011, 08.01 AMby marmota-b

      Great points, and I could not agree more! Point 12 is especially good. I remember that learning about how people in prehistory learned to weave and make their own garments was one of my favourite parts of History when we got that subject in school. I still love historical clothes – not just the fashions (fashions come and go), but the way thery were constructed, the ways they achieved those fashionable silhouettes and made them work. Trying to incorporate elements of them into my clothes. It gives me a sense of continuity, among other things.

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      May 31, 2011, 11.21 PMby sewheavenly

      yes sewing is a gift from GOD must sewers I ask say they learned on their own how to sew but I see it as a gift or talent that is GOD given.

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    May 27, 2011, 11.25 PMby wendyharvey

    I first started making my own scrub tops years ago. I stopped sewing because of different reasons. I started sewing again a few years ago because I became legally blind and could no longer do my job safely. I watched a few videos with a woman with vision problems worse then mine and was making beautiful items, so I said I could do that. I am still learning and it’s been a process but I have a few shirts that I have gotten many complements about. I love wearing them and hearing from a stranger “where did you get that shirt” and saying “Joann Fabrics” I’m still trying to figure out how to do shorts and pants, the crotches come out crooked. lol I loved your post.

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    May 27, 2011, 11.11 PMby othello

    I sew because it helps me to relax. When I work, my mind goes blank and I do not think about any worries or I don’t stress out about everything. I love my clothes to be full of details so putting a lot of effort into making it all even and nice is a challange for my patience and self-control. And how revarding it is at the end, when I can wear something I made by myself!

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    May 27, 2011, 09.58 PMby brittanymaxon

    i like sewing because it means it means i can have something unique that no one else has

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    May 27, 2011, 08.59 PMby lolaaa

    i like to sew but i also need to know HOW to sew ? i am 11 years old but i really love fashion and i would really be so happy if any one helpedme to make my dream come true!!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      May 29, 2011, 01.15 AMby Peter Lappin

      Well you’re in the right place to get started. There’s a lot of information — and experienced people — right here on BurdaStyle. It’s a great resource.

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