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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

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    May 27, 2011, 01.01 AMby leahfranqui

    I agree with all of these comments, and want to echo the fact that it’s therapeutic, because it is, it’s great stress relief, and frankly, I start to get really tetchy and mean if I haven’t made anything in a while. I also think that the puzzle of looking at pattern pieces and instructions and understanding how that works in three dimensions is extremely stimulating, it helps me with all my other creative endeavors and with creative problem solving, and with patience, and all of these areas in my life need help.

    I also wanted to say that it’s so true, Peter, it makes me feel good and capable and competent to be able to make things with my hands, and it makes me feel more self sufficient, even if this is in some ways a lie. Sure, I didn’t spin the thread and weave the cloth, but I transformed cloth in to clothing and that’s always amazing to me, every damn time. And to be able to thrift things and take old fabrics and reuse makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for the planet, which is another reason why I sew, because I know it’s better for the world, from reducing child labor to reducing greenhouse gases. In theory. It’s not 100%, but I’m trying, and that’s important, right?

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    May 27, 2011, 12.58 AMby hukilaulei

    I love to be able to make something out of nothing. I love that I can see a dress I like and confidently walk away from it knowing I can make one for myself only better because I made it. And I concur with laugh434 about tradition; some of my favorite stories from my grandma are about her old kimonos she pulled apart to make dresses for my auntie and mom when they were growing up.

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    May 27, 2011, 12.58 AMby momsgotanewhobby

    Initially it was because I had a little girl who liked her costumes to be “special” and I hated the cheap, nearly disposable costumes that, at the time, I didn’t have enough money to buy anyway. I also hated that she would see herself repeated up and down the street and at school. So I started re-purposing old costumes and re-sale clothes, sewing new ones for her. That was sewing by hand (badly).

    Fast forward to the summer before her freshman year of high school. I’d had a major health scare along with surgery and I was sort of adrift. I needed to DO something that made all of me busy, hands and mind. So I threw myself into the creation of her first high school Halloween costume and I got hooked using a sewing machine for the first time. Just figuring it all out and having that feeling of achievement when you do is addicting. My efforts aren’t perfect at this point but I really love it.

    One of the other things that I enjoy about sewing is that I can satisfy that desire to shop without breaking the bank. It is so exciting to me to find a great fabric (my stash needs a new home, the storage box is too small) finding the “perfect” fabric-even though I have yet to find the perfect project to use it for!

    Sewing has helped our family avoid buying poorly made clothes, it drives my daughter crazy but I will turn a garment inside out before I let her try it on.

    This is going to be a sewing summer in our household, my now teenager wants to learn and there are so many cute dresses and outfits…

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    May 26, 2011, 11.36 PMby tashmopolitan

    I like sewing because I love having something no one else has! I’m never worried someone else will be wearing the same thing !

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    May 26, 2011, 11.16 PMby neama

    Ok, so to start with the sexiness…. I am envisaging myself in typical sewing mode – squinting eyes, hunched shoulders & most likely tongue stuck out, ripping badly sewn seams or embroidering sprigs of flowers – sexy? honestly? haha:) I loved your post, I must say. Sewing is most definitely all of the above, albeit the sexy aspect is often lacking in my own case. The word that most springs to mind when I think of sewing is ‘therapeutic’. I love how relaxing it is. I love how it clears my mind, and de-stresses me, as I am engrossed in something other than work or family for an hour or two )I try to forget the blanket box full of fabric under my bed & the landslide in the bottom of the wardrobe) It is my ‘me-time’. Something I do for myself. Call it self-sufficiency, time-out, whatever – it keeps me sane:) Thanks for your insight Peter – it’s a joy to read

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    May 26, 2011, 10.43 PMby denise2003

    Really simple, actually— So that I can get clothes that actually fit me and that I’ll actually wear! I am also a bit picky on colors, so I get to wear things in colors I like, too.

    Oh yes— It is also so nice to be able to duplicate something I love that I can’t buy anymore.

    Besides all that, my grandma sewed for me, and I always thought it was so cool!

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    May 26, 2011, 09.43 PMby laha5822

    It’s my favorite creative outlet, I can make very personalized things for people, and I love the challenge. I also love making something out of virtually nothing… like the first time I made pants, I was so amazed to finally sew the crotch seams and have it really look like a pair of pants! And the first time I made a puffy sleeve.. to see the way it turned out to look just like a puffy sleeve you’d normally find in a store made me so proud of myself! :) I love colors and fabrics and have learned a TON about them in the years that I’ve been sewing. Sewing is a hobby that always changes and adapts to wherever you are in your life… whether it’s making baby clothes for your niece, pillows for a friend or dresses for yourself, it can always relate to the here and now… or take your mind away from it for a while if you need a break. I love your posts, by the way… so insightful and thought-provoking!

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    May 26, 2011, 09.06 PMby lila-1

    I know what I want to wear, but no one is making it. OR if they are, they arent making it in my size or price range. SEWING IS CHEAP. Clothing in NZ is unbelievably expensive, even at the cheap stores ($30 for a tshirt?!!). My fabric costs less than $10 per meter…do the math Sewing means I dont have to wear the latest fashion (the latest fashion right now makes me cringe). SEWING IS A GREAT STRESS RELIEF. You use your brain in a totally different way, and you simply HAVE to let go of your chattering mind in order to focus on the task at hand. We dont know how to do anything for ourselves anymore. We pay other people to do everything these days. I agree with Peter, the self-sufficiency is very rewarding. SEWING IS SEXY!! I totally agree :)

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    May 26, 2011, 08.25 PMby runningwithscissors1

    I guess my point is similar to #10. You are not bound by what is on a rack, you can use your imagination to make what you want. Too many times, I have a specific thought in my mind and either come home empty handed and disappointed or with something in the end, I don’t want. You’re only bound by the fabric you have and what you are willing to try. I still need to work up the guts to make myself a nice coat someday…

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    May 26, 2011, 08.22 PMby lorenna

    I really got tired of looking in stores for something particular, just to be disappointed when I couldn’t find it (like a hooded grey wool coat with zipper closure, yes I am that specific sometimes). Sewing allows me to make whatever I envision, and tweak until it is just what I had in mind.

    I also feel like the quality of the clothing is higher than what I would normally buy (e.g. H&M clothes, while affordable and stylish, unravel before the first wash).

    I definitely LOVE the feeling of wearing a completed project, the pride that comes with saying I MADE IT!

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    May 26, 2011, 08.17 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I’m not sure sewing’s sexy…although the results could be :) Which brings me to the hotcha stretch lace tops, white eyelet blouses, and swishy skirts that I love to make…but I can’t bring myself to buy for full-price or even half-price at local stores. I call these garments I love to make romantic rather than sexy. That’s just me!

    1 Reply
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      May 26, 2011, 09.10 PMby lila-1

      I know what you mean with the stuff you like but make rather than buy. I coveted a pair of $600 designer powder blue shoes. So I bought a $30 pair of pumps and painted them blue. Nobody can tell the difference. WHY pay full price when you can do it yourself for a fraction of the price :)

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    May 26, 2011, 08.12 PMby shkoober

    I have always participated in crafts and the arts, working with my hands is for sure a primal connection. I thought working on a sculpture or painting or collage takes much longer than sewing a dress, which is what got me into sewing last year. Although the process can take as long, it’s instantly gratifying, much more practical than the above mentioned hobbies, and easier for the whole public to appreciate. When making my own clothes I also feel connected to the people of my past. I am to date totally self taught and the experience has been totally exhilarating! As an avid reader of your blog and many others, thank you for inspiring!

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    May 26, 2011, 08.00 PMby tinuvielle13

    I love it because I love to create something. It’s like you said turn nothing into something, like 2 other hobbies: cooking and drawing. Also I like altering bought pieces. Little adjustments of course since I’m a novice, like buying a t-shirt I love that’s a size too big for me and making it fit. It’s a good thing to do when you need a break from everyday life. When I’m working I can get frustrated sometimes but in the whole it makes me happy.

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    May 26, 2011, 07.55 PMby iamtheshoshie

    I started sewing because, as a fat chic, I have very few reasonably-priced options for clothing! Pair that with a somewhat quirky fashion sense, and it takes a lot of searching to find stuff that I want to wear. But, in learning how to sew, I can make more and more of the things that I love to wear. It can still be tough sometimes, since there aren’t as many patterns in plus sizes. But then, that’s why I’m trying to learn basic pattern drafting!

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    May 26, 2011, 07.55 PMby loyl8

    There are sew many reasons why I do it a lot of what you had to say is right up there and I definitely think sewing is sexy especially if your not wearing much while doing it :) jk kinda. Recently I had a dress in the readers section of Threads and I never thought the feedback I would get. I made my grandma cry she was soo proud of me. Its all worth it. I started sewing about 2.5 yrs ago and I can’t stop sewing. I wish I would have started in HS when my mom had time to show me how wonderful it was… I was spoiled she just fixed and altered everything for me. Well thanks for the post and my pic on the burda page. You always have such fantastic things to say and make. The pic with you and the dashing gentlemen in the floral shirts…adorable!!!!

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    May 26, 2011, 07.45 PMby bhghatesyou

    i.love.your.posts. i agree with all your points. i love to sew because i can create. i am not the most imaginative person so i mostly make work clothes and lounging clothes but i cant compare the feeling i get from putting on pants that I made. walking around in them and having people ask me where i got them just adds fuel to my fire. i love the fact that i am learning something new. everytime i start a new project i learn something. i havent read too much and i havent ever tried making something from a pattern but i have been browsing lately and i may try out an old vintage pattern soon.

    I also think that the economy in the US has kick started the amount of people that are willing to try and make things for themselves. we have had to try and make things last longer and maybe even be used for things they were never intended for. but i think this just gives more weight the the phrase if life gives you lemons make lemonade. if life gives you a recession make your own clothes!

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    May 26, 2011, 07.05 PMby carmencitab

    All of the above I say!

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    May 26, 2011, 06.49 PMby aleah

    I agree with all of them! Although, sewing? Is it sexy? Perhaps not for 18 year olds haha… It’s not always it works out though, sometimes I waste money on fabric for a garment that just looks awful when I’m done. But then again, I can’t learn anything new unless I make some mistakes along the way. Just the way it works.

    For me it’s very creative. I love searching online for inspiration, reading blogs, tips, tricks, tutorials. It connects me with people, that’s true – but at the same time it also connects me with myself. Somehow. Haha.

    2 Replies
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      May 27, 2011, 02.29 AMby rogue-cellist

      I don’t know that it’s particularly sexy for 28 year olds either but perhaps it depends on your definition of sexy?

      Oh and I read somewhere that you “waste” kilometres of fabric before you get really good… I don’t know if it really takes that much but as far as I’m concerned it’s not wasted if you’ve learned from the experience.

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      May 27, 2011, 09.41 AMby aleah

      Haha, no I don’t know either about the whole “sexy” thing…. If I tell people about my love for sewing, they always react in a very strange way… it’s hotter to be 18 and be playing soccer, not sewing tops and dresses.

      And ooh yes, I’ve wasted a lot.

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    May 26, 2011, 06.31 PMby laugh434

    I agree with these 100%! (And sewing IS sexy). Sewing is fulfilling on so many levels.

    A subtopic for No. 8 for me is that it’s a family tradition. I know it goes as far back as my great-great-grandmother, and probably further. We make everything from pot holders to wedding dresses and talk about our fabric finds and our achievements at every family gathering. I also got a huge ego boost from overhearing my grandma say that I’m getting pretty good at sewing.

    I also sew because I don’t like how store-bought clothes fit. I went shopping for dress pants the other day (always a miserable endeavor). I went to six stores with no luck. I’m not about to spend $50+ on something I have to tailor anyway, so I’m going to take a stab at sewing my own!

    1 Reply
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      May 27, 2011, 02.26 AMby rogue-cellist

      Isn’t it gratifying to hear someone else say that you are getting good? I had a similar experience last week- I heard both my sister and my Mum tell other people that I’m pretty good these days. Made me smile. Twice in one week! heady stuff :-)

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