"" the girl who makes things: Sewing slow

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Sewing slow

I watch a lot of Youtube while I sew. It's one of the reasons I find sewing so relaxing, I can completely switch off and get immersed in my project with a good video. I watch all sorts of things, but I what I've got into lately is lectures and documentaries. It was while I was browsing TED Talks that I found this video by Dan Ariely on how we value work. I decided to give it a go and found that it spoke to me in many ways.

I'd really recommend watching the video, but if you don't have time, here's the gist: some researchers did some psychological experiments on volunteers to find out how they value work. They told participants to make some oragami with instructions and at the end they had to value their creation. Outside observers also valued the oragami. Of course, the makers valued their product more highly than the observers. The researchers conducted a similar experiment where they told participants to make some oragami without instructions. Guess what? At the end of the experiment they valued their work even more highly, and observers valued it at a lower price because objectively the products weren't as good.

So what does any of this have to do with sewing and fashion? Well, basically value is objective and we're more likely to value something that's taken more effort to create. Why is it so hard to get rid of handmade clothes when RTW can be thrown out without a flinch? Because, as makers we know how much effort was required to make that garment. And the more effort it took, the more likely we are to value it. When our clothes are made by someone else in a distant country, we don't feel any real emotional connection to them. This is probably why I love my Burda Style Parka so much, even though objectively it's a bit ropey. Because it was a pain in the arse to make. From deciphering the pattern lines to assembling without ANY instructions, the whole process was challenging, but I will never ever chuck out that coat.

This is why I've decided to sew slowly from now on. I don't want to 'knock out' T-shirts in an afternoon. I want spend weekends slowly crafting and perfecting everything I make. This May I'm abstaining from sewing to get my head clear. I'm using the time to plan projects properly. I'm making drawings and thinking more about my fabric choices. I'm looking at my wardrobe objectively and trying to decide what I need. Once June arrives I'll be ready to start again.

So what do you think? Does how long projects take make you value them more?


  1. Not necessarily how long I spend making something; how many hours I spend wearing something, maybe!

  2. Yes, absolutely! I've spent an hour making t shirts that I'm not really fussed about. But that shirt or dress that took several weeks I really love (and even leave out for longer before it disappears into my wardrobe). This makes a lot of sense to me.

  3. I love things I can whip up quickly sometimes but there is nothing quite like finishing something that's taken time. I remember sewing at school and spending weeks on a garment, then feeling super pleased when I could actually wear it! The days of tacking not just pin and sew!