Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sewing community and why I sew

keep calm sewing

Last week, I experienced two circumstances where women were unkind to others without regard to anyone else's feelings but their own.  Now, with men, for some reason, they can hurt each other's feelings and get upset but keep being friends.  They just have a beer or go for a run and everything is fine. (Of course, I am stereotyping)  With women, not only do we get our feelings hurt beyond just what one drink or run can fix, but we are also meaner to each other than men tend to be.  We dig deep when we hurt. 

So, this week, one personal friend thought it would be helpful to me to learn that she thinks I am a thoughtless bitch. Yay! That was so fun to experience!  (not!) Since I think that says more about her than me, I am giving that friendship a break until she figures out what is going on in her life that is making her so critical of others. Of course, I reached out and told her I am there for her if and when she needs any support to feel better about herself. Ain't got no time for negative Nellies, so I am moving on!

The other event from last week involved someone who's blog I had enjoyed reading. Until last week. I had not looked at Sunny's blog in a few weeks when I learned of a post she wrote in early June about some of my sewing friends. Sunny is a pseudonym, by the way. Sunny decided that it was getting annoying to see all the sewing around the blogosphere that didn't meet her high standards and, instead of chatting with it privately with her friends, she wrote a blog post about it. And linked to pictures of sewing done by my friends. And patterns designed by friends. And patterns and sewing by other women who I don't know well but deeply respect.  Basically, she decided to publicly humiliate and mock some of the nicest people you would ever meet in an attempt to make a point that she wishes people would learn to sew better. 

Hmm...... I think Sunny needs to read my family rules.

positive family rules list

Why do you sew? Do you sew only for yourself? Do you sew to save money? Do you sew because you enjoy it and it is fun? Do you sew because you want to sew clothing for your friends and family? Do you sew to make some extra money?

There are many reasons we all sew but one thing that is common amongst all of us is the desire to learn more techniques and sew better.  We start out being astounded we can sew a straight line and move on to hemming and pleats and adding embellishments and learning to sew garments that people can actually wear.  And items to decorate our homes or items that are useful, like hot mitts. The more we sew, the more we want to learn more techniques. If we are lucky, we can upgrade our machines to better ones with more feet, more stitches.  Or we buy sergers, coverstitch machines, embroidery machines. We just keep going and going with our learning and the more we learn, the more we sew.  

I learned to sew watching my mother sew for me, as a child. I didn't sew much on the machine back then but I loved watching her sew dresses for us.  Before I was born, she used to make all of her own clothing to save some money. By the time I got into junior high school, my dad was making enough money that we were buying all our clothing in shops.  But I still wanted to sew. I took a sewing class in 8th grade and made some horrible garments that I never wore. But, in high school, I did use my skills to fix vintage garments I bought at thrift shops.  That was fun! In graduate school, I started sewing again and my mom bought me my first machine.  I used it a bit until my own children were born.  At the age of 41, I started sewing again for my two little girls, based on my love of such brands at Bercot and Matilda Jane.  For me, it was about not wanting to spend $60+ on a dress, not wanting to buy cheaper clothing that would fall apart easily, and wanting a hobby I enjoyed.  

Now, at age 48, I have upgraded to two Janome machines, a computerized sewing machine and a serger. For five years, I have run a sewing group on Facebook and written this blog. I have made so many friends in those years, many of whom are pdf pattern designers. I test their patterns.  They are my friends now. And I love the community.

The best thing about the online sewing community is the support.  Yes, there are groups and forums and people who are negative Nellies. But almost everyone I interact with is kind and generous and supportive. Maybe I just foster that in my sewing group and so I that is what I see.  Maybe it is because I leave the groups where negativity reigns. 

What I know is that being critical can have a purpose if you offer constructive criticism.  If you are just critical, you put people off.  You make them not only not want to be in your company but you also make them think they cannot do what they are trying to do.  Sunny's dark, shameful, negative criticism of others was designed not to inspire anyone to sew better but to shame people out of sewing at all. And that is pointless.

I have a strong personality. I like what I like. I ask tough questions. I like to debate.  But I try to remember to be positive and supportive.  I can do better, I know, but at least I try. 

For the sewing community, I want to say thank you to all my lovely friends: Deanna, Jen, Melissa, Connie, Amy, Ashley, Sara, Kristi, Kristy, Caroline, Amy, Kathryn, Fiona, Meagan, Raedene, Jennier, Jenny, Ren, Heather, Lindsay, Sheila, Sue, Kelly, Heather, Mira, Mary, Jenny, Jodi, Wei, Amber, JoAnn, Carrie, Christina, Sarah, Courtney, Melissa, Keri, Melissa, Zura, Annie, Melissa, Nicole, Tiana, Julie, Lynn, Kristen, Chris, Tiffany, Melanie, Melonie, KaShara, Nicole, Sara, Celine, Andrea, Karen, Neila, Jana, Jayma, Amber, Erica, Gina, Erica, Laura, Haley, Laurie, Melissa, Carla, Irene, Nanda, Julie, Krystal, Kyla, Glenda, Renee, Niina,  Heather, Melissa, and Kari,

And if I missed anyone, I am sorry! I love you all and appreciate so much this sewing community we have built up together and how supportive and fabulous you all are to each other and to me.  You make my day each and every day with the sharing and support you offer to me and to each other.   We do talk about how we can do better but we support each other positively. We don't bring each other down. We raise each other up.  And I appreciate that in all of you so very much.

Thank you!!!!


PS To Sunny - if you are reading this, please learn this valuable lesson. We all make mistakes. Admitting them is hard. Saying you are sorry is hard. But, neither is impossible and both go a long way to mending broken ties.


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    1. I just wanted to tell you that thoughtless b would never be a term I'd use to describe you. In fact, you are a very purposeful person, and it seems like you put thought into everything you do. Sometimes very direct women are classified as the b word...ask me how I know. I don't understand, because men with the same attributes are considered powerful and driven. Great post Kathy!

  2. Fabulous post Kathy!
    It is a pleasure to know you & thankyou for allowing me to be part of your wonderful sewing community.

  3. What a great post!! I read Sunny's blog and didn't notice any remorse for the hurt she caused. Sewing must be the only thing those nuns taught her.

  4. Replies
    1. love you too, even though I don't know who you are LOL

  5. Hmmm....we women are all the same no matter where we are haha...same dramas happens here in my country's local sewing groups's tiring on the soul for me to read cat fights on facebook, resulting me retreating more and more into my own head and just become silent readers in many groups because the only intention I am in the groups is to learn about sewing, and to sew better as you said. However, sewing alone in this tiny room of mine can get very lonely and claustrophobic so I appreciate the few good sewing friends I have (including you!). I have trained myself to stay away from negative discussions...I don't leave groups though coz I believe there are a lot more positive things to learn from the groups than the occasional dramas.... Having said that, it is shocking that a friend would say something hurtful like that to you..I am so sorry to hear that Kathy...I have always believed that people, in general, are kind but when I read/hear what some people say or do to others it saddened me. I hope we could just focus on our craft and forget all the negativity...*hugs* :)

    1. Thanks Zura. I enter into political discussions too often for my own good, I think. But it was surprising to read the drama on "sunny's" blog!

  6. Great post Kathy,

    I am glad to know that there is a great sense of community out there for the sewing world. I always try to remind myself the purpose of having a blog and follow my dreams. I enjoy comments and advice from other people, as long as they are constructive.

  7. Part of my work is teaching others how to sew and I work hard at making sure my students find sewing to be a fun hobby without the pressure of perfection. I think there's so much pressure on all of us to be "perfect" in all that we do. Really, the pleasure of engaging in an endeavor and sharing it with like-minded people is far more important than meeting someone else's idea of what's acceptable. So many of us have to work to drown out that inner critic who tells us our efforts don't measure up. We shouldn't have to worry about the opinions of others when we share our works, whether we are novices or professionals. (Although when you're a professional, you recognize that critiques come with the territory.)