Finally finishing graduate school this year was the hardest thing that I have done in my life. Working through the challenge, I learned so much about myself. Part of that was learning how important it is to me to sew – to work with my hands, to design, and to create. Sewing is my rock that gets me through hard times. Curious to see if others have had similar experiences, I asked some other sewists to share their personal connections between sewing and making it through graduate school. Here to share her thoughts today is Mindy of The Geeky Seamstress.
I got my start in sewing a few years ago. I’ve always been a busy person. During my undergrad years, I took anywhere from 16-20 hours per semester and held down several part-time jobs. As a graduate student, I again took the maximum course load I could while working from the moment I was awake to the time I fell asleep.
Shortly after starting my career as an academic librarian, I suddenly found myself with unexpected free time. I was single, living in a new city, and didn’t know what to do with myself. Fortunately, I found some friends who introduced me to the costuming and cosplay world and quickly fell down a rabbit hole. I’ve always been a geeky person, so costuming was the perfect marriage of my nerdy obsessions and untapped crafty side. When I first got into costuming, I researched several sewing blogs looking for techniques to better my costumes, but that obsession soon shifted to making my own garments.
I’m not completely certain why I took to sewing the way that I did. Part of me found it very satisfying to create a physical object. My work is rewarding, but it’s mostly in the intellectual realm. Sewing provides a very different kind of gratification. I get warm fuzzies when a student attributes his or her grade to my help, but there’s nothing quite like turning fabric into a functional garment.
As a believer in lifelong education, I also love the learning challenge sewing provides. I’m constantly learning new and unexpected things: the history of fashion trends (I’m obsessed with corsets at the moment), textile manufacturing, dye techniques, and so much more.
Sewing has also given me a greater appreciation for my body. I’m 5’11”, broad, and busty, and shopping in most clothing stores made me feel terrible about myself and my body. Creating my own clothes opened up the world. Suddenly, I actually liked fashion! Who would have thought?
Research is one of my greatest crafting tools, and I have to thank grad school for that skill set! I don’t have any formal sewing training, nor do I come from a domestic home (Dad was a salesman and Mom was a banker for most of my young life). I was fortunate that my stepmother showed me how to read a pattern and how to assemble a few things when I first started, but I really have the online sewing community and lots of trial and error to thank for my current knowledge. I look to other bloggers’ fabric, pattern, and tip suggestions, and I read pretty much any new sewing book I can get my hands on. Fortunately, I’m also the liaison to my school’s theater and costuming department, so I get to order all kinds of goodies that I can use for my own projects :)
I’ve only been sewing a short 2 years, but it’s become a huge part of my life. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!