Sewing, the solitary hobby.
Last January, I took a beginning sewing class at a local sewing studio. I wanted a hobby that would consume my time and attention. A hobby that would encourage me to hide away in my studio and escape and lose track of hours – alone.
I took the four classes that made up the beginner class. In those classes, I learned to make a pillowcase, a lined tote bag, and a drawstring bag. Then I took other classes: I learned how to make a cosmetic bag, a gigantic shoulder bag, a messenger bag, a tote bag with applique, and an apron. I wanted to take a quilt class, but the studio closed last May and I never got the chance.
I really wanted to try making a quilt, but I resisted starting because it all just looked so overwhelming. I thought that first I would master sewing, then I would move to sewing quilts. I am not sure why I had it set up that way in my head, but for whatever reason, I had myself convinced that I was not ready to quilt. Not without a structured class and someone to tell me that everything I was doing was right or wrong.
A couple of weeks ago, I started my first quilt.
One of the women who I met through sewing encouraged me to just jump in and start. One day, she picked up a quilt kit from the sale rack in a quilt shop and said, “This would be a good first quilt for you.” The kit contained a pattern and the fabric that I would need to finish the quilt top. I bought it.
This woman knows how to quilt. She belongs to a quilt guild and goes on quilting retreats. But, even though she was so much more advanced than I was, she took the time to talk me through the steps of cutting and assembling the pieces and sewing the top together. She went and looked at fabric with me for the back and the border. She took time away from her own projects to talk me through the process and tell me what the next step would be. And it wasn’t just her. The woman who used to run the studio where I took my sewing classes jumped in as well. She helped me design my border. Showed me how to pin, and loaned me pins and a tool that made pinning much easier. Sent me instructions for how to bind the quilt, and when I messed it up, gave me advice for how to fix it and advice to make it go better the next time.
Remember, I met these women through the sewing studio that closed last May. That is over 6 months ago. We have kept in touch on facebook and gone out socially a few different times. But we have also started sewing together about once per month. This is sewing, my hobby that had me dreaming of solitary nights alone in my studio, closed off from the world and recharging my batteries through the hum and clink of my sewing machine.
But it didn’t work that way. The unexpected benefit of my solitary hobby has been more people in my life. An expansion of my circle of friends that I never expected.
When it was time to put my quilt together, I brought it to our monthly sewing meeting. There were six of us standing around the table where I had the top laid out. We all talked about the border – was it the wrong color? How big should it be? Should I even add a border?
Every person in the room had more sewing experience than me, but I still felt like I belonged in the group. It’s something good for me – being in a group that revolves around a skill and feeling encouragement, support, collaboration, and cooperation.
It’s also good to hear other people say that I can do this. Or I can even do that. Why don’t I just try it?
After all, it’s only sewing.