sewing for others

Did you ever take the 5 Love Languages Quiz? I always figured mine was quality time…and I thought gifts was kind of dumb. BUT…the older I get, the more I think maybe…the way I speak love to others is to give them things. And…hang with me here. I think I’m having an as-I-write epiphany.

Sewing for others is often pretty complicated. I don’t just mean the practical stuff like measurements and body fitting over miles…I love to surprise people, so then I’m making style and color decisions for them. I like to think I’m a pretty observant and thoughtful person, so I’m always very intentional when I make these choices, but that doesn’t negate that gifting fashion is a risky business.

There are layers, right? What if they love the style, but it doesn’t fit? Or what if it fits better than anything they’ve ever had, but the style/color is not to their taste? or…what if it fits but is still unflattering (as is the case with a pair of tops I just made my mom)?

I made my mom a total of 3 tops from this pattern. The style has the right idea for her figure, but none of the 3 were a big win. Pattern is by LAVitaly on Etsy.

All the time spent sewing with love and imagining a delighted recipient’s face sets me up for crushing disappointment and rejection. Fun, right?! I keep resolving to sew less for others, but, uh…I go back to drink from that well on the regular.

We all know sewing is a super power. It makes me feel AWESOME that I can make shit…good shit! So there’s some weird cognitive dissonance when that surprise item is gifted to less than enthusiastic reception. If I’ve tied some of my identity and self-worth into that item/my skill and time, then I’m giving that person power over my self esteem when I hand them that gift.

Now let’s circle back around to the 5 Love Languages thing…what if I’m speaking my love language by sewing a new garment for someone, but the way they read/hear love is through acts of service or quality time? The thing that to ME means, “I thought about you and spent my time and resources to try to make something you’d like” might mean to them, “UGH. Another *thing* I have to find a place for” if I don’t completely nail every single variable.

Husband asked for handmade unders for Christmas this year. This is Jalie 3242 with a small modification to the codpiece.

It is infinitely safer to involve the recipient in design choices…which I do often do as well…but that can also wind up feeling dangerously close to obligation territory. (I have a rule that I will only sew for friends free at their request if they are sitting in the room with me while I do it. Otherwise, I charge for my time.)

I played it safe and asked my sister in law if she’d wear #toastersweater1 before I made her birthday gift. I satisfied my surprise-gifting-self by also whipping up tiny matching versions for her wee girlies.

I meandered all over the place here, but I’d love to hear any thoughts any of you have!

5 comments
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  • LJ

    LOVE those nested Toasters, you clever girl.ReplyCancel

  • Ann

    I am so with you! I made something for my son this year which he clearly didn’t like…I tried to step back and remove my feelings. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t tell me or like he has to keep/use something just because I made it.

    And I did enjoy making it even if he didn’t like it.

    I think I will always make things for those I love. ReplyCancel

    • cleverest colleen

      it’s so tricky, isn’t it?! I’m glad my mom told me those tops weren’t working for her. We picked out a new pattern for me to try…and those unders for Husband need at least an inch added to the back rise. It’s unrealistic for us to expect that if we don’t get it right for OURSELVES every single time, that every non-selfish sew will be a win. Hey self! that was a great pep talk! hahaha.ReplyCancel

  • Batman

    It really is a huge undertaking to sew for someone and hit all the markers. The fact that you are even willing to try (teacher gifts, what?!?) amazes me no matter how many times you do it. I hope that anyone who receives a gift from you can remember that it wasn’t just a piece of fabric and thread that went into it, it was also a piece of you.ReplyCancel

    • cleverest colleen

      <3 <3 <3 you're the best. Thank you for your constant encouragement.ReplyCancel