|Sewing Fisherman's Wife, 1890|
by Anna Ancher
I may have mentioned here before that sewing is difficult for me. Not the actual sewing itself, per se, but the act of sewing. There are so many little things that add up to SEWING, that many times I find it overwhelming: the sewing machine to set up, a space to be cleared in my tiny sewing nook, patterns to lay and cut, fabric to mark, instructions to be deciphered, and then the sewing. And then, of course, there's the time. And the energy. So many things work against me in my endeavor to sew something that many times I am conquered.
And yet I don't give up. Things may languish for some time before I work myself up to sewing again, but they wait patiently. The ones I sew for don't wait, for they grow like crazy - and that is part of the challenge!
I've often wondered why I sew in the first place. I think in some ways it was one of those things that I thought, "I could do that," and so I did it. That's the way it was with making quilts. I am not a quilter, and yet I've made a few quilts. (I even have one partially made, still in a box from when my husband and I were engaged over 10 years ago!)
It is when I finally make the time, brush away any excuses or other things begging for my attention, and start to sew, that I remember. Sewing soothes me. I find I can think more clearly, more slowly, more honestly. It is an age-old act of creation. Machine sewing is a wonderful modern marvel, but hand sewing is what really grounds me.
In a world that is so fast-paced, always reaching and yearning for the new, taking part in an old, slower craft, puts modernity in its place. It has nothing on the generations of a craft that has provided so much for so many. It has no claim on the centuries of drudgery, of necessity, but also of the artistry and the beauty that we still marvel at today.
While the things I sew may not be all that wonderful, they never existed before I created them, and that is an accomplishment! It is easy to compare and wish our talents were that of so-and-so, but I wish we wouldn't do that. I wish that I didn't do that! With each step of the process, I am learning and my talent is progressing, however slowly. And that is how I have to sew. In painstaking steps. Many times I have to break them up over days or even weeks. Pattern cutting one day, marking another, sewing the next, and finishing yet another.
And so, I partake in the act of sewing. It's hard, and challenging, and frustrating, but wonderful and satisfying. I hope to sew my entire life. I hope to teach my children the honor and usefulness and the heritage of sewing. For it is one that is gratefully alive and strong, even in these modern times. It is one positive thing humans will never be able to do without, and that is my favorite historical heritage of all.