By Susan Andriks
Over the years, we have been told what the “oldest profession” is. I do not happen to agree with the general consensus ... for evidence, turn to Genesis 3:7 in the Holy Bible, and you will find that Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to create clothing for themselves! Since then, people all over the world have worn clothing of some sort. And someone had to manufacture that clothing. We now have a new candidate for the “oldest profession”. And I believe that candidate is the profession of sewing.
Take just a minute to look around the room right now. Take note of how many things in the room had to be sewn, weaved or fastened together with cloth, leather, vinyl, canvas, etc. It could be the draperies, rugs, chair pillows, cushions, bed spread, sheets, quilt, or whatever. It should astound you if you really haven’t contemplated this before.
Why? Allow me to explain. At some point in time, eons ago, someone had to learn how to sew!
And I believe that learning how to sew is just as important today as it was back then.
Let’s face it - so much of our lives revolve around articles that have been sewn that we often take the sewing profession for granted. But at the core of all of this is the humble, but powerful, needle and thread.
Power. Such a strong word, you say? Power is almost an understatement of what sewing is all about. Think of the soldier on the battlefield. He or she is probably wearing boots, a uniform, body armor, gloves, belt, backpack, among other things. How were all these items made? Another example is the policeman. How was his/her official uniform, gun belt, holster, footwear, cap, body armor, among other things, made? It all goes back to the humble needle and thread! But is it really so humble after all?
Another reality is that you are instantly judged by what you wear. Would you be comfortable putting together a billion dollar real estate deal with a powerful banker who is dressed in polo shorts, a tee shirt and sneakers at the office? Or would you instinctively feel that it would be more appropriate for that banker to be wearing an Armani silk suit with Gucci loafers?
Ultimately, someone, somewhere, by whatever means, had to sew all the foregoing clothes and/or gear together. And at some point, that same person had to take their first steps in the profession by learning how to sew.
As a professional sewing instructor and dressmaker, I can emphatically state that sewing is an extremely rewarding, empowering and useful skill to have. It is the sort of skill that fosters a sense of independence and personal growth. You are no longer a slave to what the fashion industry dictates you must wear in order to be accepted. You develop a different attitude about style and fit. And you can make a pretty good living at it, to boot! I couldn’t even begin to estimate how much money I have saved over the last 30+ years by making virtually all my own clothes. And that’s just the beginning. Sewing is not just limited to clothing. Home decoration is an ever popular venue for those whose sewing talents lie in that direction. There is quilting, re-upholstery, alterations, accessories such as purses, totes, wedding gowns (my specialty), and a myriad of other uses for this learned skill.
In addition to learning how to sew, or updating/improving your existing skills, I have some news for you! The learning process is not the only fun you will have. You will also get to meet people who share your interest, make friends, and have a great time all around. With the recent resurgence of sewing, a large number of “sewing lounges” have opened in many areas, and are doing a bang-up business. Internet courses are flourishing. Even instructors (like me) who have held to the student/teacher traditional classroom are finding their enrollment increasing.
My greatest reward from teaching is seeing how it has improved my students’ “lot in life”. Some of them have gone on to become sewing teachers themselves. Some have gotten nice jobs in fabric stores and wedding salons. And some have found a new career about which they have become very enthusiastic! And that’s a slice of life that really gives me a boost and keeps me going. I find myself asking if the needle and thread is really that humble after all.
Susan Andriks is the owner and chief instructor at the New Hampshire Academy of Sewing in Canterbury, New Hampshire (http://www.nhacademyofsewing.com). She has been enthusiastically sewing her own wardrobe since the 7th grade and now passes that love on to her students through her classes. She also designs and sews one-of-a-kind wedding gowns, which you can see at http://www.thefabricsmith.com.
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