The Power of Sewing

A person held up by a red parachute floats among the clouds.

Yesterday I watched my friends jump out of a plane. And it struck me that literally the only thing keeping them from certain death was fabric and sewing: their harnesses and their parachute. 

Sewing is POWERFUL. 

I went to college for Apparel Technology, majoring in Costume Cutting and Construction, and Fashion Apparel. That sounds fancy, but to me it's felt a bit silly. Other people get real jobs, like nursing or engineering. I just make costumes for the entertainment industry. I couldn't shake this feeling of inferiority. 

On my better days, I know that costuming is also incredibly powerful. It creates characters, helps tell stories, keeps alive history and artistic skills. 

But it still didn't feel Important. 

Which is BS. Sewing saves lives. Parachutes. Bulletproof vests. Parkas. Masks. I think about the lingerie stitchers who were hired to sew the Apollo 11 space suits, because they could be accurate to within 1/32nd of an inch. Preserving an astronaut's life.

When sewing doesn't save lives, it's still hugely important. It keeps us warm or cool. It communicates messages and culture. It tells stories. It makes our lives easier. 

Sewing is a highly technical, powerful skill that has been criminally devalued by patriarchy and capitalism.

Misused in fast fashion, it perpetuates injustice against primarily women of colour, and pollutes the environment. 

Turns out the reason I've been feeling an inferiority complex around sewing has nothing to do with me or my work, and everything to do with systems of injustice stealing the highly technical skilled labour of sewists and framing it as "a frivolous pastime for 50s housewives".

I am part of an incredibly powerful profession, and I'm just starting to learn the power of sewing. It has the power to destroy lives (Rana Plaza) and it has the power to save lives (my friends skydiving yesterday). It will be a process for me to learn about that power and consider how I want to use it, but for now, it's enough for me to know that sewing is far more powerful than I first realized.