This post was originally featured on the Kids Clothes Week Blog last February:)
I spend as much time as I can making things. And even when I can’t, it consumes my thoughts. And kids things in particular. As I considered this post over the last few weeks, I couldn’t come up with exactly what it was that compels me to make. Compulsion is the nature of it, to be sure – but why?
There was a time when my marriage was new and my babies were both so little and unfamiliar that hand-making helped me to make sense of domesticity – a concept that I had always flailed hard against.
But that’s not why for me anymore.
As I worked on this leather-feathered vest (using this pattern), I finished listening to a novel, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. About midway through, the book’s writer answered this question for me and much more eloquently than I could have.
“In the evenings, she lit a lamp and unfolded the fabric on the table. Following the pattern offered a kind of comfort, a quiet balance [to her day's work which was] coarse, exhausting [and unpredictable]. Sewing was different. She knew if she was patient and meticulous, if she carefully followed the lines, took each step as it came, and obeyed the rules, that in the end when it was turned right-side out, it would be just how it was meant to be (205-6).”
That passage about a woman sewing a coat for a child is one that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Even though she’s musing there about stitching, the passage also contributes to the book’s persistent theme of impermanence. The stitching, it helps us to cope with the fleeting nature of things. Of kids and of youth and of thwarted meant-to-bes. And, I think, that’s why I do it.