SEWING: Stitching a Life Together

Nov 10, 2022

Photo Credit: Elio Santos via Unsplash

Humans moved from stitching animal hides to sewing cloth, from necessity to fashion, and from handwork to factory. To sew is to repair, alter, and create. If a rip or tear is sewn unthinkingly, the garment will be too tight or unsightly. Alterations have limitations, and uncut cloth is the prima materia for the alchemy of construction. Sewing requires dexterity, knowledge, and judgment. Sewing transforms parts into wholes— meticulous stitches render possibility into product, and scraps store memories in the pattern of a quilt. We hold the opposites of design and detail with attention and patience, and can’t resist embroidering our garments, stories, and lives. What we sew has a limited lifespan, as do we. Stitching our inner and outer lives together day by day, we can create raiment for the soul.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I am walking up a stairwell together with what feels like a close friend, and we enter an apartment which I assume is mine, even though I have never seen it before. The hallway is quite spacious and sterile; there is no furniture or curtains. As we enter, my white pet ferret rushes toward me and wants to be cuddled. I pick her up and hold her in my arms. I am so happy to see her, but at the same time, I feel bad because I know I have neglected her and left her alone in the apartment for far too long. Suddenly I’m horrified as I notice that she has a large lump on her right eyelid! My friend takes the ferret from me and carefully examines her eye. After a while, she says, “Look, the lump is covering her eye, and she will go blind if it continues to grow. Actually, you used to have a lump like this on your eye a while ago, but you removed it. She must have caught it from you–it’s a virus, you know.” I can’t recall any of this, but I trust my friend is right, so I’m instantly relieved. I feel so grateful that we discovered it in time to save her, and I promise myself to take better care of her in the future.”


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  1. Evelyn Weissman

    I really enjoyed this week’s podcast on sewing and noted that you hadn’t had a dream submitted about that subject before. Here’s a little serendipity. In our dream group last Monday, we discussed my dream about sewing. I am a retired general surgeon whose hobby is needlecraft of all types. My favorite craft is knitting because a garment is made from a single thread and two sticks.
    I hope I am not overstepping by sending you this dream:
    I dream I am in a design workshop as in a theater costume shop. I am to help a young man with his project which is to design and create a formal gown from start to finish as one would see on a show like Project Runway.
    My role is to help him find materials in the shop and to help him with any techniques which he might want to learn for his project. Any material he might need is accessible as this workshop is well appointed and well organized.
    The young man (tall, slender, late teens to early twenties) shows me his project which is the most beautiful gown I have ever seen. It is made of ivory satin and decorated with embroidery (white on white), beading and dimensional flowers made of tulle . It is almost finished except for the wrist area of one sleeve. The sleeve that is done is adorned with dimensional flowers held in place with a golden ring that extends to the hem of the sleeve on the top side. It is like a wreath above the wrist.
    He would like to do something similar with the other sleeve, but not exactly the same.He says he “doesn’t have the patience” to find the materials he needs and I offer to help find them as that was my job.He walks away and leaves the gown behind.
    I am disappointed, but it is his project. I give him words of encouragement but he absolutely refuses to do this last little “finish” to submit his work.
    In the next scene, he is seen talking with some of his friends, telling them he doesn’t want to be known as ” the guy who designs dresses”. He feels he is” in the wrong place doing the wrong things”.

  2. Michal Ginter

    My grandmother also taught me and my siblings how to use a sewing machine when we were growing up in the 70s and 80s. My boyfriend was taught to use one when he was a kid, too. We have a sewing machine at home, and use it for light mending. We aren’t skilled enough to embark on more ambitious projects. I’d have to research more broadly to control for bubble bias but my experience is that one would be ridiculed here for not knowing how to sew a button back on; it just seems like such a basic skill. Then again, we live in Europe, not the US.

    I loved your point about bespoke suits and work clothes making the persona they represent feel more palatable. Exactly my experience. I’ve been wearing tailored suits and shirts to work for decades. I used to have them made here in Prague until the tailors became too expensive. Now I work with a tailor in Bangkok. If you know where to go, the quality is the same and the price is much more affordable.

    When I saw the title of the episode, I was curious how you approach such a seemingly mundane topic but was pleasantly surprised with the depth and breadth of imagery.

    Thanks for yet another great episode!


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