Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 5 of the Great Lenten Purge - Sewing

In order to get rid of stuff, you have to acknowledge who you are now. 

I used to sew quite a bit.  I don't sew anymore.  That's okay.   What is not okay is hanging on to spools of threads of every color, zippers, and buttons that I will never use.

My mother was an amazing seamstress.  (Lord if I'd known how much this was going to be about my mother I doubt I'd have taken this on) She never had much money but she dressed like she did.   She made most of my clothes which I did not appreciate.  Because we did not have a lot of money and I dressed like I did.  I think the last thing she made for me was my wedding dress. 

Because she sewed for me and because she was so good at it and because she had no patience for teaching me anything (She paid for me to have private driving lessons because she couldn't stand to be in the car with me driving)  I did not learn to sew from her. 

Sarah in a typical Easter Dress and matching
doll dress.  How about that hat?
When my kids were little I just bought some fabric and a pattern and started making clothes for my kids. 

I never was as good as she was.  I'm not good with detail so my seams are never straight and the zipper never quite right, but it was good enough for them.  

Every Easter I made my daughter a dress with a petticoat, pinafore, matching bow AND matching dress for her doll.  Until she was eight and asked "Mom could I have a dress that's not poofy?"

I used to make really loud and gaudy matching shirts that we all wore when we went on family vacations.  It was a good way of keeping track of everyone.  If the kids wandered off, other people around knew who they belonged to.  My husband, bless his heart, wore those crazy shirts I made without complaint.  In fact,  I think he liked wearing them. 

I think the last thing I made was a gown for my daughter to wear to her winter formal.  It was very stressful because I did not want her to go to a dance looking like she was wearing a home-made gown.  She seemed happy with it but it was not enjoyable.

I haven't sewn other than to hem or take in or repair clothing for years.  I'm not interested in sewing anymore.  I don't need all that sewing stuff anymore.  I don't need to pass them by in the room I still call the sewing room  and feel guilty that I don't sew anymore.  I don't have to sew.  If I want to sew something again I'll buy another spool of thread.

I wonder if one of the difficulties of letting go of stuff is admitting that you have changed.  

You don't like what you used to like.  You don't do what you used to do.  And that's okay.  Life changes.  I'm not a young wife and mother going on family vacations with young kids anymore.  Keeping the stuff around doesn't change that.  

Keeping stuff around doesn't make time stand still, nor would I want time to stand still.  

Like I (and I imagine every other pastor in town) said on Transfiguration Sunday, you can't build those tents on the mountain top and stay there forever.

I think there's a lot here about change, letting go of the past, and making room for the future involved in getting rid of stuff. 

 I wish I could lead a lot of churches I know through this discipline.  It would help.


  1. I've been resonating with you on this purge. I know I have too much stuff. Since we are rural, I kept a lot of stuff because the kids would come home and say that they needed yarn or something. I wasn't about to drive 30 miles to get yarn when I had a perfectly good 1/2 skein in the basement. And I sew and I love the gadgets. I could get rid of the gadgets I bought but have never used. :-)

    For the past 6 weeks, I've been mostly under the weather, with the most I could do being reading stuff on the web. That has really brought home to me that there is stuff I don't need or want to use again. But now I'm trying to catch up and I don't have the extra energy for the purge. But it would be a good idea. I'll certainly do it when I have more energy.

  2. I love this post, Joelle. My mother was also an amazing seamstress. She even won a Singer Sewing Machine contest for dress she made for herself. She made all my clothes for many years. I was mortified, of course. Years later, I bought my first sewing machine so I could make my own clothes. They weren't that great but I liked the zone I'd get in while sewing. After not sewing for decades, I finally donated the machine and spools of thread and shears and all. These days I have only a little sewing kit for repairs. Letting go is deep, important work. Thanks for the reminder.