I feel that I could write a chapter on the influence of sewing and motherhood on my life. I hope I can do this topic justice in one blog post.
The following testimonial will include the role sewing has played in enhancing my personal life and happiness over the past ten years. It does not include the tremendous support I have received from my husband, our extended families, our faith, and our community in my parenting journey.
You see, I have been a mother for most of my adult life. I met my husband in college, got engaged my junior year, and we married a few weeks after graduation. I gave birth to our honeymoon baby 9 months later.
I do have a few memories of sewing as a child but not frequently enough that I feel that motherhood actually changed my relationship with sewing. If anything, sewing changed my relationship with motherhood.
I still remember the first birthday I had after we got married. In 2007, my husband very proudly walked in with a HUGE box, a birthday gift from my parents. I was nursing our brand new baby and overwhelmed by the sight of my first “real” sewing machine. I have absolutely no memory of this, but my husband swears that at some point between bouts of morning sickness I mentioned wanting to learn to sew. He suggested a sewing machine to my parents. Even though I had very happy memories of watching my mother sew her own clothes, learning to do it myself honestly stressed me out. When my family came out for our firstborn’s baptism, my mother helped me thread the machine and we bought some fabric at our small town discount store. It wasn’t love at first sight. While I enjoyed making a few simple things, the idea of choosing a project, buying fabric, and figuring out how to use my new equipment each time was exhausting.
I had another baby 17.5 months later. This is basically what my entire life looked like at this point:
While the first six months of having 2 under 2 were hard, we found a routine where I had 2-3 hours in the afternoon where both children were sleeping. It was then that I started to take my machine out of the closet more often to make burp cloths, rag quilts, simple skirts, and aprons. When we moved into our “forever home” in 2010 with the plan of growing our family, I suddenly had a dedicated space for my sewing machine. No more boxing up my projects to free up the dinner table. I could sew in a way that my little ones allowed and just shut the door on my projects when I needed to. I made party dresses, tiered skirts for Polish dance practice, and had a few misadventures with making purses. Thank goodness I’m figuring that out now.
I knew at some point in blogging about my creative endeavors I would need to write these words simply because they have shaped who I am as an artist:
In January 2011, I miscarried a little boy named Peter.
In July, I suffered a second very early miscarriage. We named him Adrian. I was in a very real fog of grief. I kept the door shut to the nursery in our brand new house and instead used it for storage. It was so hard to focus on the joy of the children I did have when my heart longed for more. Losing Peter was the first time in my life where no matter how hard I tried I didn’t get what I wanted.
I think of my missing children every day. It’s like every family picture is incomplete this side of heaven. I have been the first phone call for friends going through this fog. I can promise that one day “I lost you” won’t be the first thought that creeps up along the lump in the back of your throat.
Even now, six years later, my lost babies (along with my living children) are the inspiration for a long-term quilting project I’m working on. I celebrate the lasting imprint the experience has had on my life – and how it has shaped my relationship with the rest of my children.
Six years ago, sewing became a healing therapy for me as I balanced all of these new emotions. I started to be more adventurous and discovered sewing blogs and PDF patterns for inspiration and sewing education. One of my first adventures (and how I first connected with Jodi, one of the hosts of #EaseintoMotherhood) was the Pajama Eater pattern!
My daughters were growing quickly and they were enthusiastic recipients of my projects. I tried to embrace more complicated projects for the special occasions in our lives.
When I found out I was pregnant again I was diagnosed with a common hormone deficiency. I had frequent labs and injections twice a week to make sure my hormone levels would support a pregnancy. After each milestone week, I would make him small items for his layette. I had a few periods of spotting and modified bedrest and I would spend hours taking my mind of my worry by watching sewing videos on YouTube and reading sewing blogs.
Almost a year to the day after our second miscarriage, we delivered our first living son – an adorably large, fussy, and hungry boy who never slept. I found that he loved to sleep in his Rock and Play while the dryer hummed next to him on one side and my sewing machine whirred on the other. I may not have been sleeping but at least he was.
When I was pregnant with my 4th baby (now youngest), I had let go of so much of the fear that haunted me during my pregnancy and postpartum with my son. I still had the same medical concerns, but I allowed myself the anxiety-relief of light and simple sewing when I was pregnant with her. She rescued my heart from fear just by being herself.
I refer to her as my bonus baby – not because she was a surprise – she wasn’t, really. Or because she’s a lot younger than her brother (only 23 months actually). She’s my bonus because I didn’t know how much I needed her.
In her newborn and infant days, I did hit the point where it was too hard to take four kids out of the house or organize for a babysitter for all of them so I could have some “me-time.” I found that I could much easier meet that need by sewing during naptime. When she was a newborn, I made her little hats and mitts and at that point, I realized there were hundreds of projects that could be made quickly without frustrating me. I also overcame my fear of sewing with knits through these simple projects.
It seems that in the months following her birth, several of the initial challenges of sewing (reading patterns, working with knits, blending sizes) just began to click for me. It also coincided with the rapid growth of my older daughters who were steadily outpacing the height that RTW clothes are drafted for in their chest and waist measurements.
I’ve reached a beautiful point where I can say that I need to sew and my family needs me to sew. I still struggle to find a good balance on the amount of time I spend on my sewing and blogging, but overall I think my family is grateful that I have spent as much time as I have on this skill.
I think that sewing has been such an important part of my life as I try to balance it all as a mother. Here are 10 things I’ve learned that apply both to motherhood and sewing:
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read through my thoughts on motherhood and sewing. I want to extend a special thanks to the hosts Jodi, Erin, and Monserrat, as well as to the other contributors. Make sure you search #EaseIntoMotherhood throughout July to hear more stories. Share yours with me below!
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