what’s your sewing motivation?

A few years ago, I made my brother two Hawaiian-print camp shirts for his birthday. He was impressed and commented, “You should sell these.”

Like many of you, I’m sure, I have been told many times that I should open an Etsy shop. And like many of you, I’m sure, that doesn’t interest me one bit. In my case, it’s because sewing for pay makes it a chore and takes the joy out of my hobby.

But I didn’t tell him that. I was curious to know how much he thought people would pay for a shirt like the ones I had made him. He mused that they’d probably pay a good $35. So I explained to him how much the fabric and notions had cost (in this case about $15), and the fact that I had spent about six hours sewing the shirt. (At this point, he was probably sorry he had asked.) When he understood the economics a little better, he said he could see the shirts going for about $70. But before I explained everything to him, he would have thought $70 was a bit steep.

We all know that sewing isn’t an inexpensive hobby. And we’ve discussed this on the blog before. More than 12 years ago, Liesl wrote a post about sewing motivation in which she talked about why she sews despite the cost.

I sew because I enjoy it. It’s meditative and calming. As a homeschooling, work-at-home mom, sewing time can get scarce. But when I have time to retreat to the machine, I really cherish the opportunity to focus on something that is just for me for a little while.

I also appreciate being in control of fabric selection. So much of the clothes out there is made of really sub-par fabrics that shrink and fall apart and distort in the wash. I’ve become choosy about my fabric, because, if I’m going to take the time to sew something, I want it to last.

What about you? Why do you sew? Has your motivation changed over the years? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Mel

    Fabric selection is a big one for me too! But it’s also the freedom to not have to be held captive by trends. I can either spend hours (often unsuccessfully) searching stores for something I’d like to wear or hours making exactly what I want to wear!

  2. Elisabeth

    I love the chance to be creative, and I also love that at the end of sewing, I’ll have something beautiful to wear and enjoy for a long time!

    1. Maryam

      Me too!! Also you have to focus when sewing, no two projects(most of the time) are same. This really helps when the voices in your head won’t stop.

  3. Chris Schwab

    I choose to see because I want clothes that fit better on my pear shaped body… so tired of tops that swim around my shoulders in order to get around my hips.. or to have enough fabric to cover my slightly large front curves…it is meditative to sit with my fabric and machine.

  4. Pal K

    Sounds kind of corny: it is consistently my happy, calming place…even when I have to rip out the same seam for the umpteenth time….
    At one point it was all about churning out simple fast garments
    another point it was all about perfecting some particular thing (like bound buttonholes) (still working on it)
    Right now, it is all about hand basting
    I like the idea of using/reusing sustainability right now too

    High school/college student, single, married, with little kids, with older kids, are they still kids anymore
    Sewing carries through

  5. Erica

    If I can be mindful about my fabric selection, I love knowing that my garments are made without gross exploitation of the earth’s resources or human labor. Making my own clothes makes me choose styles, fabric, and fit more carefully, because I have to invest so much of my time to do it. When my days are so busy, sewing forces me to slow down, which brings me endless joy.

  6. Cindy Cooksey

    Like many of you, I sew because I enjoy it. I get satisfaction from finishing a garment. I get the fabric and fit and style that I choose – I like having that control. Yes, it can be expensive, but there are ways to work around this. If you use a pattern multiple times, it becomes more reasonable. And fabric can be obtained cheaply through networking – I belong to a few groups of sewists and quilters, and we’ve all been cleaning out our stashes over the pandemic. Eager to give away old fabric or sell inexpensively.

  7. Theresa in Tucson

    Fit, RTW clothes don’t fit me and it’s not because of size. I am just enough off the norm to not get a good fit. To get pants that are comfortable, fit reasonably well, have no stretch and have adequate pockets (women’s pants pockets suck) I must make my own. And now that I am aging, to avoid collars slipping down and gapping in the back I need to make my shirts and blouses. And women’s blouse in RTW rarely have pockets so again, I must make my own.

  8. Rebecca

    Started sewing at age 6: pillows, large stuffed animals, doll clothes. High School/college: trendy bell bottom jeans, floaty tops, hippie attire. Twenties: Professional suits, bow-tie blouses, dresses. Thirties and forties: Babies & children clothing, home decor & bedcoverings (quilts), holiday projects (costumes, tree skirts/stockings, etc), teenagers formal dresses. Fifties: lap blankets drool shirts for nursing home family members, wall hangings, ecclesiastical vestments, and now in my late Sixties, I sew grand children clothing, costumes, sleepwear, and once again, pillows & doll clothes. Also sewed for church & school fundraisers.

    Just recently retired from working and then started sewing Masks for grandchildren in school.

  9. Patricia Hitchcock

    I also find sewing calming. I love to make things as gifts as well as for myself. I prefer to have clothes that are unique and specialize in tops and shirts. The grand kids like hoodies; my husband likes summer shirts. I also like making something from my stash or from a bargain found somewhere. Local thrift store has sometimes provided lovely fabric for little money for such a project. I almost never but anything at full or regular price and regularly shop online sources as well as local fabric stores. There is so much choice out there!

  10. Rachel Boyle

    Many days, sewing a few stitches was the only thing I accomplished! I sew because it connects me to the past and allows me to leave something for the future. My mom taught me to sew when I was pregnant with my first child. I sewed for that first daughter, and her 5 brothers to follow. Back in the 90’s, I made matching outfits for all of them and I loved planning those coordinating fabrics and patterns. Now, I sew for my grandbabies and I’m filling a closet for all of the babies to come. Sewing calms my soul and gave me a focus during the days of covid isolation. My mom isn’t around anymore to see what I make but I know she is still with me and her legacy lives on.

  11. niceeee

  12. Zanna

    – Here in India, amazing handmade textiles are everywhere and I just can’t resist buying fabric.

    – Tailors are also abundant, but I’m too shy to ask the tailor to make sleeveless dresses and shorts for me as I know she won’t approve!

    – I know ready-made clothes are cheap because garment workers are terribly exploited (and, often, poor quality materials are used)

    – Making something as a gift feels so much more expressive of love than searching the shops

  13. I sew because it makes me feel good. I like having the magic translate from my head to my hands to reality, not dictated by store buyers or mass market fashion. For myself and my family, my sewing opens up the possibilities of fit, color and style, and texture/fabric choice. Plus it is a bonding thing that my kids know i can turn an idea into an outfit, and helps their imaginations grow.

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