As sewers, we have a skill that might seem a bit magical to other people – turning a piece of flat fabric into a beautiful 3D garment that fits and flatters. Not to mention all the other situations when it helps with more mundane or practical issues like sorting out the kitchen curtains. But how other do you use your ability for hand-sewn gifts?
Sewing as a profession aside, home sewers sometimes categorise themselves as selfish or selfless sewers, depending on their inclination to use their skills for themselves or for others. I am a very selfish sewer and I usually flat refuse to make things for anyone other than myself. However, I have been on a sewing gifts spree lately which lead me to wonder what other sewers feel about hand-sewn gift giving. Are you for or against it and why? I’ve made a list of pros and cons to get the conversation started.
5 reasons to give hand-sewn gifts
1| Give a one-of-a-kind-gift
One of my favourite reasons for giving hand-sewn gifts is that they will be completely unique. I can take into account the personality of the recipient, their likes and dislikes and any other things I know about them that will make the gift, unlike anything they can buy in shops. Especially when it comes to garments, I like that I can customise a gift for someone’s measures and particular body features. A bespoke piece of clothing can make the wearer feel amazing in their skin and can have such positive effects on their self-confidence.
2| Get brownie points with friends and family
Now I’m not saying that you should be trading sewing gifts for favours, but it does sometimes happen that when people ask me to sew something for them, I get in their good books for the foreseeable future. Especially for people who appreciate the work that goes into sewing a garment or an item, it really warms my heart when they appreciate and enjoy a heart-felt sewn gift.
3| Incorporate memories or special occasions
I have seen quite a few examples of memory quilts or memory cushions made from clothes of dear ones that have passed away, or from clothes that the children might have outgrown. If you can sew, you can give a priceless gift to someone that will help them treasure the memory of a loved one for a long time to come, which in itself can be a major comfort. Similarly, a gift for a special occasion, like a new baby, a wedding or an anniversary, can help preserve a physical reminder a special day for a much longer period of time.
4| Save money
If you are on a budget, giving a hand-sewn gift can help save a bit of money, especially if you are using fabric and trims that you already have in your stash. Of course, this is not counting your labour, but I am assuming you enjoy sewing and therefore it will make up in fun for the work you are putting in.
5| Have fun sewing without adding new clothes to your wardrobe
Attempting to build a minimalist wardrobe when you have a sewing passion is very difficult, as you want to sew all the time. A good way to direct this passion away from fast-sewing is to make things for other people as gifts. If you are anything like me, you might tend to put in more care, time and effort when sewing for other people than when you are trying to finish something for yourself. So making things for other might take up more time and slow your sewing down, but get the same amount of pleasure.
5 reasons to avoid hand-sewn gifts
1| Your effort can go unappreciated
That is my main pet hate when sewing for other people. Especially in today’s throw-away society, when people expect clothes to materialise on the rails in shops, few understand the amount of time and effort that goes into sewing a garment. So it can happen that the recipient just won’t appreciate how much went into a gift and treat it just like any mass-produced item.
2| People expect labels or gifts from a well-known brand
This has not happened to me personally, but I have seen folks in the sewing community complain that the recipients of their gifts were disappointed with getting a handmade item instead of a known label. I guess the brag value of a unique, customised item does not stack up very well against an instagramable piece of designer clothing.
Considering making hand-sewn gifts? Alex from @Sewrendipity lists 5 reasons why you should and 5 reasons not to bother. Which way are you leaning towards?
3| The recipient might think you are being cheap
In a similar vein, I have heard people complain that they have been accused of being cheap for giving handmade presents, instead of buying something. Yes, as mentioned above, you could save money by making hand-sewn presents, but more often than not, a handmade item can cost more than buying a similar one from the shops. That is of course not taking into account the labour that the giver might have put into it. Again, this may come from not understanding the ins and outs of home sewing.
4| Pressure to make a perfect item
I often struggle when sewing for other people with the pressure of perfectionism. Whilst I can (sometimes) live with things being less than perfect when I sew for myself, it’s very difficult not to be too hard on myself when sewing for others.
5| Time pressure
Often when sewing for other people can be related to a deadline, like a birthday, Christmas, a particular occasion that the gift needs to be ready for. I am the queen of procrastination, so I often postpone until the last minute and then I am in a mad rush to finish on time. While a bit of pressure can be good to focus the mind, last-minute sewing may not be great for your peace of mind.
WANT TO SAVE ON PINTEREST FOR LATER? USE THIS HANDY GRAPHIC.
As with so many things, the answer is more often than not ‘it depends’. I tend to only sew for people I know would appreciate the gift and I am sure they would put it to good use. I am a very practical gifter anyway, I always go for the practical item that I know would come in handy. So I tend to stick to that rule with hand-sewn gifts as well. I don’t like surprises, so I often prefer to let people know in advance and make sure they are on board with what I am planning on making or it’s a request that will be delivered for a special occasion, like a birthday or Christmas. Sometimes I just spring stuff on people, but that’s usually the most stressful scenario.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HAND-SEWN GIFTS? ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST IT? DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH ANY OF THE REASONS I LISTED? ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD? TELL ME IN COMMENTS.
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