Monday, March 4, 2013

The Rhythm of Sewing

Believe it or not there is a rhythm to sewing. It's something experienced sewists don't ever think about or realize exists. But, as a sewing instructor to new sewers, I see when its not there and have come to appreciate its importance to both the enjoyment and ease of sewing. 

What am I talking about? It's the natural and unconscious way we perform every task of sewing - threading our sewing machines, stitching a seam, pinning, hand sewing, and an endless number of others tasks we do as sewists. Through many hours of practice our hands and fingers essentially learn how to work  -- that's rhythm.

Let's take the sewing machine for example. For new sewers learning to use this foreign piece of equipment can be intimidating, yet mastering the use of it is an important first step to truly performing the craft. Using a sewing machine comfortably requires a definite rhythm to kick in as there are many steps and processes to learn. For new sewers  it takes many attempts at threading their machines and sewing many rows of stitching before the rhythm of performing all those functions is there.

You can really see rhythm in play when they begin to stitch their first seam. Properly aligning the fabric cut edge to the seam allowance guide, remembering to hold the thread tails to ensure a clean start, press and holding the reverse button, and the one step so many new sewers can't quite remember to do - putting the presser foot down, are all part of a rhythmic sequence that all new sewers need to learn to sew a proper seam.  You can see the frustration when new sewers can't get it right. And, that boost of confidence when that rhythm finally kicks in. 
Pinning is another area. For experienced sewers our hands and fingers are trained to instinctively know how to hold and insert pins. I find it interesting to watch new sewers struggle to get this very simple task right. Just remembering how to orient the pins to get ready to sew a seam is all part of getting into the rhythm of sewing. 

I know all of this probably sounds silly, especially if you have been sewing for as long a time as I have - decades in fact. I certainly never gave it any thought until I witnessed when that unconscious rhythm doesn't yet exist.  For some it kicks in quickly and signifies sewing will be an easy craft to learn. Painfully, for others it will require a great deal of practice before it happens.  

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