I was reminded last night of the need to replace the blade in my exacto knife, just as I was reminded by snarled threads earlier this week that the sewing machine needle must be replaced with every project. It’s got me to thinking that my fabric scissors probably need a professional sharpening right about now (or two years ago) – and that paying attention to our tools is primary to our efforts in making anything.
Somehow, I always forget – about the advice I have learned over the years, and I have a mind to print out a cue card to keep in my sewing basket – a mindful sewing checklist that looks something like this:
- get comfortable
- make sure workspace has enough light
- set out dish of glass headed pins, seam ripper, thread snips
- choose a new needle for every project
- love your thread (hand sewing technique)
- tidy/trim as you go
- sew in stages, without completion goals
- make samples
Each of these things I have found to have a measurable impact on my finished items, and yet so many times I forget to love my thread, or (out of thriftiness) push the sewing needle beyond its limit. And don’t get me started on how dull a sewing pin can get before I’ll retire it to the trash.
I’m working right now on setting up some hand-sewing templates to practice my stitching – a la The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery by Alabama Chanin and plan to work my way through some stitching samplers over the next little while. While I love the idea of quiet, mindful hand finishing and embellishment on garments – I am a long way off from those particular skills.