…Respecting Your Craft

I was pleasantly surprised when a student opened their sewing project kit, set it out on the table, and I saw this:

Sewing classes in chicago: nathan: tchad: sewing kit: respect your craft
This kind of thoughtfulness is nice to see…


“This is so nice and organized!  This is just beautiful!” They replied with a shrug: “I don’t know why you are surprised. You taught us to respect our craft”

After I shed a single tear, I began thinking about that.  I’ve never said to anyone up here “You are disrespecting your craft if things aren’t laid out perfectly” and yet here we are with everything in its place and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

And that is what I am here for, folks; seeing sewing project kits like this makes it all worthwhile.  Learning how to think about sewing projects and how to respect the process of creating things is just as important as the details of that understitch instruction or the finer points of hand sewing.  Whether you are a priest or a surgeon, you don’t just walk into your current assignment with a bag of rag-tag utensils that you need for the undertaking at hand.  You respect your craft and understand that there are reasons for the order – perhaps they are sacred (in that the priest respects the sanctity they give to sacramental objects) and perhaps they are utilitarian (dull, bent, and generally unsterile surgical utensils are about as useful as two broken chicken bones, a bent paperclip, and some violin string to a surgeon) but each carries out their craft with the respect due to the tools that help them achieve their work.

This isn’t to say that those of us sitting around with motley fabric stashes, piles of unused tools and supplies, and 247 McCall’s patterns from that $1.99 sale at Jo-Ann’s in 1998 (don’t lie) are doing anything wrong.  We all have that weird tangle of thread from basting that is stuck in our pins or stab ourselves on uncovered scissors in our makeshift Jewel-Osco sewing bag from time to time…

It is rather to say that this kind of respect to and for your work helps expand and express the nature of our creative humanity.  Regardless of what that shameful box of cotton fabric remnants is doing under three unfinished projects and two vintage pattern envelopes with the detail pieces missing says about your relationship to sewing and design, you can still pull things together and see your craft – this thing that has the capacity to help you express yourself – as something worthy of respect.

And maybe just throw away that handkerchief top you started in 2001 and got tired of hemming the edge of.  There is respecting your craft and then there is masochism.