A LIFELONG KNITTER, I felt a restless pull to try something new last spring. I dove headlong into botanical dyeing, using seasonal blooms to add pattern and color to natural fibers. After months of compulsively making dye baths after my family was asleep, line-drying fabric in the sun, then starting all over again with tansy, then black-eyed Susans, then sweet William, I had amassed a fabric stockpile.
When the growing season ended, I started sewing.
I set an intention: to sew my first dress. The steps: measuring (my body, the fabric), cutting, marking, pressing, aligning, pinning, stitching, snipping, and pressing again. One step begets another; there is no way to leap ahead spurred on by an impatient mind. There is value in the wait, in allowing the process to unfurl.
Ready, I lift my right hand and feel for the switch on the side of the sewing machine. A bright spotlight shines down on my sewing needle, the cotton thread the color of curry; the yellow patterned fabric aligned beneath the presser foot. With restraint, I press the pedal. The needle hums and threads through the fabric, the gripper dogs beneath the fabric pulling it like a conveyor belt. To me, this transition from stillness to focused doing feels like any other seated meditation, pranayama, or chanting.
It is just a soft and simple puzzle with contours and dimension. But sewing a dress is another means for our minds to test our mettle, our devotion to practice. When approached with mindfulness, the simplest, most repetitive acts become offerings as well as opportunities for self-reflection.
THE HUMILITY OF MAKING SOMETHING
Maybe the fabric is not as soft as you would have liked, but it was all you could find. The seams pucker in weird places. You made these choices, and it’s kind of wonderful.
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