"Sew" Much to Learn

Rachel Keesee
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Have you ever noticed how many times Proverbs 31 mentions sewing?

“She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands” (Proverbs 31:13).

“She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle” (v. 19).

“She makes tapestry for herself…” (v. 22).

“She makes linen garments…” (v. 24).

God even used talented women to build the tabernacle in ancient Israel. “And all the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen” (Exodus 35:25).

Today, we can easily buy any clothes, curtains or bedding, rather than making them. But there’s something inspiring about crafting material with your own hands, trying to create the perfect vision in your mind’s eye.

Many times I’ve heeded that urge to create, to take formless material and turn it into something amazing. And, I’ve discovered that I am not a gifted seamstress. Not once have I sewn something that turned out as perfectly as I’d envisioned.

Most likely, if I’d lived when the tabernacle was being built, I would’ve fallen into the category of those who supplied materials, not those talented women who did the work. However, I occasionally still pull out my sewing machine for a simple project—usually a blanket, never anything complex. Why?

As it turns out, sewing has helped me grow as a Christian woman and mother.

Much like parenting, sewing can be quite tricky and not as easy as it first appears. Sewing takes patience and willingness to see mistakes and fix them—two extremely important characteristics for a mom.

When I was a little girl, my mom showed me step by step how to sew. We didn’t get into really complicated projects, but she laid a good foundation of the basic requirements.

The same is true for parenting. My parents laid a good foundation, instilling morals, work ethic and a drive to succeed in all seven of us. But I have learned that applying what you think you know can turn out quite differently than you expect—both in sewing and parenting.

As an adult, the first few times I attempted sewing, I relied on my mom’s supervision. After successfully completing a few simple projects, I ventured into trying a blanket on my own.

My first attempt was a disaster. First of all, I was overly determined to do it alone. Secondly, I wanted to avoid undoing anything. Now, good seamstresses know that you have to undo bad stitches. I, however attempted to cover my mistakes—let’s just say I broke enough needles to have to buy a large replacement stack, and the blanket looked messier than ever. I finished it but was ashamed of my own shoddy workmanship.

Yet those mistakes pushed me forward. The next time, I took more care cutting the fabric. I still had problems with sewing a straight line, but I undid the worst seams and sewed again—not perfectly, but enough improvement to try again and again.

Sewing has also provided a few interesting lessons that apply to being a mom:

  1. The first experience on your own is the most difficult.
  2. Sometimes fabric just won’t do what you think it should do.
  3. A finished product can be a flawed product. Sometimes you can fix the flaws. Sometimes you just can’t. Some flaws require tearing apart everything and starting over—which may damage the material. It’s better to evaluate each step and catch mistakes early, rather than ignoring problems.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask the experts—but be prepared to just carry on when they don’t quite remember being a beginner.
  5. Keep your sense of humor. It beats feeling frustrated any day.
  6. When you get tired, take a rest.
  7. It’s your creative vision—what’s most important to you will never be exactly the same as for someone else.
  8. If years have passed since the previous attempt, slow down and revisit the basics.
  9. A certain sense of accomplishment comes from seeing the end result. It may not be perfect, but it’s the unique product of your own creativity.
  10.  Keep going and don’t give up, no matter how difficult it gets. Eventually you’ll see tangible proof of just how much progress you’ve made.

While sewing will never be one of my gifts, it has provided major benefits (aside from warm blankets)—spiritual growth and personal reflection. Studies have even shown that “creating or tending things by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy.… Functioning hands also foster a flow in the mind that leads to spontaneous joyful, creative thought. Peak moments occur as one putters, ponders and daydreams.”

I encourage you to be like the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 and give sewing a try. Even if you don’t seem to have quite the knack for it, you might be surprised by what you can learn...