Sewing as play

I come from a very long line of women who sew. My great grandmother, Idolie, my grandmother, Mable, my mother, Mary and I’m sure many more.

As my mother taught me to sew, I remember her patiently letting me pick crazy fabrics, match colors, and make lots of mistakes as I learned. (The photo is me in a pair of pants I made for my 9th birthday that I LOVED!)

To me, sewing with my mom was functional in that I was making some clothes, but it was also one of my favorite ways to play. We were often at fabric stores scanning for neat prints. On other days we’d sort through the boxes of fabric she had collected over the years in numerous boxes when we found a neat cool pattern we wanted to try out. 

Creating is one form of play that includes, sewing, cooking, gardening, writing, singing, and so many more ways that form nothing we envision and make something. In that process, we also have problems to solve. How do you make a shirt that requires 1.5 yards of fabric when you only have 1 yard of the fabric? (My mom showed me how to rearrange those pattern pieces until that magic could happen many times!) 

These “creating” challenges are shown to build our creative thinking and problem-solving skills which turn out to be the most sought-after life and work skills in the 21st century. Wow! 

You might say that these creating kinds of play are hobbies. Yes, and they are a form of play. It is within these contexts that we make our way through failures, like when I had to rip out many seams in my sewing journeys. These lower-stakes endeavors give us space to take risks and build confidence in our capacity to envision and make a new business, product, or meaningful life. 

How are you creating? Is creative thinking and problem-solving valued at your organization? I’d love to hear your stories of your creative play.

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