if you know me well, you’ve heard me complain about my inability to teach people things.

Often people will say something to the effect of:  “oh, can you teach me to sew?”  and my response, due to several failed attempts is-  “um, I’m not very good at teaching, but if you are really interested, feel free to stop by and I’ll tell you about how I learned.”

really, I’ll tell you about how I taught myself.  and why.

The thing that propels me to learn a subject is this sort of inner excitement.  It has no practical basis.  I just get excited and fascinated by the internal workings of clothing construction and sewing techniques.  It’s the pleasure of doing, experiencing, that gave me the motivation to spend years and years teaching myself how.

You see this everywhere in people who love what they do-  in cooking.  technology.  writing.  it’s a deep pleasure in the process of experiencing it.

and if you don’t have that internal drive to experience the process, how can you really learn it?

for instance:  I, at one time, thought I wanted to learn to program.  After spending a little time on it, I realized I don’t love the process of being ultra-logical and staring at a screen.  So I modified it:  maybe I really just want to have control over my own website.  learning html and css went much more quickly than actual programming languages, and I got the end result I wanted.

However, I do love the process of sewing.  Just touching fabric.  cutting it, making pretty seams or raw edges, turning it into various folded mysterious shapes.  making patterns that sculpt around the body.  I love every moment of it, even when it’s frustrating or exhausting. I miss it if I stop for a week or more.  Somehow, this activity aligns with something internal to me, makes me feel good.

I don’t even see the point of trying to learn something if the process isn’t enjoyable.  If it is enjoyable, you’ll spend your free time practicing.  if it’s not, it will just be a chore, something that gets in the way of finding that thing you really love.

Two years ago I got really into learning languages.  It does the same thing for me as sewing did 15 or 20 years ago.  Makes my left brain busy and thus quiet. Fascinates me for hours.  Compels me to go back day after day. Fills countless notebooks with practice.

So it comes down to this:  why learn something at all if it doesn’t fit some personal internal fascination and fulfill it?   if you *think* you want to learn to sew, but really just want some cool clothes you can’t find in stores, recognize that and find a tailor.  You’ll get what you want more quickly.

Posted by:brook delorme

2 replies on “teaching oneself

  1. You must be cut from the same cloth that I came from. No pun intended. I learned to sew when I was in 5th grade. My cousin taught me in the summer when I was 11. As my children grew and were in school, I volunteered with the theater at both the middle school and high school designing costumes. How could you ask for anything better than to shop for fabric (with someone else’s money), design, cut and sew the costumes with complete free rein. I must have made over 200 costumes in 4 years. It was great. The same cousin showed me how to knit. With my love of knitting my sister and I opened and ran a yarn shop in Brunswick for a few years. I have in the last few years taught my self to bead on wedding veils and make jewelry. I do cold work with wire jewelry and have started making a line of reimagined jewelry. This is jewelry made from vintage pieces augmented with new components. Reimagined vintage hats is another new item I have been trying to conquer. I am having fun and love the energy that comes from teaching myself.

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