Happy September! It’s National Sewing Month

Well, I just learned that September is Sewing Month! It got me thinking about how my love for sewing began, long before my love for painting and art. When we first got married almost 40 years ago, my husband bought me a sewing machine for our First Christmas. He worked nights, and I worked days. He knew that I didn’t care much for watching television, so he thought I might want to take up a hobby. I had no idea what a bobbin was back then! Since there was no Internet back then (can you even imagine?!!) I would go to the local library and borrow books about sewing for beginners. There was a wonderful fabric store in Brooklyn, NY where we lived at the time. After practicing on scraps of fabric, I felt confident to buy yards of material and get serious about sewing. I remember my first creation was a blue jersey long sleeve dress. The problem was, one sleeve was about 5 inches longer than the other, and the hem was crooked. But I was determined, so I kept on buying patterns and fabric, and sewing “simple” things like a skirt with an elastic waistline. Once I had the hang of that, it was so much easier to tackle things like blouses, shirts, jackets, and more. Once I got real good at sewing, I didn’t want to be caught dead in an outfit that I didn’t make! Every time there was a family occasion, I would make sure I sewed a new dress. I remember one particular wedding, I was actually hand sewing the zipper on as we were practically walking out the door. My husband was sorry he created a sewing monster! But I LOVED it. It was such a form of creative expression, much like painting is to me now. And, I saved tons of money in the process. When my daughter was born, I was in my GLORY. I would make outfits for all the major and minor holidays, and everything in between. When she was about 11, she BEGGED me to take her shopping for dungarees. When my son was born, I limited his outfits to Halloween costumes, elastic waist pants with Ninja Turtles on them, and an adorable gray suit jacket for a family reunion.

Handmade, sewing for kids, by Debbie Viola
Christmas outfits sewn by Debbie Viola
jennifer baby family
jennifer baby family

Handmade dress by Debbie Viola

I even challenged myself and made a wedding gown, just for kicks! I think it’s thrown in the back of my basement closet now. But that led to making a few flower girl gowns, as well as gowns for a bridal party. Once my daughter was a teenager, and I discovered decorative painting/faux finishing, I was HOOKED on this new form of expression. And when we had contractors working in our house who saw my work, tell me that I needed to quit my day job because I was better than any professional they had ever seen, there was no turning back. That was in 1998, and I had no idea that those words would ring true three years later. You see, when my boss of 23 years was completely heartless on September 11, 2001, as we witnessed the horrid events from our midtown NYC conference room, I knew I couldn’t work for him any longer. And I promised myself that, as long as I could help it, I would never work for anyone but myself again. Fast forward 17 years, and I’m proud to say that I’m still standing, and my decorative arts studio has pivoted and changed over the years, but there’s nothing I would rather be doing. Except maybe, sewing! But I had limited space in my home studio, so I had to pack away all the sewing, and focus on my art.

Have you ever made a life-changing decision because you knew in your gut it was the right thing to do? I’d love to hear about it.

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