My Lenten Observance: A Fabric Fast

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and I’m one of those folks who likes to observe the season by giving something up. Some years it’s been chocolate, one year it was Facebook (and oh mama that was hard!!), last year it was cappuccinos – and this year it’s fabric shopping. Now, all you seamstresses who just read this and are horrified – don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I won’t sew! And I will still support my local fabric store purchasing notions – thread, needles, interfacing, and maybe the occasional lining fabric (but only if it’s used for lining purposes!), but I’ve decided to completely give up purchasing fashion fabric for the next 40 days. And since I don’t yet have a huge fabric stash, this will be hard.

So, why on earth would I do a thing like that?? I think it’s important to mention from the beginning that I don’t give things up for Lent out of a sense of guilt or a desire for self-punishment. Fasting is a discipline rich in historical and theological meaning, which I won’t get into too much here, but suffice it to say that there are many good reasons that people fast. I fast because it teaches me about my priorities and helps to adjust my perspective if it’s gotten out of whack. It helps me understand where I am in my relationship with God, with others, and with material things.

So why fabric? Why not chocolate again or something like that? In the past I’ve given up beloved food items because it taught me how dependent I was on things like chocolate for happiness and comfort. Not that it’s bad to derive pleasure form eating chocolate – it’s not! – but giving it up for a time gives you a new perspective. Every time I chose not to eat chocolate, it reminded me to reexamine my priorities. However, this year, sewing has become a huge part of my life, and I now that I’ve been at it for several months, I feel the need to take a step back and look at the role that it plays in my life. I don’t want to thoughtlessly churn out project after project just because I can. Rather, I want to be deliberate in my creative decisions – I want to become a good steward of my resources, both in terms of materials and in terms of time and energy. Now, that might still mean that I sew quickly and sew a lot – but I want to be thoughtful and conscientious in doing so.

So for the next 40 days, I will use what I have – I will celebrate the opportunity to be creative and think outside the box. I do have a bit of a stash built up, so I will be creating new garments from that. However, I will also be using this time to go through my preexisting wardrobe (Sarai’s fantastic Wardrobe Architect series will be a great tool!) – which pieces do I wear a lot, which do I wear less often? Are there ways I could refashion seldom-worn pieces instead of going out and making or buying a new one? How can I better address what I need vs. what I want? How can I use my resources more wisely?

That’s my goal til Easter! Even if you don’t observe Lent, I hope this post gave you something to think about. Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “My Lenten Observance: A Fabric Fast

  1. Interesting post! I gave up shopping for Lent two years ago, and you know what, it actually felt really, really freeing. I can’t quite articulate the feeling clearly, but there’s a kind of anxiety and stress that was somehow tied to buying things (for me) and to get rid of that made me feel more focused and more creative. I think it’s really wise to be thoughtful about your output and how you’re using your energy, since it’s a limited resource. 🙂

    • I know exactly how you feel!! Now that I make most of my clothes, whenever I walk into a clothing store it’s to “stealth shop” for ideas and/or industry construction techniques – I definitely feel the relief of not being pressured to buy. Now I need to learn to translate that relief to my fabric shopping, which can sometimes feel totally overwhelming, even when it’s fun!

  2. Pingback: Sewing Meditations, Week 1: More vs. Less | Dressing the Role

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