Andrew Brant

My first sewing machine

Andrew Brant
My first sewing machine

 

Up until now, I’ve had one shameful secret - that I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. I was familiar - my family has owned Brant's Clothing in Missouri for exactly 100 years this year, where my brother and father sew every day.  My mom is an accomplished fabric artist herself and makes amazing quilts, with a lifetime of all kinds of other projects from clothes to fabric art. I bet every single day at least someone is sitting behind a sewing machine. 

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I’ve known how to sew by hand, having done cross stitch art with my mom when I was young, and learning basic repairs. I’ve made countless supply trips to Missouri Sewing Machine for supplies, I’ve sewn on patches, I’ve sat behind the register pulling thread out of this or that a million times. But I never knew how to use a machine. 

 

So a few months ago, I decided to change that. I got a good, heavy duty Singer that I’m told could sew leather, and @wadulisiwoman brought me to a fabric store to get the rest of my kit. My dad gave me some pointers. And this weekend, she and I sewed tougher a new curtain / door to our office with some fabric we picked out together, replacing whatever cheap one I bought when I first moved in. 

 

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Like building my own furniture, or making my own food, it appeals to the anti-capitalist in me.  Not having to buy something that was made with exploited labor, and instead use that productive capacity to make something for ourselves feels like a small act of rebellion. It’s simple - it’s a curtain! - but it’s also the stepping stone to more elaborate projects.  No, I don’t intend to make all my own clothes from old flour sacks, but being able to maintain what I own and make what I need where I can isn’t just about tradition, or being frugal, but enjoying the fruits of my labor in an immediate way. It also means I am no longer limited by what’s at Target, or what’s on Amazon - ethically dubious but sometimes necessary.  And while I love nothing more than commissioning custom work from friends and local artisans, there are some things (like a curtain) where that might be a bridge too far. 

 

 

I think I’ll make a tool roll for my chisels next, and a few more curtains are on the way. Thanks to Ash for the patience teaching me how to get started. Now I’ll never have to say ‘I’m the only person in my family who can’t use a sewing machine’ ever again 

artist, printmaker from chicago