Why I Sew: Miriah

Hello! I am so excited to be sharing my thoughts about sewing, life, and the intersections of experience. My name is Anna Miriah and I was named after my grandmother, but I’ve always been called Miriah. I started sewing about 10 years ago, but three years ago I started making clothing for myself consistently. Currently I sew whenever I have time – while always trying to be thoughtful in my making.

Many of my earliest memories are tied to clothing — recollections of what my mother wore, the feel of silk as I hugged my grandmother, and the click of my Oma’s knitting needles form the tapestry of my childhood. When I sew, I create a wearable scrapbook. Wearing a dress I’ve sewn is remembering the process of making as well as the life I’ve lived.

My life and experiences are woven over the fabric, an invisible design stitched by passing time onto each garment. 

I was introduced to sewing as a child, but taught myself to sew as an adult. It took developing a certain amount of patience and resilience before I could appreciate what it means to sew. As with any skill set, there is more failing in the learning process than success. When I was younger, the frustration and disappointing outcomes seemed insurmountable. Now, the puzzle solving aspect of pattern layout and construction tickle my brain. The meditative, and often repetitiously mundane, practice of pinning, stitching, ironing, and connecting pieces of fabric is soothing. The act of making my clothing is a challenge I love. Each project teaches me new things about the process and myself.

One of the lessons I’ve learned while sewing is that what we wear matters and clothing tells our stories.

It is a nonverbal language that connects and allows us to express and identify feelings without saying a word. When I choose a pattern, decide on fabric, and construct a new garment, I am giving myself the gift of self-expression. What I wear speaks of who I believe I am. At the very least, I believe clothing should be comfortable and functional, but it should also be more. More of feeling strong, feeling graceful, more feeling my best self. On the hanger it may look like a dress, but on my body, it is custom-made armor shielding against the ceaseless negativity perpetuated by the beauty and fashion industries. My handmade clothes make me feel like a secret superhero with magical powers.

While I love the secret confidence boost of wearing clothing I’ve made, I don’t have to sew. I am privileged to easily find clothing in stores both new and second hand that fit. But, for me, sewing is also resistance. Sewing is slowing down, practicing delayed gratification, and stepping out of the cycle of mindless consumption. Unlike impulsively picking up a new top as “retail therapy,” making the simplest camisole requires countless steps and skills. Sewing has given me a new appreciation and awareness of the human cost of clothing. All clothing is handmade. When I engage in creating, I am practicing mindfulness and gratitude. Making is the thread that connects me to my family’s heritage and to a community of women that spans centuries and cultures.

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