A Rack of Self-Esteem


My decade-long adventure in self-taught sewing has got me doing a lot of self-reflection lately. Since returning to what I love after such a long break, I have been trying get my groove back and rebuild my sewing self-esteem. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing until I started reading sewing blogs again and scrolling through my Instagram feed for what was supposed to be inspiration. Seeing so many others have the success and accomplishment that I wasn’t at the time, did a number on my psyche and I started to get that underachiever feeling that can either paralyze or energize me. Fast forward to today, a year after I ended my sewing hiatus. How am I feeling about how far I’ve come? AWESOME!!!!

My handmade wardrobe began that day in January 2012 when I joined the The Sew Weekly and constructed my first wearable garment after seven years of fumbling my way through a foreign craft (with the Internet as my seeing eye dog) and basting together what must have been a million muslins. Since then it’s grown enough for me to wear something I’ve made most days of the month. And, each day that I do is better for it. My attitude and posture shifts when I wear Najah-made. I stand taller (some days I feel as tall as 5 foot 2!). My walk has a confident, purposeful strut, and the work I do while wearing Najah-made always seems to be of higher quality. I smile at strangers when I wear my Najah-mades out and folks always reciprocate, matching or exceeding my enthusiasm. The garments I sew act like super suits, enhancing my natural abilities and giving me the power to engage the world with the strength and assurance of a triple stitched seam.

I am successful at sewing. Boy, was it hard to type that. For someone who has trouble accepting imperfection in her work, saying that to myself (and believing it) is a therapeutic breakthrough. This is coming from the girl who took thirteen years to finish her bachelor’s degree and only invited her husband to the graduation, assuming the event wouldn’t be that significant to the people who supported her perseverance all those years. The irony of my struggle with recognizing my own accomplishments is in the fact that my name actual means SUCCESS. For real. In Arabic, Najah means “success”. So not only can I finally admit that I am successful at sewing, but I AM SUCCESS. Literally. When I first learned the meaning of my name, I thought the whole thing was unfair and way too much pressure for a short black girl, raised by divorced parents in Northern California. Now, I embrace it. Striving to live up to my name everyday by putting 110% in all I do…especially sewing, because it is such a critical part of my self-discovery.

When the Day 17 theme for this month’s Sew Photo Hop came around (Proudest Achievement), I couldn’t choose one garment because I try to outdo myself each time in an effort to make myself proudest of the latest. So, it was clear that my pride lies in my progress. Filling up an entire rack with clothes I made with my bare hands (while living a very full life!) is an achievement I will no longer hesitate to celebrate. Because we all know, self-esteem is self-made.

How much has sewing affected your self-esteem or how you see yourself in the world? Your stories will help me celebrate my own.