Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A propos of the tremendous learning opportunity I've had in making the Lady Grey coat, this process has been entirely worth while (life changing, even) on the basis of hand stitching technique alone.

I'm not too proud to tell you that I was afraid of hand stitching. It struck me (ha!) as tedious, painstaking, finicky and hard. Instead, it's meditative, painstaking, finicky and sort of hard, but not really. (That's quite an improvement on my initial impression!)

Here's the thing. I'm a left handed person in a right-handed sewist's world. I sew, depending on the tutorial I'm watching or the book I'm reading and the state my brain is in, with either hand. In truth, I find it harder to re-scope the right handed instructions for left-handedness than to just sew with my non-dominant hand.

I should mention that I'm considered ambidextrous according to those inconclusive tests. I do most everything with my right hand (except write). My dominant eye, ear and foot are on the right. Nonetheless, depending on the moment, I do choose to sew with my left hand and, if the technique is new to me, I have no precedent to follow. Once my brain is clicked into left- or right-sidedness, it's almost impossible for me to switch. I mean, I have to walk away for quite a while till my brain resets itself. Weird, I know.

I wish there were a book called "Hand Sewing for the Left-Handed Sewist". I would SO buy it. Of course, most sewists are women and most women (by a huge majority) are right handed. In fact, the segment of self-identified, left handed women in our population is 1%. How many of them sew, I wonder?? So, something tells me that book doesn't exist.*

Patty smartly suggested that I turn the garment upside down (she read somewhere that it works). Problem is, I generally can't figure out when I'm sewing the wrong way around to begin with. I'm telling you, peeps, my brain doesn't operate in a particularly linear fashion. What's up or down??, really, I say.

So here's today's question: Are you a left-handed sewist? Do you know of a book about left handed tailoring? Did you just switch over to the right-hand?

Or - if you aren't left-handed (the likelihood, after all), do you enjoy hand stitching? Hate it?

*Update: Apparently, there is a book. Guess it doesn't hurt to check before writing the post. PS: Looking at the photo on the cover, my brain winces. I can't figure out if that's the way I want to thread my needle. Maybe I'm a right handed sewist, after all???


  1. Left-handed sewer here and I switch hands while sewing dependent on which way I'm sewing. I have noticed that I sew predominately left to right, though if something is easier to hold in my left hand, then I will sew right to left. If what I'm sewing is in a hoop, such as embroidery, then all bets are off since I have both hands free and will use both, one on top and the other on the bottom.

  2. I'm one of those ambidextrous people too. It depends on what I am doing as to which side is more efficient--for example my right side does the detail work (such as sewing and writing), but my left side is stronger so it does the "grunt work" (hammering nails, throwing a baseball). I don't know...I've pretty much figured out how to sew with what I've got, I think that book would just screw up my technique and make me start from the bottom again? And I avoid handstitching at all cost--I don't even have a hand sewing needle anymore (except the big tapestry one for serger tails)...which is kind of embarrassing to admit.

  3. I am not ambidextrous and I am strongly right-handed and right-footed, but I thread my needle the way shown on that book cover. I also do my hand-sewing right-handed but "backwards", as if I were left-handed and taught to sew right-handed. It took me a long time to get the hang of hand stitching in a way that worked for me, because the way I was taught most definitely did not work.

    Need I say that I am also strongly left eye and left ear dominant. I don't understand upside down or right side up, but then I have trouble telling right from left. No wonder I am confused.

  4. I am right handed but my aunt who taught me to knt eons ago was left handed. I don't remember her sewing, but I still get confused about which way to do things when I try to knit. ;)

    Lois K

  5. My hubby's left handed and i can't belive how many things he's learned to do right handed, just because it's easier!

    Wierdly, I was just excited because I found a video on how to do a picot edge while knitting and I couldn't understand at all what the knitter was doing - I eventually realized that she was knitting left handed and that's why it looked so strange to me!

  6. Not just one, but several books! You should try out which way feels better to you. I'm quite right-handed and very happy sewing the way "all" the books say, but I've often contemplated the plight of the left-handed seamstress. At least it's easy to flip a rotary cutter.

  7. I don't sew and I am right-handed. But I will admit to wishing I was a lefty. In my version of handed mythology that lefties are more creative.

  8. I'm a sewing leftie! To be honest I haven't found it affects my hand-sewing very much (although I do occasionally wish for a left-handed machine)... but I haven't done padstitching yet!

    I remember as a child my mom trying to show me how to crochet and knit, and adapt it for my left-handedness... I think it broke her brain a bit but she must've managed it, because I learned.

    I think I do sometimes turn the piece upside down (usually if I'm catchstitching a hem in the wrong direction. I typically work from left to right, but for catchstitching from right to left (the individual little stitches still go left to right though...)

    Sometimes I find looking in a mirror helps me reverse stuff if I need to.

  9. textileowl: Fascinating!

    CGC: I understand your reluctance to sew by hand. I was totally in that head space until 5 minutes ago. My right side is the "strong" one. Weird the way that works.

    Mardel: That's so bizarre. But it seems to work for you. I'm starting to see how many people just do their own thing. Makes me feel better...

    Lois: Ah, those helpers can screw us all up! :-)

    Patty: We tend to just figure it out because the world doesn't care if you're left handed.

    ejvc: So true! And I use a rotary cutter :-) I ordered the book. We'll see if it enlightens, or confuses, me further!

    Bel: In mine, lefties are "on their own planets" or (to put it more diplomatically) "go their own way".

    tanitisis: I never thought of a mirror but that sounds way harder than anything! If you encounter any challenges while pad stitching, give me a holler.