What I Learned About Dreams from Sewing

Last year I wound up hours of feeding my sewing machine cuts of fabric, pieced together to make something born out of my heart. I wrapped them in gift bags and added tissue. I wanted meaning in the gifts I gave.


I didn’t want to stand in long lines and drift down aisles shopping for things. I wanted to create something with my hours and labor and love poured into the dresses that would twirl in the summer sun, or the hats and costumes for fanciful play and tea parties and gatherings of dolls and daydreams.


I wanted to make beautiful the jagged edges of cloth, cut boldly with razor-sharp scissors slicing through, fluid lines hemmed and forming something whole.

I am not an experienced seamstress. One class in the evenings where women gathered with patterns and machines and boxes of scissors and tape and pins and more questions than we had answers to was all I had ever done.

We filed into the empty art room at the high school as the temperature dropped low outside and the dark outside gulped up the sky. We were warm, cloistered with dreams of homemade Christmas presents and the ability to make something with our hands. Where the instructors examples of things we’d be able to sew seemed impossible and confusing.

I had to ask which way the machine was supposed to face, with the buttons facing me or away from me? So yeah, you can imagine.

But first we cut and pinned and measured out dreams.

And the first cut is the hardest. Because what you have is a bolt of unspoiled fabric. Once cut it can’t be uncut. So you make sure you have measured right. You make sure your finger traces the line of size to the yardage. You make sure your scissors cut sharp and even.


But until you cut, you’re just dreaming of the possibilities.

I have yards of fabric, some have a life ahead as curtains, or pillows, or dresses if and when I get around to it.  But for now they have potential. They line up obediently waiting for their chance to be. They sit on my shelf useless, formless.

Just like dreams, the investment comes once you’ve cut, once you’ve committed and plunged in with shears, you will learn the way the pieces fit and the shape it will take as you slice.


When you’re learning, your seam ripper is your best friend. The sharp tool can sink into the seams and pull apart thread and weave. It can undo wayward lines, rip through cloth joined that should be split. It gives you a do-over. And I needed a lot of do overs.


I sewed the bottom of my daughters skirt together not once, but three times. Yes, folks, three times I sewed the bottom together completely so there was only a pouch and no possibility for legs to go through, and then I’d ripped it out and started over. And over. And over.

And it always feels like a step back. Like the work going in is just being ripped apart and that seam sewed straight and strong turns out to be all wrong. It must come out. And that feels like loss.

But I didn’t give up. And eventually, she was able to wear it, legs and all.

I am teaching my daughter to sew. After her attempts at outfits made from cut cloth scraps and old wash cloths held together precariously with knots, safety pins, and glue I realized she was made to create.


She has a small starter machine. She knits her brows together and squints her eyes as she threads the needle. She feeds the cloth through being careful not to chew up her fingers. She has made a pillow and a skirt and is working on an apron for her doll. She is dreaming up gifts for her new baby cousin due in September. She would like to create a love gift. Something beautiful.

And we all want to, don’t we?

We all have the need to create.

Some do it through words, others through cloth, some through paints, or spreadsheets, or neatly organized labels. Some do it through their hands, thick with flour and kneading dough, the hum of the oven an offering.

But we all partake in creation. We all approach craft with a seam ripper. The first dough doesn’t rise or burns. The words are all wrong and jumbled. The typos flow across the page and the backspace eats them up. The paint gobs on thick and the canvas wilts.

We all need to rip at seams and keep at it. And so I tell her, when she’s sewed the ruffled edge on the wrong side, and the seam wobbles and turns and frays at the corner, that she gets a do-over.

I introduce her to failure and perseverance, the teacher of souls. <—Click to tweet this.

I pull out my seam ripper and teach her to tear away the mistakes to make the beautiful things.


  1. says

    Dear Alia Joy…♥
    I love the simplicity of this writing, which just lays us all bare before our Lord Jesus.
    Thank you.
    During the last 6 months or so, I have been learning and practicing to sew with a wonderful sewing machine my Mom gave me— so I KNOW what that seam ripper is all about!! :)
    Recently I broke my arm pretty badly, and those ‘projects’ that i worked on now-an-then are untouched: ON HOLD.
    I can barely type this out–mostly one hand.
    YET– what a Lesson!!!
    Though it seems that every other day is spent in tears, pain, and frustration, the LORD still meets me. He says “Give thanks in ALL things, for this IS the will of God in Christ Jesus–concerning YOU.” Well I’m not sure if that sentence is 2 or 3 verses combined to make that message to ‘me’, but–oh, the Truth in it!!
    That seam ripper has to be so perfectly sharp and whole! I broke an old one, then used it for a while till I could get a new one. What a difference!! I was much less FRUSTRATED!!!
    That’s kind-of what I am dealing with now, but the LORD is the Ultimate when it comes to perfection, and He will keep ripping out the seams that aren’t the way HE wants them1 [even if He leaves a few learning curves for me to see later. There’s some reason that life and projects are ‘on hold’ right now. It’s NOT a great, Fun time, but to know that the Lord cares enough about His finished work (in ‘me’) gives me such expectation and hope! I can see some areas where my stubborn independence has been holding me BACK from what the Lord wants to use me for. He’s got my attention!! :)
    THAT is so humbling. It’s painful. But the Glory will be to HIM, because HE is ripping out the old, crooked, sewn-over, ‘mis-patched’, ‘mis-matched’ seams, and is taking me through another time in life that I just couldn’t seem to get through. I could NOT get over my’self’!! i still can’t!! But I know He will allow circumstances or just USE circumstances, to bring the changes in my heart that are needed… as long as I am willing, humble, and surrender…
    It’s just too hard to fight, and He softens my heart so I have NO desire to.
    Thank you for always letting the Lord use you to NAIL me to the wall!! hahaha! :) ((huggggs))♥

    • Alia Joy says

      Oh Pamela, I know the frustration of a life on hold. Projects in the waiting. I’ve been dreaming words during the day but haven’t had a moment to write. I have been focused so much on my family and I know it’s a needed thing but being silent here can feel like that same season of desert wandering at times. I’m glad you see God’s hand in the midst of your trials even when they don’t always make sense and that you know that this too shall pass. What you grasp during the broken waiting far surpasses anything you can hold when you have all the will and ability to do it yourself. Love to you, Pam and thanks for sharing your life and story here.

  2. says

    Oh yes a – Do over- and who doesn`t need those every now and again. I love the memories that you have captured here and love how you talk about perseverance and never giving up, even if we don`t have a hole to put our legs through so we can stand.

    PS – I gave an audible squeal when I saw my Twitter feed this morning and saw that you had given birth to words over night. So happy to be reading them here.

    • Alia Joy says

      It’s been hit and miss but I’m hoping to back writing consistently 3 times a week. I’ve got lots of good things to share and God has blessed me in the absence. But yeah, I miss you!!!

    • Alia Joy says

      Well, since you’re not busy at all, you should definitely take up sewing. It is only the most maddening thing to learn ever. But once you get it down, it’s really glorious to dress your little girl in your dreams.

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