Sew Problematic: Separation from Our Creations

sewing--buttons--bunch-of-buttons-mike-savadWhenever I hear that someone can’t sew on so much as a button, a small part of me dies inside.

I understand not being able to use a sewing machine, but a button? It’s one of the easiest things to do in the sewing world! Plus, most people wear clothes with buttons, and buttons tend to pop off. What exactly do people do when one of their buttons has gone astray?

So I asked people.

Most of the people I asked, (all of whom claimed they did not know how to sew), explained they either asked someone else to sew on the button, had their dry cleaners do it, or simply wore the de-buttoned outfit and hoped that no one noticed.


It’s truly a sad state of affairs when people don’t know how to do something so simplistic as basic button repair. Of course, this got me thinking about reasons why people don’t know how to do this task. Although there are many potential reasons, (e.g., gender-based role assignment madness, poor educational system, lack of survival training), one reason in particular sprang into my mind:

Outsourcing America

Allow me to explain this abstract but poignant connection.

Over the past several decades, Americans have been buying products that were made in other countries. Other countries buy products made here in America, that’s just global commerce, but things have gone beyond buying goods from other countries. Instead of American workers being hired to make products here in the states, companies outsource the labor to other countries to save money.

Most jobs that involve craftsmen working with their hands to create products don’t exist anymore. Those jobs are either sent out of our country or they’re done by robots in factories.

There are many other issues associated with the outsourcing epidemic, but in relationship to this article, I would like to focus on the effect outsourcing has had on the American social consciousness.

Throughout the industrial era, it has become cheaper and cheaper to outsource or automate the labor. Doing so has separated the consumers from the consumed.

As a result of this separation, we no longer have the same amount of love and respect for the products we use. Before, there was a sense of patriotism in making products for the people of this country. Beyond patriotism, there was familial pride. We could take joy in the fact that one or our family members made the cars we drive, the houses we own, the food we eat, and the art we appreciate.

Nowadays, the average person has no idea where their products come from. They buy the items through retailers who buy their products through wholesalers who obtain their products through the actual manufacturers.

Maintaining a global reach is a huge part of outsourcing

We live in an age where the global marketplace has become so convoluted and so compartmentalized that most of the products we buy travel through a logistics maze of factories and storage warehouses around the world before ever ending up on the shelves of our local department stores.

How does all of this relate to sewing on buttons?

First of all, recognize that outsourcing works because it’s easy, cheap, and it lets companies gain a bigger profit margin. Although the morals are questionable, in the capitalistic scheme of things, the outsourcing model works brilliantly.

As we are capitalists and driven by commerce, the models that work in the business world often influence every aspect of American life. In fact, some would argue that easy and cheap solutions have become the unspoken American mantra.


  • Students aren’t doing well in school? Institute No Child Left Behind and pass everyone regardless of skill level or effort!
  • People are getting discriminated against in the workforce? Have companies attach the words “Equal Opportunity Employer” on the bottom of every job advertisement to show America supports equality!
  • Sick of all the product-based lawsuits? Save billions by slapping on warning labels for customers who are too stupid to realize that coffee is hot!

The easy and cheap mantra can also be related to the era of entitlement we now find ourselves.

Many (young) people believe they have the right to get whatever they want immediately regardless of the amount of effort they put out. Therefore, in lieu of a proper work ethic, the self-proclaimed entitled do just enough to get by. In general, they only learn new skills that are necessary for the job or for more pleasurable activities.

Most jobs in the states do not require people to learn to sew. In addition, most schools have eliminated any classes that would teach sewing, due to budget cuts. Sewing can be a pleasurable craft, but it’s not something that is enjoyed by the masses.

Entitlement Era Conclusion: Who needs to sew? Buy something new or pay someone to do it.

hobbies-leisure-crafts-sewing_needles-needles-button_holes-buttonholes-mfln6066lMy Hopes and Fears for Humanity

Although the amount of people I know who can’t sew saddens my soul, I see a growing number of young people learning to craft, and many are selling their wares on places like Etsy. I also enjoy how adults en masse tend to appreciate the originality of homemade gifts. If only we can teach our children to have the same appreciation instead of fixating on the newest most expensive gizmo they don’t really need.

What scares me is that sewing, among other acts, such as farming and building, are basic survival skills. When World War III happens, or if the zombie apocalypse hits first, we will be left scrambling since we have become so complacent in our consumerism. Sure, we can use our shopping skills and become scavengers, there are plenty of products currently in stores and in warehouses. Eventually, though, those resources will run out.

In the end, we will be left with what we can create with our own two hands. If you can’t be bothered now to learn how to sew on a button, how do you hope to create the basic things you will need to survive?





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