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That Maker Feeling

Putting a name to the joy of making

In the age of fast fashion, disposable plastics, and anything delivered to your door with free two day shipping, I wasn’t surprised when, while cooking dinner for a friend, she was confused as to why I was putting my vegetable scraps—onion skins, carrot tops, and potato peels—into a plastic bag in my freezer. For months now, I’ve been making my own vegetable stock. The result is an ever-changing flavor bomb with no sodium or waste. But my friend still didn’t get it. I tried to explain that feeling to her that making my own stock—and making my own bread, growing my own herbs, and sewing—gives me, but I couldn’t define well myself.

What is the benefit of making one’s own goods? Whether it be soap, vegetables, art, or any of the myriad of truly homemade goods we make, it’s hard to put into words—and even harder to justify to non-makers—why making matters so much to us. Utpal Dholakia, a marketing professor and expert in consumer behavior, explains this feeling in his self-creation effect theory.

The self-creation effect aims to prove that when someone makes their own goods, they tend to appreciate the finished product more, consume it more mindfully, and experience greater happiness during and after the work is done. In two studies where participants made their own food or ate prepared food, Dholakia’s theory proved true: the participants who made their own food enjoyed the experience of eating more and ate more slowly than those who had eaten prepared food.

This theory can be applied to sewing and quilting, too. The intense concentration that sewing and quilting requires allows you to think critically about how you are feeling in the present moment, opposed to the mindless tasks of scrolling through social media or sweeping. At the same time, this concentration also pulls your mind away from negative thoughts, releasing yourself from the monkey-mindedness that so many of us find ourselves in nowadays. Sewing and quilting certainly gives you a greater sense of achievement, especially when receiving compliments on an item or feeling the greater joy of giving a handmade quilt.

In a time where so many of us turn to the internet to find a quilt or scarf or run to the grocery store for bread or stock, finding a community of makers can help you to stay motivated in your craft, support each other’s work, and spark creativity. Join our Lost Creative community by liking our Facebook page, following us on Instagram, and subscribing to our newsletter!

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