Thursday, 21 December 2017

Sewing for self-care: slow down, relax and enjoy the creative process

I've spent the year making a conscious effort to make more sustainable fashion choices; carefully considering and planning purchases from ethical brands, and altering or repairing my clothes instead of getting rid of them when I'm not getting the most out of them. 

Altering or refashioning clothes isn't too tricky for me as making bespoke clothing is my day job, and I love it so much I'm happy to do it as a hobby as well! This year has been a busy one though; as well as work deadlines I've had a pretty big personal project deadline too: I made my sister's wedding dress, as well as altering a dress I'd made for myself to wear as her bridesmaid. Although none of my personal projects have felt like a chore, this hasn't been the easiest year for me, and I've been forced to slow down a bit for the sake of my health. 

I love being busy and having lots of projects on the go, but I've (finally!) come to understand the importance of actually taking the time to rest and recharge. I usually take a sewing or knitting project back to my parents' house over Christmas to have something to do with my hands while we re-watch our favourite movies, but rather than choosing something quick and simple to make, or giving myself a tight deadline for the project, I've decided to do the complete opposite.

I like featuring refashioning  projects on the blog that have taken me less than a day, as I'm well aware that most people don't have hours and hours to spend on intricate sewing. To make clothing alterations feasible and practical, they have to be something we can fit in around our busy lives, otherwise it's all too easy to abandon a project and buy something new instead. I enjoy challenging myself to make something quickly and efficiently, but I don't need a huge volume of new clothes, so I have decided to challenge myself to make something slowly and thoughtfully instead.

When I was going through a tough time earlier this year I took a couple of days off to go glamping in a beautiful walled garden on a country estate. With no TV and minimal phone signal, I spent a lovely relaxing day practicing embroidery stitches; with no deadline looming, I was able to immerse myself in in the repetitive but purposeful action of stitching. One of my favourite parts of the sewing I do professionally is the intricate embellishment that you just don't see on a lot of high street clothes, because it takes too long and is therefore too expensive, so I have given myself permission to make something frivolous and indulgent as an extra Christmas present.

I love sitting up in bed reading, but I don't like having the heating up too high, so I usually end up bundled up in a decidedly unglamorous old cardigan. I bought this lovely vintage quilted bedjacket a few years ago, but the hand-stitched silk lining is to fragile to withstand much wear and tear, so I'm going to make a new one using fabric from my stash and the beautiful antique embroidery thread I was given as a birthday present. I'm using wadding left over from making a quilt for a friend's new baby, sandwiching it between two layers of the silk satin, then I'll stitch round the chrysanthemum flowers until I get bored!

I'm also taking home some thought-provoking reading about sewing and ethical fashion: Fashion Revolution's "Loved Clothes Last" zine, and Sarah Corbett's "How to be a Craftivist". I've been so thrilled by the positive feedback I've had on my blog; being told that I have prompted people to make thoughtful clothing choices, or that one of my blog posts was the push they needed to start sewing again, has been so lovely to hear. I'm looking forward to producing more content that inspires positive change in 2018, so I'm looking for inspiration from other writers and creators who use their skills to make the world a better place.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed at this time of year; if the pressure to dash around frantically spending money all seems too much, remember it is ok to take time for yourself and do something you find relaxing. You deserve a holiday, and if you have big plans for living your best life in 2018 you need to be approaching the New Year feeling rested and refreshed!

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