Sewing as meditation

I have recently discovered the Love to Sew podcast, presented weekly by the wonderful Helen (from Helen’s Closet) and Caroline (from Blackbird Fabrics). I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this podcast – it is like sneakily listening in as two friends chat about their favourite subject. They cover a wide range of topics (recent shows have covered pattern matching, bias tape, mending and inspirational sewists), and also interview fabulous people, such as Stasia Savasuk from Style School, and Minimal Machinist Rachael Gilbert-Burns.

I could go on and on about how great this podcast is – each episode is chock full of practical tips for improved sewing, signposting to interesting patterns, shout outs to inspirational sewists to follow on Instagram, as well as tons of fascinating information about the subject of the episode. There is so much content it is almost a bit overwhelming and your will end up reaching for a notepad or your phone to look up all the great resources they namecheck. I first started listening to this podcast when I had a 5.5 hour drive to make alone… as I got into the first episode there were so many things mentioned that I knew I wanted to look up, but as I was driving I couldn’t make a note of them! I had just about resigned myself to having to re-listen to the episodes when I realised that along with each show, Love to Sew publishes a set of show notes including links to tutorials, patterns, blogs, instagram accounts… you name it! Did I mention how much I love this podcast? They think of everything.

One particular show really resonated with me: Episode 149 on Meditative Crafting. This episode explored how craft can be meditative and help people relax, de-stress and achieve some calm, especially in these anxiety-inducing times. This really chimed with me because in the middle of June my grandad died. Though he was 91 years old, he was in really good nick and his death came as a huge shock. He and I were very close and I am completely devastated.

For the last three weeks since he died I have been stunned, unable to concentrate on anything. I have been casting about, trying to find something to occupy myself that would help soothe my pain. And what did I turn to? The only thing that made sense: I dusted off my sewing machine and a WIP that had been lingering in a drawer for months and picked up where I left off.

Even when I am not particularly stressed I find sewing relaxing, but this was something else: As I sewed my sewing machine seemed to develop medicinal properties. The step-by-step, methodical approach to following pattern instructions, and the rhythmic cycle of pin-sew-press-repeat provided structure and direction that I needed. The hum of the sewing machine supplied welcome white noise to quieten my mind. Finally, the simple fact that I could see my project transforming from scraps of fabric into a wearable item of clothing provided a small sense of achievement.

Sewing has been so soothing that I have thrown myself into a number of new projects, ordering fabric and notions left, right and centre, fawning over beautiful patterns, and obsessing over newly discovered Instagram accounts (thanks to Love to Sew Episode 146: Sew Inspired). This has provided a very welcome distraction over recent weeks.

It’s been interesting that my lovely sister had also turned to crafts as a means of both occupying her mind and paying a tribute to our grandad. Grandad’s funeral was a small affair – Covid-19 lockdown restrictions meant that only 12 family and close friends could attend. My sister made a small pin for all those who came celebrating Grandad’s infamous dress sense. His sartorial choices were interesting (partly due to being colour blind) and he often paired clashing colours together. The pins commemorated the time he wore a red checked shirt, orange trousers, and a Border Regiment (purple, green and gold) tie.

This outfit has become stuff of family legend and it was so lovely for us all to wear a pin to remember him. I’m planning to turn my pin into a hanging decoration for my Christmas tree to have a small remembrance of Grandad on the tree.

Lawrence Keen
11 April 1929 – 14 June 2020

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