31 July 2011

It's Official: Sewing Changes Lives

Wow. I have been so moved to read your responses to my post asking what impact sewing has had on your life. There were so many thoughtful, fascinating responses - it's taken me a few hours' sittings to read through all the comments, blog posts and emails. I thought I would share a few of the gems here in case you haven't read them...

“I have noticed a marked increase in my confidence since I first sat at the sewing machine, and not just in knowing I can do things/make something/repair something. I'm less shy because I have something about which I'm passionate to talk about, that might sound weird but it's true. I'm more outgoing, less awkward and more able to talk to strangers because I feel like having a passion makes me more interesting.”
- Kirsty

“Sewing has helped me to see what things really matter in life, which for me is being able to fend for yourself and your family. So many things in the world are just not important. They are made important by the company that sells the product, pretending you need it. This attitude has in some way made my world smaller, more locally oriented.”

“I'm a lawyer by profession... I absolutely believe in being (trying to be) a well-rounded person. No one has just one talent, so why spend all one's energy on one thing (one's job, e.g.)? Since I firmly believe this I want to show my children (5 and 7 yo) how to do it as well. I prefer they don't just see me working on the computer. I like that I'm showing them how to make something useful. They also get to see that I struggle yet finish. I like to challenge myself (and let them see it) to do something entirely new, like knitting socks from the cryptic instructions on the paper round a skein of wool...”
- Uta von L

“…this week without my machine and doing no crafting whatsoever my mental health has suffered dramatically… along with the other little crafty bits I do it's my only creative outlet as my job is so far removed from creativity it's a dull gunmetal grey merging into a murky dirty brown… I can't express how much my life has improved as I feel like I have a purpose and it brings me enormous joy to create something I feel is either useful or beautiful or hopefully both. Sewing for me is most definitely not a hobby but a way of life and I wouldn't have it any other way.”

“For me sewing is creative - yes; self sufficient - yes; challenging - YES! But it is also intensely personal - a time to focus on something that is not really needed, that will never make me rich and that is incredibly time consuming but after a lifetime of working hard for other people is just about me.”
- Karen W

“I create for so many reasons, but I would say the top reason is because of the rush that comes with creating your own things; you don't have to wait to find what you want, you can make it yourself and love it 10x more than if you would have bought it because you can proudly say that you made it.”
- Cicily

“Sewing isn't just a hobby, sewing IS me! It's such an integral part of who I am.”
- Sarah

“Sewing has helped to break my addiction to consumerism. After learning so much about human trafficking and slave labor used world-wide to make cheap clothing I now feel empowered to 'vote with my dollar' by refusing to shop at places like that. Instead I make my own clothing or re-make clothes bought at thrift shops.”
- Jessie

“The timing of starting to sew was crucial for me... I was facing redundancy and a very uncertain future. Some nasty problems surfaced in my extended family and they happened to coincide with some pretty hefty disappointments in my personal life. I felt like everything was spinning horribly out of control and I couldn't cope at all. I became ill and was forced to take a three month leave it absence from work. It was a tough time because I felt so completely useless, and like I couldn't get anything right. So on all those days off work, I sat down and sewed. I'm not saying sewing is s miracle cure for depression! But being able to turn my hand to something creative was a really important outlet for me and still is. At a time when I felt like I sucked at everything, being able to create was an amazing feeling. I knitted and crocheted up a storm then too! It was soothing and stimulating at the same time and it was definitely a factor in my recovery.”
- Roisin

“I have spent the last 17 years in the legal field, 15 in law school and as a litigation attorney, and the last 2 as a judge. My day job is stressful. But when I have the opportunity to immerse myself in a project, it is as if I am walking from the black-and-white scene of my "normal" life into the technicolor world of fabric, imagination and possibility. The experience is tactile, visual, psychological and emotional.”
- Beth

“I often am questioned by others about my sewing hobby. Most people think it is quaint and a 'nice' thing to keep me busy, but few people (who aren't makers of some sort) seem to really 'get' how creatively challenging and satisfying it is. My standard explanation is that sewing satisfies my insatiable drive to discover how things are made and learn how to do that myself...”
- Casey

“I'm curious to know how much it is sewing per se that changes your/one's life, or how much reaching into a community of like-minded people (via blogging, meet ups, sewing classes, etc.) contributes to it too."
- Nathalie

“Like you, the feeling of being free from the influence of advertising and clothes shopping and generally consuming rabidly, makes me feel awesome. Like I have more clarity and time to pursue what really interests me. Figuring out what I like and what I want is so much easier when I no longer visit the church of Topshop regularly!”
- Zoe

“I want you to know that your post brought tears to my eyes and overwhelmed me in a very surprising way. I only found this world of sewing bloggers in June. Since that time, I have been happier and more excited about life than I had been in years.”

A lot of people also wrote to me to say that sewing helped them through difficult times in their lives - miscarriages, eating disorders, depression... Being in control through the process of making had a positive impact on their lives. This was something I wasn't expecting to hear - but it makes total sense.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded. I could only fit a selection of quotations in here but please know that I appreciated every single one. So much food for thought...

[Soundtrack: 'Down in the Valley' by Otis Redding]


  1. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing this selection of quotes! It is very moving to see how sewing has impacted our lives!!

  2. Some very thought provoking responses to your post. Responses that lead my thoughts even deeper into why I sew and the impact it has had on me. Good luck with your paper I'm sure it will be very interesting.

  3. Thank you for being the thinking woman's sewist, Tilly! :)

  4. great post tilly! i'm glad so many people's lives are touched by sewing, crafting and creating. it makes me want to get up and start crafting NOW! only it's 11pm at night.

  5. Wow, these are lovely. Thanks for sharing! I just did a few posts on my blog about crafting and the link between 'makers' and responsible shopping, and was floored by the insight and experiences shared in the comments as well. I love the generosity in the blogging/crafting world.

  6. What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing all these stories. I love to here about the confidence that making something by hand provides for people. This is a big part of the conceptual foundation of my art practice... I like to here that the ideas I have are true for others as well. :)

  7. I love sewing & our sewing community. Makes me feel very proud to be a part of this. I have not yet put forward my two penn'th (that's not how you spell it?) but I am developing my initial thoughts I put in a comment on Sigrid's blog, when she also wrote her response to your post (analog me). I'll get there in the end!

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  9. Some months ago we start a project to make fabric dolls with our kids, and suddently we discover a fun way to spend our time while our two little kids sleep. Since than we never stop sewing and our tv is allways turned off and with the family and friends incentive we are starting to post our project in this blog www.amamima.com
    Thank you for sharing all these stories.


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