Let me tell you a secret. I’m one of those rare people who doesn’t pack away winter and summer wardrobes according to the seasons. I just don’t own that many clothes! But this top allowed me to understand that there is room in my closet for a spring top. Light enough to keep me feeling bright and breezy, but with a bit of coverage should a chill set in.
And statement sleeves are a big part of Spring 2020.
Can you snap out of a sewing slump during lockdown?
Lately, I’ve only been sewing items for the home. I couldn’t get my head around sewing scrubs or masks. Equally, I felt no compunction to sew pretty dresses.
But then, I had a stash that was sitting there doing … precisely nothing. In a fit of desperation, I closed my eyes and reached into my secret cupboard, pulling out the first bolt of fabric that my fingers closed around.
If you’re anything like me, you need a badger in your life. Preferably, one holding a cocktail!
I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t concentrate on complex sewing projects right now. Also, I have a big stash to delve into and a desire to make my home an even happier place to be in. For obvious reasons.
So, I dug out this House Of Hackney velvet, from their 2011 Hackney Empire range. Isn’t it to die for?
So, there I was, having a lovely snooze – I was chasing squirrels in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, it were right grand an’all – when blow me down, if I didn’t hear the strangest noise. It sounded all, like, snotty and undignified.
I leapt off the bed and padded through to the office. There she was, wringing her hands and wailing in front of the laptop.
‘What the blooming heck is wrong this time?’ I barked, leaping onto my favourite chair.
She looked over at me. You’ve never seen a face like it. Well, you probably have, seeing as she constantly posts photos here, I mean, give me a break, who needs to see that many dresses? Or her noggin? Anyway, it wasn’t a pretty sight. All red and blotchy.
‘Ella!’ she cried.
‘That’s my name, don’t wear it out.’ I’d been awake for two minutes and she STILL hadn’t given me breakfast. ‘Come on, spill.’
‘I just don’t know how … I can’t … I mean…’ She was doing that crying thing again. ‘I don’t know how to make everyone feel better.’
‘Is that all? Come on.’ I circled a paw through the air for her to hand the laptop over.
She slid it onto the dog table and opened the screen. ‘What are you … doing?’ She stared as my paws started to fly across the keyboard.
‘Don’t worry,’ I told her. ‘I’ll make it sound like it’s you writing. Just like I always do. Now, go get me breakfast. And whilst you’re at it, light me a goddamn cigar.’
She shuffled off, all pathetic like, and I started writing…
The world currently feels divided between those of us who relish our creativity and those of us who … just can’t get going.
If the latter is you – or if you want to inspire a friend who might benefit from an injection of craft – I thought I’d round up five home-friendly creative projects that could help.
You may remember the spurt of adult colouring books a few years ago. I predict a resurgence! It’s calming, comforting and gives you the opportunity to colour in a gift. Check out the free downloadable template from Jacqueline Colley that I coloured in recently, with a dear friend in mind.
If you don’t fancy sewing, you can always knit. Right now, Whitney Hayward is generously sharing her knitting patterns for free, in support of the community.
Please don’t think you can’t knit! If you can learn knit one, pearl one, you can knit anything! Even one of my most complicated shawl patterns is basically knit one, purl one.
A couple of years ago, my mum announced that she could no longer knit because of arthritis. I was bereft. The hobby that we’d shared for certainly all of my life. But you can’t keep a good woman down! She discovered blackwork and was soon creating the most stunning pieces. She even inspired me to buy my own embroidery kit.
Lots of people are inspired to write their memoirs right now, or even the novel they’ve always had burning inside them. Could that be you? Or might you even … start a blog? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to this format, as we all crave long form, more meaningful ways to engage with each other. I have a few blogging tips. It’s all about the fine art of conversation…
I know this one sounds crazy, but bear with me! I’ve recently really enjoyed watching Youtube make up videos. So calming, late at night when I can’t concentrate on reading. The queen for me (and many others) is Lisa Eldridge. You’ll quickly learn that applying make up is a craft like any other. And a swipe of lipstick keeps us buoyant in trying times. If you’re into the vintage look, Timeless: A Century of Iconic Looks is a great book.
I hope that helped. What other creative activities could you recommend? I’m all ears!
This outfit was sewn from wine-coloured double gauze bought from eBay, with a metallic gold dot. It’s super cute, wears and launders well – what’s not to like? Of course, because of those gold dots, I pressed the fabric on the wrong side, and not at top heat. If I pressed from the right side, I’d use my silk organza press cloth.
You can’t sew if you’re anxious; you can’t be anxious if you sew.
In 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, but being mindful is proven to reduce anxiety. What does being mindful mean? It means devoting time to your thoughts and feelings, often by engaging in a deliberate activity that you pay attention to without judging. Sound like sewing?
From personal experience, I know that sewing can be a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety.
When world or life events beyond my control agitate me, I take out a piece of sewing. Often, I turn to a smaller task that forces me to work slowly and concentrate but isn’t as mentally taxing as, say, trying to ease in a sleeve head or neatly insert a zip.
Some examples of mindful sewing tasks might be:
• Hand stitching a hem
• Cutting out pattern pieces
• Tacking temporary stitches
• Embroidering a motif
If you want your sewing space to be your sanctuary, build slow sewing into your acts of self-love. Your serotonin levels will thank you!
‘I am always aware that I am continuing a tradition that human beings have learned all over the world for centuries. What we are doing is both important and inconsequential.’ Blog reader, Rachel Begley