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
What were you doing 10 years ago? What the heck was I doing?!
Well, I guess in some corner of my house, I sat down with a laptop and opened a WordPress account. I remember being very inspired by sewing and wanting to be part of the online conversation.
Back then, it was all about leaving long, enthusiastic comments on other people’s blogs. If you want to hear how it really worked, you should definitely listen to this podcast I took part in. The online sewing community was US-focussed, fledgling, and vibrant.
Much has changed – other than the vibrant part. And I am sooooo happy to see how many people have filled this world of ours with thousands of Instagram posts and comments. It really is staggering to see how some of my peers have grown from isolated individuals (“You sew?!”) to being successful authors, business people, Youtubers and community hosts. What else is to be achieved, and by whom?
Did you witness the rather magnificent costume designer, Sandy Powell, wear a toile to the BAFTA awards? She’s raising money for Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, the home of his creativity. The plan was to persuade famous attendees to sign her toile, and auction it off.
Her plan worked! The Instagram photos were amazing.
When I was a teenager, I had a white cotton drop-waist dress. God, I loved that dress. And now I love this one almost as much.
It’s a hack, inspired by Lisa Comfort’s recent vlog where she shared a hack of the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress to make a maxi dress. Mind. Blown! So simple, so inspiring. And I had exactly the right fabric waiting to be pressed.
It’s an animal print viscose from – you guessed it – TMOS. It’s super cheap and so lovely to work with. There’s still some on a roll, so canter down to Walthamstow market, like the eager sewing unicorns I know you are!
I didn’t exactly copy Lisa’s version. Mine isn’t quite a maxi dress. I paired the Shift Dress bodice and the Myosotis Dress skirt, thereby combining two of my favourite patterns. Done!
I’ll be wearing this dress to death, I can tell. Have you done any hacking lately?
Have you guys seen polka dots EVERYWHERE this season? I have! The great thing about sewing is that we all likely have a polka dot somewhere in our stash, so we can crown ourselves officially ahead of the trend.
I don’t entirely buy the received wisdom that knits are easier to sew with than wovens. Sure, the fitting is more straightforward, but with each knit you spend some time (at least!) understanding the fabric’s structure and behaviour. Patterns for knit makes forewarn you to explore the personality of your fabric with swatch tests. Interesting.
I can’t decide if I like the lopsided wall or the fungal concrete more. Keeping it real, folks!
Now, didn’t I tell you I’d been making stuff? Here is one of my new outfits, composed of both sewing AND knitting.
Let’s start with the shawl, shall we? Long-time readers of Did You Make That already know that it takes me about one gazillion years to knit any single item. Glaciers move at a quicker pace. So, I’m keen to celebrate a finished make!
This is the Waiting For Rain shawl by Sylvia McFadden. It’s a lovely combination of calming garter stitch and head-scratchy lace sections.