Hey everyone! My name is Sophie, you may have seen some of my posts in the Ellie and Mac Facebook group. I am a part-time student, part-time charity volunteer and a full-time craftaholic! Writing is something I’ve always been passionate about, and I am really excited and grateful for the opportunity to share my first ever blog with you.
I want to talk to you today about sewing to relax. These are difficult times and the prevalence of mental health problems is rapidly increasing. Sewing can be incredibly effective as a coping strategy; studies show a positive relationship between creativity and well-being and sewing is even receiving recognition as a way to treat certain mental health problems, such as depression. Sewing can help you relax, distract you from negative emotions and give you a huge sense of achievement.
One of my favourite things about it though, is the community that comes with it. Social isolation is, despite currently being necessary, an obviously growing issue and loneliness has huge implications for our health. Due to a compromised immune system, I can count the times I have left my house this year on one hand, and can honestly say that online crafting communities have helped me stay positive.
Sewing can be stressful too – when a project doesn’t turn out the way that you wanted it to, or you make a mistake or don’t understand a particular pattern. One of the things I find most stressful is if there is a problem with the tension on my sewing machine or overlocker – it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment! I often fix the problem by turning it off and on again, but only after trying every possible tension, eliminating other possible causes, getting overwhelmed, turning the machine off and walking away for a moment and making a cup of tea. A good friend of mine asked me to make these wall hangings as gifts for her bridesmaids – I was finishing them the morning of the day I needed to leave to travel to her wedding! Thankfully my usual ‘fix’ worked and she loved them.
Anyway, back to sewing to relax! As boring as it sounds, one of the most important things is having an organized space to sew. I am a firm believer in the saying ‘creativity is messy and I am very creative’ – but, in order to relax and sew, I need a clear space. It doesn’t have to be huge – sometimes I sew at my dining room table but I also use a small over-bed table (like the ones they have in hospital). I find smaller projects best when I need my over-bed table, and currently have some personalized bunting on the go.
I like background noise, and whenever I’m feeling miserable or stressed out, I find a positive, up beat playlist on Spotify and turn the volume up. I have always enjoyed listening to music, and struggle not having some form of noise in the background. This is probably because growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospital and quiet was extremely rare. I found myself listening to music any time I needed to block the world out or focus on anything.
I love a sewing challenge (like this shirt I made for my dad), but sometimes, when I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, all I want to do is just sew something straightforward that I know will turn out well. The sense of achievement you get from completing a project can be a huge mental boost. My most recent ‘relaxing sew’ were these presents I made for a friend of mine who is a nurse who has worked with COVID-19 patients throughout the current pandemic. An eye mask, antibacterial gel holder and a lavender heart pouch.
I hope some of these tips help you the next time you need a ‘relaxing sew’! I have really enjoyed writing this, I hope you have enjoyed reading it!
One final note - if you are struggling, please, please reach out to someone. You are never alone.