I love to read. But as I have gotten older, I frequently find it hard to stay focused if there are things on my mind. It's just not the escape it used to be. Returning to sewing as my main hobby has provided that balm that reading used to provide. But now give me a sewing book to read - like The Complete Guide to Fitting which I am immersed in right now - and it's a different story. I want to run to my sewing room and try out all that I'm learning. Now I'm not just a book nerd - I'm a sewing book nerd.
And it’s not just about being in front of the machine. You can also take the time to plan projects, or browse through fabrics online, or check out pinterest for dreaming. I personally spent several hours Saturday morning doing the following:
- Researching patterns that I want to make and planning wardrobe projects
- Reading forums on Pattern Review
- Ordering notions from Palmer/Pletsch during their 20% off sale
- Researching trends in the bag industry for future pattern development
- Planning a National Parks fabric quilt that I want to make - and then thinking of trips that I want to take to all those National Parks!
It was one of the most relaxing mornings I have spent in the past few weeks. And my mental health definitely needed it and my stress level was much lower. It's like being house-bound during a dangerous blizzard, but not having to worry about the power going out. If the biggest thing that happens to me and my family during this time is the inconvenience of social distancing, then I consider us very fortunate. But when your calendar is suddenly wiped clean, you have many hours to fill and sitting in front of the news is not a good idea.
Like many other craft activities, sewing increases dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel more positive. Being forced to be mindful and concentrate on your sewing project makes you become immersed and helps you relax. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but it bears reminding all of us of the benefits of sewing.
I've even found that disasters at the sewing machine can be helpful. I'm so busy dealing with my frustration, I can't focus on any other problems going on around me. A string of cuss words or a temper tantrum, maybe even tears, certainly have their therapeutic place.
Along with helping me relax, I have found that if I am working on a project for someone else, or a charity event, or as a gift, the process is even more therapeutic. Thinking of the joy the recipient will experience, or how helpful my item will be for the charity is a good motivator to get to the machine and get busy.
As I look at the coming week(s) and making good use of an altered schedule, I have made a list of things I can accomplish. Of course, there’s always spring cleaning the house and yard work if the weather allows. But keeping my list in the sewing mode, I have planned to de-stash and organize my sewing room. I have long had the desire to bundle items together for selling on craigslist, eBay, Pattern Review, or to donate. I won’t have to do it all in one day, but I do intend to make it happen. I plan to check with our local theater groups for fabric donations and see if any sewing groups could use fabric. My mother donates to a sewing class for her local Women’s Shelter. And when I sit down to relax, I'll get out that sewing book again!
Other ways to encourage more sewing therapy are:
- get started on your Christmas or other gift-giving list
- find some charity project needs
- try out a new technique you’ve been wanting to learn
- watch sewing videos on YouTube, Bluprint, Nancy Zieman, or many others
- make a plan for MeMadeMay
- research the 100 Day Project
- make up something for spring or Easter
- make a pillow or simple throw to brighten up your home
Probably many of you who are reading this are stressed from recent news updates. On our Facebook Pattern Group we are hosting a Stay at Home and Stitch Your Stash Challenge. If you're not already a member, we invite you to join. Fuel your creativity, share with others, enjoy being social, even at a distance! We're all in this together, so let's come together and share what helps us cope, as we get through this stressful time.
Does sewing help you de-stress? Do you enjoy sewing for others or charity?