Tilly and the buttons asks such interesting questions. I loved reading everyone’s answers, so I may just join in the fun once again.
She is writing a paper for her Clore Fellowship. From her blog: The brief is to write something very personal, so I’m going to discuss the impact that sewing has had on me. But I don’t just want to write about me.
Here are her questions:
Have you recently rediscovered your creativity? Nope! I have been sewing since a little girl, and haven’t ever really stopped.
Do you feel that taking up sewing – or another craft at home – has changed your life in some way? Yes!!! I can’t do a “before/after” analysis. But I can compare myself to friends who don’t sew. And here are some of the differences.
- I have a wonderful outlet for my creativity.
- I have a wardrobe that is uniquely expressive of my own sweet self.
- I can dress very nicely – and soft-furnish my home – for a much smaller $ cost than a non-sewist/crafter.
Not being dependent on the whims of fashion or the one-shape-fits-all blocks rtw is drafted on, means I am much more easily able to dress in a way that suits my figure, my personality, my colouring. I know when I am in a store trying on an rtw garment that sits on my hips, for eg, it isn’t that I have fat hips, it is the waist for the garment is 5cm too long for me. This sort of thing does wonders for my self esteem and helps me feel good about my own body.
Also, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Flashbacks to the trauma, or nightmares about it are a sad but unavoidable fact of life for me. I don’t think I can even begin to describe how much having a creative hobby like sewing and crafting helps me to recover from those flashbacks. It helps me to calm down after them, to feel back in the driving seat in my life (“Hmm, do I want to make that fabric in this pattern or that? I think this one.” Simple decisions I can make about my sewing, and thus my wardrobe, and thus how I dress, and present myself, help reinforce the past trauma is past. I am creating my own life now.
Another element is that due to the effects of PTSD on my health I never managed to complete a university degree, unlike everyone else in my family. Nor have I really been able to achieve in my career path etc in the way, say, my sister without PTSD has. But there is nothing like having someone compliment you on your outfit when you know you created it: from deciding what fabric to buy, through choosing the pattern, fitting the pattern, making the final design decisions such as hem length and embellishments added, and lastly, that you have stitched every single stitch yourself.
Has it changed the way you interact with the world?
Well, mostly, I imagine if I didn’t sew, I would probably spend all my spare money on my garden or books. I would have to op-shop for every item of clothing, not just for the extra-especially groovy finds I do today. (Or would I just spend all my spare money on rtw and my garden suffer?)
How would you explain this to someone who doesn’t have a creative hobby?
No idea! Ok that isn’t much help. I don’t know what it is like to not be intensely creative. I don’t know what it is like to not have creative hobbies. I do know that one thing that saddens and frustrates me is when people look wistfully at a creation of mine and say “I wish I could do something like that but I have no talent for it.”
I think talent is overrated. I think creativity is about what you put of yourself into something. I think it is about you and your relationship with what you are creating. And I definitely think unless you are aiming to be a professional creative artist of some sort, what other people think doesn’t matter. Sure, I said it is good for my self esteem to get the compliments. But I would have made every single garment and bag and curtain and accessory I ever have, regardless of those compliments, because my creative hobby is about me, for me. I love what I make, and that is the point.