Sewing Makes You Love Yourself – what a wonderful motto and it just rings so true. This is a challenge set up by Athina Kakou, Hattie van def Krohn and Lisa Kisch. You sew a garment to make you feel great about yourself and then you share it along with your sewing story to the sewing community. I’ve read many stories of sewists that I follow and it’s wonderful to see how a simple machine brings everyone together. The power to transform a flat piece of fabric into a garment that you can walk out and show others just feels makes you feel invincible.
Part 1 – My garment
I choose to make a simple staple for my make because when I began sewing I thought I would only ever make ‘fancy’ garments. As my confidence and experience has grown, I am loving the ability to sew almost anything that I could pick up in the shops. My motto for 2018 is ‘If you can make it, don’t buy it’ so it seemed a perfect choice to sewing a Tilly and the Buttons ‘Agnes top’.
I also have a target to sew myself more plains this year as I always go straight for patterns when fabric shopping. I picked up this bright magenta viscose jersey from Barry’s Fabrics in Birmingham. I got 1m so I picked the short sleeve version of the Agnes. This is my 4th Agnes top and I love this pattern. I added a Flamingo patch to the top which I got from my Secret Valentine Exchange gift. I think it goes wonderfully with the colour of the top and also connects this make even more to the sewing community.
Part 2 – My Sewing Story
My earliest memories of a sewing machine go back to sitting alongside my mum whilst she made men’s silk ties. My aunt had a tie making business and my mum would help her. Mum would sit in the evenings cutting the fabric and then would sew in the day. She had a big cast iron Singer machine that sat in the spare room. My mum sadly passed away suddenly when I was 5 and her machine went to my aunts workshop in Kent where I visited in my school holidays.
I never took up sewing, I just played with the scraps. I was more sporty than crafty when I was growing up. I didn’t really enjoy textiles when I was at school. The quilted cushion cover I made in Year 8 just got put away, never really used.
Fast forward to Christmas 2012, my step-mum bought me a mini sewing machine for Christmas and it was like a fire had been lit inside me. I first made a pillowcase dress for my little daughter and then I moved onto quilted blankets and pinafore dresses. I then started to think about making myself something. At the start of 2016, I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer after a long battle. My hero who had stayed up to the early hours sewing sequins onto my dance leotard by hand was gone ( I wish I had a photo of that green leotard). I thought due to his long illness I was ready for this moment but the feeling of losing the last person who was there on the day I was born was so difficult. It also brought back my grief from losing mum that I don’t think I fully understood. I then set myself a New Years Resolution to ‘Sew for myself’ and when I set myself a task I’m a person who goes full steam into it. The first garment I made that year was a Simplicity 1364 top. My Dads sister popped over to see me one Sunday and together we put the zip in. It was a lovely bonding experience both of us using sewing to distract us and ease the pain. I wore that top to my Dads funeral and it felt like a suit of armour. I made it in blue and white after his his love of Leicester City football club.So my story with sewing began and it continues to give me drive and purpose. When I need time away from the hassles of life, I go into my sewing room and let my mind wonder. The pain of losing parents comes in waves, one moment I’m fine and the next I feel lost and empty. My husband once asked what can he do to help and I just said ‘Just let me sew’.
It feels a big moment to share this with the world as I’m quite a private person. When I was younger and people said ‘sorry you lost your mum’ I always felt confused as to why they were sorry?!! I feel there is always someone worse off than me and I’m so lucky to have had these 2 special people in my life. My past makes me who I am today and gives me the strength to face the next challenge that life will throw at me.