Hello Friends, how are you doing? I hope that wherever you are in the world that you are doing ok during the difficult times we have been facing. In the UK we are in our third lockdown and I have found this Winter lockdown to be difficult if I am honest. But I have tried to stay as positive as I can and sewing has really helped me to do that. I have just let myself make whatever I feel like and that has been really freeing and enjoyable.
Over the last 12 months, I have really learnt how important sewing is to my mental health and well-being. If I haven't managed to fit a bit of stitching into my day, I don't feel as calm, relaxed and happy. Stitching allows me to forget about any worries and gives me something positive to focus on. This week on my Youtube channel, I shared a video about the projects I have been working on during this lockdown and what it is about these projects in particular, that is helping me to cope with lockdown. You can find the video below. I have also linked a video below that I made in September, which describes how slow stitching helps me deal with stress and anxiety. I hope you enjoy watching these videos, thank you so much and take good care of yourself.
I've been sewing since I was five years old, on and off of course, but it has always been a huge part of my life. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how my sewing has evolved and changed and I've realised that at this point in my life, I am enjoying sewing more than ever before. And I think I've realised why. There have been three big changes in the way I go about my sewing and those three things have increased my enjoyment so much. So I thought I'd share these changes with you because maybe it will give you some ideas for getting more enjoyment out of your hobby.
1. Let go of Perfectionism
I used to undo my stitches all of the time when I wasn't happy with them. I used to feel frustrated that they didn't look perfect and get annoyed at myself when I felt I couldn't produce something how I thought it should look. But somehow, I've let go and realised I am human so I will never be perfect. I now see my embroidery stitches like handwriting, I am making my mark on the fabric and if it's not perfect that's ok because it is an extension of me. We don't constantly use tip-ex to correct our writing when it is a bit shaky and uneven, so why keep undoing stitches? Also, the same principle applies to choosing fabrics for a project. I used to overthink it all of the time. I'd go back and forth over choosing colours and fabrics, changing my mind and ending up frustrated. My early quilts were very calculated in terms of pattern and colour placement. I didn't think I could do random patchwork. But last year when I started doing tiny patchwork, I let go of that and started just going for it. Choosing fabrics without thinking and just putting together what feels right to me. The colours and patterns and how they are placed in what I make are an extension of me and represent my point of view. Once I started working in this way, sewing from the heart rather than the head, I started to love and enjoy what I was doing more.
2. Slowing Down
In the past, I would rush to finish a project because I was fixated on the end product. I was desperate to have a new quilt, cushion, dress, whatever it might be. I let the end goal overshadow the process and I would rush to get there. I don't work well in a hurry and rushing in this way caused mistakes which led to frustration. Last year, for some reason, I began to slow down. I think doing more EPP projects led me to this slow state but I now approach all projects, even those on machine, in a slow, methodical manner. Slowing down allows me to immerse myself in what I am doing, to notice every tiny detail in the fabric and to enjoy each and every stitch. It's taught me that although I love the end product, it is the process that I enjoy most of all.
3. Allowing myself to make what I want, when I want
Sewing is my hobby and therefore should always be enjoyable. It is also an important part of my wellbeing and intrinsic to my positive mental health. It's my creative output and my relaxation. So I decided a while back to let go of the guilt when it comes to how many half done projects I have because this was stopping me from starting new things. Now, If I want to start something new, I will. If I want to switch between projects, I will. And if somebody asks me to hem their trousers or fix a hole, I won't! Just kidding, I will of course. But first and foremost, I have thrown out the rule book of obligation. If I don't feel like making something that day, I won't force myself because that will take away the joy. I've found that by going with what I feel like doing, my enjoyment has increased and I am also finishing more projects than I usually would.
So what about you? Do you have any little rules or mantras when it comes to sewing? What do you do to ensure you are enjoying your stitching and not becoming frustrated? I'd love to know so please leave me a comment.
Take care and stay safe,
Happy sewing x
Do you make things to sell at craft fairs or online? Or are you like me and just love making things for fun? I often get told by friends and family that I should sell the things I make but they don't realise how long it takes me to make things. I'm currently working on my Hexagon Sewing Case pattern and it is close to being complete! This has led me to think about how it will feel to sell my pattern. I don't have a job at the moment as I am a stay at home Mum, so making a little bit of extra money would definitely be a help. Thinking about selling it got me thinking about a time in my life when I did make things to sell. I did a bit of digging around and found some old photos so I thought I'd share here.
Back in 2009 I was 26 and working as a Spanish teacher in primary schools. Even though I had a degree and a masters degree, I was working as an unqualified teacher as I hadn't done teacher training at this point. I had quite a lot of spare time and loved making things so I set up a website, an Etsy shop and I sold what I made at craft fairs. I sold nothing through my Etsy shop and nothing through my website because I had no idea about how to promote it or make it show up in google searches. However I did sell quite well at craft fairs. At one fair in Liverpool, a woman came over and bought all of the earrings I had on sale for her shop in the city centre which sold handmade items. I then later gave her a lot of my bags which she took on sale or return.
However, I never went back to her shop to see if she had sold any, I couldn't bring myself to go in. I even stood outside once, with the aim of going inside, but I couldn't do it. I loved what I made. I loved the fabrics and I put my heart into everything. So I think because of this, I was scared she might not have sold any and that she'd ask me to take them away. I was also afraid she might have sold some and then they might have been returned by the customer because they didn't like it or maybe it fell apart. I also felt so strange about asking her for money, I don't know why, it was just so uncomfortable for me. I was crippled by this lack of confidence so much that I never, ever contacted her and to this day I have no idea if she sold my bags or not. I also really struggled at the craft fairs. I loved being around other makers and I always received great comments from them and the customers about my things but I felt so awkward about selling I didn't enjoy it at all. I just wanted to curl up and hide.
Whilst my skills, style and tastes have changed a lot over the past 11 years, this feeling about selling my work has not gone away. When I exhibited my mini quilt in the art gallery over the summer, I put 'Not For Sale' on it. This was partially due to it being a very personal piece, partly because I had no idea how to put a value on it and also because I didn't think anybody would buy it. Or if they did, they might end up disappointed with it. The same negative thoughts as 11 years ago.
It feels quite emotional writing this because I can see how sad it is that this has held me back in some ways. But then the most amazing thing happened last week. After sharing the image of the second hexagon sewing case sample I made online (pictured at the top of this post) I mentioned in my Instagram stories that I might sell it. I was thinking about it but not entirely sure how to go about it. Within an hour I got a message from a lovely person who wanted to buy it and within no time it was sold! I could not believe it and it really made me happy. I could not be more grateful to the lovely person who bought the case and I hope she really loves it. This sale really boosted my confidence and I feel so positive now. I definitely won't be chaining myself to my sewing machine in order to churn out some products to sell, that sort of sewing isn't enjoyable to me. But if occasionally I have a some pieces that I do not need, I don't feel afraid of trying to sell them anymore. Have you ever sold the things you make? How did you find the selling process? I'd love to know, please leave me a comment. Have a wonderful day and thank you for reading!
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful festive period and I wish you all health and happiness for the coming year ahead. What better way to start the year than with a new project! I've been thinking for a long time about making a quarter inch hexagon wall hanging and I decided over Christmas that it was now or never. If I don't start it this year, I never will. So I set to work gathering scraps and basting my tiny hexies ready to start. If you are anything like me, you like to know the details behind projects so I thought I'd share with you why I want to make this quilt, my inspiration and my method, just in case you'd like to join me with your own quarter inch hexie project. I know quarter inch hexies aren't for everyone but already one lovely person has asked to join me and I'd love it if more people would like to join in too.
I've wanted to make a large piece from tiny quarter inch hexagons ever since I saw Miss Leela's Wedding Medallion Quilt. Please click the link and check it out as it is amazing! I've also compiled a Pinterest board with some ideas and inspiration from other quarter inch projects I've seen. I don't know the layout of my piece yet but I will use these designs as a guide to get me started.
There's a little bit more to making this piece than just wanting to though. Firstly, it will be predominantly made from scrap fabric. I am conscious of the effect the textile industry has on the environment and I strongly believe in making sure the fabrics we do buy are carefully considered purchases and are not wasted in any way. So this project will use floral fabric scraps left over from my other sewing projects in addition to some solid coloured fabrics that I have purchased specifically for this piece. As I am making quarter inch hexagons, even the tiniest of pieces can be used so this is a great way to use up scraps.
Sewing has always been a sort of therapy for me. It allows my mind to be calm and the rhythm of stitching helps me to relax and reduces my stress levels. I've recently struggled again with low mood and feelings of anxiety and worry. I want this project to be the one that I turn to to help me through those feelings and to provide relief from them. Nature has always had a positive effect on my well being and so I plan to fussy cut tiny flowers for many of the hexagons. I know that seeing these tiny blossoms will lift my spirits and will also remind me to focus on the small things in life that can bring us joy. I hope that by thinking in this way, I can feel better. Only time will tell but I will be sure to let you know how it goes and if it does work.
Staying true to myself, I will be making this quilt up as I go along, it seems to be the way I do everything these days! I will be using Hexiform shapes from Ashmead Designs and I'm buying them bit by bit as I think I will need 1000s! I love the Hexiform because you don't need to remove it at the end as you do with papers. It acts as a layer of wadding/batting and it gives a lovely structure to the piece.
I'm using Superior Threads Bottom Line Thread in colour 623 because it blends really well with most colours of fabric. As it's polyester, it is really strong and I need to use a strong thread as I've decide to sew the hexagons together using a ladder stitch rather than the usual whip stitch. When working with such small hexagons, I was finding that my stitches looked really big when I whip stitched, no matter what thread or needle I used. Ladder stitch definitely takes me longer than whip stitching at the moment, and it feels like I'm learning from the beginning all over again. But hopefully I will find my rhythm with it and when I do, I will post some video tutorials on Instagram just in case there's anybody who would like to see.
I don't really have a name for this project yet, but I'm sure one will come to me in time. For now I'm calling it the tiny hexie project! I'm hoping I can spend about 45 minutes a day on it most days and if you want to follow my progress, I will probably show where I'm up to once a week on Instagram.
If you fancy joining me with your own quarter inch hexie project or similar, let me know! It will be fun to stitch along together.
I absolutely love all things to do with sewing and I write this blog and share my pictures on Instagram and Pinterest to share my joy with you. The more I share, the more I am connecting with others and I love it! I don't have anybody in my 'real' life that shares this passion with me so I love talking all things stitchy with all of you online. However I really struggle with putting myself out there into the world, and I’m definitely guilty of writing a blog post and not telling anyone about it as I just find it hard to “promote” myself as such. But I’ve received lots of lovely compliments about my blog lately, so I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads it. It blows my mind that so many people are interested in what I have to say. So I will try harder to be braver and to announce my posts on Instagram each time I write one. I’m surprised by how much I love writing, and particularly writing about sewing! I really love having this little space to share my thoughts and I have lots of ideas for more things I want to share here in the future. Today I want to talk to you about what I share and why. I also want to tell you a little more about me too.
As well as my own sewing journey, I share products, companies and patterns that I genuinely love. Currently there aren't any affiliate links on my site and there isn't any sponsored content. I share what I love and what I think will be of genuine interest to my readers.
Sewing can be an expensive hobby. With endless new beautiful fabric ranges being released, gorgeous notions and tools, not to mention fantastic sewing machines with all of the bells and whistles, there's always something to tempt us! I like supporting small, independent businesses wherever possible. I find you are more likely to get excellent customer service and a unique product and that's what I love. However I am not averse to shopping the sale in Hobbycraft or John Lewis either, and both of those shops are the only sewing shops available to me locally.
I know some people have huge fabric stashes full of variety and that’s fantastic. I have quite a small stash of fabric, many of the fabrics I've got were bought years and years ago, I tend to hold onto things for far too long! I'm trying hard to use what I've got, but I have bought some fabric this year too. I also love repurposing fabric from old clothes and this costs significantly less than buying new fabric.
I am currently a stay at home mum, which is my dream job but it doesn't bring a wage in! So I have to consider every purchase carefully. I don't spend much money on cosmetics, clothes or going out, any spending money I do have, I spend it on my hobby. I’m not judging anyone for their spending habits, I’m simply just sharing mine. Believe me, I’d love to spend lots of money on the latest fabrics and I feel the pressure to keep up sometimes, but it just isn’t possible for me.
As well as being passionate about sewing and sharing what I love, I am passionate about sewing being accessible to as many people as possible. I see and feel the benefits of sewing each and every day. It is calming, soothing and relaxing. It helps improve mental health and wellbeing and this article in the Guardian newspaper explains it beautifully. But if sewing is an expensive hobby that requires so many tools and notions, and if we constantly feel we need to use the latest fabrics, how can it be accessible to all?
That's where embroidery and English paper piecing come into their own. Both types of sewing require minimal, relatively inexpensive tools and materials. Making a large quilt is a huge commitment in terms of time and investment of money, but there are many smaller embroidery and epp projects you can do at a fraction of the cost. Over the coming months, I hope to share more projects here that are inexpensive to make as I strive to include more balance in my blog between projects that I have chosen to spend money on and projects that cost very little. I also hope that continuing to provide some free tutorials and free printable patterns will be a step towards making sewing accessible to more people. Speaking of which, have you seen my free printable Dresden flower template? Click here to find it, print it and make it! Thank you to everyone who has given this a go and shared it online, it's been really exciting for me to see everyone's versions of it and I really appreciate it.
What are your thoughts on the topic of sharing online? Do you feel a pressure to keep up with others or are you happy doing your own thing? I'd really love to know. You can leave me a comment here or send me a message via the contact form on the home page if you wish.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
I'm sure it happens to us all at some point, and if you are anything like me, it can happen every couple of months. For a variety of reasons, you can lose the ability to create. Sometimes it can be down to hormones and how they affect us. Other times it can be as a result of external factors such as illness or the stress of daily life. Whatever the reason, feeling unable to create can be really frustrating and upsetting, especially when it is an important part of your life. Creating has such a powerful and positive impact on our mental wellbeing that when we go through these periods of of inability, we can feel really down as a result.
When I hit one of these roadblocks, I feel listless, aimless and tired. My head is saying “sew something, whilst you have time!" but I don't seem able to motivate myself to focus on a project and nothing seems to inspire me. I try to look through the projects I am currently in the middle of to choose something to work on, but I cannot pick a project and I don't feel like doing anything.
I recognise that I have these moments every few months or so and I feel like it's something I have no control of. It creeps up on me and before I know it, I am in the middle of this internal battle over doing something I inherently love to do but for some unknown reason, cannot make myself do. Have you ever experienced this or something similar?
In the past, I have battled with myself and it hasn't worked. I have also tried just waiting it out, choosing to watch TV in my spare time or focus on other jobs. This has left me feeling unproductive and even more frustrated at times. Recently, when I experienced a spell of difficulty, my husband suggested I find a really simple project to work on and led me to an old Cath Kidston book called Stitch. The book focuses on cross stitch and needlepoint designs, which by their nature, are simple, repetitive and rewarding to do. The book came with the materials to make a little zip pouch with a cross stitch design on the front, using soluble canvas and I gave it a go and managed to complete it in a couple of evenings. It was the perfect project to do because it didn't require any thinking. All I had to do was follow the simple instructions and along with the lovely, bright colours in the kit, it lifted me out of a creative rut and got me ready to sew again. Using soluble canvas was a lot of fun. The stitches turned out surprisingly neat so now I'm thinking of lots of other things that might need a bit of cross stitch on them to give me an excuse to do some more!
So if you ever find yourself stuck in a place where you feel you have lost your creative mojo, I suggest trying a really simple project to lift you out of it. If you have any other ideas for how to break out of creative block then please leave them in the comments. Happy sewing!
I thought I’d share a bit about myself as I know it is nice to learn about the person behind the business. I’ve been making things since I was a really young child. I used to love tapestry long stitch kits and I can remember getting sewing kits for my birthday when I was about five. They were the sort of kits that provided you with fabric with holes punched in it so you could use a large plastic needle threaded with raffia. I can remember using this kit to make purses and scissors keepers. I can also remember doing fine embroidery as a child and trying to learn to knit. I found knitting very difficult and I have only really found the knitting bug recently since discovering the continental knitting style.
So the creative arts have always been part of my life and I have been heavily influenced by my Mum and Gran. My Gran is a fantastic embroiderer, crocheter and knitter. Her stitches are impeccable. I really love this tablecloth she embroidered in the 1940s.
I love the design as it’s the sort of thing I’d choose to do today. Her crochet work is so intricate. For this mat, which I have framed in my house, she used cotton thread and a hook the size of a pin head. She also created a whole tablecloth using this pattern. I wish I could say I will do something like this one day but I know I won’t!
My Mum is an amazing knitter and can knit anything at all. Her work is perfectly neat. She also embroiders and does cross stitch from time to time. Here is a picture of a christening shawl she knitted from lace weight yarn.
With all of this influence I have turned my hand to many crafts but all types of sewing remain my favourite. Throughout my teenage years I didn't do very much sewing and making, but I did love textiles at school and incorporated this into my GCSE art work. After university, I returned to sewing and bought my first sewing machine. 13 years later and I've never looked back. Sewing is a part of my daily life and I can't imagine ever not doing it. When I became a mum last year, many people said you'll never find time to create. My son has inspired me even more and I make sure I find as much time as possible, when he naps in the day or is asleep at night. I don't really watch TV (mainly as there's never anything on that interests me) so this is another reason why I can get lots done.
I find sewing and creating in general so beneficial to my life, which is why I want to inspire more people to learn to sew. A recent study by Hobbycraft found that 1 in 5 people can't sew a button on and 52% of people were never taught to sew at school. Up until becoming a mum I was a primary teacher. I loved teaching my classes to sew and always found it really surprising and exciting that the children you least expected to be good at sewing were always the best. The calming effect that sewing had on my classes was very evident and it was often the boys who really loved both sewing and knitting.
The methodical, repetitive nature of sewing is very soothing and calming. Concentrating on creating with your hands frees your mind of worry, anxiety and stress. This is because you are focusing on creating something. In this fast paced world we now live in, slowing down, taking time and relaxing with a sewing project is like therapy in itself. The sense of achievement and pride when you complete a project is difficult to find in other aspects of modern day life. In addition to this, sewing benefits our environment because it creates sustainable objects and moves us away from the throw away society we have become. It teaches us to respect objects and appreciate the work that has gone into crafting them which can only be a good thing. So if you are new to sewing, give it a try and I hope you become as hooked on it as I am because I am sure it will benefit your life greatly.
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing, especially EPP. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to! All opinions are my own and I only share things that I think you will love. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.