So this is me, joining in with another online challenge, in a rather lastminute.com fashion (yes, today is the deadline, why do you ask?) This one’s a little different though and I’ve actually thought really hard about whether I’m in the right place to join in.
The premise of this challenge is to sew something that makes you feel beautiful and to recognise the positive impact that sewing can have on your mental health; hence the name, Sewing Makes You Love Yourself.
I have talked in the not too distant past about the importance of sewing for my mental health, referencing the hashtag I use the most on Instagram, #sewingkeepsmesane. So surely, I am already bought in to this particular challenge?
Actually, it makes me feel like a bit of a fraud. Because I don’t love myself that much. In fact, I quite often don’t like myself at all. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling that way about me.
So yeah, I’m a work in progress. I struggle.
After I posted about #sewingkeepsmesane, I got some really helpful comments, several recommending a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop talking. I really related to the description in this book; basically, an introvert is not someone who is necessarily quiet (those who’ve met me know I’m not, generally, although I am prone to talking rubbish) but it is someone who doesn’t get their energy from other people. Someone who may enjoy being around others, but who finds it utterly exhausting.
That’s me. I crave the company of others, I feel lonely a lot of the time, but meeting new people or even spending time with people I know well can be incredibly tiring. Which is kind of confusing when you think about it. But it felt good to read something that made me feel like I wasn’t the only oddball on the planet.
It means that when I meet with other people, it’s taken a lot of mental effort to get me there. And I mean a lot. So that once I’m actually through the door and I’ve managed to start talking to someone, I have no energy left to think too clearly about what I’m saying. Or whether I should just shut up. And then I spend hours going over everything I said; damn you, whirling brain!
Add to that some really poor body image (not helped by hitting my 40’s , I’ll be honest), a hectic lifestyle balanced around other people and their needs (hello, parent hood) and a track record of just not hitting it off with lots of people and never entirely understanding why, and writing about how sewing makes me love myself feels slightly fraudulent.
So. Why are we here?
Because the counselling I mentioned in my previous post has only highlighted for me the utter importance for me of sewing for my mental health. I would automatically put everyone else’s needs before my own and tie myself in knots trying to keep everyone happy, but for this hobby where I can switch off and forget for a while about anything but the next seam, the next cut, the next press, the next piece of fabric, the next thing to learn.
So whilst I don’t love myself, I like myself a little more than I would without sewing to hang onto, which has to be a good thing, right?
I know my thoughts aren’t too clear here, and probably aren’t that well expressed, but I hope you’ll forgive me that. I’m working on myself all the time, I’m trying to counter those negative thoughts, I’m trying to just be a little kinder to myself in all aspects of my life. Hopefully one day I’ll get there. Or at least a little closer than I am now.
Anyway, enough mental health ramblings (feeling rather raw here): what about the making something that makes you feel beautiful bit?
Not sure about beautiful, but I feel happy in this dress, so that’s a win. This is my 4th Nina Lee Southbank dress (see here for my original post about sizing etc) and it’s in the most gorgeously bright red ponte ever! I’m not sure it’s possible to feel utterly miserable in this dress. It’s warm, it’s cosy, it’s bright, it looks kind of cute and I actually get compliments wearing it!
It’s made exactly the same as my other three, except that this time around, I added the pockets.
I’m not sure it was my best decision? They gape a little and they’re pretty close to the hem, meaning if you actually put, say, a phone in there, they hang lower than the hem band, which doesn’t look amazing. So when I make my 5th (yes, I am obsessed), I think I will go back to being pocketless.
But still. It’s a good enough dress that I was prepared the brave a brief break in the Beast From The East storm to nip out in snow that came higher than my boots to take blog photos, so that has to tell you something.
Seriously though, I depend on my sewing and on this online community for my mental wellbeing. I know perfectly well that many of the people I interact with on Instagram I have not met and may never meet. It doesn’t matter. It’s so much better to have someone, somewhere to be able to share the excitement of a new skill learnt or the frustration of a new error made than to have no one at all and that is invaluable for me.
Let’s all try to be a little kinder to ourselves, shall we?