Tonight, during our Sip Tea and EPP party, we are going to talk about the benefits of hand sewing for our mental and physical health. If you do some research, you will find a countless number of articles written on this topic, so I thought maybe instead of repeating what has already been written, I would share a short personal story with you. I am a private person and I don't like talking about my emotions, feelings and struggles, but if this story can help even one person to find some comfort and healing in slow hand sewing, then it would make me really happy.
Make yourself a cup of tea or any other drink you fancy, get your EPP project out and let's sit together and sew. Let's sew with our hands without any rush. Slowly. Stitch by stitch. Paying attention to every step of the process. Feel the softness of the fabric in your hands, listen to the calming rustling sound of the papers between your fingers, listen to the sound of the thread being pulled gently through the stretched fabric. Get immersed in the repetitive motion of your hands and notice that your breathing slows down, your body softens and the thoughts in your mind stop running like mad, but instead start floating, almost like fluffy clouds in the sky, filling your heart with calm. Well, this is how I feel every time I sit down to work on one of my English Paper Piecing projects and other sewing projects that require an addition of some hand sewn tiny stitches.
Three years ago I came across Sharon's @lilabellelanecreation quilt called Tenderness. I was deeply moved by the touching story behind this beautiful design, in some ways it reminded me of my own family and my Mum who passed away almost 15 years ago now. My Mum loved her garden and she grew the most amazing flowers, all sorts and kinds of them in all possible shapes and colours. I miss her still. Very much. I wish I could share my sewing adventure with her. You see, I got to sewing after she already past away, but I know that she would have loved seeing my work and would have joined me with all her heart.
When I saw Sharon's original Tenderness quilt and read the story, it made me think of my Mum, of her love for sewing and her garden. It made me think of her tender hands and soft voice. I got excited with the idea of sewing my own Tenderness quilt in memory of my Mum and could not wait to start working on this long term project. I had the pattern ready, the beautiful Liberty fabrics organised, all the necessary notions for hand sewing sorted, but what I was not prepared for were my own emotions. To tell you the truth, when I sat down to sew the very first block, my excitement quickly disappeared, giving a way to a flood of tears. Memories of my Mum engulfed me, my hands were shaking and the tears kept rolling down my cheeks onto the fabric and papers. I had to stop a few times to get my breath back. I realised that I could not keep working on this quilt regularly. It was too difficult emotionally and draining. It hurt too much. I gave myself time and worked only when I was ok to do that. There was no deadline for this quilt. Sometimes I don't even want to finish this quilt, I want to keep going so I can have this quiet conversations with my Mum while sewing.
It was three years ago. With each and every block, when I could, I would let myself drift back to my childhood and let the memories of Mum come to me. I cried a lot. Sometimes I made notes of things I was remembering. I shared some stories with my boys. Months were passing by and I noticed that there were less tears, that I could smile more and even laugh at funny memories popping in to my head while I was working on this quilt. Now I can hold some personal items that belonged to my Mum in my hands and not cry hiding them away again quickly, I can even read some of her letters and poems she wrote lovingly and instead of raw pain, I can feel warmth and love in my heart now. I realised that working on this amazing quilt not only gave me a chance to sew something and enjoy this creative process, but it also became my therapy, it became my healing journey.