Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Therapeutic sewing

This week I've been solo parenting as the Mr is away in the US for work for a week and a half. On the whole we parent as a team, as I guess most couples do these days (thank goodness this is not the 60's!), so his presence is always missed greatly, even though the bulk of the day-to-day care is my 'job'. The kids also miss him a lot, the little girl doesn't have her head around the concept of time and distance yet and so has a particularly hard time working out why he can't just come home around bath time as he normally does.

So... I've been feeling the strain a bit. Tantrums, refusals to do things, pulling things off the supermarket shelves, "I don't like you"s etc just feel that bit harder when I know there's no-one to share things with at the end of the day and to take over when I'm feeling at the end of my tether. I try to keep my temper most of the time, but I've lost my patience more times than I'd like to in the last few days. One thing that has helped keep me sane though is sewing :-)

I was feeling that I desperately wanted time to do my own thing when my mum said to me in a phone call something like 'there seems to be so much pressure on mums to do things with the kids these days that you don't get to do anything of your own'. I think she's absolutely right. The whole 'overparenting' thing is another arguement in itself, which I find fascinating, but I won't go into here now. Then also I read a post by one of my favourite bloggers, Mary Nanna from Make it Smirk (woman of style and fabulous sewer, not to mention a great sense of humour). It resonated with me when Mary mentioned that sewing keeps her sane. And I hope she won't mind me quoting her, that, in times of stress "having something else to focus on, something enjoyable and useful, is very therapeutic". Indeed.

Since my 'copy cat skirt' has become one of my favourites it's been in the back of my mind to make one or two more A-line skirts in different fabrics, with perhaps a few little details here and there. So one night I got the skirt out and this time took the time to make up a pattern properly (well, my version of properly ;-). I traced it onto lightweight interfacing, which I love using for patterns as it grips to the fabric and doesn't tear like paper. Then I scribbled down a few steps in case I forget next time. My aim is to have the perfect A-line skirt pattern that I can whip up quickly, so I figured it was worth investing the time. And it was fun (nerd).

I wanted a really utilitarian skirt that I could chase the kids in, wipe my hands on etc (I'm a grot ;-) without worrying about it, so used a heavy-weight denim with a little stretch that my mum gave me from her stash over the holidays. I have plenty of it, which gave me that nice sense of freedom to just cut into it. And as I wanted it to go with patterned tops and possibly leggings I made it very plain, just binding the pocket openings and hem with a blue linen.

As time goes on and my sewing skills improve I'm finding that simple designs with a few nice little details (hopefully executed well!) is the way to go for me - fun to sew and nice to wear.

So hopefully this one will be as wearable as the copy cat skirt, and in any case, I made a few mistakes which meant I learned some more things along the way, which has got to be a good thing, right?

And most importantly, the process of making it got me out of the frustrated mother headspace for a little while, which is definitely a good thing.


  1. Oh I like it - simple details, having a 'tried and true' pattern that you can whip up, and a skirt you can wipe you hands on afterwards - bonus!

    The therapeautic value of art/craft is actually a whole profession - 'art therapy' - for a while I considered training in it - it's a 3 year part time Master's Degree - only when I found out that the only paid work in NZ in this career is in prisons or hospices I realised the client base are in a very bad way indeed. When I spoke to someone who worked in hospitals as an Art Therapist to children dying of cancer she told me, "you have to be a real optimist to do this job." So that ruled that job out!

    Still, the important thing that being creative is an official form of therapy!

  2. Another great skirt! I am in awe of your ability to sew clothes without patterns. I feel your pain on single parenting but at the same time I find that my mindset changes when I know hubby won't be around. I can't really articulate how. Maybe I put less pressure on myself and the kids to do everything as we would've if hubby was home? Anyway, hope the remainder of the time goes smoothly.

  3. That is a very good looking skirt. I'm right there with you on the pitfalls of solo parenting. Thinking of you. And thanks for the reminder to sew. Good advice. xx

  4. Great skirt :) Oh no what a tough week for you!
    I have only one little one to chase about but I'm always looking for that spare moment(or two) where I can do something for myself! Doing something creative always makes me feel better and helps me feel like I'm not losing my mine! I love art therapy :)
    Hope your week gets better :)

  5. Super skirt. Therapeutic sewing makes so much sense! The "have a project" approach helps me to feel like I'm doing something. Somehow nurse, diaper, clean, feed, potty, sleep (or not) routine feels like it's not productive - even though it is! Will be working on copying your copied skirt soon...


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