Sunday 18 October 2015

Its my Prozac....

My buddy the littlest thistle did a fascinating blog post recently and asked  "Why?".  This is my response.

Why do I create?

"Why?" is a question that had never entered my mind!  It's just, well, it's what you do, isnt it?  It was in our house.  One of my earliest memories is an afternoon with mum - the sewing machine out on the dining table, cups of tea, Cliff Richard's Rock and Roll LP on the record player, Mum at the table making and me fannying about doing the twist standing on the piano stool...   What was mum making?  Well, it might have been the time she made me a skirt and waistcoat combo.  Or the time she made an outfit to match it for my ragdoll Annie.  Or it might have been the time of the evening gowns for Sindy dolls.  Or the time we made a whole picnic - sandwiches, cakes, cream buns - out of foam offcuts and felt.  Or the bedding for my teddies bed.

Mum was always at it.  I remember practicing our Macrame with dressing gown ties in my parents bed.  I remember my favourite picture from their stack of National Geographic Magazines wasnt animals, it was someone who had built their spherical house out of old aluminium cans, windows out of bottles, the odd dolls face cemented in here and there.  I remember being allowed to help scrape the paint off an old dresser with a blowtorch.  I remember watching armchair cushions being recovered.  I actually struggle to remember furniture in our house that hadn't been recycled and revamped!  I remember blowing eggs and watching mum cut doors into them and attach teeeeeny tiny little hinges.  I remember the sugar work - making tiny petals to mould into roses.  The easter eggs we made with moulds and melted chocolate.  The baskets of Marzipan Fruits.  I remember going with mum to my school after hours to sit in on the pottery class she took.  We made candles.   Mum knitted jumpers (until my brother and I broke the machine).  I can picture the kitchen table covered in a production line of wee wooden clothes peg dolls.  My brother making a Frank Sidebottom Head with chicken wire and paper mache....  One of my favourite places was the box room, full of mums crafty bits and fabric scraps in old tea chests.   Our utility room was seldom without something or other drying out by the boiler or fermenting under the sink.

Making stuff was totally normal in our house!

Why do I create in this particular medium?

Thinking about it all, I suppose my quilting is more "nesting" than anything particularly artistic.  I've never felt at ease with doing "art".  Unique ideas are not my forte!  I can see what I like and alter it, adjust it, redo it and make it mine, but I've never been any good at starting from scratch.  If I had a normal persons energy and fitness I'd love to be restyling furniture.  That would have been my ideal, but I am not up for it physically.  Too much exertion required with all that sanding!  To be honest actual machine quilting is often a bit of a struggle too.

I started with bag making, and a hope to learn dressmaking, and a sideline in ragdolls.  I don't think I'm cut out for bag making though, I don't like the noises even a good machine makes as you attempt to gently squeeze half a dozen layers under the needle...  I cant cuddle up under a bag either.  The dolls have not been shelved for good, I will make for Moo at some time, but without a prospective owner there just isn't the point in making.  And dressmaking.  Well.  Lets just say that the yardage required these days makes the prospect pretty bloody expensive and patterns hard to come by.  My desire has waned...
However, quilting appeals to me in so many ways.  Not least the thought of a house full of home made pretty blankets!  I want them on the walls, the sofas, the chairs, the beds - there's currently one spread out over the coffee table like a table cloth!
Before Moo came along I was setting up to take it all very seriously.  Good stash.  Computer Aided Design program.  Passion and dozens of ideas.  I was hoping to publish some patterns.  I was dreaming of getting in magazines and the like.  Possibly contribute to a craft fair every now and again.  Do the odd Linus quilt.

Where I am now?

Please don't misunderstand me, I am so thrilled to have my Moo, it simply would have been nice to find out if I could have done it.  I could not possibly give quilting up now though, however little I can squeeze in.  Every single aspect, even the parts I'm not so keen on, has value to me.  It gives me something to think about during the night hours I cannot sleep through.  It gives me excitement to plan, and yes, to stash...  The cutting is hard.  It can take days depending on my energy levels.  The piecing is a thrill, my biggest fault is probably rushing through the piecing and not necessarily going back and fixing scant seams....I cant help it, I enjoy it so I want to get as much done in one sitting as possible before tiredness and or Moo intervenes!  Brushing aside the difficulties in basting and quilting, the binding is a joy.  It is simple, relaxing, and a warm (literally!) anticipation of having the finished, squishy, cosy, pretty quilt finished.

I don't feel that saying "it makes me happy" sufficiently covers it!  When I go through weeks of no sewing it brings me down.  Depression seems to be a bit of a side effect for Narcoleptics.  Not too hard to understand I think, I mean, feeling tired all the time sucks.  From the time I wake up to the time I say goodnight I've usually had at least two separate hour or so long naps.  Some days it feels like I only got up to feed!  Squeezing in even a little bit of sewing gives me just enough of a boost to feel human.  These days my quilting goals are simple.  Keep up with Brit Bee, and sew what I want for me.  Selfish sewing.  If I'm still awake when Moo is of bigschool age, then things might change.  For now, for me, and my beloved Moo, I may not do as much as I like, but I aim to really like doing as much as I am able.


  1. This is such a beautiful post Sarah!! So much resonated with me. I think finding what you love to sew is such a joy and recognising which bits aren't for you is just as important. I sincerely hope my kids have such fun memories as you do of making with your mum. The ragdolls sound fun, I would buy a couple for my girls if you want an excuse to practice ;) Also would like to see a picture of the Frank Sidebottom head please!!

  2. I recognise a lot of that. The older the wee man gets the less time i seem to have for sewing. Ah for the days when he had an afternoon nap! But it is so good for my soul and thank you for reminding me of that.

  3. I loved reading this Sarah! First up, your mum sounds ace!! I think that sewing is therapy of one kind or another for most of us. I know I am desperately in need of a fix since my days have been so empty of stitching with the arrival of my new little to keep me otherwise busy. Having been here before (many moons ago) I do at least know that the hiatus in stitching doesn't have to be forever. They do grow up, they do join in, they do go to school and they do learn to occupy themselves for little bits of time. So you will have more time again in the years to come. Hang on to your plans, they are good ones! Your current stitching priorities are perfect. Keep up with those bee buddies cos that's precious and selfishly sew for you and moo when you feel up to it. You should show us all a pic of the dolls you make.

  4. What a marvellous post, pet! I hope you find some sewing time in the near future and that things work out well when Moo starts nursery/school. As you say, just thinking about sewing helps, even when you can't get to a piece of fabric and a threaded needle! Take care xxx

  5. As long as you enjoy what you can do! Give moo a hug, or a tickle from me xxx

  6. I think having Moo and some selfish sewing time is the perfect balance right now. Can't imagine you without sewing though. x

  7. I am so glad you are able to be creative in the time available, and there is no race. Thank you for sharing.

  8. So much of what you say rings true for me too. The scant seams line because of the joy of just forging ahead made me laugh.....I have to force myself to slow down and take care when I'm sewing for someone else! I can imagine how precious it is to you to be able to think about sewing and wait for those few chances when you can get some time to create. And hang onto those plans, you just might be able to fulfil them once Moo is a wee bit bigger. Juliex

  9. Your pal is apparently a bit crap at her blog reading right now, sorry! I'm intrigued at what was fermenting under the sink... Then again, I had to limbo under a bench in a dark room to use the loo (because the 'darkroom' was actually our tiny downstairs loo), so I'm familiar with the odd things that happen in creative houses ;o)

  10. What a brilliant read. My girls were telling me the other day how they think of me as either sewing or doing diy!