Sewing as Therapy?

Posted: 10th July 2017

By: Catherine Howie

Sewing as Therapy?

You may have seen my adverts: “Sewing for the Terrified”?  A bit extreme you may think but over the past couple of years I’ve taught many people the foundations of good sewing technique which, in itself, has proved very rewarding for me as the teacher.  However, what I’ve found intriguing is the percentage of people (mostly ladies of a certain age) who are revisiting this art-form after abandoning it in their early childhood. When they recount their reason for not sewing, 99% of them refer to some traumatic encounter with a dragon of a sewing teacher.  They tell stories of learning to sit at a certain desk in the room knowing that she would not be able to get around to viewing their work in the allotted lesson time or being harshly reprimanded in front of the whole class for “inferior” work.

This may at first seem trivial compared to other abuses, scolding’s and punishments some of us suffered at school but the sad reality seems to be that, for some, this has facilitated the “shutting down” of a creative outlet for a large part of their adult life. With encouragement and patience I’ve seen many of my students produce beautiful, perfect samples and I’ve watched the trauma of their past experience “drop away” when they’ve been given the appropriate praise and recognition of the skill mastered to complete the work.

We are born to create – and this creative process takes  a myriad forms from words, to painting, to food, to relationships and everything in between , there are many channels and forms of expression.  Some people are capable of using several, often starting with one form and progressing to another and others may become experts and pioneers in one form only.

The process of creating requires an inner ‘stillness’. As my students concentrate on the task set for them, a hush descends on the class and the ‘busy-ness’ of their day and chatter falls away.  Their minds quieten and focus.  As a student of yoga I recognise this state, as the chatter of the ‘monkey brain’ stops and we enter a place of focused intent.  Sewing concentrates the mind and many students say they leave the class in a much calmer state than when they entered – AND they’ve learnt a new skill.  That has to be good…

Catherine Howie

The Sewing Room, studio 7, The Fold, Bransford wr6 5jb

07854 486869