We've been super busy this summer at Sew Essential and thanks to summer holidays and lots of orders (thank you) the little old blog has had to take a back seat for a couple of weeks - sorry! Normal business will resume this week and I thought I'd start by sharing some of the lovely things we've been doing recently in the wonderful world of sewing.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Foldline/English Girl at Home Sewing Weekender in Cambridge, which we at Sew Essential were also very proud to sponsor. More than fifty women descended upon Murray Edwards College to sew, chat and generally revel in their shared love of sewing and craft for two whole days. From the minute I entered the room on Saturday morning I knew I was going to have a lovely time.
There were plenty of familiar faces from sewing blogs I read and people I've met at other sewing events, but also a lot of sewists I'd never met before such as the three lovely ladies I shared a table with. Despite this I immediately felt at home as we started talking about the sewing projects we were planning to work on and, as always, it was just so easy to hang out with fellow sewists even though we'd never met before.
Admittedly I didn't get much sewing done, I was far too busy chatting to everyone and this continued into the evening as we headed to the pub for dinner and drinks. It was lovely to share our experiences of sewing and craft, how we got into it and what we like to do, but the most interesting conversations of all were about why we like sewing and how it has affected our lives and the way we live them.
I had countless discussions with people about how our attitudes had changed towards ready to wear clothing since we had started sewing. The general consensus was that the ladies I spoke to no longer wanted to buy so many ready to wear clothes because they felt they aren't made as well as the clothes they can make themselves. They also agreed that understanding the time and effort that goes into producing a garment can make you a more thoughtful and ethical shopper, not so keen to buy clothes churned out in their thousands or to mindlessly shop for the sake of it.
We talked about the impact sewing and making can have on your general wellbeing particularly in an age when working with our hands in such a practical sense is alien for many of us in our day to day work. Crafting and making focuses the mind and many of us talked of our ability to shut out the world and the noise of every day life when immersed in a project.
We also discussed how sewing and dressmaking is back in vogue with younger women and continually increasing in popularity. Whilst sewing was sometimes seen as old fashioned and undesirable for previous generations of women who wanted to get out of the house and away from domestic life, it is something more and more women now appreciate as a break from the fast paced lives we lead that keep us away from our homes so much of the time. There is something so therapeutic about shutting out the world to sit and craft in the comfort of your own home.
On day two we were lucky enough to hear six very talented ladies deliver talks on a range of topics from vlogging (Gabby of Gabberdashery) and creating sewing patterns (Tilly see below) to unleashing your creativity (Rachel, House of Pinheiro) and setting up a creative business (Grace of Beyond Measure). We also heard Marilla Walker talk about understanding the construction of garments and immersing yourself in that process and Elena from Randomly Happy told us how she learnt to create a truly wearable handmade wardrobe. It was fascinating to hear all of the themes from the numerous conversations I had on Saturday with various attendees echoed in these talks.
I did take photos of all the speakers, but unfortunately the images weren't up to scratch for a blog post, I was obviously too busy listening to them!
The only one that made it onto the blog is of Tilly (Tilly and the Buttons) who talked about how she created and grew her business and how she develops each of her Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns step by step.
In particular Grace of Beyond Measure read a quote from this book by David Gauntlett, which resonated with me and reflected the themes of the conversations I'd had beautifully:
“The link with craft and making is that when one is not just a consumer, guzzling thing after thing, but also a producer, going through the necessarily slower and more thoughtful process of making, one becomes more aware of the details and decisions which underpin everyday things and experiences, and therefore more able to gain pleasure and inspiration from the appreciation of things.”
It was clear to see that everyone left the weekender feeling buoyant, positive and motivated as a result of their shared passions and interests, the excellent company and the recognition of the wonderful impact creating and making has on our lives.
Seeing the effect the weekend had on the delegates made me realise the importance and the brilliance of such meet ups. Bringing sewers and crafters together can only help to keep these communities alive and growing and when being part of such a community and taking part in such creative hobbies clearly has such a positive influence on people's lives this can only be a beautiful thing.
Apart from selfish enjoyment, for these reasons we will continue to support, encourage and attend such events at Sew Essential. Our very own Angela runs two monthly sewing and embroidery clubs in her spare time and we also enjoy running get togethers for enthusiasts at our business premises from time to time. We're also supporting North Warwickshire and Hinckley College to promote their fashion and design courses by running a competition for students currently taking one of these courses (more details on this later).
I know so many of you reading this post will also be actively engaged in your local sewing and crafting communities and I hope you've enjoyed reflecting on what a lovely thing they are to be a part of. I love the image below and think it sums things up rather nicely...
Have fun sewing!
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