Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi friends; now, I know this is a sewing blog, and I am not about to change that, but I really wanted to address Mental Health Awareness week.  I do talk about sewing too, so please stay with me on this tangent. This initiative aims to raise public debate, with the object to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.

I yesterday listened to a great talk by Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor, who is famously open about his own mental health breakdown. He proposed that the more it becomes acceptable to talk about breakdowns and depression, the better our society will become at dealing with - and helping those - in distress.

So, to that end, I am outing myself and "talking" openly about my own mental health. I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember; certainly at age 14, I was aware how it would just come over me, all-consuming. It can be crippling living with a heavy, deadening darkness crushing you.  I have tended to hide this side of myself, as to admit to it can feel like admitting to a weakness, as if I was broken in some way! Also I couldn't bear that completely irrelevant and frankly hurtful question "but what are you depressed about...?"

Depressive episodes are horrible, but with experience I have learnt that they don't last forever, and I will emerge the other side eventually!  One thing that helps me a great deal with my mental health is sewing. It lightens my mood, relieves my stress levels. It has given me a great deal of pleasure. The flow you achieve whilst making is really Zen-like, your mind clearing to focus on the detail.  Now, I am not saying this would help whilst in a dark phase, but the joy that sewing brings helps lengthen the times between the gloom, and sustains happiness.

Lots of wonderful sewing bloggers at our wonderful meet ups.
The other joy sewing has brought me is friendship and relationships; through blogging I have made virtual friends with fellow sewers in many different countries. The relationships have strengthened over time and through commenting on blogs and interaction through IG these friendships have really blossomed so that we look forward to updates on each other's days, our fabric shopping and general plans. I have also met up with fellow bloggers and IG friends at meet ups. It's so fun meeting others who have the same passion for fabric hunting and stitching. They feel like happy and inspiring friendships. Locally too I have formed relationships  through sewing. At the "Brighton Sewing Bee", organised by the vivacious and gorgeous Stacie Madden, I've met other local stitchers, shared tea and cake with friends.

Brighton Sewing Bee at St Georges Church Kemptown.

Life with depression is manageable; medication, friends, and the most supportive of husbands means that most of the time my life is good.

Well I've outed myself now and it feels liberating. Apparently 1 in 4 adults suffer with mental health problems. I hope that by being honest, I will encourage others to think about these issues. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mimi blouse; Love at First Stitch.

Hello all. There's been no sewing this weekend, as life has been full of birthday parties and old friends. Therefore, today's make is from a few weeks ago; it's the Mimi blouse, from Tilly Walnes book Love at First Stitch. I have to admit, I held out against buying this book, and determined that I didn't need it. But fate had other plans, as a great friend bought me a copy for my birthday last year.

I have a quasi-rule that, if I have a book in the house like this (as with recipes in a cookery book), then I must make something from it, to justify its place on the shelves. I was trying to work out which pattern I would play with, and I saw so many lovely versions of the Mimi Blouse on the internet (e.g. Pootlemakes did a lovely version here) I felt inspired to give it a go! The gathers are very pretty too.

This is another fabric that I inherited from my Nan's stash, which has been patiently waiting for a project. It is a voile, and definitely seethrough! I will always need to wear something underneath, but that's fine. I think it will work with little bralettes, which are my preferred underwear anyway.

I had trouble with the sleeves, hence it became a sleeveless top!  When I sewed them on, the top was suddenly too tight across the bust. Thanks to sewing friends on Instagram, I have lots of ideas to rectify this on version #2, but for this one I have cut my losses and got rid of the sleeves; I used binding to finish the armholes, to create the sleeveless version you can see in the photos.

I am pointing at the gathers and pointy collar like a crazy, here!

I am pleased with the top and will very likely make it again, however I felt the instructions in the book were somewhat lacking. Had I not made the vintage shirtdress recently I doubt I could have followed the instructions. This surprised me, as nearly every review of Love at First Stitch waxes lyrical on Tilly's instructions and general hand-holding. Well, I like the pattern but the "how to" could have been a good deal clearer!

All's well that ends well, though, as I have a cute summer top to go with skirts, jeans or shorts. So, I am happy.