Updated: Feb 22
By Leanne Lee
I have always been passionate about sewing and crafting but when I had COVID back in December 2020 I didn’t expect my hobby to help me as much as it did.
I had COVID back just before the vaccine and didn’t suffer with many physical symptoms to start with but when I tried going back to work and returning to normal life after isolation I was floored by how fatigued I was. It took me so long to get back to resembling any sort of normal activity level and I presume I had long COVID symptoms. Long COVID symptoms are really not fun and for me included fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability and anxiety.
Once I was able to get through a day and get a routine going I was able to get back to my hobby, sewing. This is something I have always been passionate about and have recently, in lockdown, taught myself how to construct clothes.
Using sewing to connect with others
Social media sometimes gets a bad reputation but for me social media really helped me feel connected to the world and a community of likeminded people. When I made a garment I would use the hashtag associated with the garment I had made so that everyone who made that pattern could see an example of what that pattern looked like on different body type, in a different fabric or a different colour. This is also a great way of finding inspiration for the next project. I would also connect with people in the sewing community for hints or tips or advice on how to do things or follow tutorials. I managed to find some people local to me who were passionate about sewing too. We haven’t found a time to all mee tup yet but that is the plan.
One step at a time
I think sewing, either a project or garment, can be so therapeutic because it makes you focus on what is in front of you. I find everything is a series of steps. Whether it’s a small project, or a large one, it never seems too overwhelming as you just have to follow the next step. This helped me to focus on the present and not worry about what is coming up or what has been going on.
Sewing helps with confidence and self-esteem
Although sewing projects such as cushions and bunting can be rewarding, sewing clothes has an added benefit that it is useful to me. I can wear it and show my work to the world. The feeling of finishing a garment and trying it on for the first time and seeing how it fits and feels is the most rewarding feeling for me. I can also make small adjustments to make it fit perfectly so that whatever shape or size you are, you feel good in what you wear. I think this really helped me with my confidence and self-esteem, supporting my recovery from the long COVID symptoms.
The positive feeling from challenge and learning
I taught myself how to sew clothes mainly from online tutorials, paid and free, and hints and tips from people in the sewing community on Instagram. For me, learning a new skill, in my own time and at home (which is most suitable for me with two small children) felt manageable and not too overwhelming, but at the same time felt like I was achieving something and improving myself. Something I have also picked up over time is the concept in the sewing community that no fail is a negative. Every time you do something wrong, you learn from it and do it more accurately or more efficiently the next time. Like sewing a top with all the birds upside down! I now always make sure my pattern is orientated the right way up so I don’t make that mistake again. Luckily, you couldn’t really notice the mistake as the birds were quite small, but it was noticeable to me!
A surprising impact on my sense of identity
I touched on this earlier in terms of how rewarding I find garment sewing, but when sewing clothes for yourself you can really explore who you are, what colours suit you and what fabrics you like. You can explore what fit you like, what shape suits you, what feels comfortable to wear. It is impossible to do this from a high street shop. This helped me have fun with clothes again as I have always hated clothes shopping. I managed to find, and am still finding and exploring, what clothes fit me as me and make me feel like myself. I would totally recommend this hobby if you need an identity boost.
My life one year on…
So for me, I now find pleasure in fabric and pattern shopping to create my own dream wardrobe. I work on one project at a time and can’t manage a few days without sewing something (which is why my machines remain on my dining room table as I never have them packed away for long!). I also hand make and sell super colourful children’s clothing items and hope to teach this amazing skill to more people to discover this amazing hobby.