I have had so much fun sharing this Self Care Sewing Series with all of you and with the incredible bloggers who jumped at my invitation to join us here. If you have not read the first three installments, be sure to check them out- they are all amazing! I am so happy to have Stephanie from Swoodson Says here today sharing about how her sewing and creativity grew and helped her through early motherhood. This is our second time working together and I always love getting to be a part of her creativity and how she shares that with the world.
Hi! I’m Stephanie; I write a blog with a silly name, Swoodson Says, and share the things I make or other peoples’ work that I love in the usual places: facebook / instagram / pinterest / a weekly newsletter. I love sewing pretty much everything (except hemming pants!) and bounce around between clothes, stuffed toys, refashions, home decor, quilts, and whatever else catches my fancy.
It’s hard for me to share how sewing acts as self care, as a way of energizing my spirit, engaging my brain, and bringing me joy, because it feels so complex! I grew up in a creative, sewing household where my Mom made my Halloween costumes, let me paw through her fabric stash, and stories were shared about her mother sewing for her. I didn’t actually start sewing things regularly until pregnant with my first child. After several botched projects, I finally sewed a footstool pouf that looked exactly how it was supposed to, and it felt like a super power!
Once my son was actually born, I barely made anything as we survived through a move to a brand new state, my husband’s new job, a brutally cold winter, and adjusting to parenthood. Every day felt like groundhog day; anything I cleaned was made a mess again, and my sweet baby was never sleeping and always nursing. As things started to settle in, I had more time to steal away, slowly creating a small space for myself to sew. I upgraded to a new machine that worked effortlessly and sewed a pair of upcycled toddler pants. Made from thrift store clothes, they were unique, cute, and fit great. That super power feeling was back and I was hooked!
Sewing that first pair of pants was one of the few things I was doing in the early days of motherhood that was pure pleasure. Transforming something old and discarded into something new and cute was a thrill, and challenged my brain in a new way. Even though my kiddo still didn’t sleep much, our days slowly allowed for more opportunities to steal away and sew. Most of my motivation and self-teaching came from blogs, and I decided to start my own!
At first I just documented what I made, but I loved hearing from other people, getting pattern recommendations, and feeling like I was part of a community. Over the years, my blog shifted from sharing what I’d made to sharing how to make things. I slowly worked on a new challenge: making my sewing blog into a part-time job. Now I have to make sure that my self care sewing time doesn’t blur into work sewing time, but I still regularly steal away to tackle a creative challenge or make something just for me! Getting into the ‘flow’ of following a pattern, tweaking a design of my own, or cleaning up my workspace gets my head out of the what’s for dinner/why are the kids fighting/homeschool planning grind.
Grace sent me this beautiful Robert Kaufman flannel and I had plans to make an infinity scarf and embroider little designs in the black squares. I tossed around the idea of ‘brr’ and snowflakes, geometric abstract shapes, trying them all out in a photo software, and couldn’t fall in love. I decided to instead write the tutorial that I needed as a beginner! Check it out here. Super simple, specific measurements, clear photos, etc. for the easiest flannel infinity scarf pattern. I hope someone reading along, who is very new to sewing, will try it for themselves and get the thrill of making something that they love (and the benefits of the time spent alone while they make it!). One of the biggest mistakes I made as a beginner was using the wrong substrate or poor quality fabric, it makes such a big difference!
I’ve written a few different ways about how sewing & motherhood or sewing & self care intersects if you want to read more: why I didn’t take a ‘maternity leave’ from my blog, more on why I make things, or how sewing & body image intersect for me (warning - not safe for work post-partum photos in this one!). If you don’t need any convincing on sewing as self care, check out how else I re-energize my spirit with a peek at the hikes & travels that my sewing blog helps fund!