Whilst mending a dress by hand last night after barely touching a needle since I gave birth to my first child three years ago now, I suddenly got it. Over the years I had been involved in quite a few International Women’s Day projects and whether these were benefit concerts, performing arts festivals or actual textile focused activities such as banner making, every single time the act of sewing somehow became an important part of the event. Having been fascinated by fabrics and fibres all my life, I never gave my love of sewing that much thought.
Living in a world ruled by ‘fast fashion’, which encourages us to wear something new every week whilst keeping the quantity of items on offer high and their quality and prices low, most of us will view the act of sewing, if not part of a purely creative process, as a mostly idealistic endeavor, a quiet protest at the fourth largest industry in the world which employs (and mostly exploits) a sixth of the world’s population and continues to cause potentially irreparable damage to our planet.
Yet, sitting there for over an hour last night, pricking my finger numerous times, getting frustrated at my lack of precision and feeling so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open enough to see what I was doing let alone lead a thread through a needle’s eye, I understood why sewing is so much more than a practical, creative or idealistic activity, and why it – as a process and motion of applying one stitch after another by hand – remains intrinsically linked to women and their fight for liberation.
Sewing is accepting that taking one step back after every two steps forward is crucial to making progress. Sewing is achieving better results when taking smaller steps. Sewing is mending rather than wasting, tying things together rather than replacing, making things whole again rather than destroying. Sewing is slowing down when we feel we’re running out of time, sewing is choosing reflection over distraction, sewing is shutting out the world as it is shown to us and reconnecting with the world as we know it. Sewing is power as defined by women.
OUT NOW: No Tragedy, new single and short film by Exeter music/filmmaker duo Drunk With Joy..