What’s sewing got to do with it, you ask?
A lot. Let me go into it a bit more….
In my former life as a fashion designer holding a senior position, I was working at a family-run boutique fashion house.
I was involved in everything from hiring staff, training them and retaining them, retail sales AND the actual job I was hired to do, which was producing FOUR collections every year. You get the picture.
Quite often I had to put in almost 24 / 7 to meet production and sampling deadlines, because I WAS the business; everything was in my head!I ran on pure adrenalin, with a good measure of stress thrown in.
Then one day I woke up, and couldn’t feel the left side of my body.
Have you all seen “Kill Bill”? When Uma Thurman’s character woke up from a coma and had to WILL her body to work, starting from her little toes? Well, I did something like that.
It was weird, because while I could will my toes to wiggle and see my foot moving, I kinda wasn’t feeling them.
Did I panic? Not really. Thinking back, it was more like a sense of disbelief….. I told myself that I must have slept funny and got some bad case of pins-and-needles or something.
Besides, it was 48 hours from one of my deadlines so I simply HAD to be at work – No matter what. So I did.
By the time I got to the doctors a couple of days later, all hell broke loose and I found myself in a flurry of tests – After another attack, when I sat down somewhere and couldn’t stand up again, things took a serious turn.
This was when they told me that I had MS – Multiple Sclerosis. Except they didn’t found enough hard evidence to prove it, so I didn’t qualify for any treatment. I basically got told that my life was over, but nothing could be done because I wasn’t sick enough!
And then I saw my job got advertised. No one from work had bothered to tell me – I saw it in the newspapers…. What a way to find out!
What to do with my life? I was 31, with a mortgage, no job, not sick enough for treatment or benefit. My doctor sat me down and said, “Just take this opportunity to do WHATEVER you love – while you CAN.”
So I got sewing.
By this time I had started teaching patchwork, so I simply continued.
What I didn’t expect was the support and stories that came from everyone who turned up at my classes – all these women, from all different walks of life and all different background – each one had their own story to share. Be it health, relationship, family or just life in general.
Everyone, myself included, were finding solace in sewing. Our creative space was our safest sanctuary. I’ve come to learn that many people have overcome serious medical conditions, or have simply made peace with our body and got on with life. I didn’t feel so alone any more.
One of my biggest challenges was losing some fine motor skills in my hands. Prior to this, I loved doing needle-turn applique, and was quite well-know for my tiny, even little stitches. Of course, by this time my stitches weren’t tiny any more – and certainly weren’t even. So I started focusing on designing pieced quilts, and developed some impressive, but surprisingly beginner-friendly quilts!
How many quilts can you make in a life time? I dunno. All I knew was that I made quilts like there was no tomorrow – and in part, that thought was very real.
I just kept sewing and churning out quilt after quilt - rotary cutting and machine piecing made it all possible. I had sooooo many designs dancing around in my head, I simply had to get them all out… and, at the back of my mind, I wanted to leave as many quilts behind as possible, for people to remember me by……..
And strange enough, I got better.
With so many quilts as class samples to go around, my classes filled, and I ended up writing detailed instructions so everyone can take something home. These instructions went on to become my range of quilt patterns… things kind of took off from there.
Did sewing cure me…? Probably not, but I am sure it helped me heal. On so many different levels.
Looking back, getting ill was probably the BEST thing that could have happened to me - it gave me my life back, so I get to sew for another day, or more.
What does sewing mean to YOU?
I’d love to hear it. Simply share your story by sending me a quick email