The Mystique of the Sewing Room
by Wendy Lynn Conquergood
Juggling the demands of business and home, it’s been a long day, but the best is yet to come!
“At 8:00 pm I enter my sewing room and revel at the feeling of peaceful calm that immediately enfolds me. The noise, cares, and worries of my daily regime fall into oblivion with the utterance of the first deep, delightful sigh, AHHHHH! As my eyes begin to register the view of my sewing machine, tools, fabric, and thread, a second sigh wells up from deep within, AHHHHH. Yes, the next couple of hours are going to be amazing! While I’m in my sewing room I feel focused and happy. When I emerge energized from my sewing room two hours later, I’m glad for the time spent on personally rewarding tasks. The feeling lasts for the remainder of the evening, an enduring mood of well-being and satisfaction.”
The phenomenon of “sewing room bliss” is a fairly common experience, it seems. For starters, the desire to sew may very well be a primally ingrained tendency, sparked by survival instincts for protection and comfort developed in ancient times.
SEWING—A PRIMAL INCLINATION?
The practice of sewing, as in using thread and needle to attach various kinds of material, dates back to the earliest days of human civilization. Basic human needs, like protection from the elements with clothing and shelter, determined the “task” of sewing to be a universal occurrence. Early sewing needles, made from bone, wood, or plant needles, were used to stitch together hides, furs, or bark using thread from animal sinew or plant fibres. Over time, more sophisticated tools and processes developed with the creation of woven cloth, iron sewing needles, and thimbles. The collective emergence of creative expression became more prominent as humans learned to make dyes and fine threads. From the simplest of stitches, to ornate decorative work, sewing throughout much of history was done by hand. The first mechanical sewing machine was patented in 1850, shortly afterward to play a prominent role in the emergence of factory-made clothing of the Industrial Revolution. In the decades that followed, utilitarian sewing functions, from lack of need, fell into decline, while hobby sewing aimed at artistic expression has now become the norm of current trends.
A STUDY INDICATES MORE
With curiosity peaked, I wanted to find out if there were other factors contributing to these joyful bouts of “sewing room bliss.” An independently launched study determined that 100% of persons surveyed had a designated sewing area in their home, a space which offered much in the way of uninterrupted quietude, there to relax, de-stress and energize while working on creative projects. While many started sewing in childhood, learning the utilitarian tasks of garment construction and mending at mother’s knee, almost all sewers today choose to spend their creative time on quilting, machine embroidery, or art projects like thread painting and decorative work.
Considering the use of additional lighting to brighten nighttime sewing spaces and the rich palette of colour and texture present in fabrics and thread, sewers may inadvertently benefit from a somewhat subtle intake of light and colour therapy. A total of 98% of survey respondents reported using a craft, fluorescent, or ott (full spectrum) light in their sewing space. Natural light emanating from large picture windows accounted for eye comfort during daylight hours. Sewers have a tendency to be in the garden in the summer months, and the sewing room in the winter months. A steady diet of bright light may actually serve to ward-off depressive tendencies like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
We would likely all agree that colour has an effect on our moods. Exactly how people are affected by colour stimuli seems to vary from person to person, place to place, and culture to culture. No doubt about it, fabric comes in every colour, hue, pattern, and texture one can imagine… Literally, eye candy provocative enough to make a sewer empty their wallet to top-up their fabric stash. There’s no sense to try to categorize the concept of colour therapy for a sewer. The process is simple. Open the cupboard door, see which colour is calling your name. On any given day or time in your life, you’ll likely pick out the colour that will help you the most.
It’s pretty much an even split in preference between sewing in silence, or sewing with music, my-kind-of-music sewers are quick to point out. Some enjoy the sound of a TV program or video playing in the background. Sewers can be territorial about their creative spaces, as Hilary B. readily admits, “No one bothers me in my sewing room. I have them trained to wait at the door to be asked in.” Pixie G. explains, “It is my refuge, my quiet place.” Monika K. builds on this idea, “In my sewing studio I do not have to cook or clean or care for anyone. It’s my space, with only creative items at hand and I could live in there.”
Perhaps, the final and most significant factor to consider with “sewing room bliss” is the satisfaction gained by indulgence in the art of creative expression. A whopping 100% of survey respondents reported this to be a factor of utmost importance. Linda D. reports, “I gain peace, inspiration, and fresh energy whenever I am surrounded by my beautiful fabrics and space to create.” My friend Dana D. sums it up nicely in this quotation, “There is something soul soothing about working with fabric, the quiet hum of the sewing machine and the colours I am drawn to bring a sense of tranquility. The satisfaction of creation (whether functional or purely decorative) also is comforting to me.”
Delightful! Can someone please pass my sewing machine, fabric, and thread?
Currently the co-owner/manager of Creative House Sewing Centre in Saskatoon, Wendy is a strong advocate of grounded activities that provide opportunity for wellbeing through artistic expression. Events, activities, and classes are ongoing at Creative House to assist a person on their journey to creative experience. To contact Wendy, email: email@example.com or call (306) 652-0455. Also see the display ad on page 25 of the 18.3 September/October issue of the WHOLifE Journal.