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Why I Sew, by Laura (@lollymakes93)

My family have always been creative : my Grandad did woodwork and taught this skill to my brother; my Grandma did all sorts of crafting but was always knitting. She would look at a knitted garment and say “I could knit you that” and a few weeks later, there it would be! My mum also learnt to knit and is often found knitting for my nephews. To this day, my pleas of a Mrs Weasley jumper continue! She also sews and made us all clothes when we were younger. Currently, she is sewing superhero clothes for my nephews’ teddies!

My mum gifting my brother a hand knitted Postman Pat

I did Textiles at GCSE and A-Level but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after A-Levels as I was torn between studying Geography and Textiles. I went to study a Foundation in Art and Design whilst I made my decision and ultimately went on to study Geography at University.

It wasn't until four years later when I was working in my graduate job, had moved away from home and was studying a part time Masters that I found sewing again. I hated my Masters and how I lost all my confidence in myself when studying it. I needed something to take my mind off the stress of the deadlines, the negative feedback and worry of not being able to pass. Often, I found myself twiddling my thumbs on a Saturday as my partner was working and told myself I needed a hobby to keep my mind and my hands busy. On my wandering of the new town I was living in I stumbled across a craft shop and came home with patchwork squares and a sewing magazine. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I didn’t have anything to sew with!

Spooky keeping a close eye on Mummy’s sewing machine

My partner must have seen my enthusiasm for sewing and all the research I was doing, as a few months later at Christmas, he gifted me my lovely Singer sewing machine. I was thrilled and jumped straight into it. I started by making a patchwork quilt for my mum and adding embroidery to some of the squares. It took me another 4 years to actually finish that quilt and gift it to my mum! It turned out that my partner also told my sister his plans as her Christmas present to me that year was needles, thread, some sewing books and fat quarters.

Sewing became my stress outlet and something I would look forward to when I had completed my work/uni work for the day. When I wasn’t able to sew, I would plan my sewing using Trello (web-based project management tool) and sketch out potential designs to visualise how the final garment would look.

From sketchbook to final garment

I moved to The Peak District and found some local sewing classes that would teach me how to grade a pattern to my size, which was a skill I was lacking. I was making garments and learning new skills, but they weren’t fitting me and I wasn’t sure why. Once I realised where I was going wrong and how to correct it, I was able to make clothes that fitted my body and both the joy and the confidence boost that gave me was just what I needed. I am a big believer in learning from your mistakes, whether that is in your job, education or your hobby. Sometimes my makes still didn’t fit or I chose the wrong fabric, but I learnt something with every garment whether that was how to make a collar, button plackets, hand sewn buttonholes cuffs etc.

Lolly wears a vintage dress pattern in a floral cotton

In January 2020 I became a Minerva Brand Ambassador and started my Instagram sewing account. This was a big step for me as I am naturally shy, self-conscious and do not like being in-front of the camera. Being a member of Minerva allowed me to work with new fabrics, try out new patterns and write blogs. My partner loves photography and he photographs all my makes and I love being able to share my hobby with him, especially since he was the one who got me back into sewing.

Lolly wears a Pippi Pinafore in a William Morris print cotton

When the pandemic hit I started to work from home and within a few months was furloughed, so had a lot more time on my hands. I wish I could say that it went entirely on sewing, but it actually went on writing up my Masters Dissertation (sigh). Sewing became even more important with the difficulty we all felt during the lockdown : worries for family and friends and looming job loss. My sewing machine was always ready to whisk me away for a few hours and focus my mind on fitting, seam allowances and the thrill of a new garment in my wardrobe. I have spoken to and got to know some wonderful people on my Instagram account who have helped me with my sewing but also are always there for a chat.

Lolly’s sewing assistant Spooky helps to cut out a pattern.

Sewing is an important stress outlet for me and helps to boost my confidence when I need it. I have been able to make the clothes that I've always wanted and experiment with print and colour. Sewing concentrates my mind on my make and takes me away from work, my to do lists and any other concerns I have. I love how wonderful and supportive the Instagram sewing community is and how I have been able to make friends who also love to talk about sewing!

Lolly wearing a Sylvia Robe in a beautiful hand printed fabric from India

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