The philosophy of sewing
The curtains in my bedroom hang too long and the sunlight filters through them, nudging me from sleep each morning. Cutting them to size and stitching blackout material to the lining has risen to the top of the to-do list. Not for me the sewing machine, its power requirements too much for my 12-volt boat battery system. I’ll be sewing these by hand.
As I sit in the pale light of the day the stitches progress beneath my needle, a neat line of serrated white which lengthens with each pass. It’s a slow, sedate, methodical job, a creeping progression. It could be achieved in a few minutes using a sewing machine. This will take me several hours.
As I stitch, meditating on the rhythm of my needle, I ponder the worth of completing by hand those jobs that we delegate to machinery. It seems foolish, to dedicate so much time to something that could be completed so quickly. Think of the other things I could be doing with my time. Is this a waste?
The radio is playing, a commentary on life as the cotton rolls between my fingers. Each stitch has care taken over it, a physical effort having been taken to make it. I philosophise as I mark the time with my stitches. It’s not about what else I could be doing in this time, because I am doing this. Sewing by hand is simply that – there is no going faster. It takes as long as it takes. This is the task, and this is what I shall do, steadily working until it is finished. Albeit slow, progress is surely being made, with each stitch the end of the material moving closer.
It’s good for the soul, to understand the worth of what it takes to make things. In our modern lives where instant gratification is everywhere, it is important to step away from that must-have-everything-now mindset. Machinery is a wonderful asset to our lives but detaches us from ourselves. To be labouring over this task, to look around my boat once I’ve finished and know that every stitch, every button hole, every hem was made by me, is my satisfaction. My heart and soul is in this boat – my sweat, too.
The fire has gone out. It’s dark outside; the candles flicker in the draught of the window. My neck is tired, my fingers marked from the sliver of the needle. There is still work to do. I will finish this tomorrow.