“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa
Most of my grandmother’s contemporaries knew how to sew, knit and mend a pair of trousers, there was minimum waste as almost anything from a piece of wire to an old jacket would be reused over and over again, the idea of throwing something away that was perfectly in tact, or repairable was alien to her and my grandfather. They were the generation of upcyclers before the word even existed. Prior to this project, I didn’t question the impact sewing has on an individual, and in turn onto their family and community, even though I grew up around grandmothers who made quilts and knitted jumpers. Sewing is the least political activity, and yet it is with choosing to nurture the environment, the humming of the sewing machine, the textures of fabrics hanging over the table, pins to play with, seeing your mum wearing something she made, curious, inspiring and perhaps even in awe, that knowing that you can make something with your hands is one way to make great change for a generation now growing up, in a world far from in balance.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you sew.
My name is Emily and I’m a stay at home mom to a boy and girl, ages 5 and 7. I like to sew because I have an innate desire to create things with my hands. It brings me endless joy. And sometimes frustration… but mostly joy! My husband jokes that I’m a collector of hobbies because I like to do a little bit of everything… sewing, knitting, weaving, macrame, embroidery, flower arranging, interior design, and most recently punch needling. I guess maybe I just really like to learn new things!
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I usually listen to either music (The Beatles, Toro y Moi, Death Cab, Leon Bridges, Alabama Shakes are my favs) or I listen to Nation Public Radio (NPR). If I’m feeling like I really need to get things done then I go for music. It helps me get into a groove. But NPR helps me feel connected to the outside world, which I sometimes long for since I stay at home.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
Being on my grandparents’ farm in the summer. They had a huge garden with raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. They had an apple orchard, too. And horses, donkeys, chickens and honeybees. I have the fondest memories of sitting barefoot on the tree swing with the breeze blowing and just thinking “this is the most beautiful place on earth.” I still love going there. And I hope to someday bring that feeling to my own property.
Who are your muses and your inspiration?
Like many people from my generation, I find inspiration on social media. Scrolling through the beautiful images on Instagram or Pinterest can kickstart me if I’m feeling creatively stuck. But I also find great inspiration in nature. We live near a mountain now and we’ve been doing a lot of hiking, which has been wonderful. And of course I find inspiration in my children. My daughter, in particular, has developed an appreciation for art and design. We have fun creating things together and bouncing ideas off one another.
Where is home and how does it affect your creative work?
We just moved from eastern North Carolina to Marietta, Georgia (just outside of Atlanta) last month, so we’re getting to know a whole new home right now. We moved into this little neighborhood at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain that I really love. It’s tucked into the woods and it feels like we were always meant to be here. I think being surrounded by nature is going to be really lovely for my inspiration. And my children are both going to be in Montessori school full-time this school year so I’m going to have so much time. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself!
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
I wish that I had more time to read for myself, but I find that I’d rather sew or knit than read, so that’s what I do. But my daughter and I recently read “Snow and Rose” by Emily Winfield Martin together and it was endlessly inspiring. From the writing to her lovely illustrations I couldn’t get enough. And neither could my daughter. We’re hoping she writes some more chapter books soon!
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
The first thing I ever remember making on my own was a flower crown out of clover and baby’s breath from my grandparents’ farm. I picked all the flowers and took them inside. Then my grandma gave me floral wire and tape and I went to town. My grandmother is the one who taught me to sew and make and create. I owe her so much for that. She even kept that little flower crown for probably 20 years. It dried and then hung around the post of the bed I slept in at her house.
How do you balance motherhood and the importance of staying creative?
It’s really hard, honestly. Especially when your children are young. Making things is my “me time.” It helps remind me that there’s more to me and my life outside the bounds motherhood. It refreshes me. Then I can get back to being a fully present mother.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Believe in yourself. I made it to the age of 30 before a dear friend literally look my face in her hands and told me that I was creative and I needed to believe it for myself. Before her, I never thought of myself as a creative person. I felt like an imposter, for some reason. But ever since that conversation I’ve felt more at ease with who I am and I’ve given myself permission to create without fear. She literally changed my life.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
SO IMPORTANT. It’s literally a must for me. I get grumpy and start feeling lost when I don’t create. Making things helps keep me grounded and gives me an outlet for all the things going on in my mind. I’m an introvert through and through and sometimes I think making things is my way of getting out of my own head.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
My community is definitely online more so than in person, although I’m hoping that may change since we’ve moved to a big city. I’d love to gather a good group of sewing buddies!
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I’ve chosen a Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory made out of FS Yarn Dyed Mid Weight Linen because I just love a jumpsuit. They’re so easy to throw on and still look polished, which is a definite benefit for a busy mom. Plus, when they’re made out of linen they tend to feel like you’re wearing pajamas, so it doesn’t get much better, in my opinion.