“…it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
It is also a serious thing to recognise the tools we have at hand to overcome hardship, stress, depression, sadness, loneliness to name a few. For everyone it is their own, for your neighbour it might be gardening, your daughter – her practice of yoga, for you sister- meditation or prayer, for the closest friend it might be running, or dancing salsa or even better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but for every one of you reading this, you all have one skill you are most passionate about- making something with your hands, whether it’s sewing, mending, weaving, embroidering, quilting, you are able to focus your attention on creating. Mindfulness in essence means being present in the very moment you are living, not returning your thoughts to the past, or escaping into the imagined future. This in turn calms your breathing, reduces cortisol levels and with it your state of stress, focusing on a task can gently help the mind stop wondering upon unwanted paths, attaching emotions you don’t have to live through. Creating with hands can be a very powerful way to ground yourself, to steady your mood and to know you are in possession of not only a hobby but a tool which you can utilise to help your wellbeing. Today we are delighted to speak to Gyasti Averia who is on a path of discovery, embracing her craft in order to make sense of the bigger world around her.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I moved to the States in 2014 for school, and since then I have worked in multiple non-profit organizations. It is very rewarding to know the work you put in as an employee has a positive impact towards underrepresented groups in your community, especially when I am also a part of one. In terms of sewing, I started the summer of 2018. I studied industrial design in college, and have always enjoyed fashion, so to me garment sewing is the perfect combination. One of my favorite subjects in during my study was technical drawing, and I have dabbled a little bit in drafting my own patterns as well. Pattern making is definitely something I would like to explore more in the future.
Why do you sew?
I struggled with this question a lot. I feel that there are multiple interconnected reasons to why I sew. Perhaps one of the things that pushes me to sew is the control. I like having control of how I represent myself through the clothing I wear; the image in my day-to-day life. I like the control of how clothing fits around my body and the way a piece of well-fit garment can make you feel comfortable and confident.
Another reason that I could think of is that after graduating college, I found myself not being able to afford the kind of clothing that I wanted to wear. I have a very specific things in mind of what quality, and the fabric that I wanted my clothing to be made out of. Since my personal style leans towards a simpler silhouette anyway, I thought I could just start making my own garments!
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I listen to a lot of podcasts during my sewing time. Some of my favorites are: The Daily by The New York Times, How I Built This by NPR, and of course Love to Sew by Helen and Caroline! I listen to podcasts because I always feel the need to constantly be learning and be productive when I have the time. I do make exceptions when I’m working on a complicated pattern. When I need to focus, I like to put on a Spotify radio and just let it play in the background.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
It’s completely unrelated to sewing, but my first memory of beauty as a child was walking on a beach with my parents collecting seashells. I’m from Indonesia, and we’re known for beautiful tropical beaches, and they are some of the things I associate most with “beauty”.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
For me at the moment, home is the opposite of work. My husband and I are both homebodies, so we utilize our space to relax, to indulge in our hobbies. Everyday, I look forward to being home in my comfy clothes. In terms of sewing, I try to make garments that are functional and practical for my time outside the home, so I could breeze through my days comfortably!
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
I recently read The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction by Matthew Crawford, and I was really amazed by how sewing could also be utilized as a tool to disconnect, but at the same time to connect fully to what’s directly in front of me. One of Crawford’s theories emphasizes the importance of working with your hands and materials to keep distractions at bay, and I think sewing is my version of that.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
I used to play with Barbie dolls a lot as a child. One of the things I remember doing with them was draping random fabric to make new doll clothes!
Who are your muses and inspiration?
I get my inspiration from my fellow sewists on Instagram. Community around any hobbies is a big thing, and I’m very glad that the one I have on social media is a very welcoming and encouraging one. Other than that, I love Elizabeth Suzann as a brand. I adore their strides towards sustainability and slow making. Their designs are practical and their silhouettes are clean, just how I want all my clothes to be.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
I mostly depend on the community on social media to share and talk about my crafts. Having a 9-5 job makes it a little bit hard sometimes to find the time and meet other makers in person.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
One of my art teachers said to me once that, “you never want to be a big fish in a little pond.” It has always stuck with me that if I am the most hard-working person in a team, or in the workspace, that it is time for me to move on and find myself a bigger pond.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
Creating something with my hands is very important to me, whether it is sewing or cooking. Using my hands to handle materials is a way to keep a coherent mind in this fragmented era in my opinion. I think working with your hands is essential to my mental health. It is the opposite of aimless scrolling, rather it is thoughtful movements, and intentional acts.
What does success mean to you?
I also found this question quite hard to answer. I think for me, success is not a matter of reaching a goal, but it is the constant upwards progression. Being successful means always moving, always getting better, and never stagnant.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I have chosen to make Papercut Patterns’ Axis Dress! The IL078 Heavy Weight Yarn Dyed linen that I chose has an interesting striped pattern that I wanted to showcase. I adore the design of this dress and I thought FS’ linen would be the perfect match.