Monday, 5 October 2015

When The Going Gets Tough...




...The Tough Get Sewing.



When life renders you powerless, sewing can be wonderfully therapeutic.


Over the last couple of weeks, in an effort to stop dwelling on my thoughts, I've been sewing up a storm. No pair of curtains, tablecloth or bed cover has been safe. I might not be able to change my circumstances but by taking an ordinary scrap of fabric and fashioning it into something completely different I feel like I've regained some control.



In a state of limbo, whilst awaiting the coroner's report, ready to throw myself into dealing with all the grown-up stuff like funeral arrangements, probate and informing an endless list of organisations and agencies, my poor sewing machine has rarely been switched off.


Last week I visited an amazing lady who was selling off all her belongings ready to make a fresh start in life at the age of eighty-eight. As we went through her wardrobe I turned and admired the brocade curtains which had been hanging at her bedroom window for 56 years, Have them, she said, Indicating Jon to take them down.


When we got back from the hospital on Thursday morning I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I unfolded a pattern, laid it out on the curtains and spent the rest of the day fashioning a hooded cape.


I can't thank you enough for the wonderful comments, messages, texts and emails I've received since my last blog post, I'm truly overwhelmed by your kindness. Sharing your experiences and reaching out have helped burst the bubble I'd felt trapped in for the last fortnight, unable to fully engage with life & feeling too awkward to share our situation.  



I shall do my very best to get back to you all in the next few days.

See you soon. 

61 comments:

  1. Aw bless you. Thank goodness there is a form of therapy that works for you. I honestly think tennis keeps me sane. When you are chasing and hitting a ball, you don't have the time to think about the other ever-present worries. I'm glad you have found the thing that helps you to keep going. That woman sounds AMAZING! Good for her. It's good to deliberately not stagnate and to keep the capacity to embrace change. That cloak is a thing of baroque beauty. I love it on you. You look a very romantic heroine today. Good luck in the next few weeks, and remember, we're here if you need us. Xxxxx

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  2. Some say that to avoid something that may be aggravating or troubling us dwelling on it may eventually allow us to "gain control." But like you, diving in to projects and doing enjoyable things is a better way to go. Keep going!

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  3. Even when dealing with such heartache you're able to make clothing of such beauty - amazing!

    Hope you're both keeping ok, take care xxx

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  4. You said it so well .

    Love the cape and you look so amazing !
    Xxx

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  5. At least you've been able to make some beautiful clothing during this time. Making things can be very therapeutic. :)

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  6. gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Sewing is the cure and you've really got it going. I did the same, that and napping with kitties.

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  7. The awesome power of creativity ..
    kisses

    serena

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  8. Lovely to see your creative stitching projects - they look amazing. I love the brocade cape as it reminds me of a peacock's cascade of feathers and those mini ones are lush - they're all so gorgeous that I can't pick a favourite. Glad to read that sewing has been helping you through this tough time - we're all sending you positive vibes and lots of love xxx

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  9. They are all amazing and the fact they have been therapeutic to you is a bonus. Take care xx

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  10. What a lovely way to take oneself away from worries and you've done that sublimely with all those colourful creations. Doing anything creative when life is challenging and tough certainly does free the mind for a while. I love to do it.

    Sending you lots and lots love and comfort. Thinking of you. X

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  11. Dear Vix, I am sending you much love! It's horrible waiting for the coroner to release a date, I am sorry you are having that state of limbo.
    What a good use of your time though and what a lovely way to show tribute to that lady by using her curtains to make such a majestic garment. The other pieces are brilliant too!
    I look forward to seeing you this weekend, are you still at Bethnal Green or is that off? I have a vintage dress for you for Kinky- it's too small for me so you might be able to find someone it will fit!
    x

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  12. Love, that cloak is a thing of beauty. I'm with Tan, you look like a Romantic heroine.
    Keeping busy is the best way I think; sometimes I think our creativity just comes in and takes over when we most need it. Sewing is great because you can just disappear in to it. Then we end up with beautiful creations like yours.
    I really am knocked bandy by your cloak and love the story behind it.
    Take care, lovely and we'll see you in a bit.
    xxxxxx

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  13. I recently learned about alpha and beta brain activity -- most often your brain is running on beta brainwaves, which is where all your decision-making, problem-solving etc comes from, and if your brain is in beta mode all the time, that's when stress etc kicks in. Creative but repetitive activities like sewing are really good for your alpha brain; they tell your brain to slow down and stop working overtime, and this helps you to relax. It's science!

    Lovely capelets and the cloak is awesome, you look great.

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  14. I'm amazed that you can concentrate sufficiently on one garment let alone several! The most I could manage when mum was dying was making cards, but yes, the creative process did help me to relax and after she'd gone I kept myself busy. I believe that we cope with our troubles in the best way we can and I'm glad you've found something that helps you through this very tough time. Your creations are bloody wonderful btw, especially the glorious cape and the yellow mini.
    Sending lots of love. xx

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  15. yes - sewing puts the world back on the feet - for me too!
    fabulous opera cape!!! what a great use of the curtains! and the story behind is so lovely - it´s never to late to start new!
    love all your new sewn stuff!
    xxxxx

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  16. Sewing IS a great escape - no matter what the end result.

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  17. Nothing like a good bit of distraction, and you're making a beautiful distraction!
    Love the brocade cape, it's just HEAVENLY.
    Love Helga XXX

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  18. There's a lot of love out there for you Vix and we all want to take your pain away. Take comfort from all that love xxxxxx

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  19. I know what you mean about the sewing. Being busy is a great distraction and sewing is a good way to keep busy. I hope that all the horrible official stuff is easy to sort and over quickly and that you give yourself a chance to grieve. Sending you lots of love. Kelly Xx

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  20. I'm glad you're keeping busy whilst in this limbo period of not being able to get on with organising stuff. Be prepared to immerse yourself in stuff after its all over too as, when there's nothing left to organise, you can wonder what on earth to do with yourself. I think that's how I ended up with Cassie-dog, who came along just when I needed her.

    I can imagine how much all these messages of support from all over the globe have lifted your spirits. Payback time for all the time and effort you've spent in sharing your weird and wonderful life Vicky - and well deserved.

    Kate
    xxx

    PS I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to seeing how you dress for your Dad's funeral. Hope that doesn't sound macabre? I'm sure it won't to people who know you and follow your blog. I'm guessing that you'll ensure a whole load of family members are represented :-)

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  21. glad you're sewing as a therapeutic activity, and creating some beauty!
    All I can do is sending you my support, through the long miles that separate us!
    besos & abrazos

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  22. The bureaucracy will whizz you along once it kicks in. Losing yourself in beautiful textiles/sewing is a kind-to-yourself thing to do and I'm so very glad you find comfort in it. I wish more people could be as frank and share the pain/awkwardness as the lovely folk here in the comments. A huge amount of us have obviously been there - done that, and come out the other side OK.

    Thinking of you Vix, Jon and your fam/friends who are going through this with you.
    Take good care of yourselves xx

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  23. It's nice to hear that you were able to get back to sewing. I agree, it's definitely therapy for me even on a good day. Love the caplets. x

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  24. I'm so glad you had your sewing to remove you from the stress if only for a bi, its such a draining job to finish up someones life, its always messy, messy being born and messy dying,, paper work to no end,, emotions run high, wrapped in each job to be done,, I think you used your sadness and stress transformed into some beautiful creations, that cape is stunning, its a work of art! take care,,

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  25. I would be lost without my sewing and/or knitting. When my dad died it was like some unseen forces were propelling me along: funeral arrangements, flowers, meeting with the lawyer etc. Then it was over and it was so quiet. Even now I will think of something and want to pick the phone up to call my dad. I will keep you and your family in prayer.

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  26. you're getting really good at sewing. Funny how I don't sew for fun. The year I wasn't working I made 2 things. In the past month I've made: 4 period vests, 2 cutaway coats, pair of knickers, pair of long pants, 1 fantasy dress and sewed tons of buttons and trim onto said costumes. Nothing fun like making cool capes out of old curtains.

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  27. It is good that you have a creative release. In time, you'll be back to remember your true father, not the disease that took him from you. Having things to occupy your mind will help your head clear so much faster. You know the world is a better place because of your father, and now we know it's a better place because there are so many more finely crafted Vix creations in it!

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  28. The capes are seem inspired somehow - and OH, that drapery fabric!!!!

    Take your time. Circumstances like yours can't be rushed. We'll be here when you can return.

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  29. It is so wonderful you found some solace and meaning by being creative and productive. Keeping the mind busy is good.

    What a grand cape! All of your creations are wonderful. You've worked some real magic with the patterns in the fabric.

    (((( Vix )))))

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  30. You do have a out let. Lot people handles stress by drinking or drugs.
    I heard sewing is coming back. Not sure if the schools will bring it back or not.
    I took sewing in high school.

    Coffee is on

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  31. Good for you, sewing can be very therapeutic. When my dad died I took to stringing beads, shells and drift wood?? Worked for me.

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  32. It's good to switch off, it's our coping mechanism sometimes, and creative pursuits are the best way of flicking that switch. Your cape is fabulous and I loved reading about the 84 year old starting a new life - wondered what she planned? a cruise round the world perhaps or that move to the country and the 'good life' we all yearn for 'one day'! how brave of her to part with all her things after so many years on this planet when others are so easily bogged down by theirs - it reminded me of when I had to arrange my mothers funeral etc and did not keep anything except one photo of her as this is traditional for her family, it's cleansing and uplifting to let that person go completely and not hold on to 'stuff' because it was their treasure and not ours. Betty x

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  33. I know when my brother was sick the one thing that helped me cope was work as it made me feel like I had control of my life, cross stitching also helped (being away from home I couldn't sew). That cape is beautiful, we all find different things therapeutic in difficult times. Thinking of you xo

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  34. Wish I could give you a hug hopefully later this month I will be able to do so along with Emma. I am glad to see you are keeping yourself and your thoughts busy loving the little cropped jackets the fabrics and colours are gorgeous loving your cape to bless the older lady I would love to have seen her lives collections she would love to see what you made with her curtains I am sure. I hope your wait isn't to long so you are able to lay your dear dad to rest. thinking of you, love and hugs dee xxxx

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  35. I've been thinking of you both this week, our family is currently being affected by dementia, and I've also been reading all the other comments and finding some hope and kindness in everyone else's experiences. Your readers are truly a lovely lot aren't they? I hope you manage all the grown-up stuff okay, keep on sewing xx

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  36. When my Father died, diminished by a brave battle with cancer, I took to gardening with a frenzy. I think it helps us to be doing something constructive when for so long we were unable to make any difference to our Fathers. I love what you have sewn, and I'm certain the little old lady would think it marvellous that you made a wondrous cape from her curtains. They live on! x

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  37. Brilliant to meet you on Sunday... hope you had a great day!!x

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  38. Sometimes we need to step away from whatever is traumatic or causing stress and lose ourselves in creativity. It can help to clear the mind and make what seemed to be insurmountable a little more easy to deal with and cope with.
    Your 'makes' are fab, especially the cape. You are 'Wonderwoman'!
    M x

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  39. I love, love, love your green cape and what a wonderful thing to make it from. Mind you I like the sound of green brocade curtains I'd probably have kept them as is!

    I know I've said it before but gardening is to me what your sewing is to you. I don't think I'm being dramatic by saying it's a life saver I'm so glad you have something similar.
    Big Hugs x x

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  40. To find yourself in your talent and creativity (or maybe to "lose" yourself for a while) is so uplifting. And the results are dramatically beautiful - that cape! Peace to you, xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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  41. You are creating beauty in the face of grief! Creativity heals! Thank you for sharing your process with us during this painful and tumultuous time. Your hooded cape is a piece of exceptional beauty. My thoughts are with you, Dear Vix.

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  42. Your opera cape is a beautiful statement of your grace under fire, dear Vix. And Jon's photo of you in the garden by that quiet little pool is an affirmation of life, still green and resilient beneath the rustling leaves. Like so many of your posts, and the comments they elicit, there's a life lesson here: we sometimes choose to recycle the artifacts of others' lives not only to nurture ourselves but also to honor them. One hopes the gallant woman who gave you the brocade stuff may see the cape and know she, too, is being recognized for greeting yet another changing season with head held high.

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  43. Man, I can hear you revving that machine's engine all the way over here! The bobbins squealing around every corner. Your assistants mopping your brow during careful time-outs. Yes, I completely understand how you turn to sewing - and the best thing is you get tangible results. The emerald drape cape - I gasped. Beautiful. I turn to colouring, painting... Surrender. Good luck with all the adult stuff. Throw in lots of time for self care there too. Hugs.

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  44. Wow! Beautiful makes and that cape is stunning! I find sewing therapeutic sometimes, when you have no control over life for a time, the ability to see a project through to the end is very cathartic. Take care xx

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  45. Temporarily avoiding blog reading (one of my favourite distractions) meant I missed your post about your Dad. I just read it and identified with every word of it, especially the relief. My mum was ill for a long time too and I think one of the the hardest things you can ever experience, especially the protracted ending. I am so impressed with your strength and sewing is indeed excellent therapy. Lots of loving thoughts to you.xx

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  46. I remember you saying that sewing patchwork after your mum died was a really helpful activity, so I am not surprised that the therapeutic aid of the sewing machine has come into force again. We all use whatever we can to cope, right? And making something both practical and beautiful seems a very good idea to me - patchwork curtains, or a fabulous brocade cloak, take your pick! You look utterly stunning in the cloak against the backdrop of autumn leaves.
    Wonderful story about the lady's new start at 88 - that gives us all hope.
    I hope you get things sorted - I know you will, because you're a get things sorted kind of woman, but there will be sadness and loss in the mix too, along with all the legalities and practicalities. You know where I am if you need to chat. Or drink wine and bitch about X Factor! Love you. xxxxx

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  47. Stay strong ... and if sewing is your therapy ... then go for it
    xx

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  48. Sewing is the thing, absolutely, although crocheting got me through last fall and winter. Your pieces are beautiful. I think maybe that's what women have historically done through times of tragic loss, creating something of beauty. It gives a sense of control and continuity, the ability to create something tangible and practical. A thing to keep you warm, food to nourish the body of the living, something carefully sewn to pass on to others.

    This was a timely sharing, thank you. I'm squeezed very tightly these days, and this allowed me a group hug. :-)

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  49. Gorgeous pattern matching. You certainly don't do things by halves!
    I hope you have a lovely place to wear your swishy cape to. You shine in your grieving days.
    Much love to you as you adult! Xo Jazzy Jack

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  50. Hi Vix, First of all I just found out about your dad and I'm very sorry for your loss. It sounds like you grieved for years already for the dad he once was. You are doing what's best for you now keeping busy, I admire your strength and will power, because its not easy. xx

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  51. Every time you have talked about your dad on your blog over the last few years, I've thought about my late great grandmother and the dementia that robbed her and everyone who knew and cared for her of the person she had been. And I've thought of how many strong women (and men) like you and my mum have experienced years of responding to the crises that this terrible condition inevitably creates.
    I'm glad that the suffering is over, not just for your dad, but for all of you who loved him. And it's spirit-lifting to see the oh-so-vibrant creativity pouring out of you into these wonderful new things, crafted from the old. Sending you much love x

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  52. Sewing can be so therapeutic and it's good that you are keeping busy. Sending you lots of love Vix xx

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  53. I laughed and teared up, both emotions felt while reading this single post. The story about the lady's curtains and how they became your beautiful hooded cape, is wonderful. You've been on my mind all week. My heart goes out to you, my friend. xoxo

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  54. What lovely items you have been sewing, I love the hooded cloak, beautiful fabric.

    There seems to be so much to do and so many people to inform when someone dies. I did all of this for my mother and my husband for his. It seems to go on and on but what my husband said when the probate, which he did, got hard was, 'this is the last thing I will ever do for her' and that made a lot of difference and supported him.

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  55. So nice that sewing helps you to deal with real life troubles and unwanted thoughts. You created beautiful things, the hooded cape made from the old curtains looks just fantastic!

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  56. Aw Vix, these are hard times. When my mother-in-law died we didn't have to have a coroner's report; waiting for one of those must make things all the worse.

    I don't know if they do it where your Dad is, but in Manchester they have a 'Tell us once' scheme for all things local council related, so you only have to report the death once and then all sorts of local services get notified automatically. It means you won't have to do as much notifying as people have to in the past.

    If you don't have anyone to talk to about the mechanics of sorting out an estate, feel free to drop me a line on crinolinerobot AT yahoo DOT com ; we went through it earlier this year with my mother-in-law and will still have all sorts of useful phone numbers and bits of information kicking around.

    It will affect you for a long time. It still affects me now, and it definitely affects my husband - at first he couldn't bear the thirteenth of the month because that was The Day. Don't fight it, it's normal to feel that way. It's okay.

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  57. I love that cape, Vix. It is beautiful. Our creativity can soothe our souls especially when we are grieving. Keep sewing and keep breathing. Much love to you.

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  58. As so many other people have mentioned, any creative pursuit can be a welcome diversion from grief. I just talked to Krista and she showed me some of the painting she's been doing.

    If it's not bad enough that you have to cope with the tidal wave of emotion that is hitting you right now, then there is all the paperwork and notifications, etc. that you have to do. 20 years ago I was the executor for a close friend who died in his 30's and I had no idea how many things had to be looked after.

    Be kind to yourself right now, and do whatever you need to in order to get through the days. If there is a bright side, you will be able to have a large stock of adorable capes and tunics to sell or wear when this is over (Hugs)

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  59. I was so sorry to read of your loss and the years of suffering you and your family have gone through. So very sad. Of course there is also relief. It is wonderful that you remember your dad as he was, so we'll. And creative therapy is a very good thing indeed. Much love.

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  60. Sewing is so wonderfully therapeutic. I'm so glad you are finding solace in it. That cape is beautiful and such a fitting way to use the curtains. The lady sounds fascinating and incredibly cool by the looks of what she owned. XXX

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Love from Vix
xxx