Slow Stitching

My perception on how long projects are going to take has always been a struggle for me. Wanting things instant and now, I’ve often purchased fabric thinking I’d be able to sew a new dress in an evening or sew together a quilt in a weekend. But alas the reality is, to execute projects to a point of satisfaction usually takes a lot more time and effort than I have idealistically allotted time for. So over the last few years I’ve been trying to a make conscious choices to slow my stitching down while seeing my projects to completion. Instead of feeling frustrated with the sewing machine when the thread breaks or giving up on a project when the seam ripper has to come out. I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the process of sewing and creating verses only focusing on the final outcome of the project. I’m attempting to slow the process down.

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.” Confucius

This little voice in my head that causes me to explore the idea of being intentionally slow is not a new thought in modern society. From addressing food, clothing, parenting or life in general, there has been a lot of reflection in our society to create awareness of slowing life down by becoming mindful of our choices.

  • The Slow Food Movement started in Italy in the 1980s by Carlo Pertrini. The movement hoped to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat.

  • In the book “In the Praise of Slow” and the TED talk “In the Praise of Slowness” in 2005, Carl Honore defines the Slow Movement as a cultural revolution against the motion that faster is always better. It’s about finding a balance in life. On his website he states, “Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”

  • In a manifesto called “The Slow Cloth Manifesto” by Elaine Lipson, Lipson explores how textiles connect us to our inner and outer worlds with meaning and power. She argues for uniqueness over profit-minded mass production, for building a relationship with a project and mastering a skill over jumping from one crafty work shop to another and finding connection with tradition and community verses on-line learning.

All these slow movements are worth exploring and all have something valuable to incorporate into our own lives. For me, Slow Cloth by Elaine Lipson, challenged me in my thoughts and intentions. Her article reminds me to reflect on the importance of tradition and taking the time to master a skill by building a relationship with it, rather than jumping from one skill to another. As stated in her manifesto “I wish you good work with textiles, work that takes just as long as it takes to make something beautiful, useful, skillful, and joyful, that connects you, via a stitch or a thread, with your soul, your community, and your planet.”

“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” Brene Brown

Slowing does not mean doing nothing at all. It’s about finding a balance with the things we chose to have in our lives while being mindful and reflective of how they affect us. Taking time to listen to our body and mind in order to make conscious choices. This week I had to work at not feeling guilty while sitting down to hand sew. My inner dialogue always tried to tell me there was something more important and instant that I should be working on. But as I was able to acknowledge this guilt, I was able to let it pass and I allowed myself to sit in the presence of the stitching. I was soon able to enjoy it for what it was by releasing myself from focusing only on the end product. I came to realize that in the same way that I love to go for long walks, bike rides or the repetitive motion of cross-country skiing, my stitching soon became meditative, reflective and relaxing. A meditation that lead to a ‘guilty pleasure’ with a rewarding tangible product in the end!

I do understand the reality that most creative projects are often somewhere in the middle of being driven and pushed by deadlines and end products verses truly savoring and being mindful of each step or stitch. But it is my goal to incorporate a few more ‘slow’ projects sporadically in the years to come. Even if it’s the only a periodic ‘reset’ project here and there.

 “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” Anne Lamott

Thought Provoker: What’s the largest ‘slow’ project you have ever taken on? Have you ever thought about slowing something down in your life? Were you able to pinpoint it, execute it and find the balance you were looking for?

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Collection Posting: In an attempt to slow my sewing process, I spent the last two weeks working on an intentional slow stitching project. I worked on Sashiko placemats and hot pads. Sashiko is a type of traditional Japanese stitching meaning “little stabs”. Originally used for mending and quilting, the practical running stitch has evolved into a beautiful, intricate and elegant art. I found inspiration for my project from a tutorial on the Purl Soho website,

I’ll be using these placemats here at home as a prototype to see how they wear over time and I’ll be using the hot pads to protect our frying pans from scratches while being stacked in the cupboard.

Source of Inspiration: Below are a few links to websites with information on Sashiko. History, DIY patterns and projects of inspiration.


Front and Backs of the 5 Hot Pads 

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