‘Sisters are doin’ it for themselves’, sang the Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin back in the 1980s. ‘Standing on their own two feet & doing their own thing’, the song continued. I love this song & have the single on vinyl. The cover shows a famous Ken Russell image of four girls on a bombsite (http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.spaceandculture.org/uploaded_images/TG15-735258.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.spaceandculture.org/2006/03/02/teddy-girls/&usg=__7D32K1L64INAQRVMyMbbZrc6CXg=&h=341&w=336&sz=25&hl=en&start=5&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=4S4EclgWKUuVAM:&tbnh=120&tbnw=118&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dken%2Brussell%2Bteddy%2Bgirls%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4ADBR_enGB243GB243%26tbs%3Disch:1). I was in Brighton on Friday for a work thing & someone showed this image as part of their talk – hence the song has been on my internal play list since, a constant loop of two or three lines repeating themselves.
Yesterday I sat in the garden. Gorgeous weather, hot legs. Only owning semi-decent skirts & pj trousers was not conducive to curling up on the grass or in a garden chair. I wanted shorts. So I made some. In my 1st ever attempt at dressmaking, I lopped the legs of some old pj bottoms, hemmed them et voila! I am now sat wearing my very own shorts. I am inordinately proud of said shorts. Even more than the actual results (pretty fetching, even if I say so myself – they have a certain 1940s sailor shape to them, totally accidental), I am proud of my resourcefulness & confidence in having a go at making something. I look at the shorts & feel a sense of resilience & self-reliance.
So often crafts & other ‘making’ things are thought of in terms of self-reliance, but usually in an economic sense. The psychological effects – harder to pin down & describe – don’t get much attention. But to me, this aspect of crafting & making is paramount: belief, trust, confidence & pride in my own (albeit limited) skills & imagination (the latter outstripping the former by a million to one!). Since I’ve started making things for myself & as gifts, I have come to feel so much stronger, more secure in my ability to survive & face the world. Alright I shan’t be climbing Everest or sailing the Pacific single-handedly anytime soon, but in a workaday way, I am mentally & spiritually better-equipped to live my life. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this joy from producing & making with one’s own hands; like the Freemasons or something, crafters seem to be able to sniff one another out from 50 yards. You only have to consider the success of the V&A’s quilts exhibition to see how widespread this love of making is becoming. Sisters really are doin’ it for themselves.