Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

‘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 (  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.

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