Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekend Review: Sewing Happiness

Sewing Happiness / Sanae Ishida
Seattle: Sasquatch Books, c2016.
240 p.
This is a different kind of craft book. It's about the author's journey from corporate intensity to a chronic illness to finding a new and balanced way to live. She does this partly through craft. 

When the stress and full on nature of her corporate job leads Ishida to develop Graves' disease, a thyroid dysfuntion, she has to re-evaluate her life and find a way to heal herself without filling herself with drugs. 

She finds that eating better -- healthy foods, mindfully prepared and eaten -- sleeping properly, and sewing are her routes back to better health (to a point; Graves disease is irreversible). The meditative nature of sewing reduces her stress and lets her feel competent at something again, both important to her mental health. She decides that she's going to spend a year sewing all of her daughter's clothes. (this does not sound relaxing to me, but perhaps for a high achiever it helped to have this kind of concrete goal). 

Knit Tank Dress

Her story is moving, and it makes this book more than it would be otherwise. It's a good approach for other busy corporate mom kind of readers who are looking or needing to make a life change. Especially if they are new to sewing and need encouragement to begin.

The projects are loosely arranged around the seasons, twenty projects in all. They range from a pillow or a bag to yoga pants or children's dresses, but they are all focused on comfort and making your life beautiful. Ishida is inspired by the simplicity and aesthetic of her Japanese heritage, even including some sashiko stitching in a few projects.

I think that the project I found most unique was an easy fortune cookie advent calendar -- while I probably wouldn't make a whole advent calendar, I like the idea of the fortune cookie and can imagine lots of ways to use it in other settings. 

The projects are all simple -- nothing challenging for someone who has sewn before. But something to note is that none of the projects have patterns, per se. Like many Japanese sewing books there are measurements in the back of the book for each project, alongside hand drawn instructions. The basic nature of most of the projects makes this feasible for sure, although the yoga pant & knit dress are odd ducks for me -- you're told to trace a garment that you already have. So I guess if you want to make those projects you'd better already have some ;) 

In any case, although the projects are mainly home dec items and I probably won't end up making any of them, I did find the book soothing and honestly told, with beautiful photography throughout. If you can find it at your library it's definitely worth a look. 

Origami Pillows


  1. I have read this book! I was fascinated, not by the projects per se, as I don't think that is what the book was really about. Sewing as a form of mindfulness, like all craft is becoming so recognised, as an alternate conjunct to the biomedical model of treating some disease. And undiagnosed Graves disease is very scary.
    As this author shows, disease can happen to anybody.
    So .... another plus for sewing!!

    1. I agree, the personal story is the real strength of this book. Though some of the projects have their charm, too!


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