‘Sew Your Own’ is a sewing book with a difference. Aside from the glaring fact that it’s written by a dude (let’s be honest, you don’t have to spend too long on Amazon to see that that is a rarity). This book is about why we, or at least some people, engage in sewing, crocheting, knitting and DIY activities in general. And I’m so excited to see sewing-related books like this creeping in, compared to another book on how to do bound buttonholes, make a basic A-line skirt or spruce up your old tops with some crocheted flowers. Those types of books have their place, don’t get me wrong: they aim to arm the reader with some techniques and practical tips to give them enough confidence to give creating stuff a whirl. However, ‘Sew Your Own’ is about the emotional and intellectual journey that led one person to seek out those techniques and tips in the first place.
In this book (originally published under the title ‘Through the Eye of a Needle’), Mr Flintoff shows us why he felt it was worth altering his way of living and interacting with his physical environment. A lot of his inspiration for doing so comes from the many interesting and diverse people he meets and the array of issues he combats in his job as a feature writer for a major British newspaper. I can’t think of any other craft-related books that discuss Buddhism, Victorian industrial production, Peak Oil, feminism, children’s haircuts, voter apathy and refuse collection!
He flags up climate change issues, flaws in our global financial and political systems, the need to relearn long-forgotten practical skills and feel pride in our handiwork, so he’s already preaching to this particular choir. But he manages to do so in such a personable and non-preachy way, largely by filling the book with personal, sweet and thought-provoking anecdotes, that I think most readers would struggle not to be engaged.
Personally, now I’ve read this book I see it as a tool to help me convey to my friends and relatives many of my own motivations. AND explain to them the purpose and relevance of what I do at work, as the charity I work for (TRAID) gets a fair few mentions along the way.
Maybe you sew (or do any craft) for purely relaxation reasons. Maybe related wider issues are of no concern to you. But if they are in any way, I would recommend getting hold of a copy of this book. I’d be surprised if there was nothing you found in it which touched you.