Sewing

The last buttonhole

The last buttonhole. Drawing Luke Hockley.

The last buttonhole. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

A year after I started making this shirt, I am finally about to sew the last buttonhole.

It will take me about an hour, and then…this shirt is complete.

It takes a long time to hand sew a shirt…but it doesn’t take a year. I think for the last 6 months I’ve spent the time avoiding sewing these buttonholes. In case I stuff them up. This shirt has been awkward at times. I’ve taken the collar off and totally remade it – which took ages. The stitching is a strong contrast to the main fabric. Which I did, on purpose, so that the imperfect handmade nature of the shirt was obvious…but I couldn’t come to terms with how messy the stitching on the collar was. The collar is different to all the other parts of the shirt. Being circular there are no obvious ‘inside’ and ‘outside’…or the inside and outside change halfway through a line of stitching. You see, I can make one side reasonably neat…the other, well it’s pretty scrappy.

Anyway.

It’s taken a long time, most of that time has been taken up with my battle with myself to be perfect.

But also, some of that time has been dedicated to the fact that shirt making is all process. Like painting a room every new exploration is a lot of preparation before I actually get to sew, which I don’t find takes that long.

In this case the buttonholes took so long because I got curious about how handmade buttonholes are actually meant to be made. I had just made up my own technique…but I knew that there was going to be a ‘proper’ way to do it.

As I explored different techniques my buttonholes got a lot worse before they finally shaped up into something passable.

If that was the only delay, learning a new technique, then I may have slowed a little, but that wouldn’t have worried me. I like that shirt making is a process of discovery. It’s all the angst in between that I could do without.

It’s important for me to remember that the process is the point. To slow down and enjoy each piece of the puzzle.

That same old lesson coming back to visit me once again.

There is only now.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,377

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Something so delightful.

Something so delightful. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Something so delightful. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Something so delightful

In my life

People around the Campfire.

Breakfast with friends

Alby asking for cuddles

Cup of tea and life plans with family

Sewing buttonholes on the train

Dinner with family

Phone call with loved ones.

Something so delightful.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,370

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Frightened of failure.

Frightened of failure. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Frightened of failure. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I don’t feel like I am frightened of failure, but I am.

I seem to be able to hide it from myself.

Disguise this uncertainty.

It comes out as an inability to finish things.

Avoiding putting the final touches on things…in case.

In case I stuff it up.

In case it doesn’t look right.

In case it’s not perfect.

I’m so frustrated with this.

It’s ridiculous.

Just get on with it, damn it.

Stop wasting time.

Enjoy the process and let go of the outcome.

It will be easier that way.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,365

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Alive in my hands.

Alive in my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Alive in my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I love when I fall in love with a new song.

When something about a song grabs me to the point where I want to learn to play and sing it on the piano…and then I find myself drawn to practicing it all the time…I love that.

It’s like having a sewing project that I am working on that I can’t put down.

A creative curiosity that is alive in my hands brings me joy.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,291

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Frightened of buttonholes.

Frightened of buttonholes. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Frightened of buttonholes. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’m frightened of doing the buttonholes on the shirt I am making.

They are kind of irreversible.

Once the fabric is cut (which you do as you start making them) then there is no going back.

It feels like I could really stuff this up.

What if I get it wrong and all the hours of sewing this shirt are for nothing?

Ah, that’s interesting.

I’m worried about the outcome…which is the opposite of how I approach making a shirt.

When I make a shirt I’m most interested in the process. I encourage myself to let go of the time it takes me to do make it and how the shirt will look in the end…and just do this step, now.

I find making shirts such an interesting metaphor for my life. I avoid getting things wrong, which means I find finishing things I really care about can be difficult. It’s ok to get things wrong.

Ok, it’s time to make the buttonholes. 

If they don’t work, they don’t work.

At least I will be moving forwards.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,281

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Sewing this, dyeing that.

Sewing this, dyeing that. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Sewing this, dyeing that. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I am getting great joy from making things.

Sewing this, dyeing that…

It’s the thing I have been longing to do for days and days and days.

Here it is.

Time to enjoy it.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,229

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Moving and sewing.

Moving and sewing. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Moving and sewing. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I can see myself spending my days moving and sewing.

That’s it.

Moving and sewing.

Love

Luke

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Day 1,228

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The anatomy of a shirt.

The anatomy of a shirt. Drawing Luke Hockley.

The anatomy of a shirt. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I am dissecting one of my favourite shirts.

I would have mended it…but it tore in several places. The fabric has become too thin from frequent washing and wearing…so I decided to sacrifice the shirt, pull it apart and use it to make a pattern for a new shirt.

I’m grateful to this unknown person, in China, whose impressive and underpaid skill created this favourite object of mine.

In the process of gently undoing every stitch that made the shirt I’m getting to know the hands that made it.

I’m finding small decisions about hidden stitches, uncovering the order that the shirt was constructed in…wondering why, why were these things done in this way?

Some of the decisions are obvious, some are not.

In the end the effect is that of a shirt, all the bits sit where they should, and I look at it and think – shirt.

I’m enjoying getting to know this shirt that I have loved, piece by piece.

It reminds me of the process of getting to know myself.

Examining the different ways I am constructed, learning about why something about me is put together the way it is.

These processes are similar, but not the same.

Getting to know myself is a much more confronting process than getting to know the anatomy of a shirt.

More vulnerable.

Confronting.

Worthwhile, though.

I hope.

Love

Luke

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Day 1,224

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Don’t throw the buttonhole out.

Don’t throw the buttonhole out. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Don’t throw the buttonhole out. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’m learning how to sew a buttonhole.

Or, rather, I’m learning a new way to sew a buttonhole.

Originally, I kind of made it up…I did a hand version of what I had seen a sewing machine do.

It was ok…but clumsy, or I thought there must be a better way or something like that. So, I found some instructions in a needle craft book of Mum’s on how to sew a button hole.

So far it is incredibly clumsy, and I don’t like it at all.

But I think I need to persist a bit longer.

I feel like a bit of repetition will help me see if I don’t like it because I’m not familiar and skilled enough or because it is actually awkward.

Let’s not throw the buttonhole out before it’s had a chance.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,219

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Making things with my hands.

Making things with my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Making things with my hands. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I find great joy and satisfaction in making things with my hands.

Before I’ve shown anyone what I did, before anyone else even knows it has happened…it brings me a kind of contentment that I can’t really explain.

Lucky I don’t need to explain it…I can just enjoy it.

Love

Luke

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Day 1,208

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.