A Stitch in Coronavirus Time Saves Mind

My daughter’s sewing hobby preserved our sanity.

By Dulce Zamora

My children have been sick a lot the last few months with sore throats, coughs, and congestion. Since COVID-19 became prevalent in Singapore in late January, we’ve been spending a lot more time at home. In these uncertain times, even a mildly stuffy nose or a hoarse voice can raise eyebrows at school. And, forget playdates. We’ve already had a couple of cancellations. These days, no one wants to be around someone with a cold.

My 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine, has been particularly restless. She asks, “Mommy, what should I do?” over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Although I’ve largely encouraged boredom as a jumping point for self-motivated creativity, I’ve also given her a list of possible activities to do at home. The activities include chores, reading, writing, homework, painting, and baking. One of Jasmine’s favorite activities has been sewing.

When Jasmine sews, stretches of time turn into a flow of pattern drawing, fabric shearing, and needlework. The hushed locomotive-like chugging of her sewing machine fills the air with harmony. She gets some work done. I do, too.

My work as a stay-at-home mother has been a little depressing lately: catching up on the latest coronavirus news, shopping online for two week’s worth of provisions (in case of a quarantine), and signing mandatory travel declarations for school.

Jasmine’s work, on the other hand, literally altered the colors of our home. She sewed these tiny pillows for our once-barren dark brown leather couch. First, she created her own pillow pattern on paper. Next, she used a cream-colored fabric and cotton stuffing to craft the insert. Then, she used leftover fabric from her old projects, and from her Auntie Nina’s old skirts to make the pillow covers. (Her Auntie Nina is my sister.)

Jasmine made a bigger pillow cover for my bed, using Auntie Nina’s old spaghetti-strap patch dress. My sister had bought the dress at the Los Angeles Garment District in the early 1990s. At the time, I lived just south of Westwood as a journalism graduate student and as a news intern at various L.A. television stations. So, looking at this newly-tailored pillowcase reminds me of a younger, more innocent me — when my career was yet to begin, and, being near Hollywood, I had the most fashionable clothes ever.

I keep forgetting to take proper “BEFORE” photos of the clothes that Jasmine has upcycled. However, I did remember to snap a front view picture of my sister’s chartreuse print halter dress before Jasmine modified it for her own frame. Jasmine slit the front skirt down the middle, and added a mottled green fabric for flare. Then, she looped each strand of the neck strap to make them shorter, and closed each open end with a piece of fabric. This preserved the original length of the straps, so she could adjust it as she grows taller. She covered the stitched fabric pieces with turquoise flowers.

On the back of the dress, she added two criss-crossed elastic strips covered with turquoise cloth.

Jasmine also transformed baby blue floral pajama pants into a funky crop-top jacket with red trim and knot.

Some time during our one of our sick periods, Jasmine made me a birthday present. It’s a small pouch with “Windswept Wildflower” and a whimsical dandelion embroidered upon it. Isn’t it so sweet?

Because my husband Noel was a little jealous of my gift, Jasmine customized a fabric pouch for him. He quickly filled it with pens, earbuds, eyeglass wipes, and computer cords. It’s quite useful.

Oh, and one day, Jasmine had just a few minutes to spare after doing her homework. So, she quickly sewed this elephant print, elastic A-line skirt. All in a few minutes’ work!

Jasmine’s tailored creations took some of the ho-hums out of our self-imposed semi-quarantine. It was not fun to be cooped up in the house for so long, or to process all of the worrisome coronavirus news. Nevertheless, my young designer’s creativity lifted up all of our spirits, and that certainly enhanced our mental health.

© 2020 Windswept Wildflower

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