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Lockdown Sewing

Sewing for mental health

Lockdown sewing became essential for New Zealanders when the world went into lockdown. Sewing machines were dusted off and put to work, and for good reason.

How to make your own sewing labels

We sewists have been holding on to a secret you see.

Sewing is no longer solely about clothing ones family.

Instead, in 2021 it:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Is a stress relief
  • Provides an escape
  • Provides fulfilment
  • Is a massive dose of dopamine for good mental health
  • Creates a new garment!

I’d call that Freedom.

Sewists around the world know, deep in their bones, that sewing is good for them.

Your time spent sewing does so much good for your mental health.

Rather than “selfish sewing”, let’s change the vocab to self-sewing.

As the world continues to experience lockdowns of varying degrees I wanted to take the time to share lessons learned from those in our VIP Community, and to encourage you in your own creative journeys.

Here are 4 quick positives to gain from time spent at the machine, and ideas at the end of this post to spark some sewjo joy!:


“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Every time we sit down at our machines we watch the needle pierce through fibres, use our hands to manoeuvre fabric and seam allowances, read patterns and decipher instructions. Our mind and brain is fully conscious and actively present.

Mindfulness is being “in the zone” and getting lost in a project, but still completely aware and present in it’s creation.

By sewing you are practising mindfulness. This reduces stress, increases awareness, lowers anxiety and reduces emotional reactivity. (Source: Positive psychology)

Meg said in our VIP Community: “I find that sewing really is therapy for me – it’s helped me improve my mental health so much! Making and getting into the ‘flow’ of a project always makes me feel good. The hours spent in my sewing room fly by.”

Slow Down

One of the positives I found from being in Lockdown was the ability to slow down.

In reality, life was suddenly very busy; Parenting, homeschooling, working from home and a full house 24/7 had it’s own challenges. And yet, I found my life slowing down with less rush and more simplicity.

I decided to press into this simplicity with some slow lockdown sewing and it became my favourite way to end a busy day. Most nights I was on the couch (or in bed, if I’m being honest) working away at a hand embroidery piece.

It felt simple and meditative to work on, and it didn’t require mindful focus. I could watch TV at the same time, or play games on zoom with friends.

If you’re new to embroidery and hand stitching, grab a copy of our Embroidery and Embellishment Guide and get started with slow stitching!


There are no rules around your productivity during lockdown. You don’t need to feel pressured to produce and create. Ever. Infact, sewjo’s greatest weakness is “should”!

For those that find joy in productivity, sewing is a great way to find purpose and meaning in your time. At the end of your sewing time you will have made progress, and eventually your project will come to a completion.

That’s one of my favourite parts of sewing.

When day’s can revolve around us like groundhog day it can feel rewarding to have produced something new at the end of your project.

Rachel said in our VIP Community: “It’s my me time. My creative outlet. I love wearing me made and have such pride and feelings of accomplishment when someone comments on something I’ve made”

Enviro Friendly

Deep dive into your stash and reimagine long forgotten fabrics.

Now is the time to pull them out and have fun exploring your fabric collection!

Perhaps it’s time to donate some, or assign sewing patterns to others and get making.

If your stash is bulging, try to use what you already have on hand!

Or, if you’re new to sewing and haven’t been collecting fabrics like lockdown toilet paper, spend some afternoon tea’s salivating over fabric online to gather ideas.

For NZ fabric retailers I love Miss Maude and The Fabric Store. Find a local fabric store near you or check out this Local Retailers spreadsheet collated by the Closet Core Patterns team.

Play House sewing pattern by Below the Kōwhai

Spark your Sewjo Joy

Life in lockdown can often feel overwhelming. If your sewjo has suffered because of it, don’t stress.

Here are some ideas to spark your sewjo:

  • Go mindful with a tried and true pattern. Enjoy the dopamine hit as your brain uses both of it’s sides. We love the Tipa Dungarees sewing pattern for a rewarding sew.
  • Take pressure off creating for yourself and sew something simple as a gift.
  • Start a slow project that you can chip away at when time allows. Get started with the Play House sewing pattern or download our Embroidery and Embellishment Guide.
  • Plan some new makes! Go through your stash or enjoy scrolling through your local fabric store’s collection for inspiration.
  • Create a new lockdown sewing space if possible, or tidy your existing space!

To finish, I wish to acknowledge that each of us has a different experience with lockdown and our own unique challenges. I hope that no matter your circumstances you are able to find stability and certainty in your sewing, and all of the health benefits that come from it.

Much love and happy self-sewing,

Sophie x

Sophie is the designer and owner of Below the Kōwhai. Our sewing patterns are homegrown in New Zealand for the world. Grab your sewing patterns today and make a start!

1 thought on “Lockdown Sewing

  1. This was so nice to read and yes we sewists (is that a word) get to relax and reduce our own anxiety as we sew! And now even embroidery😊

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