Hand-sewing a produce bag

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In our local organic supermarket, we can get most fruit and veggies in bulk and I do my best not to take any single-use bags (whether plastic or paper).  Though this works fine with zucchini or leek,  I often find myself struggling to get certain products to the scales.  I do my best to carry potatoes, apples, onions, not to mention Brussels sprouts in my cupped hands, usually using the old envelope on the back of which my shopping list is scribbled, to increase my hauling surface. This often results in said products slipping away and needing to be chased down supermarket aisles and recovered inelegantly from under displays.

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These days what with keeping 1,5 meter distance and wanting to spend as little time as possible at the supermarket, I decided to finally tackle a project I’d been thinking of for far to long.  I got out some colourful fabric I’ve had lying around for years, and decided to a try making a very simple bag for bulk.

I let go of my perfectionist thoughts (I can only do it if I have a sewing machine, I need to make at least 8 bags of different sizes, they need to be perfectly symmetrical and so on…) and got into beginner’s mindset.  After watching a couple of tutorials on Youtube, I decided on a very basic design and gave it a try. For my first attempt, I decided to keep it simple and just attach a little rope to the side to tie things up.  For the next one, I plan to make a drawstring from some recycled ribbon…

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Pretty quickly, I found myself in that place of flow: just me, my needle and thread, mindfully stitching away and the joy of working with fabric I really like.  When looking closely, the stitches are not all the same size and there are bits of thread popping out here and there, but overall I’m happy with it.  I wish I could have told my teenage self that one day I’d be in confinement and find myself grateful for the sewing skills I picked up when learning how to do patchwork;)

Take the pressure off

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I was initially excited at the idea of having lots of free time at home, I started thinking of everything I’d be able to do.  However rather than writing that amazing short story and making an incredible amount of submissions, as well as learning how to draw, the days are just flying by.  Nothing has come of all those plans and instead I’ve been working remotely by day, then on Skype calls with friends and family to attempt to make sense of a situation that none of us ever thought we would experience, and binge-watching episodes of Narcos to empty my mind in the evenings.

I’ve noticed lists circulating of things to fill the days with: crafts to do, films to watch, new skills to learn, and found myself stressing about not doing enough.  I noticed that I have trouble concentrating and am actually spending a lot of energy adjusting to the situation, so now I’m trying to be more mindful of taking the pressure off and letting go of my unrealistic expectations.

I realise this list of tips only makes sense because I am in the privileged position where I can work from home and receive my salary and paid holidays… I am sharing it because it’s been a mind-shift for me over the past couple of weeks and I thought it may speak to others who might also feel the pressure to ‘be making the most of confinement’.

What has helped me the most has been to dial back the DOING and give myself permission to just BE a bit more.

  • Digital detox: Sunday I didn’t connect to internet until my 7 pm skype call with my family.  That morning I didn’t switch on my computer and refresh the news repeatedly and I left my phone out of sight.  I had tasks on my to-do list I couldn’t take care of because they involved being online, so I let go of them for a while reminding myself they were not urgent. It felt very freeing. I want to try and do it one day a week.
  • Sleeping / napping: now is the perfect time to rest – if not now then when? Going to bed earlier and sleeping a little longer in the mornings since I don’t need to commute is great.  I’m glad to catch a few extra ZZZs to compensate for those nights where insomnia comes to visit with its thought-loops. Also naps are an act of resistance, it’s great to be an activist from the comfort of my own bed!
  • Taking a day off work:  I’d been saving my holidays for spring time to go see my family and explore Cornwall by train. But those plans are cancelled for the foreseeable future. I could try to power on through and save my days off to travel later, but the long winter months are behind me and there’s an on-going crisis going on, so right now taking a random day off feels like a gift to myself. I took today off and I think I’ll do it again in the next weeks when needed, to recharge when needed.
  • Doing nothing: I’ve found peace in just sitting on the rug in that square of sunlight flowing through the window, day dreaming freely for a while and letting my thoughts roam…

I’d love to know what has helped you in the past weeks. Please feel free to share in the comments!