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I learned to sew when I was very young. It started in nursery with bright yarn, plastic laces, cards with holes in. I learned to thread through and make patterns.

I learned to sew when I was young. It was clumsy stitching with big needles and bulky thread. Roughly joining scraps of fabric.

Aged 7 I “operated” on my panda. He was knitted by my great grandmother for my mother originally. I stitched his falling off arm back to his body with brown wool. That mend has lasted 35 years.

I learned to sew when I was young. My grandmother taught me to pattern cut and use her hand operated Singer sewing machine. We made clothes for my dolls. And for my panda.

I learned to embroider, to knit, to crochet, to bake, to cook. These were skills I was told I would need. Home-making skills. Skills for self-sufficiency.

I learned to sew when I was a teenager. I used my mother’s electric sewing machine that she was given on her 16th birthday (I asked for a large dictionary for mine). I learned to make clothes for myself. I learned cross-stitch and made small gifts. Mostly for my mother.

I inherited the needle case my mother made for my grandmother. I inherited the sewing basket made for my grandmother by a family friend, as part of post-war therapy after being bombed out of the East End of London. I inherited used tailor’s chalk, pins, thimbles. I inherited silk embroidery threads, needlework books.

Over time, I learned to draft rough patterns. I made curtains for my first home. I made party-wear from red and pink PVC. I made quilts for friends, family, my partner. I made clothes I liked. I made clothes that fit. I mended clothes when I had no money. I made a weighted blanket out of recycled fabric. I made a home. Skills for self-sufficiency, for fit in the world.

Now though, my cross-stitch has grown more cross, and my needlework has become more pointed. Skills for advocacy, for action in the world.

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