Nina Murden - The Lewes Seamstress

Hand Sewing Curtains – Meditative work


I  have been very fortunate in having a fair few curtain and blinds orders and have been working on some of these this week.   I work in a very calm space – here in my wooden workshop backed up onto the downs.  I can at times look out on the hill, watch the sheep coming and going across the field behind my garden, sometimes with starlings, or magpies on their backs, (these birds peck off ticks and so forth).  I see starlings swoop and wheel across the hills, and there have been goldfinches in the sycamore tree too, and always the wonderful rooks, my favourite bird.  The spring is warming up the earth, the birds are starting to sing now; I see two little wrens  flit about my garden and then sing  in the plum tree .There is a new visitor this year- a mistle thrush I think, again a ground feeder.  I get a little worried for it, as there are quite a few cats, and yes,  hands up, I have one too.  Meanwhile I work away making the curtains …after some initial machine sewing, they are laid out on  on my large cutting table, one at a time, and I move over and across, sewing together or interlocking  the upper layer, the interlining, and the linings. This is all done by hand – and as I get in my stride I love the meditative quality of working rhythmically that can come given a stretch of uninterrupted time doing so. Here is an  extract of something that came to mind this week – a similar feeling expressed in Anna Karenin – by Levin as he scythes:

“The longer Levin mowed, the oftener he felt the moments of unconsciousness in which it seemed not his hands that swung the scythe, but the scythe mowing of itself, a body full of life and consciousness of its own, and as though by magic, without thinking of it, the work turned out regular and well-finished of itself. These were the most blissful moments.”