Hello fellow Sewcialists! Welcome to the mini series In-Seam Insights. The goal of this series is to ask people in different countries about their experience with the pandemic in 2020 and what this means for them going into 2021. I think it’s important to highlight community members in different regions of the world because even though we all might feel this has been a universal experience, we have each handled this year in different ways. Each country also has its own method of trying to control the virus (or not) and that also shapes our experience. I hope that this series gives us all a little more insight on what’s going on outside of our respective regions and also connects us more to each other. But, enough talk! Let’s get the first interview started!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and how you got started sewing.
I’m Maggie (short for Margarida). I’m 44, living in Portugal, where I was born. My family is from Cabo Verde. I have 7 brothers (yes, only girl in the bunch!) and a 12 year old son.
My mom used to sew when we were growing up, so I have distant memories of being around her and her sewing machine, begging her to sew matching clothes for me and my dolls. I have always pursued to learn new hobbies and 5/6 years ago, I decided to make use of a sewing machine my mom had bought a while back. I started experimenting, watching YouTube videos to understand the basics of sewing clothes. I do not have a clue as to how many garments I have made throughout these years. A lot!!! I am a big fan of African prints; I feel like the versatility and the colors really speak to me. I would always feel like my clothes did not express who I was, and now, I can go through the whole year wearing something colorful made by me. And I freak out at the idea of reading patterns, but I am trying to get better at that! I always try to challenge myself into making things that I find difficult. The growing process within sewing is beautiful!
2. 2020 started off strong and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. How has this year affected your life?
I actually cried when I left the office on March 13th, for the first confinement period. It was such a weird feeling, not knowing what all of this meant, what would happen, how it would go for everyone. Wondering about what we had as safe spaces and schedules and people and, you know, those rituals you have, simple things like taking a walk by the river, after work, before commuting home. Those were the first notions I confronted myself with, that day. Then, managing the emotional aspect of it all. It was hard on my son, not going to school, not being with his friends. And this was a first for everyone, so we were ALL learning to deal with it, learning to cope with this gigantic dynamic shift and the fears attached to it, and the safety procedures that, suddenly, we had to transform into everyday things. I have managed to work from home, which is a whole chapter in itself! If that was not enough, I started a new job this November! And this work/home spatial continuum is starting to take its toll; I find myself sometimes upset about doing everything in the same space, so I must find ways to cope with that. All in all, one of the most important things I have realized is how we need—as individuals, as families, as groups, as countries—to address how this affects our mental health and how can we mitigate its effects.
3. How does this translate into your crafting? Do you feel like you’ve crafted more or less? Does this help alleviate stress or does crafting become too stressful at times?
During the first confinement, I managed to sew a lot! I felt very creative and bold and I made new things and managed my time in a way that I was able to sew every single day! And I kept a good pace for the rest of the year, but now, I guess with the weight of everything that has happened, I must say I have been feeling off and have not been sewing at all. But we also must learn to accept these moments when we do not feel like creating anything, you know? We usually put a lot of pressure into having to craft. And we must start thinking, and saying, that not wanting to craft at a particular moment is ok.
4. How do you feel your country has handled the pandemic?
We have had our ups and downs regarding the infection rate and the results of the regulated measures. But I believe we are doing the best we can, with the information we have. I do not take any of our government’s work lightly, I believe they have been relentless in finding solutions for everyone. It is not easy, it should not be expected to be easy, and I commend the two women in charge of the Health Department, for their strength and resilience.
5. What were some personal goals that you have set for yourself at the beginning of this year and have you achieved them?
I do not usually set specific goals at the beginning of each year; I do have generic aspirations (ahah). But I have managed to accomplish a few things, personal achievements that are paving my way to 2021 with a great deal of hope and drive to better myself and allow myself to grow.
6. Do you feel the sewing community has stepped up to support one another? Are there ways in which it can better improve itself?
The sewing community has been amazing! I have met people from all around the world (such as you, dear Christopher) who are now part of my life, and the sense of community, of belonging, of friendship, is overwhelming! Sometimes it takes just one post to make you feel like other people get you, that they are going through the same struggles, that they have the same dreams as you do. And one thing that really makes me proud is how a lot of sewists are using their professional and personal skills (other than sewing) to build a stronger, safer, a more inclusive space in social media (and outside it as well). As the year has gone by, I have witnessed their growth and I applaud their efforts towards a better community.
7. If 2020 has any takeaway, what would that be for you?
Personal growth. Sometimes (or a lot) it takes hardship to find one’s path and true self, and 2020 has really given me the needed platform to ask hard questions and even make tough decisions that I otherwise would not have. And it is an ongoing process. We never cease to learn about ourselves, about who we are, what our voice sounds like, what we want to say to the world, and how we can contribute to make it a better world. It sometimes hurts, really, to go through this process, but these growing pains are necessary. And I am loving all of it! I have met so many inspirational people along the way; it is so worth it!
8. What are your hopes and aspirations for 2021?
For 2021, I hope to continue this path of self-growth. But I hope that this journey is met with people who, as I, are learning to use their voice, their skills, and making a difference in someone’s life. I hope we can finally take a deep breath of relief and hug each other. Kiss each other. Share our pain, our joy, our accomplishments, our frustrations, and enjoy the possibilities of being close to one another again. Find comfort in our common ground and find knowledge in our differences. Soon! (fingers crossed)
9. What socials do you have if people want to follow along with your journey?