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Can sewing really be a form of therapy?

by Polina K
a girl sitting down and sewing

At Good Fabric, we love it when sewing is in the limelight. From the rise of The Great British Sewing Bee to sewing influencers that promote the use of the good old-fashioned needle and thread, all of it makes us super happy! So, it’s no surprise that when #sewingismytherapy became popular on social media, we were paying attention.

This hashtag is all about how people use sewing to improve their mental health. From lighthearted jokes about picking up a needle after a long day’s work, to people telling stories of how crafts have pulled their mental health back from the brink, it’s a movement that’s full of positivity and compassion.

But, it also got us thinking: can sewing really be a form of therapy?

To look further, we’ve put together some of the information we found on the topic. Let’s dive in!

Crafting is a Prescribed Form of Therapy 

Using art as a form of therapy isn’t a new idea. People suffering from mental illnesses have turned to creative outlets for years, from poets who turn their woes into beautiful words to artists who represent their trauma in colours and curves. It’s a well-known form of healing!

But, nowadays, it’s also acknowledged by professionals. Knitting, drawing, sewing, and embroidery are amongst the art therapy treatments prescribed to patients, helping them look at their feelings in a new light. It can also encourage them to communicate thoughts they struggle with, explore difficult experiences, and feel more at ease during therapy sessions.

good fabric blog art therapy

In some parts of the country, the NHS even offers art therapy as part of their mental health services. How amazing is that? These outlets can be transformative and to see them getting their time in the spotlight is just fabulous.

So, how does it actually help? Let’s take a look at three common benefits that could relieve mental health issues.

Sewing for Stress Relief

There’s no doubt that sewing can help with stress relief. When you’ve had a busy day at work, sitting down with a crafting project is a fantastic way to unwind. You can become absorbed in the work, cutting out the rest of the world and slowing your thoughts to simply be in the moment. For some, it’s a form of meditation.

Sewing is also fabulous for sufferers of anxiety. When you’re going over the same thought a million and one times, and everything is getting a little overwhelming, you can refocus your attention. Tune out, unplug, and let anxious thoughts slip away.

good fabric blog sewing my therapy sew 2

Sewing to Boost Your Mood

If you enjoy sewing, it’s likely to make you feel good. When you do something that you enjoy your brain releases dopamine, one of the chemicals responsible for happiness. This is especially true for tasks that require a lot of attention and focus, like sewing and embroidery. So, if you’re having a down day and are a sewist, it could be worth picking up your needle and your eco-friendly fabric, and taking some time out to just sew.

Process Your Feelings

One of the main reasons crafts are used in therapy is that it gives people a chance to process their feelings. You can slow down, let your mind slip away, and place your subconscious in the driving seat. This is the time when trauma can bubble to the surface but in a safe and calm way, allowing you to deal with underlying emotions verbally or non-verbally. 

good fabric blog sewing my therapy sew

Is Sewing Really My Therapy?

We’ve taken a look at the facts, but also, here is our own personal take on the topic.

There are a lot of aspects to sewing that we find really therapeutic and enjoyable, especially at the start of a new project. That’s our favourite time! We love to plan our creations, choose our fabrics, and spend hours (yes, literally hours!) picking the perfect buttons. But, then, it starts to go downhill.

We can easily become stressed whilst sewing. If we don’t understand the instructions, for example, it can quickly turn from a relaxing activity to an exhausting challenge! The same can happen if we make a silly mistake, like sewing a sleeve inside out or attaching a leg back to front. The list goes on. 

good fabric blog sewing my therapy hands 2

Luckily, we have plenty of coping mechanisms. Once we’ve calmed down and gone back to sewing table, fixing our mistakes, we feel great again. It feels like there might be some lessons to be learn there! But, to be honest, we don’t sew for hidden life lessons, we just want to make beautiful, sustainable clothing and enjoy the process.

Is sewing really our therapy? We love it and definitely find a huge amount of joy from it (when it goes to plan!), but it doesn’t always leave us feeling refreshed and happy. So, the jury is still out on this one.

Tips for Sewing for Mental Health

It is a valid comment about how sewing can work for and against mental health. When something goes wrong it can make you feel even worse than when you began. But there are ways that you can turn your sewing projects into something that’s geared towards the mental benefits.

The first is to not put pressure on yourself. There are no time limits, no need for perfection, and you’re doing this for yourself! If you get something wrong, don’t be your worst critic. 

It’s also a good idea to walk away if you feel yourself becoming stressed about an aspect of your sewing. We recommend to take a few deep breaths, go make a mug of mint tea, and only come back to your sewing space when you feel calmer. This is an absolute must if you’re sewing to benefit your mental health: know when to walk away.

good fabric blog sewing my therapy

Start Sewing Sustainably With Good Fabric

If you think you’d like to start sewing for your mental health, we at Good Fabric can help. Not only do we have lots of eco-friendly fabrics and indie sewing patterns, but we also have this blog that’s dedicated to all sorts of sewing notions! Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of tips and advice to help you at the start of your sewing journey and create a sustainable wardrobe from scratch.


by Polina K

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