Michael made a post the other day about Simone Weil's statement, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” I feel that the sheer act of being extremely attentive to something in motion (like nature, dance, music, poetry, prose) is both stimulating and calming. That's probably one reason I love to sew. It's also one of the reasons I love to write music.
I have often made analogies between sewing and music (though not in this blog). Both involve material that begins in a pure state and gets manipulated (cut up, and put together). Both involve adjustments, corrections, and brief periods of examining a small part of a whole through a strong magnifying glass. Both involve measuring and taking risks. Both involve making something for practical use that is both durable and expressive.
A good theme, subject, or harmonic progression is kind of like having a few yards of a good fabric. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what to make of it. Sometimes the fabric works for a particular pattern that I know fits, wears well, and usually looks just fine. I have one dress pattern that I have used for six dresses. (I think that the dress I made yesterday will be the last one I make with that particular pattern.) I have more material in the closet, but I will just need to wait to see how to use it. I also have musical material scattered here and there that I know will find its way into one piece or another.
While I am sewing I find myself in what I call the "supreme state of sew." It's sort of like the "supreme state of mow," which happens when I mow the lawn, because musical figures loop through my mind over and over again (last night it was a snippet of "Poor Wandering One" from Pirates of Penzance). There's also the "supreme state of bow," which (see the link above) happens when practicing slow scales.