Musings: where to from here…

I find myself knee deep into 2017 already… and not quite sure ‘where to from here’…

I’m still sewing… although hit some hurdles. So what I have been doing?

Life…

Every year my life goes into overdrive between October and March. The pressure is constant. I am quite resilient, very organised but I’m exhausted during the peak period and completely knackered at the end of it.

While the peak of the workload culminates in a rather fun presentation… it is preceded and followed by oceans of work.

Last year I made my dress for this event however I didn’t make my dress this year. When you are working on an exceptionally tight deadline, sometimes you need to be kind to yourself. So I popped out in my lunchbreak the day before the night, tried on one dress, it fitted and I wore it – some days it’s best not to overthink it (even when you have shocking tan lines!).  I was stopped the following day by a lady and her husband to tell me how much they loved my dress and they were dying to know what it was made from. I laughed and said “Sequins and attitude“.

I’m glad I did buy it, one less thing to think about. I dread dressing up but yet when it comes to the actual event, I absolutely embrace it and love every minute of it. A reluctant party girl I guess! Note: I’m rarely this glamorous but heck it’s fun to indulge every now and then.

Definitely not made by me!

Definitely not made by me! Rushed and somewhat scruffy lift ‘selfie’. Bonus dirty mirror photo for earrings and on the way out for drinks after!

Trust me I do prioritise my life – and I am only doing what needs doing these days (2017 is My Year of No). However with kids to care for and a mortgage to pay (and they are rather high in Port Macquarie and good jobs are scarce). My job is demanding and more often than not exhausting, working 5 days a week and getting through each day, afternoon and evening is a trial in itself!

My youngest started high school and I’m still trying to find the rhythm of a new year and all the activities that it involves.

I’ve started hockey training again. I doubt I’ll ever be much of a hockey player but it’s fun and I love the team. I’ve been trying to run a few kilometres a week as well… when time permits.

I’ve had some friends who have been amazing and kept me somewhat sane during some challenging times lately. Several times I’ve deleted all the social media apps to give myself some space. I log back in every now and then and then I’m gone again for a while – there’s a lot to be said for social media holidays.

My phone died so rather than being annoyed by that I’ve just embraced being communication-free most of the time (well apart from the deluge of work emails of course). The lack of ‘noise’ is nice and while there are some people and conversations I miss, I’ve learnt to live with that.

Sewing…

Yes, I still think about it constantly, daydream and plan.

I’ve made a few garments… started several and stopped. Washed fabric and sorted through patterns. Traced patterns. Maybe like a glamorous event, I just need a bit of inspiration to get started again.

I made a lovely Grainline Archer in a foiled crinkle cotton – and haven’t managed to photograph it. I’ve worried about how it will photograph as the foil makes any creases quite savage although I’m pleased with the shirt itself. That aside, I found it really relaxing to indulge in the process of shirt making, I love all the details and steps. Perhaps I need to go back to sewing things I simply love. Dresses, shirts, jackets… I think I might attempt a dress to wear in Brisbane in April.

Grainline Archer - the ruffle back!

Grainline Archer – the ruffle back!

We have had an appallingly hot summer with record-breaking temperatures. I think we have survived three heatwaves this year, with temperatures rocketing to over 40 degrees Celsius. A couple of weekends ago it was 46.5 degrees(!) so the thought of sewing has been rather unbearable so far this year. Fortunately the temperature has dropped to a balmy 28 degrees most days – which is our usual summer temperature and it’s utterly delightful by comparison.

Confidence…

Self confidence. I feel like anything I might sew is going to end up a disaster. I feel like that about most things at the moment! I think most of us hit that hurdle at some point, for whatever reason.

Sewing doesn’t solve life’s problems but it certainly helps me relax. On the days when I’ve had time to sew and not known what to do or where to start, I’ve simply laid on the floor of my (tidy!) sewing room and quietly daydreamed/worried/thought/planned. There are worse things to do. It’s nice to have a ‘space’ for me, as Virginia Woolf once wrote ‘A Room Of One’s Own’.

Blogging…

I can’t quite figure how or when to take blog photos. This has been a big issue in the last year and it’s even harder now… maybe I need a tripod and a remote. That’s another project to find time to research/purchase.

I always found the process of writing a blog post the best way to move onto the next project. There is something about the consideration, the writing and assessment in a blog post that helps me mentally sign off on a project. I miss that.

The question is… 

Where to from here… well at least in this blog space?

hmmmmm, good question. I have considered not blogging. However I love the connection blogging provides and the way it makes me reflect on my projects. I also love having a record of my sewing. And that’s all I really started blogging for. Simply to communicate and record my makes. That’s really all there is to my blog. So that’s what I’ll continue to do.

So once I figure out how to get the blogging back on track, I’ll be back.

I know. What a waste of a blog post. If you haven’t fallen into a coma by now, thanks for hanging around.

See you sooner rather than later hopefully. Maybe with a Shining Archer!

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Top 5 of 2016 – an abbreviated version

I’ve had a tough 2016. That’s the honest truth. So I’m feeling a bit reflective and Crafting a Rainbow’s Top 5 has played on my mind.

Top 5 2016 - an abbreviated version

Top 5 2016 – an abbreviated version

This year I’ve had less time for myself than ever before – largely my fault. I tend to say ‘yes’ to every request for help, community service and anything and everything else. I’ve found the best and only way to have a break is to physically leave town for a few days. That can be physically exhausting so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s been a relentless grind and at my best I am super-charged with enthusiastic energy as I relentlessly plough through everything in my path and at my worst tired self, exhausted and emotional. Pretty sure I’m not alone there – we all have days like that.

So I’ve haven’t sewn as much this year. I probably needed to but my work/life demands have defeated me. I did spend many of my winter months learning to play hockey (field hockey – much to my mother’s horror) and I loved it. What I may lack in skills, I make up for in reckless fearlessness and speed – I often referred to myself as the ‘sacrifical mutton’ as I delighted in taking on any player or high-speed ball to save a goal. The team may have nicknamed me ‘Crazy Eyes’…

I don’t think I’ve sewn enough to cull at Top 5 in every category I’ve decided to do an abbreviated version…

HIT

Of course it’s the tutu. It was an absolute slog and I tied myself up in a knot in indecisive anxiety but got there in the end. Yes there might be another in 2017. Might.

with the tiny tots

with the tiny tots

The garment I simply love… the Asaka Kimono from Named. I love this, I wear it most mornings while I drink my coffee in my great grandfather’s chair. In a relentless life that seems to take more than it gives, having a silk dressing gown to slip on is a tiny personal luxury to be treasured.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view

MISS

Sewn in 2015 but it’s taken me a year to accept this is a miss – I’ve sent it onto a reader who loved it.

I find it hard to give up on things that don’t love me back – don’t we all?

Burda Gathered Peplum Blouse 03/2015 #109 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

the failed Burda shirt

HIGHLIGHT

Brisbane Frocktails. I’ve come to love this city and its Spoolettes. I really should blog my outfit from this, New Look 6446 in black crepe. I’ve quite undecided how I feel about it. It was fun to wear something completely different. I’ve worn it since to a work function so here’s a ‘arty gallery and a lift selfie’ to tide you over to the eventual blog post on this pattern.

newlook6446_black_side

An ‘arty’ gallery selfie before a work function commences…

New Look 6446 in black 'French' crepe

New Look 6446 in black ‘French’ crepe

REFLECTION

Like people, some patterns and fabric won’t love you back. Such is life.

I love to sew. I’ve missed it.

GOALS

Sew more detailed garments because I love those projects. I find a myriad of details is the best place to lose myself and relax.

Read more books.

Be kinder to myself. When you always put yourself second, so does everyone else. Lesson learnt. 🙂

Off Duty

I could spend my holiday break sewing or catching up on my backlog of blog posts by blogging a couple of book reviews, a new skirt from Boundless Style, a self-shibori silk kimono jacket from Freehand Fashion, a dress a made from a 1973 Vogue pattern, my Top 5…

…or I could just relax for a few weeks.

Wishing you a safe & happy holiday season.

I’ll see you in 2016! 

Off Duty Blogger

off for some much needed R&R

 

Seaside Spring Sewaway – update!

I’ve just enjoyed the first weekend free of commitments for an entire month – and it was wonderful. May was chaotic and stressful. I’m just catching up on ‘life admin’ at the moment. I went to the gym for the Saturday Body Pump session, it was the first time in… far too long… and as a result I can barely move tonight. Oops. Tomorrow is not going to be pretty.

The ever-beautiful Nobbys

The ever-beautiful Nobbys Beach – location of many of my garment photos… mainly because Banjo can run free there!

The Seaside Spring Sewaway is definitely on this October. I’m moved it to Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October as it’s a long weekend which makes travelling much easier for many.

I’ve booked a room in the heart of Port Macquarie’s CBD which is located on the riverfront and a stroll from Town Beach along the breakwall. There is a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and cafés within a few blocks. The room has electricity, plenty of tables, chairs, tea/coffee making… and you get to stroll through an art gallery as you arrive & leave. I know, I spoil you. I’ve done a weekend workshop there before and it’s a lovely space.

somewhere to sew?

somewhere to sew?

You can fly or drive to Port Macquarie. We are about ten minutes off the highway (four hours north of Sydney & about six and a half from Brisbane – roadworks dependent!). There are direct flights from Sydney & Brisbane as well – I can pick you up at the airport & drop you into Port’s CBD. Part of the beauty of being a holiday destination means there is a full range of accommodation available from camping to backpackers, serviced apartments or hotels. Most places are close to the river or beach – and we have a beautiful coastal walk which takes you from the CBD past all our beaches to the lighthouse at the southern end of Port.

Note: bloggers and non-bloggers welcome. I don’t believe you need a blog to prove your love of sewing. 

I’m providing the sewing workshop facilities. No charge. Just enjoy. I’ve made so many friends & had so much fun that’s it’s just something I wanted to do. Just bring your machine, sew, relax, chat, eat, walk on the beach – have fun. A weekend away isn’t cheap so the sewing workshop is my gift to those that trek to my little patch of sand, salt and (hopefully!) sun this October.

The only old-fashioned thing I ask is that you RSVP for me – so I’ve created a survey. Don’t worry it’s just to determine interest at this stage, I’m not going to hunt you down and hold your sewing machine hostage 🙂

That said, if you do want to come I would suggest booking accommodation sooner rather than later as a long weekend in Port Macquarie is a busy time!

The RSVP is to ensure I haven’t over or under-catered for a sewing space. If I need a bigger room I’ll need to know so everyone has ample space – or smaller which will save some pennies.

If there is interest in a dinner then I’ll set up a pre-payment system as I can’t afford (or the rest of the group) to cover for no-shows. That’s pretty reasonable I think. Heck, I’ll even throw in an early morning beach stroll with the now infamous whippet, Banjo. Take some blog photos! What more could you ask? So are you in?

Let me know here…

Banjo - my favourite water rat.

Banjo – my favourite water rat. Perhaps the star attraction for a sewaway in Port Macquarie – free addition to your blog photo shoots!

Sorry no sewing news follows – I exist beyond sewing and if it’s not of interest… you can ‘pull up stumps’ here.

LIFE BEYOND SEWING!

I wasn’t going to put any of this here – however life has been getting in the way of sewing so for me it’s relevant (to me) – what could possibly tear me away from the machine and blog for so many weeks???

I was rather overwhelmed with life in May. I’m so glad it’s over and those who followed my adventures on Instagram, cheered me on and dropped me emails and messages… thank you! Sometimes those words of encouragement and laughter helped get me through some very long and tiring days!

Wouldn't you volunteer if you got a free ugly oversized tshirt AND  fluoro vest with CAPTAIN printed on the back? I also got a truck and a radio for the day... and the only aid station with Red Bull!

Wouldn’t you volunteer if you got a free ugly oversized tshirt AND a fluoro safety vest with CAPTAIN printed on the back? I also got a truck and a two-way radio for the day…

I kicked off the month as an Ironman run leg aid station captain – organising 90 volunteers to serve 1,700 athletes coming through the station four times over 12 hours. I started at 10.30am and got home at 12.30am. I’d love to tell you that I did it for altruistic reasons. Not strictly true. It raises funds for the school … but I love Ironman, it’s such an amazing event. While the professional athletes are impressive… it’s the ‘ordinary’ people pushing themselves to extraordinary lengths that bring me back every year. It takes a certain amount of personal grit to swim 3.8kms, cycle 180kms and THEN run a marathon… amazing and humbling stuff.

We had some HORRENDOUS weather in the lead up to the day… and I was slightly concerned by reports that my riverside aid station may experience minor flooding in the evening… fortunately the river didn’t rise quite that much! Highlights of the day are on youtube… however if you want to see just how pretty Port Macquarie can be (minus the floodwater and clouds) – better watch the 2014 highlights!

So this was my Mother's Day... probably not even 20% of the women's clothes here

School fete: I guess it’s appropriate that I help run the second-hand clothes stall. This was my Mother’s Day… probably not even 20% of the women’s clothes here

Ironman was closely followed by the annual school fete and some rather challenging dance eisteddfod adventures – let’s just say inverted French braids are not, and will never be, in my essential life skills set. The ballet school understands that now 🙂 

My eldest is mad about dancing... and it drives me mad some days!

My eldest is mad about dancing… and it drives me mad some days!


At the moment I’m looking forward to enjoying some ‘normal’ life. I’ve got some trips planned, so I might see you in Brisbane (twice this winter) or Melbourne (Melbourne Frocktails of course). I’m sad that I can’t make it to Canberra – because I love the Canberra crowd… and I love Canberra itself… I’m hoping there is another in 2016!

Misses, reflections, goals (not) & thank you…

Once again – if you aren’t into these posts… that’s OK, I just find them interesting to think about… so I blog them for me.

MISSES

I think these two are the most obvious misses, I was not pleased when I blogged them – and time has not improved them.

McCalls 6696 - no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

McCalls 6696 – no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me. Just not me.

 

Named Patterns: Jamie Jeans. Checking out my own legs...

Named Patterns: Jamie Jeans. Just can’t like these at all.

Some things I’ve worn more than others but I don’t rate my clothes as misses if I’ve learnt something from them. Sewing for me isn’t always about ‘the wearing’, a significant part is about purely creativity, experimentation and escapism.

You can see all my makes on the Made-by-me 2014 page which I’ve just created.

REFLECTIONS/HIGHLIGHTS

Professionally, I’ve worked relentlessly this year and I’m exhausted. I’d love to say in 2015 I’ll find a better ‘life-work balance’ but I believe there is no such thing.

I’ve actually edited the heck out of this post and decided not to say much ‘personal’ at all. It’s not for here.

GOALS

I’ve decided I’m not really a sewing goal type. I prefer to listen to my squirrels as that’s where the inspiration lies.

There are some things I’d like to sew but if I don’t, I don’t. That’s ok.

I’d like to sew a proper tutu for my daughter. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’d like to try swimwear. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’d like to find the time to exercise again – I started out the year fit & strong… and along the way work and life consumed me. I want to be back there again, I miss my figure, my strength and my legs (vain but true – I’m ok with that too). Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’m not going to chain myself to any goals or beat myself up about them if other stuff comes along. It doesn’t matter. That’s life. I don’t think the future of humanity depends on it. That’s ok.

Merry Christmas & a happy and safe New Year to you and yours.

Thank you to the amazing people in my life and the fabulous people that have come into my life via this blog.

PATTERN PARCEL #6

I was supposed to be on the Pattern Parcel #6 tour. I really wanted to be. I think it’s a great parcel – especially if you like knits.

Several things popped up unexpectedly in my life. Manic work schedules exploding (my busiest time of the year with additional tasks being added), husband away fishing, youngest daughter in hospital (thought that was going to be in January – fret not – she is fine) and the list goes on and one and on. Like for anyone else, sometimes ‘life happens’.

This might also explain why I might not have responded to some emails & blogs comments. Sorry, I will. Soon.

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I actually bought Pattern Parcel – yes I had the patterns but I like to be a contributor not just an enabler/encourager. I spend plenty of money on sewing, far beyond what I receive. It’s my hobby and indulgence – and I also like to support the industry. Not just indies, but the Big 4, fabric shops and so on. It’s all part of a bigger picture. If I unexpectedly couldn’t support it as a feature blogger, I’m more than happy to buy the patterns. If you saw my pattern ‘library’ you would be greatly amused – it is HUGE!
Pattern Parcel No.6So there is just hours left – Pattern Parcel is out there and waiting for you if you are fond of knits, skirts, dresses, tunics, pants or cardigans, this one might be just for you.

My writing process blog hop…

The gorgeous Margo of Sewing in the Gap nominated me in My Writing Process blog hop because she liked “the honest place from which she writes about sewing and life in general.” That made me smile, I’m often too honest and open for my own good – that’s just how I am.

Margo of Creating in the Gap

Margo of Creating in the Gap

What is the Blog Hop all about? It’s simply answering four questions about your writing process. I’ve found these posts really interesting. While we often focus on the sewing process and the makes, it’s interesting to know about people’s blogs from their writing approach.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

From a writing point of view… the Jeans in June/July post – it’s been in the works forever! Apologies! Must keep typing. The kids have kept me manically busy with an onslaught of dance & drama eisteddfods, school concerts, major school projects and more. I’ve written and sewn much less during this period as I’ve valued my ‘downtime’ on the lounge – one needs some time to wipe the drool of exhaustion from their chin. I’ve been happy to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour some nights – it’s the little victories that you must celebrate. I don’t think I’m any busier than anyone else, we all have crazy days. Unfortunately my 2014 crazy days seem to have been wedged into August-September-October. I think we are hitting a calm patch (touch wood).

Sometimes the exhaustion that comes with helping your children fulfil their dreams results in some beautiful memories...

Backstage warm-ups. Sometimes the exhaustion that comes with helping your children fulfil their dreams results in some beautiful memories…
That’s my Zoe in the red top.

From a sewing point of view… my obsession with Japanese sewing books has returned. It’s hard to believe this time last year I didn’t own a Japanese sewing book… and now I have… eight. So expect some Japanese makes coming this way soon.

and this time last year I didn't own a Japanese sewing book. Shape Shape 1 is on loan from a friend.

and this time last year I didn’t own a Japanese sewing book. Shape Shape 1 is on loan from a friend. Pattern Magic is missing from this shot.

There is a plaid jacket on it’s way… I actually going to make a muslin because I want this coat to fit ‘just so’ (I know, I fainted too at the thought of me making a muslin. This.never.happens).

My ready-to-wear inspiration, the fabric and the pattern....

My ready-to-wear inspiration, the fabric and the pattern….

 

2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?

I don’t think it does.

Perhaps my backdrops are almost always outdoor and often on my local beaches – however there are plenty of bloggers who photograph their makes on the beach, like the fabulously talented Handmade by Carolyn.

I tend to sew a rather wide, & at times wild, variety of garments. I’ve stated many times that I don’t sew for practical reasons, although I do produce clothes that I wear. I’m inspired to sew for personal and creative reasons. Sewing is my mental yoga and I am rather addicted to colours, patterns and shapes. Sewing provides an opportunity to experiment and I find the endless variety addictive.

From a writing perspective I think I don’t differ much either. The very nature of this sort of blogging is that we write about ourselves and our sewing. I guess my ‘voice’ is unique to me – like any other blogger. As Margo pointed out, I tend to write from the heart… for better or worse. My favourite writing style has always been ‘first-person’ and I’ve written a good deal in that vein – for myself and others – in my professional life. Sometimes more of ‘me’ escapes into text than I intend. Often I hate that in hindsight – but that’s what makes me ‘me’. I’m an extroverted thinker, I tend to verbalise all my thought processes (with lots of arm waving) – where some others ponder things silently, I talk as I work through a thought (yes it annoys me too), often ending up at a completely different place… that is reflected in my writing.

I think my blog is like so many blogs in the sewing genre. I’m on a journey. You are invited to come along and read my rambling and browse my snapshots. The roads we choose and the terrain we cover may vary greatly, the people we met along the way may touch and change our lives. That for me has been the most beautiful and unexpected thing that blogging. The fusion of writing and sewing has bought to me a new view of the world and myself, and wonderful friends.

3. Why do you write what you write?

I often ask myself that one! I often write late at night, around midnight. It’s one of the few times I don’t feel that I am short-changing my family. Some nights I’m sleepless and writing is a productive alternative. Other nights I’m stressed after a long, long day or I’ve had to endure a difficult person or situation – like so many hobby bloggers. It’s impossible not to let those things slide into view – or type – well for me at least. If I was writing a ‘how to sew’ blog (note: definitely never going to happen LOL) or something along those lines, I would write in a vastly different way. However in this space I’m writing what I consider a ‘personal sewing blog’… so that’s what you get – for better or for worse some days (sorry about that!).

Sometimes I’ve written things that are raw and honest – and sometimes I wish I could unwrite them. However that feels dishonest so I leave them there, it’s part of the journey. Sometimes people read things into them that aren’t there… but that’s life. People bring themselves to a text, filling in the gaps and making assumptions which they view as ‘fact’. I share some of my life but definitely never all of it. I’ve got some personal ‘lines in the sand’, I think everyone does.

Sometimes what I wrote two years ago is starkly different to what I think or do now – that’s the interesting thing about blogging.

4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?

When I’m feeling inspired or happy, my fingers fly across the keyboard. Words, or the ‘gift of the gab’ as my father called it, has always come easily to me.

Blog writing is vastly different to writing that I do in the context of my IRL job. Work writing is often very considered, necessarily neutral and edited within an inch of its life by many different people for a variety of reasons. Most days you just have to suck it up and ‘toe the line’ professionally.

I don’t want my blog writing to become like my work writing. I blog write ‘off-the-cuff’, flippantly – particularly in reference myself. I often think that the Aussie attitude gets lost in translation, particularly type. Not much I can do about that – I love an Aussie turn of phrase and most of all the self-depreciating manner, the slight irreverence to authority and so on.

Often I write posts twice as long as what I end up publishing. Because I think and write in such an extroverted fashion, I tend to wander off on a mental tangent before meandering back to what it’s supposed to be about… the sewing!

Sometimes when I’m sewing a song, an idea or something that has happened (good and bad) pops into my head. Those thoughts become part of the garment and work their way into the post and become a theme. For me, the writing and the sewing are inextricably linked, one is a reflection of the other. Generally those are happy or silly things… sometimes not. ‘Happy’ is back on the sewing menu and I’m sewing for the sheer hell of it at the moment – just like I used to in the early days of my blog.

Who’s next?
This was an easy pick for me.

Anne of Pretty Grievances.
Anne’s was one of the first blogs I found… and remains one of my favourites. Her personality bursts out of the screen and pops down next to you on the lounge. I’d love to have a meal with Anne, although I might choke on my chutney from giggling too much.

I’m convinced that no one else could have dragging the sewing world kicking & giggling into the full embrace of animal print via Jungle January. We have entered the fabric jungle and Anne is leading the way with a machete in hand! She’s a truly unique voice – and I shall never look at any catwalk photo the same way again.

Love this picture of Anne because the speech bubble kills me every.time.

The one and only Anne of Pretty Grievances: When I'm not complaining, I sew….

The one and only Anne of Pretty Grievances: When I’m not complaining, I sew….

Amanda of Bimble & Pimble
What’s not to love about a sassy sewing gal that types a sentence like… “I think I may be a boat neck lady in my noggin but in real life I am Baroness von Scoop Neckington. But what’s life for if not living on the edge – neck meat covered up and all!”. There is no one quite like Amanda.

Amanda of Bimble and Pimble

Amanda of Bimble and Pimble.

This is one cool sewing chick and she is one of the most beautiful & funny souls IRL.

So over to you ladies!