The year of running dangerously… phoenix rising

Sunset - every day is special

every day is special

As I press post tonight, it’s exactly a year since I spent my first night in a neurology ward at Royal North Shore Sydney, nearly 400km from home, attached a drip and wondering if I might experience a massive stroke and possibly die. That is exactly what the medical profession thought might be ‘my story’. The odds were stacked well and truly against me. It is a confronting experience and it does change you forever. And it’s not always a bad thing.

Sorry to bore you but writing about the experience is cathartic – just as it was a year ago in hospital. I leave it behind and move onwards. So thank you for your patience.

So what did I take from this year of recovery?

It taught me about grace, fortitude and courage – right from the moment I heard “You need to understand that this injury has a significant mortality rate”.

Even now I’m surprised at how calm I was. I don’t think my attitude saved me but it kept me calm as I told myself over and over… “this is not how my story ends”. When they wanted to take blood out of the veins in my feet or puncture the femoral artery in my thigh (OK that did terrify me! I silently recited the poetry of Dylan Thomas to distract myself – who knew a drunk Welsh poet could be so calming!), I accepted it needed to happen. Like running any distance, I just had to keep going for it to end.

I’ve learnt to embrace and conquer my anxiety. I’m the type that needs to resolutely go out there and fight my dragons with every weapon in my arsenal. I don’t face my dragons, I destroy them and then dance on their grave. If there was a mythical creature I have an affinity with, it is the phoenix – the creature that rises from the ashes of destruction. And while I’m not majestic like the fiery winged beast, I’ve often imagined myself rising above the injury, anxiety and leaving it behind.

I’ve learnt to refuse to be defined by my injury, to ignore the demons that continually ask ‘what if’, to live in the moment, to write my own rules, to reject the drama of others, to turn away from negativity, to embrace joy. I celebrate what I can do rather than mourn the things I lost.

Raspberries in Tasmania, appreciating all those little insignificant moments that too often pass us by

Fresh raspberries in Tasmania, I’ve learnt to better appreciate those little magic moments that too often pass us by

I enjoy my running – and have run three half marathon events, my first trail run and most recently the infamous Sydney City 2 Surf in Sydney this year. I’ve clocked over 820kms in 2018 and am back to my former pace and that’s enough for me. I’ll never run a marathon. I’ve got the personality to – just perhaps not the carotid artery anymore. I’ve proved enough to myself and I’m happy. I run beyond medical advice but so far, I’m listening to my body and it’s working for me.

The most difficult thing I've done. The run leg of a half ironman in the heat of day... I did think for most of the distance "how so I explain this to the specialist in November"

The toughest thing I’ve ever made myself do! The run leg of a half ironman in the heat of day in May 2018… I did think for most of the distance “how so I explain this idiot choice to the specialist in November??”. This was my first event ‘back’ and it was horribly hard, hot and stressful – but I won back my confidence. Worth it.

I hate the fear/worry my family lived, and probably live, with. I’ve accepted I can’t always be a pillar of strength – or do everything for everyone and I no longer want to. I’ve always been an exceptionally independent human being however I learnt that I am not an island. I need a village. I’m still highly selective about my village ūüėä as I can no longer bear drama, nastiness, pettiness or unkindness.

I’d love to tell you that it’s all been plain sailing but there’s been sadness and tears – however, surprisingly, very little anger. Bad things happen that you can’t control or change and that’s life – I see anger as being counterproductive to moving on and becoming stronger. I don’t think life is always about forgiveness, it can sometimes be about acceptance.

l will have another brain/neck MRI in November… perhaps nothing has changed… or perhaps miraculously my artery has repaired itself and life resumes without the worries and restrictions. Realistically, I think that is not my future – I can’t believe the damage will ‘disappear’ – life isn’t always the fairytale you want it to be. I think my injury will always haunt me in some way. Who knows.

I’m still here against the all the odds that were stacked against me 365 days ago.

Whatever I’m made of, it’s tougher than any hockey ball.

It’s been a simple decision to live every day. You could die any old unremarkable day… but you can choose to live every day. I choose to live.

Just another lunchtime moment – a stroll from my desk

Now I’m off to finally finish that blog post about the Tessuti Monroe and Papercut Patterns Fall Turtlenecks.

‚Ķ and I’ve been sewing more dancewear – sorry, not sorry.

Stripe play: Grainline Hemlock and more Drape Drape

This all started with the intended purchase of 1.4 metres of striped cotton jersey from The Fabric Store, Brisbane. Then they offered me the rest of the roll for half price. So I left with 3 metres instead – what’s a girl to do?

I wanted a classic long-sleeved t-shirt. Big & slouchy. I tossed up between the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee & the Grainline Hemlock (both free). I chose the Hemlock.

Grainline Hemlock. Neck binding has been cut on the bias.

Grainline Hemlock. Neck binding has been cut on the bias.

Why? The finished bust measurements of the Grainline Hemlock is 44.5 inches and the Tessuti Mandy Boat tee is 58 inches. Even though I wanted a big t-shirt, 12.5 inches of ease felt like enough – 26 inches with the Mandy Tee seemed a bit excessive with this jersey.

What can I say – this is an easy t-shirt to make. This is a one size pattern and on me it’s very loose. Some days that’s exactly what I want to wear. I’m a huge fan of loose tops paired with fitted skirts and jeans so this fits into the my casual wardrobe nicely.

Grainline Hemlock

Grainline Hemlock. Back view. I keep rolling up the sleeves as they are long and loose. To be honest, I push up all my sleeves!

I decided to cut the neck binding on the bias just for fun. I know, crazy times.

All seams sewn with my overlocker. Hems completed on my coverstitch. I only used my Bernina for the extra line of stitching around the neckline to hold the neck binding seam in place.

Grainline Hemlock

Grainline Hemlock. Stripe matching not too shabby. Sleeves down.

I’d recommend this pattern if you are after a generic t-shirt. It’s easy to put together and there is an online tutorial if you need it. Perhaps it might be a nice introduction to sewing with knits if they have been daunting.

For my second t-shirt I decided to make a draped garment where the stripes were anything but regular. I also didn’t want two shirts more or less exactly the same – the obviously choice was my favourite draped t-shirt pattern from Drape Drape 2.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. The pattern piece has been flipped over to run the stripes downwards on the front.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. The pattern piece has been flipped over the run the stripes downwards on the front.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. More stripe (not) matching

I had been a little disappointed that the stripes on the front of the drunk candy cane t-shirt had been so horizontal/normal on the front, whereas the back was more visually interesting with the stripes running down and into the drape.

Red stripe and blue stripe Drape Drape 2 No.4 shirts.

Red stripe and blue stripe Drape Drape 2 No.4 shirts.

So I flipped the pattern piece over, placing the drape on the other side & making the stripes on the front more of a feature. I also cut the neckline slightly higher so it wasn’t in danger of being indecent.

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. Back View

Drape Drape 2, Number 4. Back View

What’s the point of all this? Nothing much, it was just fun. Sometimes I just sew to explore ideas… and fortunately I end up with a wearable garment. Bonus.

Grainline Hemlock and Drape Drape2, No.4

Grainline Hemlock and Drape Drape2, No.4

More sewing… I’ve got another Grainline Alder (View B – #teambumruffle version – see Funkbunny if that hashtag makes no sense) and a Simplicity 1463, View A to share here soon! I’m back to work on Monday so my sporadic sewing and blogging will resume shortly!

Blogging, writing, thinking…
I like writing as much as I like sewing – but I enjoy writing about more things than sewing (shock, horror). The writing, re-writing and editing process helps me think about things more objectively and explore ideas. Sometimes I feel the urge to write about life. Or put down stories, scenes and ideas that run through my head. However that’s not going to happen here, it will be somewhere else on a private blog just for me – when the urge strikes or time permits. Selfish writing ūüôā


A very quick post!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it! I’m exhausted after a very long day of Santa presents, two family meals, breakfast with friends, lots of children and warm weather!

Sorry it’s a tad late but I threw everybody’s name into a spreadsheet¬†and then used the random number generator at – I would have documented this via images but it’s Christmas and I’m just soooooo tired! And tomorrow, depending on the weather, it’s anoth long day of cricket in the sun etc. I need to sleep – or rather slip into a temporary coma.

So the winner of the Pattern Pyramid is…


I will be keeping the Jiffy pattern, I’ve worn it three times this week, including this afternoon. I can’t bear to part with it. So I’m throwing TWO patterns into the mix as I feel bad… although that little pattern went unremarked until my round. My husband thinks its just the magical lighthouse photo, unusual fabric¬†and remarked that if I took of the belt you would all realise it’s just a little sack.

Simplicity Jiffy 4977

Simplicity Jiffy 4977

I got sewing goodies today – I will share as soon as Christmas madness ends!

The big decisions… and I need some underlining advice…

I’ve been thinking about making a Christmas dress. I kinda missed the Birthday Dress event so I’m seeing if I can whack out a Christmas dress. I’ve had many moments of decisiveness… followed by more moments of indecisiveness. My first thought was to make a Cambie – because I just love Cambies, right? Yes, absolutely¬†I have the Cambie Pox. And I have been dying to make another. However I just thought I needed to stretch myself and perhaps, you know, be wild and crack out another pattern… because… well… I have a few… and my next Cambie shall be a pretty little aqua skulls affair, remember?

So I was tossing up between these two.

Christmas 2012 dress pattern choices

Christmas 2012 dress pattern choices

The slim straight shift (the sort of dress I haven’t made much of but it the style I wear to work¬†a lot¬†– perhaps not quite as slinky but suits my shape) or the pink vintage halterneck… in a dramatic red cotton damask. Please note readers that it can be very hot in Australia at Christmas time, so shrug aside your cowls, scarves and cardies and think HOT, HOT, HOT.

Then today I thought I might make the Lonsdale, a decision I was pondering recently on Twitter…

Sewaholic Lonsdale fabric choice

Sewaholic Lonsdale fabric choice

I purchased this fabric for the Lonsdale and it’s navy/red/white and not particularly Christmassy… but I can wear this all summer (and most of spring and autumn) and it seems like a much more sensible idea… what do you think? I love the fact it’s got a bow… I think that will be my Christmassy touch ūüôā
*sigh* I’m still not sure.

Right now as I’m typing I’m thinking the Vogue dress would look very striking. And it says that it’s easy… much harder to squash in a big Christmas lunch and then a big Christmas dinner (and we usually have breakfast at friend’s house before yo-yoing between the parents’ homes later in the day. The dress would definitely be a post breakfast outfit – maybe even a Christmas party dress if I can make it quickly).

Next big question… I want to make a cropped sleeve version of this jacket and I have this fabric.

Fabric for my Burda Bolero

Fabric for my Burda Bolero

A tiny remanent from The Fabric Store. I think I can squish it out of the pattern by cutting the facings out of a cotton sateen. It’s a cotton/silk/lurex blend.

Should I underline this as well?

Please don’t tell me to underline this with silk organza – because I cannot buy that where I live and I am SICK of paying shipping costs for ABSOLUTELY anything that is not cotton¬†voile/lawn¬†*frown* my local fabric stores are limiting!

When ELH returns from his fishing adventures I will get him to photograph my Maria Denmark Yasmin Yoke skirts… he’s been away a lot due to a serious family illness, hence my sewing and blogging has not been as prolific, but life should return to normal soon… oh hang on it’s Christmas…


Last weekend was more Busy Lizzy than Sew Busy Lizzy. Fear not I managed to squish in a bit of sewing Рa remake of an old skirt but a new sewing challenge for me.

Maytime markets outing - Vogue 1247

Maytime markets outing – in my beloved Vogue 1247, aka the Tardis Skirt!

I spent half of Saturday folding up other people’s old clothes for the school’s Maytime Markets. I should count my lucky stars I wasn’t the store organiser who spent weeks picking up clothes and sorting them into sizes etc. Saturday was back-breaking work and quite overwhelming. There was hundreds and hundreds of pieces of clothing from babies through to old lady stuff, hand bags, belts, hats and more. Yes I thought it sounded like paradise as well… until I was faced with helping stack them into some sort of order in a classroom! Sunday was spent at the markets helping ‘man’ the stall. It was a hoot, people went bananas, most things were $1 and the ‘fancy’ stuff was $2 or $3.I confess I did bring home the odd thing or two…

maybe three or four…

coulda been five or six…

ok I lost count!

However I did buy two skirts that were huge on me – purely to chop up and remake into something new. One of the skirts was brand new with tags still on. Neither of them were ‘fancy’ brands but I loved the patterns and figured it would be a cheap experiment. At $1 and $2 each I threw caution to the wind.

So I bought this…

Maytime Markets Skirt No 1

Maytime Markets Skirt No 1. Too big for me! Purchased for the princely sum of $1

I am saving the second post for another post : )

damper – Jabba the Hutt of the food world.

I loved this fabric. It’s from a cheap nasty chain store and the fabric is not fabulous quality.¬†Still the¬†colours and pattern¬†really appealed to me and there was quite a bit of fabric without seams running through it so it looked promising for an overhaul.

The original skirt needed about 10cm (4 inches) taken out of the waist and in my former pre-Sew Busy Lizzy life I would have just tossed it aside with a sigh of regret. I felt it was just too big to alter successfully – and full skirts just made me look like a little dumpling – I’m sure they are delicious but they are not the most¬†visually pleasing¬†of food items. And anyway Aussies are more damper than dumpling people (which looks like the Jabba Hut of the food world – although tastes excellent out of the camp fire, covered in charcoal with lashing of butter and golden syrup…).

But no more! I took it home at the end of the markets and promptly set about destroying it with vicious glee. I was very upset when the zip broke as I had wanted to make this a total remake but it wasn’t to be. The zip went to stitching heaven and I got a new one for about $1.50. Alas.For the last couple of weeks I had been wanting to try out Simplicity 2451. It’s had gushing reviews and it’s as cute as a button. However I am loathe to try out a new pattern when I’m never quite sure if 1) it’s going to have fit issues or 2) the design will suit me – and I hate to waste fabric! Then along came Maytime Markets Revisited Skirt No. 1 – match made in heaven. With some jiggling and squeezing I managed to get all the pattern pieces out of the main skirt, I ended up having to do an extremely dodgy piecing job for one of the pockets…

Maytime Markets revisited skirt - The 3 Buck Wonder dodgy pocket

Maytime Revisited Project, Skirt No. 1 –¬†the dodgy pocket. Made using Simplicity 2451, view D

and used the skirt’s original lining for the inner pockets…

Maytime Markets revisited - the pocket lining

Maytime Markets revisited skirt project¬†– the pocket lining made from the original skirt’s lining

I did rush through this project – I did not bother too much with finishing the seams. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did! I’ll go back and pink the exposed seams. I saw this as an experiment and a challenge, fortunately¬†a successful one!

And here is the somewhat-smaller-than-the-original Maytime Markets Revisited Skirt No. 1 which I have nickname Cheap & Cheerful. It’s been a busy week so have not had a chance to get out of my work clothes and into this for a photo (it’s dark so early now and cold!)¬†but I will take one over the weekend as I really like this one (IMHO)

Maytime Markets skirt - 'my' finished skirt using Simplicity 4470

Cheap & Cheerful Skirt. My Maytime Markets revisited skirt project – ‘my’ finished skirt using Simplicity 2451