blog hopping

Thanks to the gorgeous Debbie of Lily Sage & Co, the blog hop baton has been passed on to me.  I first came across Debbie’s blog when she was a finalist in one of Tessuti’s competitions a couple of years ago – and yes, I did vote for her dress!  I always enjoy watching what she comes up with, for herself and for her husband and daughters.  Beautiful fabrics in divine combinations and the fearless ability to refashion and mix textures and patterns.  Thanks so much Debbie for getting me involved in the hop!  So, straight to the questions.

1. Why do you write?

I started my blog when I was pregnant with Stella, so almost eight years ago.  Blimey!  I had googled “headband tutorial” and found Heather Bailey’s blog, and from there I was sucked into the vortex of craft blogs.  At that stage the blogs I found and read were mostly patchwork, bag-making and children’s clothes.  With the encouragement of another online friend (Hi there Jodie!) I decided that I could share what I made as well, and things went from there.  My blog is a making journal, with the odd rant and miscellany.  There’s a bit about the family, but not too much, and it morphed into a travel blog when we went to Thailand earlier in the year.  But basically I write to keep a record of what I have made, whether it is sewn or crocheted.

I have been sewing since my teens – so that is over thirty years now.  I’ve never been a person to keep a diary, but for some reason I don’t find it too hard to maintain my blog.  It is the place where I record the details of each item, such as the fabric type and where from, any alterations, successes and failures.  There are very few finished items that haven’t made it to the blog.  I don’t edit out the unsuccessful projects, because this is my journal.  Sometimes things slip through the cracks, but I’d say that about 99.5% of what I have made over the past seven and a half years is on this blog.

I suspect that I continue to write the blog for a number of reasons.  Unsurprisingly, the big one is to feel part of the sewing community.  I am so blessed to have made real life friends who share my interests and understand the obsession with fabrics and patterns and how they can be combined.  I thoroughly enjoy the interactions with the people I have met through my blog, whether I have met them in person or whether our contact is still in the online realm!  My Chiang Mai fabric shopping trip with Gaye would never have happened without my blog, nor would my trips away to Sewjourn, weekends at Sew It Together or attendance at Frocktails, Sewcietea and various other blog meets.  I also feel that maintaining my blog is a way to give back a little to the sewing and crafting community.  I know how much I enjoy seeing garments on everyday people, and hopefully others also gain from my creations and opinions.  And of course, it’s a chance to show off and say “hey, look at what I made”!  It’s online show and tell to the whole world!  And I love positive feedback as much as most people.

2. What are you working on?

I have another trip to Sewjourn coming up in a few weeks time, so I’m really trying to prepare for that.  I’m finishing off the garments in the already-cut-out-waiting-to-be-sewn box, so that I can made a fresh start for the season ahead.  And I’m nearly there!  There is a huge pile of fabric matched to patterns on the cutting table, just waiting for me to start cutting.  These include:

  • Grade 6 graduation dress for Clare
  • Floral neoprene top for Clare
  • Finlayson sweater for my Dad
  • Liberty short-sleeved shirt for my husband
  • Another summer knit dress for Clare
  • A knit jacket for Clare
  • An Oliver + S dress for Clare
  • A skirt for me
  • A top for me

Hmmm, there’s a theme here – lots of these are about Clare!  She does need some summer clothes.  Stella has heaps, as she has all of Clare’s hand-me-downs in addition to the extra things that I make her.

I keep a number of sewing lists on my phone.  There is one for garments already cut out, one of sewing plans for me, and another of sewing plans for others.  The last two are very long lists.

Currently under the sewing machine is a Marcy Tilton “shingle” dress, in lurid neon green and black stripes.  I probably have less than an hour of sewing left to do before it will be finished, after spending an hour unpicking it this evening because I’d sewn one right side to one wrong side and then had bound the neckline.  The unpicker is my friend.

3. How does your blog differ from others of the same genre?

This is an interesting question!  It’s probably not all that different, in that it focuses on sewing, crochet and crafting, but I suppose that as each person is different, each blog is different.  I reckon that I’m a fairly typical sewist of my generation.  My blog is pretty personal – there is no sponsorship, and the only ads are the annoying ones that come with free wordpress hosting (and I never see, but I think that you do).  I like to think that I’m pretty upfront and honest about what I make, and about my own sewing strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the patterns I have used.  I write pretty much the way that I talk, and what you see is what you get – all the while remembering that a blog like mine only ever reveals a small slice of who I am and what my life is like.  I like to think that my blog makes a positive contribution towards the representation of  middle-aged plumpish women in the sewing world who know their bodies and like themselves and what they make!  My blog also includes the garments that I make for my daughters.  I think that they have grown up on the blog!

4. What is your writing process?

I suspect that Instagram has impacted negatively on my writing process.  I used to blog a project very soon after making it, and now it can take some weeks before I get around to writing a proper post after sharing an Instagram snap.  That said, there is nothing like the blog for providing a good record of what I’ve made and how I found the experience.  I keep a list of finished items that are waiting to be blogged.  I try to get each item photographed as soon as possible after making it, which is why my blog photos are generally taken on the back deck by either my husband or by Clare.  It’s about ensuring that I have a record.  I take some photos during construction when I remember to, or of particular details.  Once photos are taken I crop them as needed, then upload them to Flickr where they can sit for weeks before being incorporated into a blog post.

I don’t have a blog post writing schedule – I write when I feel like it, then often write a few posts at once and schedule them.  It really depends on what the rest of life is like and how tired I am.  I suppose that is part of the reason why I am so behind with blogging finished items at the moment.  What with my current full-time work and juggling that with family and other commitments, I tend to sew something when I have some time rather than writing a blog post.  I usually prefer to finish something, photograph it, and blog about it before moving on to the next thing, as otherwise I forget many of the details about any construction or fitting issues.  That just isn’t happening at the moment.  I try to incorporate about four or five photos into each post to show most aspects of the garment, and although it’s nice if they are also good photos of me, it’s more important that they show the garment clearly.  Then I blither on a bit, making sure that I mention the name of the pattern, the size, what the fabric is and where I got it, any alterations, and any other information of note.   I like to break up each paragraph with a photo, and don’t often have blog posts without photos.  So overall my process is rather haphazard.  However, it is often improved by a glass of wine.

Time to pass on the baton!  I’ve enjoyed reading about others who sew and blog about it, and would love to have both Anna and Gaye answer these questions too.  I count myself very fortunate to have met these two women through blogging, and even more fortunate to now count them both as “real life” friends.  Over to you!

Sunday Snippets

Playing along with {tinniegirl} today.  A selection of photos from the last week:






cutting sequinned fabric



Followed around; finished work early enough to pop into Super Cheap Fabrics (thanks to Helen‘s enabling); school camp – Dad went too; what happens when you leave Buzz outside for a day; joined in a 31 day Style Challenge (day one: statement necklace); preparing for next Saturday’s Melbourne Frocktails; face painting kindly provided by Bunnings, along with free jumping castle, balloon sculpture, and other fun activities; Father’s Day present still waiting to be sewn.


my budding fabric designers

Remember that I shared some of Clare’s artwork a little while back?  Well, I did get a couple of her designs printed.  And Stella wasn’t about to let me order fabric from Clare’s drawings without having some of hers done too.

fabric by Clare (11 yrs old)

These are Clare’s designs (she is 11 years old). We had fat quarters printed; one on cotton and the other on lawn. Clare really enjoyed playing with the scale of her design as well as the repeat options that were offered. We used Spoonflower for these, by the way. It took around a month from placing the initial order to receiving the fabric here in Australia.

fabric by Stella (6 yrs old)

And these two are Stella’s (she is six years old). Once again I ordered fat quarters, one on cotton and one on jersey. Sadly I didn’t think about which way the repeat runs on the jersey one and as a result the stretch runs vertically rather than horizontally due to it being a one-way design. Live and learn!  Stella also enjoyed the process of determining what scale and what repeats to use, and she had very definite ideas about what she preferred.

So, for some close-ups: Clare’s design, in a small scale repeat on cotton.

fabric by Clare (11 yrs old)

Clare’s other design, in a larger scale on lawn.

fabric by Clare (11 yrs old)

And a closer photo of Stella’s designs.

fabric by Stella (6 yrs old)

I ordered fat quarters of each rather than swatches hoping that I would have pieces of a useable size to incorporate into garments or other projects, and I think that they will work fine. We didn’t do any manipulation of their artwork before uploading them to Spoonflower; they were just hand-drawn with metallic textas, scanned in to the computer and uploaded. As a result there are some imperfections, such as a couple of small smudges in Clare’s, but I think that adds to the hand drawn charm! Clare is keen to get her designs up for sale.

I’m heading off to Sewjourn in a few short hours time.  I have many more projects cut cut out than any person could possibly complete in two days.  If you are interested in watching my sewing progress over the weekend I will be uploading potentially dodgy photos to Instagram (I’m thornberry over there) as I complete each garment.  Have a great weekend everyone – I know that I will!

Me Made May

I’m a little bit late with the blog post, but at the very last minute I decided to join in with Me Made May.


I was really unsure about adding a “challenge” to what is already a busy life.  I mostly wear clothes that I have made, but joining in Me Made May just to do what I usually do isn’t really part of the Me Made May ethos – it’s about challenging yourself to push wearing self made clothing that little bit more.  Upon reflection, I decided on the following pledge:

‘I, Lara of Thornberry, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2014, including on work days’.

Work days are the ones when I often wear entirely shop bought, especially in winter.  I have a number of warm stretchy merino blend garments from mesop that work beautifully in the office in cold weather.  However, I also have plenty of warm garments that I have made myself hanging in the wardrobe – so this month will be something I’ve made EVERY single day.  Especially because, like Leith, at the end of the month I plan to do a major wardrobe purge, really identifying the things that I love to wear and passing on those that I don’t.  I’ll instagram my daily garments.  A few years ago I took daily “what I wore” photos, and found it really helpful in identifying the workhorses in my wardrobe.  Hopefully this will do the same thing.

last week of term

First term of 2014 is over, and the school holidays are here.  The last week of term flew past, but I took some photos along the way.  So this is a snippet of our week (mostly from a sewing/crafty perspective, of course).

last week of term one

  • Patterns arrived from the last Vogue/Butterick/McCalls sale.  One is already cut out to be sewn this weekend, and another has been matched up to fabric.
  • Personal delivery of The Better Bag Maker, by Nicole Mallalieu, soon to be available online and possibly in Spotlight stores.  I took part in pattern testing (and have a couple of excellent bags to show for it that I can finally reveal on the blog soon) and I think that it really is your go-to book for all things bag-making related.
  • Silk fabrics from the Collette Dinnigan end of bolt clearance currently running at Rathdowne Fabrics.  The top two will be scarves; the bottom one will become a dress.
  • Over the past couple of days the weather has turned cooler and autumn has really settled in.  Time to make new stretchy pants for winter!
  • And with winter coming up, time for some new boots (everything at the Diana Ferrari outlet is currently half price).  I live in boots over winter, and was excited when I spotted some coloured ones!
  • Poor little Stella.  She’s sick.  The virus that has been going around and that Clare and I had last week has caught up with Stella.  She’s still on the couch with a vomit container.
  • I whipped up a few tops for Clare to take away on camp with her.  One includes this raglan tee .  It’s a departure from her usual style, but fortunately she seems to really like it!
  • Clare has been busy with the loom/rainbow/whatever they are called bands.  YouTube has been an excellent source of tutorials for a variety of bracelet designs.  You have to love a craze that is this creative, time-consuming and relatively cheap!
  • A quick dress for Stella, from fabric that she chose in a design that she chose.  And now says that she doesn’t like.


talented tween

When I picked Clare up from after school care on Wednesday she proudly showed me the drawing she had just completed.

Clare's drawing

I reckon that it’s absolutely fantastic! In metallic sharpies, about 20 cm square. I absolutely love it. Some friends suggested that I upload it to Spoonflower and order some fabric. Wouldn’t that be great – a garment made for Clare from fabric that she has designed?

school’s back

School is back.  Stella is in grade one and Clare is in grade six – her last year of primary school.  How could that have possibly happened?  So while the kids were at school today, I took the opportunity to head into the city.  After late breakfast with some other school mums, of course.  Making the most of that precious six hours!

tourist in my city - January 2014

Absolutely the perfect day for visiting some fabric shops, the Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion exhibition at NGV, and the All That Glitters exhibition at The Arts Centre. And the train and tram still got me back to school in time for pick up! It was truly restorative for my soul.  I really do love my city.

I am still not certain what the digitally printed polyester crepe from my last post will become – and I love the variety of suggestions that you have made!  There was some very impressive pattern knowledge exhibited in your responses – and interestingly, most of them are patterns that are already in my stash!  I am currently leaning towards a Victory Satsuki top, but I have been known to change my mind.  In the meantime I have some beautiful striped viscose knit on the cutting table waiting to become a draped t-dress, two lengths of linen competing to become Vogue 8552 (before Saturday), and modal knit waiting to become a Cherish dress for my mum…..and I am quite a few blog posts behind on garments that I made during the school holidays.  Ah well!