adult's clothing · miscellaneous · musings · sewing

Style Arc Loren in orange

Another pattern repeat!  This one is the Style Arc Loren coat – you can see my first version here; I really like the way that it fits and I wear it often.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

This version is also size 12, but made from a vastly different fabric type. This is a thick fabric that looks like a boucle on one side, but has long floating threads in a different colour on the other. I wonder if it is an upholstery fabric? I picked it up at Restash, so have not real idea of composition or anything else. It frayed terribly and I finished the edges of each piece on the overlocker before I started joining it to another.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

The thickness of the fabric meant that I needed to hand-stitch the patch pockets to the front, and hand stitch the coat hem and the sleeve hems.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

There’s a lot that I like about this coat, but there’s a lot that could have been improved. Note that the pattern itself is designed to be sewn in a range of fabrics and the instructions are perfectly fine. It’s an unlined coat, and the person sewing it really needs to choose the appropriate sewing techniques and finishing options for the fabric that they have selected.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

I’ll talk about the collar first. You can see in the above photo how the fabric sort of collapses upon itself, despite it’s thickness. I did grade the seams, but the entire front facing and collar area would have benefitted from me used more tailoring techniques. Some more interfacing, using a few types through the collar area, and definitely made some more adjustments for turn of cloth.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

The same applies to the shoulders. Despite this being designed for a relaxed fit with an extended shoulder line, I could have considered a small shoulder pad and more sleeve head support.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

What I will definitely go back and do (and should have done at the time, learning from the first Loren that I sewed) was to hand-stitch the facings in place down the entire front of the coat. It will make it hang so much better. I might even consider some closures.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

From the Style Arc website: This easy fit essential jacket will become your favourite go to garment for all seasons and all occasions, this will only be defined by your choice of fabric. Featuring a slim shawl collar and optional patch or inseam pockets. This is a simply constructed pattern that can be made in wool suiting or linen for every day, knit for the weekend or for a touch of glamour make it in lurex fabric or for an on-trend look make it in faux fur.
FABRIC SUGGESTION: Wool, linen, ponte, crepe, faux fur, sweater knit or lurex.

loren-jacket

I will wear this coat, but it could have been better. Just a reminder to all of you to really consider what techniques you choose for each garment, depending on the fabric.

Style Arc Loren jacket in upholstery fabric

Most of you who read this blog know that I live in Melbourne.  We’re about to go back into covid-19 stage 3 restrictions again, from midnight tonight.  Back to only leaving home for food, for work if it can’t be done from home (so no change for us; we’re already working from home), for caring responsibilities, for daily exercise.  At this stage it’s for six weeks.  Clare still gets to go back to school on Monday (VCE students are continuing classes) but Stella gets an extra week of school holidays while the government figures out what happens next – I assume she’ll go back to remote learning.

This was expected really, watching the numbers go up and up and up over the past few weeks.  My plea to regional Victoria and the rest of the country: you also need to follow the rules and the recommendations!  When there are recommendations that you don’t travel, don’t!  When you are told to socially distance, do it!  We all know that it was when people began to get complacent and see more and more  and more family and friends in enclosed spaces and forgot about social distancing and hugged and kissed etc that this has become an issue again.  We all know that it’s hard – but it isn’t the random person in the supermarket that you’re most likely to catch this from; it’s your family and friends who you hug and forget to wash hands around.  Keep up with hygiene; keep on social distancing; minimise where you go and who you see.  You’re fortunate that you don’t have to go back into lockdown; ensure that it doesn’t happen by following the rules.

We’ve all seen how quickly this disease takes hold and we do still have a chance to keep it under control in Australia – but this will only happen if everyone considers the good of the community rather than their individual ‘rights’.  We all need to take responsibility.  So if you’re looking for me over the next six (at least) weeks, you know exactly where I’ll be!

 

 

miscellaneous · musings · sewing

Reflecting on Me Made May 2020

I haven’t written for over a month.  So much has been happening in the world.  Black lives matter; here in Australia as well as in the USA (and elsewhere).

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When I signed up to take part in Me Made Made, I hoped that it would get me out of the ‘tracksuit and ugg boots’ routine that I’d quickly fallen into during covid-19 lockdown.  I figured that there were other clothing combinations in my wardrobe that would also be warm and comfortable, but might also lift my spirits a little.  I gave myself the challenge to choose an outfit each day that required shoes rather than ugg boots, and was based around a scarf/shawl/wrap that was either hand-crocheted (by me) or hand-knitted (by mum).

Me Made May 2020 - scarves, shawls and shoes challenge

Me Made May 2020 - scarves, shawls and shoes challenge

Me Made May 2020 - scarves, shawls and shoes challenge

Me Made May 2020 - scarves, shawls and shoes challenge

As you can tell from the photos, Melbourne was pretty cold during May!  I needed an additional layer on top of those to do anything outdoors, and there’s generally an additional warm layer of some type underneath each one.  Activity wise, during May I worked from home, went for an evening walk a couple of times per week, went to the supermarket once each week, and by the end of  May I was able to meet up with friends for coffee in a local park.  All these outfits worked well for those activities, and made me feel a little more like ‘me’.  Some outfit combinations worked better than others – actually, some are very well tried and true – and I found a few new ones that I’ll repeat in the future.

Do we dress for ourselves, or do we dress for others?  So many people have talked about how they have ‘let themselves go’ during covid-19 lockdown, eschewing makeup, fancy hairdos, hair dye, wearing their regular clothes, etc, often because ‘no-one is going to see me’.  So why do we normally do and wear these things?  Many of us would say ‘I do it for myself’ – but if we’re no longer doing it because no-one is going to see it, were we ever really doing it for ourselves?  I felt better psychologically when I was doing Me Made May and making more of an effort with my clothing – but what is the chicken and the egg in that situation?  Was I dressing ‘better’ because I was feeling better, or vice versa?  I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but it interests me to ponder.

You may have also spotted a few garments in the above photos that haven’t been blogged yet – I’ll get on to that soon!  I have some catching up to do.

 

miscellaneous · musings · planned projects · sewing · teen

Planning

So, here in Melbourne we’re planning for Clare to return to school on Tuesday (she’s in year 12), and then for Stella (year 7) to return two weeks later.  It’s great to have some dates – I feel as though it gives a little bit of certainty (although in reality, anything could change and nothing is set in stone) and helps us to stumble toward a new normal.  I’m still working from home until the end of the school term, which means I will be able to drive the kids to and from school and they won’t need to take public transport.  And term three?  For me it will probably be a mix of working on site, working from home, and travelling interstate.  That is really difficult for me to comprehend at the moment.  Who knows.  We’ll see.  The girls will hopefully be continuing on with school at school, but we still don’t know when their extracurricular activities will start back on site instead of on Zoom.

It a whole other time of big change.  There has been so much change, so quickly, and in some ways we’ve just settled in to our at-home routines.  Now it all changes again, with an added dose of heightened anxiety while we wait to see what cautious re-emergence and return to more ‘usual’ activities has on the number of covid-19 infections and how the health system is able to manage them.  Clare has caught up with her group of ten friends a couple of times now in a local park, we’ve had drinks at a friend’s house, had a couple of friends pop over, and I met up in a group of ten school mums at the park yesterday morning for our regular coffee/chai.  We’ve all been keeping in touch and meeting up online since stay-at-home started back in March, but it’s just SO nice to see people in three dimensions!  It takes a lot to resist that impulse to give someone a hug, epecially after that time away from from them.  We’re especially looking forward to seeing my parents in a few weeks time (they live a couple of hours away and are in the high-risk category) so let’s hope that things continue to go well.

I’m sure that many of you have read or seen a meme that has been going around since the pandemic began pointing out that while we are all in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat; some are on super-yachts, and some have just the one oar (author Damien Barr, on Twitter).

I heard that we are all in the same boat.
But it’s not that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, or reconnection.
Easy in flip flops, with whisky or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others, it is facing loneliness.
For some, peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, torture: How am I going to pay my bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter.
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office”.
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal.
Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat.
We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.
It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance.
Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.
See beyond the political party, beyond biases, beyond the nose on your face. Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other.
Don’t be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds.
We are on different ships looking to survive.
Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.

Clare and I have begun planning a graduation/valedictory dinner dress.  Who knows if there will be a graduation/valedictory dinner, but she’ll have a dress for whatever way we choose to celebrate!  She gave me these pictures as inspiration.

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Essentially, a fitted underslip, preferably in a contrasting colour, with a sheer embroidered dress over the top. I went busily googling, and found this beautiful embroidered tulle from Silk World. And it was on sale!

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We ordered a few metres and it arrived a couple of days later, much to our shock and amazement! Parcels have been taking weeks longer than usual to arrive, with so many people doing their shopping online instead of in person, so it was a big surprise for this one to arrive so quickly. And it looks fabulous in reality.

2020-05-18 16.38.24-1-1

Clare is thinking of a pale green slip to go underneath. I have a few patterns in stash that I am considering, both for the slip and for the overdress. This one should work fine for a stretch slip – I’ll just need to lengthen it a bit. And will need to find the right fabric for it. 2020-05-12 07.18.56-1

These are current contenders for the overdress, although they are designed for knit fabrics. I would probably do a bit of pattern mashing or variation.

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2020-05-14 08.18.55-2

McCalls have just released this pattern too, which is another contender. 20200520_182104

We have plenty of time to let the ideas marinate or percolate. I am also still considering a completely different option for her, because I adore the fabric. Clare’s 18th birthday is in January, so I can make an excuse for another ‘dressy’ dress! I bought this fabric from The Cloth Shop early in the year. It was the last of the roll and is an amazing border print.

2020-01-25 17.22.02

One of my talented Melbourne sewing friends used this fabric to sew herself a stunning dress from a vintage Advance pattern for Frocktails a couple of years ago. So spectacular!

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We have a few patterns under consideration, wanting to make the most of the border print, and of Clare’s preference for a fitted bodice and fuller skirt.  Although we don’t have masses of fabric to work with, Clare is pretty small so hopefully we can tetris bodice pieces out without much hassle.

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New Look 6526

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By the time either of those dresses gets made you will have completely forgotten about ths blog post, but it will help me to keep track of our thought processes. I quite enjoy having a ‘slow burn’ project in the background, especially after the positive experience of sewing last year’s formal dress without any time pressures.

miscellaneous · musings

About my weight

This blog post isn’t directly about sewing, or about travel.  It’s about weight – specifically, mine.  For anyone who has a history of disordered eating, this may be a trigger, so I suggest that you skip reading this post.  I’m writing it because I have recently lost a fair bit of weight, and people have noticed and commented.

I don’t have a history of disordered eating, in a conventional or medical sense.  I was a thin kid and adolescent.  In my adulthood I gained weight.  So I did intensive exercise and calorie restriction and lost it.  Then I gained it again.  And lost it again.  Repeat.  Ad nauseum.  I think that every time I did it my resting metabolism dropped lower and lower.  Eventually I read about the negative effects of diet culture and the impact of fatphobia – both societal and internalised – and decided to just stop focusing on my weight, and instead keep on sewing to fit the body that I have.

I made this decision for a few reasons – a major one being that I had no health imperative to change things.  I have always been dubious about weight discussions disguised as concern for people’s health.  It’s fatphobia, combined with ableism.  Fat does not necessarily equal healthy, any more than thin does.  It’s a false equivalence.  There are plenty of thin people who have terrible health – both mental and physical – and plenty of fat people who are incredibly healthy and strong.  My blood tests and external health markers were always in normal range.  I like good foods, unprocessed and fresh, but I also enjoy potato chips, soft cheeses, chocolate, and wine.

Then last year I started getting gastrointestinal symptoms that were affecting the quality of my life.  I was often uncomfortable.  My day job involves reading medical records, and I’d been reading many, many records related to diseases of the digestive system, especially of the liver.  I have a certain level of paranoia due to my job, so I booked in with my GP.  She ran all the usual tests plus a few more (these were all fine apart from a protozoa in my gut that many people have, but only cause issues in some) and she also ordered abdominal ultrasounds.  The ultrasounds only found one issue – fatty liver.

Now, fatty liver is not a good thing to have.  It occurs when your body starts putting fat into organs in addition to increasing subcutaneous fat.  To reduce it, I needed to lose weight.

As it happens, my husband – not an overweight man – was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about ten years ago.  He’s genetically susceptible to it; siblings also have high blood sugar.  Until recently he’s managed to keep it under control via exercise and diet alone.  We’ve done our own reading on the management of diabetes, and came across the work of Dr Jason Fung, a nephrologist.  He recommends fasting as a key method of decreasing insulin production in the body, and therefore reducing the impact of diabetes along with a corresponding weight loss.  Intermittent fasting has recently been popularised in the UK and Australia by Dr Michael Mosley.  Both my husband and I have science backgrounds, and the logic inherent in the work of both these men makes sense to us.  If you google fasting there are a myriad of articles about it – it’s becoming more and more well known and more popular.

My husband was already doing a complete fast two days per week, and in October I began doing it too.  For two days a week – mostly Monday and Wednesday – I don’t eat.  I drink black coffee in the mornings, and I drink plenty of water, but that’s it.  Mosley’s version of intermittent fasting allows a small amount of food on fast days, but that only makes me hungry.  I prefer to have nothing.

On the five days of the week that I eat, I choose higher protein/fat and vastly reduced bread/rice/potato and processed foods, and I avoid sugar.  I’ve also reduced my alcohol intake – my last alcoholic drink was in December, but I expect that I will enjoy a glass or two of wine on occasion.  I will sometimes have a piece of cake or some soft cheese and crackers, but not often.  I don’t count calories/kilojoules or plan my food each day; this way of eating doesn’t take up much head space.  I eat fresh foods, with as little processing as possible.  I didn’t fast at all for the three weeks that we were away on holiday, but tried to follow the same eating principles, without snacking in between.

So far I’ve gone from the BMI calculator defintion of obese through overweight to now not far from the ‘healthy’ weight range.  Most importantly, my gastrointestinal symptoms have improved significantly.  I won’t know about the fatty liver unless I have another ultrasound.  I’ll be interested to see what my other blood tests/health markers show next GP visit as well.

So yes, I do look different.  It’s not just the change of hair colour (I’m growing in the grey, which could potentially be a whole other blog post) and hair length.  Will I be able to sustain this lifestyle change?  I think so.  For me, it’s medically necessary.  I want to feel well, and reduce my chance of developing liver and pancreas issues.  I have tried fasting before, but that wasn’t with a health motivation.  Societal weight expectations don’t make me change my eating behaviours in the longer term! This time, it’s different.

Detractors of fasting say that it’s just another diet and another fad that plays right into diet culture.  I’m not so certain about this.  Many cultures around the world incorporate fasting into their regular lives, whether for one day a week or for other periods of time.  It’s not an unusual thing; billions of people do it.  Here in Australia we are conditioned to eat every time we feel a hunger pang.  Honestly, it’s not that hard to cope with feeling hungry every now and then.  For me, it’s only until the next day.  But there still isn’t any published research into the long-term effects of fasting.  I’d also like to see more research on intermittent fasting in perimenopausal women and how women’s hormones interact with insulin.  Most of what I’ve read has focused on men (which isn’t unusual when it comes to medical research).

Honestly, I was conflicted in writing this post.  The last thing that I want to do is to become part of diet culture, but I suspect that just by writing this I have done exactly that.  This post is just about me – sample size of one person – and I think it’s really important to remember that everyone’s journey and needs and health situations are different.  You need to do your own research and figure what works for you and your body and mind, in a holistic sense, when it comes to things like weight and food and health.  This is difficult in the society we live in.  In general I don’t talk about diets and weight and weight loss, and I actively avoid placing value judgements on foods.  There are more rewarding things in life to be spending your time and energy on; after all, you could be sewing!

 

Edited to add: Thank you so much to all the people who have commented on this post or contacted me in other ways.  It has clearly struck a chord with many people.  I was very interested to read how many of you have discovered that fasting has had a positive health impact on your lives, especially those of you my age and older.  Thanks again for your responses – they are greatly appreciated.

miscellaneous · patterns · sewing

How I manage my pdf patterns

A little while ago someone asked me how I manage my pdf patterns.  Nowadays, I buy many of my patterns in pdf format.  Some patterns are only available in pdf format.  Others are cheaper when bought in pdf format – especially if you add on the cost of postage for hard copies.  With others I want the ability to reprint different sizes.  I’m not a pattern tracer; I never have been.  I always cut into my patterns and generally make any alterations directly on the pattern pieces.  There are some patterns that I want to be able to sew for multiple people of different sizes, and a multisized pdf pattern is perfect for that.  If I am sewing a pattern that I know will only be used for me, or has large pattern pieces (a coat, for example) I prefer hard copy.

pdf pattern organisation

This is a multisized pdf pattern that I recently purchased. I printed it out on sheets of A4 paper on my home computer, and assembled the sheets. There are many, many youtube videos and blog tutorials that show you how to assemble a pdf patter – just google. I generally cut off the bottom and one side of each sheet along the guideline, then overlap and sticky tape them together. I cut out each piece as it is taped whenever possible, rather than wait until the entire pattern is taped into one ginormous sheet. I really appreciate it when pdf pattern makes lay out the pieces in a way that essentially assembles one pattern piece at a time, but the majority just divide up one huge sheet into lots of A4. Printing at home obviously costs in paper, sticky tape and ink, but I think it’s quite economical. The biggest downside is the time that it takes to tape the patterns.

pdf pattern organisation

There is often the option to have pdf patterns printed at a copy shop. I tend to use either Officeworks – I just take in the patterns on a USB memory stick, and ask for black and white plan printing – or else I go to a specialist copy centre/printing service (Ivanhoe Copy Centre is my local). This of course costs money – at Officeworks it’s about $4.10 per A0 sheet. I store these patterns rolled up and secured with a toilet roll core. It holds them securely and I can write the pattern name on it!

pdf pattern organisation

After use I fold up the pattern pieces and pop them into a large ziplock bag. I find that ziplock bags keep things secure during the sewing process, and the instructions fit into them nicely too. You may have noticed too that I do print pattern instructions. I often don’t print all the pages – some of the instructions for pdf patterns are designed to be read on a screen such as an ipad or laptop screen rather than printed and are incredibly long – but I always like to have the basics about the pattern kept with the pattern pieces. Pattern illustration, measurements, what the seam allowances are. Because the bags are clear I can see what pattern is in each one. Then I tend to store them by pattern company and then by pattern type.

pdf pattern organisation

As you can see I have a few methods of organisation. These have all developed and adapted as I have gone along, and they seem to work quite well for me. Patterns that I use for my daughters are in a couple of drawers in the wardrobe; the multi-coloured drawers beside my cutting table hold more ‘random’ patterns from a variety of companies. The expanding file holds Lekala patterns. Then we have my favourite piece of storage – the horizontal filing cabinet.  This one is from Officeworks.

pdf pattern organisation

This cabinet serves as a TV stand – yes, I have a TV in my sewing room – and also holds all my patterns from Style Arc (hard copies as well as the pdf patterns I have printed), Cashmerette, Liesl & Co, Pattern Fantastique, Jalie and patterns that I use for my mum. It’s excellent for patterns that are much larger in size than the standard envelope pattern. I don’t have any hanging files in it; I just stack the patterns on their side. It’s amazing how much fits in there.

pdf pattern organisation

I hope that give some of you some practical ideas on how to manage your pdf patterns. What works best for you will obviously depend on the space that you have available, and whether you prefer to trace patterns or whether you prefer to just cut into them (I still don’t really understand why anyone would take the additional step of tracing a pdf pattern that they have assembled and could easily reprint, but each to their own)! There is a myriad of pattern options available to us nowadays – don’t avoid pdf patterns; they open up a world of opportunity.

miscellaneous

The Bloody Long Walk

On Sunday I did something that I’ve never done before.  I did The Bloody Long Walk.  So, what IS the Bloody Long Walk, you ask?  It’s a fundraiser walk, held in a number of locations around Australia.  It’s 35km and yes, that was bloody long.

bloody long walk

I’ve never been someone described as sporty or active or outdoorsy.  Mind you, I’ve been on plenty of camping holidays in my time, and am not averse to a bike ride or a wander through nice scenery.  I think that it was turning fifty, and the example of a few good friends, that really made me think that I could and should take on a physical challenge like walking 35km in one day.

bloody long walk

Running holds absolutely no appeal to me, but walking does.  I think that each body has a movement that it’s best suited to, and walking is a motion that works well with mine.  So at the end of May I started training for the walk.  Four or five days a week I would head out to walk for anywhere between one and three hours, depending on the weather and other commitments.  I generally listened to podcasts as I walked, and sometimes occasionally walked with friends.  I am fortunate to have a few bike/walk paths nearby, so was able to walk alongside water and among trees.  It was mentally therapeutic over an emotionally challenging time period.

bloody long walk

Clare decided that she would do the walk with me, and my sister-in-law Jeanette agreed to join us.  Clare achieved her bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award last year and is undertaking silver this year, and hiking is part of both awards.  She had already learned that she has quite good stamina.  Clare did minimal walk-specific training – we hoped that her age (fifteen) would also be on her side!  Jeanette has just turned sixty, and has completed many hikes in the past, often carrying a pack.  Add regular bike commuting and weekly walks, and you end up with a fit person.  I had no doubts that Jeanette would be able to complete the walk.  I really did think that I was the weakest link in this whole thing.

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

As I mentioned earlier, the Bloody Long Walk is a fundraising walk.  It’s to raise money for further research into mitochondrial disease.  Many people don’t know what mitochondrial disease is.  In summary, Mitochondria are the power houses of the cell providing the body with over 90% of the energy it needs to sustain life. Mitochondria take in sugars and proteins from the food we eat and produce energy called ATP that our bodies use to function properly. Mitochondrial disease (mito) is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that reduces the ability of the mitochondria to produce this energy. When the mitochondria are not working properly, cells begin to die until eventually whole organ systems fail and the patient’s life itself is compromised. Mitochondrial disease (‘mito disease’ for short) is due to a fault in one or more of the genes that make up the mitochondria. This means a hiccup will occur in the production of mitochondria from the time of conception. As the foetus grows, some mitochondria can divide and grow as normal whilst others will divide and grow abnormally.

You can find out more at the Bloody Long Walk website and the Mito Foundation website.  As far as fundraising is concerned, our team of three raised over $1,500!  We were thrilled and humbled by the generosity of our friends and family.

bloody long walk

So, back to Sunday.  We headed off at 7.30am, taking a route from Fairfield through Kew, Hawthorn and Richmond.  At this stage the route swapped between walking paths, suburban streets, and back to walking paths again.  We were well provided for at the checkpoints with fruit, water, and the availability of first aid if needed.  We could have done with some more portaloos – at one stage we waited in a queue for half an hour!  There were actually over 3000 people taking part in the walk, and it looked to me as though three quarters of those were women.

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

Sewing note – all my activewear comes from Aldi.  I didn’t make any of it!

The walk followed the Yarra River into the City, meandering through Southbank and Docklands and then to Port Melbourne.  Once we hit the bay we walked along beside it until we reached St Kilda, where the walk ended.

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

bloody long walk

I loved the first ten kilometres of the walk, and I hated every single bit of the last five kilometres.  Every step of that walk along the bay I had to just force myself to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.  I’d really had enough by that stage, but I was determined to continue.  My legs were aching, my hips were sore, my feet just wanted to be out of shoes.  I was lucky that I didn’t get any blisters, thanks to judicious taping of hot spots, but everything just hurt.  We started at 7.30am and finished at 4.00pm, with actual walking time of around 7 hours.  I have never been as happy to sit down and take off my shoes as I was at the end of that 35 kilometres!

bloody long walk

But at the same time, it was highly emotional for me crossing that finish line.  I’d done something that I’d never done before; something that I knew would be difficult for me to do.  Something that was out of my ‘normal’, and was out of other people’s experience of me.  And I’d done it with two people who are very close to me – my daughter and my sister-in-law.

bloody long walk

I have to say that Clare was amazing.  She just kept on walking and did not whinge or complain once!  Yes, she was also very happy to finish, and yes, she was also a little bit stiff and sore the next day, but she really was a trouper.  She said that the hikes on Duke of Ed had taught her that her body could do much more than she would have thought she could do, and that complaining and whinging didn’t help anything and only brought everyone down.  What a fabulous attitude and effort from a fifteen year old!  I really do love teenagers.

And Jeanette was fabulous!  As I expected, she walked and walked, keeping us entertained with conversation along the way, and sharing some of her experiences from hikes that she’s done in the past (I really want to do the Three Capes Walk in Tasmania at some stage now).

So, will I do it again?  At this stage, I suspect not.  I have signed up to do a half-marathon (21km) in December, but that is probably as much walking as I’d prefer to do in one session.  I will never take part in something like the Oxfam Trailwalker fundraiser, which is 100km.  I have a few friends who have done that, and as I crossed the Bloody Long Walk 35km finish line I really thought ‘oh my god imagine having to do another 65km on top of this’.  I will never do that to my body.  What did I get out of doing this walk?  Other than raising money for a good cause, I proved something to myself.  I can challenge myself to do something new, and do it.  I have more physical capacity than I (or others) have given me credit for.  And I can do things that are tough.  Yeah, I’m proud of myself.

miscellaneous

10 year blogiversary

I didn’t ever keep a journal or diary when I was growing up.  I tried a couple of times, but was always so embarrassed when I re-read what I’d written that I quickly ripped it up into tiny pieces.  So it often surprises me that I have kept on blogging – now for 10 whole years! I discovered craft blogs when I was searching for a pattern for a fabric headband.  I found one by Heather Bailey, and that rapidly sent me down the rabbit hole.  The blogroll led me to one blog, then another, then another.  I bought chenille online from Jodie, and she encouraged me to start my own blog.

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My first blog entries were about bags and clothes I’d sewn for Clare.  I was quite pregnant with Stella when I started blogging.  Back then I was sewing simple chenille and fabric square cot quilts for the babies that were entering my family and friends’ lives.  I learned to crochet, and started off with scarves and hats.

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I was sewing pillowcase dresses, yet more fabric bags, and various craft items.  My sewing room was still being set up and organised.  I took headless photos so that I wouldn’t be identified – that seems hilarious to me now!  I took part in online quilting bees, posted vintage crochet photos, sewed for the girls and for myself.  I did pattern testing, was part of “blog hops”, and improved my ICT skills.

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The blog started in February, and Stella was born at the beginning of June.  So I’ve been blogging for all of her life!  Many of you have watched my kids grow up.  Clare from a pre-schooler to a teenager, now in year 9.  Stella from birth to almost ten years old!  All those cliches about time flying – they’re true.

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Right from the start, I began to meet people online.  Fellow crafters and crocheters and talented quilters.  I gradually began to meet online friends in person.  Weekend sewing weekends away started.  Other crafty gatherings.  I found more blogs about garment sewing, and shifted back from general craft and quilting to what I had been doing all my life – sewing clothes for myself.  And I met more and more people.  Many of these people are now among my closest friends and I love them dearly.

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I have learned a great deal about sewing while I’ve been blogging.  The blog scene has changed over the years, with much less commenting and even much less posting on blogs as many have moved over to instagram.  Some of my favourite sewing blogs have now been inactive for a long, long time, but others have sprung up in their place.  I have gone through a number of hair colour and style changes and have clearly gained, lost, and regained a lot of weight!

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As much as I love instagram, to me there is nothing that quite beats the detail you can find in a blog, and the friendships that you can form.  It’s that community – the great parts and even the snark.  Sure, we won’t like everyone who sews just because they sew.  But it’s a great starting point.  And it’s allowed my textile interests to blossom.  No longer am I that kid sitting in my Nanna’s lounge room reading back copies of Golden Hands Monthly.  I am sewing, crocheting, quilting, crafting, and sharing what I’m doing with people who are interested, encouraging and enthusiastic.  My skills have definitely gone up a notch or two or three, and I feel part of something.

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And that’s due to all of you.  Thanks go to those of you who blog yourselves, and share so much.  Thanks to everyone who reads my blog, whether you are able to take the opportunity to comment or not.  My life has been enriched by the sewing blog community.  Ten years ago I never would have dreamed that this would be such a wonderful part of my life.  Thank you.

Style Arc Goldie skirt and Olive top with Fadanista Sneaky Shrug (all fabrics are remnants)

family · miscellaneous · musings

And just like that…

So, it’s 2017!  Just like that!

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(This blog post will feature random photos from the year).

I still have over 30 garments from 2016 that have not yet been blogged.  Gulp.  I have finally made it as far as getting photos for most of them and uploading them to Flickr, so maybe while we’re away I can get a few of them up here on the blog.  It would be nice to get that done before February.

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Did you notice that “away” sentence?  I think that mentioned a few times now – we’re heading off overseas for three weeks!  We depart on Thursday for Thailand, heading first to Bangkok for a couple of nights (if the planets align I might be able to catch up with Meg while we’re there), then taking an overnight train to Vientiane, Laos.  We have five nights there, then move to Luang Prabang (also Laos) for six nights, then fly back across to Chiang Mai, Thailand for another seven nights (I’m hoping to catch up with Gaye again while we’re there).  We are SO looking forward to it.  (And yes we do have a house/dog sitter staying while we are away so we are not telling potential burglers about an empty house – because it won’t be!)

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I do plan to blog about our holiday regularly while we’re away, depending on available time and wifi access, so those people who come here for the sewing, I’m letting you know in advance that for most of January this blog will primarily be about our family travels!

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Last time we visited Thailand the girls were 11 and 7 years old respectively.  This time Clare will be 14 (her birthday is on that overnight train) and Stella will be 9.  They are equally excited about our travels, and we’re fortunate that both of them travel very well.

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We all feel very much in need of this holiday.  My husband has been in his current job for over a year now, and this will be his first proper break.  There has been quite a bit of interstate travel involved for him over the past year, which he doesn’t really enjoy, and he’s looking forward to this trip very much.  I tend to do all the holiday organisation and planning, so he can sit back and do some reading and some exploring and just enjoy.

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Clare goes into Year Nine at school once we’re back.  She’s doing very well academically, has made a great group of friends with common interests and I thought that many of you would be interested to know that she won the Year 8 Design Technology (what many of us know as Textiles) award this year.  Stella will go into Grade Four, with teachers she’s had before and we know will bring out her best.  She’s at a small primary school of around 200 kids, and we all benefit from the close community that it provides.  She’s had a great year culminating in her first dance concert, where she really did show off her natural movement and expression.  And finally she really gets reading – hooray!

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I anticipate that the girls will be busy with their usual activities during 2017.  Camps with Girl Guides, music lessons, dance classes, school productions, copious amounts of time playing Sims or Minecraft.

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And me?  After we get back from holidays (there’s that wonderful word again) I go straight into starting a new job.  It was very sad to leave my current one, as I deeply value many of my colleagues, but the new job was an offer that I just couldn’t resist.  It’s three days per week (I was doing two days previously, but often more with other contract work or additional days) and I figure that it will take me quite a while to get used to it.  I’m looking forward to being involved in bigger picture issues, and extending on my current skills.  It’s an exciting time yet I’m also quite nervous.

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There will be social occasions with my sewing friends.  Thanks goodness for blogs and instagram!  Melbourne has a wonderful group of fun, intelligent, creative and clever people who just love sewing and love to talk about it – especially in conjunction with food and drink.  Thanks to all of you!  I already have a few weekends away planned – one with the “school mums”, two to Sewjourn.  I love all these women.  They add so much to my life.  I will be ever grateful to the internet for turning what could easily be a solitary hobby into the opportunity to meaningfully connect with others.

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As for sewing goals?  Well, they change all the time.  I need to do another wardrobe purge.  I will need some dressier clothes for my new job, so will need to shift the proportions of casual versus more formal in my wardrobe.  I’ve also put on quite a bit of weight this year, and doubt it will vanish any time soon, so need to get rid of any clothes that are a bit too small and/or uncomfortable.

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There will always be sewing.  My main aim will be to use what I have as much as possible.  To enjoy that time searching in my stash for the right fabric to go with the right pattern.  There is so much in there that I love!  And I haven’t used up all of the fabric I bought the last time I was in Chiang Mai.  I have many patterns just crying out to be sewn.  Speaking of my fabric stash and sewing room, it was recently featured on the Curvy Sewing Collective blog.  Many thanks to them for asking me  to take part.

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I never quite know how to adequately thank those of you who read my blog, and those of you who also manage to leave comments!  I don’t always respond as much as I’d like to, and that is something I plan to change.  I really enjoy and appreciate our interactions, and reading other people’s blogs is always a highlight of my day.  Yes, Instagram has definitely slowed down blogging, but in my view there is always a place for a blog.  I’ll keep on going with mine – February will be my ten-year bloggiversary!  For someone who has never been able to keep a journal or diary, that’s significant.  And it’s really due to all of you.

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So, we’re looking ahead, not looking behind.  I hope that 2017 is a year of joy, prosperity and health for all of you.  We certainly hope that’s what it will be for us!

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Merry Christmas

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”

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To those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! And to those of you who don’t, best wishes for a wonderful holiday and festive season. Much love from my family to yours.

miscellaneous

bpSewvember

I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long between blog posts.  I have still been sewing, and as a result have plenty of blog posts to write, but don’t seem to have found the motivation to actually get them out of my head and onto the internet.  However, I did participate in #bpSewvember over on Instagram, which was a terrific sewing-themed meme run by the lovely Amanda of Bimble and Pimble.  Each day had a word to prompt a photo.  I thought that those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram might be interested in seeing the photos that I took for each day.  So this will be a very photo-heavy blog post! I’m leaving it to you to figure out why I took each photo for each prompt.

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1. Three facts.

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2. Like a boss.

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3. Inside.

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4. Inspiration.

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5. WiP.

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6. Slow or Fast.

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7. Stash.

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8. Why sew? #bpSewvember

9. Game changer.

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10. View.

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11. Tools.

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12. Community.

#bpSewvember day 12 - Community. Photo copyright www.BaliWellnessRetreat.com

13. Style.

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14. Help!

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15. Heirloom.

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16. UFO.

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17. Print or plain.

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18. Dream project.

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19. Workhorse.

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20. Tried and true.

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21. Best part.

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22. The vault.

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23. Essentials.

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24. Skill up.

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25. Oh no!

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26. Best make.

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27. Detail.

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28. Sewing space. (this is a short video)

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29. Confession.

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30. Next up.

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Huge thanks go to Amanda for running the meme – I didn’t originally intend to take part but really enjoyed the entire month. While the rest of life kept me very busy I could still participate in my favourite hobby – sewing.

Now it’s time for me to get onto some of those well overdue blog posts!