musings

This is how we’re faring

My last blog post was on Monday – it’s now Saturday morning.  Five days.  What’s happened in those five days?  On the surface of my family’s day to day life, not much.  We’ve worked from home, kids have enjoyed sleeping in (school holidays started early, on Tuesday) and we’ve managed to get some household chores done between us.  The dog has never been walked as much.  There’s chatting with friends on Google hangouts, dance classes and girl guides done via Zoom, plenty of binge-watching Buffy/Angel, and online shopping deliveries arrived.  I’m starting to feel as though I can sew again.  We plan to go to the supermarket/grocer once per week.  Just trying to figure out what’s likely to be the quietest time.

In among all this, my parents (can I describe you as elderly, Mum?  You are 82 and 93) are at their home two hours drive away from us in country Victoria.  They’re lucky to live in a very comfortable house surrounded by garden, with plenty of birds to watch and fresh air to breathe.  They’re quite well, but are in a high risk group if they were to get sick.  So they’re staying home.  Like everyone else.  We’re all staying home.  It’s the only way that we can slow down and manage the spread of this virus.

My brother just got back from America and to his home in Cairns yesterday.  It’s a relief to have him back in the country.  Of course, he’s now in quarantine for two weeks.  The predominant source of Australia’s covid-19 cases is from overseas travellers, with America being the most significant contributor.  However, we’ve now also got community spread.  ABC News (that’s Australian Broadcasting Company, for my overseas readers) has an excellent daily update of Australian statistics, sliced and diced in different ways.  Now I am glad that I have studied stats at uni more than once, because I do understand those graphs.  I breathed a small sigh of relief this morning when I read that for the second day in a row the number of new daily cases in Australia has dropped a little.  Maybe people are starting to really get the message and are just staying home!  (I wrote too soon – yesterday was Victoria’s greatest single day increase in the number of cases.)  However, the growth rate is still showing a doubling of total number of cases every 3-4 days.  The forecasts still have us reaching medical capacity around 11th April.

And in the everyday, it’s become harder to remember what day of the week it is and what time of the day it is.  It’s different without the routines and structures that we have when there is work and school and everything that goes along with that.  Maybe it’s like being retired!  The days start to blur into one another.  My ‘to-do’ list is still long, yet doesn’t seem to carry the same pressure that it used to, because deadlines and available time to get things done has all become much more fuzzy.  It surprises me that I don’t find this more ‘laissez-faire’ approach to daily life more difficult.  Instead, I seem to have relaxed into it.  No alarm clocks any more.  No public transport to catch.  As long as I get my work hours done in the week, it doesn’t matter when.  My body has shifted into getting up at dawn when the birds start chirping.  It’s lovely on the back deck in these beautiful autumn mornings.

I’ve switched from radio/television reporting on the pandemic to reading about it.  I find that more helpful when it comes to managing my anxiety about the situation.  I very much need to know what’s going on, especially as the situation is changing from day to day, but can moderate my exposure much more easily via ‘print’ (on screen, not on paper) media.  I’ve also made a concious decision not to focus ‘too much’ about all the knock-on effects that this pandemic will have/is having on the economy, mental health, schooling, disadvantaged groups, politics, the state of the world in general.  That’s just too overwhelming for me at the moment, with too many unknowns and things that I cannot predict.  Yet I know that I say that from a place of privilege – it’s much easier for me to be an ostrich in comparison to many others.  Clearly, this is going to have ripple effects for the rest of our lives.  But at the moment – it’s a few days at a time.   It’s also been good for me to focus on the blessings in my life – and I have many.  I am still acknowleding all the griefs and losses that have arisen as part of this situation – because they are true and they are there and need to be dealth with emotionally – but am tempering that with all the good stuff.  So many people have it much worse than my family does.

Gretchen Rubin shared the following in her newsletter this morning: In this article, I found the concept of “anticipatory grief” particularly useful—and its advice that the best way to calm ourselves is by coming into the present. And to stock up on compassion.’

Andrea shared some words in response to my last blog post that I also found really helpful.  She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, and wrote ‘the current situation takes me back to the aftermath of our earthquakes and that feeling of vulnerability and also being in the same head space as everyone around us and there only being one topic of conversation. We learnt so much through that and although at the time it seemed to go on forever we got through and the sun did indeed shine again.

Currently, the need to get the virus under control from a health perspective is the most important thing. Those of us who are not involved in front line health care really do just need to stay at home.  If in doubt, don’t go out.  And to all those health care workers?  Thank you.  So much.

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.

family · miscellaneous · musings

And just like that…

So, it’s 2017!  Just like that!

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

(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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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!

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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!

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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.

Blogged at https://thornberry.wordpress.com

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!

musings

Musing

Firstly, I don’t think that I have ever had as many complimentary and supportive blog comments as on my last blog post on the lace dress I sewed for Clare.  Thank YOU all so much!  She has been thrilled to read them all, as have I.  I really do appreciate each and every one of them (I know it takes that bit more effort and time to leave comments, and we’re all under tight schedules nowadays).  I will be honest and say that I know I will be really disappointed if the dress doesn’t win a prize, but at the same time I am very well aware that there are many other stunning entries, and more are flooding in as the deadline approaches.  I don’t really know what the judges criteria are, and I didn’t really enter thinking that I’d win anything, but after it was finished and I saw all the photos I really hope that it might!  If not, just another life resilience lesson I suppose 😉

So, time for a new blog post!  As is often the case my sewing has got ahead of photography and time at the computer, so I’m blogging out of order.

I’ve mentioned a few times lately that I’ve put on weight this year.  It’s not surprising – a mixture of a slower metabolism, being in my late forties with likely shifting hormones, lack of exercise, and a distinct love of chocolate and wine – and because my other health parameters are okay I’ve been alright with it.  It’s not always as noticeable in the flat photos that you see on the blog, as much of my weight increase is right on the front of my abdomen, but it’s very much there.  And now it is definitely influencing the styles and the fabrics of the clothing that I am sewing.

Which leads me to talking about knit fabrics.  I much prefer a knit cardigan to a woven jacket, and a knit skirt to a fitted woven.  It’s about the flexibility.  I find that it moves better with my bulges, accommodates weight fluctuations, and allows me to bend and move in ways that don’t result in a garment that digs in.  The elastic waist is my friend! Now that Melbourne has moved into spring I am re-evaluating my wardrobe.

Many of my summer dresses still fit me – both the wovens and the knits.  The wovens are nearly all loose through the midsection, and because my upper chest and shoulders haven’t changed a great deal with my weight gain, they mostly still fit.  A number of my knit dresses are more fitted, but the nature of the fabric means that they can stretch to fit. However, I don’t always feel good in them – I don’t like the sausage casing feeling – so a number of stretch dresses have left my wardrobe.

I am finding separates more challenging.  I definitely need those elastic waists.  Most garments with a fitted waist no longer fit me at all.  Many tops and t-shirts that are more fitted around the waist also no longer feel good on me.  I also have a number of separates that don’t really go with anything else.

So it’s time to reassess.  I’m getting rid of what doesn’t fit, and what I don’t feel good in.  (You might have noticed that I talk about how I feel in my clothes, rather than how they look.  Although it’s likely that the two are linked, I know that I won’t wear things that I don’t feel good in, no matter if they look good according to prevailing “taller/thinner/younger” dogma.  My confidence comes from how I feel in what I wear, not what others think about it – although I do of course still appreciate compliments and positive feedback!  Ah, so many contradictions).

I also think that as I approach Fifty I am reassessing many aspects of myself.  I presume that this is a common thing – those “zero” birthdays often have an impact.  Although it’s still over a year away – and I don’t mind getting older; I feel that it is a blessing – it feels significant.  I think that it’s having an impact in a number of areas.

And as for my sewing?  I want to continue to focus on sewing “outfits” that go with at least  one or two other items!  As much as I will continue to love print and pattern I’m seeing a small wardrobe shift toward solids.  I want to keep experimenting with silhouette a little as well – I am planning on trying the off the shoulder look that is fashionable at the moment.  I am fortunate to have a very large stash of fabrics and patterns that allow me to experiment as well as to sew tried and true styles.  I just need a little more focus at the moment.

I’m guessing that these feelings are familiar to many of you reading this blog.  Does your sewing change much with significant changes in life stage?

Anyway, I’m having a day to sew some of those simple basics that have been missing from my recent wardrobe – so I’d better get back to it!

adult's clothing · musings · sewing

What I wore in May – week one

Righteo, apparently it’s me-made-May again.  I mostly wear clothing that I’ve made all year round, so I’ve decided not to participate in the “challenge” part of me-made-May this year.  And I don’t like the “me-made” label all that much, I must admit.  I’m all for alliteration, but there’s no grammar there.  However, past experience participating in this challenge and other clothing documentation challenges has taught me that there can be significant value in creating a visual record of your outfits. Given that I’ve just done a major wardrobe cull, this is a great time for me to really take stock of what clothing I have and in what combinations I wear it.  Summer is easy – I prefer dresses.  But autumn/winter?  Much more difficult.  More garments, more layers, more to coordinate. There are months of cold weather ahead, so this really is the perfect time for me to figure out what wardrobe gaps I have and fill them in!

What I'm wearing May days 1-4

When I culled my wardrobe I took out everything that didn’t fit, was tired or worn out, or that I didn’t like much any more. I took out everything that I’d enjoyed wearing but knew I was now passing over in favour of something else. And I took out everything that I never really wore – even if there was technically “nothing wrong with it”.  This meant that I was left with some garments that are wardrobe orphans, but I still really like and want to wear. These are the wardrobe gaps. The challenge now is in figuring out what garments will be the right ones to fill those spaces.

What I'm Wearing May days 5-8

So now I’m working out what still works for me.  I think that I am style transitioning a little at the moment.  I’ve enjoyed experimenting a bit lately with different silhouettes, styles, textures, colours and prints, and think that I’m now settling on the ones that currently feel right for me.  As a result I have quite a large to-sew pile again.  I’m really looking forward to making a start once I get rid of this rotten cold that’s been exhausting me over the past ten days.  In the meantime I’ll keep taking daily photos and subjecting you to them on a weekly basis.  Navigating the waters of personal style when you’re almost 47 and don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb or look way older than your years – while still staying true to yourself and the way you prefer to dress – is a really tricky thing!

miscellaneous · musings

Why I don’t monetise my blog.

I’ve read a couple of posts by “big-name” sewing bloggers recently about why they are monetising their blogs.  They provide great arguments and rationale.  I especially understand why you would want to monetise your sewing blog if you have a sewing related business – or if you have a huge readership who clearly do follow your links.  But here’s why I don’t monetise mine.

  • Sewing – and by extension, blogging about it – is my hobby.  By definition, a hobby isn’t a job.  I don’t make money out of it.
  • If I wanted to make more money, I’d do more hours at my day job.  The hourly return there is far more than I would ever get from blogging.
  • I’m a small-time blogger.  Why would I want to bother monetising?
  • Money creates expectation.  If I’m being paid or receiving financial reward in some way from what I am doing, there are certain obligations that go along with that, whether explicit or implicit.  I’m not interested in those obligations.
  • No-one makes me blog.  I blog for me.  I am thrilled that there are people who like to read my blog, but the main driver of my blogging is to record my sewing and crocheting.  It’s an online journal.
  • I link to patterns I like, products I use, books that I read, web-sites that I frequent, shops that I buy from.  Because they are what I use.  Not for any other reason.  I don’t want to link for any other reason.
  • Not everything in life has to be about money or financial reward for effort.  What about karma?

Many of these points are inter-related.  I suspect that others may have similar reasons for not monetising their blogs.  I am not saying that people shouldn’t monetise, but I also think that there are valid reasons for not heading in that direction.  Your thoughts?

miscellaneous · musings

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!