Monthly Archives: March 2013

I have been reflecting on a wide range of topics in the last few days. Some relate to crafting, and some to the influences that have shaped my life.  (If you want to skip the musings bit the crafting bit with pretty pictures is at the end!)

When I started this blog I thought it would be a great way to record my sewing adventures, to market my wares, and to join a community of like-minded people. So far I can say I can tick each of those boxes. What has changed is my head space. With my return to work and a new role I have had to continue my (life long) journey of finding the right balance.  So sewing gets priority over blogging, kids get priority over sewing, etc.  I suppose what I am saying is forgive me for fewer posts, and for less focus on creating new things. There will be a time when I can return to the way I want to blog and craft and market my wares, but for now it is a little erratic.

One of the things I have been musing over is how I have come to a point where all of a sudden sewing ‘clicks’ for me.  I am confident in knowing how to fix errors and in understanding how they occur, but am also confident to send my ‘made’ goods out into the world, without getting constant reassurance from the recipients (both purchasers and gift recipients) that they are happy with what I have made.  This is such a change from how I have lived some other parts of my life that it is quite liberating.  I suspect it is to do with that other life long journey of getting comfortable in my own skin.  Believing in my ability to do this means that I don’t need reassurance – I can just ‘do’ for the joy of doing.

Listening to different pieces of music in preparation for my trip this week to Bluesfest (5 days of music festival with no children – wow) has taken me on some trips down memory lane.  One of the great joys of music is that ability to transport you to another place and time.  This time I have been taken back to my first year of university and residential college (by Led Zeppelin and the memory of boys sitting around playing air guitars and air drums).  While at the time I thought I was living this mature independent wild lifestyle (yes – I am completely aware of how nonsensical that is now) I look back with the maturity of someone more than twice the age I was then and am horrified at my acceptance of the culture of bullying, alcohol, and male domination that defined that year.  I understand how it happened – I was a 17-year-old girl who had been educated at a Catholic girls boarding school, who found myself in another part of the country in a co-ed college, with a bar on the premises, and experiencing complete culture shock.  I tried to be independent for the first few days but found myself changing to fit in very quickly.  I look back and understand why my parents were so worried about me!    What strikes me in hindsight was how so many intelligent young women let the ‘men’ (who off course were boys – most no more than 20) set the rules and run the show – who was ‘in’, who was ‘out’, etc.   I posted a comment on my private Facebook page about flashbacks from the music and realized that the flashbacks weren’t necessarily fond memories but memories of a time of confusion and challenges and changes.  Of course I can’t regret most of it – it shaped who I am today – but I will be working very hard to give my children some different perspectives to take forward into life with them so that they might have some different choices about their experiences.   (As a side note I failed my first year of university and was therefore ejected from the Medical Faculty – probably a blessing in hindsight as I have enjoyed my career in the law and think I would have made a shocking doctor!)

While I could sit here and muse for hours more, there is work to be done, sleep to be had and camping supplies to be prepared.  So instead I will share my second version of the Tova tunic – I added two little buttons to this one so that I don’t always have to wear a singlet underneath.  This gave me the chance to use my automatic buttonhole function for the first time – how easy is that??  I am so impressed!  There will be buttonholes galore from now on!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A round-up of the rest of the week/weekend?  A library bag and music bag were made.  An impromptu strip patchwork pouch to carry a gift card was made on Friday night,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and my two girls graded for their purple belts in Taekidokai – the martial art that they all study.  I was so proud of them – the eldest for working so hard, and the artist-in-residence for keeping on going even though she was sick.  I had tears in my eyes watching her do her situps while an instructor signalled to me that she had a lot of heart to keep going as she did.

And now to prepare for the week ahead.  I may not post before Easter due to travelling, so I hope that you all have a safe and happy Easter, and are able to have some time reflecting on the purpose of the holiday.

A finished product

I am more than a little bit excited to say “ta da” and present my Tova tunic offering!  I will wear it tomorrow and see whether I want to adjust anything before I make another one, but can report that I enjoyed making it and am happy with the finished product!  The only downside is that I have the tune of “Crimson and Clover, over and over” in my head because it rhymes with Tova!Image

Now I need to get some sleep, so night all!

A work in progress

I have a confession – although I love sewing and constructing, I hesitate to call myself a seamstress, because I am not good at making clothes.  However I have decided to challenge myself, and attempt to make a top for myself to wear on my trip (this time next week I will either be in Byron Bay or en route and at least in the vicinity!).  A few weeks ago I was reading a blog (and if I could remember which one it would have saved me hours of fruitless searching on the net) and the blogger was showing a photo of a tunic top that she had made – and shared that she is not normally great at making clothes.  Having identified fully with this statement I took note of the top – but forgot to pin it, favourite it etc.  To cut a long story short, on Sunday I finally remembered that it is the Tova Tunic from Wiksten, so promptly ordered the pattern.  After a few very helpful email exchanges I received the pattern yesterday (I suspect my paypal email address had filtered it out).  Last night I printed it and did the jigsaw puzzle to fit the pattern together.  And tonight I cut it out and started sewing.  I had to stop when my overlocker blew a frizter valve – but I managed to repair the overlocker, so full steam ahead tomorrow to finish it.

I am happy with it so far, so here is a dodgy nighttime shot of the work in progress!  If it all works out then I will probably make another one in a different fabric – but I thought that this bright orange could work well – and as a bonus will help me to stand out in the crowd at the music festival so my friends can find me!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a bunch of other things I am keen to tackle – my girls have both asked for Kindle covers (they both emailed me from their bedroom to put in an ‘order’ – I am not sure whether to be amused or horrified), a lovely work colleague has ordered a retro styled apron, and I would like another top and skirt to take away to Bluesfest, plus a bag to carry my money, glasses, etc at Bluesfest (in a futile attempt to save my back by lightening the load – which is futile given that I will still stand/dance etc for hours at a time).  But given that there is only a week until I am on the road I have no idea what will actually be achieved!  I will keep you informed no doubt!

Pillowcases and sleep

Unwittingly the theme of this weekend has been bed-related.  First we had an unplanned sleepover with two children joining mine on Friday night, then the two youngest of the group (who I had counted on going to sleep with no drama) stayed up very late and woke up very early, involving me in their awakeness, so I stumbled around in a daze on Saturday morning and ended up sleeping on a spare therapist’s couch while one of my children attended an appointment in another room, and finally I had a burst of sewing pillowcases – five in all.  Phew!

The first three were an order for a friend who wanted pillowcases with ipod pockets for her three children.  I enjoyed matching the fabrics to the children and playing with patterns.  I also found a great way to use a panel that came as part of a fat quarter set of “The Good Life” by Riley Blake.  I had been sitting on it for a while, but last night realised that it would make a great front panel for a pillowcase, with parts of the border used as detail and for the pocket.  I am happy with the end result – and the big 8 year old girl who received it loved it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The one for the middle child was from the “Simple Life” range by Riley Blake – I love these colours!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And for the boy of that house – pirates of course!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The final two were really just an excuse to use some of the Aneela Hoey “Posy” fat quarters that I bought on a whim recently.  I love the range so much that I might have to make some more – just because!  I have listed these two in my Etsy shop and think they would be great Easter presents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Despite the severe sleep deprivation I felt yesterday morning (I think it was the cumulative effect of the last two weeks of travel) the sleepover was delightful.  I set up my new tent to test it out before my trip away (in 10 days she says quietly jumping with excitement) and the three big girls decided that they would sleep in it.  I was quite prepared for them to appear in the middle of the night, but they stayed out there all night, and were asleep before 10pm and up after 7am – quite unlike the younger boys in the house (who giggled so much that if I hadn’t been so tired I would have quite enjoyed their pure joy at just hanging out together).  I am assured by the girls that the tent is very comfortable, although they thought it was a little small.  Given that they usually sleep in our trailer tent which is 14 foot long, I can see how they felt that the 4 man dome tent seemed a little pokey!  I am still happy with it as it only has to accomodate two adults for a week – not a family of energetic children!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today we had a lazy day – pyjamas were worn until lunchtime, rules were relaxed and much idle pottering around was done.  We then went to see dear friends for afternoon tea – the boy insisted on dressing as Batman for the occasion, and arrived to be greeted by a Ben Ten Alien, so was very happy with his choice of outfit.  I delivered the pillowcases at the same time and enjoyed the reaction from the children.

I have had such a smooth day today that I am sure that I have forgotten to do something really important……but until I wake in the middle of the night with the awful realisation of what it is, I am just going to celebrate a nice day and leave it at that!

And a quick postscript – I bought a tunic pattern online today (which will hopefully be emailed overnight) in the hope of making a top or two to take with me on my travels, so stay tuned to see if I get to it in time!!

I hope that you have had a lovely weekend.

Working out what works

Life is busy, and happy and full in the nest at the moment – even the quiet moments are things to be enjoyed.  Which is just as well, as the year feels like it is rushing past very quickly!!    We had a patch like this last year, where everything worked, and life was good, and it went for a few months!  I have learnt to enjoy these moments – sometimes they will be just a day or so, but they are little drops of peace that make the hard times easier.

My beautiful mother left us this morning to fly home to spend some time with Dad and in her normal life.  If all goes well at home she will return to us in about 11 days to look after the children while I travel to Byron Bay for Bluesfest (yes it is completely self-indulgent on my part).  Having her in the house for the last couple of weeks has provided that lift that we all needed – she has introduced a new routine for the kids with unpacking their school bags, and putting their own clothes away that sounds simple, but has made a big difference already to the smoother running of the house!

After we dropped her at the airport this morning we negotiated our way through traffic much quicker than I expected, so had enough time to ride our bikes to school and work.  I had already been to work earlier so was dressed in the black dress, heels and necklace – so stuck leggings underneath and off we went – mother duck and three little ducklings all in a row.  It was great!  The kids enjoyed it, and I was at work quicker than I would have been in the car!  The ride home was also good – although slightly warmer (not as good in a black long-sleeved work dress……) so we all had to lie on the floorboards to cool down!  Simple things.

Stopping to reflect on why we are happier is important (as is acknowledging that we aren’t necessarily unhappier normally – this just appears to be a sweet patch of life).  I have reintroduced our screen time rules – no screens between 9am and 5pm.  Despite the non-stop requests for the rules to be changed, it is working.  The children have boundaries, and have to work to find things to fill in the gaps.  All rules are flexible and this afternoon we have negotiated that they can watch some TV a bit earlier because they have ridden their bikes, and are going to martial arts classes tonight.  But overall, sticking to the rules seems to lift everyone’s behaviour and mood – including mine!

They have also all been exercising more – riding their bikes, walking the dog, bouncing on the trampoline – and all at their own request.  Once again, as life rushes along, it is the simple things of exercise, good food, and reduced time on screens that make the difference – exactly what happened last year when we had our ‘good patch’.  I am taking lots of mental notes as I write this and work through it in my mind.  There are little lightbulbs popping all over the place!

On the same vein, I have started participation in a mentoring program through my work.  I flew to Sydney for the day yesterday to participate the launch and to spend time with my mentor (who kindly also flew to Sydney despite the inconvenience it caused her).  I think that I am going to get a lot out of the program and the relationship, and have already paused to think about the importance of striking a balance with exercise.  A few things she said had me thinking about my approach to my fitness.  I tend to put it way down the list of what it is important.  I will find something new like running, or going to the gym, and enjoy it and stick at it for about 6 months.  Then as life gets complex it starts to be the first thing to get dropped – as if things for me aren’t as important as everyone else’s needs.  Hmmmmm.  So my personal goal for the next few weeks is to work out how I can prioritise time for myself to work on fitness back into the equation.  Bike riding is a good start.  Next will be how to find time for gym sessions a few times a week.  That one will take some thinking and planning, so stand by!

The other thing that I need to continue to work on is making time for my crafting  – because it does mean so much to me.  I have been slow and steady this week – I made an art folder for a friend to give her daughter for her birthday, and made a rainbow cape for my niece’s birthday.  I finished it in time to pack it in mum’s suitcase last night – and forgot to photograph it!  So I will have to ask my sister to send me a photo of the birthday girl wearing it instead!  I am itching to start some pillowcases for another friend so might try to get them started this afternoon/evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Having used this as a chance to work through what is working for us right now, I am off to play a game with my kids and then do some sewing.  I hope that your week is working for you!

A week

This week disappeared before I truly realised it had started.  One overseas trip, events to celebrate the 100th birthday of Canberra, a bit of crafting, time with my mother, and the week has gone!  The trip to New Zealand sort of swallowed the rest of the week, although it was worth it from a business point of view.

The last time I went to Wellington, about a year ago, I was nearly blown away and the wind was so strong our hotel was swaying.  This time, however, the city turned on its charms and the few hours we had out of meetings were delightful!  On the one evening we had there (having arrived at midnight on the first night) it was so good to be outside that we walked to the waterfront for dinner, and then home again as the night was balmy.  I didn’t have time to make myself a travelling work bag so took one from the etsy shop instead – and then photographed it on tour to keep myself amused.  It was a good chance to test one of my designs too – and it worked well!

bag_waterfront

By the time I got home on Thursday night I was exhausted but delighted to see my children who were happy and had behaved for their grandmother, much to my relief!  This weekend is a long weekend and the city is in full celebration mode.  On Friday night we had a spontaneous trip to see an installation called “Enlighten” displayed on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery, the National Science Museum, the National Library and Old Parliament House.  (Sometimes living the in nation’s capital is amazing!)  So inspirational and the kids loved it too.

Enlighten1  Enlighten3 Enlighten2

Saturday morning the spontaneity continued and we made a mad dash to the steps of the War Memorial to watch the hot air balloons that are participating in the annual festival – including a Darth Vader balloon that had the boy very excited!  I didn’t get a photo but we may try again another morning this week.

We also acquired two new additions to the menagerie when one of my colleagues was looking for a new home for his Campine chickens, as he and his wife had realised that their yard was not the right size for chickens.  So Silver and Creeper joined Isabelle, Goldie and Yoda and, apart from a lot of squawking, seem to be settling in.  Our egg supply is assured!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After attending to the various household necessities (like grocery shopping) I finally had some time to do some sewing.  I have a number of orders waiting to be made and was fretting a bit that I wasn’t getting to them.  I have realised that, despite lots of great marketing ideas and creative ideas, I can’t really ‘grow’ the creative business very much at the moment as I just don’t have time to make all that I want to make.  I am realistic enough to know that there will be a time when I have a bit more flexibility with children and work, and that I will be able to build it up then, so for now am just tucking away my ideas for ‘the right time’!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese capes were ordered by a friend for his two nephews who have the same first initial and who, he informs me, support St George in the Rugby League……  he thought they should be the same to avoid arguments but I did put different patterns of stars on them to help their mother settle disputes about ownership!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A bag for a school boy to carry his flute music in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Tardis bag made with fabulous fabric from Spoonflower, made for a friend who has a niece who is a Dr Who fan.

After my efforts over the weekend I can tick a few orders off the list, and will hopefully get a couple more done tomorrow, before another crazy week begins.  Let’s hope for a continuation of the lovely weather, and some spare time appearing magically from thin air!

I hope that your week has been full of balmy nights and creative ideas!

The February “to-do” list moving into March!

The end of February slipped by in a rush here in the nest, and I have only just turned the page on the calendar and realised that I need to think about March! So first things first – to report on my progress on my list as part of the link up from Pigtales and Quilts .

1. Make up 4 art wallets or children’s pillowcases that I am proud of. Yes (4 pillowcases and one art folder.)

2. Make an iPod cover for the eldest chick’s birthday. Yes

3. Complete 4 more blocks for the boys quilt. Yes (more than 4!)

4. Make a bag and folder cover set for a birthday girl. Yes

5. Make 4 bags for the Etsy shop. Sort of – I made one for the shop, then two shoulder bag orders and three library bag orders…  I am going to give myself a “yes” for this too!

Hey!  I didn’t too badly!  I also made a number of pencil rolls as gifts for parties that the boy attended, returned to work and started a new routine, and kept all the balls in the air most of the time!

So – the list for this month.  Three days in I have sort of started already with one art folder and two bags – to be discussed soon.  But here goes:

1.  6 more block for the boys quilt.

2.  4 bags for the Etsy shop or for orders.

3.  6 rows on the rippled afghan.

4.  2 pillowcases or art folders that I am proud of.

5.  An overnight (weekender) bag.

Given that this month is busy – and I will be away for three nights this week, and the last four days of the month, I need to keep the list realistic!  So let’s see how it goes.

Other news in the nest – my mum has arrived to visit and help out!  After her earlier visit had to be cancelled we had agreed that I didn’t need her to come at the moment and we would just see how things went.  Then on Thursday I found out that I have to travel to New Zealand for work for a couple of days this week, so I emailed her to see if she could fly over (from New Zealand – yes it is ironic) to look after the chicks.  And less than 48 hours after sending that email, she was here!  My parents are truly amazing and supportive – I am very blessed.  The children are thrilled to have her here – the boy sees her as his personal entertainer, so has been building starships on her bed with pillows and blankets, teaching her to play his Wii game, insisting that she be the one to read his bedtime stories, and talking to her non-stop.  The girls have both managed to fit some time in with her though, which is lovely to see.  She took them both to church this morning while I took the boy to a birthday party, and they were so proud to be with her when they saw their friends – it was just delightful.

Of course, the boy attending a party meant that a present was required and as this is his “BFF” – his description (!!!!!) he wanted a special present, so requested an art folder.  When I asked what should be on the cover he said “Super D” (which makes sense when you know that the friend’s name begins with D!).  So I whipped this up last night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The birthday boy’s mother sent me a message to tell me that he was delighted to receive it, so that made my day!

I also decided that, although I am enjoying making up orders for people, that it was time to have a bit of a play with fabric, just for fun.  So I made two bags for the Etsy shop this weekend.  The first one I am very happy with.  I love this Kaffe Fasset fabric – it makes me think of opals and deserts and all things Australian.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second one I am also happy with, but the photos aren’t as stunning as I finished the bag tonight and took the photos with the flash.  The first lot of photos turned out almost flourescent and I couldn’t work out why until I realised that one of the children had changed the settings on the camera to “Magic”.      Of course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This week will be a whirlwind with me travelling, the children’s commitments in and out of school, and being very busy at work.  Thank heavens that Nana is here to help out!

I hope that you all have a great week, and that you have someone to help you out when you need it.