Monday, 29 September 2014

MIA and now hopping around the blogging world

MIA - Missing in Action - otherwise known as Miserably Inconvenient Arthritis and Meniscus Injured (and needs) Arthrosopy.

I have spent the Sydney winter hibernating and doing not much of anything let alone sewing. I don't know if this winter was particularly harsh (I know I know - compared to the rest of the planet Sydney has a very mild winter)... or if I am just getting older and more rusty but the cold really hit me hard this year. Sydney just doesn't cater for winter and I only have a small bar heater to warm me up.

Along with the usual suspects of hip, foot, shoulder and elbow, I have developed a searing pain in the right knee. So much so that even driving is difficult - let alone walking or pressing the foot on the sewing machine accelerator. An x-ray showed the usual arthritis in addition to my tibia and femur being out of alignment, shards of bone floating around and my kneecap not where it should be. An MRI then showed a severe tear in the meniscus - so - pain..

I am happily now on the hospital waiting list for a knee operation and carefully taking anti-inflammatory medication. Won't be a full knee reconstruction as I am still young - according to my surgeon - isn't he nice... but he will go in and fix up my issues. Just have to wait my turn.

So I haven't been sewing - cutting - or anywhere near the sewing room since July... Wow. No sewing meant no blogging.

I have tried to keep up with all of my blog reading and what you all have been up to and I have been reading about the around the world blog hopping and learning more about the bloggers I read. The lovely Michelle from Happily Caffienated  was a recent blog hopper (go on over and learn all about her) and she has very kindly nominated me to go on the next leg of the hop.. I thought it would be a good way to ease myself back into the blogging world.

The idea of the blog hop is to learn a little more about the bloggers you read - so there are questions to answer:

1. What am I working on?

So many different things my head is spinning.

Spring has hit me with a bang (hopefully not causing more injuries!!) and I am starting to really want to sew again - knee pain or no knee pain. I have also been trying not to purchase lovely fabrics. I did clean out my sewing space yesterday in preparation for a long sewing binge now that the weather is warming up.  

The last thing I was working on before my hibernation was a jacket that a friend is helping me with and a skirt block that I started in a class with the ASG. It will be great to get going on the jacket again. I am also hoping to pull out the skirt block and see what I can do with that. May end up with a business suit.

I also want to make another pair of StyleArc pants - this time the Linda pants in a lovely Crepe from Emma One Sock.

I also want to make the StyleArc Fiona Top. I actually purchased orange jersey so fingers crossed.

Another pattern on my list is the below Lekala top. I want to give another go to Lekala patterns - the first one is still waiting to be sewn up. I am hoping this one will suit me and the gathers won't add too much bulk but hide some bulges.! What do you think - flattering for a plus size or OMG what was she thinking??

After I play with these to get me into the flow of sewing again I really want to build a neutral wardrobe. I have been awed by Sharon at Petite and Sewing's wonderful wardrobe creation. She managed an amazing 377 outfits out of 24 pieces of clothing. My problems is that I have way too much colour and patterned items and not many neutrals. I need much more neutrals. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't think it really differs apart from size, skill level and what we want to sew. Certainly there are many other sewists out there in the blogisphere who are creating things similar to mine. There are also ones who are creating much more complex items and ones who are at the very beginning of this ride. I don't see my sewing as any different, I just see us creating what we want and / or need.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Why do I write? Stared out purely as a journal, a way of keeping track of what I have done. Now it is a way of connecting. I have always been a writer and have written 2 unpublished books and many many many learning resources, manuals, assessor guides etc. I have also just started writing and designing e-learning.

Why do I create what I do? The need to have good, colourful, modern and accessible clothes that 

a) fit better than I can buy
b) don't cost an arm and a leg - come on - I know more fabric means more cost but surely not $100 more!
c) That are not black or tent like

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Wish I could say there was a method to my madness but there is more madness to my method. I LOVE LOVE LOVE planning but not so much the carrying out thereof. I find myself distracted with shiny pretty new things and a plan will go out the window the minute there is a new release of patterns or I see a pattern on a blog or PR that I just have to do or I fail in my endeavours to stop buying fabric and a new arrival passes the threshold of chez BeaJay.

As for my writing process. I just sit down and write. This is not what I tell my students to do when I teach writing but hey - do as I say and not as I do.

Now I would like to pass the baton..

There are many wonderful bloggers that I would like to learn about.. However I have decided to flout the rules and nominate only one person. I find that it can be difficult to locate people who haven't been nominated and want to participate after a while so I thought that nominating only one blogger leaves room for more. Well that is my logic anyway.

I am nominating the lovely Angela at Collected Yarns. I was inspired by her lovely grey and white chiffon summer dress and the trials she had with it. She persevered and the dress is gorgeous. Check it out.

It is so nice to come out of hibernation.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Big hugs

Thank you all so much for your loving warm comments on my last post. It wasn't my intention to sound so upset - I really do feel that I want to evolve in my sewing and the comment that started my post made me realise it.

I am very happy with my pull on Barbs (and am in the midst of making some more pull on ponte pants from a different pattern) and I do love my Creative Cates and will be making more of those too.

But I do want to step it up a bit and as a business and management trainer I could use some tailored jackets and non knit dresses.

It has been a hell of a month (or so) and I guess that is why the comment hit me too.

- I started off really sick - better now - but lost a lot of time

- Next I lost my iPhone and had to replace - hadn't backed it up for some time too so am missing a lot of numbers.

- Then my computer (with all of my business stuff on it) started to sizzle so I had to buy a new computer and I haven't moved all of my stuff over so I am working between 2 computers.

- My credit card was hacked and someone purchased thousands of dollars worth of stuff which luckily my bank is reversing - however had to go through all of the cancellation and redo of direct payments

- My PVR corrupted a 1 terabyte portable drive I have so now it can't be used on my computer - or anywhere for that matter.

- Yesterday I was so pleased to be having a day sewing with my sewing buddies at Tessutis - got up early to finish cutting some patterns to sew. Packed my car with my machines and drove into Surry Hills only to find that I had the dates mixed up (Tessutis is next Saturday) and I should have been all the way across town at the Sewing Guild Industry Day  - which I was looking forward to attending (using a new computer without my calendar updated obviously tested my memory which failed.) By the time I got home from Tessutis it wasn't worth going out to the industry day.

- Last night my new computer contracted a virus that was attacking it every second and I have spent 4 hours this morning "cleansing" it...

Phew - not looking for sympathy - just saying the warm comments actually bought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful community the sewing community is. In the scheme of things the above is nothing but a hassle and there are so many people actually suffering out there that I realise how lucky I am.

Reading through the comments I have made a decision on my challenge - yes I really do want to challenge myself.

A lovely dress (using my best fabric) with an invisible zip and Hong Kong finishes it will be.  For the moment. I am working on a mini wardrobe so after that I will do my challenge.

I am going to save the Georgette top too. Keep tuned to find out how... I have some good - make that great ideas :-)

In the meantime - love and hugs to all. I will always remember your kind words.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Do you take random comments personally?

I ask this question because I was involved in my favourite breakfast ritual - having my tea and crumpet whilst reading my favourite sewing blogs and one of the comments left on a fave blog set my teeth on edge.

As a trainer I often facilitate discussions on conflict in the workplace, managing poor behaviour etc and I say to my students that taking someone's non directed comment personally says much more about you than about them. Why do you take something personally that wasn't personally aimed at you. It is about self confidence - the self confident person would not think the comment was aimed at them.

Herein lies the rub. I am not a confident sewist by any stretch of the imagination. I look in awe at the wonderful creations that others make and here I am making another pull on top and another pull on pair of trousers. Sigh.

The comment that had me so riled was about the lack of effort put in to their sewing by a lot of new bloggers.

Immediately a soliloquy started - "Often new bloggers are new sewers and not that experienced"! "People should be able to sew what they want and not be judged - after all we are sewing for ourselves"! I still feel like I am 5 years old when sewing - how refined was your sewing when you were 5?"! etc. etc.

Then I realised I was doing what I lecture my students on not doing. Taking something personally. This was one person giving her opinion on which she is just as entitled to do as I am to sew what I want. Believe me - this post is about me - not the commentator.

Why I reacted was because I feel that way about myself so it hit where it hurts. I am NOT putting in the effort. I am sewing comfortably instead of trying new things. Part of that is because I need clothes desperately so need to fill the wardrobe, part is because when I try new things they often fail.. Here is one such item.. I moved out of my comfort zone and made a Georgette tunic instead of a knit.

I was quite happy with this when I made it. I thought the fit was spot on - not too tight - not too loose - just right. However - this must not have been the case. The first and only time I wore it - to work in front of a class of 10 - it didn't hold up. I was driving home and felt something on my back shoulder - reached behind to scratch and was horrified to find flesh there instead of fabric.... Got home BOTH shoulder seams were split.

Next day I asked the class why they didn't tell me and they assured me that they didn't notice - hmmmm. I am too scared to wear the chiffon tunic I made now.

This week I am sewing my first pockets. In seam pockets in pull on pants!!

I started sewing in October 2011 and will be sewing for 3 years this October. Sometimes I feel I have really progressed but when I look at all of the things I want to do I feel totally inadequate. My list of skills assessment has only had one update since I put it in and that was French Seams.

So -- I would like one challenge to do. I am putting it out there. Give me a challenge. I don't care how hard. Although the more difficult the challenge the longer I will take to complete. I am hoping to get a lot of suggestions and the most suggested challenge I will complete before the end of this year (or sooner if it is easier). Because when I mean complete I mean to a competent standard so it might take a few goes.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

StyleArc giveaway

If you have wanted to try StyleArc but have been unsure of the sizing etc, there is a current offer going on through Threads magazine to get a free downloadable Barb Pants pattern.

Remember my Barbs?

Go here for the opportunity. You need to sign up for a newsletter.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Yet more StyleArc Creative Cates and a Simplicity 3699

Here are another 2 tops I mostly completed on THE WEEKEND. All that needed to be done was the hemming. This has now been completed.

Nothing new here - I am only really blogging about them as this is my sewing journal to keep track of my items sewn (although I am pleased with them). They are the same as all my other Cates (which is my all time favourite top pattern). I make other tops but they never seem to feel or look as good as Cate.

The first one is from some of the fabric purchased during the trip to Cabramatta. The most difficult part of this creation was the fabric placement.

Can you see what my issue was (hint - long udders and a tip underneath to boot!!!).

I then tried turning the fabric around and found that one of the now upended udders was in the centre of my stomach - another risky look.

With careful shifting around (and input from my fellow sewists) I got what I think is the best look. I didn't have a lot of room with the repeat of the fabric and just managed to get it positioned for a wearable top.

The fabric brings to mind Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie for some obscure reason. The pics below are a little unfocussed in some areas as I am learning to use the delay switch on my camera along with the new gorrilapod I purchased after reading about it on Up Sew Late's blog. Thought I would give my official photographer a break. Would love a remote control camera but apparently they are only available on SLR cameras. :-(  My legs look like they are still moving in some of the pics!!

The other Cate is made from fabric I purchased some time ago from It has the most divine "suede" feel to it even though it isn't suede. It has both splashes of red and orange with a line of gold dots.

In the above pictures I am wearing my orange Barbs and in the below pictures I am wearing my red Barbs. In the pictures there doesn't look like there is much difference but in life they are definite orange and definite red.

I am happy with both Cates. I now have 6 of them.

The final top on show is the Khalia Ali Simplicity 3699

I had to lower the empire seam and I lowered it a little too much. I added 5 inches. If I make this again I will bring it up a couple of inches. Now I like myself a low neckline - the girls like the light - but this was soo low that I had to put a cami on. I think I will try raising it by the shoulders which should bring up both the neckline and the too low empire seam. It is also a little tight around the tum in the picture. I seem to make my tops either too loose or too tight.

Back to orange pants

I am on the fence with the look of this one. I will have to see how it wears. This wasn't started on the weekend away but was prompted by the fact that winter has finally come to Sydney and this fabric is quite thick and warm (warm enough for Sydney Winters and my stage in life LOL). It is from the latest Knitwit collection and I quite like the fabric. I also purchased it in the Smoke Green but I am thinking the teal would have been the nicest. I am trying to go a bit more "neutral" after all of my colourful Barbs and tops however I am missing my colour.

I still have another top - this time a Anne top - and an Abby Cardigan that I did on the weekend away that need a bit of finishing and then I will have a think about what I want to do next. I am so enjoying sewing and expanding my wardrobe.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Crime Scene Adele

The second top I finished on THE WEEKEND was the StyleArc Adele top which is a lovely tee with an asymmetrical point on the hem.

Why do I call it the Crime Scene Adele? Take a look at the fabric I used!!

Thought it would go well with my red Barbs.

The only change I made was to lower and widen the neckline a little as the girls need their space. I also had to cut my own neckband as I had changed the pattern. I used the shorter sleeve version and did not sew the side slit.

I held the pattern up against me and thought I wouldn't need to make the 2 inch (5cm) lengthening adjustment I normally make to StyleArc ( I am a tall chick) however looking at the pictures I think the front could come down an inch or so. For my next version (I do like it so I will make another) I will add the inch to the front by way of lowering the point rather than just adding an inch to the pattern as I think the point needs to be bigger on my bigger bod.

The fabric is a cotton rib that I purchased online from Denver Fabrics and has been marinading in my stash for a couple of years. I do love the fabric but a touch of lycra would have been good to give it recovery.

I was a little worried on how to do the point on my coverstitch and ended up starting at a point and sewing around to the back point. Then starting again at that point. It worked okay. If anyone has a tip on how to do points with 2 needles I would be very interested.

Overall happy for a first go at this pattern. I don't like doing muslins but I will call it a wearable muslin. I am considering putting darts in the bust of the next one. What do you think? There are some that don't like darts in knits but I think the girls might need them.

Still need to hem the other items from the weekend. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Wot I dun on the weekend by BeaJay

First let me apologise for the title of this post. I have just finished 4 weeks of training Certificate III in Business and some of my students were just out of school and insisted on calling me "Miss". Groan groan. Took me right back to kindy.

Anyway my weekend was wonderful.

I have had a fabulous couple of days down at Stanwell Tops! I was joined by about 29 other sewing ladies from the Australian Sewing Guild and in particular the Rhodes and Alexandria groups, for a weekend of stitching our way through tonnes of fabric.

This is picture heavy but I do have a new outfit picture at the end of the post for show and tell.

This is where we stayed:

Arial View - Picture from The Tops Conference Centre website
Outside view - Picture from The Tops Conference Centre website

Accommodation - Picture from The Tops Conference Centre website

It had a real fun camp feel to the weekend and I couldn't help but sing Kumbaya. The air was fresh, the sky blue, the surrounding countryside an amazing green and food was delicious.

Here we are stuffing our face - they didn't stop feeding us.

Above are some great friends from my sewing group.
Front left Sharon from Petite and Sewing
Jinty - no blog
Kristy from Lower Your Pressure Foot
Sandra - no blog but you can see her marvelous work on Pattern Review where she is Dilliander
Cathy - no blog
Gail from My Fabrication
A new friend who's name I can't remember
And Wendy ( in green top) - no blog

Below is our sewing room with Wendy industriously at her machine.

Here is my area with my weapons of mass construction

Someone brought a friend. Babs was highly annoyed that I didn't invite her. I told her there wasn't room in the car. She is still not talking to me.

Here is Kristy, Jinty and Di hard at work cutting and prepping.

Wendy from Costumes from a Shoe Box is always highly entertaining and makes it even more of a fun time.

Here is the view from our sewing room:

I managed to rustle up almost 6 tops. I say almost as one was a UFO and only needed finishing, 2 have been completely finished and 3 need hemming. After making all of my different coloured Barb pants I needed tops.

Here is the UFO now finished - sort of. I do want to bring the sides seams in a bit.

It is Butterick 5855 which I have sewn before but this time I kept the "sleeves" shorter as the first time I was trying to incorporate a border. It is pictured with a pair of lime green StylyArc Barb pants that I have cut off at under the knee to make capris. I thought a full pant in lime green might just be OTT. I also gave the Barbs a tiny "flare" at the bottom. Warning warning warning - put on your sunnies. I can direct traffic with this high viz gear.

Photo by Sandra (Dilliander) - thanking you

The wrinkles on the bengaline pants are from hours sitting and sewing. The Bengaline is from StyleArc and the groovy 60's top fabric is from Vogue It was labeled as a knit but is quite a firm knit with very little stretch. I must admit that I do like the flashback deco look of it. It is still available if anyone else wants to be safe at night. It has now sold out.

All in all a very comfy outfit that will do well for my weekend wear. I see more Barb capris and Butterick 5855s coming up in my future. Maybe more toward our Spring as we will be starting Winter in 5 days - not that you would know it with a balmy 28 degrees Celsius (82.4F) forecast for tomorrow.

More later - I will take piccies of my other items when I can.

A big huge gigantic thanks to the lovely Sharon from Petite and Sewing for organising such a wonderful weekend.