Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sewing: Coco, The New Travel Dress

I made a dress!  For myself this time.  I've made several for my little girl, and even one for my niece, but I have never attempted one for myself.  There's something about sewing dresses for grown up big girls...they look so complicated.  This, however, was a fantastic 'starter-offer' for beginners like me.  It's another pattern by Tilly Walnes, it's called the Coco dress, and can be found on her blog Tilly and the Buttons. 

It was my very first attempt at putting in sleeves in ANYTHING so I was pretty excited that they went in without a hitch!  This was also the very first time I had sewed with a knit fabric, and this one is fairly stretchy (the dark blue fabric I'm pointing the finger at here), and without an overlocker, that was a whole different kettle of complicated fish.  Well, not really complicated, just a challenge to cut out (especially when you decide to lay out your pattern and cut it at NIGHT....idiot Amber...you're half blind and can't see well at night...and you were using a dark fabric...what on earth were you thinking....????)....and you have to be careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew.  This wasn't that big a deal really, and I was pretty happy with the end results.

I will briefly explain the little tin of 'English' tea in front of my face, just in case you were wondering the relevance of this.... (it actually reads "Keep Calm & Carry On" on the tin).  I made this dress with my next year's England trip in mind!!  I saw a really comfortable looking dress on my favourite clothes shopping website (Birdsnest) and it looked perfect for sitting on a plane in....for a really long, long, long time....but the price tag was also really long, long, long...so I figured that finally getting around to making this Coco dress would do the trick nicely.  This navy fabric is that type of lovely cosy soft knit fabric that you wouldn't mind wearing to bed, so I thought, BINGO....the perfect dress for the plane when I head off to England next year to visit my husband (who will be shearing over there for a couple of months....read about my excited explanation of this trip here).

Anyway, I also changed the pattern a little, adding on this contrasting fabric around the hem.  I thought it added a little bit of something to it.  I also really loved this spotty fabric, but when I went to order it they only had a tiny amount, so I decided to go for the solid navy (which was probably a better colour that would be more flattering on my "cuddly" body, particularly in this knit fabric that tends to show off all your.....well.....fat bits......)....soooooo....I decided that I would get enough of the spot fabric so I could add this contrasting hem, the cuffs (which were also optional with the pattern) and the pocket (another optional extra!). 
The pattern itself gives you a few different options, as a matter of fact, where you can choose to do a top or a dress, with the choice of adding a sort of rolled collar, the cuffs on the sleeves, having long sleeves or 3/4 length or adding the pockets.  Tilly's original Coco dress is this stripey version here with the little yellow pockets.  To add the contrasting fabric on the bottom I had to be a little bit cunning and cut a strip off the bottom of the pattern, making this the template for the spotty fabric, but making sure I still remembered to add seam allowances to join the navy fabric with the spotty one.  It took a little bit of fiddling but it wasn't too bad....even for my rusty mathematical abilities.

Nearing completion of the dress (which really only took me a day and a half all up when you work it out) I ran into a bit of a conundrum where I had no idea whether to have it with no pockets, with one pocket or with two pockets.  Ahhhh....the dilemma.  I asked my eldest son and he thought one pocket.  I texted these photos to my Mum......
No pockets....
One pocket.....
....or two?

My Dad thought two pockets.  My Mum thought no pockets.  And then there was my son who thought one pocket.  In the end I decided that I did like the look of two pockets but figured it would drive me batty trying to sew them on evenly....and then if I stuffed that up I'd have to walk lopsided to hide the fact that my pockets were uneven....so I went with just one.  What is your pocket based opinion??

In other news, while I was having my 'pocket dilemma', my daughter was getting into my bathroom cupboard...
....and trying on my lipstick!






Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sewing: Bags, a Skirt and the Vegetable Garden

I really must apologise that this seems to have turned into a sewing blog.  It was never intended to be so, but now it's all I seem to do.  I'm constantly covered in bits of cotton, (I go out and find myself picking bits off my clothes) and I seem to be measuring time in the amount of projects I get completed.  It has, however, helped me on the road to living a more simple life because time has indeed seemed to have slowed down and there's nothing really technological about sewing.  Yes, I know you can get fancy 'touch screen' sewing machines, but mine is a simple common garden one with a couple of dials on the front that go 'clunk clunk' when you switch modes.  I don't have an overlocker (nor do I want one) and don't sit with an iPad in front of me reading the instructions from downloaded patterns.  Instead I like to buy the pattern (the paper version) or use a book.  Like the one above.

Yes, I did make the Farmer's Market Bag again, (first attempt here) this time using this light green fabric with the white flecks for the front, the fancy half circle pattern fabric for the back and the front pocket (which looked really snazzy) and the red was for the lining.  I made this with my big sister in mind and popped it in the post yesterday.  It's a surprise, which I'm assuming she doesn't read my blog (?) so hopefully it will be a nice thing to get in the post either tomorrow or Tuesday.  Or the day after that, depending on how slack the postman is. 

I then decided to make another one because I had some of the grey leaf fabric left (which I used for the original one) and I had found some other leaf fabric which was going to match it perfectly.  It also has grey leaves as well as pink and gold ones too.  I just had to do it again.  See....
I thought it turned out rather well!
Once again I ignored the instructions where it called for a bit of Velcro to hold the flap of the pocket closed and used a button instead.  This was another I found out of a collection that I got from the Yarragon Vintage Market up the road.  It's a lovely gold colour which suits the gold leaves.  Bonus! (And why I'm getting so excited about buttons now I have no idea.  Mid-life crisis??)
 
After finishing this last night today I decided to get back to making clothing.  I had fabric left over from one of the pinafores I made my daughter so I decided to use that to make up a little skirt.  It was nice and quick and one of those great ones that are easy to put on (as it is just secured with elastic), which is perfect when it comes to dressing wriggly two year olds.
In other news, I have finally managed to take a few more steps down the simple living path, or should I say sustainable living, and I've put some vegetable plants in my new veggie garden.  It's been a bit of an ongoing saga because I had to get my husband to make the veggie boxes, and that was in between being busy with shearing jobs.  But he did a great job and last weekend he got the soil for them so now I've been able to put some plants in.  Tomatoes were the first thing I put in, one of them being an heirloom variety, and yesterday I got a few other bits, such as baby spinach, cos lettuce, basil, mint, zucchini and strawberries.  Today I even found a raspberry plant at the supermarket so I had to have that too.
My daughter has rearranged the little tags that I popped under each plant, so unfortunately I now have no idea which is what....but there is a Black Russian and a Tommy Toe and something called a Grosse Lisse (I think) and some other one that I have completely forgotten the name of.  I really want some cherry tomatoes too but the nursery didn't have any, although they are expecting some tomorrow.  My four year old is crazy about tomatoes so I want to have lots of cherry tomatoes out there for him to gorge on, otherwise he'll gorge on the big ones and there will be nothing left for salads.  Yes, there is a method to the madness.
There are already some strawberries on my strawberry plants (although they are still green) but I think it will be a race between me, the kids and the birds as to who will get to eat them.









Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sewing: Third Time Lucky Delphine Skirt

This Delphine Skirt, by Tilly and the Buttons, has been an absolute winner, and this was my third attempt.  This time around I went for a fun elephant print fabric.  It's a lovely navy sporting white elephants with mint green ears!  The elephant in front of my face is nowhere near as exciting and has boring plain grey ears.  But he's very cuddly. 

I had plenty of this fabric left over to whip up a couple of pinafores, one for my daughter and one for her little cousin who is a only a week younger.  They make an adorable pair, both with a tint of red to their hair and that sweet cheekiness that only two year olds can get away with!  This is my little red head being cheeky in her new elephant pinny....

My little niece looks equally adorable in hers.  (I really need to clean the bird poop of the sliding door behind my daughter.....erww!)
 
In other news.....that isn't pinafore, elephant or bird poop related..... I've been doing some costume sewing for my eldest son who has his very first dance concert on the 14th of November.  He's been doing classical ballet since the start of the year and he is performing in six dances for this concert, one of them being a solo!  I'm very proud of his efforts since he's never danced before and he's doing exceptionally well.  It seems that my life of sewing ballet costumes has begun....a little earlier than expected because I am anticipating plenty of sequin encrusted numbers that I will have to run up for my ballet mad daughter, but I wasn't quite expecting to have to do it for my son.  This time I got off pretty lightly and only had to make two pairs of pants.  I used a pattern for pyjama bottoms that I made for myself out of my 'Tilly and the Buttons' book, which is really easy and was actually the very first garment I sewed for myself.  I went off the smallest pattern and altered it to be a fraction smaller so it fit around my slip of a twelve year old.  I did a denim looking pair and a black pair. 

They certainly aren't perfect...and the black pair I felt like hurling across the room several times...what on earth was wrong with my sewing abilities today??....but I got them done in the end.  Thankfully, from the audience, the weird sewing won't be noticeable! 

 





Monday, October 19, 2015

Sewing: My Little Ballerina

I have mentioned in a previous post here, where I sewed a dress for my daughter using fabric with ballerinas on it, about how crazy she is about dancing.  So when I found this fabric in the craft store in my town I just had to buy it and make another pinafore for her.  I know.  This is my third version of this dress but it is a great one to show off pretty fabrics.
What better way to keep a ballet mad little girl happy but have a wardrobe full of ballet inspired clothes!  There was also enough of both fabrics left to make the skirt that came with this dress pattern, which was something I hadn't tried yet.  It was nice and easy too, with a simple elasticised waist.
The skirt has already become a firm favourite, with her becoming attached to it while I was trying it on her to get the elastic sizing right.  It then, unfortunately became extremely difficult to get it off her and resulted in tears, but I still hadn't done the hem.  This is a great skirt for using up left over fabric, so no doubt I will make this up many times. 

I still have a fair bit of this ballerina material left so I will find something else nice to make.  In the meantime I have my eye on the other version of this....it's the same but the dancer's tutus are pink!





Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sewing: Farmers Market Bag

I have had a busy week sewing as my husband has been away shearing up north, so it has given me free rein to ignore the chaos irrupting around me and worry about tidying up another day...although this is a slightly flawed plan as he comes home this evening and I need to do a weeks worth of tidying up this afternoon.  Oh well...it was worth it!

I managed to spend every day sewing and made a total of five pinafore dresses (see the first two attempts here), a skirt for my daughter and this lovely bag!  I have a great book called "Sew Retro - A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution" by Judi Ketteler.  It is basically a history of sewing, dating back from the early 1800s, that follows through the various decades up until the 1980s through to today (or there abouts!)  I was attracted to the book when I purchased it online because it has 25 vintage-inspired projects throughout it, and with my recent love of vintage things, I couldn't resist it.  I wasn't expecting all the written history on sewing, but frankly that turned out to be a bonus because it really is quite an interesting read.  Anyway, this 'Farmers Market Bag' is one of the projects towards the end, and as it is now looking like I will be having a little holiday next year (!) I thought it would be a good one to make.
I chose the fabric online from Kelani Fabric, which I have mentioned before....they are an awesome online fabric store that has too many lovely designer fabrics...and she is really prompt in getting your order out to you (unlike some other bigger chain store places that I have ordered from).  These fabrics are a little different from what I would normally go for, but I wanted something a little funky and versatile, rather than pretty and 'little girlish'...if that's the term for it.  The pattern called for three different fabrics...the front piece (where I chose this really nice grey leaf pattern), the back (which is the same as your pocket fabric), and then the lining.  Actually you could have the same fabric on the inside as the pocket or whatever combination that you liked, but I thought something different for the lining would be nice!  I love the pocket detail on this, with the lovely pleats!  I was so happy with how they turned out and how they give the front of the bag a lovely three dimensional look.  The whole bag wouldn't look anywhere near as nice if it was just a flat pocket.  The pattern also called for a simple piece of Velcro to secure the pocket flap closed, BUT (as well as not having any Velcro) I knew that a button would look even better.  I had a look through a jar of vintage buttons I found at the Yarragon Vintage Market (which I wrote about here ) and in it was this one.  What a beauty!
I only had one of these, so it was perfect for this project.  Since it's vintage it makes me wonder what other garments it has be fixed to...and what other places it has been carried too.  Who knows...it may have made exciting adventures across the globe!  To think...a button that has travelled further than me!!  (although hopefully that is all about to change!...)
I have this 'thing' when I'm sewing.  I sometimes will look at the instructions, (and even the ones with pictures), and I'm not able to make head or tail of what I'm supposed to do.  I sort of panic.  But...so far I've always been able to work through this dilemma and figure it out.  This was the case with these little gussets I had to put in the bottom corners, which give the bag this lovely squared off effect at the bottom.  I was so pleased with how this turned out. 
Here is a sneaky peek at the lining.  It's a bit hard to see but it's a soft peach colour and these white blobs are actually pine trees.  At the start I did debate whether to makes this the front piece and have the grey leaves inside, but then I figured it would look a bit wishy washy and I was really glad I went with the bold grey leaves on the front panel.

So, to talk about my 'travelling button'.  It seems that next year I will be going overseas!!!!  I can hardly believe I'm writing this (and hopefully I don't jinx myself by doing so) BUT my husband is going shearing in England for six weeks and Scotland for two weeks next year and I will be going over to visit him in England for two of those weeks!!!  (*squeal*)  I know it might not sound like much to those who are more travelled than me, but I never go anywhere and this is HUGE.  (Seriously, I haven't really had a holiday since my honeymoon and I've been married six and a half years.)  I have managed to find places for all FOUR of my kids to stay (which was no mean feat...major hugs to all those who are having my children) and since my husband will be working over there it works out to be a cheap holiday for me.  Hopefully he will get to take some time off while I am there, but I will be perfectly happy hanging about by myself, either watching him shear...OR...heading off for little day trips to various places nearby.  This was why I made myself this bag really.  I wanted something that would squish up nice and small in my luggage, and then if I do head into .....say London (!!!!!!)....for the day, then I will have a bag.  The excitement of it all is making me a little nutty, not to mention the fact that I can spend some alone time with my husband without children, something we really haven't done since our honeymoon as we had children straight away.  It will hopefully be a lovely chance to spend some 'us' time.  I know it's a long way to go for just two weeks (we're talking 27 hours of travel time from Australia...no kidding)...but even that will be pretty awesome.  I mean, just imagine, no kids nagging me!  As much as a I adore my kids it will be fabulous to just be myself for two whole weeks...to be able to go into shops and browse for as long as I want without freaking out about something breakable being broken (!) and on that long long long long....extra long flight...I can READ....without being interrupted!!  Oh joy! 

As you can see, I'm pretty excited, so I will stop rabbiting on about it now...but this bag represents more than just a fun sewing project...within it's stitches hold promises of adventure!!!

PS...sorry about all the exclamation marks....when I get excited my punctuation goes a little mental..! (sorry, just had to throw that last one in there...)


  



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Perfect Pinafore

Ok...so I think I've found the perfect pinafore pattern!  I ordered it the other day from Kelani Fabric and I put up a post about it here when my fabric haul arrived.  It's the perfect little dress for showing off pretty fabrics, especially since you get to pick a contrasting fabric for the pocket and facings.  When I ordered the pattern I ordered this bird print below, along with the stripes so I could make it up straight away, and I had so much success with it I knew I had to do it again. 
There was one problem with the pattern itself, however, which in actually fact turned out to be a blessing in disguise...... The pattern called for 0.60 metres of fabric for the body, which the way it read I understood it to mean that was the total it needed.  I wasn't thinking straight, but I did order the fabric going off the dimensions I read off the pattern from the website (so in my defence I didn't actually get to see the pattern pieces before I ordered the fabric!)  Anyway, once I got it and laid it all out I discovered I actually needed twice as much because you are supposed to cut both the front and back pieces of the pinafore on the fold of the fabric (therefore both the front and back are cut out of a single piece of fabric with no joins).  Dilemma!!  I didn't have enough length so in the end I cut the back out, pinning it next to the front pattern piece (which I did do on the fold) and added a bit extra to create a seam allowance.  I also did the same for the back facing so they matched....and in the end I used WAY less fabric.  It was a really "A-ha" moment!  I decided that the seam up the back looked fine, so went on to do the second dress the same.
My daughter seems to like it, and it's a great one for summer.  You can also put on a little t-shirt underneath, or even in the cooler months, have a long sleeved top under for added warmth.
I didn't mean to make a second one but then I was in a gorgeous fabric shop in Yarragon, which is a small township in Gippsland, which is just up the road a bit, and I was buying fabric to make a bunny rabbit.  Yes, I did say bunny rabbit.  Anyway, I saw a whole array of beautiful fabrics that I knew would make really lovely pinafores so, (as well as bunny supplies!) I bought the material and made another....
How nice is this print?!!  If you are wondering....she has a jelly bean in her hand here....
...aanndd....now it's in her mouth!






Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sewing: The Delphine Skirt Again

Here she is again, the 'Delphine Skirt' by Tilly and the Buttons.  I love this skirt.  So easy, despite the zipper, and on my slightly smudgy shape, so flattering.  I also find that the size I make up from the pattern (and there are several to choose from), fits me really well.  I know I can happily make it up without having to do any tricky adjustments, and this particular pattern I can do one up in a day if I can dedicate that much time!

This version above was actually my first attempt, (the Delphine Skirt I showed in a previous post here, which I did in plain navy, was actually my second time around).  I saw this Apple print fabric in Spotlight and just had to have it.  The zip I put in here was my first attempt so it wasn't quite perfect, but I got it in and was pretty pleased with myself.  The pattern calls for an invisible zip, which I can't seem to find these anywhere, but I have been using normal zips now and just not following the patterns instructions when I put them in.  Instead I just got on to Google and worked it out from there.  Success!  Google you are often my saviour.

The Delphine Skirt is, of course, an A-line skirt, but it's not hanging so well here due to it being an exceptional windy day (so it's blowing a little lopsided) and you wouldn't know it from this photo, but it was freezing!!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Fabric Haul

So I have this little problem.  Along with a new 'sewing addiction', inevitably there comes the 'fabric addiction'.  Gahhh...there's just too many gorgeous fabrics out there.  A swathe of prints and colours and textures and...well the list goes on.  I now spend many an hour perusing different websites and imagining what I could make from all the lovely offerings available.  This bundle in the photo above arrived in the mail today, fabric I bought from the nicest online store around, Kelani Fabric, which quite fittingly, their by-line reads 'Fabric Obsession.'  Oh, so true. 

This stash was bought the other night, while sitting up in bed and chatting via email to the lovely Kiki who lives on the other side of the world from me.  I have ideas of what to do with all of it, every little scrap will go towards new garments for my little girl.  Yes, I know I need to start sewing things for my boys, just to make it fair, but somehow all these little dress patterns are just too cute to resist.  I will get around to it, I promise.
I also bought this pattern.  I am going to make this little pinafore, no doubt a dozen times over, because it is really simple, and will be great for summer (apparently we are in for a really hot one...boo!)  It's great because of it's simple style and that it calls for two different fabrics, the main fabric and a contrasting facing and front pocket, which will mean lots of lovely variations.  For my first attempt I have bought these two....
I will make the dress in the bird fabric and the stripes will be on the inside and on the front pocket.
There are a few patterns I have that I can do with these mushrooms, just haven't decided yet!
For some reason I seem to have an obsession with elephants at the moment (!) as I made a skirt for myself this week, which I shall give you a sneaky peek at very soon, but I am thinking a dress in this one.  I love the apples!
This is another cotton/linen blend and I did buy it to make this little dress again, you know, the one with the sailor collar and the ballerina fabric that I did the other week, but that could very well change.

Anyway, I have enough here to keep me busy for a couple of weeks!  Any of these you prefer?






Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sewing: The Delphine Skirt

So my sewing adventures continue, and this simple little skirt is called the 'Delphine' skirt and is by Tilly and the Buttons.  I've been using her awesome book, "Love at First Stitch" and finding it wonderful.  Really loving this book because of the step by step instructions, and the way that each project you do, as you progress through the book, gradually builds on your skills.  I love it when I find a particular person whose instructions I can follow!! I'm finding Tilly's perfect...even for my fuzzed out brain! 

The Delphine Skirt is a simple A-line skirt and this was actually the second I have made in this pattern.  This does have a zip in the back, which this time around I managed just fine (the first was a little dodgy!) but since I was not using an invisible zip as the pattern calls for, I had to look up how to put in a zip on trusty old Google, and then fiddle around with the method myself to make sure that the facing didn't cover up the zipper when I turned it all back around the correct way after sewing it in place.  Sound confusing?!?  Yes, it was a bit at this end too, but I was so pleased that I figured it all out and that it came up so well.  Triumph!! 

I made the skirt in this plain navy drill fabric specifically because I bought this gorgeous blouse.  It's from Modcloth and I just adore the polka dots....which is weird because I never used to like spots and now my wardrobe is full of all this dotty goodness.

I have, since making this second Delphine Skirt, gone on to make a third, which I whizzed up yesterday...but I will save that for another day to show you!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sewing: A Dress For My Ballerina

My little girl is officially ballet MAD.  I mean it.  Really truly.  She's been dancing around the house for quite a while now, and when I say 'dancing' I don't just mean bopping up and down to the music.  I mean REALLY dancing.  She does this ballet arm move thing where she gracefully...and I really mean gracefully...raises her arms overhead and then brings them in a swooping arc back to her sides.  There is obviously some ballet term for it...I have no idea what it is...but it is something ballerina's actually do.  She also lifts one leg, points her toe and does beautiful pirouettes.  She's two.  It's insane.

Her eldest brother, who is 12, started doing classical ballet at the start of this year.  His choice, this wasn't me pushing him into it.  Actually he suggested it last year and asked if he could do it.  He now dances at two different schools and is a natural.  I have no idea where that came from but I have secret aspirations for him to perform with The Australian Ballet.  Ok, so not so secret now, but wouldn't it be wonderful?!  So my daughter does do ballet, although it's called 'Fairy Ballet' and it's the cutest thing out and involves a bunch of teeny tiny little girls running about in fluffy tutus, throwing plastic flowers and waving 'magic' wands, all in time to the music.  Alright not really in time to the music but the thought is there.  However my daughter doesn't do the wand waving and flower frolicking so much, but rather, as soon as the music comes on, will proceed to do her 'ballet' moves in the centre of the room all by herself.  I think I can see years of sewing tutus, buying pointe shoes and watching ballet concerts in my future (!)

Anyway, I found this gorgeous ballerina fabric online at Kelani Fabric and just knew I had to buy it for her.  I didn't have a dress in mind but on receiving it I knew it would be perfect for this little dress with the sailor collar, a pattern from a great book I have called 'Sewing For Your Girls' by Yoshiko Tsukiori, which called for a linen fabric.  This was a cotton/linen blend so I thought...perfect!
I started sewing this one while I was away up north, and because I was sitting in the cottage in fairly poor light, I did in fact make a bit of a boo boo.  Ok, when I say boo boo I mean I stuffed the facing at the neckline as well as the bias binding....sort of putting it all on back to front....which I sort of thought didn't seem right when I did it, but the half light (or half dark shall we say) made it very difficult for me to see, and of course I wasn't wearing my glasses....so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!  Anyway, once I got back home I was able to see the instructions a lot better and I rectified my mistake and it all turned out in the end! 
It has a little pocket as well as buttons down the front....which I was totally chuffed about because this was my first ever attempt at button holes and all my freaking out prior wasn't really called for because they worked out and weren't nearly as difficult as I thought they would be.  Hurrah!!
These photos are taken in my parent's garden on the weekend.  They had a big family catch up, which was lovely, and my daughter was totally spoilt by her older cousins who completely fuss over her which is gorgeous.  Note that the little bit of white peeping out of her dress is actually her singlet and not part of the actual dress.  It's a little big on her, which is a good thing really after all the effort put into making it, so hopefully it fits her for a decent amount of time.
And here's a shot of that sailor collar from the back.  I still have quite a lot of this fabric left so stay tuned for another creation for my ballet crazy little girl!






Saturday, October 3, 2015

How to Not Blog for Profit

Say what?!?  Did you say how NOT to blog for profit??  Aren't there are million and one articles and blog posts out there that tell you HOW to blog for profit?  Why on earth would I want to not blog for profit when everyone else is doing it (seemingly) and there are actually people out there who (supposedly) make six figure incomes.  Why wouldn't I?  Why wouldn't you??
 
I guess only you can answer that for yourself, and maybe you do really want to make some money off your blog, I mean you pour enough hours into it.  Although maybe you don't, who knows.  It's totally up to you.  But here's my thoughts on the matter, and why I decided to stop trying and actually start enjoying my blog.
 
About a year ago (and I really can't believe it actually was about a year ago) I decided to give this blogging thing a real go and try and make some income from it.  I'm a writer by trade, I write for a magazine, but it's a quarterly mag, so I don't earn a huge amount per year.  I thought that maybe, since I enjoy blogging anyway, why not try and take it up a notch and make some extra money to help out the family income.  So I did a great stack of research, read all the blog posts on how to gain followers, bought the books on 'How to Blog for Profit' and worked on it really hard.  And I mean REALLY hard.  At one point, for quite a while, I was pumping out a blog post per day and literally putting a whole days worth of work into it EVERY day.  It was exhausting.  And it was annoying...because obviously you have to work like crazy like this for ages...and ages...and ages...before you see any financial reward....and so it felt like I was working like a slave for nothing.  Ok, well not completely nothing...I mean I was starting to get some rewards, such as free tickets to a couple of major professional musical shows in the city, and I was invited to a few blogger 'dos', but I hadn't seen a single cent.  Not one.  I still haven't seen a single cent.

I also wasn't blogging about something I was completely passionate about either.  I changed my blog so it covered a subject that might become more appealing to attract brands.  My initial thought was beauty...but since I'm not really interested in makeup...I gave that idea the flick...so I figured why not do a bit of a fashion/lifestyle blog.  Hmmmm...interesting...to say the least because fashion probably wasn't my strong point either since all I wore was jeans, a checked shirt and my cowgirl boots.
 
Now I'm not in my 20s, I'm not tall and skinny, and I'm not super good looking....so doing outfit posts seemed a bit....well....random....but I figured if I made the written part humorous, (and poked a generous amount of fun at myself)...I might be able to get by.  It was with much trepidation that I started to do these, but eventually I got used to the ridiculousness of posing in front of a camera (set on a timer) in the middle of a paddock (by myself) and changing clothes in the middle of the road (thankfully I live in the country...so also in the middle of nowhere).  Anyway, it sort of worked and I was getting some nice photos, (only due to the nice scenery really) but it was NOT gaining me any more followers really....and despite spending oodles of time commenting on other blogs (as "they" say you should do to divert traffic to your own blog)....all I was doing was spending an incredible amount of time in front of a computer, and doing something that my husband thought was a waste of time.  
 
Now I was initially pretty hurt by his feelings because I'd spent hours and hours (and I mean probably about 500 hours...no exaggeration) going through the process of finding locations, taking photos, editing photos, writing outfit posts.....etc....and in the end it obviously was just embarrassing someone very near and dear to me.  In all honesty I had never actually explained to him what I was trying to do, which was try and make some extra income for us, so no doubt he would have seen my reasoning behind the craziness....but in the end I just gave up....and deleted the lot.  No shit.  And I don't swear here, normally, but you can no doubt appreciate the swear-ability of this moment.  I deleted probably 60 posts.  Now if you are a blogger, which I am assuming you probably are, then you can appreciate the amount of work I just sent into the cyber trash can.  It left me feeling a bit stunned, deflated certainly, and weirdly I actually sunk into a kind of semi-depression. 
 
Anyway, I stepped back from the blog for a while, which a few of you noticed (those dearest blogger friends whom I adore but have never had the pleasure of meeting face to face)...but eventually I actually felt like I wanted to blog.  And not for anyone else, or to try and fit into a 'market', but just for myself.  This was also the time I wrote this post here about 'Stepping back in time' and trying to slow down the pace of my life, as well as attempting to live a more simple life.  Suddenly blogging became really pleasurable.  Somewhere to spend a little 'me' time.  I had decided to change the way I was living, basically based on how I hate the way my life is flashing before my eyes so quickly, but I was also starting to hate how technology is making us so 'disconnected' even though we feel we are more connected than ever, but also how it invades our lives so much.....and makes my children go nuts (scream about the iPad anyone???!)  Suddenly I now wanted to document this unwinding of time in my life and simply share these changes and discoveries. 

Recently taking up sewing, and finding I absolutely adore it, I have now found that this space has almost turned into a sewing blog, although perhaps 'lifestyle' is a better tag for it because I hardly feel I have the skills nor talent to go about giving out sewing advice just yet (!)  But the main thing is it has now become MY space where I do what I want and in all honesty....I don't care about trying to make money, trying to gain followers or any of that stuff.  This switch in thinking has been so liberating and weirdly.......I've actually gained a few extra followers without trying....which hasn't been my intention at all.  I guess that has pointed out that if you stay true to yourself then readers will recognise the sincerity in your blog and will keep on reading, rather than just seeing that your blog is just there to try and make money, which is kind of cold and calculated and I'm not sure that was the whole point behind blogging when the concept initially started.  It certainly is nice to know that people appreciate what you write and want to keep reading what you write, so I'm grateful for each and every person that stops by, and if someone extra comes on board it is lovely...but I'm certainly not out to build up my numbers for some sort of reward.  That is a bonus and a blessing.

So to answer the question, how do you NOT blog for profit?  Simply this.  Just enjoy yourself.  Write for yourself.  Write about what you want to write about.  Do it in your own time.  Slow down, grab a cup of tea and read the blogs you love for pleasure and enjoy what they have to say.  Comment only when you feel the urge too and want to show another blogger you appreciate and enjoyed their post, not because you want to gain more traffic to your own.  Never compare yourself to other blogs and forget about the statistics.  Importantly, find a reason YOU enjoy blogging and stick to it.  I love writing and I enjoy making my blog page look pretty, I know it sounds daft but it's as simple as that. Maybe it's a computerised version of scrapbooking!?!  I used to love doing projects at school, writing up the report and then doing the fancy headings and illustrations.  To me this is what my blog is, another school project, or in other words, an outlet for my creativity, wherever that may lead.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sewing: Skirt for Spring

I mentioned in my previous post that I was away and during my 'time off' there was a whole lot of sewing going on.  This wrap skirt was just one skirt I have made recently and was a great easy project.  I found a fantastic book at my local bookstore called "Love at First Stitch" by Tilly Walnes, who also has the blog site Tilly and the Buttons.  Her book is about demystifying dressmaking for beginners and I have found it very useful.  I am currently working my way through the book, having made the pyjama bottoms and two of the 'Delphine' skirts (which I will show you soon). 

This skirt above is her 'Miette' wrap skirt and you can buy the pattern here as well as the book on her blog site too.  I love this book and the easy to follow instructions, as well as the way you work your way through it, doing all the projects, and gradually learn new skills, which you continue to apply as you go.  The patterns are also really sweet and completely match up with the style of clothes I really want to wear.  Perfect!

Here is a close up of the fabric which I thought was lovely for spring!
The skirt did require a whooping three metres of fabric, so you might want to shop around for something on special, but I really liked this despite the $16 a metre price tag, so made sure I was careful not to fluff it!  It's a great skirt to make for a first timer because there are no zips, buttons or other tricky bits, and you could go on to make a whole pile of them in an assortment of colours and patterns!