A sharing community

After blogging for 11 years, there are people I’ve kept in contact with and over the years though sharing our sewing experiences and this has given me a sharing group of friends I truly treasure.

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#sewover50 @sewover50

The #sewover50 @sewover50 team asked me to write this post to encourage you to blog if you’re not sure about blogging about your sewing life. If you haven’t seen the #sewover50 @sewover50 team, have a look at their hashtag on instagram. There are now over 24,000 posts for this international team of 3 ladies who started this hashtag and the group now has over 12,000 followers.

About blogging

Going back to the reason for this post about blogging.

Blogging for me is about documenting my sewing experience so I can go back to the post and make sure I do a better job on the next version of the same project. Readers have the benefit of looking at my blog posts and possibly gaining my insights to make their future project better that I’ve created. My most embarrassing posts were the first ones. ‘You gotta start somewhere.’

All the opinions for each of my blog posts are my own and I’ll always show you what I did to make the project work for me. A pattern or project idea are a starting point.

Sponsored posts

Yes I am sponsored by Minerva Crafts every month. Prym consumer have generously provide me with their sewing tools to use and test. From time to time other online fabric companies and indie designers will contact me to collaborate with them. I’ll do this when their projects fit in with what I’ll realistically use and when I have the time to fit them in. I love pretty things but I have to be able to wear them more than once.

Pattern testing

I’ve pattern tested for Fehr Trade, Pauline Alice patterns and sometimes for Tuesday Stitches and I check the English translations for Sacotin patterns. Overtime, Melissa, Pauline, Vero and Erin have become friends that I enjoy supporting.

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I approach every pattern as a new experience and read all the instructions as a sew. When I pattern test I don’t assume any prior knowledge because I’m being asked to pattern test as a newbie. To be honest, through testing patterns I can give my feedback so that the pattern is the best it can be for others who actually pay for the pattern. You don’t want to pay for a pattern that is poorly drafted or poorly written, so I use this opportunity to be constructive.

On Pattern Review I’ve reviewed over 480 patterns and have been a contest manager four times. I try to use the review template so that if you’re looking for a specific piece of information, you can quickly scan the review and find what you’re looking for. Sometimes I’ve added different subheadings because the pattern had something more that I want to tell readers about. Other times, I’ve removed the template subheadings because I’ve already covered that point.

This year I’ve started to co-host That Sewing Blab, and it’s been a good learning curve for me. I’ve never seen myself being a live interviewer but sewing is my hobby/focus so I’ve enjoyed working with Dawn on the show.

Why blog

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Blogging can be a bit overwhelming when you first start out. I was sewing with local sewing friends when I started blogging so I had people to soundboard with as I developed my blog. There are a bunch of questions you might struggle with when you start blogging:

Do I have anything to contribute?
Is my post worth reading?
Does this post read well?
Are my photos helpful?
Is this blog post just a piece of fluff and not worth reading?
Have I missed anything out?

If technology isn’t your friend and you want to start blogging, ask people you follow about starting a blog. I’ve gone from a decent blog on Blogger and then had to move my blog to WordPress because of the Google glitch I just couldn’t figure out.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the most of WordPress without dipping into my pocket.

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There’s the issue of disclosing any affiliate links you include on any recommendations you suggest to people who follow you. The Fair Trade Commission have lots of good information that you need to be aware of and practice. These rules apply across any social media platform including Instagram, Pinterest, facebook, twitter…etc.

There are also rules about protecting people’s privacy.

Within Australia there are a few issues that are on the horizon, so keep an eye on how the ATO will start to treat ‘income’ earned through social media.

Influencers, sportspeople and celebrities to be slugged by ‘Instagram tax’

Taxation of income for an individual’s fame or image paper:

Remember that sharing on anything on a social media platform is a record so be mindful of what you’re saying/writing.

Blogging was huge up until twitter/Instagram started to grow a few years and I know the sewing community has become a bigger group with all aspects of sewing covered through these platforms.

What I love about blogging

Now for the fun stuff about the benefits of blogging, if you still want to create a blog.

Through blogging, I know that I have patterns that I can go back to again and again and they get adjusted as I put on weight or take off the weight. My blog is my library of sewing notes that you have access to.
Through blogging, I have friends globally and I can meet up with them when I’m away from home. When I’m home, I can still talk to a good handful of people globally and have a laugh.

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Through blogging, I send out reference material to people from time to time to people who ask about ‘xyz’ adjustment for their sewing projects. I’m happy to share the resources I’ve bought and continue to use.

My general rule of thumb about blogging technology is, if I’m stuck with a technology issue, there will be someone out there who has already resolved the issue I’m struggling with. You are not alone when it comes to technology issues. There are also online communities that have already documented the technology challenges you’re dealing with.

Being over 50

Since sewover50 started, I never thought much about being this age and the challenges many people face and are facing. As I’ve already mentioned, I watch my weight fluctuate and sewing allows me to ensure I have clothes that fit, no matter what weight I’m at. The sewover50 team have written a lot about the lack of visibility ‘after 50’ but being a short person, I’ve always been ‘invisible’ so I’m used to making myself seen and heard, when I want to.

The hot flashes are a daily challenge but I make it a fun 60 seconds of sweating. Yes I do make it fun because I never know when it will happen or how long it will last.

For instance, I have a pink cd cover on my desk that I used as a fan when my body temp skyrockets. When I’m on a plane, I fan myself with the airline magazine. If I’m at a restaurant, I fan myself with the menu.

While I’m going through this crazy period of life, I really love running in the cold even though I use a puffer to breath properly when the air is less than 8C. When I’m running in hot, humid conditions, I look like I’m workout harder than anyone else.

The other symptom I’m enjoying is waking up during the night. This becomes my time to plan new projects, cut out fabrics, hand sew or simply chat to you all who are awake when I really should be asleep.

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Want to try it?

If you simply want to document your sewing projects and allow others to share what you’ve learnt, have a look at blogging as a starting point. Some people love Vlogging more once they try it.

I recommend you try blogging or vlogging and see if you enjoy it.

Once it becomes a chore, rethink what makes you happiest and follow that.

An evening teal

Would you believe this jacket is part of my teal wardrobe capsule as part of Minerva Crafts Network bloggers?

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I had really grand ideas of making a French jacket with lots of trimmings and a zipper.

Uhm, I edited these ideas back for a couple of reasons.

Knit fabric:

Last month I learnt a lesson about using woven trims on a base fabric with stretch.

My idea about adding the velvet trim was quietly removed from this month’s plan too.

Velvet trim:

The best option I came up with was to add the velvet trim at the seam line on the inside of this jacket, where the facing meets the teal lining.

I love adding cute trims on the inside of jacket so once I finished this jacket I was full of joy seeing this trim inside the jacket. These work well together.

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Zipper:

The other idea that got put aside for another project was adding a zipper front closure.

When the fabric arrived I was in awe of the sparkles and boucle within this knit fabric. Years ago I made a gold dress using a lace fabric with sequins stitched into the fabric. While making the dress I found that if I pulled the invisible thread, the small sequins in the fabric would fall like snowflakes in Winter.

This boucle fabric also has small sequins threaded into the base fabric with an invisible thread. I learnt last time to work with the fabric and not against it.

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The reason to not use the zipper was not because sewing it in would have been difficult. I decided to not use the zipper because I didn’t want the zipper teeth to catch on the fabric and cause an amazing snowfall of silver mini sequins in my sewing room.

I do love a good jacket with zippers!

Fur hooks:

My alternative solution was to hand sew Prym hooks and eyes that are traditionally developed for hook closures on fur pieces. There’s no real need to wear fur where I live but I’ve been waiting for the right project to use these large hooks ‘one day’ in the future.

The metal wires used in these hooks are totally covered. This means they blend into the fabric really nicely.

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When I hand sewed these hooks onto the fabric, they were easy to hold and sew on. You can sew into the fabric covering of these hooks and make them more secure.

Pattern adjustments:

I’ve been working with Butterick 6062 since I made a couple of these for the Day and Night Dress Challenge that Elizabeth Farr ran earlier this year.

This bulkiness of this fabric made me rethink the sizing I should use. I decided to use size 16 at the hips but blend up through the waist to the bust to size 12.

The sleeves were fine in the earlier versions I made so I left them as is.

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Those instructions:

This time I followed the instructions. In the earlier 2 versions I did my own thing. Somehow I missed the pocket that was in the pattern so I made a much bigger pocket.

When I began to work on this version, low and behold, the pocket piece I thought went missing appeared. It must have been folded in one of the pattern pieces. I was so happy this pocket piece was there all along.

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I’ve lined the pockets with a dark silk organza. Pockets made to sit against the pockets need lots of reinforcement. I chose this organza as a way of keeping this pocket in shape, without needing to add iron-on interfacing.

I used the same silk organza to line the front facings as well. Organza is light and breathes well so it was a logical choice that has paid off.

Lastly, the instructions walk you through hand sewing the sleeve lining to the jacket lining. I had avoided doing this on the first 2 jackets but I hand stitched the sleeve linings this time around.

I’ll hand stitch the sleeve linings in again when I made more versions of this jacket. The shoulder line sits well and I only needed to sew the sleeves in once.

What I look forward to now is when it starts to get cold and I can grab this jacket to wear out in the evenings. The sequins will look great at night and I’ll feel cozy and snug in it without it looking casual.

Let’s call this a win-win fabric and jacket combo.

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Buckingham Palace

I went to London to visit the Queen.

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The weather turned cold and wet but when Her Majesty joined us, the rain held back as did we.

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The people she spoke to were being recognised for the great charity work. I was a mere onlooker who was given the opportunity to be there on the day.

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I wore a couture dress I made last year as part of my Minerva Crafts sponsored projects but 2 weeks before I flew out my gut told me to make a coat to match my outfit and that’s what I did.

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This photo of the Beatrice and Eugenie was taken from afar.

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This photo of Prince Harry (new Dad) was taken close up. Being small, sometimes people scoot me to the front, and that’s how I got this photo on the day.

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I was really cold by mid way through the afternoon.

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Again I was at the front of the line up so there’s no way I was going to let the cold weather dampen my day.

This new coat is a Burda Style pattern and my shift dress was an Avid Seamstress pattern. I made my fascinator and the huge latte colour feathered flowers just for this event.

Yes. I did visit the Queen and loved every part of the journey to get there.

Belgium fabric shops

At home the time to shop locally is on a Saturday and that’s what I did in Belgium.

It’s not every day I’m in Belgium so instead of doing lots of research with the sewing community, I decided to use my Yelp app and a 24 hour public transport pass using STIB-MIVB app to get around Brussels.

First stop: Mercerie Wonderland

This is a small shop that runs workshops. The owner was running a workshop and she was happy to let me look at the shop. It’s small and very inspiring.

I grabbed a coffee at the bus stop before I headed off to the next fabric store.

Second stop: Maison Des Tissus

This fabric store was not on Yelp. I spotted in on the bus while heading to Maison Doree.

It has lots of gorgeous silks, cottons, mixed fabrics for couture sewing and basics as well. If I lived in a cold climate, this is where I’d get some great coating.

The buttons I bought were from this store.

Third stop: Maison Doree

This store has so much great fabric and lots of notions. They have a huge wall of buttons. They had a lot of Prym products that I hadn’t seen before.

The fabrics I bought from were on sale and they’re light-weight so that helps with my small baggage allowance. The staff are friendly.

Fourth Stop: Au Coin Vert

This is furnishing fabrics only.

Fifth Stop: Le Comptoir

I didn’t go into this store. It looked like a furniture building store.

Sixth and last stop: Tissumarket

When I arrived at this store, it was closed for lunch. So I walked by the markets and stopped at Monk Bar for a mixed meat and cheese board and a cherry beer. Oh it was good to sit down for a while.

The fabric store open by the time I finished lunch and again, this store had lots of amazing fabrics for coats and jackets.

Along the way I saw lots of great sights in Brussels that I went back to on the Sunday. Lots of stores are closed on Sunday so shopping on the Saturday was a good strategy.