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.

The Hunger Games

I love great activewear so this month I’ve made my version of the activewear worn in The Hunger Games for my Minerva Crafts project.

Here’s Katniss training for the Hunger Games. Judianna Makovsky was the designer for the first movie.  Lucas Hugh designed the training gear for the second movie which is on my future list of activewear but for now the picture above is what I’ve made.

Using great knits from Minerva Crafts, I used Kwik Sew 3567 for the top and Fehr Trade’s duathlons for the track pants.


The blue knit is soft and has good recovery, So does the red sparkly fabric. The cornflower colour knit is bonded so I originally wasn’t sure if this would work but having a bonded knit was an advantage to developing the sleeves and track pants.


I used the navy and cornflower fabrics for the track pants and added reflective tape. Here’s the flash view.

Here’s the no flash view.
The top base used the navy knit. It has a lovely feel to it.

However I changed the back bodice to use the red knit and some reflective tape.

Then I used my french curve ruler to mark out the sleeve design and you can see the pieces cut out with seam allowance and ready to sew.
Most of this outfit was sewn using the overlocker and I used the sewing machine to add the piping.


So here’s the front view using flash. I added reflective tape to the zipper.

And here’s how the back turned out. I don’t have a photo of the back view of the outfit Katniss wears so this is my interpretation… The red fabric has a shine to it so it made sense to put the reflective tape piping with this.


What’s great is I can use these pieces to train outside now that it’s Autumn in Australia.


These fabrics have such strength to them. I chose these fabric based on the colours on the Minerva Crafts website. They do a much better job of showing the colours on their website than I can.

I’ve still got fabric left to make a could more Autumn workout pieces. Now that it’s getting cooler in the mornings, I can use these pieces for outdoor training and still be seen. Thanks again Minerva Fabrics for letting me indulge a bit in films/books I love and my current pattern drafting binge.

Funkifabrics gym gear

The time to wear tame gym gear is over, thanks to Funkifabrics*.
Dyesplosion was my first print choice from Funkifabrics. This print has lots of strong colours and various dyesplosion points. 

You can see the size of the print when you click on the print image. The image is framed with a ‘tape measure’. That’s what drew me to choose dyesplosion. The challenge was getting the print placement as right as possible. As Funkifabrics is a UK fabric manufacturer I then choose two of FehrTrade’s patterns for this print.

XYT top
Dyesplosion and Funkifabric’s lining are used to keep me ‘in place’. I chose XYT Y-back version and used a red lycra accent for a bit of interest. 



This dyesplosion XYT top works well whether I have a tan or not. We’ve just hit Spring or you could say Spring has hit us in Australia, and so this is as fair as my skin gets.

Duathlon leggings
There’s a huge dyesplosion spot on this print so I managed to place it on the side of my legs. 
Wearing dyesplosion duathlon leggings and one of my first XYT tops.
The pockets break up this big print. So my cyclist thighs look like their exploding.

I’ve kept these leggings to above the knee length so I can wear these for boot camp training or cycling classes.
Hamming it up before class
Styling
The ‘gym style police’ suggested I wear these pieces separately. So I’ve complied with their request.
The seams are overlocked.
Tech points
If you only have one sewing machine, you can sew this top up using a slim zigzag stitch for the seams and twin needle for top stitching.

I used the overlocker and coverstitch machines to sew these pieces together. 
Here on the left you can see the clear elastic has been zigzag stitched to the neckline.
On the right I’m coverstitching it for a clean finish.
See how nicely the coverstitching looks.
The good news is my coverstitch machine loves this fabric!!! So that means it’s a sturdy quality fabric ie not flimsy.
Here’s an inside look at the XYT built in bra.
The lining from FunkiFabrics has great recovery. It’s soft on my skin and it feels nicer than some of the powermesh I’ve been able to buy locally.

Wash and wear
As soon as this fabric arrived at my door step I threw this straight into the washing machine on normal cycle and then put it out on a very warm day. The colour held fast and I didn’t notice any shrinkage or colour fade. This print is as vibrant as it was when it arrived.

Versatile
This print has no right way or ‘right side up’ to it. This fabric also has lots of stretch in all directions. So from my point of view, this is a versatile print. You can place your pattern pieces in any direction and get the most out of this fabric.

*About Funkifabrics

They manufacture unique and special activewear fabric. You can read more about them here

Considering sewing your own activewear? Read Susan’s activewear.

PS: The local gym now has me on CCTV – LOL.

#MMMay wk1

Now at 307 participants, #MMMay14 is certainly underway.

This week I stuck to sorting out my ‘after work’ clothes. This week’s bag to charity has 5 pieces from my wardrobe included Day 4’s top.

Day 1: Kwik sew 2694 and eyelet pants similar to Simplicity 2503.

Day 2: Duathlon shorts for 6am bike class. The morning is now a bit chilly so I’ll be wearing my longs for outdoor sessions. That also includes cycling.

Day 3: Jalie jeans, Kwik Sew 3567 top, Minoru shower proof jacket and Presido purse. The weather got a lot cooler today and it was wet when I left in the morning.

Day 4: ‘May the force be with you’ because I’m pooped.
RTW jeans slimmed down by moi, Vogue 7610 jacket, Kwik Sew 3567 and my urban Presidio purse.

I used a panel print for the top but it looks kinda daggy and the fabric doesn’t feel nice. What in the ‘Phantom Menace’ was I thinking when I bought it. I was aiming for a Sci fi look but I came out grunge instead.

Duathlon shorts

Melissa of Fehr Trade launched her Duathlon shorts pattern!

source

Longs, knee length or bike shorts are all in 1 pattern with a neat side pocket panel. As Kbenco said, Melissa choose pattern testers who have the skills to make activewear and who are from all walks of life. And all stages of life like moi:)


I made mine mid-thigh length. So I have a pair for my weekly gym sessions. Mid-thigh length is my ideal length for running up 8 flights of stairs at 6am in the morning, 4 times in a row, in the local car park.

The top is Melissa’s XYT pattern too.
Now I have two black/red versions, a brown/floral version and a blue version. I’ll be to wearing my PB Jam leggings (longs) as soon as it gets cold in the mornings. 


I really like how Melissa’s patterns compliment each other. I only wear the XYT top when it’s hot. 

Technical stuff:
I made the XS size but took out enough room from the centre front and centre back after the first pair were made
There was no need to add extra butt curve as the back waist is higher than the front waist. You need this features as a standard when you cycle.
There was no need to add extra thigh room either!
I lowered the pocket because it seemed to start a bit too high for me.

Money saving:
The mid thigh length versions are a good length to use up leftover lycra for the side panels.

I’ve also made them successfully with a sewing machine and a combination of overlocker and coverstitch machine. You don’t need high tech machines to sew these up in 1 afternoon.

If anyone knows of a supplier of cycling chamoix, please let me know. I want to make proper cycling shorts that I can use for all-day training rides. At the moment, this version without the insert, works fine for indoor spin classes.

I can use a long version of these to wear over a short RTW cycling shorts. So the hunt for reflective fabric is on. It’s handy to have reflective panels on the right hand side when you’re cycling in Australia.

All the best at the London Marathon Melissa!