I Can Sew More Than Bibs

As I am taking a couple of weeks off and offline I will treat you to another guest post by a great friend and very talented sewing bee – Melissa.  Especially for you from the sunny Australia.  Enjoy!

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I’ve always loved sewing. Some of my earliest sewing experiences are sitting on Nanna’s lap whilst she gently rocked the treadle plate up and down and guided fabric under the needle. As I got older (and taller) I was allowed to operate the treadle myself.

My Nanna and Mum both sew. For both of them I guess out of necessity more than as a hobby but they still enjoyed it. And their skills have been passed down. I am so blessed that they felt it important enough to show me these skills, have the patience to let me practice and to just let me try things.

By the time I’d got to secondary school age 12 I’d already accomplished quite a few basic garments. With younger siblings there was often tracksuit pants or PJ bottoms to be made and even the straight seams of the tops we done…I had even successfully made a button up pj top and set the sleeves in myself.

Year 7 sewing class was therefore an epic failure. I got told off for talking and wandering around the classroom more times than I remember. Problem was that I finished my “machine embroidered denim pencil case with Velcro closure” about lesson three and it was supposed to take the whole 10 week term. I was wandering around helping out all the other kids in my class. “your bobbin is empty that’s why the stitching is coming undone” …”ok you’ve got that jammed… best we just wriggle it all we can then cut it free” and “you’ve broken the needle – just get a new needle of Ms P and I’ll show you how to replace it”….all the while Ms P looking in my direction and telling me to sit down and stop interrupting other students who were trying to work.

Funny thing is that all these years later I have a sibling at the same school doing the same initiation to sewing project. And she too is bored to tears being one of my most regular sewing companions!


The combination of sewing classes being a dreadful drag of time and being a teenager of the 90’s and it being so terrible uncool to wear homemade or anything not from a retail store the hobby was abandoned for a number of years.

By a number of years I mean fast forward almost 15 years. The sewing passion is back. The bug has bitten hard and I have a xmas bonus cheque burning a hole in my wallet. After weeks of research a machine is put on layby…a few more pay cheques are needed to complete the purchase.

And then I get the email of all emails….I’m going to be an Auntie (honorary) to a friends surprise miracle. Well there was no stopping me – credit card was retrieved from purse and that machine, fabric and thread were purchased that very lunchbreak!

A sneaky peak on some crafty blogs that afternoon at work and voila – a pattern was downloaded and printed out ready to undertake that night. And you know what I made first up? A pair of baby booties. A 15 year hiatus from sewing and I undertake shoes!


Since then its been bib after bib after burp cloth after bib. Sometimes I think that is all anyone else thinks I can sew. I’m getting good at them….must have made at least 50 of them in since buying my machine. Babies popping out all over the place and my sewing skills are in the nappy bags of little rug rats in many parts of the globe.

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But I promise I can sew other stuff too. Admittedly still easy stuff – no requests for formal wear please! Proficient enough to make a few easy pieces for myself as work or casual wear and a special outfit for a special person’s first birthday.

My challenge for 2012 was a homemade year of gifts. And there are no surprises that there was an awful lot of sewing done. Yes bibs featured heavily but so did vintage overalls, an apron, hair towels, pj’s, a party dress and a penguin costume for a toy monkey…a whole other blog post for the future!

The challenge for 2013 is going to be where to take the sewing skills. I’m torn between making a lot more of these baby supplies that my dear friends have loved so much and doing a little market stall – money earnt would fund a trip to visit the BlueBeretFamily of course! Option 2 is pushing myself skill wise and tackling stuff I am just too scared of right now…invisible zips, pintucks, trousers and jackets! Option 3 is to do both. Ever the overachiever?

I’ve managed a few items for myself but found kids clothing is just so much easier.  A few buttons. Lots of stretchy easy care fabrics. But womens clothes. Yikes! A flat piece of fabric is cut pinned, stitched into something three dimensional. And not only that but needs to fit around curves, allow movement and disguise wobbly bits!  The vintage 60’s culottes were a little heartache (I cut the shorts part back to front the first time) and now a whole lot of fun and aside from those I’ve only made a couple of work tops and a summer dress for me.  Maybe some selfish sewing is in order?

I often find myself hovering in the suiting and wools area of Spotlight and wistfully feeling the fabrics. I’d love to make a jacket but …and this is the problem there is a BUT!

I’m too scared, hindered by my own limitations. My own desire to not F it up. My not understanding how to make the alterations I need to make stuff fit me perfectly. Sadly Nana’s passed away before I got sewing again and my mum’s taught me everything she knows. Mum doesn’t want to do couture garments and even avoids zippers!

Sew (yes pun intended) now I am stuck. Stuck doubting my own abilities, stuck not finding a pattern that I like enough to try or reading reviews that they are short in the body or for large busts.


I guess I’m wanting/needing my hand held in taking the next step or someone to give (or force) me to tackle something way outside my comfort zone. I know I can do more than just bibs and burp cloths. I could almost sew them up blindfolded now – but please don’t challenge me on this one as using a hot iron is dangerous enough when I have my eyesight. These poor fingers are sufficiently battle scarred from my wrestles already!

I have done more. My skills have come a long way in 2 short years. I can sew more than bibs.


One of the best bits of sewing “advice” my mum has given me is “If YOU want something sewn or mended make me a cup of tea.” Well I want something sewn…I guess I better go make myself a pot of tea.





Elks and Stars and All Things Nice…

Ding dong.

The Evil Northern Wind is back.

You know, the kind that lures you into false safety of thinking “Yay!  Off with the thermals.  Out with the pale!”  Only for you to turn blue a few minutes after you have stepped outside.

 But I will not be fooled. I will not go out.

Instead I will be typing this post while admiring the wild garden I have planted on my cheese sandwich.


And talking about sandwiches, if you haven’t seen Ida Skivenes’ sandwich art yet, go and have a peep.  You will never look at your morning cardboard-like toast with the same contempt mixed with hunger.

Gimme Gimme Gimme Some Blog Love…

This week has been horrible.  Not enough sleep and a mean cold holding me hostage resulted in a lot of browsing and blog-stalking.  Here is who made my snotty days:

  • For a blogging newbie like me it was great to come across this post by dorkymum.  The Bloggers Cabinet has my vote
  • Another post that made me smile is this one by Grenglish.  Serendipity is one of my favourite words and as soon as the gale force winds allow me I will be running to the Boots around the corner to buy some sunscreen
  • The Magic Moments linky is brilliant for hopping from one blog to another so check out The Oliver Madhouse
  • The_Secret_Father blogging about birthday cake  – say no more!
  • On a “horizontal-rain” day” I check out the Bikeable Jo’s blog that is full of great bikeable tips and stories.  No spandex there!

The World Is But A Canvas…

When I was in secondary school I had to do a presentation (on any subject) in my English class.

I decided to talk about the modern art scene in Scotland (little did I know…).

I was on a mission to bring Art to my class mates and inspired by photos of a rotten bunch of carrots on an empty bookshelf I created two pieces.  Imagine:

  • A sheet of paper painted black.  A dry piece of bread glued on it in the bottom left corner.  “Hunger”
  • A piece of wire sticking out of a molehill made of scrunched up toilet paper.  On top of the wire perched a dry apple core painted in gold.  “Paradise Lost”

Bursting with pride and confidence arrogance I uncovered my artwork.  Silence.  It stretched and stretched and when it was about to rupture the laughter erupted and spilled into the classroom and out over the sport grounds.  And even though my career as an artist never survived that blow I love discovering new art and here are some recent finds that beat my “Hunger” and “Paradise Lost”:

  • Geoff Allan’s collage work inspired by the Scottish hills, universe and everything else:Of Love and Loss (2008)spring
  • Marie Claire Taylor’s paintings burst with energy and colour – a great pick-me-up! Mares 6

From A Bookworm’s Diary…

In a recent book review I was comparing starting a new novel to going on a blind date.

Let me share another great date with you – A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside.  A tale of dreams and reality mixing together on the remote and eerie island of Kvaloya, north of Norway.  Beautifully told with prose and poetry uniting to create a unique language (yes, I’m suffering from  writer’s envy).  Thank you BlueBeretGranny for introducing me to another Scottish masterpiece.


 A Sewing Friend…

I can’t knit. I can’t sew.  Don’t even get me started on embroidery.  Full disclosure: I failed to crochet my way through the Home Economics classes and when it comes to crafts I’m scarred for life.

In my head I spend my days knitting cute hats and scarves for baby mice squatting under our  floor and embroidering my family tree (more of a scrawny bush) on a white linen tablecloth.  In reality I scream when anyone mentions the word Crafts.

And even though I’m anti –crafti I sometimes succumb to craft envy.  Like when my friend Melissa surprises Peanut with the most adorable elks and stars outfit.  Made by her with lots of love.

A few tears of joy and warmth and admiration later…










A  friend with a needle is a friend indeed.

For the reasons mentioned above,  I could never be a part of the Graffiti Grannys movement, yarn bombing the world and guerrilla knitting in harbours.  But if, like me, you are a knitting-phobic and a hopeless case barely able to tie her/his own shoe laces, the first step in overcoming your phobia is to say hello to them on Facebook or on Twitter.

No, you probably will not start knitting in the rain.  But you might stop tearing your hair out every time you see a sheep.  Woolly Good!

On that note, I am off to wrestle the gales with a cup of white hot chocolate in my hand and this brilliant story by Marian Keyes .  I dare you not to be rolling on the floor when you are done with it!

Bye for now.

P.S.  Blueberets are off to Sweden soon, where one-third of the gang will be skiing their way across the Arctic Circle while the rest will be schmoozing with friends and family and stuffing their faces with meatballs which means that instead of my usual ramblings you will be treated to a guest blog or two.

See you all late May!

Ding Dong.