I collaborate on projects that tell stories of connection, origin and resilience so that we can begin to mend ourselves, our communities and the earth.
The Dark Side

 I have some work to do around panic. 

The last six months for me have been heavily punctuated by a series of medical issues that have troubled me mostly by  the panic.

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 My heart and mind race.  My breathing goes haywire and I am convinced cancer is lurking, ready to take me down. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And the tears start rolling. Prematurely mourning. 

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The panic came when a medical professional suggests that “with your history, we had better double check.”  The panic came when the dermatologist told me that the dodgy mole “will be nothing to worry about”. The exact words the doctor who did my breast a biopsy said 3 years ago.  The panic came when I’ve been in bed with a migraine for the 10th day in 6 weeks.  The panic came on days that my fatigue was at its worst.  The panic came when I had chest pain, and the doctor advised me to call the ambulance.  The panic came when they called me back for a second MRI without explanation.  

That’s a lot of panic. 

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I see you panic.  I see your fears.  I see you lurking, ready to pounce.  

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Try me. I dare you.  Next time I’m ready to laugh at your ridiculousness.  To talk back. To tell you to go wait quietly in the corner while I get on with the important job of being well.   

I will not be defined by you today, tomorrow or ever.

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Three simple basics sewn from second hand cloth.   A white linen tank for wearing under all the things, some navy slacks and a navy knit top.

The Dark Side:  Slacks, Oscar de la Renta Vogue Pattern 1721 ,  fabric sourced from an op shop and Pattern Magic knit top, fabric sourced at Sew for Life Destash Market

The Light Side:  Self drafted linen top, fabric sourced from an op shop worn with Tania Culottes

Photography:  Baker Photography 

A new state

Melbourne 16

 

Have you seen the growing list of textile lovers signed up to make locally sourced outfits with me this year?   I am really excited to have you all on board, welcome!

Meanwhile, big changes have happened in my world!  I now live on the opposite side of the country, which means that while my family is now 4 hours flight away (sniff), we have settled back into our home in Melbourne which is full of art, life and memories.

I jumped straight into things feeling it was the best way to feel at home again.  The most exciting of which is an 8 shaft weaving course with Ilka White, which is opening my mind up to the world of possibilities that weaving presents and I will show you more soon.

Amongst the move, and the jumping into new things, I forgot about my other new state. The state of my body.  The fragile and tired state of my body.  In Perth, I had found a quiet rhythm that helped me get through the days without falling into a heap.  But on my return to Melbourne, my mind wants to return to days full of action, but my body just cannot keep up.

I am feeling the loss of the old me, the me pre cancer who lived here, the one who had seemingly boundless energy. I am feeling frustration that I am not back to my old self, as I start to accept for the first time that  the exhaustion I feel may not be a temporary thing, but a permanent state of being.

So my first challenge in my new state is to accept this new state.  To work with it and to ease back into life.

I went for a walk today to snap shots of this merino cowl neck top, as I made it, and two more for the kids, in January but keep failing to get a good shot.  Well, I think the shot doesn’t say too much about the top, but it does tell my story for you…and perhaps that is even better.

 

Merino Cowl Necks 

Patterns:    my knit dress block and kids Ottobre 2012 38 Boys T Size 134 , sewn with larger seam allowances for my youngest.  (I really like this issue of Ottobre and have used it for all my kids knit basics if you find one around.)

Fabric:   2.7m Natural Colour NZ merino knit from the Fabric Store
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Green Notes:   Aside from a tag that says the wool is farmed in the NZ Southern Alps I am unsure at to how it is processed.  I am going to take it on as my first #1year1outfit 2016 mini project to find out!

I dyed the wool in 3 natural dye colours, mine is Gardenia, the kids were solar dyed with purple carrot and a weak indigo honey lime vat (Using this method).
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Tidbits:  These came together easily fairly easily. I used every last scrap of the merino knit but varying the cowls a little on each one.  Construction was done on the over-locker, which I am slowly getting to grips with.

Score: 5/5 natural fibers, natural colours, super useful, super warm, what’s not to love.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this is Moonlight

thiismoonlightEveryone meet Moonlight.  Moonlight meet everyone.

Moonlight has been missing for a couple of years, and has only just come out of hiding to introduce herself. I think she got a bit shy when she realised my blog was named after her.

Moonlight was made by my son in his kindy class.  His teachers told me that he sat patiently needle felting her into life for 4 hours, a long amount of time for any four year old to concentrate on something.

He bounded out of class and gently presented her saying, “This is Moonlight.”

 

No legs

A man with no legs

runs up the stairs

A woman with no hair

stops and stares

refashion

Do you have tiny moments in your life that stay with you? Moments that change you, guide you and speak to you?  This little poem  is about one of those moments for me.

Today’s photos are of a refashion of this top to now have no sleeves. And a tiny leather triangle addition to the split of this skirt. Two tiny things that have made the unbearable wearable again.

He really was running!

Unbusted

An introduction to my story.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and as you read my blog, you will find lots of references to my experiences at the time and on-going.  Especially seeing as I primarily write about making clothing to fit my new body.   Bravely, I participated in a wonderful showcase of women’s bodies later that year 6 weeks having a double mastectomy at the 4th Trimester Bodies Project.   You can read more about how I was feeling at the time over there.

I also wrote a little piece for Seamwork  about how sewing helped me accept my new body as it is.  It highlighted to me that I quite like writing more personal pieces of work, and this year I am going to shift the focus of this blog to reflect that.

So consider yourself warned.  There will be textile goodness posted here, but also more stories of life and acceptance, many of which promise to be awkward!

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Illustration based on a photo by Ashlee Wells Jackson of 4th Trimester Bodies Project

#1year1outfit Seasonal Textiles

I never considered the that textiles are seasonal before this year. It turns out that understanding local botanical changes and weather is critical to natural fiber production and natural dyes.

I got caught out last year not thinking about seasonality, so in the hope that this helps me plan this year, here is my observations of the seasonal timing when making and sourcing natural textiles here in Australia. I have used the tradition Noongar seasons as a starting point for understanding the weather and botanical trends.

Brak – December and January -The First Summer

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Prime time for mordanting and solar dyeing; Green Hibiscus flowering; No open fires; white eucalyptus blooms

Bunuru – Feb and March – The Second Summer

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Prime time for mordanting and solar dyeing; No open fires; red eucalyptus blooms

Djeran – April May – Autumn
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wattle blooms; passion fruit ripe

Makuru – June July – The First Rains

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Best time for open flame dyeing; wattle blooms, pomegranate ripe

Djilba – Aug Sept – The Second Rains
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Shearing season starts; Sour sob in flower; Indigofera Australis in flower; Bottlebrush in flower

Kambarang – Oct Nov – Wildflower Season
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Shearing season; bottlebrush in flower; no open flames; good time for indigo vats

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My native indigo, bottle brush and cinerea dyed local wool #1year1outfit were all dyed at different times of year.

I’m curious about the seasonality of textiles in other places. Do similar themes occur?

20 things about 2015

20 things in 2015

1. made all of my new clothes

2. saw Kylie in concert
3. unloaded a giant wood fired kiln and went home looking like a chimney sweep
4. watched the native flowers bloom and the noongar seasons pass
5. stalked swans
6. knitted an actual piece of clothing
7. patted an alpaca
8. learnt to weave
9. became a scavenger of leaf litter and fallen flowers and made a dress in their colours
10. made a rad jacket
11. visited my gorgeous new nephew in London
12. whilst there met a whole bunch of new sewing friends
12. learnt to felt
13. napped
14. let my sense of humour run a little wild
15. learnt to mend
16. dyed my hands blue with 4 kinds of indigo
17. bought very few pieces of new fabric and almost everything I made was either completely second hand components or had elements of it.
18. got covered in clay, often
19. made an outfit entirely by hand from local materials
20. saw a part of my state that is so beautiful it made me cry

 

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My Favourites and Most Worn 1. Fibershed #1year1outfit  2. Drape drape chameleon dress  and refashioned cardigan 3. Tania culottes and  Zac’s Tank 4. Tail’s dress 5. Upcycled shirt and Naturally dyed Ginger Jeans 6. Green jumpsuit 7. Swing jumpsuit 8. Full moon set 9. Bikini

 

Mending

MMM Mending

Last week I went to my local doctor for something pretty minor.  Something I wouldn’t have bothered going for in the past.  I was embarrassed that I was there but that’s the thing about cancer I guess, your sense of health is questioned forevermore.

Mending my scars is proving to be the easy part of my recovery. It is the doubt that has the potential to cause the real wound.

MMM Mending

I am drawing a tenuous link here, but whilst I did some successful clothes mending during Me Made May,   I became really self conscious of the gaps in my sewing knowledge and execution weaknesses.  So just as I wanted to name and shame Mr Doubt,  I’m going to be brave and call out my sewing weakness so they do not seem so big anymore!

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Here’s what I want to learn to do better:

– zips – all kinds.  I would especially love to redo the invisible zip in my beloved Nani Iro dress.

– button placement – I want to learn how to get this right without a dress form. Perhaps just more patience?

– knits – my machine has been $#%^ at skipping stitches when sewing knits lately and it is starting to really, really annoy me.

– stress points – I have fixed the apex of the front curve on my Vanamo skirts several times now and it’s way harder to do post completion!  I want to identify stress points in my makes during the making process and learn how to reinforce them to last.

– undertops – I know, I know, not a technique, but a dressing technique to allow for easy changing after sport. There MAY have been a mini meltdown involving a hot and sweaty me in a paddock carpark with nowhere private to change. I don’t want to wear any kind of bra as these suckers of scars hurt and get itchy with sweat, but I do need to find something that works after trying and failing with a few RTW crop top type options.

MMM Mending

 

There are other skills I know that I know will get better with practice, top stitching is a good example. These I am less worried about.   So there it is, to mend my sewing I need to focus on improving a few essential techniques, and as for Mr Doubt, I am sure that the naming and shaming is a good start.

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P.S. For the record over May I refashioned this red merino cardigan using some freestyle darning over self patches, mended this jacket by reinforcing the seams with interfacing then using some very visible mending, hand stitched two hems back into place, sewed a few buttons back on, fixed up 4 pairs of holey tights and fixed my husbands’ crotch problems (that’ll get some hits) using this method.   All of this was pretty useful for getting me dressed!

Me Made May 2015 Wrap and Silliness

Me Made May was going along smoothly, I did a good bout of mending and had plenty to wear, I was snapping a quick photo every morning….and then I snapped.  I got really, really gobsmackingly bored.   So inspired by some 60’s avant guarde posing advice, I did a little wall pose…

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It worked, it made me laugh and taking a normal picture became a lot easier! Before I knew it, a self imposed creative challenge was born. I busted out the classic moves, the broken doll…

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Some casual draping…

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and superman

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For the full set, go visit my instagram!  For those who followed along here are some out takes especially for you to get fresh giggles on..

A kooky clown

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Mr Bean

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Stretching it

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And my personal favorite…. the moment when I realised I could not fit in a hula hoop!!

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For those of you that care about what I wore, here’s a whole bunch of mini mes, which if you click, have links to the original blog posts.  How’s that!

But before you head down that rabbit hole, tell me, which kind of pictures would you prefer to see in this blog?  Do you like the craziness or would you prefer I just stand still and show you the goods?

Round Up

Breasts On… Breasts Off

Warning, this post contains a critically low level of sewing content.

Breast cancer treatment has all sorts of twists and turns and at the start of this adventure I did not foresee the removal of my breasts as part of my treatment. As it turns out, I am headed towards a double mastectomy once I am fully recovered from chemotherapy.

For women who have a mastectomy, you have a few choices – a full reconstruction (an unglamorous boob job which often requires using bits from elsewhere), using prosthetic breasts in a specialised bra, or simple go without. Unbustedness, straight-up, breast-free, boobless (ha! Write that on your calculator).

A reconstruction doesn’t appeal right now as I am not keen on breaking bits of my body that aren’t broken. On-off-breasts, have their appeal. What sizes girls should I wear today… But imagine the fitting issues! And I cannot imagine how uncomfortable they must be on a hot day, and I happen to live in a stinking hot country! Embracing my new bust free status appeals the most.

This last statement has taken me a long while to get to. I have had to answer a lot of questions to myself to get there. Do breasts define you? Do they define you as a woman? Are breasts necessary to look good? Or feel good? Don’t you want to have big boobs after going through all of this? As difficult as it may be after I wake from surgery I think that approaching this creatively through my wardrobe and sewing might just help me to take the first steps towards acceptance. To be honest, there has never been a whole lotta action in my bra space, so if anyone can do it, I can!

So whilst I haven’t been sewing much, I have been doing some web browsing and some mind sewing. The thing that strikes me about advice from breast cancer support groups is that the focus seems to be on hiding, rather than EMBRACING, the loss of ones breasts. Sure, I am not about to go drawing attention to my unbustedness, but I am not about to start wearing a whole heap of frilly necklines, scarves and shapeless sacks to hide it either. And if I never have to wear a bra again, I may as well take advantage of that too!

Lots of the styles I wear already will continue to work:
– higher cut, interesting neck lines
– busy, bright prints
– horizontal stripes
– jackets and blazers
– defining the waist line
– androgynous styles

My initial sewing thoughts:
– knit patterns will be easy to adjust
– patterns without darts may work straight off
– sewing separates might be easier, but, but, but I do love me a good dress
– fitted, woven patterns are going to require some extreme Small Bust Adjustments!

So, chime in, do you, or do you know anyone doing extreme SBA’s that might have some intel for me or interested in collaborating to build a database of information? Can you think of any patterns (or even designers) that would be a good fit or more difficult?