sewing life help perseverance

Experience of a Sewist trying to Shop... Ready To Wear!

Some time ago (about 18 years ago eek), I needed an outfit for a wedding. I had 2 weeks notice (it was meant to be a surprise wedding) and needless to say with 2 young children, 6 and 8 years old to look after, I needed to get a move on. I thought the fastest solution would be to go to a shopping centre and just get that outfit! Optimism vs Reality! Boy was I wrong! 


What a complete waste of precious time!!  My body did not suit what was currently in the shops. I purchased and returned numerous outfits. So now with only a week to go, in desperation, I went into a Fabric store. I purchased a funnel necked sheath dress pattern. I felt inspired and found some rust coloured polyester woven crepe that matched my hair! To add a bit of Shazam I purchased a black feather boa! I felt great in the dress and after attaching the boa I realised that there were way too many feathers! To avoid eating feathers with my main meal I needed to come up with a very quick solution. To calm down the flurry of feathers, I hacked them with scissors until it had the perfect density - desperate times call for desperate measures! Made it!  Whew! With only days to spare. 


As it was such a quick make and the style was a bit "out there," I wasn't sure if anyone else thought it looked good .... until a lovely lady, fellow wedding guest, said I looked amazing! Suddenly I felt amazing too. 


I was desperate and resorted to the Ready to Wear Rack. The copius outfits, I purchased and then returned, were alright but didn't hit the mark. Nothing much had changed from when I was a teenager who had unfulfilled shopping hopes, way back then.  


S.Y.O. - Sewing Your Own means you can be you. You have great choices: 

  • Fabric- type & colour
  • Style that suits your body shape
  • Length of garment
  • Fitting 
  • Comfort  
  • Price point
  • Additional creative touches
  • Unique outfit 

Prioritisation of time for sewing outfits is critical when you have a young family. 

When you look for an outfit, under pressure, you usually can't find one! 


Fabric stores or your Fabric Collection could be the faster route. 

The ripple effect of a compliment is indeed delightful! I still remember how I felt after that compliment. Because of that experience and others I enjoy telling people when they look good. It is a verbal hug that we all need. Please write and tell me a time that you were given a compliment, that ended up changing your day.  


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Fabric shopping are you still buying fabric you won't ever sew up?

Imagine the horror... unexpected guests and nothing to serve them. FHB ( Family Hold back) won't save the day if there is nothing in the fridge!



Having a well stocked fridge means you're prepared for anything! I love deli food. Nibble food. A smorgasboard of flavours, texture, and taste bud delights. Fetta cheese, bacon, cold meat, olives... Reality... the fetta never made it to the salad, the bacon became sweaty, cold meat was left to its own devices but the olives were devoured! The waste.. except for the olives. The "Just in case food" that went into the bin.... I've found that even good deli food doesn't last 3 weeks in the fridge.

I don't shop like that anymore. With all the different work requirements and children have become adults.... creative output is happening more in the sewing room than the kitchen ...I don't need to buy as much as I did. The pantry has tuna and I tend to buy deli food e.g. bacon when I'm actually going to cook with it.


Fabric wise I don't buy Black fabric - obviously I'm part of a small minority as a Melbourniam. I buy fabric that makes my heart race and I can see myself wearing in my everyday life. I still buy the odd evening fabric that just cannot be left in the shop, as there are occasions that call for it. I don't buy just because it's cheap!  If a Fabric is cheap and that is all its got going for the time I get it home it's no longer in my memory. May as well leave it for someone who really loves it!

The boxes that need ticking before I decide to purchase:

  • Dramatic print/Colour
  • Will it be comfortable?
  • Is the Fabric interesting?
  • Does it have bounce?
  • Does it drape?
  • Do I love the way it feels?
  • Colour combination
  • Texture
  • Wearability
  • Travelling options
  • Is it a Spectacular fabric?
  • Unique
  • Soft
  • Fabric Composition?
  • Does the colour/ print flatter my colouring
  • Will it stretch my wardrobe options?

Depending on the Fabric there is a lot to consider before fabric adoption...a lot!


I want to feel so inspired and excited about my fabric that I claw my way to the Sewing machine to sew my fabric purchases up.

Stiff Fabric with a lot of structure would make me feel like I was in a straight jacket!

Funnily enough the meals I cook also tend to have my 3 main Style Ingredients Drama, Creative and comfortable too....or the meal is just blah to me! Nuts for texture, mixing of interesting Ingredients and no heartburn after. If I have a favourite recipe I try not to cook it often or I can no longer face it. Routine is a killer for me.

We all are different and we are attracted to different elements of Fabric and food. Our memories of when we felt fabulous in an outfit and really enjoyed a meal. We certainly don't want to wear the same outfit day in day out..that's a work uniform! Wearing clothes that reveal who you are and support you in your activities, allow you to get about your day without that feeling of "not quite right."

Shopping Intentionally saves you time, money and heartbreak... Oh and storage space, guilt and a short-term thrill. Let's face it, getting a Fabric bargain is exciting and fun but if it's not right for you then it should stay in the fabric store. So if you love deli food don't wait too long before you eat it. Fresh is best. Good thing fabric lasts longer!



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Insight to Sewing: A collection of Interviews with passionate Sewists! This week Marjorie from @marjoriesews

Let me introduce you to Marjorie the third Sewist in the Insight to Sewing Series! You might know her on Instagram as @marjoriesews Marjorie lives in Brisbane Australia and is an active member of the Brisbane Spoolettes (A nationwide sewing collective) Brisbane is the capital city of the state of Queensland (our equivalent of Florida except it's 5 times bigger than Texas!)

Having a Frocktail moment with Jen from @the_stitcher_and_gatherer & Liz from @_busylizzie

Having a Frocktail moment with Jen from @the_stitcher_and_gatherer & Liz from @_busylizzie

Anne: Tell us a bit about yourself Marjorie? ...

Marjorie: My weekly timetable:- I start each day with a long walk or a weights session at my gym. I walk with  fellow sewists and we talk sewing quite a bit of the time. When I walk alone, I plan in my head what I want to sew next. My two children are adults; my daughter Jennifer is 34 and married to Warwick and my son Matthew is engaged to be married to Rachael. Most weeks they come over on a Wednesday night and I do the big family dinner. Cooking is another of my passions. I love to bake cakes and all things bad for my figure!!

On a Sunday, I visit my Mum who is still living independently at 88 and we try and do things that need to be done that she cannot manage on her own which really isn’t that much. Mum still knits profusely and embroiders hand towels and face washers.

I am not one to constantly go shopping and I don’t do lunch very often. I love to have people over instead.


But on the days I am not socialising, I will be sewing. I volunteer to sew for Angel Gowns Australia. I am given wedding dresses that have been donated to this organization and convert them into gowns and wraps for still born babies, or babies that don’t leave hospital and miscarried babies delivered around the 20 week mark. I personally have never had to go through this sadness but my Mum did when I was 12 and I remember clearly, the sadness that Mum and Dad went through. I also know several midwives and they tell me these little gowns or wraps that we make, are so appreciated by the families who are going through this awful time.


18 months ago I became a qualified milliner through the Queensland TAFE (tertiary education network). I absolutely loved this 3 year course and I loved making hats with all the different methods and materials. Unfortunately I haven’t really kept it up and that is mainly due to the fact that I live in an apartment and I do not have a lot of room to store materials and everything to do with millinery. You need a lot of stuff!! I have considered moving but that is not really economically viable for me just so that I can make hats. Making fabric hats is where I plan to go and with some more pattern drafting skills, I think that will be my forte.


Embroidery and applique are 2 other sewing crafts that I love to pursue and I like to do that when watching TV at night. Knitting sometimes gets a look in as well.

Travelling overseas is another passion and I try to plan a trip every year. I do like adventure holidays which include a hiking tour or cycling tour and Europe is where I like to go. Fabric shopping overseas will be the highlight if I can fit it in.

Anne: How many clothes do you sew in a year?


Marjorie: When you see me on Instagram through the month of May that I am not wearing a repeat top or dress, it would appear that I sew prolifically. But I have been sewing my clothes all of my adult life with a short break for about 4 years after my husband died in 2007. During that 4 years I still wore clothes that I had made but I just didn’t sew. I tried to soothe my soul in Retail Therapy during that time of intense grief, but my son said something one day that triggered my sewing spirit again. And soon after that, I discovered the online sewing community through BurdaStyle and blogs. It was enlightening and I haven’t stopped. I probably sew at least 40 items of clothing per year. I always have to try something new.


Anne: How do they all fit into your wardrobe?

Marjorie: They fit because I give away quite a lot. I have given away all the cocktail dresses, ball gowns, suits and almost all of my RTW clothes that I used to buy and were part of my previous life as a corporate wife. Except for my jeans which I still like to buy, (Brax jeans) and underwear, I make everything else. Because I am tall and a size 14-16, I give my clothes to the transgender community group. A dear friend of mine advocates for the LGBT community and she distributes my clothes and shoes for me. So if I make something that I don’t like or I can’t get to fit properly, I will finish it off as if I would wear it and then pass it on.

Anne: What is your strategy that keeps you organised and your wardrobe not so squishy?


Marjorie: I have probably already explained that in question 2. But at the end of each summer, I give my clothes a good going over and particularly the ones I have worn a lot and check the areas where I sweat and look to see if they have had better days. I also pull out of my wardrobe any clothes that I haven’t worn for 2 years excluding jackets or coats or winter clothes for much colder climates that I visit occasionally. I do the same with shoes. Living in Queensland means I have a lot of summer clothes and much less in the way of winter clothes.

I soothe my soul these days by sewing and find retail shopping for clothes so boring. For me the excitement starts with a trip to a fabric shop, a Burda magazine or a few hours looking at online pattern shops.


Anne- in summary: Thanks Marjorie for letting us in on your very busy and creative life! Sewing, Creating and Giving back, fill your day and Soothe your Soul. You haven't stopped sewing, learning or giving. I love how you have involvement with helping people in such a caring way. Thank you for telling us about the heartfelt organisation Angel Gowns Australia. I cried when you told me about this work you do. (Instagram @angelgownsau ). Marjorie your heart is to help and your sewing is the means. Being aware and actually doing something to help, is not only helpful for the recipient, it is good for our souls too. That your son prompted you back to your  a creative side after the loss of your husband. The healing power of sewing! Much more than "just a  a hobby!" A great reminder for all of us to see where we also can become more involved in our community. A wardrobe bursting with garments can be changed into a help for people in need. What you don't wear can become a link to someone else's New beginning! I am sure what you are doing Marjorie will be inspiring and challenging for many.


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Sea change Sew change See change

Sea Change....

Retirement means a different wardrobe!

Time to:

•get comfortable

•be approachable

•look interesting


Going from workplace/corporate to home, is a sea change. Sewing a new style of clothes means you'll have appropriate clothing for your new lifestyle...effortless yet classy and smart.


Sew Change...

You can't wear that fabulous corporate jacket to the coffee shop, to meet up with friends .. it's too formal

You can't just add white runners to a tracksuit it's way too casual.

Wovens, dark colours, stiff fabrics, official gone!

See Change...

Hello smart, sassy, comfortable, creative you!

Extreme change of lifestyle means you need to rethink the clothes you sew.


You want to feel right, with-it and fabulous!

Choosing the right fabric for your new lifestyle garments is necessary, so you feel excited and in keeping with a new wardrobe that works for your new lifestyle.

One of my clients told me how he was off to Fiji for his first holiday. His mother packed for him! He had a case filled with suits and shirts. He looked out of place and felt out of place. He purchased some casual clothes and was able to have a great holiday. Thanks Mum!


Get your corporate clothes out of your wardrobe and make room for the "new you clothes" Feel sassy, comfortable in your own skin, look anything but frumpy! Enjoy your new circumstances. Make sure you make more than one outfit though... because you will want to wear it all the time! And that my friends is a uniform...and we can't have that!


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"Sewists' Block" is real. How to release your creative floodgates or get your sewing Mojo back!

Sewists' Block:

  • Finding it hard to get to the Sewing machine?
  • Unhappy with the results you have from Sewing?
  • Memade or RTW clothes not ticking all the boxes? 
  • Is the path to more Successful Sewing, clear?

How to begin?

The Wants  & The Must Haves

Time to step out of the shadow and into the sunlight..

This is the time to begin again!!

Get reaquainted with yourself...

What do you actually need in your Wardrobe now

What do you want in your Wardrobe that will inject your personality into your outfit and let the world know who you are!


We all have only 5 seconds to make a good first impression. Do our clothes speak well for us?

Your Clothes make a statement 20 metres/65 feet away, before you have said a word. 

Do your Clothes reflect your personality and are they appropriate attire for your environment?

Look younger and wiser! 

Try on the clothes in your Wardrobe now.

Keep the garments that have promise. 

Remove any clothing that makes you feel frumpy.  

Next make Sewing decisions.

What to sew...


The garment starter list!

Prioritise what are your most important environments. What you wear while watching TV is probably not a high priority.



Focus on your top 3 environments!  

Get the Patterns and Fabrics together.






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Improvise Overcome Adapt ...Clint Eastwood Sewing Style!

Ahh Life!! The mountain Top Experiences and the Valleys. There are no straight lines in life...If there were, there would be no Mountain Top Highs (there is always more than one mountain..So keep holding on)!! The view from the top is truly worth the depression & doubt of the Valley. Each step we take is riddled with resistance. The climb is arduous but life was never meant to be easy...Ever. This is a war zone with small spates of Sewing... Because Life without sewing is just not worth living IMO (in my opinion)!! 


When we look at others we think everything in their lives is Rosy. Don't fool yourself with this belief. Everyone has the same ups and downs. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. 

Dig your foot into the side of that mountain. Hold your position. Don't backslide. Hang on for Your Dear Life! Take a break, rest up, regather your a little...Do anything that it takes for you to recharge your batteries..And then continue on the upward journey. 


Perseverance and hardship create a beauty in you that cannot be produced any other way! The butterfly has the most beautiful colours in its wings. These colours are the result of an arduous journey. The cycle of life indeed! When a butterfly is in the Cocoon Stage, it needs to move through a channel that is squeezy. This pressure on the butterfly as it moves through the pupua stage produces the colours. If the Cocoon is cut open the butterfly is free but misses out on the squeezing.As a result the butterfly then misses out on having beautifully coloured wings! Pressure producing development is real.

All things pass. Bad things and good things. When you finally get to the top of the mountain then you go down again. 


The cycle of life. 

Bad luck and good luck...Let's just say it's the position you are holding at the moment on that mountain! You are not cursed if you are at the bottom of the mountain and start climbing. You and everyone else has a life journey. Stop screaming and don't give up. Use all your wits and energy to survive the ride of your life.


Feeling inspired after watching the latest screen version of the Ben Hur Movie and realising the worst life ever would be a life filled with everything working out exactly the way we planned! 

Sometimes a sewing mishap can end up being the best outfit we ever made or a learning experience that shapes us as the sewer we long to be!


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