Monday, 12 January 2015

2015: Hang up your hang ups!

I love this image! I found it just searching 'hang ups' and it
has absolutely made my day!

Sooooo….. You know those times when (for whatever reason) life throws you a bit of a curveball that knocks you a bit out of line? Like, not something super bad or life-changing, but just something a bit insidious that has you doing things differently without you really noticing it?

Well that was the majority of my 2014. That’s not to say it was ‘A Super Bad Year’ because it definitely wasn’t (and it was nowhere near as bad as 2011; also known as ‘My Shittiest Year Ever’) but it was a year of…. Irritations.

I was considering whether or not I really wanted to write a blogpost about last year. After all, it’s been and gone, and I’m definitely all about the new year. Also, I’m not into being all ‘Wah wah wah, woe is me!’ But in order to work out what I want to do with my blogging, I kind of feel like I need to mention it, before I go onto other things. Also, let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that there’s anyone still reading this blog (if you are: Hey! Thanks for still reading, I promise to be more interesting soon!)

So, 2014! I mentioned ‘irritations’ that were, more specifically, health problems.

Nothing major, or worrying, just a recurrence of an old nerve problem in my neck. It causes a serious amount of pain in my neck, arm and shoulder, and some muscle wastage, and loss of fine motor function. Generally, it’s kind of background noise with some minor twinges, but I can normally do pretty much anything I like. Unfortunately 2014 seemed to be ALL ABOUT THE NERVE PAIN. So, from last spring onward, I spent a lot of time at the Pain Management Clinic, being poked, prodded, injected, injected with something else, injected with needles hooked up to machines, and medication. Lots of medication. SIGH.

Most of the time it was just annoying more than anything else, with the pain minimised thanks to painkillers, and there are people who are far worse off than I am, so I really don’t want to sound ‘wah wah wah…’ but the pain/hospital appointments/medication combined to make a few things happen last year that were less than ideal.

1) My levels of exercise went right down. I went from being really-quite-fit to being so-not-fit. Most of the time I couldn’t exercise, and when I could, it was so much harder because I was out of shape and out of practice.
2) I could not sew/knit/crochet/anything else crafty you can think of, without being in a ton of pain, and quite frequently it just got a bit dangerous (using really sharp fabric shears with a hand with a loss of motor function = a fairly bad idea)
3) I put on weight. Like, a lot. At first I put on weight because of the medication, then I put on weight because of the lack of exercise, and then I put on weight because of, y’know…. Ice-cream.

These things combined to make my blogging and sewing pretty much non-existent. Also, I would go through periods of fervently reading all the blogposts I could get my hands on, and then ignoring the blog roll for a week, because I hated feeling like I wasn’t part of the sewing community. And once you stop blogging for a while, it feels that much harder to start it up again. Also, when you’re in a place where you don’t really feel like yourself (not that putting on weight is something to be ashamed of! Because I’m not. It happened because of certain circumstances and my overwhelming need for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s! I’m okay with that… but I find it hard when I go through any quick physical change) it makes it difficult to think ‘Oh yeah, I’ll take a load of photos of myself and put them online for the whole world to see!’

I also began thinking about what it was that I really wanted to blog about. Was it really just my sewing? Because when I started this blog, I felt like I was doing it not only to talk about my sewing, but how that meshes with my lifestyle, the activities I engage in (not many of those at the moment, I’ll admit, but here’s hoping!!) and my interests. But, I ended up mostly just talking about the sewing, thinking that once I felt more comfortable blogging, I’d start writing about the other things that I somehow felt more vulnerable blogging about, like my love of books and comics, and the video games I’m most enjoying, that kind of thing.

Although 2014 wasn’t the best year for my sewing career, it might have helped me recognise my ‘hang ups’.  I can be very hard on myself, and expect myself to be perfect at something the first time, and when I’m not, I think I must be a failure! So, blogging around areas that I’m not very comfortable exploring is very difficult for me. But I’m also aware that I would probably find blogging a lot more rewarding if I DO blog about the things that really mean something to me, even if they stray into areas where I have my little ‘hang ups’ and where I’m not at my most confident.

So, I’m not sure I’ve necessarily got to the point where I know all the answers to my blogging conundrums yet, but I think I know what I want from this year – to try to blog about what I am HONESTLY INTERESTED IN BLOGGING ABOUT, without letting my insecurities shut me down before I start. I don’t judge other bloggers, I just enjoy their creativity, no matter what they’re blogging about. So I’m going to try to extend the same courtesy to myself.

Here’s to a new year. And to anyone reading, I hope that you too, remember to be as nice to yourself as you are to others! Sometimes we judge ourselves so harshly!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Me? Mad!! May! Catch-up: Days Five and Six!


Me? Mad!! May! is difficult!

I mean, sure, doing stuff that scares or intimidates me on a daily basis is pretty hard work, but also, trying to remember taking photographs where possible, and keep up with the blogging... yeesh.

I'll have you know I'm a pretty lazy person! I'm most definitely a lazy blogger, and I still haven't got up to speed with this daily blogging shizz....


Me? Mad!! May: Day Five

It was a bank holiday Monday. I spent most of the day painting my bathroom - it shouldn't have been a mammoth task, but the walls just seemed to soak up the paint! I wore a pair of old jogging bottoms and a me-made black jersey version of the Pendrell blouse that has always been a bit big and weird fitting on me, so I normally wear it to work out in, or to bed.

Me? Mad!! May! 5 - Weird fitting jersey Pendrell blouse
In case you were wondering, the new paint colour is called 'Waterfall' - very bathroom appropriate no?

Anyway, so I did that for most of the day, and so you're probably thinking 'I bet she didn't do the 'mad' part of Me? Mad!! May' but you'd be wrong! 

After finally finishing the bathroom at about 7pm, I sucked it up, got changed and went..........


If you're scratching your head, wondering why the hell that's scary, let me tell you a little bit about that time that I moved to Paris, and thought I really ought to do something to stay fit when I couldn't afford a gym.  I lived by the Seine, so the sensible thing to do was to go jogging along the riverbank two or three times a week. I thought myself very cosmopolitan as I jogged, beetroot red and sweating past chic Parisians (who generally gave me some serious side-eye, and a wide berth) until only a couple of sessions in, I started noticing some serious discomfort in my lower legs. But I'm nothing if not stubborn, so onward I went, trying to make sure I stretched out my calves after each run, as I was sure that was the problem. My friends started laughing at the weird, limping way I was walking (and I was walking all the time) Finally, enough was enough, and I hobbled to monsieur le docteur, and learnt my first real-life situation 'medical' French: pĂ©riostite tibiale.... AKA shin splints. And of course, the culprit was all that 'healthy' running. Let me tell you - that was the last time I went jogging in Paris. It turns out, I needn't have worried because I was walking about 6 or 7 miles a day, and that seemed to keep me healthy enough.

Anyhoo - after that, you could not get me to run. Seriously. I went to a personal trainer for a while who explained about my 'overdeveloped calves' yadda yadda yadda, and how I could do some shin strengthening exercises - walking on my heels and other things. But let's face it, if it's painful for me and going to be a hassle, why on earth would I bother (lazy y'see!). 

Recently though, I've been thinking more and more about how I'd like to change things up a bit, and I don't like to think that there's something I can't do, so with the help of Zombies, Run! I decided to suck it up, get out there, and see if I can run.....
Me? Mad!! May! 5 - later, the same ill-fitting Pendrell blouse with some workout gear.
(Answer: Yes. Yes I can. It's just hard work and I have spend a good chunk of time on a foam roller afterwards)

And you know, to start with, it was pretty intimidating. I felt like everyone that was nearby was looking at me, somehow knowing that I was a 'newbie' runner and that I didn't know what I was doing. Of course, if you were to ask me what I thought about someone else running for the first time in years, I'd just say that 'everyone has to start somewhere' but it's somehow different when it's me in that situation. But I sucked it up and went for it - and I felt brilliant afterwards! It's been bugging me for a while that I didn't feel like I could run, just in general, and I've been doing the shin strengthening exercises in the hopes that when I start running, it would make things easier for me... but it always seemed to take that little bit of extra guts that I didn't have, to actually go ahead and do it! And Me? Mad!! May! totally gave me the push. (Spoiler: ran again today, and did even better. Also, I love Zombies, Run! It seems to me that putting the added element of gaming into any situation can only make it more awesome!)


Me? Mad!! May: Day Six

Back to work! URGH.

Me? Mad!! May! 6 - Back to work grumpy selfie!
Wearing my blue floral Sureau dress (I love it!) to
try to take away the back to work sting.
Bank holidays are brilliant, but they always mean the first day back at work is going to be a toughie, as that's one extra day's worth of work to catch up on... hence my grumpy face!

After one seriously busy day at work, and then a crazily strenuous session at kickboxing, all I wanted to do was eat some food and crash... but I couldn't cheat on my Me? Mad!! May commitment. So Mr Cuckoo kindly offered to cook dinner whilst I tackled another intimidating topic - work-related studying! I have been meaning to work on this for months and months (it's entirely self-led... I don't have to do it if I don't want. I want to in principle, but the longer I left it, the harder it was to start, until I started avoiding the area of the house where the book sat. LAME.) but I always found an excuse for why it wasn't the right time to start on it... I was too tired, too busy and so on...

So, I steeled myself, grabbed the book, my notebooks, highlighters and a pen (and a cup of coffee, of course!) and settled myself down at the dining table. (I had planned on studying in the sewing room, but it was too too messy to concentrate in - story of my life.)

 I used my fancypants DSLR camera that my parents bought me for my birthday to take this photo, which is why it
looks a lot nicer than my other shots - Note to self, use this camera more often.
And guess what? It was nowhere near as bad as I'd built it up to be! (I'm sensing a Me? Mad!! May! theme here...) Granted, I didn't get past the introduction, and I probably wrote more notes than were really necessary, but now I've actually started, I feel better about just cracking on with it! What a relief! It's been hanging over me like a little dark cloud, making me feel guilty and lazy every time I thought about, which only made it even harder to start! Procrastination sucks!

On that note, I need to post this, so I can crack on with today's Me? Mad!! May challenge.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Me? Mad!! May! Day Four: Trying New Things

Unfortunately, it's Me? Mad!! May, so I have no choice!
I have definitely noticed that there are certain 'types' of sewing patterns that I'm automatically drawn to - casual, relatively clean lines, classic and versatile. If I don't think it will go with many other things in my wardrobe, or unless it can be worn on it's own, I probably won't go for it. Other no-no's include underwear (I think it will be too complicated/ require a ton of fitting/ too labour-intensive etc etc etc) or anything that I think is particularly 'on trend'. (I should probably point out that it's not because I think that being 'trendy' is beneath me or anything - I just don't feel 'cool' enough to give it a try)

So, although Closet Case File's new Nettie bodysuit pattern is casual and has clean lines and is classic and versatile, my initial thoughts when I saw it were 'oh that's really cool, but a bodysuit? It's a bit too close to underwear for me, plus... aren't bodysuits all trendy right now?' (and sure enough, I just checked and they're all over which is most definitely cool in my book!) So, at any other normal time, it wouldn't even occur to me to buy the pattern and try it out - even though tucking my t-shirt in can be the bane of my life at times (my freakishly long upper body throws any RTW t-shirts for a loop)

BUT! It's Me? Mad!! May! So I bought it!

After making the first few challenges really rather tough, I decided to give myself a little sewing break today - on the proviso that I worked on something out of my sewing comfort zone, and since Nettie was so newly purchased, it was top of my list!

I decided that since I was super uncomfortable and unsure, I would make a muslin, using some cream jersey I bought ages ago, when I can only assume I was 'shrooming... I can't decide if it's properly fugly or just UGH... it's got this weird abstract pattern all over it, which is okay, except that it's in this yukky, baby poo greeny/brown colour. I chose to make the scoop neck with medium back (which is even more of a change for me - I never feel comfortable wearing anything with a low back)

I made my usual 1.5" length increase to the bodice front and back and just waded on in there... whistling cheerfully as I cut out the pattern pieces (okay, not actually whistling - because I can't. So, let's say humming instead.) So I was cheerfully humming away when I realised that there were no neck and leg binding pattern pieces, and I hadn't read the instructions properly, or I would have known that there aren't any included. Which isn't a big deal, because the length of each binding piece is given earlier on in the instructions, based on the neckline/backline combo you choose and your size etc. ARGH BUT I HATE JUST DRAWING MEASUREMENTS ONTO SHIFTY GODDAM JERSEY FABRIC.

Anyhoo... after having a little sweary hissy fit and then finishing up with the cutting, I got down to the sewing. The instructions are really straight forward, but I found basting the neckline binding on was a nightmare. Although my fabric seemed really stable and nice to begin with, the moment I started pulling on that binding, the edges curved like the dickens. I couldn't even find a raw edge to line up with the neckline. By the time I was done basting the binding on, it was all over the shop, and looked totally terrible. So, I ended up just ripping all the basting out, unpicking one of the shoulder seams, and just going straight for the 'stretch as you go' approach with the serger, which would have been fine, except that in my hurry to 'make up time' for having cocked up the basting to begin with, I must have pulled too much, and even with a serious steaming and pressing, that neckline binding would not lie flat.

Normally, at this point, I think I would have thrown the offending garment into the corner of the room and stomped off in a huff. But! In Me? Mad!! May! we don't run away from hard tasks! We relish them! (or, so I kept telling myself) So, I struggled on. The rest of the bodysuit came together really easily, although I got slightly confused with the snap crotch lining instructions, and needed to re-read the instructions a few times before I got it. Once the snaps were in, I tried it on with a little trepidation... and it fit! Kind of. I could NOT get the neckline to lie flat, and the shoulders of the bodysuit just kept sliding down. Next time, I need to take in the shoulders somehow both at the front and back (you can see my bra straps at the back), and probably raise the scoop neck just a little bit.

MMM 5 - Nettie Bodysuit muslin
I have to admit, I didn't feel like this pattern was AT ALL flattering when I first put it on. I made me feel dumpy and weird, but after I stuck on my jeans, it looked a lot better. I started out sewing this pattern feeling a little belligerent, like I knew it wouldn't work but at least I could say I tried, but actually, I think this is a pattern that could maybe work for me. Once I make the fitting changes to the neckline of the pattern, and bring in those shoulders a bit, I think I may well give this another go! I've worn the bodysuit for the rest of the evening, and out and about briefly, to go to the shop to pick up some stuff for dinner, and it's actually really comfortable, and it's nice not having to worry about my t-shirt riding up if I crouch down, or bend over at all.

The moral of this story - I should stop making snap judgements about what does and doesn't work for me, and just dismissing patterns out of hand, based on stupid little rules that I've made up for myself! This doesn't mean that I'm going to be buying every pattern out there (although, let's face it... I would if I could afford to!) but hopefully from now on, I'll give new things a bit more consideration!

It's not as interesting, or as inspiring as the previous Me? Mad!! May challenges, but in its own way, it's been just as fun and challenging!

So, yes. I think I will be making another Nettie bodysuit - but hopefully not in a fabric that has baby poo coloured smears all over it. What the hell was I thinking???

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Me? Mad!! May! Day Three: Makin' Friends!

I remember Me Made June of 2011, and Karen's awesome decision to have her photograph taken with a stranger every day. For that entire June, I would wait expectantly for her blog posts to pop up in my bloglovin' feed, and would always laugh and be in awe at her ballsiness. 'She's so amazing' I'd think, 'I could never do anything like that... that's so cool.' Then, about midway through the month she had her photograph taken with some guys in wetsuits, either just about to have a surf session, or having just finished one, and it made me think of me and my friends after surfing (although it looked a lot sunnier than it normally is in Wales!!) and so I showed Mr Cuckoo, who thought that her Me Made June was the best thing ever. For the rest of the month he would ask me what her photograph for that day had been. (You know where I'm going with this, don't you?)

So, when I ventured the idea of 'Me? Mad!! May!', I didn't even get a chance to ask Mr Cuckoo for suggestions before he piped up with 'You should do what that other girl did!' (sorry Karen, he only knows you as 'that blogger that took those photos') 'You HATE talking to strangers! It'll be really good for you!' Worse still, even my (notoriously gregarious!) MUM agreed: 'Oh yes Alexandra, that will be scary for you, what a good idea!' Ugh. It was a good idea. I hated it. But I dutifully wrote it on my little list of ideas, and moved swiftly on.

Until I'd sent in my MMM2 application yesterday, and suddenly felt like I could tackle anything! After swaggering around the house for a little while like some sort of puffed-up cockerel, chatting to Mr Cuckoo about how I felt brilliant for having submitted my application, I confidently came out with 'and I'm going to have my photo taken with a stranger tomorrow!' 'Oh really??' was Mr Cuckoo's surprised (and maybe slightly disbelieving) response. Whatever fool... I'll show you!

So, today was spent meeting up with lots of friends and their kids in a nearby pub garden for a few drinks and some lunch, making the most of the sunshine. Okay, I thought... I'll find a likely looking person on the walk down to the pub... it'll be easy.... right? So, we walked down the nearby street of shops, but, er... no one looked that friendly. Then we walked through the park... but everyone looked busy. Then we got to the pub and I was too busy playing with kids, eating sandwiches and chatting away with a glass of wine to worry too much about 'this photo' that I briefly mentioned to my friends, and then forgot all about.

When we all decided it was time to go, I suddenly decided that today wasn't the best time to do The Photo, and that I would just do 'one of the other scary things'... so I just picked up my stuff, and was heading back up towards the pub itself when I spotted an awesome looking gent in a beret and cool, loudly patterned shirt. 'Fuck it!' Before I knew it, I was over there, trying to explain what the hell I wanted. Although he initially made a joking attempt to run in the opposite direction, he actually became pretty interested in my little spiel 'so there's this thing called Me Made May, yadda yadda yadda, but I decided to make it scary so I'm doing Me? Mad!! May! yadda yadda yadda, [deep breath] will you have a photo taken with me?'

Before we knew it, we were chatting like old friends. His name was Hugh. He thought what I was doing was awesome. He thought it was great that he was going to be 'on the internet' (thank goodness, otherwise that could be awkward!) and he thought it was cool that I have 'found people who liked to do the same thing' online (I think he thought that it was pretty weird that I was making my own clothes, although the girl that took the photo seemed quite impressed that I had made my t-shirt).  'Can I put my arm around you? Is that cool?' he asked in a very gentlemanly fashion. He also shook my hand at least three times. Very friendly and such a gent!

Meet Hugh! Gotta love a man in a beret!
MMM 3 - Black and white birdy Renfrew (just about seen)
It turns out that we are both veterans of the pub's Tuesday night quiz, and Hugh had actually met his now wife at that same quiz. Although he offered to introduce me to all his friends (how nice! I think he may have thought that I was all alone at the pub, since all my friends and Mr Cuckoo seemed not to have noticed that I'd stopped and had gone on ahead) I felt that just meeting Hugh and Photo-Taking Lady were about all I could possibly handle... plus, I had a bad need for the toilet... wine, ya know?

I thanked Hugh and Photo-Taking Lady and then, quite honestly, I scarpered

I honestly couldn't believe that I had actually managed to wander up to a stranger and ask them to be in a photograph with me. I do not do shit like that... ever.

I'm once again on a massive high - feeling pretty invincible right about now. 

BUT. When, on our way home, Mr Cuckoo suggested that I now do all of my Me Made photographs with strangers, I had to put my foot down. 'Oh hell no.' Karen, if you ever read this - you are an absolute hero. Once, I could just about muster the courage for - but a month?

No. I am just not that brave. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Me? Mad!! May! Day Two: Jumping In Feet First

No. No no no. There are no feet involved in this blog post, you'll be pleased to hear... URGH. Feet. Gross. They give me the shudders. Yuck.


Oh yeah. Day Two!

I'm TRYING, all right??
Jeez. Give a girl a break!

Well, I figured, if I was really going to try to scare myself out of my comfort zone, I might as well go the whole hog. Seriously. Not holding back at all. I knew without a doubt what the MOST scary thing for me was - it was chasing my dream, and admitting it to those around me.

Long story short.... today, I applied for my dream. I told Mr Cuckoo, and my folks, and my awesome brother and sister-in-law, who all gave me some valuable advice with my application, and at lunch, after 'proof reading' my application (I'll be honest, by this point I was so buzzed on coffee and adrenaline, I wasn't really doing anything more than reading and re-reading it, and thinking 'oh please let this work'), I literally took a massive deep breath, and hit that send button. Done. I had officially applied for my dream.

Phew. I felt more exhausted than after a kickboxing session where I've had my ass handed to me. This was so much harder. Because I knew that I wasn't going to keep it a secret that I had applied. I wasn't going to stay very quiet, in case nothing came of it. That's not the point of Me? Mad!! May. The point is to truly scare myself and be honest about it!

So here you go, this is me being honest with you about it. I applied for something that I want terribly, like so SO badly. And you know what? I'm probably not going to get it. In fact, I have no chance in hell of getting it. And when I'm politely rejected, I'm going to be totally gutted. People will ask me, and I'll have to say 'No, I didn't get it.' or even 'No, they never even replied'. And that will suck. But you know what would suck even more? Not applying at all, because I didn't want to be vulnerable enough to admit that I wanted it out loud.

You know what? When I'd hit that send button, and had a moment or two of deep calming breaths, I suddenly wanted to run around that cafĂ© giving everyone a high-five. Not because I have a chance at my dream (no really, I don't want you to get excited on my behalf, because seriously guys, there's just no way) but because I'd done the hard part. I'd plucked up the courage and determination to put myself out there for something that really matters to me, and it felt freaking AWESOME. 

The best bit? I spent the rest of the afternoon coming up with loads of awesome ideas that I would have never ever had the balls to come up with before this. It's like, once you step out of your comfort zone, you suddenly see so many opportunities around you that were out of your eyeshot before. Which is so cool, but..... SCARY. I know, right? No shit Sherlock.

One thing's for sure: If I manage to get through this month without having a heart attack, it'll be a miracle!

Oh yeah! I guess I should probably get a-postin' my me-mades, eh?

MMM 1 - Strawberry Sorbetto top - I wear this too often.
I do not know what I'm doing with my left leg there, but I do know that
I was having a good old nosey at some people having what looked
like an argument outside. I should start watching soap operas.

All squinty-eyed but with a post-application cheesy grin.
What? The dress? Oh yeah, a recently made Skater dress that I've not
bothered blogging about. I love it, because it's comfy but looks pretty.
Take-aways from this blog post?
1) Scaring yourself is pretty cool.
2) I hate feet. Really.
3) I need to work out a new hairstyle, or have my hair cut, or learn to style it or SOMETHING, especially as Mr Cuckoo has informed me that I have a very small head. Dick. He's one to talk, you should see what he's done to his beard.

PS - No, I'm not telling you what it was I applied for.... One step at a time! It was bad enough admitting that I applied for something I really wanted without also admitting what it was. You never know, I may 'fess up eventually.

Now I'm going to go and have a g&t and play on Dark Souls, quite possibly the most rage-inducing game I have ever played. I love it.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Me? Mad!! May! Day One: A self-imposed crazy challenge!

My motto for the month!

So it’s the first of May – and round the sewing blog sphere that obviously means masses of people taking part in Me-Made May, an awesome month of celebrating your self-made clothes, organised by Zoe. I’ve ‘participated’ twice, but never in any particularly successful way. Both times, I ran out of steam, getting frustrated with taking my photograph every day, and not really being organised enough to actually stick with it all the way through. Last year I was pretty close to wearing me-mades every day, but didn’t really have any documentation of it…. That petered out about midway through the month.

So, after months of blog-silence from me, I spent the past few days thinking about whether it was a bit idiotic to even try to participate this year, when I can’t even get my shit together to write a normal blog post. One thing I know for sure about myself is that I tend to be a bit of an ‘all or nothing’ person. I don’t do things by halves. So, I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t join in, and I was moving on to think about something else, when I realised I was being a total defeatist, and giving up on doing something that I wanted to do before I started, on the off-chance that I fail at it again. 

And that, folks, feels like a bit of a running theme of my life around the Cuckoo Clock lately. Wanting to do things, but never starting them because I’m afraid I might fail. 

It’s funny how, when I was younger, I would notice when I was becoming too ‘comfortable’ or ‘settled’ in a particular situation, and would immediately come up with something to do that would ‘shock’ me out of my comfort zone. It didn’t have to be anything big, it could be really small, but something that I had been putting off, or getting out of, or not starting because I was frightened to fail. However, in recent years, I’ve definitely felt the insidious grip of ‘if unsure, don’t bother’. So, blog posts that I knew would be difficult for me to write? Just don’t write ‘em! An uncomfortable conversation with my boss at work? Just don’t have it! A pattern that I really love the look of, but feel like I wouldn’t dare wear the finished garment, because it’s not ‘my style’? Just don’t make it!

None of those things on their own are particularly bad, are they? I mean, it’s actually quite sensible to think ‘I just don’t think that pattern is a sensible purchase, because I probably won’t wear the finished item – and I have tons of patterns that still need making up over here!’ or ‘I don’t want to bother my boss right now – I know he’s busy, and I don’t want to distract him from that deadline’ But, it’s a little insidious, and before you know it, you’re stuck in your ‘comfort zone’ suddenly feeling like those decisions you made NOT to do something are more than just decisions that applied to one particular circumstance…. They’re rules that you made for yourself about what you CAN or CAN’T do. 

‘I can’t wear backless dresses/tops’
‘I can’t ask my boss for help with [insert problem here]’
‘I can’t run on a treadmill’ (yes, really!)
‘I can’t admit that I want something in case I don’t get it!’ 

Before long… even the stupidest things become big deals, because you’ve made them big deals. 

Over the past month or so, various situations both at work and home have made me think about busting out of my comfort zone, and trying  to push myself past these invisible boundaries that I’ve set for myself. I’ve come across blog posts and news items that have made me think about what I want out of life (big and small things) and I’ve had various conversations about people being ‘their own worst enemy’ because they limit themselves, or allow their fears to stop them from growing as a person. 

And I’ve realised, I’m just as guilty of that as anyone, if not moreso!

Suddenly, participating in Me-Made May was more than just a challenge to see what me-made clothes I would wear for a month, it was a symbol of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, of doing ‘one thing every day that scares you’ (Eleanor Roosevelt was pretty smart!), of freeing myself of the fear of failure.

So. I realised, instead of worrying about whether I could complete Me-Made May as it stands, I had to go BIGGER. 

And I came up with an idea to just DO one thing that scares me every day for the month of May, WHILST wearing me mades. 

Thus, ‘Me? Mad!! May’ was born. My own little challenge to myself for the month of May. Because, as I said. I don’t do things by halves. 

I must do one thing every day for the month of May that I haven’t done because a) I’m too intimidated, b) I’m honestly scared of the outcome, c) I’m too embarrassed, d) I don’t want to fail.

As much as possible, I must try to DOCUMENT my daily challenge with photographs etc. This will not be appropriate every time, as there will probably be things that just don’t lend themselves to photographing, or situations when it would honestly be massively inappropriate to do so, but on those days, I must still write a blog post where I at least SAY what the day’s challenge/fear has been, and how I coped/didn’t cope with the situation.

Some of my challenges might seem really lame, but I guess that’s because we all have our own little fears and issues that we’re uncomfortable with. I realised, after talking to my Mum about ideas for challenges, that a lot of them really are very personal. One of hers was ‘driving somewhere new’, because she isn’t the world’s most confident driver, but that wouldn’t really be a challenge at all for me, because I don’t mind driving at all. 

Hopefully, as the month of May progresses, I’ll be able to show myself that the majority of my ‘limits’ are self-imposed, and that I’m more than capable of doing the things that I think hold me back, if only I’m willing to make myself uncomfortable!

So, what’s ‘Me? Mad!! May’s’ first challenge? 

Actually writing this post and putting it on my blog, before chickening out and deleting it! 

Yep. Just admitting that I’m going to try to do this challenge is scary, because…. Well… what happens if I can’t go through with it!? 

I guess that’s the point! What am I getting myself into????

Happy May Everybody!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Wardrobe Architect Post 2

The more I do these wardrobe architect posts, oddly, the more I wonder about posting them on my blog, because although I would have said that these posts are ‘just’ about clothes, the more I’m starting to realise that my feelings about what I choose to wear, and how I feel in certain clothes, can actually be very personal indeed! Sorry again if you find these boring, feel free to skip 'em!

I have to admit, I feel like these exercises have been really useful for me, because they're making me take a real look at how I feel in relation to certain styles. I started this blog partly as a way of encouraging myself to branch out into more interesting, and 'girly' clothing, and I've come to realise that actually, it's fine if I don't feel comfortable in full-skirted dresses, and that I can still look feminine and ladylike without them! The more I look, the more I see that there are definitely ways in which I can tweak my wardrobe to fit my desire to feel more 'put-together' and 'classy' without having to sacrifice feeling comfortable and 'myself' in those clothes. It's okay for me to love other bloggers' vintage styles/50's style dresses/colourful outfits, without wearing them myself! But you know what? If I DO decide to branch out into these areas, that's fine too! Having a solid grip on what does and does not work for me personally will only make it easier for me to branch out, in ways in which I'm comfortable!

Uncover the styles that make you feel like yourself and attach words and images to them.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy, poised, powerful, etc)?

Confident, elegant, strong, adaptable, adventurous, free, energetic, vibrant, classy.

When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?

Uncomfortable, self-conscious, sluggish, bulky. 

I hate anything riding up or down, or anything at all restrictive to movement.

I struggle to feel comfortable in anything 'cutesy' or overly 'girly'. Anything that is particularly fussy or frilly just makes me irritable when I'm wearing it. I've also noticed that I may wear one item of clothing with a print on it, but anything too loud, busy or flowery makes me very self conscious.

Anything animal print. I love it on other people, but for me, just no.

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?

I’ve come to realise that I don’t actually think I have any style icons! Or, at least, I can't think of any person in particular that embodies my 'ideal' style... This has kind of irritated me, and I'm now actively looking to see if I can find a style icon, more out of interest's sake than for any other reason.

The closest thing to a style icon I can come up with is Katniss Everdeen's everyday clothing in both movies. Natural, functional, but ladylike and flattering. I think it's more than the clothes she wears though, she's an intelligent, competent, strong female character.

I suppose I have some brands that kind of epitomise my idea of style: Roxy (although probably the stuff on the dressier end of the spectrum), Fat Face, and Joules. For me they often seem to mix the casual with elegant and ladylike, which is what I'm after I think!

What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?

Retro/Vintage - I LOVE LOVE LOVE these looks, but I hate to feel at all 'costumey' in what I wear. I love these looks on other people, and really wish that I could pull them off, but I just don't feel remotely comfortable in anything too obviously 'vintage'. :( 

Anything 'hobo'esque. I'll admit I like wearing some slouchy cardigans, but too many loose layers just don't do me any favours.

Look over your answers from last week on history, philosophy, culture, community, activi­ties, location, and body. List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers. Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things:


Are there other words you would like to add to this list? What other words describe your core style?

Honestly, it was hard enough coming up with just those words.... I don't think I can possibly come up with anything else at the moment!

Look over the answers to all of the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?

Collect 15-20 images that represent these 3-5 words for you. You could create a pinterest board, a folder on your computer, a moodboard, or a collage. Be creative and have fun!