This is going to be a bit off the beaten track around here; no sewing, baking crafting to speak of.  It’s likely going to end up being a stream of consciousness because sometimes you have to get things out of your system.  In this particular case not only do I need to write I also need to know its going to be read; so I’m afraid you guys are my audience.  Feel free to skip if you want as I’m probably going to follow some paths that aren’t too shiny or pretty.

September is a weird month.  It’s back to school time (even though I am a decade or more past that stage in my life) and kinda has that new page feeling about it.  In a lot of ways its like new year without the resolutions.  It represents to me a time to start over, try again.  In other ways it absolutely sucks.  With absolutely no grace summer just ups and walks out, the weather turns and its suddenly dark.  And quite often that’s the route my thoughts take too, although September and early October now also completely suck as they remind me of what could have been and haul the loss of my tiny tiny baby up to the surface again.

What makes it harder is that September and October are full of family wedding anniversaries and birthdays.  So whilst I’d quite like to crawl under a rock and hide the mask goes on and I pretend everything is ‘fine’.  Whilst the remake of the Italian Job was not overly my cup of tea, the definition of ‘fine’ has stuck with me: Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.  Yup, that’s me.  I’m fine.

Depression sucks.  I could use a hundred and one different expletives but it wouldn’t come close.  Before I suffered from it I thought I could imagine what it was like; you know feeling sad and flat.  I was wrong.  So, so wrong.  It’s more than feeling sad and a bit flat.  The sadness is there all the time, it becomes (I’m not sure how to describe this) a sort of filtered window.  It distorts and colours what you see and you feel separated.  That separation makes me feel flat, two-dimensional.  But all the time my head is buzzing and it’s never in a straight line.  I constantly feel like I’m on the outside looking in and the longer it goes on the stronger that feeling gets.  I make the problem worse by putting on the mask and pretending everything is OK.  I don’t know what else to do though.

I can’t let the mask slip as I have a gorgeous Boy who needs me.  So I go through each day working on presenting myself the way I think I’m supposed to.  I know that sometimes my temper is too short and that I lose it at situations that really don’t warrant that response.  I try to explain to him that sometimes I get really really sad and it makes me grumpy and short-tempered.  I know I don’t hide it all the time as there are times when I’m lost in my thoughts and he’ll climb up into my lap to give me a cuddle because he says I look sad again.  It’s the use of the word ‘again’ that breaks my heart.  He deserves better.

Over the last year I’ve had different coping mechanisms.  Some work better than others and some are actually pretty destructive.  Suffice to say I’m on meds and they seem to have lessened the peaks and troughs.  What does help is being fully absorbed in a task as when I’m concentrating completely on a task the negative committee in my head sit down and shut the f**** up.  There is no floor space for them when I’m working out how to construct a collar or making sure some topstitching is even or a sleeve goes in smoothly.  I think it’s also the positive action of taking something and turning it into something else using my hands.  The restlessness of my mind also affects my sleep.  I’m tired, I want to sleep but my head will not shut up.  I’m very familiar with my bedroom ceiling and the way the bedside lamp creates shadows on the ceiling.  So I read (often what other bloggers have written), or I get up and sew, or in this instance, I write.

I also know that I’m an emotional eater and my comfort food of choice is something sweet.   That’s the start of a big nasty circle for me; feel rubbish, eat, look in the mirror, not like the reflection, feel like a failure, eat something to make it better…  It’s text-book and self-perpetuating.  I know that and in fact knowing it makes it worse.  There’s a lot going on over which I have absolutely zero control.  There are some things I can control though and what goes in my mouth and what I ask my body to do each day are things I can act on.  I can change what I eat and I can get off my backside and move more.  So I’m going to.  I’m not as brave as Evie and heading for a crossfit gym (although I’m intrigued, inspired and slightly terrified of the idea of it… One day…  Especially as I’ve found a box near me…) So I’m going to become a Nerd.  Not just a sewing nerd but (and here’s the plan) a fitness one too.

In the early part of the summer I started to eat a more natural diet with less processed anything in it.  I felt and looked a lot better.  And then something happened and I went back to comfort eating and that familiar circle.  Somewhere along the line I found Nerd Fitness and I’ve been reading the blog and it’s archives for a while now.  I’ve even got one of the ebooks in my reader and tentatively started doing the body weight workout.  On the 23rd September Steve Kamb and Staci opening an online fitness academy just for women.  I’m going to sign up.  I’m going to give myself six weeks to see what I can do in that time frame.  See if taking a bit of control and doing something positive for myself helps with the rest of it.

I’ve got a 3/4 of the year resolution I guess; do something for me that helps make me feel better.  You never know, if I can make the fitness gains I want then a better looking bod may come with it and a whole reason to sew some more!  But I’m going to keep sewing in the mean time, it’s my meditation and brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction so there’ll still be sewing going on around here too.  You never know, I may get in front of that bl***y camera and photograph the 6 (or is it 7?!) items that have yet to be blogged!

And apologies if there are any adverts spamming up this (or any other) post.  They’re not there through my choice but are a way for WordPress to keep this a free blogging platform which you can read about more here if you want.

The Great British Sewing Bee


I know that the blogosphere has been awash with all sorts of opinions on the GBSB.  I didn’t want to jump in after just one episode, but we’re now 50% of the way through the four part series and I want to try and articulate my thoughts on the programme.

I’m sure most of you who read sewing blogs have also watched the programme if you can get access to it.  Outside of the UK, YouTube seems to be the weapon of choice!

May and Patrick

The show follows the familiar skill tests, assessment and elimination format of Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off.  Which means of course that we need some judges and these take the form of May Martin and Patrick Grant.  A WI Doyenne and a Saville Row Taylor (and new men’s wear designer for Debenhams).

At the end of each show, two contestant’s are eliminated.  So far we’ve lost:

Week One:     Michelle and Jane (through illness)
Week Two:     Tilly and Mark (I loved that Mark offered Tilly his arm as they left)

Now I enjoy watching this show, but I’m also already into sewing in a fairly obsessive way.  Outside of sewing circles though, I haven’t heard much discussion about it.  Not like Bake Off which every one could appreciate on some level; even if it was as simple as ‘I want to eat that’!

I worry that because sewing and garments are so tactile that the everyday person can’t immediately grasp the challenge of sewing a silk blouse.  The majority of bought clothing is poly-something-easy-care-no-iron.  How many people can begin to imagine how silk slips and moves when you work with it and therefore appreciate the technical challenges of constructing a garment with it.  It’s not as immediately understandable as a ‘soggy bottom’ on a tart although we all eat and we all wear clothes, so maybe it should be!

My other concern is the speed that some of the challenges are done at.  The refashion I think is about right and perfect to get someone interested.  A bit of lace and an hour is a manageable prospect.  Sewing a pair of tailored trousers in four hours when you have never done so; not so much.  I worry that this does nothing to re-educate people about the value of clothing or how difficult some of these things are to do.  There is an opportunity to really showcase and highlight the skills required to make a garment and I’m not convinced this is being made the most of.

Food traceability and quality is already in the mainstream, this has yet to happen for the clothes we wear.

And lets face it; the ingredients for a cake are a few pounds.  The yardage for a dress is anywhere from £5 if you have the wonders of ‘the man outside Sainsburys’ on Goldhawk Road, or £40 if you go for a quilting cotton and higher still if you go really fancy!  By extension, if a cake doesn’t work out, ah well, it was only a few quid and an hour.  A dress doesn’t work out and it’s £10 on the pattern, £30 on the fabric and all the time you’ve just put into it.  The potential to be put off on the first go is much much higher.

Each episode has a quick project that also seems to be covered in the accompanying book.  So far it’s been the laundry bag and a tie side cushion.  The construction of each has been massively glossed over and dealt with in two minutes.  For instance the laundry bag has a gusseted construction which is far more difficult that it was made to appear.  Thankfully the instructions in the book are much more comprehensive according to Jane’s review.

I guess I hoped for more.  Maybe some more explanation about why something is difficult to help develop the public’s appreciation for our clothing.  Definitely more signposting for people who may want to have a go so that they don’t become discouraged and know where to get the support they’re going to need.

Having said all of that, I know I’ll be watching the last two episodes.  And there was a slight rise in the ratings for week two so it is working, which I am really glad about.  As Miss P says, we really need this show to be a ratings success as without the numbers, the TV execs wont take the risk on comissioning any more sewing shows.

L to R: Lauren, Tilly, Jane, Mark, Stuart, Patrick, Claudia, May, Michelle, Sandra, Ann

I love Stuart’s incredulousness at what he’s managing to achieve each week and Ann’s cool, calm technical perfection.  And the relief that someone who has sewn for as long as Lauren still has complete moments of panic.  And Sandra’s cheekyness (I just need to look at your bottom Mr Grant).  At the moment, the only two contestants who blog are Tilly and Lauren, although I know Tilly is lining up some guest posts…

Next week involves sewing a child’s dress, altering a shop bought dress and finally fitting and sewing a tailored jacket for their model.  And then one more contestant will leave, leaving three contestants in the final on the 23rd April.

I don’t know who I want to win.  At the moment I think I’m team Stuart or Lauren.  Failing that, I’m team Patrick!