I haven’t been posting much lately as I’ve been handicapped with knee surgery and the rehab which inevitably follows, which kind of curtailed my sewing a bit, but I’ve also been having fun making videos for my new sewing vlog! I’ve only got like 3 subscribers so far so feel free to pop over for a visit 🙂

I managed to meet the Monthly Stitch Challenge for December which was party dresses, and I’ve got two December-made party dresses to talk about in this post (in addition to the #littlereddressproject dress described in my last post). I was invited to a birthday party and the invite said ‘semi-formal’. So of course I took that as a sewing challenge!! I had a couple of ideas and as I couldn’t choose, I decided to do both, just in case one didn’t work!

My choices were Lisette 2209 and Burdastyle Magazine 1/2012 Dress #118B.

Dress One: Lisette 2209

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Why this pattern? I’ve made this dress before, in a light cotton floral, as a sundress, so no muslin required.

What about the fabric? The bodice is made from a remnant of silver-gray silk I picked up on a trip to Thailand about two years ago (can you say stashbust?). The skirt is made from a recycled silk skirt. I also used the original skirt lining for the skirt, and some lining fabric from my stash for the bodice. Invisible zip also from the stash, reclaimed from a refashion.

And the pattern? As I’d made it once already (albeit a couple of years ago) it was pretty straightforward. The bodice darting is actually quite simple although it does create a little bulk at the front waist seam.

Any added extras? Yes, I added pockets using the last few scraps of the bodice material – I think it looks cute. I also had to make the skirt less full as I had to work within the fabric I had, so it is more an A-line than the fuller skirt in the pattern. Invisible zip at the side rather than the back, and eliminated the centre back seam. I used the ‘burrito method’ to line the bodice.

Did I love it? YES! In photos I notice the bodice pleats come to a rather unflattering point on the bust, I think this is to do with the stiffness of the fabric. Don’t care though 🙂

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I talked about this dress on my vlog!

Dress Two: Burdastyle Magazine 1/2012 Dress #118B

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Why this pattern? Basically I was just flipping through my pattern magazines and I thought this one looked simple, and I knew I had some fabric that would work.

What about the fabric? The printed satin has been in my stash for about two years, I think I got it on sale at Spotlight. The lining fabric is slightly stretchy and was bought at my ‘local’, Jack Textiles in Marrickville.

And the pattern? This dress has no shaping and I was initially worried it would just look like a shiny floral tent on me, but au contraire, it’s totally flattering!

Any added extras? I deviated quite significantly from the pattern instructions (although as we all know with Burdastyle, the instructions can be next to useless!) So the pattern used the same fabric, a crepe-backed satin, with the crepe side as the feature of the dropped lining. My floral satin wasn’t really going to work so I used the coral satin as a contrast instead. I lined the front flappy bit on one side with the coral as well to provide some interest. This made the neckline join more than a bit complicated but a few clips and some understitching got it sitting flat. It also made the centre front seam a little different; I wanted a nice finish though so I did a faux-felled seam (folded under the raw edge) and topstitched with some metallic thread.

To make the lining show shiny-side-out at the hem meant I had to install it ‘inside-out’ which did my head in a little bit!! I also skipped the inseam pockets – I was doing french seams all the way and that just seemed too hard. No sleeves either – I tried it on prior to adding the sleeves, pinned one sleeve on and went ‘nope!’ The armholes were finished using bias strips from the floral satin offcuts.

Did I love it?  I certainly love the look of it. I haven’t worn it to any occasions yet though!

I talked about this dress on my vlog, too!

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I did end up wearing the silver-grey dress to the party, even though I had finished both in time.

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I hope everyone had a lovely New Year and I look forward to sharing lots more cool stuff with you all through 2017!!

 

Sewing From The Stash

What do you mean, you haven’t heard of The Little Red Dress Project??

This was a fantastic challenge masterminded by the lovely Renata over at Runningnstyle.  The challenge was to create a red dress for the holiday season (as opposed to the ubiquitous Little Black Dress) with a few guidelines to make the challenge interested.

It was a challenge that took the online sewing community by storm! I made a playlist of all the ‘reveal’ vlogs I could find – go and have a look!

Meanwhile on Instagram the hashtag #littlereddressproject will find you  a bunch of awesome frocks to be envious of too!

Now, back in late September when the tag was announced, I immediately started mentally searching the stash for something red I could whip up. I remembered I had a piece of red stretch fabric, that had been in my stash for over five years. Yes, you…

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Although I finished this in time for TMS’s June ‘Spots & Stripes’ challenge, I was planning on wearing it for Jeans for Genes Day which fell on the 5th August, so I didn’t actually take any photos before then!

I used a couple of 1970’s Simplicity patterns:

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I loved the cute, curved underbust seam on #5803, but I wasn’t loving the pouffy sleeves; also I wanted a collared shirt. Enter #7078, with a basic sleeve and a nifty one-piece notched collar. I also used the curved hem from #7078.

On the other hand, #7078 had a weird, ugly cuff placket on the sleeve, which I replaced with a standard placket, researched from this handy book (thanks, Kylie, who picked it up at Vinnie’s only a few weeks ago and gave it to me!)

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As you can see, I didn’t have quite enough fabric to line the cuffs, and I didn’t have enough blue buttons to do the cuffs as well as the blouse front. The sleeves were pretty puffy, and I decided to pleat them at the cuffs rather than gather, just for a neater look. If I remake this top – and I think I might – I would narrow the sleeves slightly.

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You can also see in the above pic, my Jeans For Genes Day badge. I even have a pair of denim sneakers, but didn’t manage to take a decent picture of them.

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Drafting the frankenpattern involved a little bit of faffing around, and as usual I couldn’t be bothered to make a muslin, just cut straight into the printed tencel. I’m so pleased with the result! I ended up taking the waist darts out of the blouse back; they were in the wrong position for my short-waisted self, but in any case I prefer a looser-fit shirt. I kept the back neck darts, though.

I nearly blew it when redrafting the faux yoke, forgetting to add the extra ease for the gathers at the front, but I managed to shimmy it around when sewing the pieces together.

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I love this shirt!! I took me about two weeks to make, from pattern-drafting to finished product. Although I don’t mind handsewing, I really don’t like sewing buttons on, so the shirt was ‘finished’ for several days before I got around to adding the buttons. The fabric is lovely and soft, even if it does need ironing every two minutes.

 

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June, as most sewing bloggers are aware, is Indie Pattern Month, hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Monthly Stitch. With the best of intentions, I purchased a new indie pattern – the Jenna Cardi by Muse Patterns – and some lovely dark grey knit.

Unfortunately, June also turned out to be a ridiculously busy month for me, with karate training, karate tournaments, actual social engagements, more karate training, and a handful of street cats! Leaving me with zero time for sewing. I managed to get the cardigan pattern laid out & cut, and it has been sitting in a neat little pile ever since.

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Another thing that happened this month is that I temporarily vacated my sewing room and turned it into a cat hotel. My flatmate rescued a street cat and three adorable kittens earlier this month. We’ve since found homes for the kittens but Lady Cassandra is currently residing in Le Hotel du Chat, formerly known as My Sewing Space. We’re hoping to rehabilitate her, as she has no tail and is missing a front paw, so she’s had a tough life on the street.

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Don’t you love the little staircase I built for her so she could sit in the window?

As it happened, one of my work collegues offered me a huge pile of giant ziplock bags left over from some work project. They’re about 40cm square (like the one in the photo above). As soon as I saw them I had visions of the most organized sewing project pile in the universe. Tidying up my sewing room for the Cat Hotel had me matching fabrics to patterns and neatly packaging them up in ziplock bags, some even with thread & notions to suit!

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The red suitcase also is full of Packaged Projects. It was a very satisfying process, actually. Now I just have to do some sewing…

Mind you, by the end of June I was having withdrawal from not having done any sewing for what seemed like ages. So I quickly hacked out yet another Zoe Raglan, and raced it up on the overlocker.

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I used a textured knit I picked up from a local cheap fabric store. It’s a nice heavy knit with an interesting textured design. Being the middle of winter here in Sydney I’ve been after some warmer tops to wear to work.

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I did try to pattern match but I’m not sure how successful I was. To make the pattern a bit different I changed the lower edge from curved to  straight, and finished that and the sleeves with bands.

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The result is, in my opinion, quite striking, and I think I will wear it quite a bit. This raglan pattern has become my go-to when I need a quick fix – does anyone else have a pattern like that?

 

 

Hello all!

Yes, I know it’s June, which means Indie Pattern Month, but I thought I’d just have a quick look at the past month and how I progressed with Me-Made-May.

Considering I kinda forgot about it until about 3rd May, I did pretty well from then on. I believe my pledge was one me-made item a day for the month. I admit that sometimes that one item was my knickers, or a sports bra, and I was definitely counting refashions towards the end of the month, but I pulled it off!

Now, I don’t do daily outfit photos. It’s just not how I roll. So here’s a collage of some of the items I did wear during May 2016.

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Obviously that’s not all of them! I don’t have photos of some of the things I have made, and others I never blogged because I couldn’t get a decent photo or didn’t like it enough to blog (or just haven’t blogged it yet, but intend to, like the pink pyjamas you don’t see here.)

My homemade activewear got a workout (ha, ha) as did a two pairs of skinnified jeans (which actually got re-skinnified during May when I decided I didn’t like the initial result anymore), and a few other refashions:

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All in all, I’m pretty pleased that I was able to complete my pledge. Next year’s pledge might include finishing an item or two during the month of May – I’ve been agonizingly slow to finish projects lately.

Did you take part in the Me-Made-May Challenge? How did you go?

 

 

 

Running a long way along wild trails teaches you things. That even when you feel awful, keep going, because things will probably get better. That trailrunners are great people. That blisters under  toenails really hurt. And that sometimes, you can do more than you ever thought possible. (Stick with me to the end – this is a story with a happy ending.)

Last weekend I lined up for the third time for the UTA100 (formerly TNF100) in the Blue Mountains. That’s 100 kilometres of dirt roads, narrow rocky trails, stairs (endless stairs!), one long, long, hard climb up a mountain followed by a scary, slippery descent, amazing views and er, more stairs.

If you are friend or family member who doesn’t run trail and are therefore already going “running 100 kilometres? You are insane”, let me confirm your opinion. Yes, I’m a wee bit crazy. And so are most of my fellow runners. But there’s something about trail….

I am asked questions about that every so often. Why do you run those sorts of distances? Why do you put yourself through that sort of pain? Do you actually find it fun?

I don’t entirely know the answer. I think it is the challenge, and the reward of pushing through something tough. It’s the people – in training and the race, you’re generally going slowly enough to talk to your fellow runners. You make friends, debate life’s big issues, swap recipe ideas (that reminds me, Sarah Waterstone, I’d love to get that loaf recipe!). It’s being out there, in the bush, away from noise and traffic and buildings, and reconnecting with something that will always be a part of me, as a girl who grew up in the country, even if I don’t consciously think of it as anything as formal as “reconnecting”. It’s getting simple joy from looking at wildflowers and animals and pretty rocks and misty rivers and lookout panoramas.

This was year 3 for this race for me. In 2014 some strike of madness saw me tackle the 100 as my first-ever trail race. I was slow. It took me 24:36. But I learned a few things about myself in that race (that’s the lesson about pushing on even when you are miserable). Last year was a bit better, although I left two essential items in Sydney and my super-star crew, my sister Laura, drove back to Sydney on the night before the race to get them. (Lesson: Don’t be an idiot. Write a packing list.). It was a slog (in case I hadn’t figured it out the year before, I got a repeat lesson in pushing on even despite feeling awful) but I was happy to cut over two hours off my time, and to have avoided cramps, which had been a real problem the year before. Still, I swore I wouldn’t do it in 2016. I distinctly recall a moment in the race where I actually said to myself, “You remember how you feel right now. You remember how bad this feels and DON’T DO IT AGAIN.” But then registration rolled around and somehow I signed up for the 100 again….

And what a different race it was.

As part of the entry, we had the chance to sign up for a one-month trial of a training program called Squadrun. I paid up. I had no idea what a good decision that would be. Squadrun is EXCELLENT. Ali (our lovely organiser) and Kerry (our crazy coach) created a great community of trailrunners aiming for the UTA100 and UTA50; we got not only a training program that was tailored to individual fitness levels and flexible so you could work around life and injuries and work, but a great Facebook group where we’ve covered everything from gear choices to music and poop.

Things were going along much as they had the previous years (although no knee problems this year, which was a bit plus – I owe a thanks to my physio, Nathan, at Northern Sports Physio, and massage therapist Natalie at The Treatment Room for sorting out a few other niggles – and I was really enjoying the Squadrun plan) until about two months before the race. And then work went a bit crackers. I was worried that the need to put in some long hours there was really going to hurt my training. Well it did, but all was not lost. I reached out to Kerry for some advice about what to focus on in terms of training, in order to get through the busy weeks as best I could. He gave me some great advice on several fronts, reassured me that I’d still be fine for the race and gave me some very specific instructions about which workouts to prioritise.

And here’s another lesson I learned this year, and I’m mentioning it partly in case reading this helps other people facing challenges – by getting a “priority plan” from Kerry, I was able to feel I was succeeding. Without that, I would have probably done much the same number of workouts, but felt I was failing, because I would have been measuring myself against the original program. Perception and attitude really make a difference.

And ten days out from the race, something very, very unexpected happened. I did a 5km time trial as part of a training session and went more than a minute faster than I had when doing the same thing just over a week earlier. It was probably also an all-time PB for 5km (you’d think I’d know, wouldn’t you! But given I’ve been training for longer stuff for years now, I cannot actually remember what my 5km PB is. But it’s certainly faster than I’ve done it in years).

How did that happen? Well, it was obviously partly the training plan. But that much improvement in one week? I am convinced that what I was eating was a big factor. For the five weeks leading up to the race, Laura and I had embarked on a healthy eating plan. I was eating better than I had in ages (and as someone with a “digestive issues”, making a big effort to avoiding the foods that don’t agree with me), and having fun trying lots of new recipes.

Finally, race weekend arrived.

Twice I had lined up with an injury and either terrified (2014) or worried (2015). This year I came to the start line happy and hopeful. I didn’t know what would happen this year – with less training than I’d have liked, I didn’t expect any major improvement in time, but hoped I might knock 16 minutes off so I could come in under 22 hours. But even more importantly, my head was in a good space. I’d had Friday night fun at the race expo, seeing lots of my trail running buddies and buying a few things (spending money on running gear is fun J ); I had Laura crewing for me for the third year (it really makes a difference having someone “there” for you); I had a warm bed close to the start line, in a house with two friends doing the race, Don and Geoff, and Geoff’s wife Jocie; and heaps of other Sydney trail friends and fellow Squadrunners doing it too; and the weather was warm. I was just looking forward to doing the race.

Race morning was clear and fine, and not too cold – always a plus. I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a princess about a cold start! I headed over to the line with Don, one of my housemates, and Laura. We tried to buy a pre-race coffee, but the wait was long and we gave up. Maybe that was a good thing.

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Heading up to my wave start (I was in wave 5 – this was a bit of puzzle because that was supposed to be for runners who would finish in the top 54-66% of the field; going on last year’s results that would mean a finish faster than 19 hours. I knew that wasn’t going to happen!) I found a couple of my fellow Squaddies, Fridja and Ian, and it was great to start together. The first few kilometres of the race are an out-and-back on the street; that route took me back past Laura, for a final wave, before the course hits dirt. There’s a long descent down the Furber stairs (trying not to think about the fact that we have to come back up them again at the end of the race!), some clambering across a rocky area known as the landslide, a short bit of running on narrow trail and then a climb up the Golden Stairs that quickly reminds you there’s going to be a lot of stairs in the race (if you want to see what the climb is like, watch this. I found this before last year’s race and it gave me reason to smile through the pain of the climb. Was amused to discover, after signing up for Squadrun, that the very entertaining mad Kiwi in it was my new coach!).

After the top of the stairs comes the first checkpoint, and I was ten minutes ahead of schedule. I was pretty happy about that – the descent down the Furber steps was faster this year, being in a faster start has definite advantages.

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From here there’s all sorts of terrain – undulating wide roads with good views (I love the shot above showing me heading up a hill, really sums up what the mountains look like), narrow rocky scrambles, the climb down Tarros Ladders, a few uphill hikes – before the descent into checkpoint two, at Dunphy’s Camp. First mistake of the race here, when I refilled the bladder in my pack here, or rather thought I did – the pressure of all the stuff in the pack on the bladder meant the water line was deceptively high. I didn’t put as much in as I thought I did.

But I had other things on my mind leaving CP2. This leg has a challenging climb and a hair-raising descent. There’s a reward in the middle though. After the long, breathless clamber up the hill to Ironpot Ridge (I don’t know how long it takes, too busy concentrating on Not. Stopping. Not. Stopping.), you do an out and back along the ridge, and along the way the runners pass a group of guys playing didgeridoo and the sticks, and after a very entertaining Welcome to Country at the briefing the night before, it’s a good reminder to appreciate the land we’re passing through. What comes next is a part of the race I just refuse to think about. It’s hairy, but you get there. The course notes are rather understated, describing the two-part sharp downhill as “steep: and “steeper”. It’s sandy underfoot, and steep enough that you can’t really control the descent. You just pick out the safest looking bits underfoot and keep an eye out for trees on the side of the path, in case you need to grab hold if the descent gets out of control!  I prized safety over speed on this and quite happily let half a dozen people go past me. I felt really sorry for a couple of people that I passed in the kilometres after that; the hard climb and the steep descent can really take a toll.

It’s only 14km to from checkpoint 2 to checkpoint 3, but there’s enough climbing to slow the overall pace; it took me 2 hrs 40, and I knew with about an hour to go I was running out of water. I was very lucky that not long after that, Don caught up with me. I’d expected him to sweep past way earlier, having started in wave 6 but being faster than me, but found out he’d had some cramping issues. He was running well then, and after running with me for a while and sharing some water – lifesaver! – he pushed on.

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Checkpoint 3 (above), at 46km, is the first one where we can see crew, and I was really looking forward to seeing Laura. As she always does, she had everything neatly laid out so I could grab what I needed, alongside the “Go Kylie” banner she made to surprise me back in 2014. It always makes me smile! I filled the bladder (properly this time!), drank water and the liquid from a instant noodle soup, grabbed some more food and put on sunscreen, made a quick loo stop and headed off. Last year I spent 9 minutes at CP3 and this year as I hit lap on my watch, I could see I’d been there for 14.

As I trotted along shady roads and trails, I was saying to myself that it had been a waste of time to apply sunscreen, but in retrospect I think that extra time was a blessing. I came into the checkpoint  feeling a bit ordinary and thinking I’d gone too hard in the first two legs and was about to pay for it (I was 45 minutes ahead of schedule by this point – the schedule based on 22 hours that I’d given Laura as a guide to when I expected to hit checkpoints.)

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But although I still felt like it was hard work all the way through to the next checkpoint – and Nellies Glen is never, never easy! – I realised that I was still making good time. In fact, after the climb up Nellies, I called Laura to say that I needed her to get a T-shirt out of the spares bag. I’d planned to change at CP4 into long tights and the long-sleeved thermal top we have to carry as part of the mandatory gear, but now I was an hour ahead of schedule, and on a warmer day than the year before; I knew I’d swelter in a long top.

More hot soup, water and nutrition refills for my pack, a change of clothes, new shoes and socks and clean teeth, a hug from Laura and off I went. Very lucky at this point to run into a fellow Squaddie as I left the checkpoint, and we ran together most of the way to CP5. Paul, thanks for keeping me honest. Quite a few times when I would have slowed down you said something encouraging about pushing on, so I did!

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It was great to be leaving the Aquatic centre in broad daylight, too. I got to see views that I missed in previous years, running in the dark. The Blue Mountains are truly beautiful and running through them is such a special experience, from the rocky outcrops of Ironpot to views across the valleys.

This year, there was a water station at 69km, at the Fairmont. And just as we were reaching it, I came across one of my tri club buddies cheering on the side of the road. That was a nice surprise. Things like that really do help to keep you feeling happy and mood makes a big difference out there in the night. Thanks for sticking around to see me go past, Cathy!

Last year I had one of my low periods on this leg (the “you remember this” moment!), but this year was much better. Seeing Cathy, running with Paul, and just taking less time to do the leg all made a difference. (One thing has been the same every year, though – this is a really well-organised race and the volunteers do a great job!)

Into CP5. I spent 12 minutes here last year, but this time I was in and out in 8 minutes –  and not because I was trying to shave off time. I’d grabbed a hot soup, and started swapping lights and other stuff, when the following happened:

Me to Laura: “What’s the ruling on whether we have to take the fleece?”

L: “I don’t know! I’ll find out.” (I had forgotten to let her know she’d need to check)

L: (rushes back) “You don’t have to take it if you leave before 9pm”.

Me: “What time is it?”

L: “Five to!”

I was outta there fast!

I had two aims for this last leg – the first was to go down Kedumba at under 7 minutes per kilometre.  That’s a big hill that comes not long after CP5; it’s not scary-steep like the descent off Ironpot, but on tired legs in the race last year, I was ridiculously slow on that downhill. I’d looked at my watch repeatedly and even though it felt like I was running normally, I was going down at around 9 minutes per kilometre. Coach Kerry had pointed out I wouldn’t need my downhill legs after Kedumba and the descent that follows it – and that he’d come after me with a cattle prod if I went slower than 7 per k. Made me smile and gave me something to aim for. I did a training run on this section with Don about a month before the race and we very comfortably did around 6-minute pace down the hills, which was great for getting my head around the fact that that pace felt perfectly safe. I also had a brand new super bright Ayup headlamp for this leg and that helped too. (Lesson: train on course if you can.)

No cattle prod was needed. 🙂

Aim number two was to try to cut my time on this leg by a little bit. It took me 6hrs in 2014 and 2015, and as one fellow runner said, “I just don’t understand how it could take you that long”.

On my original schedule, I’d aimed to cut 12 minutes off this leg, taking into account the faster downhills I was aiming for. And I figured out after leaving CP5 that if I managed that, I might just break 20 hours. But I knew how hard this leg had been before, and I kept thinking the wheels would fall off, that I’d pay for pushing things in the earlier legs, and for the dehydration (I didn’t feel dehydrated, but I knew I was). So didn’t really dare to think about it too hopefully. After that, I was too busy concentrating on pushing it downhill, and then hiking hard up hill, to think about finishing times for quite a while. I had poles this year, which I’d picked up at CP5, and I really think it helped using one of them on the long climbs. (A few more lessons on this leg – if you pop a little packet of Smarties in your pack in case things aren’t going well and you need a treat, squash the box. They rattle like crazy when you run downhill. And if you have to duck into the bushes, remember to turn your headlamp off. Thanks to the lady coming along behind me who shouted out a reminder!)

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At one point I did some math (I often do pace calculations in my head to distract me during long runs!) and realised I’d shaved quite a bit more than 12 minutes, but it just didn’t seem real. I kept running, and then suddenly I saw a “3km to go sign”. And then “2km to go”. And then I was at the stairs. Climbing up Furber stairs just isn’t fun. There was a lot of using of hands to help haul myself up, and I let someone past at one point. But even this didn’t feel quite as bad as last year.

As I got to the top and looked at my watch, I realised that if I got to the finish in under four minutes, I would have cut four hours off last year’s time. Deadlines are quite motivating, even on tired legs, so I ran. And made it.

 

 

Races aren’t just about times. They are about all the magic moments, and the people you meet, and the challenges you overcome.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my time made me very happy. I finished in 18:12, a time that I never dreamed of.

I think I’m going to pay for it in toenails. While my legs recovered amazingly well, I had blisters under both big toenails. This has never happened before – I guess I can add how to deal with blisters to the lessons I’ve learned! (That, and the importance of wearing your shoes in really well before a big race).

If you made it this far, well done. You just might have the endurance needed to tackle the UTA100 yourself!

Hi everyone!

So it’s been, ahem, a while since my last post. I do apologise – there’s been a lot going on! Not least of which was preparation for a trip to Japan for a karate training seminar! So of course I had to make time for some crafty excursions while I was there.

As luck would have it, I found a Yuzawaya on my first day in Tokyo, not ten minutes walk from my hotel. Yuzawaya, as I discovered, are sort of like Lincraft (or possibly Joanns).

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Not wanting to go too crazy on my first day, I only bought a fat quarter with a cute retro dance print, and a Japanese pattern book – Machiko Kayaki’s “home couture selection book”. It has some really cute, simple patterns that I can’t wait to try out. The instructions are of course in Japanese, which I can’t read, but the illustrations are very straightforward so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble.

After my 3-day karate seminar, I headed off down to Nagoya, where I had enrolled in a shibori workshop. Arimatsu is known as ‘the home of shibori’ – it was a popular stopping place on the Tokkaido road, where many shibori artists plied their trade.

I took a billion photos of the Arimatsu Shibori museum, which I am going to upload to flikr as there is too many to share here. Here’s a little snippet:

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Just before you go into the museum, there are two little old ladies sitting on a platform doing shibori. You can sit and watch them, and they will demonstrate the techniques they are using, and show you samples of how it would look after dying. Of course all of this is in Japanese, of which my understanding is extremely limited, but a needle is a needle and a stitch is a stitch.

The workshop consisted of me and one of those ladies, with a pre-designed t-shirt and ‘noren’ (Japanese curtain). I’m going to do a post in further detail on this later. Basically they show you how to do the shibori stitches, then they send it off to their dyers and mail it to you. Mine arrived in Australia about two weeks after the workshop, which I thought was pretty impressive.

Here’s some souvenirs I brought home from Arimatsu:

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After some more sightseeing in Nagoya I headed back to Tokyo. Thanks to tips from some awesome ladies in Those Darn Sew & Sews Facebook Group, I knew that Nippori was the place to go. It is actually called ‘Textile Town’.

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It’s a whole street of fabric, craft and sewing supplies!!! Heaven!

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It was sensory overload after a while, though. So many great fabrics, so little room in the suitcase…

I took an organised approach and did a lap of the main drag, stepping into nearly every shop, taking pictures of fabrics I liked so I wouldn’t forget. Then I wrote a little wish list, and then I pared that back to how much I could actually afford to buy/fit in the suitcase. That turned out to be quite a lot, as I’d packed an empty duffel for exactly that purpose!

First purchase was a blouse pattern and some sweet cat-print lawn to make it from. On the way to the register I picked up a remnant of cotton in a groovy retro floral print.

DSCF9643The pattern was 1,000 yen, the lawn was 900Y per metre and the remnant was 850Y (it’s 110x110cm – about a square yard). The Aussie dollar is not that strong against the Yen at the moment, but the lawn cost aout AUD$11/metre, and the cotton about AUD$10. These were from one of the Tomato shops – there were at least three. It’s the same shop, but with different departments in different locations along the street. One of them I didn’t go into at all, because there was a queue out onto the street!!

Next stop was some black cotton print. The cotton prints are quite heavy, like a quilting fabric, but with an uneven weave which gives them a lovely texture. I bought a pre-cut 2m piece for 1290Y (about AUD$15).

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These next two pieces were purely for colour & print! Unfortunately despite my best efforts I lost the reciept, but I don’t think I paid more than AUD$20 for the lot.

The circle print on the left is a soft, drapey woven, possibly viscose or rayon. The floral/plaid on the right is a crisp polycotton woven.

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Precut pieces were everywhere, and I couldn’t resist these little bits of animal print, and a piece of laminated print – panda bento!! The laminate was 650Y (50cm x 112cm) and the fat quarters were 108Y each.

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These two little bits are both 50cm x 110cm and were 400Y each; heavy cotton woven.

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Of course I couldn’t resist some stretch fabric too! These two pieces were 900Y/m. They are a heavy jersey, sort of like ponte. I’m thinking sportswear, of course!

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You can’t spend much time on Fabric Street without wandering into a second-hand kimono shop. I found three, but I have a feeling there were a few more on some of the side streets. 20160402_144813

Racks and racks and racks of pre-loved kimono! Both mens’ and womens’. I thought I was dreaming when I saw the price on this one – 1000Y!! That’s about AUD$12, folks!!

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This one is hip-length and is fully lined.

At those prices, though, I couldn’t go all the way to Japan and only buy one.

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Isn’t she beautiful?? She is definitely pre-loved – there are a couple of tiny stains and the lining has seen better days. But for 1000Y I can find a home for that gorgeous print. There’s so much fabric to use in a full-length kimono!

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Also in those stores they sell parts of kimono – I guess in an effort to recycle as much of the garments as possible. I snagged a shibori scarf and a old sleeve for a couple of hundred yen. (I’ll be using that shibori scarf in a future blog to show you more about shibori!)

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(I did actually buy a few other pieces, but I’m not going to share them here yet as they are destined to be gifts.)

I’d love to hear from anyone who has shopped in Nippori, or anywhere else in Japan that rocks the fabric world!