When Artful Blogging contacted me about writing a piece for their magazine, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about and was really excited about being able to contribute.
Artful Blogging was new to me, but I loved the idea of writers and makers sharing how blogging has changed or impacted their lives. Plus the format and photography included in it’s pages are just so beautiful… It’s really inspiring.
My blog has been not only a place to share my love of sewing and pretty underthings, but an open journal. As scary as it is sometimes to share our private thoughts, it can be so liberating, especially when you find out you are not alone.
In my article, I wrote about how I’ve found healing through my blog, specifically after my miscarriage, but I think a lot about how therapeutic sharing my mental health struggles have been. Just knowing I am not alone, and that in sharing my struggles, maybe I’ve encouraged one other person to seek help, is encouraging.
Every time someone reaches out to me to talk about their struggles with anxiety, depression, or experiences with loss, it really touches my heart – the fact that strangers are willing to open up or to lend a listening ear. It means a lot to me, and I am so grateful. I’m not grateful for some of the crappy experiences I’ve been through, but grateful for the kind and understanding words you all have extended towards me. The world isn’t such a scary place as it may seem. This is a mantra I keep trying to remind myself of!
If you would like to pick up the issue of Artful Blogging that I am featured in, you can do so here. I had a sneak peek at the pages and it truly is a beautiful publication.
Ugh… I’m sick! Isabel came down with a cold late last week and I seem to have gotten it. In a way, it’s good timing to be laid up with a sore throat and aches and pains since I have a lot of computer work to do on the couch…
I posted a new video on my YouTube Channel last week with some Ohhh Lulu related updates. I’ll be finishing up most of what I talked about here over the next couple of days…
Summertime tends to be a little quieter work wise, which is nice because life tends to be a little busier around that time of year. Dan had a couple of weeks vacation. We didn’t really do much, just a few day trips and did some work around the house.
When I first saw our house I fell in love right away… You know how when you first start dating someone, you see all of their wonderful aspects, but it’s not until you’ve been dating for a while that you start to see their flaws? That happened with this house (ha!). I saw all of the wonderful bones of the house and some how didn’t notice until I moved in that the exterior was only half painted. Every single wall was half painted. It was like someone started painting all of the easy bits, then when the job got too high to reach, they stopped.In my defence, I was juggling a 1 year old, a business, and a pending nervous breakdown (only semi-joking). The side entry and kitchen also had some water damage, which was repaired by the seller prior to closing. Big mistake. The person who did the repair did a really crappy job. We’ve stayed dry, but the drywall job in the side entry was terrible. There were huge gaps between the door frame, baseboards and milk door that no one bothered filling and the side entry was left three different colours. It took me a good portion of a morning to fill and patch that area and we ended getting the painters who did the exterior of our house to paint this area white. The ceiling in this area was super high and would have been difficult to do on my own.
So many things went wrong with the closing of this house that I’m still irritated about. Our lawyer totally screwed up our closing and was unhelpful, the house was filthy (like disgusting filthy… like a pile of rotting food in the backyard, a tampon under the stove filthy), there was junk left everywhere despite stipulations in our purchase agreement… We ended up renting a dumpster over the summer to get rid of all of the previous owners old junk which cost us almost $400. SO frustrating! I think what upsets me more than the additional expenses we incurred, was the TIME it took to address all of the things went wrong… I wish I had’ve been in a better mental state when we first moved in because I should have sued to cover the extra costs we encounter… However, I’m super happy with the house now. I just am having a hard time letting go.
We had the exterior of the house painted white (actually a very very pale grey), and used a darker grey on the shutters. The wood shutters were in pretty rough condition, but with a little TLC, a lot of caulking and fresh paint they have a little more life left in them! I also painted the front door bright blue for a pop of colour. I love how it looks, fresh and modern colours on a traditional storybook cottage base. We also put up a new, more modern light fixture. We’re supposed to be having new soffit and fascia installed as ours is in very rough shape but I haven’t heard boo from the company we hired for a little while… So hopefully that is still happening!
Our poor shutters pre-painting.
Painted and pretty!
Isabel started at a new daycare this month. I was so sad to hear that her previous daycare provider was going back to work for a local school board. We had such a great connection with her and the kids there! But we were lucky to find someone else who is close by, and happens to have some chickens, which (aside from horses and dogs) are Isabel’s favourite animal (a frequently heard phrase in our house is “Mom, let’s talk about chickens.”). Isabel is a pretty amazing kid. She is so easy going and flexible as far as changes go. She’s adapted so well to the new daycare. I, on the other hand, have a hard time adjusting to changes like these and find myself missing the old daycare! Mostly, my morning chats with her provider…
We’ve also started a few other things this month. Isabel went for her first swimming lesson two weeks ago, and is starting gymnastics at the end of the month. I’m loving this stage of parenthood. She is developing her own interests and her personality is really coming out. She is sweet and funny, loves horses and dancing, but also likes to fix things with her dad and get dirty in the garden. I’m amazed every day by how smart and well spoken she is for an almost-three-year-old. She just is the light of my life.
Practicing her dance moves.
This summer I’ve made time for some fun crafty things too. I made little owl “good bye” gifts for the daycare kids, as well as an owl costume for Isabel. I also made up a whole bunch of dress up items, like butterfly wings, unicorn and deer headbands and crowns for Isabel and a friend of hers. I love making these little things.
Lastly, I’ve got a new obsession… a dollhouse! This dollhouse was made by my uncle for my cousin Amanda years ago (like 20 years or so). After he passed away, it got stored at my parents house where it had a bit of an accident (got knocked over). I couldn’t bare to see it go to waste so I stored it in my attic for another 5 years. A few weeks ago I dragged it downstairs, got out some glue and started putting it back together. I took off the gingerbread trim, added a plain fascia and fresh paint. I did a bit of “landscaping,” made the first floor open concept, and am waiting on new flooring to arrive. I look forward to working on this every day! It has been so much fun and a nice change of pace from lingerie.
So, it’s been a busy summer. I’m looking forward to cooler weather and longer nights.
A few weeks ago I posted a short video about how my sewing table is set up. A few people mentioned wanting to see my entire space… I was a little reluctant because to be honest, it is a mess. Last weekend, Isabel came down to do a little work with me and exclaimed “Mommy! Why’d you make such a mess again!” So I tidied up a bit, and decided now was as good a time as ever to show you around.
My sewing space is not glamorous, but it is big, bright, and all mine. It’s a bit of a mess, and less organized than I would like, but I really have no right to complain. I’m fortunate to have such a space at my disposal! One of the benefits of living almost in the middle of nowhere is that we can actually afford a fairly big house on a lingerie-maker & mechanics two salaries.
I am super fortunate to actually have two spaces in my house that I use for work – my entire basement and a room at the corner of our house with lots of light, which is perfect for photography. In our old house everything was crammed into one bedroom. It feels really good to have the space to have a home for everything, and to be able to shut the door at the end of the week, and (try) not to worry about work for a bit.
The best part of this video is that Oliver made a cameo!
Two weeks ago he had surgery to remove some teeth as well as a lump on his head that turned out to be a mast cell tumor. It was scary waiting for the results after the lump was removed but I was relieved to find out that out of all the mast cell tumors he could have had, his was the “best” kind to have in that it was extremely slow growing and they were able to remove the entire mass. Oliver is 10, and his age is starting to show… But now that he has recovered he seems to have more energy again which is great!
What the heck happened to April? And where is May going to so quickly?!
I have so many fun things on my to do list right now, but I’m currently procrastinating. It’s tax season and I’m already a little late (as usual). I don’t do my own taxes, but I do need to prepare my expenses and income, etc, which is always far more complicated than it needs to be… and I really just hate doing paper work like that. It’s not my forte.
Today I’ve managed to make a vet appointment for Oliver, grocery shop, run 5k, have a nice coffee with my cousin, put away my groceries (that is a feat!), clean some old food out of the fridge… and now I’m blogging instead of working on my taxes. Because procrastination, that’s why.
Last week I released a few new items. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve given up on seasonal collections… while my pieces may still have a seasonal feel, I’m concentrating on just creating things I like, when the inspiration hits! I am finding this to be so therapeutic for me. Constant creation keeps my mood up, keeps me inspired, and excited about what I do.
I’ve been playing a lot with my Celeste, Jasmine, Claudia, Ultimate Lace and Ava patterns. They seem to be my “go-to” patterns. They are such a great base for experimentation, and in my opinion, extremely comfortable. Note to self: I should make a pattern bundle for these!
One of the (many) things on my to do list is to create some add-ons for my Jasmine Bra Pattern. I’ve really loved the look of those bralettes with a cutout at the centre front, but I found with a larger bust it created some awkward gaping and pulling. So, I altered my jasmine pattern so that it has a mesh-insert at the front to mimics that look while still achieving stability between the bust. I’m so, so, so happy with how it turned out. I’ve got some thinking to do as to how I will adapt it as an add-on, but it is on my to do list!
My obsession with lace, especially two-tone lace continues. The black and silver lace I used for my Effie set was actually a bit of an accident. I bought 20yards online thinking it was a solid black. I was surprised when I opened the package… but not upset!
The last thing I want to mention is that I am planning a SWIMSUIT SEW ALONG! I just purchased my fabric this morning (pink flamingo print!). It will take me a couple weeks to get everything in order, but I plan on using either my Cindy Pattern or Jasmine and Ava… I haven’t quite decided yet, but I’m leaning towards Cindy. I made myself a Cindy bikini last year that I wore SO MUCH, and it’s a relatively easy and forgiving sew for an underwire garment. So, if you want to start scouting out some swimwear fabric, now is a great time. Spoonflower‘s Sport Lycra is my current go-to for swim fabric.
On a personal note, life has been so busy lately. My best friend Abbey’s wedding was two weeks ago and it was absolutely beautiful and perfect. Where I live has been experiencing some flooding due to non-stop rain so we’ve been diligently monitoring our basement (we flooded last year). I have a bunch of projects planned around the house (painting the exterior, new soffit and fascia…), gardening to get to, mom-duties, and I’ve got a goal of running 10k by the end of the summer (I’m already up to 9k!). But I’ve got lots of Ohhh Lulu stuff I want to fit in there too… I’m honestly picking up my Camisole Pattern again that I shared on Instagram MONTHS ago. It will be ready soon… and I have a really wonderful bodysuit pattern that is also almost ready to drop (and actually would also make a great swimsuit now that I think of it…).
But for now… I’ve just gotta focus on my damn taxes!!!
My bff is getting married at the end of the month! I can hardly believe how quickly the time has gone. I’m really looking forward to it. It will be Dan and my first night away together without Isabel! I can’t believe we haven’t had a night out in over two years, besides a dinner here or there. We’ve put Isabel to bed every… single… night.
I had fun sewing a little bridal lingerie for my Abbey. She requested the grey lace set (garterbelt not shown), but I wanted to make something pretty for over top. I fell in love with this silk cotton voile when I came across it at my local fabric store. I just love the print and colour.
I actually used a pattern for this robe! It was Vogue 9218. Not much to say about it really. It was a very simple robe. I added a cotton lace tassel trim to the hem and sleeve.
I am excited but also nervous about our first night away. I’ve found that my anxiety/depression has really been creeping back in over the last month or so, and my mind goes to all of these terrible “what if” scenarios about leaving Isabel in the care of someone else. Coming to the realization that I’m going to constantly be taking steps to prevent my brain from going to “that dark place” is rough… It took so much work to get out of that paralyzing anxiety I was feeling last spring. I’ve felt myself slipping into that spinning, out of control feeling, which really sucks. But I don’t feel paralyzed the way I did last time. My nightmares have been sneaking back in, but for the most part, I find I can get back to sleep again. Over the winter I wasn’t able to get out running, but I’ve picked it up again over the last couple of weeks. It helps. Talking helps. Writing helps.
I’ve had a couple of things happen recently that brought me back to earlier times in my life when things were not nearly so good or stable or safe. That definitely has shaken the mental stability I’ve built over the last year. I’m so proud of the life I have built and my beautiful brand and my amazing daughter, but it wasn’t always this way. I’ve had situations happen in my past where my safety was seriously threatened and I’m just coming to terms now with the impact that has had on my life. On one hand, these experiences have left me with the ability to feel deep empathy for others, which I think is a strength. But on the other hand, it can weigh you down with a lot of fear and sadness.
This is life! Not always good, not always bad. Sometimes it just chugs along. The good news is that when I feel myself slipping and spiralling downwards now I can notice it and start doing all of those things that I did before to help myself get out of the spiral. I felt so silly in therapy sometimes. It feels like our thoughts and emotions should be something that comes naturally, but it’s not! Managing them takes practice… and for some of us it takes more work than others.
I wish we could talk about mental health the way we talk about other physical illnesses. I feel so silly when I say “I have anxiety”. It doesn’t’ sound like a big deal, and until it started actually impacting my life, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t get why people couldn’t just deal with it. And then it happened to me… all of those experiences in my life combined with an over anxious mind paralyzed me. And now I feel on a constant cycle of checking my stability and taking active measures (along with daily medication) to maintain a sense of stability. I wish I could explain to people who have passed in and out of my life why I have been the way I have been at times…
Just a friendly reminder, if you are feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of anxiety or depression, please reach out for help. Your family doctor is a good place to start, but even talking to someone you can trust like a friend or family member helps!
I’ve wanted to do a FAQ for a while. I always kind of thought I’d write one, but then I had the idea of doing a video! I’m slow to catch onto vlogging but I totally see the appeal. It’s a quick and easy way to share ideas.
My FAQ video goes over just a few questions I receive on a fairly regular basis. I ramble on quite a bit… I’m really good at tangents, but I’m hoping there will be some helpful info in here for lingerie-makers and lingerie-lovers alike.
Halloween costumes really came down to the wire this year… last year, I had a spooky dress whipped up by the beginning of the month. This year, Isabel’s first year trick-or-treating, I didn’t even know what costume to make until the weekend leading up to Halloween! I nearly broke down and bought her something ready made (sacrilege!).
Then I came across Twig & Tale’s Traveller Cape pattern (with the Wild Things add-on). I immediately thought “Little Red Riding Hood.” It was perfect because I had a piece of red velvet I had bought two Christmas’ ago, so all I had to buy was a bit of fabric for her dress. I used my current favourite, Heidi & Finn’s Pumpkin Spice dress. I added puffed sleeves and an attached stiff cotton petticoat to help the skirt flare out. I also sewed a self-drafted apron with little pockets (everything must have pockets right now) and a pretty applique on the front.
I used the add on from the Cape pattern to make myself a Big Bad Wolf’s hat out of fun fur with a cotton lining. Dan dressed as the Huntsman, which was easy since he already has a bushy beard and plaid shirt.
It was such a fun evening. It is so funny because I never “got” kids. But seeing Isabel do all of these things for the first time is just so fun! She was very brave and knocked on people’s door, said her “please” and “thank you’s” and wished everyone a “Happy Halloweee.” Never in my life did I think I’d ever say this, but… toddlers are the best!
I’m already planning out a few more of these capes… they were quick and easy to make, and I absolutely love all of Twig & Tale’s suggestions to make them into fun dress-up costumes.
One of my biggest fears about becoming a parent was how my dog Oliver would adjust to having a little person in the house. I got Oliver when I was living alone in Toronto. He and I were like two peas in a pod. We did everything together. We rode the bus together, we went shopping together, we played fetch in my little apartment until the wee hours of the morning together… I was worried that with the shift of attention from him to my new little person might cause some jealousy. Luckily, he adjusted so well to the change in our family dynamic, and now that Isabel is a little older, she absolutely loves him to pieces. It melts my heart to see the two of them chasing each other around the house.
Before we had Isabel, Dan and I used to take Oliver out to our local pug group for play dates and socializing. It always made me laugh because Oliver was so anti-social. He’d sit in a corner by himself, but I always liked going because it feels good to spend time with people as dog obsessed as I am. Plus, being surrounded by a bunch of snorting, snarfling little pugs is just the best thing every. We finally got back to our pug group last weekend, just in time for Pugoween!
Isabel is obsessed with Paw Patrol (or “Pawtrol” as she calls it), so my friend suggested we dress Oliver up as Rubble.
It turned out to be a fairly easy costume to put together. I made him a little yellow vest with a zipper up the front. I used an older Simplicity Pattern (2755), and just omitted the sleeves. I’m not sure if this particular pattern is still available, but it is a good one! I cut a size medium for Oliver, who is a gigantic pug, and it fits him snugly. I used some plain yellow knit fabric that I got in the clearance department of my local Fabricland.
For the little collar, I used a length of black webbing, and attached a snap to either end for easy on and off. I free-handed the emblem on the tag out of yellow cardstock and some beige felt.
Rubble also had a back-pack that contains his digger arm and other doo-dads. I took an old cereal box, cut it down to size, and glued yellow fabric around it. On either side, I attached some brown felt and cut out some tools from cart stock to glue to either side. I then glued that to a length of brown felt, which formed a belt, that I then wrapped around him and fastened with a snap. I put in a few stitches by hand to anchor the “box” to the back of the vest.
The only thing he was missing was the hard hat!!! I was pretty proud of myself for putting together this little costume. It probably took me a total of two hours to put together. Best of all, Oliver didn’t seem to hate wearing it (though he pretty quickly managed to pee on it). It’s pretty far out of my regular sewing realm, but it was a fun project that put a big smile on Isabel’s face when she saw it all come together.
Ok, now my time to blabber a bit about my dog… As I mentioned earlier, Oliver was always a bit of an outsider in the pug group. Not this time! He was right there socializing with the other dogs. He hardly barked and actually seemed to have a good time. It was like he turned a new leaf! I was so proud of my dog! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks…
Now the crunch is on to figure out something for Isabel for Halloween…
I mentioned in an earlier post about how I’ve been dealing with some disappointment this past year. I’ve had lots of good personal things: a new house, new adventures with Isabel… Work has been chugging along steady. I briefly mentioned I had the opportunity to work on a book, which did not get picked up. It was a huge disappointment which I thought I took well and realized months later that it was a bit of a knock to the self-esteem. I also was spending way too much time comparing myself against others. Social Media can be an evil bitch. I kept noticing people who I felt were piggy backing on my aesthetic… as a designer, your “look” is like your baby. Something you created with your mind and hands. When someone knocks it off it physically hurts, and my anxiety riddled brain catastrophizes it (and everything else) and the next think you know I’m filled with thoughts of my business failing, my family leaving me, the whole world falling apart.
So… I stopped for a bit. I took stock. I said a big, “F*&# You!” (I love to swear, did you know that?). And I started to just do what I want. Again.
Then, I started to sew a bunch of lingerie for myself. I thought, if nothing else, I’ll have a nicely re-stocked wardrobe.
One piece led to the next, which led to the next. I re-tooled the way I sew my bras, adding a mesh lining, and reworked my longline style. I developed two new underwear patterns. I created a bunch of pieces that I love to wear… Things that are comfortable, fun, and make me feel like a million bucks.
One thing I like to do is create items that can mix and match. I’ve released several solid coloured bras in mesh and lace that can pair with a variety of bottoms. Honestly, putting on my underwear in the morning is one of the highlights of my day…
I’m not going to lie. I’ve really been struggling over the last few months. My worries and anxieties snowball and make it really hard for me to move forward. They affect my self confidence and and whittle me down to nothing. They make me feel scared and unworthy. I’ve really been trying to reclaim myself. Accept that this is something that I have to deal with and that often my thoughts are out to get me! Sometimes my view of the world is skewed by my over-reactive brain. It’s a difficult thing to wrap your mind around.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve “found” lingerie again. I felt like I was doing a lot of things I “should” do, and by the end of the day I wasn’t making time for what I wanted to do: experiment with new designs, play with fabrics, take pretty pictures… I’m definitely going to make more time for this from now on.
Jeez Louise… I keep saying “I will blog more. I will blog more.” Then I think about blogging and I seize. Blogging/writing is one of the things that anxiety has taken from me. I’m trying to reclaim it, but also trying to accept that it takes some baby steps. It’s funny, because on here I’ve always been somewhat of an open book. I believe in the power of sharing experiences, good or bad, but over the last two years, it’s become so hard. I’m not sure when or why it happened exactly but that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “no one cares. you can’t do it. you are a failure” started to take over. Ridiculous because rationally I look at what I have achieved and I am proud, but in my mind, nothing is ever good enough. There is not a point with my business where I feel I could look back and say “there. I’ve done good.” Or a point with my physical self where I could say “ok, I’m thin enough/fit enough/healthy enough.” Anxiety is not about rationality though. What a difficult thing to grapple with as someone who values evidence based thinking and rationality!
Needless to say I’ve been dealing with a lot over the last few months. Learning how to re-train my brain into more productive modes of thinking and dealing with some difficult things from the past has been rewarding and a huge challenge. On one hand I feel happy I am doing this. I want to be a good example for Isabel. Sometimes our thinking needs a facelift, and it’s ok to seek out help if you can’t do it on your own. I am a huge believer in continual self-improvement. On the other hand, it would be so much easier to stick with the status quo…
Work has slowed down somewhat over the last few months, mostly because I haven’t been adding anything new or updating any of my shops. I plan to do so soon… when I’m ready.
Mostly I’ve been working on sewing that I want to do, fixing up our house, running, and trying to stay sane. I had a lot of work opportunities that fell through in the last 6 months which were hugely disappointing (including a book. PS If you are a publisher or literary agent, I want to write a book. Contact me!). I found I was wrapping myself up entirely in my work and the disappointments felt overwhelming because I didn’t have anything else going on. I think this happens a lot with our careers, it becomes our identity. So, I’ve been broadening my horizons again.
I ran my first 5k race! Here I am with pig-tails a-bouncing with my beautiful cousin Pam. She makes it look easy! It was really fun and I felt so accomplished once I passed the finish line! I remember Pam saying “Ok you can stop running now.” Ha! It was a very hilly route which was a challenge for me.
I also have taken on a bunch of projects around the house, because fixing up this house is my dream. I re-pointed the fire place, I repaired a water damaged wall. I patched so much old plaster. I sanded. I painted. I worked my butt off.
This room is going to become an office/sewing room. It is so bright and airy feeling now. I’m just saving up my pennies to put in a big long desk with lots of file storage. For now, it’s a great place to do yoga and store my plants. I currently have my sewing area set up in the basement, which is nice because there is lots of space, but lets face it, basements aren’t the nicest place to spend your time… at least not mine!
This room was the scariest in the house because there had been water damage and we had to do some exterior repair in this area of the house too. It has been kind of a “make-do” project because eventually I would like to tear out this fireplace surround, but for now, I’m absolutely happy with the results and it is nice to have a big, bright living room to spend our time in. Previous to getting this room done, we had set up in a spare bedroom. Dan built and installed all of those floating shelves. The room still needs art, especially something big and impactful over the fireplace, but I’m not really sure what I want there yet.
I am loving this house because I have the space to display all of the things I love. I have lots of little knick knacks that remind me of this or that… things from our grandparents, things we have made, things we picked up at junk shops. Our house is filled with hand me downs and even random things picked up from the side of the road. I love that.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. We had our first family get together yesterday at our house, and will be enjoying a turkey dinner with all of the fixings tonight. Isabel’s birthday is also coming up. I can’t believe she will be 2 already. And, of course Halloween is on it’s way which means I have costumes on the mind…
I really hope to spend more time on here. I spent a lot of time, energy, and money getting my new blog set up. Now I just have to start using it!