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Sew slow fashion

I picked up sewing a few years ago, but didn’t really progress much. I initially wanted to do alterations so I could tailor my clothes to fit better. Then I realised that to do that properly, I’d likely have to deconstruct clothes to begin with… so I gave up on that idea pretty fast.

Anyway, after taking a weekend workshop years ago, I was able to make simple garments. I made a ton of pajamas and pajama shorts (haha) and started making tunic dresses and tops. Like with the pajamas, I had base patterns I’d make variations of… different fabrics, necklines, sleeves, that kind of thing.

With everything that happened this year, I ended up getting more into sewing. And I mean really into it. I’ve never been particularly adventurous with clothing – I’d throw away a black shirt that had gone ratty and buy one exactly like it – so I liked the idea of knowing what my basics are and making more of those if I needed new clothes.

Now, I have to consciously remind myself to spend my time on other hobbies, haha! If I’m not sewing, I’m looking up patterns, fabrics, other people’s projects… As satisfying as making my own clothes is, I don’t want it to take over my life. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to become more sustainable. I was never the person who would buy a lot of fast fashion, but I don’t want to be stuck with the same dilemma of having too many clothes, regardless if they were fast fashion or not. It’s a hard balance to strike!

There is a sense of pride and accomplishment when I wear things I’ve made that I’ve never felt wearing ready-to-wear clothing. I may have gotten addicted to that feeling. I’ve got a few projects lined up for the rest of the year and I’m pretty excited. I’m hoping to get them done sooner rather than later so I can get some good use out of them before the weather starts turning cool again!

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Things I regret

I’ve been wistful about how things used to be now that I’m in the “new normal”. I know things have to be this way indefinitely, but I can’t help it.

So here’s a list of things I regret. Also known as things I wish my younger self knew.

I wish I made more of an effort for my friends and family’s milestones.

I moved overseas when I was 24. I accepted that I’d miss a lot of things – weddings, special birthdays, anniversaries, births. People did understand, and I did have legitimate reasons why I couldn’t make it.

I had university. I had work. I didn’t have enough leaves yet, I just started a new job. Australia is so far from everything else – it would’ve taken me over a day to travel one way. I wouldn’t be able to spend more than a few days – surely over a thousand dollars for a few days was a bit much?

But still. I feel like I could’ve made more of an effort. That I could’ve been OK with not saving as much as I did, with taking leave without pay, with missing a few days here and there, with dealing with jetlag.

I am glad though, that I made the effort when my remaining grandparents passed away. I got to see my grandfather one more time. I didn’t get to see my grandmother, but at least I was there to grieve with my family.

I also wish that a few years ago, I attended the juggling convention in Amsterdam along with my juggling group. They’d already booked a house and everything and were encouraging me to join. All I had to do was book a plane ticket! My cousin happened to be living there at that time, so it would’ve been a chance to see him. But I balked at the cost. Now how I wish I’d gone!

I wish I had supported local a lot more.

We’ve started going out more, but it’s locally – and I can’t help but wish that some of my old favourite local places were still around.

There are two local shops I have in mind: a fresh fruit and veg grocer with amazing deli products and an “authentic Italian” pizza place. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that I (or we) would’ve fully stopped those shops from going out of business.

But still! I wish I’d visited more than I did – I’d taken for granted that they were there.

(What makes me sadder is how the people who worked in those shops would recognise me/us. It really is a nice feeling, being consider a “regular” of someplace.)

I wish I’d taken taken more time off, especially when my friends or family visited from overseas.

I mean, sometimes I would. And sometimes they’d visit during the holiday season when I was off anyway. But a lot of times, I would schedule spending time with them around uni or work. I wish I’d blocked off that time entirely and focused on spending time with them instead.

Outside of entertaining visitors, I think I could’ve taken off more time in general. I find that when I change jobs, I always have a chunk of vacation leave that gets cashed out. Money is great, but I could’ve treated myself to little holidays here and there.

I wish I hadn’t slacked off on group exercise (or juggling!) the last two years.

I used to be quite religious – I’d take dance classes at two studios, go boxing and do Krav Maga. I also juggled every week. In the years leading up to the coronavirus, I lessened some of that, and to be honest stopped juggling entirely years ago.

It wasn’t that I was lazy. Changes in work hours meant it was hard to spend a few hours in the city doing nothing waiting for the next class, and I didn’t want to be sleep deprived the next day. I was travelling interstate every other weekend. Sometimes, weekends were the only time we could have quality time. I also wanted to save a bit more money. Some things had to give.

I’ve been taking online exercise classes (including live dance classes) but the thing is, it’s not the same. There’s something about dancing in a room full of people and feeding off each other’s energy. There’s something training with people better than I am and pushing me to become better.

Exercise classes are technically allowed already. I got a call from one of my dear teachers some time ago telling me he was teaching again, although in limited numbers – but I’m still hesitant given we’re still in a pandemic.

But I hope, I hope, things will get back to normal soon. And I hope it isn’t too late to make amends.

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Everything

Reading fewer books

Last year, I resolved to savour the books I read. I’d been accumulating respectable “book counts” for the previous years. I had a 30 minute train ride to/from work, and I’d spend that time buried in a book.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really remember much from those books. I blasted through them, having momentary episodes of “that’s interesting” or “that makes sense” but nothing really stuck. So I resolved to read less books, but really savour them.

When “How to read fewer books” appeared on my feeds, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly.

Except for one thing — I don’t read much at all nowadays. Oops.

Now that I don’t travel for work, I don’t have the time to get stuck into a book. And being at home, surrounded by all my other things, means I’m less likely to do it.

I lost my rhythm with my local library. When the lockdowns started, I reserved books from my local library as I usually do, but found that they were only open during times I was working from home. They’ve since reopened on weekends, but I’ve lost that habit of dropping by during our weekly shopping trips, to either pick a book or return it, if not both.

So. I’m trying to get my reading mojo back.

I’ve since resolved to get through the entire Harvard Classics. The books listed there are so different from ones I’d typically pick out for myself, I figure it’s as good idea as any to start chipping away at them and open my mind to new things. Also, it’s a good thing that most (all?) of them are freely available because of expired copyright.

I’m still on the first book (Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography). Good luck to me!

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Sometimes I miss social media…

…if only to post about Aussie businesses and products we’ve/I’ve used these past few months.

Years ago, I bemoaned the demise of the Sydney Yelp Elite community. I loved writing reviews on Yelp… Admittedly, my first post was a rant about a cafe (my food had plastic in it) but most of my reviews were positive.

I liked how people found my reviews helpful and checked out places partly on my recommendation. When I moved my adventures from Yelp to Instagram, I loved it when restaurant owners commented on my photos and reposted them on their own accounts.

Becoming a “food blogger” wasn’t the primarily goal. I never pulled the “I’m Yelp Elite, give me free stuff” or “I’m going to post a negative review about you or else” cards. I genuinely wanted to share my experiences.

In these times, it feels a bit more important.

In my previous role, I spent the last few months on projects for local businesses. I interviewed several business owners as part of research. Every one of them spoke passionately about what they were doing.

They would say: I want to share my culture, our food. I want to share my love of art. I want to help people, that’s why I want to do this.

Outside of my actual research scope, they peppered me with questions: How can I reach more people? How can I find a venue so I can expand? Does the government have more support for businesses like mine? And they were grateful, so grateful, if I pointed them to services they happened to not know about.

It pains me to think of the economic impact of the coronavirus. These smaller businesses were probably the first to go.

That’s why we’ve made a conscious decision to support local. I’ve also made it a point to be especially kind… I always let the business know if I’ve had a good experience. We’re all in this together, right? More than a few times after sharing my feedback, I’ve been asked: Could you leave us a review? Please?

I don’t publicise this blog so I know only my friends read it (hi guys!). I know one of the benefits of Google reviews or Instagram is that it’s not wholly dependent on the popularity of each particular writer – make sure it’s tagged correctly, and a review’s more or less findable. However, I still don’t like social media as a whole, and I feel like Google reviews aren’t too reliable, but… I’ll see.

Even if you’re not from Sydney and haven’t benefited from any of the recommendations I’ve made lately, I plead: Please support local, support small businesses.

P.S. There’s another reason I’ve been thinking about rejoining Instagram: I’ve been obsessed with looking up sewing projects online! But that’s another story for another time.