Claire and Cherry Pie

Confessions of a creatoholic

Hi, my name is Claire and I am a createoholic.  Yes it’s totally a real word because I have decided it is!  I suppose that while I’m getting it all out there I must also confess I have quite a collection of craft projects I’ve started over the years and never completed.  Is that normal?  Does it say something about my ability to dedicate myself to a task?  About my level of commitment?  My ability to concentrate?  Am I over-thinking this at all…

There are events in life that almost force reflection and self-exploration.  Times when you need time out from the regular goings on of the world and those around you and times when you are forced to take time out for reasons beyond your control.  Periods of time with chronic illness and its fluctuations are, for many people, some of those times.  For myself growing up with a group of chronic medical conditions that impacted on my ability to consistently attend school and play sport etc left me a lot of time to think, to read and write and explore my imagination.  Through that I discovered a love for creating things and learned a lot about myself in the process.

creativity and imagination

As a child my creative exploits mainly revolved around stories; whether it was indulging my imagination by delving into a good book, writing my own stories or poetry and drawing pictures to accompany my work. I wasn’t much of an artist but I loved words. Reading always held preference over homework for me and I used to challenge myself by reading the hardest books I could find on the shelves of the classroom and library. I hungered for books in the way people hunger for food, my brain needed them and I couldn’t get enough. The world of my imagination was far preferable to the world of doctors and tests and interminable days stuck at home sick. The world outside could pass me by but books and stories were always there when I needed them. As the years went on my addiction only grew. I would lose sleep, lose days, and lose entire holidays lost in book after book.  VCE exams and then University came so I had to curb my addiction or risk wasting my study, my opportunities; my life (well that’s what they tell you anyway!).

So I turned to other creative outlets. Over the years I have dabbled in sewing (something I started in my teens and am now exploring again with passion), started knitting, had brief dalliances with scrapbooking, glass painting, jewellery making and then crafting hair accessories to sell at markets which finally led me to discover Millinery.  It reawakened my passion for sewing, for fine detail, for perseverance and for the thrill of the chase.  It also taught me patience – you’d think that after riding the health roller coaster for so long I should have learned that years ago, but it doesn’t necessarily work that way.  Hats inspire me.  Hats excite me.  Hats have made me realise again that sewing is fun, it is enjoyable.  It is not just a task to be completed.  If it’s done properly, planned properly and executed with love and care it is rewarding through the inevitable times of frustration and can yield beautiful and even surprising results.  Like this little button hat, it’s one of my favourites and was a joy to make but it sure had it’s points of frustration – I kept it for my personal collection 😉
If you’d like to see more of my millinery work please check out my website.

Image and HUMA by Mad Dame

Image and HMUA by Mad Dame

Recently I came across ‘Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing’ by Gretchen Hirsch, mentioned in my previous post – Graceful in the Garden, her second book ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ and her blog; Gertie’s new Blog for Better Sewing. They are chock full of pages of advice on all things sewing, with a vintage focus, they have beautiful, clear, colourful photos and illustrations and come complete with an envelope of patterns each, whose instructions are contained within the book. It is a fabulous resource!  One of the fantastic things about Gertie’s patterns is that several of them include variations that are explained and illustrated in great detail and some pattern parts are interchangeable between outfit styles.  She’s passionate about sewing vintage styles, she enjoys what she does and she writes really well.  Plus she’s around my age, has awesome hair, fabulous dress sense and tattoos – so is someone I can really relate to 😉

Sewing books by Gretchen Hirsch

Shortly after hearing about Gertie’s book, my sister decided to introduce me to Colette Patterns, because apparently I don’t have enough patterns and things in my life – hmm.  Colette Patterns have a selection of vintage-inspired patterns and books that can be purchased in either traditional printed and folded pattern form or immediately downloadable PDF!  They also put out a regular email of sewing tidbits for their subscribers.  Talk about sewing inspiration overload – where do I start?  I need a plan…

My first ever sewing project, way back in my early teens, was a t-shirt, just to ease me into things.  The next was a skirt for my year 10 formal – floor length, gathered waist, royal blue silk lined black organza with silver metallic stars printed all over.  I know what you’re thinking but it was the year 2000 and silver star print was way cool and totally formal wear 😉  The organza was an experience to sew so early on…  It probably would have been a better idea to start with the t-shirt and work my way up to something more complicated, thus gaining the required patience and planning skills – but I didn’t.  I was careful, my lovely mother helped me out with the zip and the skirt was spectacular.  It was long and swishy and star studded; I felt like a princes and even better I had MADE IT MYSELF!  Check it out 😀

My dear friend Steph and myself all dolled up ready for the year 10 formal

My dear friend Steph and myself all dolled up ready for the year 10 formal

After that early success I was completely convinced I could sew anything.  I became a sewing cowboy with little regard for patterns, plans and method.  My misplaced conviction resulted in many abandoned sewing attempts over the years to the point where I decided for a while that I didn’t actually like sewing very much because it was too fiddly and time-consuming and I wanted to wear whatever it was right NOW.  Yes, that patience, care and planning stuff I learned through millinery, that came a little bit later…

Words of wisdom

Hearing words and appreciating them are two different things!

For some time I have felt the itch, no, the need to get back to sewing; to creating beautiful things that are unique and all mine.  I’ve always been an indecisive and, shall we say, independent sewer.  I like to do things my way.  If I want a different sleeve I will do it, if I want to copy a dress I already have, I will try.  If I want to add pockets (and I think most things NEED pockets because they are the most useful things in the world) I will – oh that reminds me, Gertie sew’s vintage casual has quite a section on pockets, it’s pretty exciting – yay for pockets!  Having a lack of pattern drafting skills, little patience, poor planning skills and sewing experience that is all over the place this didn’t always work out in my favour in the past.  So this year I plan to do things differently; this year I plan to plan.  I will do it right.  I will make a wearable muslin before I use my special fabric with that brand new pattern.  I will use my sewing mannequin as more than a clothes storage device and hat stand.  I will give myself time to start, time to think and time to finish.  I will read all the instructions before I start.  I will look after my back and not cut out pattern pieces on the floor.  I will draft proper patterns for additions like sleeves and pockets and not just cut around what I already have…

Ok, ok I know I have developed some bad sewing habits but I am determined to do it right this time.  So here I am, taking the first steps towards sewing redemption – Grandma I am sorry for my wayward past and I am determined to now do right.  But what project to do next!   I have quite a bit of fabric to use up – you can see a sneak peek of it in the header at the top of the page, there’s a lot more where that came from!  If you think that’s bad you should see my millinery supply closet!  Now to grab my trusty tools and get to work.



So who’s with me?  Who else has plans to do it right this year and finish what they start?  Who else is adding to their wardrobe creatively?  I’d love to hear about your plans!


  1. Lipstick and Petticoats

    I love reading about your plans! I am the worst for starting something and never finishing. I have a craft cupboard full and a sewing machine that I’ve never even used yet! One day!

    1. Claire

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one who has trouble getting things finished!
      One day indeed – no time like the present! Joining a sewing circle or class is a good way to get motivated but it can be hard to find the time 🙂

  2. Jill Teresa Farmer

    Good to know there is another readaholic, writeaholic, and createaholic out there! When I was embroidering my name and the date on a sampler, I realized that if I put the real time I worked on it, it would look like someone’s lifespan. So no more projects until everything else is done. (We’ll see how long that lasts!) Enjoyed this so much.

    1. Claire

      I secretly suspect there are many of us out there hiding in the woodwork – or underneath mountains of unfinished craft projects and books! Ha ha, but you finished it! That’s the main thing. It’s so hard not to get distracted by new projects


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