Days of opportunity

It seems to me that for some, this world has taken a step backwards.

From the bright and hopeful start of women’s work towards social equality with men, I am seeing darkness creeping back. Abuse, sexual harassment, tacit approval of rape as a ‘weapon of correction’, violence towards women offered as entertainment, workplace bullying, suppression in the name of tradition and family pride, marginalisation and dismissal of our ideas and contributions in a way that men would not be expected to tolerate.

So when I hear of an organisation dedicated to opening horizons of opportunity for girls and women, even in a personal and private way, I’m interested. And when that contribution makes an unspoken but shattering difference to millions of lives over dozens of years, I want to know more.

If you’re a man, this may make uncomfortable reading. With all possible goodwill: Toughen up, princess. This is something every woman has to deal with, for most of her life.

The organisation is called Days for Girls, and its strapline is Every Girl, Everywhere. Period. It seeks to ensure that every girl and woman has access to adequate, healthy and sustainable sanitary protection. It offers dignity, hope, freedom from stigma and the ability to keep attending school and work instead of losing days, weeks and months of their lives, stuck at home and often ostracised as ‘unclean’ because it’s their time of the month and they have nothing to help them deal with that. From early beginnings in 2008, the organisation has become international, and to date it has helped over 1,000,000 women in more than 124 countries. That’s a lot of new freedom, a lot of new opportunity.

Yesterday, I joined my local branch, and came away with ‘homework’. Many volunteers work together once a week, others take work home and bring finished items back when they are done. I have piles of fabric to assemble into one element of the kit each girl and woman receives. Each kit is estimated to take 8 woman-hours: a gift from one woman to another, one day spent to give another woman days and days of a better, richer life. The design has been refined and re-refined in the 10 years it has been in use. A lot of thought has gone into creating something that is sensitive to the widest possible variety of local ideas, traditions and taboos. Girls receive a discreet bag filled with the sanitary necessities to take them through each month and to last for years to come. Some of the kits have been in use for more than 5 years already. I am incredibly proud to be a small part of this chain of hands held out to our sisters, who receive not only these necessities, but also basic instruction on their use, plus hygiene and sex education. Co-ordinators go in person to deliver hundreds of kits and the education. Where this is not possible, the kits are passed on to the volunteers on Mercy Ships to deliver together with education, where they are making port and offering medical care.

I think a lot of men are bored with hearing about ‘women’s issues’. When you’re at the top of the food chain, you maybe don’t feel the need to pay attention to those at the margins – and make no mistake, women as a whole are still at the margins despite decades of knocking at the door and banging our heads on the glass ceiling. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still such a long way to go… So it’s down to women to help each other. I am glad to help offer freedom and dignity to young women, so that they can enjoy as much opportunity as their circumstances permit, and travel in life as far as their imaginations will take them.

I expect some umbrage to be taken about my opinions. It is human to hold differing opinions and to believe different things, based on our experiences. If you wish to express your disagreement rationally and without abuse, your comments are welcome. Trolls and anyone using abuse to make their point will be deleted.

But nothing will convince me that this concept is not a shining light of compassion, rationality and sisterhood.


Becoming… something

Yes, OK, it’s a weird title, but all will be explained shortly.

I’m in a clearing out mood just now. I have recently sent for recycling several things which definitely fell into the “what was I thinking?” category. And then there was the old shopping bag. Here’s the deal.

Way, way back in the mists of time (oh, very well, about 14 years ago if you insist on accuracy), I was young(er), single and comparatively affluent. I certainly had disposable cash for pretty stuff. One day I fell in love with a bag. It was stiff white leather (what was I thinking?), tall, capacious and it had a beautiful piece of fabric set into the front. For all of three days I carried it around. And then I had to stop. The handles were excruciatingly uncomfortable. The straps that went over the top simply would not line up with their magnetic clips. It got dirty if you just looked at it. It became my magazine holder, so I could still look at that lovely fabric. But it fell over all the time.

Over the years, it migrated into my sewing area and then into the dark and cobwebby corners, holding abandoned attempts at knitting. It became the Bag of Shame. It was old, but virtually unused. And yesterday, enough was enough. I cut out that beautiful panel of fabric, and I consigned the rest of it to the outer darkness.

The fabric sang me a siren song yesterday morning, asking for attention, and this is what it has become. I have no idea what it’s for. The fabric panel (at top left) is stiff and heavy – visualise curtain fabric with triple-pass blackout coating on the back. It’s too stiff for any kind of furnishing item such as a cushion cover, or for a garment (although I suppose a panel on the back of a jacket might work). It’s 18 inches (46cm) high x 13 inches (33cm) wide.

I could just hang it on the wall and still be able to admire that piece of fabric I fell in love with all those years ago, but in my ideal world, things are useful as well as beautiful.

So, I’d like your thoughts on what this might become. I simply cannot put it back into some dark corner and forget it. Again…

SAL 68: another petal

It’s that time again – already!

I’ve scarcely touched my tapestry project; I’ve been immersed in quilty projects for the past few weeks, and I surfaced only a few days ago, when Avis’ reminder went out. Eek! Time to start stitching. I think it probably shows in my lack of progress, but I have got another petal stitched in. Bottom left, in case you were wondering where, exactly!


And after:

I’m having trouble getting some of the colours I’ve used. I don’t know why, but it has meant I’ve needed to make substitutions where it doesn’t affect the outcome or overall effect too much. This latest petal is a case in point; that pale greyish lilac is a new colour.

Do click on the links below and go and look at what everyone else is working on. If there’s no post up yet, try again later, as we’re a scattered bunch, all in different time zones.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLindaHeidiJackie, Sunny,
HayleyTony, MeganCatherine, Deborah, and Connie

The next SAL will be on 30th September. See you then.

SAL 67: Now this is progress!

I got loads done this time 🙂

I decided to take the easy way out, and stitch in a load of background. It’s been a very busy few weeks since the last SAL, and mentally I wasn’t feeling up to careful stitch counting and colour checking, but I did want something to do with my hands. Enter two skeins of DMC 7618, and I was away, doing lots of lovely mindless filling in. Suddenly, my quarter done really looks a quarter done!


And after 🙂

As this post goes out while I’m on holiday, I apologise if I miss any last minute changes to the list of participants.

Do click on the links below and go and look at what everyone else is working on. If there’s no post up yet, try again later, as we’re a scattered bunch, all in different time zones.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLindaHeidiJackie, Sunny,
HayleyTony, MeganCatherine, Deborah, and Connie

The next SAL will be on 9th September. See you then.

SAL 66: Another petal almost done

Here we are again, time to show stitching progress 🙂

Here’s last time I had any progress to show:

And here’s now. I’ve definitely done a quarter now, apart from the background, which will be just mindlessly filling in with pale grey.

Do click on the links below and go and look at what everyone else is working on. If there’s no post up yet, try again later, as we’re a scattered bunch, all in different time zones. Welcome back to Catherine, and welcome in to Deborah 🙂

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLinda, Mary Margaret, Heidi,
Jackie, Sunny, HayleyTony, Megan, Timothy,
Catherine and Deborah

The next SAL will be on 19th August. I’ll be on holiday then, but I’ll try to schedule something in advance – it all depends on how busy I am between now and then. 


Happy swoopy :-)

I’ve finished it.

I went at it slowly and carefully, not wanting to make a mistake with such lovely (and incidentally, expensive!) fabric. There was one near miss, but I won’t burden you with that! The body and two-piece collar went together without trouble, but the sleeves were quite finicky. They’re just below elbow length, with a deep, firm cuff, two pleats and a continuous bound placket (opening). They went in quite easily; I got a bit obsessive about making sure all the notches and pattern marks were in place before I started work, and it truthfully does help things fit together better. Mostly I’m a bit cavalier about these things, but not this time. In traditional fashion, the overlocker has decided to go on strike, or more accurately, a Go-Very-Slow, leaving the armholes the only bits un-overlocked. The mechanic I talked to on the phone says it’s probably a bearing that needs replacing, so the overlocker will be going into Janome Hospital in Townsville in mid-August. Till then, I’m back to finishing with zig zag; adequate, but not perfect 😦

I have to say, the buttonholes were a bit of a thing. There are 10 of them on the pattern, and my sewing machine has a history of going freestyle with the buttonhole foot without notice or provocation. So I a) decided to reduce the number of buttons (I’ll never wear this thing done up to the throat); and b) sat down with scrap fabric and made a dozen of them before I was confident the machine was cowed into submission and obedience. They turned out perfectly.

The buttons themselves… I’d originally thought about using little buttons in all the detail colours in the fabric: pale and raspberry pink, yellow and pale blue. Thing is, there was always the chance it’d look like a mistake. I didn’t want dull grey buttons. Mother of pearl would have been nice, but in the end, I decided to go with self-covered buttons. They’re very fiddly, but the effect is such a perfect match that I felt it was worth it. Mind you, the buttons themselves are far from perfectly made (pretty, but soooo fiddly…), but because they’re made of the fabric they blend in invisibly.

I really love the finished shirt. So much so that I bought some fabric to make another one, but this time I’m going to go with shorter, elbow-length sleeves with no cuff. I love the new fabric, which is cotton poplin from a range called Animal Friends, and it’s the Flying Stork pattern, with a tiny touch of silver in the design. I think it’s meant for children’s wear, but in this case, it’ll be Kate wear. Best of all, I got it for an amazing price. Spotlight VIP members (moi, naturally!) are currently getting 30% discount on most fabric lines. This fabric was also marked down to $8 a metre. On top of that, it was on the 75% off table AND I had a 20% discount winning scratch-card from Spotlight’s recent mail-out. I think I got 4 metres for about $2 in the end…

I also got some fabric for sashing the pastel rainbow scrappy quilt, but that’s for another day.

A little swoopiness to pass the time

Hands up who’s been following this blog for more than 3 years?

Oh hello! How lovely! Well, if you’ve been around that long, you’ll know I have a very slight tendency to make an excited start to a project, only to have it disappear totally into a deep, dark black hole. I have only a few projects like that, but enough to make me embarrassed and uneasy. So I’m resurrecting this one you may remember from three years ago. It’s past time…

Back then, I received a length of Liberty lawn in the design and colourway known as Patsy A, as a reward for making a sister of mine a quilt. (Another sister, another quilt. I have 4 sisters and three of them now have quilts. They all know that fabric is an acceptable trade…) I looked around a while for something worthy of this magnificence, and found a shirt pattern I liked. It has a flared, uneven, drapey hem, and I named it the Swoopy Shirt. I got as far as cutting it out, but with a ¾ length sleeve, for coolness. And then things ground to a halt. I’m blowed if I know why.

Now that I have the overlocker working again, I’ve lost the concern I had before about finishing it off properly inside. Zigzag just doesn’t do a good enough job for such lovely fabric. So it’s time to get cracking again. Rosita has emerged from the box room to assist with fittings and give advice (I’ve never known such an opinionated dress form, but there you go…), I’ve found the self-cover buttons and pearl grey thread I bought specially, and there are No More Excuses. Having laid bare my cringe at lack of progress, I now can’t make the project go away again, so I’ll have to finish it 🙂

Just in time for the summer and the hot, humid days when you need a beautiful, loose lawn shirt.