Girt by Sea: conquering the curves

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I’ll be honest … curves scare me. Give me straight lines any day.

My logically mind just can’t get around the concave, convex .. these two bits just aren’t suppose to go together.

I was lucky to watch this rounds designer, Emma Jean Jansen give a demonstration in person back in March and I also carefully read and followed her tips in her blog post.

It’s slow going. Very slow. If you are used to whipping through blocks, forget it. Slow and steady is best here.

My tips (very similar to Emma’s!):

  • Fold and make a crease at the centre of your two pieces
  • Match the fold and pop in a pin. Place a pin at the start and finish of the seams
  • I sewed the outer piece on top, so for me it was the white piece (I reversed the pattern pieces putting my feature fabric on the ‘inside’ and the background on the outside.
  • I used my quarter inch foot and the needle down function and slowly eased the fabric, matching it as I went. Don’t stretch it or pull it!
  • Carefully iron without stretching. The pieces are on the bias cut so can distort. You can see my seams just wanted to press out so I went with that. They lay a little flatter this way.

I’m pretty happy with my curves. Both those on my body and those I created for my Girt quilt.

I used my trusty Drunkard’s Path template from our sponsors Victorian Textiles – how awesome is the Modern Makers engraving! Love it!

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Hope you can conquer your fear like I did!
Jane

 

 

 

 

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Girt by Me: of the Log variety

I’ve made a log cabin quilt before so these blocks weren’t daunting … although … the pieces in Girt by Sea are much, much smaller. And I had this nifty ruler to square things up last time. Couldn’t be that hard right?

It wasn’t!

 

This was a nice and easy round. I followed Alyce’s tips of pre-cutting, chain piecing and ironing everything. I think this is one of these blocks where the 1/4 inch seam is super important. A few of my blocks were perhaps a little … wonky … but nothing a good spray of Flatter and iron couldn’t help.

As you can see, I mixed it up a little and swapped out the little centre square. Something another Girt creator did that I thought was fun.

And yes … I still haven’t finished my needle turn. Another couple to go and the ones that go over the seams and I’ll be done. We can’t rush these things ok!

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The next two rounds are getting lighter, moving to white background.

After being behind a little (although these have been made since early August, I just didn’t get the photos and blogging finished) … I’m now caught up and ahead!

Happy log-cabin creating!
Jane

 

 

 

Blog tour: A piece of cake

When Peta asked if we would join her blog tour … it was like a three second delay … yes (might have shouted). It has been a pleasure working with her on our Girt by Sea pattern and so it was no question that we would be involved.

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But what to make …

I read the book, cover to cover. And then read it again. Honestly, I was excited to try every project in the book. And I certainly won’t be stopping at just one.

But I need to choose something so I picked the namesake ‘A Piece of Cake’ which is the second project in the book.

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I wanted to make a quilt for my in-laws for Christmas and was looking for something quite straightforward. Not fussy. Ok … also easy (lol).

And oh boy, did I nail it with this one. I couldn’t believe how quickly it came together. I basically had a quilt top in one afternoon. Including cutting!

I bought this fabric by April Rhodes a few months ago. I’ll be honest, it isn’t my favourite but I knew my in-laws would love it. Actually, now it is all sewn together it has rather grown on me. Not every quilt has to be bold and saturated colours. The mustard, rust orange, navy and grey is lovely.

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The book is designed to use Layer Cakes (get it? A Piece of Cake?!?) for this one, I used a eight half yard bundle of fabric and still plenty left over. I’m thinking I might use what is left for a scrappy binding.

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Now just to quilt it. Any suggestions?

Thank you so much for having us Peta – love you, love your book and love this quilt! And we look forward to having Peta hosting our last month in the Girt by Sea Sew-along starting 25 September. It has been so much fun (and not too late to join in!).

Happy Modern Making
Jane

PS. Make sure you take a look at what all the other lovely bloggers have been making. They are amazing!

Talking quilts with Quilt Talking

Recently, a fabulous creature called Velvet van Pelt came knocking on our door and, in a drawl as delicious as hot chocolate, asked if she conduct her own online “chat show” for Modern Makers. You don’t turn down a woman like Velvet van Pelt, so we sent her off to charm the equally fabulous Moira Carvalho from Quilt Talking (@quilttalking), also known as CraftyMa.

When you read this, you must imagine them both with martinis in hand!


 

Velvet van Pelt: Darling, when did you start quilting and pattern designing?

Moira: I started quilting about five years ago, but quickly realised that I love the creative design aspect most of all. I was brought up in a family who worked in the printing business and my mother also fostered my creativity by encouraging me to make my own clothes, as I am tall and had trouble finding clothes to suit.  When I left school, I studied dress making, thus consolidating my fabric handling skills and providing an outlet for creative design.

 

 

Velvet van Pelt: Now honey, what drew you to pattern designing?

Moira: I have always been interested in creative pursuits and spent several years immersed in the world of digital scrapbooking. That changed to quilting when my daughter was expecting her first baby and asked me to help her decorate the nursery.  We went and bought fabrics for curtains and other nursery items. It was then that I looked at the leftover fabrics and thought “I could make a quilt out of those!” And so I did. This first quilt was a success, but truth be told, it isn’t piecing that rings my bell…it is quilt design and fabric combining that is my joy. I have never taken a quilting class, but am well versed in the use of design and imaging software such as Photoshop and EQ7, so this has been my focus. I love to see what I draw on Photoshop come to life!

Velvet van Pelt: I don’t like to pry, but do tell me of your short and long term goals?

Moira: Well, currently I work full time with a commute of over 3 hours per day, and being so busy I don’t have any direct plans other than to continue with my current pattern design focus. That said, I do sometimes dream of being able to teach schoolkids how to quilt, as I feel it has so much to offer.

Velvet van Pelt:Can you describe your finest moment, sugar? You know, that time your heart went pitty pitty pat?

Moira: My first magazine feature was a wonderful moment for me, but two recent achievements have been really exciting. The first was being asked to make a quilt by Pat Bravo for her Heartland collection. The second occurred at the recent quilt market, when April Rhodes approached me to remake a treasured pineapple block quilt, made by her grandmother, in April’s own fabrics! I was blown away by the request, and of April’s expression of trust and confidence in me. April plans to showcase this quilt, in due course, in a magazine feature.

Velvet van Pelt: Do you find yourself hankering after a particular designers fabrics?

MoiraIt is rare for me to design with florals. I gravitate to big, bold prints and colours such as those in Lotta Jansdotter’s Zen Chic and Katerina Rochella’s fabrics. April Rhodes’ Aztec inspired prints are also definitely my thing!

 

Velvet van Pelt: Do you have any tips for creating fresh fabric palettes to complement your patterns?

Moira: I am very fussy and difficult to please when selecting fabrics to coordinate into a complete quilt design. Near enough is not good enough for me! Individual hues and tones must accurately match. I often find it easier to use a whole fabric collection as a starting point for a fresh new design. You will never find me settling for a scrappy look! I very much like to use white as a counterpoint to prints and find it a simple way to make those prints and colours pop.

Velvet van Pelt:We are all just dying to know what is in your sewing basket at the moment….

MoiraAt the moment, I just can’t wait to get stuck into April’s pineapple quilt! I find seeing new fabric lines very inspiring.  I invariably design with new fabric swatches in hand, as the fabric will tell me where I should go design-wise!

Velvet van Pelt: And finally, honey, can you pass on to we mere mortals, your most precious quilting advice?

MoiraGo with the flow of the fabric. Try a block style you haven’t made before and see where it leads you!

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Moira aka Quilt Talking aka CraftyMa!

 

Velvet van Pelt: Well it’s been a real pleasure, sugar! A real pleasure!


 

 

Girt by me: my biggest challenge

One of the original intentions of the Girt by Sea quilt was to be a skill builder. To bring our wide community together to share skills. To try something new for those that don’t have a lot of experience or to be able to stretch your limits for those that do.

The first medallion was possibly the hardest for most – English paper piecing. But for me, I found it easy. I’ve been doing EPP for about 4 years.

Next up was HST’s and ECT’s. Again, not a new skill for me.

So this round is about applique. Thanks to my business making children’s clothes and toys, I’ve done quite a bit of both raw edge and fusible interfacing applique. So I thought I would try something different. Something new to me. Challenge myself!

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Lots of stitching on the go – here at the park watching the kids during school holidays!

I’ve never (ever!) done needle turn applique. It couldn’t be that hard right? I’ve done a bit of hand sewing in my time. Surely this will be a breeze!

Well …. it was. And it wasn’t. I was concerned that this method would look terrible if I was attempting perfect circles, so I decided to free cut circles from the 3″ squares. Kinda wonky square / circles, often referred to as Squircles.

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I arranged them in the style I wanted, again, they weren’t going to be perfect so not bothered by measuring the distance etc. And then I got to work. Perfect Netflix and sew style. Mmmmm I’m sensing a trend with my love of watching TV and sewing!

I’m sure my technique will improve. Perhaps I should have alternated the circles I was sewing, so all the first attempts, getting it right ones weren’t all in one spot!

I love how this is looking. Organic and imperfect. I feel like it’s the perfect balance and transition I needed at this point in my quilt. I’m still going. Each one is getting better. And I’m glad I gave myself this challenge in the quilt.

Happy appliqueing!

Jane

 

Five tips for using a sand paper board with Colby Radcliffe aka @theauthenticstitch

When I stared, shocked, into my Modern Makers swag bag at the retreat, the first thing that caught my eye was Sue Daley’s Sand Paper Board. It wasn’t because it has been on my ‘must have’ accessory list for a very long time, or because it was something that I’ve always known would make my creating much easier, but because it had my name on it. I know, I know… but when you have an unusual name, like mine, growing up, finding items with your name on it is almost impossible. So I may have let out a squeal when I saw the personalised board in our amazing swag bags.

Having a board that grips your fabric and stops it from slipping can make your creating a lot less frustrating. Here are my 5 favourite ways to use my new Sand Paper Board.

1. HALF SQUARE TRIANGLES (HST’s)

Before sewing up HST’s, I have always drawn a light line on the bias of the square as a guide. It was always a bit tricky, because as you draw the line across the bias the fabric tends to stretch, but when you use the Sand Paper Board it grips your fabric, and the bias doesn’t stretch, so it gives you an accurate line to stitch along.

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2. APPLIQUÉ TRACING

I recently created a mini quilt that had needle turn appliqué on it and I absolutely loved the process, so now I have this board I know that I can trace off my appliqué pieces accurately with out the fabric moving on me. This is a perfect tool for all of those that are making the Modern Makers ‘Girt by Sea’ quilt pattern.

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3. FUSSY CUTTING FOR EPP

Ever since I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing, I have been drawn to fussy cutting fabrics to create an entirely new design within my blocks. This board will now take my fussy cutting to a whole other level of accuracy because there is no fabric slippage.

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4. MINI DESIGN BOARD

This use is a very simple one but a great one. Because the surface grips your fabric I’ve been using it as a mini portable design board. It allows me to place out my EPP pieces to be able to see the full effect of the design I’ve created.

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5. DRAWING WITH INKTENSE PENCILS

Many of you may have seen my work that I have created with Inktense pencils. Because of the consistency of the pencil it can drag on the fabric, so using a Sand Paper Board keeps the fabric in place, and the slightly rough sand paper surface allows me to get a more solid coverage of colour, resulting in more intense saturated colour for the end product.

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Thanks Sue Daley!

And we asked Sue Daley if she had anything else to add to Colby’s tips and there is just one extra!
“Preparing fabric for traditional hand piecing using acrylic templates to mark your sewing line. Using the sand paper board stops your fabric from moving when you’re drawing on it.” 

Inheritance Patchwork

You probably know by now that Modern Makers’ mantra is to showcase and support Australian and New Zealand makers, designers and suppliers. There’s no better way to do this than to frequent our wonderful local quilt shops. More often than not, the owners of these shops aren’t there just to make a profit, they want to foster the community of makers in their area. So next time you’re about to place an order online, consider making a pleasant trip to your local quilt shop instead!

We sent our roving reporter, Maryjane Morris (aka @janiecat88), to visit the gorgeous Inheritance Patchwork and Wares in Birregurra and chat with owner Katrina Fisk. It’s a hard job but someone had to do it!


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MJ: What drew you to opening a fabric store?

Katrina: Karen O’Sullivan was the instigator of original project, she shared her vision with the three of us (Katrina, Megan Doolan and Deb Cahill) and we all excitedly jumped on board. I must admit that our collective push made the start-up much less daunting. We found that we had a similar focus, and this enabled us to achieve more.  Karen had already sussed out the potential location of our store, and we all agreed that Birregurra had the right vibe.

MJ: How was the name derived?

Katrina: Karen brainstormed our business name, and we just loved it. By inheritance we mean: You can either make your kids inheritance in the form of heirloom quilts or simply spend it all now on fabric!!!!

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MJ: What are your short and long term goals?

Katrina: Our immediate aim is to promote our business far and wide, and get our name “out there”. Ultimately, we would like to look at pattern design as well as expanding our premises to allow for classes, making Inheritance an “all day” destination venue. I have recently learnt the ins and outs of EQ7 and this is helping to design some really lovely quilts. In addition, we are hoping to get our on-line shopping capability up and running soon.  We do all have family and jobs to juggle, but being a foursome is very effective and allows for load sharing as well as support. Oh, and one day travelling to Quilt Market together would definitely be on our bucket list!

MJ: Can you describe your proudest moment?

Katrina: For Karen, this was seeing a total beginner quilter finish her first quilt. Such satisfaction! The quilter has now progressed to her next project, and this has added spark to Karen’s love for teaching, encouraging and imparting knowledge. For me, it has been the pure joy of realising my dream of opening a quilt shop. Bliss!

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MJ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

Katrina: All four of us have different tastes in fabric, so this has resulted in an eclectic mix in the store.  Fortunately, our customers love this and often comment on the refreshing mix of choices on offer. I love modern fabrics, Karen is our doyenne of 1930’s designs, Deb is our resident Liberty lover and Megan likes Liberty and a whole lot more! As far as specific designers, I do adore me a little Denyse Schmidt, also Cotton and Steel, who are just fabulous. Karen’s favourite designer is Sandy Klop who created the American Jane label for Moda.

MJ: Do you have any tips for creating fresh colour palettes?

Katrina: I tend to go on instinct, making sure there are pops of colour to spark the eye. I love the scrappy look and avoid an overly matched look. Karen often uses the trusty method of selecting a favourite print to start with and gradually curating a palette from that central theme.

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MJ: What is current personal sewing focus?

Katrina: I want to make all the things!  I have so many WIPS on the go at the moment! I am currently working on a Liberty quilt, a Denyse quilt, Cotton & Steel and Kowa quilts, an EPP project…plus my knitting and crochet.  If I get bored, I pick up another project. I think it is important to strike when the mood hits, and not let that creative impulse/thought disappear before acting on it.

MJ: Finally, what would be your number one quilting tip?

Katrina: My top tip is this : it is important not to hurry your creativity, don’t rush it, enjoy the process!

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Girt By Me: Growing With Girty

I don’t know when I knew my Girt By Sea quilt was female, but it was very early on.  Even when I was choosing fabrics, I was already calling her “her”, and named her “Flirty Girty”.  I remember talking about Girty with some friends while walking around the Australasian Quilt Convention in April and saying how headstrong she was. How Girty takes you on her journey, not the other way around.

 

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Making the medallion was like watching Girty grow from a tiny baby into a child with a personality all of her own, trusting me every step of the way to make the right decisions for her.

But Girty found her voice when I tried to add some of the neon pink spot fabric (that put the ‘flirt’ into ‘girt’) to the medallion border.  “Ugh. No way.” she said, tossing it aside in disgust. What tweenager doesn’t love pink? Girty, that’s who.

 

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By the time we got to the windmills round, Girty was a full-blown teenager, complete with raging hormones, body image and IG comparison angst.  And we had our first row.

“Stop dressing me all fussy and frilly! You’re making me look frumpy! It’s not who I am!”

I made many, many more windmills than required so I could audition lots of different layouts – all sorts of new ‘outfits’ for her – but with each one she fell to the floor in the despair that only a teenager can display and cried about how she hated herself.

“You’re trying to make me fit into this pattern that doesn’t suit me!  I can’t help it if I have lots of negative space!” At which point she slammed the door of her room and I left her to sulk.

 

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The next day I crept quietly into my sewing room and looked again at the fabrics I’d chosen for Girty. The problem was they were selected way before I knew her. Before she even had a personality. And even though they were all great fabrics, I realised that I was trying to fit Girty into my vision of what she should be, rather than letting her be the personality she was slowly becoming of her own accord. If Girty wanted to celebrate her beautiful, fleshy, negative space then I was damn well going to give her room to do that.

So I loosened the corsets of the pattern, taking away some of the windmills to give Girty space to breathe. And breathe she did. She sighed blissfully as she relaxed, and smiled, finally feeling comfortable with the woman she was becoming.

 

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Alison (and Girty) xx

Girt by Me: Dark and broody windmills

Wow that first month went quickly. I always intended to be a little ahead of everyone but here I am in month two and I’m not finished. I’ve come unstuck with not quite enough background fabric – I’ll be finished soon!

BUT, I have progressed enough to have some helpful hints for you!

I wanted a link from the previous round so have carried some of the colours across. The background grey is slightly lighter too. Round one was Kona Steel which is quite dark. This round I’ve used Kona Titanium and then I will use Kona Shadow (very pale grey) for the next two rounds and finally Kona White.

So scrappy windmills or all one fabric – I quickly decided that I preferred matching.

This round of the pattern includes two skills – Half Square Triangles (HSTs) and Easy Corner Triangles (ECTs) which create the rounded corner of the windmills.

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My tips for HSTs and ECTs:

  • Be careful with your 1/4 inch seam allowance, I’ve heard using a fine thread is good and using a ‘scant’ seam. I put some Washi tape on my sewing machine and also my 1/4 inch foot
  • You’ll be working is a bias cut so starch is your friend. Don’t pull the fabric too much.
  • Press don’t iron … press down rather than back and forth which can distort that seam line. I also finger pressed a little first and then used the iron.
  • Biggest tip – get your hands on a 2.5″ Bloc Loc ruler (you’ll use in the final round too). Combined with a rotating cutting mat, it makes trimming a breeze.
  • Nest your seams. When you sew your first two squares together, you’ll see that the seams naturally ‘nest’ together so they perfectly align. I sew the first two squares and without cutting the thread, sew the second two. Then open and sew the four together.

There is plenty of info and videos out there on Half Square Triangles but let me know if you want another Facebook Live Video and I can do one.


Guess what, I did get it finished at the Retreat. But I’m not happy. I need to unpick. My windmills were a bit bigger than the centre medallion. I made it fit but it doesn’t sit flat. So I’m going to unpick, make my ‘scant’ 1/4″ seams a little more like 1/4″ and re-sew.

I was going to try to do that before sharing this with you but you know what … I’m being open and honest and hopefully you will learn too!

So my tip here is measure your strip before attaching to check you are ok. I was rushing this on the last day of the Retreat and thought I could fudge it!

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Enjoy your HSTs

Jane

Girt by Me: After the Storm…

If you asked me to name my favourite colour, I would immediately answer that it’s teal. I got married in a teal wedding dress and I find myself drawn to anything teal or aqua or blue-y greeny.

Funny thing is that whenever I make a quilt, I pretty much always choose a rainbow of colours. In fact, I’ve become known for my rainbow sensibilities. Some of my friends even call me Rainbow Bright.

And so, it was probably no surprise that chose to use a saturated Alison Glass rainbow for my Girt by Sea quilt. Most of my crafty peeps would have been surprised if I didn’t!

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Perhaps what would surprise them though would be to learn why I chose a rainbow this time and what it really means to me.

This Girt quilt was a real labour of love,  coming at one of the lowest times of my life. You see, I have been going through the most crippling anxiety and depression I have ever experienced.

Anxiety and I are old friends. I have lived most of my life on the edge – a high-functioning, always-with-me companion, driving me to do more, be more, have more.

I studied law, travelled the world, came home to practice law and then walked away from that path. I met my husband, got married, started a new career in recruitment, served on the board of a not-for-profit, had two children and then decided that I should start a business – or three.  So I started an Executive Search business, founded a charity that makes quilts for women in domestic violence refuges and become a 1/3 founder of Modern Makers Retreat.

I had everything I could want. I was achieving in my career, in my personal life, being creative and involved in service to others.

In social situations, I’m the life of the party. I’m most comfortable around people, hidden in plain sight.

Storm clouds had been brewing for the longest time though… my fundamental belief in myself – that I was not enough – pushed me to stay busy, to keep achieving, to fill my brain with noise so I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts and the pain I was feeling.

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Living with high functioning anxiety looks to the world like confidence, energy and achievement.

In reality, it feels like you are raw. Like every nerve ending is exposed and every emotion could set you on fire. It leaves you completely vulnerable – like you’re naked, flaws and all, in front of the people who mean the most to you. And you’re ashamed and don’t want anyone to know how bad it really is.

It sounds like “you’re not enough. You’re a bad person. You’re a terrible mum. No one likes you. They know you’re a fake. You’re fat and undisciplined. What sort of an example are you for your kids? – you’re a mess. You can’t run a company. Why can’t you get your shit together?”.

So I got busy as a way to drown out the voice in my head.  My life became a finely choreographed dance designed to exhaust me and that voice. And suddenly, I was hustling for my worthiness.

Then… well… then I broke.

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So I did the only thing I had been running from for the longest time. I stopped.

I stopped and stepped back from nearly everything, but especially from the busy. I started seeing a psychologist and I asked my friends and family for help. I exposed myself and was more vulnerable than ever before. I sat and just listened to what my body and my mind was trying to say.

I challenged the mean girl in my head and I let the storm rage inside of me.

Then… I looked for the rainbow.

The rainbow in new friends who stood by me, in a husband who loves me no matter what, in the beautiful children that adore me and the creative process that became this beautiful quilt.

I am Girt by love and storms and rainbows. I am learning to believe in my worthiness.

Some days it’s seems like an impossible task. Nevertheless, I persist. And I’ve discovered that vulnerability (just like Brene Brown says in her TEDx talk) is the birthplace of creativity and belonging.

My life looks a lot slower and more intentional now.

They say the greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow – my rainbow is practically radiant.

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Mental health issues effect everyone and in different ways. I’ve learnt that it is ok not to be ok. If you are reading this and struggling, know that you’re not alone, that there is help and that in time things will get better.

If you need to – reach out and get the help you need:

Lifeline Australia 131114

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Much love

Jackie xx