And she is just that … local Liz Brennan, mum, Marketing Director of the Glasshouse and amazing seamstress took some time out of her busy schedule to chat to FOCUS about her passion and how she fits everything in to her “Sew Busy” life …
When did your passion for creating first begin?
I think most people have a passion to create … they just don’t know it, or they lose it somewhere along the way. Kids love to make things, and for some that urge gets lost or destroyed as life goes on.
I grew up with a dad who made things, fixed things, restored things. A mum who was never still, she was always busy sewing, knitting or embroidering. For me, creativity and curiosity is just the way I’ve always lived. If I don’t know how to do something, I learn. If something breaks, I fix it. If I want to make something, I’ll figure out how.
What was the first item of clothing you sewed?
Tough question! I think it would be some simple sundresses just after I finished high school. They were both quite wearable, but not perfect, and that put me off sewing garments for years. I’ve learnt that you need to accept some lemons in life to make lemonade. Even the bad garments teach you something.
My mum is a very accomplished sewer. She taught me to use a pattern, understand the symbols, how to cut the fabric and was always generous with her advice. She’s very precise and produces immaculate garments. I’m a hybrid of freestyle and fastidious attention to detail when required.
This passion took you on a journey, landing you a position as editor of an art and craft magazine. What was that experience like?
Funnily enough, I turned down the job interview … twice! I had a very sensible corporate city job. After a few calls, I gave in, went to the interview and decided to ditch the corporate opportunities for the art and craft magazine world. I started as assistant editor and was editor within months – before I’d even graduated from university.
I worked with talented, generous people. What I didn’t know how to do, I learnt very quickly. I wrote, edited, interviewed, worked on photo shoots, coordinated the content, sourced craftspeople and projects, hired freelance writers, negotiated with the advertising department and briefed photographers. I wrote instructions, advertisements, articles and editorials. I read, sewed and painted in my lunch breaks. It was hectic and very stressful, but also inspiring and fun.
Tell us about your venture, “Sew Busy Lizzy”.
Sew Busy Lizzy was not at all planned. “She” just sort of happened and took on a life of her own.
Years ago I stumbled across a dressmaking book on Amazon. Despite having sworn I would “never make clothes”, I purchased it on impulse. While waiting for it to arrive, I discovered the online sewing world.
I started blogging, because I didn’t know anyone locally who sewed clothes, except my mum … and she probably thought I was a bit mad. She is very practical, and often I am anything but that! Many of my skills were useful, but there was still so much I wanted to learn. My friends dismissed my new obsession as “so grandma”. I started a blog because even if I was talking to myself, at least I was talking to someone! Much to my surprise, people started reading.
Over the years, I’ve sewn for Mood Fabrics in New York, I met up with the London sewing community, pattern tested for independent pattern designers and reviewed books.
I don’t accept money for blogging or have paid blog advertising.
The blog has inspired me to improve my skills, wear different styles and meet new people far and wide. I’m grateful that the blog unexpectedly made my world a bigger and richer place. The blog was never about money – it was about my sewing journey – and I decided long ago to keep it that way.
What style do you feel represents you and the clothing you create?
Coastal beach lifestyle – usually barefoot. My clothes are a reflection of my lifestyle and location. I guess I’d say I make clothes to wear on Port Macquarie weekends! I often wonder if that’s the reason for my blog’s popularity – it is truly beautiful here. My readers love the beaches (and perhaps my dogs!) as much as the clothes. I hate having my photo taken, but I’m at home at the beach. So most of my photos are taken wandering about with my daughters and dogs, while my husband takes photos. The blog is as much a credit to his lovely photos as my sewing.
If you were to create from your favourite era in fashion history, what would it be?
Oh, I love the ‘70s! I am drawn to the long flowing silhouette; that era had a careless boho elegance to it. I also adored the ‘90s, the slip dresses, deconstructed garments, floral dresses and boots. I’m fascinated by vintage fashion and patterns; I love the 1950s and ‘60s pattern artwork! Don’t be surprised if you find me in an op shop searching for old patterns, vintage sewing machines and fabric.
How do you balance life work/mum/passion?
Balance. Is there such a thing? I think not.
I haven’t blogged in a couple of months, as life has been crazy with my kids and work. That used to bother me, but now I just accept I can’t always do everything.
I think life is about carving out time for the things that you need to do and the things that matter to you.
Where can our readers go to follow your journey? Can they purchase your clothes?
People often ask if I will sew for them; I very rarely do. People don’t appreciate the time, energy or skill required.
I don’t do alterations either.
I work five days a week, and I treasure my spare time. I sew for creative reasons, not commercial ones. People think they can save money by sewing – which is not always the case. It’s about being able to create something unique, take an idea and turn it into a reality.
Life is short. Do the things you love.
You can find me at www.sewbusylizzy.com or @sewbusylizzy on Instagram.