I, for one, am very glad the last decade is over and gone, particularly 2019, which has been the culmination of a difficult ten years.


This last year hasn’t had much sewing for a variey of reasons, and the sewing that I’ve done hasn’t gotten properly photographed, or wasn’t photographed at all.  Some of it hasn’t even been worn… like a pair of jeans made from this fabric, for one.teal leopard denim fabric

It’s been a year of challenges and good things.  I thoroughly enjoyed my French classes every Saturday – my heart was singing every time I drove home – but that came to a screeching halt in May due to health concerns.

I made a few tunic tops from linen and cotton voile that had been lingering for years in my stash.

Burda 2-2018-111 linen front

I cannot remember when I purchased these fabrics, but I do remember where! And the tunics are thanks to Anne’s make for one of her daughters, which reminded me I had had a keen interest in the Burdastyle pattern every since it was released in February 2018.  It felt good to just get on with the projects and get them sewn so I could wear them. Impulse sewing.

Burda 2-2018-111 front

The summer went by quickly – too quickly – with so much stress at an unfullfilling job as we rolled out a new website, with little or no time to sew, and no mental energy left if there was time.  We had a family wedding to attend in August, and I literally had nothing to wear that would fit my growing waistline, so sewed for 5 days straight, letting everyting else in the household go to pot, while I made this unsuccessful attempt to copy a spectacularly beautiful Dolce & Gabbana green velvet dress (which I cannot find anywhere except in print advertisements).

The dress seemed a lot worse to me on the day I wore it than it does now.

Of course I washed it afterwards (I always launder my own clothing, if I possibly can, instead of sending it to the toxic dry-cleaners), and the hem went wonky, mostly because I didn’t support it with flannel bias underlining.  So it’s still hanging up, waiting for a do-over, or alterations, or disection and reincarnation.  Then everything came crashing down in October, when I became an ostomate and was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer.  No wonder my waistline had been expanding so I had nothing to wear to the wedding!  The sad part was, even as I was waiting for emergency surgery, all I could think about was, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work for the next few weeks.”  It took me until the third week of recovery to realize the shocking absurdity of that being my first thought, given the situation.

These front bands make me so happy!

I have had so many ideas going through my head for sewing over the last three months, and no energy or mental strength to do any of it until this past weekend, partly due to recovery, partly due to rethinking so many parts of my life.  I guess coming face to face with a potential death sentence sooner than you expect does that to one’s thinking.  Re-evaluation and change are inevitable. Crossing the half-century mark in December brought several things into sharp focus, too, as a milestone will.

When I first began this blog a decade ago, it took a lot of courage to post pictures of my makes out there for the world to see, despite the fact that I’ve been wearing them since I was in my teens on a daily basis.  It was so much fun for the first few years, but slowly negativity crept in from voices close to me, and the joy of making disappeared into the pointlessness of making garments that were not likely to be worn, given my lifestyle of a SAHM.  That negative voice was given it’s proper perspective, although it is, unfortunately, not silenced, and still a part of what I hear now and then, through an excellent support service provided to my dear daughter #2, who has Down syndrome. It was her crisis that brought me the help I had desperately needed for years.


Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of choosing a defining word for each year.  In 2017 it was ‘baby steps’ for me: baby steps forward into independence of thought and being; baby steps into health and freedom.  Last year I struggled with a defining word, although ‘commitment’ was persistent, particularly because I really became aware of how making decisions is easy, but follow-through is difficult due to constant reassessment – sometimes hourly – on my part.  ‘Courage’ became a rallying cry, too, early in the year, due to a friend’s struggle and hardship as she watches her husband disappear into the void of aggressive early onset Alzheimer’s.

And this year, I wasn’t going to bother thinking of a word, as I just want the next 6 months to have good reports and scans and results, and learning to look after myself (even at the expense of others’ demands) is still a daily decision and takes a lot of my strength and courage.  But this quote really reverberated with me a few days ago, attributed to Muhammad Ali:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” 


That is my word for 2020. Here’s to taking risks in sewing up my stash and sewing up patterns I’ve wanted to sew for years, regardless of their ever getting worn or used.

dk edge: Vogue 1175


29 thoughts on “Risks

  1. I hear you. I was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer at the beginning of 2017 and have been down a long road of treatment and surgeries, as well as other secondary diagnoses. My daughter was the one who took it the hardest. Things are much improved now, but the mortality awareness doesn’t leave. I am hoping this drives me to love more and live more the rest of the days God gives me. May 2020 bring many blessings to you and your family!

  2. So sorry to hear last year was a challenging one for you. I too had a health scare and am grateful to be here and back to normal. I hope you get stronger and enjoy taking many risks this year, in sewing and otherwise.

    1. Thank you, Manju. I don’t often comment on your blog, but I am a faithful reader. I have often thought of you since your health challenge a while back and hope you are doing well. You certainly look well on your blog!

  3. Thankyou for your inspiring blog, and for your openness in discussing your difficulties. I imagine that you are receiving messages from all over the world and hope that these support you in your year of risks. The dress you wore to the wedding was so gorgeous! And the pattern matching on the check shirt was wow. I hope that your sewing this year brings you much satisfaction – and your health and strength improve. That coral dress is beautiful too.

  4. Im so sorry to hear! but also happy to see that things are looking brighter already and that sewing is part of your approach to getting the most out of life. I know from experience that for most of us sewing is a necessity to help us through the rough patches. We are lucky to have that respite and that bond that connects us and supports us. I look forward to seeing what beautiful things come out from your magical hands as you make your way back to health!

  5. Dear Tia Dia my heart goes out to you for everything you have had to deal with in the last year. You are stronger than you know and my fingers and toes are crossed for you for 2020. May the new year bring interesting times with much laughter and light.

  6. Tia- much love and strength and hope. I have missed you over the past year, and worried, even though we’ve never met. Hang in there, and know that I’ve always admired you -and your sewing.

  7. You look good in the velvet dress, and I bow down to your pattern matching skills on that black and white shirt.

    Sorry last year was crap, especially on the cancer diagnosis, and I hope this year is muchmuchmuch better.

  8. Tia, you have had such a load this past year! I will be praying for your continued recovery, healing and strength! Risk is an excellent word for the year. I applaud your willingness to venture into different and new territory, you are an amazing sewist, and I look for more wonderful posts of your sewing this year. That velvet dress is gorgeous on you, forget the waistline at the time, it fits you splendidly, and you look fantastic in it! Sending a big hug!

  9. Tia, I am so sorry to hear about the health and personal challenges and I am wishing you the very best health and recovery this year.

    My reaction to your velvet dress was also that you look regal. You look beautiful in all of your sewn projects, honestly.

    I know all too well the voice of negativity that leads to inaction and therefore an inability to simply enjoy what we love. Your word for the year is a great one and I wish you great hope and healing as you live it.

    A big hug. Stephanie

  10. It sounds like life has been rough last year, and sometimes it seems very unfair. Enjoy your year of taking risks. I hope many of them turn out to be beneficial and enjoyable.

  11. I am so sorry to hear what a rough year you’ve had – I’d noticed you were posting a lot less. Sending you all good wishes for the future. Your choice of word for 2020 is so positive.

    I saw the picture of the velvet dress and my first thought was that you look absolutely regal in it.

  12. So sorry to hear about your health issues. Hope you make a very quick and full recovery. Yes, take a risk! Your sewing is beautiful

  13. Oh my goodness. What a tough road you’ve traveled recently.

    I am hoping that 2020 brings you contentment and peace and joy. And improving health.

    Thank you for sharing with us and welcome back!

  14. There is much pain and disappointment – and fear – in what you have shared, but more importantly, there is hope and commitment and dedication. May you walk confidently into this new year, with improving health, and with an ability to be gentle with yourself. We are all cheering for you! And I think your word for the year is perfectly conceived and so appropriate.
    You look beautiful in your photos!

  15. That is a lot to deal with in one year and I hope that 2020 will be the beginning of better things for you. Sewing and blogging wise – as long as the sewing brings you joy I say make whatever you want in whatever fabrics you want.

  16. I’m sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis and I hope that things improve from here on. Hope you get lots of years with plenty of sewing and family time.

  17. I’ll be wishing you the very very best—- remember there’s a perfect stranger out there on your team. I won’t forget to think of you. Here’s to a year of wholeness and joy.

  18. I’m so sorry the last year has been difficult. I hope your health is good and that you can find pleasure in sewing this year. Take care of yourself.

  19. It takes a huge amount of courage to do battle with health issues whether it be for a family member or yourself. Having to be the mom and wife during these trials requires taking risks and seeing yourself in a different light, one you never imagined before. These challenges whack us “up side the head” and can cause us to change direction or just stand up straight and yell back into the wind, “You can’t knock me down!” Sewing can be so therapeutic and grounding during the down times and waiting for positive results. Wish there was something I could do for you except to say, my ears are always open to listen, Melodia.

    1. Thank you, Beth! Some of what is in my to-make list has been so well and inspiringly made by you. Your sewing is a continual source of inspiration.

  20. I wish that creativity and energy will be back in your life in 2020 ! I understand that situation when you have no energy to create or just to think, even if you have time.
    In that perspective to ‘risk’, I would like to share with you some experiments. I have a lot of old Burdas, some dating back from the early 70’s from my mother and ebay. They are a constant source of inspiration and I am used to spending time reviewing them to find new ideas (‘faire du neuf avec du vieux’ as we say in France is a great pleasure for me). Sometimes, I make a toile with some of those old patterns but quite often I’m disappointed by the outcome : well, female silhouettes have changed since the 70’s (we are in some way more ‘robust’ now) and mine too. Last summer, I took the risk to try again : I have made a muslim of a dress that made me dream when I was 12 (burda 5/1976), and it was the perfect fit. I just have to find the appropriate fabric to sew it for this summer. Nice challenge isn’t it ?
    Thank you again for sharing your makes and tricks (I love your tunics by the way). Hope that 2020 will be happy and inspiring !

    1. I love this! My mother used to have a collection of sewing and crafting magazines down in our basement storage room when I was a teen, and i used to spend hours looking through them all. They’ve been long burnt, I suppose, in the local county dump, but what a grand time was spent reading and dreaming! And your toiled dress sounds so fun. Here’t to finding the perfect fabric!

  21. Oh my goodness, I’m sorry you’ve had such a rubbish year, and sincerely hope that you’re well on the mend now. Sending lots of positivity and best wishes for your year of risks! xxx (Happy birthday for December too)


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