LIZ Brennan is a creative beauty whose warmth, passion and down to earth perspective has drawn thousands to follow her journey stitch by stitch through her blog site Sew Busy Lizzy. Port News journalist Mel Pretorius caught up with Liz to speak about juggling a multi-faceted life as a mother of two daughters, a successful blogger and an inspiration to many around the globe.
How was Sew Busy Lizzy born? Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to create your blog.
I’d reached a point when I realised that I was so busy being a wife/mother/daughter/employee/friend that I’d forgotten about me. I was on Amazon, looking for a book to read and saw The Colette Sewing Handbook - the rest is history! Blogging was cathartic and provided an opportunity to connect with others.
You must invest a lot of time in writing your posts and sharing your experience with your fans. What do you enjoy about this process?
It does take time but no more than any other hobby. I work fulltime, so I work on projects in short bursts, hand sewing and cutting at night; and sewing on weekends. I am not very good at sitting still. We pop out to the beach with the kids and the dog for photos. I find writing the easiest part. Words have always come easily to me. Perhaps too easily!
My favourite part is transforming a piece of fabric into clothing. I also love to take a pattern and make it several times in different ways.
Today you have followers from all over the world hanging on your every word. Do you feel like a bit of a cyber-celebrity? Have you made any lasting friendships off screen as a result of your blog?
I’m not sure if they hang on my every word - or just my every stitch! I don’t feel like a celebrity, but I do feel respected, loved and appreciated.
I’ve made a lot of friends all over the world. We email, exchange gifts, fabrics, patterns – we just can’t sit around a table and sew in real life.
Why do you think your blog has become so successful, especially when there are so many people today trying their hand at the same sort of thing?
I’m startled by the number of followers I have. I’m no sewing guru and I don’t portray myself as one. I think people love the photography which is all credit to my husband, Patrick. People adore the beaches, koalas, vibrant light, landscapes – and my clothes I guess.
People seem to enjoy my light-hearted approach. I’m often self-deprecating and flippant – it’s important to me that it’s fun. I have plenty of serious stuff in the rest of my life, the blog is my virtual holiday.
You always look impeccable in your photos, the garments are stunning and you present beautifully – but I have to ask – do you ever get nervous about having to put yourself up for potential ridicule from strangers?
Oh absolutely! At first I was very hesitant to tell people I sewed or blogged – I struggled with photos in public.
I’ve come to think that if people think I’m odd because I sew, blog, knit or prance about on the beach... do I really care?
OK, I’m a little quirky but I’m happy and creative. Is that really so bad? I am more comfortable in my own skin. Blogging has been part of that journey.
What has been one of the best experiences that has come about as a result of your blog?
The lovely people I have met online and in real life. I was in London this year and Rachel from House of Pinheiro organised a ‘meet-up’ at Goldhawk Road. Over 50 people came to shop and have lunch. Wherever I go, there is always someone to meet, it’s been an unexpected joy.
In today’s fast-paced world, sewing for many young women is a skill lost in time long ago. In my case, I know boys who sew much better than I do.
Do you think sewing is still as relevant today as it was a century ago? Is it an important skill, or more importantly, a means of expression?
I think all skills are important to maintain, value and pass on.
I do abhor the rise of fast, cheap clothing. I’d love to say that I sew for virtuous reasons, however I confess I sew mainly because it makes me happy.
I’m always asked how I find time to do everything. I don’t know, I do squeeze every minute out of every hour I’m awake. Spare time is so precious, so do something that makes you happy.
Life should be joyous. That might sound trite but really what else is there?