DIY, ISLANDS

GIFTED #1: Botanical Mural Throw

OK, OK. So it wasn’t an octopus. Or a cephalopod of any kind.

I made my sister a painted throw/blanket/wrap/coverlet for her birthday. Last year, I made her a 1920s-style triangle shawl with the same green fabric and golden fern fronds. There was fabric left over and I got inspired by MACC and HGTV’s Botanical Jungle Wall Mural to create this huge throw thing. Continue reading “GIFTED #1: Botanical Mural Throw”

CLOTHING, DIY, FULL SCALE

FULL SCALE #5: Lace Bralettes

Ergh. Bras. Lord. Where to begin.

Most girls get their first ‘bras’ when they’re around 12 or so, and they’re training bras – basically soft sports bras to get girls used to the idea of wearing something on their chests constantly. I won’t get into the debate about whether bras are really necessary or just a thing forced on women by the patriarchy, but I will say that I am usually straddling the fence on the issue. They are annoying but useful. Nuff said.

Some bright spark recently decided to make ‘bralettes’ a thing. This bright spark is probably now rolling in it, if they weren’t before. Generally, these type of trends come from stylists/brands/fashion houses so they already have mucho cred. Back on topic. Bralettes are basically soft bras – usually made of lace as is the current trend – with no underwire, structure, or padding. The idea is to have soft, form-fitting undergarments, that both conform to societal standards (by covering those abhorrent lady nipples from view *shock horror*) and provide comfort and ease for the person wearing them (yes, person. Many non-females also wear bralettes. That is a separate topic). Continue reading “FULL SCALE #5: Lace Bralettes”

CLOTHING, DIY, FULL SCALE, MOVE

FULL SCALE #4: Fitspo Wear

fitspo‘ – an abbreviation of the portmanteau ‘fitspiration‘ meaning something that inspires or motivates the desire to be fit and healthy. For many people, this is usually a celebrity on Instagram, or a personal trainer or even a friend or loved one who is healthy and exercises a fair bit.

 

This issue is a tough one for me. The idea of ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ is a bit of a double-edged sword. Well, most swords are double-edged, right? I mean there’s no blunt side? I digress. Growing up in Sri Lanka, the idea that being slim was good and healthy was something difficult to grasp. My sister, like my parents in their youth, has a high metabolism and struggled to put on weight for much of her teens and 20s. She also has beautiful long hair and clear skin. All of which combined to be ‘good’. I used to look at her wish to be just like her. My mother commented once how she noticed I was withdrawn as a teen – I stepped back a bit because I compared myself to her and didn’t like what I found. Doesn’t help that mother always noted how lovely she was in her youth (she really was. She still is. #goodgenes). Our culture also prizes ‘fairness’ of skin, so exercising outside in sun wasn’t seen as good or healthy as the tendency to tan was too high and could ruin a complexion. Luckily for my sister, she is already darker skinned.

Here’s where the issue is. I have recessive genes  -so while I am fairer skinned, I have curves, thick unruly hair (which thankfully I can wrestle into place now), and easily blemished skin. I was always too big. To those who know me, this is a hard idea to wrap their heads around. But this was and always will be my base programming. I was always too big – too much belly, too much butt, too much everything.

I was an energetic kid, always bouncing around causing trouble. But once puberty hit, that just wasn’t enough. I started dancing lessons at age 7 (very late in dance years). And something clicked. A light flicked on in my brain and even now, this is when my body is most comfortable, and I am most comfortable with it. As I grew older, dancing became more intensive, and it wasn’t til I moved to Sydney for uni that I realised exactly how helpful it was in keeping my ‘too big’ self in check. My mother still says that if not for my dancing, I would be massive. Because apparently, there’s something wrong with that.

I remember doing athletics in school  – by doing athletics I mean I ran in some 100m and 200m races and relays for athletics meets, and the distance runs for the school road race. I didn’t do too badly either. I guess I just like to keep moving. And I’ve got a helluva stubborn determination when needed. How else do you think I get anything done? Sheer willpower. No joke.

I started circus when I came to uni. I was too shy to join a dance group but the idea of a group of ‘social outcasts’ appealed to me. Sadly, it wasn’t as welcoming as I’d hoped but I stuck with it. 6 years and two relationships later, I finally found my groove. I needed to understand ‘me’ before understanding how this ‘me’ interacted with others.

Being fit and healthy isn’t about being the skinniest person in the room, and I sad to say that it took my 25 years to fully understand that. It also took me almost as long to accept that I wasn’t actually that big in the grand scheme of sizes. I’m 160cm (5’3) and weigh anywhere from 52-56kg. That’s tiny. Practically minuscule to some. Jesus. Hell, I probably weigh more than that, but it is very likely that some of it is muscle. See, when I ‘found my groove’, I trained. I started to get myself out of a rut and start learning things my way. So even if I took longer than others, and didn’t quite follow a set path, I worked at it. I started to build up more muscle, I started to train with people, I got myself some more gear, and people started to help me and take me seriously. But I had to help myself first.

It didn’t quite hit me until someone called me ‘tank’. Someone thought I was strong. And not some random either, someone who was training with me. Me. Strong. And that felt so much better than someone saying I was skinny. The idea of ‘skinny’ makes you feel small and like you fit in with society. ‘Strong’ makes you feel capable, dependable, reliable, and I like the idea of those so much better. I carry things. I open jars. I move heavy stuff. I am useful, and that, if nothing else, is really what every human wants to be.

 

Creating ‘activewear’ or exercise clothing can be daunting. I wasn’t very experience with sewing lycra or much stretchy stuff before this. And this stuff had to work. It had to work hard and be able to take the punishment. I work my lower body hard sometimes and have popped seams on leggings and ripped open tights before. Yes, I can repair them, but it is nice to be able to make a good quality product the first time around. And yes, I sew my SEAMS with a zigzag stitch. Unlike all you straight-stitch-using heathens. I do this for most, if not all, fabrics. Deal.

 

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#movement #dance #fitspo Black supplex shorts with wide elastic waistband

I am a dancer. I always will be. But grace and movement are allowed to be associated with strength and power – being strong isn’t about being muscular and beefed up. Different workouts give you different muscle types, and the types I had founded in my youth lean themselves very well to my newfound exercise methods.

This was the second time I was working with supplex. The shorts below were the first. Supplex is awesome. Ridiculous stretch capacity, hardworking fabric, and surprisingly easy to sew. Pressed well, cut well, sewed and turned out neatly. Very pleased with this. I need to fix up the waistband elastic though, as it isn’t as secure as I would like it to be. But these turned out great. Cheaper than the $60 NIKE ones I saw H.Bean wearing sometime back.

 

I have to come accept that it is OK to say that I am a circus person. A circus performer even. I hoop. I do acro-balance. I also do fire. I can paint faces, make balloon hearts, and appreciate the art of juggling (even though learning it holds no appeal). I am allowed to belong to this community. I train in my own way and I am not as fit or strong as many others around me, but that is OK. I am still fit, and healthy, and yes, strong.

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#hoop #circus #galaxy Acrylic paintwork on black supplex shorts

Oh my god, galaxy. Can this trend die already? I am fed up. Really fun to paint though. This was my first foray into supplex, but not into galaxy painting. Supplex is a high density, stretch lycra-type fabric. It is synthetic and feels cool to the touch, but is much thicker and has a denser weave than standard lycra. Sews like a dream. These have a fold-over waistband, and I am way more pleased with how this turned out than the elastic waistband. And the paint is super easy. 5 colours, bit of glitter, and hey presto, galaxy. There’s a matching cotton top. 3/4 sleeves. Nuff said – it was for a small performance. Don’t judge me!

 

I still look at other people and feel down – my ridiculously skilled and disciplined friends, my training buddies, random people I meet, hell even dudes on Tinder – but the important thing is that I can pick myself up now, and find my own way to keep fit. Even if it’s slow or disjointed, at least I’m moving. And to me, that is most important.

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#stretching #lunge #fitspo Orange/black stripe lycra with black lycra lining and wide elastic waistband.

Gah. Does my butt look big in this? Yes. Yes, it does. But that’s cool. This print is the bomb. Got a huge remnant roll on sale and still have so much left. This is standard weight 2-way stretch lycra, and I lined with simple 2-way black stretch lycra – that’s what the cuff bits are – I don’t like those. This also has an elastic waistband, though it seems to be holding out more. The lycra, unlike the supplex, does not squeeze me in as much so my belly flops around; but it is super skintight and feels like a compression suit which is awesome for exercise.

 

So after all that, who do I tag for #fitspo or #fitspiration – my friends and fellow circus people inspire me constantly; they motivate me to try things and be creative. But really, I’d tag #fitspo on myself. Me. Small, confused, barely keeping it together sometimes, and brimming with potential energy. Because when I achieve something, however small a fitness goal it may be for someone else, I amaze myself. I continue to be awed and inspired by what I can achieve, and if I can keep achieving and feeling that awesome positivity, then hell, son, I’m going to keep trying.

Yeah, it’s a bit pretentious, but hey, haven’t you heard? You’re allowed to like yourself now. Modern times and shit. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t expect someone else to.

 

Photos: Karen De Lara – @k.dela

Location: Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Fabric: The Remnant Warehouse

 

Note: I’m trying a new thing with how I describe the clothes I’ve made. I like to include some stories with my posts but this one may have gotten out of hand :/ I am not sure if this style is going to stay – it depends on how I am feeling at the time.

Follow me on Instagram: @islandnativelife | @anushkawikramanayake

REAL TALK

REAL TALK #4: Fabric Sourcing

I have a love-hate relationship with buying fabric. While I am obsessed with the look and feel movement of fabric, I get super irritated when I don’t understand it’s make-up/weave/structure.

 

It is also irritating when people think I don’t know anything about fabric. I like learning about the different types and sub-types of textiles, as well as what they are used for. Just because I sometimes use fabrics for things that they are not normally used for is neither here nor there.

 

The majority of my fabrics, accessories, and haberdashery are sourced from a store called The Remnant Warehouse. As the name implies, they deal with a lot of factory and designer remnant rolls and as such have a wide array of textures for your choosing. They have a separate dance/performance fabrics section which, I kid you not, is shiny as fuck. Like a pretty rainbow of sequins and textures.

 

The staff here is awesome. They are heaps friendly, and despite being very busy, they are happy to help. Unlike other fabric stores which seem cold and clinical, the fact that they are practically overflowing with stock makes it seem warm and exciting. Everything is also labelled clearly, and the fact that they almost always have something on sale doesn’t hurt either.

 

My favourite has to be the Tuesday sales (buy 1, get 1 of same or lesser price for free) on the remnant rolls outside. They also have a mind-blowing amount of zips in a veritable rainbow of colours. Really. Legit. Many colours. And mini lycra remnant rolls in cool patterns and textures.

 

Try them out. Follow them on social media. You won’t be disappointed.

Hey, I might even meet you there.

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The Remnant Warehouse: 494 Botany Road, Alexandria, Sydney.

www.theremnantwarehouse.com.au | instagram.com/theremnantwarehouse

REAL TALK

REAL TALK #3: Instagram

So some of you may have noticed a slight name change here. This blog has a new address: www.islandnativelife.wordpress.com. So please update that if you have it saved somewhere for easy clicking and such.

I also bowed to peer pressure, and got an Instagram account for the blog. Now, I use Instagram for myself and I have amassed a respectable amount of followers – mostly my friends, and a few randoms who follow me for my crafty things or my circus things. But run an Instagram account dedicated to a blog? I dunno. I already follow Geneva Vanderzeil and With Wendy  and their committment astounds me, but they have dedicated blogs and Instagram accounts because this is their chosen career. I am still unsure if I want to do the whole Gen Y thing and be a slashie, but it looks like I am headed that way.

My problem is that I want to do everything. But I digress. Instagram. I have a blog specific account. Still needs things backdated and added on but go check it out: islandnativelife

Let me know what you think. 🙂

ISLANDS, REAL TALK

REAL TALK #2: Truth

“We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.”
― Rudyard Kipling

Kipling. Author of many of the stories I read in my childhood. I am not an uber fan of anything really, but I am a regular fan of many things. Kipling is one of them. ‘If’ is one of my favourite poems to date – it is timeless and eternally relevant to humanity.

Communication is important. Working through things and accepting the truth is hard, but the impact is priceless. I am not terribly trusting, but I can trust that the few close friends I have, have got my back. They support me when I need them to, and the little things they do really help pick up my days. They understand without needing to know.

If we spend our days projecting carefully constructed images of ourselves as what we think we should be, we create endless streams of misunderstanding, and ideas and truths get lost in the fog. We may all be islands, floating in a sea of 7 billion people, but if we accept ourselves, and support each other, we can be the best islands we can be.

That is what I like about islands. They may be isolated and floating by themselves in the ocean. But they are open and exposed – they take whatever their surrounds can throw at them, they stand firm through it all, and they come out stronger for it.

Be an island. Be true to yourself, so you can create truths together.

ISLANDS

REAL TALK #1: Hello.

island
ˈʌɪlənd/
noun
 – a piece of land surrounded by water.

 

There’s a feeling of security you get when surrounded by water. To some, islands bring a sense of isolation, but for me they offer a sense of liberation – drifting on the sea on a piece of land.

 

I grew up on a small tropical island amidst a civil war, late 90s pop culture, and a not-so-conservative family. I was the odd duck in a family of slightly-less-odd ducks, with a weird complex about skin, size, and aesthetics. Later, I migrated to a much bigger not-so-tropical-but-batshit-insane island which, while having a similar population size, had a very different culture.

 

The first time I sewed something, I was 4 turning 5, and I sewed two pieces of card together with yarn to make a photo frame. My posh private girls school taught us sewing in ‘Home Science’ classes – we were to be proper ladies. The sewing lessons continued until I changed schools where a more modern curriculum did not see the need to teach such things. I didn’t really sew again (or make anything) until I had finished university and was roped into helping make costumes for a revue. My friend Megan showed me how to sew a straight line and that was it. I began following YouTube DIY channels, trying random craft ideas, and helping out with more shows to gain more experience.

 

2012 was a turning point. I got out of a bad relationship in a difficult manner and stuff was in the air. But I had friends who made me do things, and I began taking training and creating more seriously. I borrowed a sewing machine off a friend and have not stopped since.

 

I make clothing, costumes, home décor, paper crafts, ceramic craft, headpieces, props, and paint pieces. I train circus with a community group and make costumes for performances, gigs, parties, parades, and general fun.

 

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Life often feels like it’s going nowhere for me, but this why I like islands. When you get to the sea, you find the island has ended, but if you turn and follow the coast, you might find something new. Things end, but new things are always beginning.

 

When life gives you lemons, make them into something else. Not lemonade. Lemonade is boring. Maybe lemon flowers – less useful, but cool to look at. Just try.

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TL;DR:

 

Hi. I like islands, sewing, and making magical experiences out of nothing. See the things I make. Maybe one day, I make for you. Maybe. No promises.

 

^_^