Spring Into Your Practice: Instagram Yoga Challenge

My second yoga challenge was the  spring into your practice challenge on instagram. I loved this journey, scroll down to see the poses and how I did…

To start off the challenge we had to share the below picture, follow the sponsors and the hosts and then get ready for the first pose…

Spring Into Your Practice

Spring Into Your Practice

The hosts were:

@THIEVINGBIRDYOGA
@ROXY_YOGA_LOVE
@ACASUALYOGI
@AMBUCHANAN82

and the sponsors were:

@fourseeapparel
@treecandleteam
@omsoulshop
@omgoddess.clothing
@sashka_co
@libretea
@satucintaapparel
@happyheartthings
@hippiechickherbalharmony

So without further a-do… the poses…

Day 1: chair pose or utkatasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 1 Utkatasana or Chair Pose ... only kidding! Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 1 Utkatasana or Chair Pose … only kidding! Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 1 Utkatasana or Chair Pose. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 1 Utkatasana or Chair Pose. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Day 2: Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 2 Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 2 Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

 

 Day 3: boat pose or Navasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 3 Boat Pose or Navasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 3 Boat Pose or Navasana. It was colder than it looks! Photos by Danielle Bussell

 

 

Day 4: dolphin pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 4 Dolphin Pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 4 Dolphin Pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Day 5: Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 5 Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 5 Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Day 6: camel pose or Ustrasana.

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 6 Camel Pose or Ustrasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 6 Camel Pose or Ustrasana. I got some odd sock loving from the hosts this day :) Photos by Danielle Bussell

Day 7: bound angle pose or Baddha Konasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 7 Bound Angle Pose or Baddha Konasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 7 Bound Angle Pose or Baddha Konasana. When centering one’s self it always helps to wear a face mask. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Day 8: Standing Back bend Pose or Anuvittasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 8 Standing Back Bend Pose or Anuvittasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 8 Standing Back Bend Pose or Anuvittasana. Come to think of it, if I were wearing yellow I’d actually look like The Mask… Photos by Danielle Bussell

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 9 Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 9 Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana. PJ Day!! Photos by Danielle Bussell

 Day 10: Side Angle Pose or Utthita Parsvakonasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 10 Side Angle Pose or Utthita Parsvakonasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 10 Side Angle Pose or Utthita Parsvakonasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

 Day 11: Standing Forward Fold or Uttanasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 11 Standing Forward Fold or Uttanasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 11 Standing Forward Fold or Uttanasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

 Day 12: mountain pose or tadasana

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 12 Mountain Pose or Tadasana. Photos by Danielle Bussell

Spring Into Your Practice: Day 12 Mountain Pose or Tadasana. I didn’t realise how lopsided those buns were at the time… not quite as Leia as I intended… Photos by Danielle Bussell

I loved this challenge. I’d had an unintentional break from my yoga because things just got hectic really quickly, so I loved being able to get back to my practice and really focus on getting back to thinking about my inner happiness.

The best bit about this challenge was how supportive the hosts were. They commented such lovely things which really encouraged me to try harder and rekindled my love for yoga.

I was so thrilled when I was announced as one of the winners for this challenge. There were so many people who really worked hard on this challenge and it was lovely to see such a wide variety of people taking part – from beginners (like me) to seasoned pros.

Spring Into Your Practice: and the winners are...

Spring Into Your Practice: and the winners are…

The winners of Spring Into Your Practice were…
@hoopalooper@satucintaapparel
@peace.love.yoga4@omsoulshop
@peaceyogadogs@happyheartthings
@terrijean_76@libretea
@apomerbeatriz@omgoddess.clothing
@healthybydani@sashka_co
@zk.yoga@treecandle
@happy_yogi_878@fourseeapparel
@katmckay.yoga@hippiechickherbalharmony

 

I contacted my allocated sponsor and I’m very excited to say my prize was 3 free bracelets. I couldn’t be more chuffed with such a generous prize!

Once they arrive I will do a mini post to show you the goodies :)

I just want to say one last massive thank you to the hosts and the sponsors for this challenge. I had such a great time and I really appreciate all your support and encouragement!

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Coming Soon: Spring Into Your Practice

I’m so excited to be starting my second yoga pose challenge this week! 

 

It’s been a long time since I really challenged my practice and I feel like I need to start to push myself again. #SpringIntoYourPractice is running from 20 – 31 March, so keep an eye out on my Instagram for a daily update and head back here after the challenge ends for my review.

Spring Into Your Practice

Spring Into Your Practice

A big thank you to the hosts:
@ambuchanan82
@thievingbirdyoga
@acasualyogi
@roxy_yoga_love

and another big thank you to the sponsors:
@fourseeapparel
@hippiechickherbalharmony
@omsoulshop
@sashka_co
@omgoddess.clothing
@happyheartthings
@satucintaapparel
@treecandle
@libretea

Day Six: Dancer Pose

Up To Balance 12 Day Yoga Challenge

Yesterday I finished the 12 day #uptobalance challenge on Instagram and I loved it! Check out how I nailed all the poses and see how I found the journey :)

I love to search on Instagram for inspiration and stumbled across @ktbabieyogini and found she was hosting a 12 day balance challenge with @getfityogagirl, @joe_lizzzzzz_yoga and @elisheva_yoga.  All of their pages were so inspirational and so I decided to jump right in and give my first yoga challenge a try! It was sponsored by @aloyoga and their page is also so inspiring and their sportswear is stunning!

The Hosts & Sponsors

The Hosts & Sponsors

Each day a different host posted the pose we were to recreate, we then posted with #uptobalance, tagging the host’s and sponsors. Some days I found the poses achievable, others… not so much. But even though I found it really hard sometimes I loved testing myself and each different pose helped me, and will continue to help me, improve my practice and hopefully my balance.

So without further a-do sit back and marvel over my first attempt at a yoga challenge, and for the majority, my first attempt at these poses.

Day One: Flamingo Pose

Day One: Flamingo Pose

 

Day Two: Standing Hand to Big Toe

Day Two: Standing Hand to Big Toe

 

Day Three: Half/Crescent Moon

Day Three: Half/Crescent Moon

 

Day Four: Revolved Hand to Big Toe

Day Four: Revolved Hand to Big Toe

 

Day Five: One Legged Chair

Day Five: One Legged Chair

 

Day Six: Dancer Pose

Day Six: Dancer Pose

Day Seven: Eagle Pose

Day Seven: Eagle Pose

Day Eight: Unsupported Bond One Foot Intense Stretch Pose

Day Eight: Unsupported Bond One Foot Intense Stretch Pose

Day Nine: Warrior 3

Day Nine: Warrior 3

Day Ten: Hand to Foot Revolved Half Moon

Day Ten: Hand to Foot Revolved Half Moon

Day Eleven: Standing Splits

Day Eleven: Standing Splits

Day Twelve: Standing Compass Pose

Day Twelve: Standing Compass Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this challenge I tried using an impromptu yoga strap (as you saw) and I really found it helped, so I ordered one straight away and can’t wait to see how it changes my ability. I’d definitely recommend one (and will try and write a review when I’ve had a practice)!

I think my favourite pose throughout this challenge was between day three: half/crescent moon and day six: dancer pose. I just loved them! I felt so strong and powerful doing them, but also so calm and centred. When I look back at the pictures it takes me back to how I felt while holding them and makes me want to start the challenge all over again.

All in all I thought this challenge was great. It has really pushed my abilities and helped me start a new phase of my practice that I hope to continue and improve over the years.

Make sure you checkout the hosts (and sponsors) pages for instructions on how to achieve these poses and to see how they’re really done!

Thumbs up for a good run. Photo by Danielle Bussell

From 5km to 10km

I’m on my way to my half marathon goal, and although it’s not been easy, I’m loving it.

It’s now only 13 weeks away from The Great North Run, and I’m freaking out! I keep thinking, ‘why on earth did you sign up for a half marathon?’, but then I remember how proud I’ll be when I finish and what a great cause I’m running for. I’m also finding that I’m enjoying running more and more and that it’s becoming easier each time I go out.

I’ve been working on a few different things in my running and I’ve really found my stride and pace. There’s lots of different forums with advice for how to run a half marathon, I’ve had a look at different ones and have taken a few things on board which I think have really helped.

Thumbs up for a good run. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Thumbs up for a good run. Photo by Danielle Bussell

They talk a lot about interval training when you’re running long distance. This is because it helps build up your stamina making it easier for you to run long distance. I struggle with interval training as I tend to remember about it on the end of a run, and by that point I’m knackered, so intervals leave me basically hyperventilating.  When you run with them in mind however, they can be great. The basic principle for those who haven’t heard about interval training is to use landmarks like lamp posts and to sprint/run to one and run/jog to the other and repeat. Remember to stretch after these really well and take lots of water because if you aren’t used to sprinting it will really take the breath out of you.

Apparently Newcastle is hilly… I’ve been told this by a very reliable source, my dad! He ran this race for the first time 2 years ago and was told there weren’t hills and he’d be fine, but there were, and although he was fine, hills are not pleasant when you aren’t expecting them. With this in mind I’ve been training myself to run up hills. I have to admit I love running up hills, maybe I’m part mountain goat, who knows…? I feel such a sense of achievement when I get to the top and the view is amazing! I definitely recommend running up hills, albeit slowly. The buzz you get when you’ve reached the top is so worth the effort and it means when you’re running back you’re full of happiness and adrenaline to keep you going.

The final thing I’ve been practicing is to just keep swimming!… well… running. When I’m on a long run, it gets hard to keep motivated. I find myself trying to workout how much water I have left and should I start rationing now just in case, should I have taken that turning to end this run sooner… should I walk back??? and so on. When you’re running for a long time music only gets you so far, so for me I like a long run that I’ve never done before. That way everything is new and you stay motivated for longer. You also just need to tell yourself you can do it and you’re setting a great achievement. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to stop and it’s not worth injury when you know you should stop. When you feel that, you know you’ve done a great job and you need to take it easy the rest of the way. I found on my last 10km that my calf was really sore. I pushed my way through another few km and then I decided enough was enough, I decided to continue the run, but I stretched out every now and then. It meant my time wasn’t as good, but I managed to continue my run without injuring myself. So, you need to know when you’ve reached your limits, but also know when you could go just that bit further.

Remember to have a really good stretch to relieve your muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Remember to have a really good stretch to relieve your muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

So after all that waffle, how am I actually doing?

I feel like I’m going strong, but equally feel really behind. I need to up my distance, because with 13 weeks to go and 2 of them in Spain, it’s going to be tough going to raise my miles. I know I can do it, it’s finding interesting routes and motivating myself to keep going. But I feel confident in myself and don’t want to let down any of the wonderful people who have sponsored me to help raise money for Stroke Association.

Charity goal wise I’m so close now! I aimed for £250 and I’m about £5 off so yay! I’ve decided I’m going to up my goal to £300 and see how I get on, but I’m so happy that I’ve done it and I’m so thankful to everyone for their help, with a special thanks to my work for eating lots of cakes, it’s been tough, but I’m grateful for your sacrifice :)

Jumping for joy at the top of Mousehold Heath. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Jumping for joy at the top of Mousehold Heath. Photo by Danielle Bussell

While training also remember, there’s always time for an action shot… just don’t spend 5 minutes trying to get it and just as you decide enough is enough, let the wind knock your phone off the ledge and smash your screen ¬¬ thank goodness for glass screen protectors!

Working on balance, arm, leg and core muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Yogalates: My Experience So Far

I love exercise classes, but sometimes, we just don’t have the time or the money to attend them regularly if at all. A great way around this? Workout DVDs!

As far as DVD workouts go, it’s safe to say I’m quite a sceptic. Or at least, I was. For me the idea of doing a workout DVD isn’t exactly thrilling, I’d much rather catch up on some Netflix, but when you don’t have time to go to the gym or to a workout class, DVDs really are a saving grace.

Now it’s important not to do what I used to do, which was to sit and watch them exercise while I had a well-earned snack (I mean, that’s exercise for your eyes right?!), but it can be really hard to remain motivated when there’s no-one to see you stop and your sofa is right there. But motivation is the aim of the game, try using a room you where you can’t easily fall and land on a comfy sofa, maybe a hallway (if you can see the TV or at least hear it, or maybe a conservatory or garden).

Being a sceptic, I really wasn’t sure if I’d actually get into it. I’m lucky I have a friend who’s also making changes to her routine, diet and exercise plans, so we threw ourselves into it together. My lovely yogalates friend Many The Miles brought her Louise Solomon DVD and we jumped right in. Here are my finding so far:

Working on core strength and balance. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Working on core strength and balance. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Listen when they say don’t eat up to 1 hour before doing the workout.

I wasn’t sick, but you do feel really sluggish and end up a bit bloated working out with food rolling around (enjoy that image). It’s just not nice! And when you put your head upside down for downward dog… just no.

If you’re on an exercise mat, don’t wear socks.

This applies everywhere really, much like the above, but this basically comes from me slipping over lots because I couldn’t get a good enough grip.

To improve motivation, workout with a friend.

I found that the time I tried to do an at home workout like this alone, I was flagging a lot quicker than I normally would. Doing these DVDs with a friend can help you to remain focused on the class rather than where your fridge is in relation to you and also means that if you ‘accidently’ fall onto the ever welcoming sofa, they’re right there to pull you back up again.

Be aware of your body, not just the DVD.

This doesn’t so much come from a special awareness of what’s around you, although that is important, but more from you needing an understanding of your limitations. The big drawback to working out at home is that you don’t have a fitness professional there to tell you when you’re doing something wrong, or potentially dangerous. Doing these DVDs with a friend can help in the sense that they’ll point out that your idea of left is everyone else’s right but you need to make sure you don’t push yourself too far too soon.

Strengthening back and core muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Strengthening back and core muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

So, what have I noticed in myself?

I feel calmer

I find that during the workout I focus on my body and my mind (just like you’re supposed to), which is great because it really does make you feel calmer and more aware all at the same time. After a workout, I have better posture and just generally feel better. You can imagine the benefits of feeling more calm, especially if you have a stressful or busy job?

I’m more flexible

I’ve always loved the idea of being one of those people who can fold their bodies into the most incredible positions, especially when they do it on their hands, I mean wow! So I’m really pleased to find that I’m already feeling more flexible and more comfortable with the positions. Improving flexibility in these poses is also useful for stretching out after a run or gym session, it’s perfect wind down.

Working on balance, arm, leg and core muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

Working on balance, arm, leg and core muscles. Photo by Danielle Bussell

So there we have it, my thoughts on the Louise Solomon Yogalattes DVD so far.  I’ll keep posting about my progress and hopefully the pictures will become more and more impressive… hopefully…

My first review will be these Nike Leggings and Top. Photo by Danielle Bussell

COMING SOON: Nike Sportswear Review

I’m starting a review series To help all those who struggle when choosing what sportswear they should buy.

I’ll be reviewing clothes and shoes as I try them out to let you know different pros and cons. I’ll review properties like breathability, wicking and stretch among others to give you as much detail as I can.

My first review will be these Nike Leggings and Top. Photo by Danielle Bussell

My first review will be these Nike Leggings and Top. Photo by Danielle Bussell

I’ll be testing them out doing different exercises such as yogalates and running in the hope that this will help you decide if they would fit the purpose you’re buying them for.

I hope you’ll find these posts helpful. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know in the review and I’ll test it to the fullest.

10 Great Songs To Workout To

It’s well known that music really can make a task more enjoyable and, lets face it, sometimes working out really is a task. I love all forms of exercise and have found certain songs really help you get in the mood for fitness. Here’s a list of some of my favourite workout tracks.

Meditation/Yoga/Pilates/Tai chi 

Meditation has been proven to help relax your body as well as your mind and shows great health benefits. It isn’t just sitting still and trying not to think (which is what lots of us relate it to), meditation can be in the form of movement like Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi. Its main aim is to help you focus and centre your body and mind, so, however you find that works for you, that’s A ok. Here are two songs that help me to relax, calm and focus (remember, try and pick a track that will last through your whole meditation/yoga… experience, or create a playlist to avoid interruptions).

One: Ludovico Einaudi – Fairytale

Two: YellowBrickcinema – 30 minute deep sleep music

Running

We all know the benefits of running because it’s been drilled into us since sports day or any running race. Running is great for burning calories to helps us maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps to strengthen your bones and to improve your cardiovascular fitness. There are other benefits as well as your physical health, for some of us it’s our only chance at some quality me time, but on the flip side, it can also be really sociable if you’re in a running club or if you choose to run with friends. It’s a great time to catch up and all adds up to your daily steps (for those fitbit lovers out there). If you are running on your own and just need some pure motivation, here are some songs that get me moving.

Three: Run D.M.C & Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

Four: Fall Out Boy – The Phoenix

Five: Rudimental Ft. Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

Repetition Work

These are songs that have a great beat and work perfectly for repetition work. Both of these songs I have on the list I worked out to at a Body Pump class. Having a song with a great beat and catchy rhythm helps to maintain focus and timing when doing rep work. Here are a couple of songs that help me keep focused on my routine.

Six: Ellie Goulding – Burn

Seven: avicii – hey brother

Gym WORKout

I love to do lots of different things at the gym, from the cross trainer  to weight training and recently using the TRX equipment. There are lots of different songs I like to listen to while at the gym, but here are a couple that get me ready for a good session.

Eight: Martin Garrix – Animals

Nine: Panic! at The Disco – LA Devotee

Ten: DNCE – Cake by the ocean

I hope you enjoyed this list of songs and that they help you to maintain focus and get energised for a great workout.

Do you have a song that helps you stay on track with your workout? Comment below and tell me what gets you in the workout zone.

7 Great At Home Medicine Ball Workouts

Here’s a few exercises that are perfect for rainy days! If you aren’t feeling like going to the gym, grab a medicine ball (or something weighted) and try these at home.

Disclaimer: Before you read on, please remember I’m not a fitness professional. Before doing any of these exercises please make sure you know your own limits and where you are in your training to make sure you don’t push yourself too far. These are exercises I love to do at home, if you aren’t sure if these are right for you and you’d like more advice, please speak to a professional.

One: Russian Twists (Core)

I love Russian Twists and have to admit they’re one of my favourites. It’s great for toning up your stomach (or mini muffin top as I call mine) as it really engages your core muscles. Put your legs together with your feet flat on the floor. Lean back to a half sit up position and twist from left to right (or right to left if you prefer). Remember your own limits, this exercise engages your back muscles and spine as well, so please be careful and start off slowly so you can gauge your threshold. Start with 16-20 reps (that’s 1 for left and right) and then increase the number the more comfortable you become. When it’s all a little too easy, up the weight and start again.

Top tip: If you don’t have a medicine ball, grab a large bottle of water (or wine depending on how the weeks going) and use that as a weight instead.

Two: Front Raises (upper Body)

This exercise works your arm muscles and helps to battle the dreaded bingo wings! This is a nice simple one that you could do with bottles or dumb bells if you don’t have a medicine ball.

It engages your upper body as you need to hold your core in (imagine pulling your navel to your spine) you should keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed. Relax your knees and keeping your arms straight, lift the ball (or weight) up to shoulder height so your arms are straight in front of you. Repeat this 16-20 times following the same repetition advice from the above (that goes for all these exercises).

Three: Toe Touches (Core)

Ok, so this one is a little more tricky than the previous two, it really focuses on your core muscles and uses your back muscles as well, so if you have back pain, you may want to skip this one, or at least take it slowly and build it up over time.

Lie down on your back with your legs out in front of you and your arms up above your head holding the ball. Lift your legs and arms so they meet in-line with your core. Try and keep your legs and arms straight and pull in your core like before to really work all those muscles. Repeat 16-20 times as before.

Four: Lunge & Twist (Lower Body & core)

Ooh, the ever loathed lunge! As much as the lunge is the least favourite of my exercises, it’s definitely one of the best for toning your legs.

7 Great At Home Medicine Ball Workouts Lunge Twist

Photo by Danielle Bussell

Hold the ball in front of you at shoulder height, keeping your back straight with one leg in front of the other. Drop your left or right knee to the floor (the deeper you go the more engaged your leg muscles will be) and twist with the ball to the opposite side. Remember to gauge how far you’re comfortable to twist. Repeat this 16-20 times on the first side and then start on the other side.

Five: Bicep Curl (core)

This is another arm and core exercise. It helps to engage the muscles the front raises didn’t reach, so it’s great for all around toning.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, back straight, shoulders relaxed. Holding the ball in both hands, pull the ball up to your chest with your elbows bent and then lower them back down. Repeat this 16-20 again until you want to up the reps or weight.

Six: Squat (lower Body)

This one is another great one for toning your legs and also toning your derriere. That’s right, I said derriere, we’re doing fancy exercises over here!

So, the best way to get your feet the correct width apart is to put them together and then for each foot take two half steps out and then twist your feet slightly out to an angle to help balance. Keeping your back straight, bend your legs into a sitting position, remember the deeper the better. Hold the ball to your chest or if you like, as you lower you can lift the ball out in front of you to get some extra work from your arms. 16-20 reps and repeat as before.

Seven: Plank (Mostly Core with a bit of Arms & Legs)

This is another tricky one, mainly because medicine balls are… balls… they roll… be careful! Face planting is not advised!

7 Great At Home Medicine Ball Workouts Plank

Photo by Danielle Bussell

Go into a press-up position, with your hands on the medicine ball. Keep your back straight and have your feet slightly apart. Hold this for 30 seconds – 1 minute. The same principle for this one except you won’t up the weight, just the amount of time you hold the plank for.

So that’s it, 7 exercises you can do at home with a medicine ball or any other weight you can find. If you’re not quite ready for a weight, simply do them without the weight, all exercise is good exercise :)

Enjoy!

You don't need to have been sewing for years. Do some research and go for it.

7 Things You Need to Know Before Making Your Own Sportswear

want to make your own sportswear? Well, it’s easier than you think. here are a few things your should know first.

Have you looked at the sportswear available and thought ‘that won’t suit my shape’, ‘it’s too plain’, ‘If only I could change that’, well you can! But, before you start, here are some things you need to know about making your own sportswear.

One: Do Some Research On What You’re Getting Into

Look into all the bits you may need to know or buy before you start.

Look into all the bits you may need to know or buy before you start.

Making your own clothes has so many benefits; it’s made to measure so it’s going to fit, you can choose your own fabric and you can choose from a large variety of patterns. It’s worth going into lots of different shops to have a look at what fits you best, styles you like and fabrics that work for you. Have a look at what goes into making clothes. YouTube is great for that, there are so many tutorials out there on how to sew, so have a look and find a method that suits your ability and ideas best. Be careful though, excess use of YouTube will lead to increased watching of cat videos. Alternatively, if you prefer to thumb through some books, your local library will hopefully have some great choices for you.

Two: There Are So Many Great Fabrics Available

Sportswear fabric is getting seriously funky!

Sportswear fabric is getting seriously funky!

With sportswear becoming more and more fashionable, great lengths are going into providing materials of great quality. There are lots of things to consider when buying fabric, so make sure you consider exactly want you want to wear it for, because fabrics are made with different ‘properties’, which will affect your choice. These properties vary from Wicking, Breathability, Elasticity, Hardwearing and lots of others, there’s also lots of well-known names like Lycra (spandex, known for its elasticity) and Gortex (known for its breathability). Once you know what you’re looking for, the fun begins!

Melissa Fehr has a great blog post about where you can get fabrics worldwide and also a great all round feature post on a blog called Colette which talks you through all aspects of making your own sportswear. I definitely recommend checking them out!

Three: A Simple Block Pattern Will Go Miles

Copy the pattern to get extra use from it.

Copy the pattern to get extra use from it.

For me, when I’m starting out with a new sewing project, I look for the cheapest pattern, but still fitting the look I want.

Altering patterns can be simple depending on what it is you’re altering, but it always pays to start with a cheap pattern you don’t really care about, so you can build from it and use it over and over. My advice for buying patterns would also be to buy some easel paper (or any large roll of paper) as well. That way, you can accurately trace off your pattern from the block sheet and reuse it multiple times without ever cutting the original pattern. It’s a great way to get lots of uses from one pattern piece and also allows you to cut it up and adapt it for toile’s (tests) without having to buy a new pattern every time. If you’ve never bought a pattern before, go along to your local fabric shop and ask their advice or have a look online at the different options out there as there are quite a few.

Four: You Don’t Need a Degree To Sew

You don't need to have been sewing for years. Do some research and go for it.

You don’t need to have been sewing for years. Do some research and go for it.

You may not know this about me, but I do in fact have a fashion degree, that being said, most of the techniques you would use for a simple garment I learnt during secondary school and sixth form. If you’re not planning on doing anything too technical with the garment or pattern, you can definitely pick up on how to do it by reading the pattern instructions and by watching everyone’s favourite online evening stealer… Youtube! As I mentioned before, there are so many great tutorials out there for how to make garments and alter patterns. I’ll add a few tips and tricks on the blog too, but if there’s anything you’re not sure of, don’t let it discourage you!

Five: It Can Be Expensive

It can be expensive to get all the things you need and for a good quality fabric.

It can be expensive to get all the things you need and for a good quality fabric.

I’m sorry to be the one to say this, but fabric is not cheap! There’s also lots of things you need to consider when you start a new project, a few being:

Do you have the correct machine needles
Do you need special thread (e.g. elasticated/waxed/strengthened)
Do you need to toile it first (I’d always recommend this when starting a new project)
And so on…

All these things and more will affect how much or how little you need to buy. I went out to buy some fabric from a local shop hoping it would be cheaper than the online wholesale suppliers. I was a little shocked (as I always am with better quality fabric than polyester netting) that it was £10.00 a metre. Bearing in mind you need a good… 3 to 4 metres depending on where the bias is (again you’ll be able to find tutorials of this on Youtube and if you do buy from a shop, they will be more than happy to help you with anything like this), this could become pretty costly pretty quickly and can work out cheaper to buy off the rack. That being said, there are so many benefits to making your own clothes, it’s really fun and becomes a good hobby if you get into it. You also have the glory when people ask ‘where ever did you get those fabulous leggings??’ to say ‘I made them myself’ (that’s exactly how they’ll ask… exactly!).

Six: You Can Deconstruct/Reconstruct

Look through your old clothes for anything you could reuse.

Look through your old clothes for anything you could reuse.

This pretty much means exactly what it says on the tin. We all know the slogan ‘Make Do & Mend’, well this is a little different from that, but follows the same principles. If you have an old item of clothing that you love but it’s almost seen its day, why not turn it into something completely new? I love deconstructing old clothes and making something completely different out of them and it’s a great way to reuse your clothes in an eco way as you can get two lives out of one piece. It’s also really exciting because the possibilities are pretty much endless! In this section of the blog, I’m going to explore this more and show you how I’m going to change some old garments into some great exercise gear… I can’t wait!

Seven: Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Don't Worry... Be Happy!

Don’t worry… be happy!

The most important thing to remember when taking on a new sewing project, or anything you decide to do in life, is to enjoy it. Things will go wrong and there will be times that you’ll be so frustrated that you want to throw it out and never look at it again, but don’t. Put it to one side and come back later and it will suddenly click. There have been so many occasions I’ve wanted to stop a project, but I’m always over the moon when I finish it and I know just how much time and love (and the odd naughty word) went into it. If you approach it thinking that it’s going to be a fun way to experiment with your sportswear and just keep smiling, you fall in love with it.

I hope these tips will help you to start your journey to making sportswear, or any pieces you feel inspired to make. Go out there and see what the world of sewing has to offer, it’s so fun and rewarding and I know you’ll love it.

And we're off! Photo by Danielle Bussell

My First 5k Race

As part of my running journey I’m doing as many races as I can this year. Here’s how I found my first race.

This year I’m taking part in the UK’s Great North Run. I’m so excited about this challenge, but equally so nervous as well! It’s 13.1 miles and includes hills (although when I’m running I imagine they’ll feel like mountains!). I’ve decided to do some smaller races along the way to build up my stamina and to get some experience of what a race is like.

My first race was the Stroke Association Resolution Run and such an occasion clearly called for a tutu. It was a 5k race on grass with a couple of small inclines, but mostly flat. Typically for the UK is was freezing, although luckily there was no rain!

Stylish as ever in my yellow tutu.

Stylish as ever in my yellow tutu. Photo by Danielle Bussell

In my journey I’m currently up to just over 6 miles, so a 5k (approximately 3 miles) seemed like it would be a breeze. It was certainly easier than a 6-mile run, but I hadn’t really run on grass before. It’s amazing how your body knows something isn’t quite right and I did find it harder than I’d expected. I’m used to running on roads or packed mud, and when I saw the grass I thought it would be easier, but I have to admit, my knees were beginning to hurt quite early on (and no one wants runners knees at 1 mile when they’re training for 13!).

Remember to always look your best when running.

Remember to always look your best when running. Photo by Danielle Bussell

I think the reason I found it so difficult was because my stride and the force I run has been formed by running on the road, and different surfaces do call for different approaches.

I’ve decided to look into this a little bit more, so coming up on the blog will be a post about how different terrains do different things to your running and ways I’ve found adapting can help. So keep an eye out if you’d like to know more about running on different surfaces.

I’m loving my journey so far and can’t wait to go running for longer distances. There’s a real sense of peace when you’re out running like time stops and it’s just you and your surroundings. It also gives you time to connect with you again, and when you’re working a 9-5 and have a stressful day, there’s nothing better to get your body and mind relaxed than a nice smooth run.

The home stretch!

The home stretch! Photo by Danielle Bussell