Avant garde sewing for the renegade woman.

Amanda Gonzalez, behind closed doors.

I’ve been sewing since I was just a nena.

I’ve fond memories of my mother making me a striking poo-brown outfit for my heinous papier-mâché bushranger for the class puppet show. I marvelled at the fact that with a few swivels of the wrist and a quick roar on the accelerator, my bushranger had a fancy pants outfit, complete with shoulder pads (being the ‘80s, of course).

My very first project was a navy and white polka dot scrunchie. My friends whispered about my cutting edge fashion sense as I swanned about the hand ball courts – and I loved it. Really, what I loved most was that I had made something unique, with my very own (albeit imperfect) hands.

That sentiment hasn’t changed.  

But I can’t read a pattern to save my life.

Just the very word takes me back to Year 8 textiles, staying back at lunch for failing to have followed the pattern. I’m still cranky with you, Miss Hahn.

It’s not because I think I can do better than the pattern maker – quite the contrary – but because the instructions make me feel restrained, quashed, frustrated. Making things up as I go along is a delicious risk, and I find this to be my kind of creative outlet.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place front and centre for well written, beautiful patterns. It’s just not my main thing. 

Sewing disasters made me tired and emotional.

As an ex-perfectionist, mistakes gave me heart palpitations. The thought of ruining fabric, or the very fact that I'd made an error – quelle horreur! – made me want to give up.

Thanks to having run several businesses, I’ve learnt that good enough is good enough. How freakin’ liberating is that

Now, I laugh at (and learn from) my sewing mistakes.

Life has an uncanny way of putting things into perspective. And I wasn’t about to waste any more energy shaking my fist at wayward stitches. 

There’s also no such thing as average.

Regardless of your body, no mass produced item is made to fit your exact shape. If it fits in the boobs, it doesn’t around the hips. If it fits around the hips, then you have porn star boobage.

I’m tired of spending money on things that aren’t quite right, but have to be right enough – because I have no choice.

Or do I? 

So what’s andthenamanda?

Quite simply, it’s an open journal about refashioning existing clothes into something that fits you – and that you love yourself sick in. Most of the clothes are either unloved items from my wardrobe (err... often still with tags), stolen from my husband’s wardrobe or bought second-hand.

I post about how to replicate my refashions, using plain English and lots of pics to help you understand the steps clearly.

I'll also post about making simple outfits with a single piece of fabric. 

Really, it’s about finding your own style and workin' it, regardless of what the mags or catwalks tell you to wear.

What andthenamanda isn't about.

It’s not about sewing ‘rules’. Or sewing by numbers. It most certainly isn’t about rapping you on the knuckles for sewing your own made-up way.

And it isn’t about body size. 

Three things you'll need to get the most out of andthenamanda.

  1. A sewing machine that can sew a straight stitch and a zig zag.
  2. The absolute basics of knowing how to use the thing - even if the last time you used one was at school! 
  3. Being OK with making mistakes. In fact, laughing at them.

I’d love you to join me. Don’t be shy.

I find it so satisfying sharing my sewing debauchery with you – and you sharing yours with me. Swing by Twitter and say hello!

17 things you might not know about me.

  1. English is my second language (Spanish, my first), despite being born and bred in Sydney’s east. My French is a trifle rusty, but not rusty enough that I can’t order myself a croissant avec un café au lait. Oui.

  2. I’d swum approximately 27,000km (16,700 miles) before I turned 18. I hate swimming.

  3. I cannot NOT dance to ‘80s music. And oh, the hair. THE HAIR. It makes me feel better about my own bouffant.

  4. I get tired and emotional about apostrophe misuse.

  5. I’m left-handed, and hopelessly un-co with my right.

  6. I think being forthright is far kinder than dancing around the truth.

  7. I love to floss. I mean, really love to floss. I always keep a stash in my handbag, just in case.

  8. I make mistakes every single day, and I push myself to learn from them, despite it being so fucking hard sometimes.

  9. My year 10 school report said ‘Amanda asks too many questions’. I think this was my parents’ proudest moment.

  10. If you need me to say yes, you can ply me with Maggie Beer ice-cream.

  11. I am a knitting and crochet strumpet; I am faithful to neither.

  12. I’m trying to figure out Christianity.

  13. I have a lead foot. Thanks, Papa.

  14. Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton are two of my favourite authors. If you prefer the bunch of sissies that make up the Secret Seven to the hardcore Famous Five mofos, then I politely but firmly ask you to leave immediately.

  15. I really enjoy staring at beautifully hung washing on the line.

  16. I think that communication, laughter, intimacy and respect make up the secret concoction that is a happy, loving marriage.

  17. I have a vivid, and unashamedly filthy, imagination.

Photography by the incredibly talented portait and documentary photographer, Alex Vaughan.