20 July 2012

A Day in the Life of Megan Nielsen

I know I say this a lot, but I'm so excited about this month's Day in the Life! Megan Nielsen is an independent clothing and sewing pattern designer who recently moved back to her native Oz from the US. Her patterns are such a delight with so much thought put into the design and packaging. Megan manages to juggle running her own business with looking after her young family. I know you want to know what time she goes to bed. Read on, dear readers...

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"I’ve always hated sewing patterns, but loved sewing. It’s such a unique craft, that allows you to express yourself and create art you can wear! Over the past few years I’ve launched four collections in my clothing line, and I’ve become involved in the fashion and sewing blogging communities. Through that I started to see that there were many other women sharing my frustrations with commercial sewing patterns. Still the same boring designs, flimsy paper (that is impossible to get back in the envelope) and instructions that may as well be written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It led me to dream a new dream – a line of patterns that were intrinsically linked to fashion and actually easy to use.

So last year, I launched a line of sewing patterns based on the designs from my clothing line, and my favourite maternity designs from my pregnancies. I love the idea of linking fashion and sewing more closely! It’s hard to balance work and having a young family, so I work from home so that I can maximize the quality time I get with them. I have two gorgeous toddlers, a 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy, that I like to call Bunny and Buddy. My days are good – but very hectic, and I often feel like there are aren’t enough hours in the day! But that’s okay – because these are exciting times!

I wake up every morning at about 6:30AM when I hear Buddy talking to the Kookaburra’s that are singing outside his window. They’re an Australian bird, and their wake up song is like laughter. There are lots of Kookaburras, Galahs, Kangaroos and Blue Tongue Lizards in the Swan Valley where we live, 40 minutes outside Perth, Australia. The Swan Valley is known for its wineries, horse farms and the natural Australian bush surrounding the Swan River as it winds its way from the hills down to the ocean. It’s amazing that just outside of a city like Perth we feel like we are in the bush.


I roll out of bed, get Bunny and Buddy up (Bunny has more often than not been dreaming about elephants), and we snuggle on the couch while we wake up. They drink Milo (it’s a malted chocolate drink), and I have the all important first coffee of the day. I should probably admit right now that I am powered by coffee. I normally forget to have breakfast, but I never ever forget coffee hehe.

My hubby Chris heads off to work, at a tech startup in the heart of the City – and the kids have breakfast while I check a few emails as the sun comes up.

By about 8:30 the kids and I are ready for the day. Even though I don’t go to a traditional workplace, I always always get properly dressed. But I suppose that’s not surprising – as a designer I’m incredibly passionate about clothing – so getting dressed in something fun and different each morning is important to me. Funnily enough – I feel like that 15 minutes of effort puts me in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day. My wardrobe is mostly designed by me – so I’m always wearing at least one thing I’ve made. I like that.

Mornings are my quality time with the kids. We try and do a few fun activities like baking, crafts, going to the zoo or the childrens museum, shopping (that’s fun because we get donuts hehe) etc. It’s an important time of their lives so I want to build as many special memories as possible. We live really close to a wildlife conservation zoo – so we go there pretty regularly, and I feel very lucky that they can have wonderful experiences like hand-feeding the kangaroos.


At around 11:30 am we come home for lunch, or have a picnic we packed. Our neighbourhood is rich in parks, so we often find a nice patch to sit down and eat. Buddy normally eats all his lunch, and then mine too. But that’s okay.

By the time 1:00pm rolls around we’re all getting pretty tired (is it okay to admit I’m the most tired? hehehe), so we head home for a rest. We all pile onto the couch together, and I read books to them until everyone is relaxed – and then my little guy is ready for his nap. One of my favourite things is the lullaby we sing – my parents made it for me when I was a baby.

While Buddy is sleeping, I spend some time with Bunny doing her lessons – and then she has her quiet play time and a rest, while I work. I make myself (another, ahem) coffee, and get cracking. I work on new designs, checking and finalising new patterns, and answering emails. I like working on the pattern drafting during the day because the light is so good. Right now I’m doing the final checks on a new pattern I’m very close to releasing.



Nap time is usually over by 4pm, and then the kids play together (normally outside… again. They can’t seem to get enough of it) while I make them dinner, and then we sit around the table and chat about the day while they eat. I love the ridiculous / cute things kids say – they are so entertaining!

Once Chris gets home he looks after the kids so I can do some more work. They play ridiculously silly games, while I head outside to catch up on emails, do some blogging and take a walk for inspiration.

I get the majority of my inspiration from the Australian outback – so I don’t like to be disconnected from it for too long. One of my favourite places to sit and sketch is at a spot in the Swan Valley where the Swan river comes close to the Darling Ranges hills. There’s an aboriginal memorial park, and it’s an incredibly inspiring place to go. The traditional Noongar people believe that the river and the hills were created by the Dreamtime serpent Wagyl – and that it’s body carved out the shape of the river. Honestly, this landscape can’t help but take your breath away – and I feel lucky to live here.

I feel like it’s a really important part of my day - taking time to be inspired and come up with new designs. Since I have a fashion line in conjunction with patterns, the two are very linked.


Once the little ones are asleep Chris and I get some time together – we sit outside on the patio deck and have a coffee or a glass of wine and laugh about the day together and all the silly plans we have for the future. We call them our “deck dates” and they’re pretty much the best thing ever. After that, it’s more work. I run around quite literally. I’m attending to emails, working on marketing, sewing samples, drafting and working on new patterns. Chris works on logistics and filling orders. I can’t remember the last time I watched TV! We head to bed at around 1am when Chris tells me I have to go to sleep now and starts turning off the lights hehe.

It normally takes me ages to fall asleep because I’m thinking about everything I have to do tomorrow, making plans and dreaming about the future. It’s hard to make the brain shut down and I always seem to have way more ideas than I can implement.

So I guess that’s a pretty standard weekday for me! It’s busy – but I love it! I’m so excited to see where my business is going – and I can’t believe that in the few short months since I launched my patterns we’re already so so busy. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realise I’m doing this thing that started as a little dream– and that it’s almost outgrown what I can handle on my own. That really excites me!!"

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Wowzers. In future when I think I'm too busy I'm going to channel Megan's energy. Are you in awe of this superwoman as much as I am?! 

If you fancy trying out a Megan Nielsen sewing pattern, enter the code TILLY to get 15% off.

And if you enjoyed taking a sneaky peek into the daily life of a crafty business lady, there are 13 more to read about here...

23 comments:

  1. Amazing. I literally can't figure out how Megan copes with less than 6 hours sleep - that would kill me. But I'm now feeling incredibly inspired! Can we all move to Australia now please?

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    1. I know! I am not a nice person to be around on fewer than 8 hours...

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  2. I LOVE her mentality. Very awesome. Makes me realize I need to get outdoors more to get inspired!!!

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    1. Yeah, didn't you just sigh when you saw those photos? Lots of lovely countryside near you to get inspired, Debi!

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  3. How wonderful! I can only hope and aspire to be as awesome as Megan :) I have a 5 year old, a 14 month old both boys and a baby on the way (we get to find out what we're having next week! Yippeee!) and I would love to be as successful and stay at home mom as she is...and I adore that she has made cute maternity patterns and tutorials available! Thanks for posting about her dear *hugs*
    Bonnie MS
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/RidingTheBonnieWay
    ridingthebonnieway.blogspot.com

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    1. Yeah, must be such a challenge to be so productive with little ones running around

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  4. holy moly I need my sleep!! Tried to purchase a pattern as i've been eyeing off the Darling ranges for a while but I can't see where to create an account or enter the code.

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    1. Hi Susan!! Sorry it was confusing! You can continue as a guest - and then after you've finished your purchase you can add a password to create an account if you'd like. The order is unfortunately a little strange, but you can apply the discount code after you fill in the payment details. I hope that helps!
      Megan XOXO

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    2. I would love to know if you have a post on what software you use for your patterns and your printers. I am a fashion design student and would love to make a few patterns but don't know where to start... Thank you so much for sharing your day, it's inspiring, especially since I am a mother of a 7 yr old and a 3 mth old also. It's hectic, but I love it! Loved hearing about your workday!

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  5. I love this series. I did something similar on my blog in May.
    I always love hearing how people spend their day.

    http://www.thesmallfabricofmylife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/one-day-in-may.html

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  6. It's great to see a day in her life, I admire her work!

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  7. How fun to read! I love this series so much!

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  8. When the complications of the world and daily life intrude, I find great comfort in know that people like Megan still exist and are working hard for themselves and their families. Always a proponent of strong work ethic and small business, I wish Megan the very best of luck with her new pattern line. Thanks again Tilly for sharing another profile of a fabulous artist.

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  9. What a wonderful "average" day! It sounds like a fairy-tale with full of exotic birds, animals and plants! I am a bit jealous :) What you do is amazing and very inspiring. And you are probably the only designer who creates patterns for pregnant women!

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    1. I know, I hadn't heard of most of those animals!

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  10. Wowsers! That's a busy day. I love this series tto, Tilly, keep em coming!

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  11. Great series and I love all of the photos! I'm bookmarking this to go back and read all of the other "Day in the Life" posts that I missed.

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  12. Amazing! Especially because Megan is making all of this happen from my hometown Perth in the Swan Valley which is on the doorstep of where I grew up. That's really inspiring.I love how this global Internet world can enable people to have the businesses of their dreams from almost anywhere in the world. Good Luck with your business Megan! I will have to check out these (non maternity haha) patterns.

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  13. Wow! She's amazing!!! I've actually been to Swan Valley when my family lived in Sydney for two years, and it's truly one of the most spectacular places on earth!! Thanks for asking Megan to share!

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  14. What a powerhouse of energy! She has really got her work/family time worked out to perfection. It is also interesting for me to know that she has moved to the Swan Valley near Perth. I live in Perth, near the Swan River a short way down from the valley - so we are almost neighbours! Well, on a global scale I guess.

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  15. oh wow, that is a proper jam packed full to the rafters day, from now on I'm going to channel me some Megan Nielsen energy!

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  16. this was really fun to read. I've admired Megan since my son was young, and if we are ever lucky enough to have another baby, I have her maternity patterns bookmarked for reference. Thanks for sharing this!

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  17. Wow I love Megan Nielsen's patterns, never realising she was based in my home town of Perth - a place I am about to return to live after living in the UK for the last 12 years! What an amazing life she leads squeezing all that work and play in each day! Also looking forward to taking my two year old daughter to meet the kangaroos for the first time at Caversham (assuming that is the wildlife park Megan's referring to!?) in the next few months!

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