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...


"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!!"


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...