I’m Alive!!

The tale I have to tell you.

2017 has been horrible so far, but things are finally feeling a bit better. Back in December, I got sick. I had a cold over Christmas. I didn’t think anything of it, but then January and February I got worse and worse until I couldn’t walk in February and was having such a difficult time with breathing and I was coughing so much. I wrote about it a bit in my last post back in February. Turns out I had pneumonia, but getting to that point of diagnosis was ridiculous. I didn’t have a fever at all, but I generally have a lower body temperature than the norm. I found out my dad has that as well. In February, I saw my GP several times and saw my respiralogist. Neither of them thought I needed a chest xray because the cough has been present for 9 months and I didn’t have a fever. I told them I was sweating and having chills, but I was checking out okay at a temp of 37.5 degrees celcius, which is high for me. I’m usually around 36 and rarely up at 37.

Eventually, I got diagnosed after going to the ER because my coughing was causing pain in my abdomen, a mild hernia. I got a CT scan and a chest xray and both showed pneumonia in my left lung.

I missed a month of work in total… Not good.

I got back to work and then ended up in the ER again after 2 days back because I sneezed and pulled a muscle in my back/dislocated a rib. It was terrible. I also got costochondritis, inflammation in the rib cartilage from coughing so much, and I still have that and a sore lower back. When you have a chronic illness, getting sick is so much worse and takes so much longer to recover…

I’ve been back to work for two full weeks. I had a migraine this morning, though, but I still feel like things are getting better.

I have little to no desire to sew. It was all I thought of while I was confined to my bed, but now that I am better….meh to sewing apparently!

Here is a recap of what I have sewn this year, though, since I won’t be writing individual posts on things (sorry, I need the spoons):

A blue Cashmerette Upton dress made with the same polyester fabric I used for the Star Trek uniform I made in the fall. I had 12 yards of this fabric so you’re going to see it pop up other places. 😉 I just love this pattern. I have many more plans for it. This version uses the gored skirt. I left the zipper off, because the fabric has some mechanical stretch to it. I’m also still perfecting the length of those waist darts and the width of the neckline, but overall I am pleased with how it looks on me and how I feel in it.

I made two bullet journal pen holders. The black and white bunny one is for my friend, Selina, who loves bunnies. Her holder has velcro on the back. I didn’t have white velcro handy for mine though so it ties around the journal. I’m going to switch that out eventually since it does not sit flat. These holders are great scrapbusters and took me a half hour to make both of them.

I made several of these Burda sweatshirts, which were part of my #2017makenine. I left the zipper off, because it’s not necessary and I didn’t want to struggle with it and the knit fabric. It’s a nice boxy sweater and comfortable. I made a size 52 and graded to a 48 at the shoulders. My first version was pretty large in the shoulders.

But the versions after worked out well.

I didn’t take final pictures of two of these, but you can see the colour combos below. All are made either with sweatshirt, terry, fleece, or cotton lycra with ribbing in various colours. The blue sweatshirt material with black brush strokes is the same material as my Golden Rippy Omega Angel jacket. The material is from 1986! I’m bringing the 80s back. 😉

I designed a couple of future dream projects using my curvy sketchbook:

Spent the day home feeling terrible but had fun sketching this design. #sewing #sewcialists #curvysketchbook

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Mostly, I’ve been making cards and enjoying that part of my creativity and the amazing team of people I am a part of with Stampin’ Up. Yep, I signed up as a demonstrator since I kept giving them my money. Hahah. It’s also been such a positive experience being part of a great team. It’s really helped getting cards from my team members while I was sick. ❤ It’s also a really great time to craft and be social.

I’ll be doing some small cardmaking classes in Toronto. I have one coming up on April 30th. If you live close by and just want a fun easy project to work on and want to be social, you are more than welcome. Feel free to contact me for more information.

I’m hoping my sewjo returns soon, but I’m glad that I’m feeling better every day. I do tend to sew more in the summer, because I want all the summer dresses.  I am still lacking in a lot of energy, but it’s getting better especially with the weather getting better and Spring in the city. I used some precious spoons this weekend to clean up my deck and prep for the flowers and herbs I will be putting back there. I’ve been enjoying my indoor plants and finding joy in the small things.

The happiest little corner ever. 😍😍😍 #plants #indoorplants

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I also really appreciate the notes I got and the well wishes. Friends sent me flowers, brought soup over, and I got a stuffed fox from one, too. It made being sick for that long easier knowing how much people cared. ❤ Thanks all for your emails, comments, and well-wishes.

 

Chronic Illness and Reliability

I’m not reliable. I’m not present.

I have a chronic illness and have been very very sick in increasing ways the past two years. Last Spring, I was diagnosed with one rare disease, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is all about joint issues and chronic pain. I have had a chronic cough for 9 months now and it has led to an ER trip and most recently 2 horrible weeks off work due to illness. Doctors are still unsure what to make of this cough as tests keep coming back negative but I keep getting worse and worse and medication is not able to manage the issue. One more attack like last week will land me in the ER and on short term or even long term disability. A person cannot function with a cough that bad along with EDS. I literally dislocate from coughing. I also am at risk of a lot of complications from this cough that are potentially and additionally life threatening.

I’m not reliable because my illnesses are changeable. I could be well one day and unwell the next. Or, as has been the case more these days, unwell one day, but really really unwell the next.

You gain a new normal with this sort of issue. My 100% energy level is probably about 50% for you. My 10 on the pain scale is probably 20 for you. Probably as a result of this, I haven’t gone to the ER when I should. Chronic illness really changes your perspective on things. My reasoning last week was that I *could* walk to the bathroom so I must not be that bad, but in reality, I should have gone to the ER and any other person would have, because they struggled to get to the bathroom. Chronic illness also makes you feel like a bother to doctors as they struggle to diagnose your issues. You can also develop a fear of doctors, because they often treat you as if you are making up symptoms or must not be doing something correctly or are lying or exaggerating your symptoms. Often I get dismissed because of my weight and shamed into not taking my health seriously. Often I get dismissed by specialists because I don’t go into the ER and I make it to my appointments. It’s always always always a Catch 22 experience with chronic illness. Always.

I’m not reliable. I cannot be counted upon. Not in the ways that society defines Reliability and presence are so wrapped up in each other. If you are present at an event that you said you would show up at, you are reliable. I’ve struggled these days with even saying “yes” to anything, including events at my own home. I push for energy on good days. I push through pain and respiratory issues.

My “yes” has changed to “maybe.” Which is a “no” to so many people. An unreliable person. A person who isn’t present.

I deal with a lot of guilt on a daily basis because of this issue. I don’t feel like a present member of my community. I can’t participate in person. Events that have an online aspect rock my world because I know I can do them. I can take part from my home and not have to worry as much, because I can log into the laptop or on my smart phone. But if it includes talking or being present on camera, my enthusiasm differs. I don’t know if my cough will make it difficult to speak or not.

I don’t feel like a good blogger. My concept of good blogging used to be every couple of weeks at least with every week at best. But even with a selfie stick and indoor picture or mirror pictures, just taking pictures in the outfits I make is a lot of work for me these days. I haven’t been here for a month because my energy went toward planning and throwing a birthday party for my husband and then being horribly sick the past few weeks afterwards. I have made things. Several things actually, but I don’t have the energy to share except for a picture on IG here and there.

I don’t feel like a good pattern tester. I have had to drop out due to sickness. I’ve also informed the pattern designers that I tested fit and didn’t have time to thoroughly look over the instructions, but did follow them. I usually try to read through them several times.

I don’t feel like a good friend or a good family member. I miss shows. I miss birthday events. I miss occasions, like baby showers. I send mail more frequently these days, though, but sometimes that is slow to come, too. I may not call to wish you happy birthday, but a text message or FB message is what I can do.

I don’t feel like a good wife. I miss my husbands events. I barely see him on stage. I don’t feel as supportive as I wish I could be.

I am reliable. I am present.

It’s different from what most people want or society deems acceptable.

I live mostly online these days. If I like your post on any social platform, it means I am present. I am here. I care about you. I’m using a precious part of my energy to put it out toward you and say, “hey, I care.”

Most people would think that is nothing, but to me that is everything.

I’m available best by email (contact form), IG direct messages, and Facebook.

Yes, Another Hat!

Yes, another hat. I’m really focusing on busting those scraps!

Recently, Blank Slate Patterns put out a testing call for their new slouchy beanie pattern and I snatched that opportunity. The pattern ranges from infant to adult sizes. It’s a reversible beanie. You can use one colour or try cutting two different colours for a neat look like I did for one of my beanies.

Not much to say except that the project is fast and a great stashbuster. I will be making a few more and sending them off to my friends for their new babies.

Slouchy Beanie

Slouchy Beanie

My first version is using leftover scraps from my Wonder Woman top from a few years ago. It’s a cotton rayon jersey with a nice drape and perfect for the beanie.

Slouchy Beanie

Slouchy Beanie

My second version is made with two different cotton lycras. One is a feather print leftover from a concord tank dress made in the summer and the other is a pink scrap acquired recently from a friend purging some of her stash. The cotton lycra doesn’t have a good drape like the cotton rayon jersey, but it still works.

Slouchy Beanie

Both hats are made using the tester pattern. Overall, they worked really well.

 

Pussyhat Project

The pussyhat project is all about marching for women’s rights in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out in time to send hats to Washington D.C. for the march, but I am showing support online. The march is tomorrow January 21st and also takes place in other locations as well as a virtual march online, which fosters inclusiveness for disabled people wanting to show support. I won’t be able to attend the march, but I am showing my support through a virtual march and with social media. If you are a feminist, grab a piece of pink fleece and make a hat and join the march either online or in person.

This project takes so little time to sew up and really has a cute end product. I grabbed some pink coral fleece from the Dollar Store and got started just last night. I cut out and made the hat in about a half hour on my serger. If you are using your sewing machine, it probably wouldn’t take very long either. This is also a great scrapbusting project. The coral I used for the hat is material I bought for a fleece sweater that I will share with you another day.

Pussyhat Project

I added a band along the bottom of the hat rather than hem the bottom. I hate hemming and will avoid it with bands forever! hahah. I also think it looks better this way. 😉 The band is 5 inches wide and folded and as long as the width of the bottom piece on the fold minus the seam allowances of a half inch (inch total), because it is on the fold. I also reduced the length of the hat because the band would make it really long and less fitted on my head. I took off 2.5 inches from the bottom.

I used a pink coral fleece from the dollar store for the entire hat instead of using a contrast fleece for the inner ears as the pattern tells you.

The pattern I used was the free Halloween hat at Fleece Fun using the cat ears and adult/teen pattern in size medium. You better believe I will be making this again for all my friends babies using the viking horns or the dinosaur spikes or inventing my own (bunny ears anyone?!).

Pussyhat Project

Pussyhat Project

Pussyhat Project

Pussyhat Project

There are lots of other FREE patterns you could use for this project:

Pussy Hat pattern for fleece pdf

15 minute Fleece Cat Hat

Kitty Hat Tutorial

(Thanks to CSC facebook group for posting a bunch of links for this)

If you are a knitter, check out ravelry for a pattern or there are more patterns on the Pussy Hat Project website for knitting, crocheting or sewing.

Pussyhat Project

Here’s my TL:DR rating, but like… it’s a hat… how complicated is it? So 5 stars obvs.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Free Halloween Hat from Fleece Fun
  • Pros: Comes in every size from baby to adult with tons of options.
  • Cons: It’s a hat pattern….what cons can there be?
  • Make again?: D’oy 😉
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

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Stashbusting and #2017makenine

One of my 2017 goals from my top 5 post has to do with stashbusting. In the stashbusting group, we were all asked to submit our totals at the end of January since the goal is to be 10% down as a group. Last week, I measured all the fabric in my stash and cataloged it using google sheets so that I would be able to access it anywhere. I made categories for fabrics: cotton prints, satins, crepes, suiting, etc. Then I held my breath and did a sum of it all.

Stashbusting!

Three shelves, two drawers, and a bit of flannel on the left there equals 233 yards of fabric. I have 138 different pieces of fabric. That doesn’t include my trim, like pieces of stretch lace or elastics. I didn’t see the point in including that since they are attached to fabric and don’t stand alone.

Plans are to reduce my overall stash to 150 yards and, if I buy fabric, to only buy for specific projects or to use up an equal amount that is brought in. For knit projects, I almost always use up what I buy immediately and as a result there are very few knits in my stash. I will likely continue to buy those more than other fabrics, but I do want to use some of my deep stash: fabrics that have been around for a while like brocades and satins and rayon fabric that I love, but have been reluctant to sew.

Some people in the group posted smaller amounts than me, but lots more people posted with 5 times or even 10 times my amount. It blows my mind to have that much space for fabric! Makes me think of Carolyn’s drool worthy stash….

I sadly don’t have that much room. I am able to house fabric in my cabinet, but outside of that… I slowly push my husband out of the bedroom so… I would like to avoid that since I love him very much. ❤

This month’s theme in the group is sewing organization. My stash is pretty organized and neat, especially after taking everything out and measuring it and then  putting it back neatly. I also have a nicely organized UFO area with everything in two wicker baskets and all of my supplies, trims, and tools are organized as well. The big mess is my scraps. I have two large overflowing plastic tubs and two large plastic bags of scrap fabric on the floor of our closet. *hangs head in shame*

Now that I have measured the stash, my next goal is to go through the scrap fabric. Whatever I can’t use will be put into bags so I can take them to H&M. Did you know that they take fabric scraps? I am excited to have a more sustainable hobby by packing up my scraps rather than throwing them in the landfill. I assume there are still amounts that end up in the landfill, but I would much rather a portion of my scraps goes towards recycled material than 0%.

The plan is to cut up some of the cotton scraps into quilt squares for a quick scrap quilt. It will probably just amount to a small quilt and I will back it with a fleece blanket from the dollar store or thrift store. Some things may become baby hats or little bags that I might post on etsy. I also have a huge bra project that will need some non-precious fabric for testing so I can use my scraps for that.

Another part of my stashbusting goals this year is to use up patterns that I have owned for a while. I have a lot of Burda patterns downloaded from the website that I want to use this year. I’ve made some Burda in the past and really liked them. KS_Sews is also doing a Burda challenge and has for the past couple years. I am joining that with a commitment of at least 6 patterns.

Here is my #2017makenine Except for the middle column, these are @burda_style patterns. I made a goal to make more Burda patterns since I love the designs and think the block fits me pretty well. Plan is to make at least these 6 this year starting with the grey sweatshirt using some cat print terry I have. In the middle column, I want to make a maxi length @cashmerette #appletondress with some lovely tropical fabric I recently acquired in a swap. I love #M7537 from the @mccallpatterncompany early spring release. I can see it becoming a quick favourite. Finally, I have a bunch of flannel in my stash that is due to become pjs using the free pattern from @5outof4patterns If I bust that stash, I clear out an entire shelf of my stash! And I get many cozy pjs to wear about the house in various lengths for the year. Last year I didn't get any of my list done. This year feels pretty reasonable and should be doable. 😁 #sewing #sewcialists

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Last year, I didn’t accomplish a single item on my #2016makenine post. This year, I have a mix of easy projects and more complicated projects. My #2017makenine is mostly filled with the six Burda patterns I want to make this year. Starting with the first row and going across:

  1. Prairie Style Dress from Burda. I’ve been drooling over patterns like this for a while and really love the details in it. I am not a huge fan of the ruffles, though, and may leave them off. I actually love ruffles on a bodice, but they seem a bit excessive in this dress since there are so many lovely design details.
  2. I want to make the Cashmerette Appleton dress using up some lovely tropical print material I got in a local sewcialist swap. Ever since seeing Gillian’s lovely dress, this has been in my head and I’ve wanted a tropical maxi version of my own.
  3. Cowl Neck Top from Burda. I will need to buy fabric for this one.
  4. Keyhole dress from Burda. While this one is similar to #1 with those front pleats, it is different enough to have me wanting to make it.
  5. M7537. I don’t have this pattern yet so it would sadly add to my stash. I really love view C with the different prints and colours. I love the sleeves in view B as well.
  6. Raglan sweater with zip. I have some fleece and some cat print terry in my stash that I will use, but I might need to buy some more rib knit. I will leave the zipper off of the top, though. I’m not one for unnecessary zippers.
  7. Belted Kimono from Burda. This will require fabric, but I hear there are some nice bamboo terry fabrics at Fabricland. I’ll try to coordinate with a sale to make the journey to get to one.
  8. I have 22.5 yards of flannel in my stash that are begging to become pj pants using the 5 out of 4 free pj pattern that I made a bunch of for family/friends this Christmas.
  9. Boho maxi dress from Burda. I have a gorgeous crepe print for this pattern. I will have to wear a little slip under it since it is a bit see-through. Now I just need a lovely beach to walk along…

Considering how many projects I tackle in a year, I know nine won’t even really cover my plans, but I haven’t enjoyed planning my sewing for a while and prefer to live wild and free. I have a massive bra project I will be starting soon and a blazer I want to make and a bunch of party dresses I put in my top 5 goals. I also am full of plans to make bow tops and cute pinafore dresses to go with them. Not to mention the basics I need throughout the year, like leggings and underwear and little shorts for the summer to wear with skirts and dresses. I’d like to anticipate those and not scramble to sew them when I am desperate for them. Right now I need a couple more pairs of leggings to get me through the winter, but then around March I’d like to buy some fabric to get me ready for spring and summer.

I’m excited to show you some different projects this year. I really want to challenge myself to create an even better and more accessible wardrobe.

Cashmerette Turner Dress for the Holidays

The Turner dress was the last garment I made in 2016 and the first refashion I did in 2017! Haha. I’ll get to why I refashioned it later in the post. All of the pictures in this post are mirror selfies fyi, because it’s cold outside and I am in hibernation mode so the fact that I am taking pictures at all is a huge thing. I never promised professional photography here people!

I tested the Turner dress in March before leaving for my honeymoon in April. I brought the tester version with me a wore it a bunch while in Holland and around Scandinavia. I don’t even have a picture of me in the dress there except covered by a coat, because I was too worried about accidentally posting it on instagram before the release.

Cashmerette Turner Dress

Cashmerette Turner Dress

Ignore the wool socks with flipflops. These pictures were taken in March last year and it was cold! The fabric I used for my tester version was a navy ponte with enough stretch for the pattern. I picked it up at the thrift store. I love finding good scores there.

I made size 22 E/F graded to a 24 at the waist. My friend’s version is the same size.

The pattern goes together really quickly. There’s clear elastic at the waist to stabilize it. Debbie of Stitches and Seams, however, didn’t use elastic at all and has a stable seam. I think with the right fabric you could definitely follow her method. I’m allergic to the clear elastic so I just used regular latex free elastic. Likely this ponte fabric as well as the ponte fabric I made my friend’s dress out of are totally fine without elastic.

Turner Dress

Both of these are lined bodices. I added pockets to my friend’s dress, because pockets are amazing.

The week before Christmas, I went to Fabricland at Honest Ed’s. It was having a closing sale so I picked up this pretty rayon poly knit:

I figured it was perfect for a Christmas dress that would look good beyond Christmas.

Sadly, there are no more Fabriclands within a good distance from me. The most accessible one for me, I believe, would be at Dupont and Dufferin, but that is an hour from my place by transit. I am still really close to Toronto’s Fashion District, but it is often difficult to find sales or even printed knit fabric that isn’t completely polyester. Hopefully a Fabricland will appear again in a more accessible location sometime soon.

It wasn’t until Christmas day that I was certain that I would be making this dress. I was sick most of the holidays and it’s irritated my breathing issues and made them worse again. So it wasn’t until around 1pm on Christmas Day that I decided to start making it when we were leaving for dinner at my husband’s sister’s house at 3pm. I got it done at 2pm! Before your jaw drops off, I already had it cut out. 😉 I also did a modified neckline and used the scoopneck from my concord t shirt pattern and the band. I also cut out a 22 G/H graded to a 24 at the waist since my size had changed slightly since the last time I made it.

Turner Dress

It worked out really well and we were out the door in time. But as the night went on, the dress stretched and stretched….. and the knit fabric had zero recovery… so it looked a bit like an off the shoulder dress after a while… I wore it one more time to work and then tossed it in a corner to be fixed.

Turner Dress with sad fabric recovery fail

Inspired by Gillian’s recent series Lazy tip for fixing knits, I had to make it work! The best way to fix it in my mind was to do two things: stabilize the shoulders with some elastic (probably should have done that in the first place! HAHA) and replace the neckband with a cowl to cover up an modesty issues that may arise with the recovery issue. I didn’t take off the neckband when I put the cowl on because I was worried about it stretching out further, but I did serge it off.

Turner dress with cowl neckline

Turner Dress

Turner Dress

I definitely like the refashion and might actually do this again for another Turner dress with a slightly different shape for the cowl. I love cowl necklines so I call this a win.

The cowl is also long enough that I can hide in it. I think this will be useful for the winter hibernation.

Turner Dress Cowl Peekaboo

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Turner Dress
  • Pros: Super fast pattern. Great shape and style. Really good for large busts with the cup sizes.
  • Cons: The pattern itself doesn’t come with pockets, but it’s easy enough to add. Like most Cashmerette patterns, the neckline and shoulder are wide, but that is an easy fix.
  • Make again?: Definitely. It’s a great dress and a great base for some fun pattern hacks. 🙂
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdhalf-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

Handmade Christmas 2016

I got back to sewing in December and made a bunch of presents for people for Christmas. I did manage to make one thing for myself before the year ended, but I will post about that another day.

My mom got a dark purple bamboo knit Cashmerette Concord T:

Concord T shirt for my mom

I made her one for her birthday last year and she really liked it.

I made a bunch of pj pants and shorts using the free pj pants pattern from 5 out of 4 patterns.

5 out of 4 PJ Pants

5 out of 4 PJ pants

5 out of 4 PJ pants

5 out of 4 PJ pants

The top two were made for two of my friends that I work with. The bottom two are for my stepkids. The pants all have pockets in them and every time I pointed that out the recipient was pretty excited about it!

I have plans to use up all the flannel I’ve been hoarding for myself for this and try out the pattern. If I used up my flannel, I’d clear off a shelf and get the surplus into my cabinet. Most of the surplus is fleece leftover from the next project so if I make some fleece tops then that is cleared, too! Plans to get my stash down by 10% are underway.

The next project was all self-drafted. And by drafted, I don’t mean to claim any professional skills, but that I eyeballed most things and made guesses and luckily it all worked out!

First up, I made three mermaid tail blankets!

Mermaid Tail Blanket

They are super cute. Two are adult size for my niece and sister and the one is a bit shorter for my youngest niece.

I made shark tail blankets for my nephew and brother in law:

Shark Tail Blanket

These are probably my favourite out of the lot. Those teeth make me giggle!

Finally, I made a Cashmerette Turner dress for my friend and couldn’t resist trying it on:

Turner Dress

It’s made with some lovely medium-weight knit that a friend gifted me. The colour and print looks great on my friend. It’s all coffee colours and was originally going to be a Gilmore Girls related gift with a Luke’s Diner brooch made by me, but I never got around to it. So she has to wait for that part of the gift. She sent me a pic of her wearing it for her birthday and Christmas Day and I was over the moon with happiness. She looked amazing.

That’s it for what I made for Christmas presents this year. My husband missed out on the handmade gifts this year sadly, but I tried to remind him that he got two wicked Star Trek uniforms earlier this year!

Did you make any handmade gifts this year?