I Made It Through

It’s been a tough week, with bad news from the dentist, my last ever appointment with my Doctor at the eating disorder clinic and thinking how on earth I’m going to cope when my comes to an end in April. I’ve been seeing my therapist for over two years and it’s absolutely terrifying thinking about stopping. It’s difficult to remind myself that the reason I’m ending is because I’m so much better than I was two years ago. The very Idea of being ‘better’ is frightening. I’m scared there will be more expectation placed on me and everything will go to hell again.

suffice to say I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed. However I was cheered up no end last night by shouting down a couple of patriarchal idiots and helping out a girl who was being leered at. I wrote about it in a post yesterday.

It hasn’t been a massive making week but I have been enjoying myself with the latest Mollie Makes magazine free gift.
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The embroidery was really relaxing to do, and I learnt a couple of new stitches. The idea is to make them for decorations but I think they would just end up gathering dust in my house. I’m going to embroider the animals onto a piece of fabric and then use that to make a lampshade. The lovely Helen Bunting of Sewphies has a fantastic drum lampshade kit. She has done a couple of workshops at Crafty Sew & So

lampshades

I also made a handy carrier bag holder for the shop but I forgot to take a picture. I’m going to make one for my house soon. Today I am going to spend the morning with my in-laws and then a lovely afternoon tea with my mum.

x

Busy Weeks and Little Crafts

 

So last weeks blog didn’t appear. I was absolutely exhausted come Sunday after my Great Auntie Pat’s Funeral and my Grandparents Diamond Wedding Anniversary. Here’s a picture of them sixty years ago.

 

It’s been a rather eventful week this week as well. I went for drinks a couple of times and even had a meal out. I’m pretty sleepy still and will only do a little post today.  I’ve been doing a few bits of crafting at Crafty Sew & So.

Here’s some lovely owl doorstops made in a workshop. Mine is the middle one made from some of the ditsy floral print we’ve just got into store!

I also made this cushion with some new fabric, ric-rac and pom pom trim.

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I wrote a tutorial on the Crafty Sew & So Blog.

Productivity Away!

The chaos of Christmas seems to have passed and I’m feeling refreshed. Things seemed a lot easier to get done this past week. There are several reasons this could be. Routine has come back into play. I’m going into Crafty Sew & So three times a week, reading and singing songs at my library every Wednesday and taking my driving lessons on Mondays.  it’s a comfortable kind of busy.

Right now I’m sitting in my  freshly made Fifi Pyjama’s, with thermal undies because it’s way too cold!

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Yesterday I made a really simple blanket for the Stories and Rhymes mornings at the library. I picked up some red gingham in the Crafy Sew & So sale and some cotton backed wadding. All I had to do was put the fabrics right sides together, used a bowl to round the corners and then sewed along the edge leaving a gap to turn it right side up. In hindsight I probably should have used pins to ensure the gingham was stretched out fully before this as I ended up with a few bumps after top stitching.

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After tuning it right side up I used a pretty top stitch to close the gap and then ran it all around the edge. Next I stitched large squares, lining up with the pattern and had a nice sturdy mat for story time.

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Also for the first time in at least I month I did some work on my novel. I’m currently revising a draft and managed to finish a chapter which had been bugging me for a while.

Here’s to another productive week!

Finishing Unmade Projects

Before Christmas I wrote a blog entitled Things I Have Yet to Make. I was feeling a bit down about having all these uncompleted things hanging over my head. In hindsight I was more than likely channelling my stresses into these things so I didn’t have to think about Christmas.

I’m starting to feel a bit better now that the pressures of this time of year are beginning to dissipate. When I sat down with a bag of unfinished bits I didn’t feel overwhelmed I simply took out the first thing. An unfinished make up bag which I had sewn the on the wrong side.

It was easy enough to unpick  and didn’t take long to finish off.

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If you want to make one yourself, there are little kits with an instruction booklet available at Crafty Sew & So. You will see some fabulous hand modelling by yours truly.

The next thing I finished off was a little fabric box for all those loose threads and bits of fabric. I was given a beautiful bundle of Cath Kidston fabrics last year and used the last bits to make this box.

 

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My husband is very happy my sewing will be a bit tidier now

The next thing I did was tackle the French seams of my Fifi pyjama top. If you’ve not run across French seams before they are a pain in the bum. I’d managed to attach the back three panels upside down. I sat in front of the TV and unpicked the seams and bias binding. I’m not going to attempt this again at home. I shall be going into Crafty Sew & So to get a bit of expert advice.

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I shall be finishing off lots of other bits over the coming months and hopefully get on with a bit more writing too.

Things I have yet to make

  1. Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pj Set
  2. Make up bag
  3. Fabric Box
  4. Tea Cosy
  5. Hex quilt
  6. Cushion covers
  7. Make A5 books to sell at Crafty Sew & So
  8.  MY NOVEL

Things go wrong.

This is inevitable.

I hate it.

Let’s start with number one. I was happily getting on with this somewhat complicated pattern from Tilly and the buttons. My perfectionist nature made me work for too long and get too tired. This led to me making the  rather silly mistake of attaching the central back panel upside down. I probably should have stopped for the night. Instead I carried on, unpicked the French seams (nightmare)  and the bias binding. I put the back panel the right way round. I then restitched the French seams and attached the bias binding. It was when I’d completed this that I realised it was not only the back panel I’d  put upside-down but also the two back side panels.

The idea of unpicking four French seams and the bias binding is not a pleasant one. When I think about it my stomach tenses. It’s not gnawing or sick feeling. It’s a ball of tension the size of a large marble.

Number Two is somewhat similar. I began making a small zip bag only to discover I had sewn the zip to the bottom of the bag. This is by no means irreversible. In fact I have since written a tutorial on how to make this very same bag with Crafty Sew & So. Even so, every time I look at the error, I become uncomfortable. To me it is a failure. Therefore I am a failure. And so another marble hits against the first.

So go the rest of the unfinished projects until I reach the inevitable fact that all these small projects are distractions, albeit useful and fun distractions, from what I am supposed to be doing. Writing my novel.

This worry is a  bowling ball. It smashes the delicate marbles into shards of glass and presses the pieces into my gut.  Each new worry piles on and on. My house undecorated and Christmas presents unwrapped forces pine needles down my throat. Each message I’ve yet to reply to or stupid mistake I make sends an electric shock through the tangled mess and welds it together. Too soon all my failings become impossible to ignore. Equally they are impossible to complete. Movement causes pain.

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Chiara Bautista

 

The Solution

I need to untangle the mess. One step at a time. One breath at a time.  My solution. A list. Or rather a number of lists. For a long time I wrote my achievements of the day. As I got busier and busier, with working at Crafty Sew & So, running a Story and Rhymes group, looking after my niece, taking driving lessons and the many social meetings which happen along the road to recovery, I stopped. The exact date I ceased doing this was the 25th September. I’m even feeling guilty about not filling my achievement’s in! I’ve realised it coincides rather neatly with writing this blog.

I am going to write a list of achievements over the past three months, then continue with this routine. An issue I tend to struggle with is acknowledging what I have done. I feel as though I should have always done more, or better. Writing my achievements of the day, even small ones helps offset this negative way of thinking.

Here’s an example of a typical day from back  in April

  • Got dressed
  • Ate Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Walked up the garden
  • Started a Pincushion Cross stitch
  • Called Mum

More recently I’ve been able to do more, this is one from September

  • Went to get my hair cut
  • Organised a Bookcase
  • Wrote a little ghost stories

I no longer have to write which meals I’ve eaten or little things through the day which have now become routine. I can leave the house without too much anxiety, whereas before even the garden felt daunting.

I am also going to write a big to-do lists for each month then a smaller one for the week and then have a list of three or so things to do in a day.

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Hyperbole and a Half

I made a cloth binding for iZombie

Me and my husband have numerous single issues comics which I’ve been wanting to bind for some time, to start with I decided to go with an old favourite iZombie.

It’s a fantastic series which has recently been adapted for TV, though I’m not sure it’s made it to the UK yet. There’s a pretty cool video, though for some reason they changed her name from Gwen to Liv  and changed her whole origin, but hey, it might be worth a watch.

Anyway back to the bookbinding. I had a pretty solid plan when i started binding then ending up making it up as i went along. I  threw together all sorts of sources, some half remembered from my short bookbinding course, a fair bit of help from the Instuctables page How to Print and Bind a Book,  and Bound by Erica Ekrem.

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I have 28 issues of iZombie so split them to make it a little easier. The Instructables webpage doesn’t use any of the traditional bookbinding methods and though this may work just fine I wanted to ensure my binding was good and strong so used the stitching method instead of glue gun to keep my comics together.

What I used

  • Awl / screw punch
  • Bookbinding thread / normal thread run through bee’s wax
  • Backing board 0.3cm wider and 0.6cm taller than my comics (signatures)
  • Cloth for covering the spine the same height of my signatures plus enough the wrap around the spine.
  • optional cloth to cover the corners
  • Book cloth (contrasting colour to the spine)
  • decorative paper
  •  bookbinding needle / any sturdy needle
  • Acid free pva glue
  • The first step is to undo the staples from each comic.
  • Next create a punch guide from card stock (paper will work, it’s just a lot easier with card).  It needs to be the same height as the comics (signatures)  and about 5″/ 13 cm wide. Fold this in half length ways to get the centre line. Mark 1″/2.5 cm from the top and bottom of the punch guide then add 4 more marks evenly along the centre. Use an arrow to show the right way up. 
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I was originally going for a seven hole binding which had decorative paper along the stitching, however this left the spine exposed and as these comics have been well read the paper tore easily.I should have cut this back but I’d already written bits of information on this card so I ended up making it harder for myself.
  •  Nestle the punch guide in the centre of each signature and punch holes through the paper using an awl or screw punch. It’s worth taking your time to save stress later on.
  •  Once you’ve punched holes in all of your signatures you can begin to stitch the pages together. I settled on Coptic stitch after a few mishaps. I went over any loose stitches with a true kettle stitch. This tutorial by Isabel Moseley does a better job than I can of explaining the best way to stitch your book.  I didn’t stitch the backing boards as Moseley does because I need the edges of the graphic novel to be unrestricted by the boards.
  • The book should be nice and sturdily put together now. Ensuring the pages are aligned evenly (I used elastic bands wrapped vertically around the book)  cover the stitched spine with glue and wrap the cloth around the spine. Hold this spine to a flat surface while the glue begins to dry.
  • At this point your spine will look bulky in comparison to the other pages. Using two pieces of board (I used my cover boards) place the book under a heavy weight. Board games work nicely for this. Leave this to dry for 24 hours. wpid-20150813_100226.jpg
  • If you use other card than the cover boards then you can get on with the cover while the signatures dry.
  • I glued the same fabric as the spine around the corners of my board, cut out a triangle shape in the corner to make the folds neater.
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    smarter people than I would figure out how to do this without overlapping and with my next lot of comics I will plan things out a lot more.
  • The next step is to wrap the contrasting fabric around the board. Use a bone folder, or ruler if you don’t have one, to ensure everything is as flat and neat as it can be. wpid-20150813_125743.jpg
  • You should now have two identical looking covers. Add decorative paper to the inside of your front cover. I did this later but it got a bit messy with the glue.

    The first page
    The first page
  • It’s sensible to let these dry fully before you attach them to the book. Also it’s a good idea to put a piece of scrap paper between the boards and signatures to avoid mess
  • Now to finish off, cut the spine cloth to the desired size, it may fray, to avoid this you can use pinking shears. I realised this a little to late so fixed it by glueing  a spare piece of decorative paper over the join.
  • Glue the spine cloth to the board covers, careful not to use too much glue as it will spill onto the cover.
  • For the back cover I glued the  final page of the signatures to the cover board, it’s possible to do this with the front cover as well but I wanted to keep the cover on view.
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    The last page
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    The middle

    The finished product
    The finished product

I made a beautifully bound book

I’ve upped my game in book binding with the help of this fantastic guide by Erica Ekrem. It was my husbands birthday the other day so my first project from this book was a gift for him. I started with what I thought would be a relatively simple design, of a ‘preserve-a-memory mason-jar book’ minus the mason jar.

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For such a small thing it took a very long time. First was cutting ninety pieces of paper to size, that was time consuming but easy enough with my guillotine. Though I did manage to loose count a fair few times. I chose some pretty Victorian style paper to mix in with with plain paper. The next step was fold groups of five pieces of paper into about eighteen ‘signatures.’ having the bone folder is very useful for this.  I also found out I’m managed to cut a variety of sizes papers. I ended up trimming the sides with scissors. wpid-20150709_150358.jpg An optional step was to round the corners off with a corner punch, I think it really adds to the aesthetics so spent a good deal of time doing this. The real hard graft game when I needed to punch eight holes through each of the eighteen signatures. In the past I would have used my awl but I’d brought a screw hole punch for this very occasion. The screw punch meant my holes where aligned and wide enough for the thick bookbinding thread to move through without catching. wpid-20150709_154519.jpg Next came the actual book binding. I was very impressed by how well laid out the instructions were. The diagrams were clear and not overly complicated, despite the sound of them. I got to grips with running stitch, French stitch, long stitch and true kettle stitch. With careful patience the book came together very nicely. wpid-20150710_173818.jpg I was rather smug at this point until I realised I’d missed out an instruction. I was supposed to over stitch a ribbon along the central stitch.  as mistakes go it could have been a lot worse. Instead of ribbon i used gold twine and threaded it through the stitches. wpid-20150710_174640.jpg I felt like it needed a little extra to make it a personal present. I decided to write a Neil Gaiman poem. The Day the saucers came, each line to a page. I also wrote a few little personal messages throughout. I wrapped it in pretty fabric and tied it in a silk bow to complete the package. wpid-20150719_091028.jpg

Today I made a teapot pencil holder

It turns out I have a surplus of teapots so decided to re-purpose one of them into a pot for my colouring pencils.

Things you need:

  • A teapot
  • PVA glue mixed 1 part water 1 part glue
  • Some form of brush, I used one from a paint tester
  • Roughly 25 scraps of fabric 10cm long and between 1cm and 5cm wide

    it will get messy so make sure you've got a sensible surface
    it will get messy so make sure you’ve got a sensible surface

Slather a piece of fabric with glue and starting with the spout and handle begin wrapping the fabric around the tea pot. If the fabric isn’t sticking well enough try applying glue to the teapot surface too. You may not be able to finish in one go, (I tried to stubbornly continue but managed to make myself stop before I got too frustrated.) I recommend doing a base layer and then leaving it to dry.

I took a break here to let the glue dry and fabric harden.
I took a break here to let the glue dry and fabric harden.

Once the fabric has dried continue adding strips until the teapot is completely covered. I ended up trimming down the spout. Cut off excess material and voilà you have a fancy new storage solution. You might want to spray it with something (I used shoe protection spray. I have no idea if it made it any more durable but it didn’t hurt.)

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It works perfectly in my little stationary shelf.

Today I made my vote (and a little felt mouse)

I woke up bright and early ready to vote! It had been planned, I had to arrive after most people have been to work but before the elderly folk and people with kids  had managed to get out and about. It worked, just  about, there where only three people ahead of us in the Parish Hall. I handed my poll card over to a nice middle aged woman and she gave it to a balding man lingering behind her. He ripped it into four rough scraps and threw it away.  I’d been guarding that piece of cardboard obsessively for over a week and took an instant  dislike to the man.

It only took a few minutes to get there and back. I was home with a cup of tea in no time. However my body refused to accept that I had nothing more to do. After trying to relax and becoming irritated I decided to make a little something from Everything Alice : The  Wonderland Book of MakesIt was very difficult to focus, and the method of  measure twice, cut once went out the window.  I did not pick out materials that particularly matched. His ears are too small and inside out, his eyes are weird looking and the tail could be a lot neater. I debated whether or not I should post. I am not proud of my work but I am trying to work on my issues with perfectionism. So here the little mouse is in all its imperfect glory.

A bit of a mess starting off
A bit of a mess starting off
pretty button sewn on the back
Pretty button sewn on the back

 

 

little cow mouse
little cow mouse

Today I made a trip to Buttons Boutique

I decided it was high time to stock up on material and other nice bits. Going into town (or even leaving the house) is something I find difficult. I’ve had panic attacks in the middle of shops and become so overwhelmed I give up on whatever I was there to do. This has resulted in the complete  avoidance of the outside world.

So  this outing required forward planning.

Step One: deciding a town outfit, (pretty Cath Kidston dress, leggings and thick long socks.)

Step Two: Write a very detailed list of things that I need.

Step Three: Plan the trip with contingency plans.

The plan was to leave nice and early  so all was quiet, this plan was somewhat scuppered when my kitten Lannister (named by the RSPCA and kept by us) refused to come indoors. After half an hour of calling we decided to open up the greenhouse and leave with her still outside.  This was the first stumbling block but I think I managed to remain calm. We (my husband and I) got in the car and put on a bit of Florence and the Machine.

We arrive in Leicester and I went to lovely Buttons Boutique and my husband went to Forbidden Planet. I was alone in the store and for a moment it felt like an assault course. I took a deep breath looked at the list written on my phone and wondered about the store. Customers came and went before I managed to focus my mind enough to look for what I needed. I picked up a basket when my arms got too full and had a nice little haul. After I had my bits and pieces I went on to the fabric. Their were lots of bundles and next to them A printed sign read: Fabric may be available by the metre if in stock.

My anxiety peaked. I would have to go to the counter. I waited in a small queue. My heart beat too quickly and my hands felt clammy against the patterned blue material. A young woman stood at the counter, sorting out stock between each customer. I hesitated and then blurted out my request. She smiled and said she’d check if the material was in stock. I breathed again and wandered about the store. She came back down within minutes, two metres of the pretty patterned material in her hands. I bought my wares and met with my husband. I still felt breathless but proud of myself.  Nothing terrible had happened. I didn’t make a fool of myself. The world outside the sanctuary of my house isn’t as scary as it seems.

At home I sat happily in the living room with a lovely cup of tea. 2015-05-06 11.51.03

My haul.