So Many Unfinished Things

I’ve fallen out with my jersey tank top. it’s a very fiddly material. I was full of confidence after my first attempt and then flippantly began the next one. So flippant was I, that I didn’t think I needed jersey needles for this new tricky material.  I then, in my impatience, began sewing the neckline with brown thread because I ran out of black. It doesn’t look great.


I have now brought some jersey needles and black thread.  However I  feel somewhat soured toward the project. I want to have the top but am not inspired to unpick the neckline.  There is another top of the same pattern that I need to make as a sample for the shop, but as that is a beautiful satin material, it is going to be more difficult than the jersey one.

My next unfinished object, I don’t feel too bad about, as it’s not been too long since I started. I booked a workshop for me and my mum at Crafty Sew & So to make an adorable hand stitched doll.


Out of habit, I ended up using back stitching. I also chose the doll with fantastic hair, which meant it had the largest outline. I  took forever stitching around the doll. She is waiting to be finished in a bag full of wadding.   I’ll pop a photo of my doll on here when I’m done. 

The final thing I have yet to make is probably the  main reason I haven’t finished any of the previous projects. I recently ordered the Dottie Angel Dress pattern as I saw it advertised in Mollie Makes. I wanted to get started on it straight away. dottie-angel-dress-patter


I couldn’t decide what fabric I wanted to make it out of so I picked up a lot of lovely fabrics from Crafty.

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Lanni was very helpful up until she started chewing on the pattern. 

 I used the two spotty cottons, green for the main part and navy for the base. I was going to use a white cotton with deer print for the pockets, but on a whim, I decided to do some satin top stitching along the join.  I didn’t want to hide the embroidery  so I am not going to add pockets for this dress. I’ve already cut the pockets out so will make another dress or tunic for them to go on.


I love these tucks

I am working on trying to get back into a routine. I can feel that I am throwing myself into  this project. Last night, after getting back from crafty, I worked until half ten making the dress. By the time I got to bed I was exhausted and found my head spinning. This morning I have spent   a long time resting and writing. This is not my routine. By now I should be up dressed and feeling ready to face the world. Instead I am hiding in my room, not wanting to start the day again. I wrote a post yesterday on disrupted routines, after going to Wales last weekend it’s been really difficult getting back into my routine.

Routine is a tricky thing. I know it helps, but at the same time putting pressure to keep to a routine is counter intuitive. essentially I just need to give myself a break. It is difficult doing new things. The trip to Wales was incredibly tiring. I deal far better with small groups. As it was Easter there were a lot of family gatherings and meals out.

Easter Sunday Lunch
Big Family Meet-up
Tom and Me at the Rabbit Hole with Tom’s Cousins, Leanne and Charlotte. Small gatherings are just better.


All of the lovely things

Fifi Top

I’ve made a lot of things this week. I’m really rather proud of the Fifi top I made out of this lovely swallow cotton.

It’s was new in at Crafty Sew & So and will be adoring the window for a few months before a squirrelling it away for my wardrobe.  I made the Fifi Pj set from Tilly and the Buttons, a few months ago. It was a bit of a trauma because I got a bit muddled about which way round the panels went, and ended up doing  and undoing French seams  twice!


They turned out great in the end, I’m looking forward to the warmer months so I can actually wear them for bed.  This time I didn’t bother with the French seams.


I’m also really proud of the fact I finished a revised edition of the first part of my novel. It’s printed out and I’ve managed to scribble my way through the first three chapters without too many embarrassing errors.



Lovely lovely cakes, It’s been a little while since I’d baked and I really enjoyed making this lot for Crafty Sew & So.

Lemon Cupcakes with Butter Icing
Chocolate Traybake

As you can see I’ve been very busy, too busy in fact. My husband has started back writing thesis and some of my old anxieties have reared their nervous heads. I’ve been  throwing myself into  various activities and unable to relax when I do stop working. Isolation is one of my key warning signs of falling back into depressive behaviours. And if that wasn’t a big enough warning, on Friday morning I had a hideous migraine. I arrived at the shop and promptly threw up. After spending too much time in the comforting dark of the bathroom I called my husband to come and rescue me. When my head had recovered enough we had a chat and worked out a routine for days when he is working. I love lists and timetables, I feel way less anxious when I am organised and feel like I have a modicum of control over my life.


Because apparently I have the bug now, today I started working on another Grainline studio top, I’ve made one before and fancied one in a different pattern. It’s useful to give me a fair bit of practice on jersey materials. I actually made sure I stopped at five o’clock despite the fact I still needed to add the binding to the neck and arms. For a while I will have to stick rigidly to this routine. I can’t trust myself to know when I need to rest.


I’m So Deflated

This week, in fact these past few of weeks, I’ve been absolutely exhausted. It’s been tricky to muster motivation. I’ve been feeling like I’m going through the motions. I have two moods, forced cheer or  quiet exhaustion. It feels like I’m avoiding something; keeping busy with work or making things. the only problem is I’m not sure what it is I’m avoiding. I have a few notions but the issue with avoidance is when the issue becomes unavoidable there are no coping methods in place. That often leads to unhealthy coping strategies and reinforces the fear of whatever it is I’m avoiding.

I am in recovery. I think I will spend my whole life coping with relapses and recovery.

I watched Inside Out last night, it was homework from my therapist. I cried at the end. I cried for more than the bitter sweet sorrow of the story. My throat felt raw and my contact lens came loose from the tears.

This is the penultimate scene, please don’t watch it if you worried about spoilers


It was a good cry. I think I’d been holding it in for sometime. I have to remind myself at times that it is okay to be sad. being sad is different to falling back into the darkest days of my depression.


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.

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.

Hyperbole and a Half

Today I made a Tea Cosy

At my father-in-laws behest I started making a Volkswagen tea cosy. I’ve made a tea cosy from a pattern in Everything Alice by Hannah Read-Baldrey, Christine Leech:


In the book they add rabbit ears to the top but I prefer it simple.
In the book they add rabbit ears to the top but I prefer it simple.

I think I may have gotten a little over confident because I made a pattern without looking at the measurements and ended up making it a touch too small. That caused a major anxiety and stress later on but let’s put that down to experience.

First thing I did was draw a simple Volkswagen on to paper then cut out four pieces of plain cotton using this pattern.

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Next I cut out all the little bits from the pattern and pinned them to my pieces of fabric.

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Cut these pieces out. If you want a neat look you can press down the edges of the shapes, but if not just pin the pieces with raw edges to one of the main pieces of fabric.

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Most sewing machines have various fancy top stitching, it’s fun to experiment with those. If you don’t have a sewing machine it’s fine just to hand sew.

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I ended up using the sewing machine for the little VW sign, it might have looked better hand sewn.

Add lace or something else pretty to the top of the windows:

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Next cut out another piece of material, the same hight as the curves of at the front and width of the plain material. Sew this to another piece of the plain fabric.

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As you can see you don’t have to be too neat with it. Any things that look rough you can explain away by looking saying it looks ‘handmade’.

Place the front decorated side of the tea cosy to one of the remaining plain pieces. Do the same with the back piece. Sew together good side to good side along the curve, leave 2-3 cm on each corner loose and the  straight lower edge open.

Cut out wadding the same size as the tea cosy but 2 -3 cm shorter. stuff the pockets with wadding. Turn over the inner lining  hem over the outer hem

Turn right side out. Double hem the inner lining and pin it into place, folded over the patterned material. Stitch the fold into place.

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It was at this point I realised I’d managed to make the two pieces different sizes! There is no picture of my too small misshaped tea cosy as it was at this point were I’d worked well past lunch time. The cosy was so small it barely looked like it could cover a mug. I can’t be sure my view of it was objective, My husband  told me it was fine, in fact he told me it was good, great even but I did not believe him. When he suggested I take a break i could feel my skin prickling. I was not about to stop. I unpicked the mess and by this point my hands were shaking and I couldn’t tell whether it was from hunger or from frustration. Once i had unpicked it all I reluctantly left my work to eat some food. Once I’d eaten I began to calm down and gave up on the mission for the day.

The next day I set up my machine, painstakingly slowly sewed the two pieces together as close to the edge as I could, when I turned it over it wasn’t perfect but it was okay. I am trying my hardest to learn that everything does not have to be perfect.

Here’s the finished product it fitted perfectly and my father in law is very happy with it.


Today I made an attempt at drawing

I’ve always been keen on drawing but my perfectionism has gotten in the way. If there’s a drawing I’m not happy with I’ll often just tear out the page rip it up. This is not conducive to learning. Recently I’ve decided to make another attempt. It took me a surprising amount of time to find a book that actually began with the basics. Every book I looked at went into very technical detail and demanded knowledge of technical materials. This is an awful lot to assume of a novice.

I finally found one that seemed perfect when perusing the little library down the road. |his trip in itself was a big achievement as it was the first time I left the house by myself in a very long time.  I managed to push through the anxiety and even had a nice conversation with the library assistant. I walked home, very proud of myself, with a Everyone Can Draw and a small bundle of books under my arms.

everyone can draw
Everyone Can Draw: Step by step instructions for artists Barrington Barber

       I skipped the introduction, hopefully I’ll go back but I was impatient to start. The very beginning  taught me different ways to hold a pencil, work with tones and create simple shapes.

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I particularly like the fact that Barber give advice on which pencils to use an later which charcoal, pens and brushes. So far the ‘lessons’ are clear concise and not the least bit patronising.

The ink was trickier than pencil, it feels a clumsy
The ink was trickier than pencil, it feels a clumsy
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working on shading, I’m not that keen on this
starting to have fun here and not being technically correct
starting to have fun here and not being technically correct

I’m really looking forward continuing, I’ve just order watercolours and brushes and will post my mess of an attempt here.

Today I made a plan

‘If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing badly’

When my therapist gave me this piece of advise I told her she was wrong.  I absolutely hate doing anything that I deem less than perfect. This way of thinking is not helpful, it often leads to not doing anything for fear of doing it badly. This perfectionism is ever present in my life. I have only recently been able to consider the idea that even if I feel I’ve done something poorly, it does not mean that I am a failure.

Recently I’ve been able to do a lot more, however this is not as good as it may appear. I have gone from doing very little to filling my day and exhausting myself.  I now start to feel I have to work endlessly in order to prove I am a worthwhile person.

My solution  to this was scheduling and alarms set on my phone. I wrote  a list of things I would like to do this month and divided it into weeks and then planned one or two activities to do each day.


With set activities each day I hope I can concentrate more on doing what I enjoy without the the stress of trying to do too much.  I am starting to believe that if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing badly….so long as it gets done.