The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

I am trying not to apologise for not posting in some time. I can only post when I feel mentally well enough to do so, recently I have not.

 The madness of Christmas has passed, after four days of intense socialising and festive fun I collapsed under the weight of a migraine. It passed after a couple of days but I can still feel the heaviness lingering at the edge of my temples, ready to strike at the slightest provocation.

As anyone with mental health issues knows, the Christmas season is an intensely difficult time of year. The pressure builds steadily through late November and December culminating in one day in which it is of the highest imperative to be merry. Heaven forfend if you don’t see every family member on this holiest of sacred days.

There is an extra pressure when issues around food arise. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time knows I suffer from an eating disorder. in the past few years, I have gained two stone and am now at a healthy weight. Although I am physically well the psychological issues around eating have not vanished. I have a sneaking suspicion they never will.    There is a strange association with emotions and eating around Christmas. I find people using languages which I associate with having an ED. They ‘allow’ themselves to eat certain foods. An indulgence often followed by a promise to diet, even from people of a healthy weight. This isn’t helped by societal and commercial norms. Christmas is for bingeing. The new year is for restricting. When I worked at Waterstones the new year was the most loathsome time of year. Books insisting fasting is a healthy lifestyle choice littered a table with the heading ‘New Year New You.’

There is nothing wrong with the old you!

 I did not intend this post to be a rant,  In truth, I wasn’t going to write much at all. All my frustrations came all too easily.

On to happier things. This Morning my eagerly awaited delivery from Fatface arrived. On boxing day I took full advantage of the sale and spent the majority of my Christmas money on a fine array of clothes. I’m wearing as many as I physically can in one go right now.

There’s only a skirt and coat which is set to one side…for now.

Sewing my own clothes has made a huge difference to my shopping habits. I’m finding myself looking at the composition of fabrics and avoiding certain shops, knowing I could do a better job of making the clothes. However, Fatface clothes are impeccably made with good fabrics and sturdy finishes. I’ve found this to also be the case with Cath Kidston, Joules, Seasalt and others with a high price tag to match. Thank goodness for sales.

I hope everyone survived Christmas, it’s over now. There’s a whole year to go before the next one.

Thanks for reading

x

This Cake is Damn Good

My last post was about taking inspiration from Great British Bake Off.This week’s inspiration came in the form of Earl Grey and lemon drizzle loaf cake, originally it was going to be lady grey because I prefer the flavour but  it turns out I don’t have any so I went for the good old Earl instead. I essentially followed Urvashi Roe’s recipe, but used a normal loaf tin, instead of mini loaf cases. Unbeknownst to me she was in series two of GBBO.

My first stumbling block was not actually reading the recipe properly. I managed to get a nasty skin on top of the milk. After a mild anxiety attack,  I threw away the first lot, read the recipe and started again!

The mixture was exceptionally light and fluffy with  only a small amount of tea-infused milk.

A lovely cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment.

 

My Makes…

Things are not perfect. However, I am now able to gather enough focus and energy to write this post. Last time I wrote about obsessively making things in order to avoid negative thoughts. I’m not quite comfortable having photos taken, that will have to wait for later posts.

This is the first time I ever worked with viscose. My advice. Start simple. Although this top is not complex there are a few fiddly bits, such as the collar and pocket, which were a nightmare with the slippery fabric.  It didn’t help that I decided to add cotton to the collar. although it added stability, it was difficult to piece the cotton and viscose together.

I made sleep shorts next, using a pattern from one of the Crafty Sew & So Workshops. I managed to complete the shorts in less than four hours. Essentially, I copied a pair of Pj bottoms I brought from gap a few  years ago. The little tab and button create a nice cuff.

I was on a roll. Having a bit of viscose left over I made the shorts from Tilly and the Buttons Fifi set. they came together in no time, so I added a tiny pompom trim.The band was so thin, apply the trim probably took more time than making the shorts.

My next project is the Alder Dress from Grainline. I’m really looking forward to using the ditsy flower print. Just to add a bit of interest, and because I’m falling in love with viscose, I will make the yoke out of a dark navy viscose.

 

 

I’m exhausted now. Time to crawl under a blanket and ignore the world.

 

 

An Illusion Of Control

I’m shutting myself off again. Pushing through days, focusing on minutia and ignoring my emotions. There are many ways in which I isolate myself.  Over the past couple day’s my method has been sewing. I finished a tricky viscose top and made two pairs of sleep shorts. These projects have filled my mind, taken focus and concentration. I regain the illusion of control.

Issues arise when the project is complete. All those negative thoughts and feelings crash down on me. I grasp out for something else. Anything to stop the sick twisting of my gut. I pick up another project. All is well until fatigue takes me. I fall, crumpled in a corner, alone, crying.

It’s my friends birthday coming up at the end of the month. I’m too scared to say I’m not well enough to go. I know if I wait I will feel worse.I’m scared she’ll think me callous or uncaring.

My old work colleagues are trying to arrange a reunion. I cannot reply to any messages. I was at my lowest point when I worked with them. An unexplainable fear overwhelms me each time the memories leak into the present.

My husband suggested I should write a list of things I did today as that can often help put things into perspective.

  • Pilates
  • Cup of tea with ladies after pilates
  • Tidied back bedroom
  • Made Tilly and the Buttons Fifi bottoms in viscose

It doesn’t look particularly impressive, though the shorts took me about four and a half hours and I added cute little pompom trim to the hem. I don’t have the energy to share pictures right now. I don’t even feel particularly happy with having completed them, just desperate to do something else to regain that numbness.

I hope soon that I will feel in moderation. Then I can post about all the wonderful things I’ve created. I can explain how it was all just a blip and my life is a bunch of fucking roses (sorry mum).

Wish me luck, or health, or whatever you think will help.

Featured Image by one of my favourite artists, Chiara Bautista

Rekindling My Relation With Food

 Having suffered from an eating disorder, food preparation has been a fine balancing act. When I was in early recovery I had the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.  This took away any choice and stress around meal time. I knew exactly what I was eating every day. It was also useful to keep weight gain consistent. It’s only recently I’ve begun to grow bored of the same foods. I’m taking back control of the kitchen and making my own food! I used to love cooking and it’s great to get back to it. I’ve found a couple of great meals so far. I thought I’d share them with you.

Yesterday’s dish was a Red onion and cheese Omelette from Sophie Dahls Cookbook   Voluptuous Delights. I managed to get mine for free from old library stock!

I’m a fan of light meals and I always have been. I also love a meal which you can whip up in quickly and doesn’t involve much preparation. This beauty takes ten minutes at the most.

Ingredients

  • ½ a small red onion
  • About 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g/2oz of Red Leicester cheese (any good sharp, hard cheddar like Monterey Jack will do as an alternative)

Method

  1. Roughly chop the onion. On a low flame, heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. I use a small fat pan as I like my omelettes tidy and plump. Gently fry the onion, letting the edges brown but making sure the middle stays softly purple. This should take about 5 mins. When it looks to your liking, take it out and reserve on the side. Remove any crispy bits from the pan.
  2. Beat the eggs and season.
  3. On a low heat again, heat a bit of olive oil in your frying pan and add the eggs. Let them settle for 30 seconds.
    Either grate or break the cheese up into rough chunks and put it in the setting omelette. As it melts, pour in your onions and gently fold the omelette in half with a spatula. Depending on how done you like your omelette to be, you can then fry the other side. I like mine very slightly oozing.

This recipe is taken from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, published by Harper Collins

Today’s lunch, of Tomato Bruschetta, was from a far less glamorous  cookbook, though it is a solid favourite of mine, The Hungry Students Vegetarian Cookbook. Here’s my version of the recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 baby plum tomatoes (the original recipe uses cherry)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 slices of tiger bread (any nice will do)
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • Dried basil (Fresh basil would probably be better but I  didn’t have any)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1.  Chop the tomatoes  into small pieces. Place in a small bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper and dried basil (if you’re using fresh, add this at the end). Mix it all together.
  2. Toast the bread, I used my griddle, as it leaves the centre nice and soft. Now use the garlic clove  to essentially butter one side of the toast. Don’t put too much on, I learned it’s spreading even if you can’t see it.
  3. Tip the tomato mixture onto the toast. Now dig in!

I’m looking forward to cooking more meals over the week!

Wish me Luck  x

Mountain Walks and Handmade Clothes

The Dolomites were exceptional.  We stayed in a beautiful town called Selva Val Gardena, or Wolkenstein if you’re a German speaker.  Writing every day, I’ve managed to collect snapshots of the holiday. I’m hoping to get that all written up  by the end of the week on my other blog, but for now, I thought I’d share some of my homemade outfits.

One of the great things about this holiday, besides the mountain walks,  was the routine. Even though I was away from the comfort and safety of home I still felt as though I was in control of my own environment. there were definitely times when I wobbled, mostly when trying to explain what vegetarian meant, whilst only remembering the german word for meat (Fleisch, by the way). For any vegetarians out there it’s Ich esse kein Fleisch.

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Anyway back to the point. The hotel we stayed in was fantastic. At around eight I meandered down for a breakfast buffet and cup of tea. After that, it was time to change into walking clothes and off for a walk around the mountains.  Then it was back to the hotel in time for tea and cake at three o’clock. The Spa was open from four til seven. Dinner was then served at quarter past seven. This routine gave  the delightful experience of being able  to dress for breakfast and dinner.

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This was the very first day, I changed out of my yucky travelling clothes and into my handmade circle skirt. The was a thunderstorm which was a blessing after the long journey.

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My circle skirt to the rescue again. Walking, the day before, left me with sunburn. I borrowed my husbands cotton shirt to keep my tomato red arms protected.   Despite the bulky shoulders I actually really like the style.

 

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Sorry for the bad lighting here, it was so bright!

 

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These were really useful dresses to slip on of an evening, particularly on the hotter nights, It’s lovely being able to throw on a loose fitting dress after an afternoon in the spa. You can see in the second photo I am somewhat floppy from the spa.

 

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My final piece of home made clothing is the Coco jumper. I only wore it on the final day of the holiday, it was great when the air-conditioning on the couch and aeroplane kicked in.

If I were to pack again (and there’s already talk of going back) I would make another skirt and bring another dress with long sleeves to protect my delicate delicate skin.  I have this gorgeous dress which I wore a couple of evenings. However, it’s too nice for an everyday wear.

 

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This is an old photo, I think  it was taken about  two years ago. It’s uncomfortable to look at. The smile is strained. I fill the dress very differently now I’m at a healthy weight.

 

I love the sleeves on the Sewaholic pattern, but I think the overall pattern on the grainline (left) will suit me most. Also, the collar would be useful to protect my neck from the sun. I’ll have to figure out how to make those long sleeves.

Thanks for reading

x

I Made Ten Items of Clothing

I survived the day, although it is not quite over with yet.  it’s been a bit of a challenging time for me recently so I thought I would engage in a little counting of my accomplishments. After all, that is what I started this blog. At the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to create one item of clothing a month. I have happily surpassed it. Me Made May has helped me realise how many clothes I’ve actually made.

I am very proud to say I have now completed more than ten items of clothing.

In chronological order

One: The 50’s Style Skirt

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I made this at a workshop, not long after Crafty Sew & So opened in September. There’s a zip along the side seam, I haven’t inserted a zip since! I’m planning on added a pocket to the other side seam.  I picked up the mid-weight cotton from Leicester Market.

Two: The Unicorn Top

 

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This is the first item of clothing I made on my own, it’s a really simple Victory Pattern called Roxette. I love the detail in the collar. I want to make it again in a floaty material, maybe viscose. I picked up  the material and pattern from Crafty Sew & So.

Three and Four: The Cat’s Pyjamas

 

Cat's Pyjamma's

Number three and four, my gorgeous set of Fifi Pj’s from Tilly and the buttons.I seriously messed up with this set, they look cute but I ended up stretching the seams as I put the panels the wrong way round about three times. I also need to replace the elastic on the shorts as they’re pretty loose. I very much want to make another set of these which I can actually make. Again the fabric and pattern were from Crafty Sew & So

Five: The First Foray into Jersey

 

 

Jersey Floral

 

This was my very first attempt at sewing with jersey, It worked out pretty well, the fabric is lovely and soft. I used Tiny Pocket Tank pattern from Grainline Studio, Sarah helped me add a bust adjustment so it fits perfectly. Once again material and pattern from Crafty Sew & So.

Six: The Second Take

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My second attempt at the Fifi Pj top went much better. The fit is so much better. Because I had to undo the french seams so many times last time I decided to use normal seams this time. It was a lot quicker and required very little unpicking.  I was brave and wore it as a day top. The swallow print cotton was is from Crafty Sew & So.

Seven: The Dottie Angel Frock

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I am very proud of this dress. I have worn it a lot, though can’t seem to find a picture of me wearing it. The delightfully named pattern is Dottie Angel Frock from Simplicity, New Look. I saw it in Mollie makes and grabbed it in the sale online. It was a bit of a shock to go from the nicely laid out and clear independent patterns to the convoluted and quite frankly confusing layout of New Look pattern.  After playing around a lot with masses of bias binding I created my first dress. I added some pretty embroidery around the neckline and the joining line. I decided to make it just that little bit harder for myself and add pockets. It was simple enough but one is slightly smaller than the other.   The polka-dot cotton is from Crafty and Pattern from Simplicity.

Eight:  The Geometric Tank Top

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I was very confident when I started making this top as the first Tiny Pocket Tank went very well. However, my impatience was my downfall.  This jersey was a lot lighter and slinkier than the first tank top, I attempted to use my normal needle and got into a bit of a mess. I also ran out of black thread and only had white. I attempted to continue nonetheless and had to unpick this very fiddly fabric. I brought jersey needles and black threads and forced myself to sit down and finish the top. It feels luxurious to wear. Though I did manage to stretch the neckline a little so normally wear it with a vest top.  Jersey needles, black thread, fabric and pattern all from Crafty.

Nine: The Denim Angel Frock

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I found my second attempt at this dress a lot easier, though I did manage to lose the second page of instructions so had to make it by memory. I’ve made the dress a lot shorter for the summer, just above the knee. I think the beautiful big pockets make a great focal point. I picked up the stage print from a gorgeous shop in Lutterworth called Sew Charming.   I made some envelope cushion covers with the cotton a little while back and had enough left over for the pockets. The denim was from Crafty.

Ten: The Coco Top

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This is me very very excited about having made my tenth item of clothing. It’s made from a lovely soft ponte roma jersey. It’s another pattern from Tilly and the Buttons called Coco and i absolutely love it. There are loads of variations, dress length, three-quarter legnth sleeves, cowl neck and sleeve cuffs.  I have so many plans. I made this in a workshop at crafty, it was almost exclusively done on the overlocker!

 

Whilst writing this I realised I made another top a little while ago. I liked the last photo so much I decided to make the next one a bonus.

Bonus: The Great British Sewing Bee Challenge

 

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This is my version of the GBSB bias top challenge. We received a copy of the latest book at Crafty and made our own little challange. I used the lace as a focal point as i didn’t have the chevron effect of the stripes.  If you want to see our review of the book, From Stitch to Style, check out the lastest Crafty Sew & So post.

 

Here you go, a post about things I made

This week has been more writing than making, I am trying desperately hard to try and get the first 15,000 words of my novel to the Yeovil Literacy prize at the end of this month. today I managed to revise 2000 words which I’m pretty happy with. However, there are still 13,000 to go.

However whilst procrastinating earlier in the week I finished off my Dottie Angel Frock from simplicity. I’ve been itching to make this for ages and am really happy  with it. although I did loose half of the instructions so the arm holes are a little frayed.

 

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I wore it today and should have posted a photo onto Instagram for me made may.  I;ve been a lax in posting photos of my makes. I was really excited when I had a new item every day to show off, now I’m feeling a little restricted.

I have, however, enjoyed making little crafts.  I made a really cute fish mobile inspired by this month’s Mollie Makes. You can read more on the Crafty Sew & So blog.

 

My motivation seems to be fading somewhat.  It’s been over a month now since I last saw my therapist and I’m beginning to miss the stability she brought me. Maybe I’m just tired. It’s pilates tomorrow, that always makes me feel better.

Tomorrow I will have a day of looking after myself.

 

Physical Illness and Mental Recovery

TRIGGER WARNING

I will be discussing my recovery, weight loss and disordered eating.

TRIGGER WARNING

It was my plan to post a picture of me wearing a home-made item each day of the month. I’ve been avoiding taking said picture all day. It’s only within the past half hour I’ve realised  the reason for this.

I’ve lost weight.

That will happen if you can’t keep food down for a couple of days. this is not a good thing. I’d never really considered the impact of physical illness on my recovery from an eating disorder. I will not go into detail as I don’t think it will do any good. Suffice to say this stomach virus has brought back unwanted memories.

I do not want a picture of me in this top whilst I am not at my healthy weight. So here’s a Photo of me from a little while ago wearing the jersey top I am wearing today.

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Small Stitches

Recently I discovered this wonderful charity called Wrap Pyjama Fairies. They supplies cute pyjama’s for children and babies who have to stay in hospital. I tried my hand at a new born gown, thinking as it was my first try I’d use less material. What I didn’t think about was how fiddly a new born gown garment would be to make. I ended up hand sewing a lot of it. I’m not sure I’m that pleased with the result. it looks adorable but I think the popper tape I used might be a bit itchy on a new born babies skin.

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I’m thinking this one might just be a dress for a doll and I’ll make another one with individual snaps. I’m planning on hosting a workshop and fundraising day at Crafty Sew & So in the summer holidays. I’m going to make one of each item before the event so there are samples and getting my head around the garments to help others.

For sometime now I have been working on a gorgeous set of cushions for the bedroom. I had no idea that I was embarking upon a perilous expedition when I chose some mini pom pom trim. The band is so tiny, even with a zip foot it’s tricky to catch it. I thought I’d have been fine considering I hand tacked the trim, alas, it was not so.  I do not regret it, because it looks just perfect with the Dashwood cotton. However I am now considering doing two with pom pom trim and two with piping or lace.

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I worked on both these pieces on the same day and ended up with a pounding headache. my next project will be using massive pieces of fabric with big old seam allowances.

x