Thursday 26 April 2018

Bits and Bobs

Last week Mr Myasthenia Kid was on holiday, so it meant we had to catch
up on some jobs around the house that were long overdue. The problem
with this is that it leaves me utterly exhausted / in lots of pain when he goes
back to work. The work over ran into yesterday so my hands are killing me,
so for word count this post maybe a little light.

The wood work in the house has been crying out for some TLC for a while.
We both hate using gloss paint and over the last 15 years we've never
managed yet to paint anything with gloss without ending up with dog hair
stuck to it. One of the mutts always manages to brush up against it.
We have tried quick drying gloss and the same thing happens. So this time
we decided to use Eggshell as it would dry quicker, it may not be as
hard-wearing as gloss but it doesn’t smell as bad and dries an awful lot

The house we live in was 30 years old last year. Before we bought it the
property had been rented out, DIY jobs had been done on the cheap by t
he landlord and the renters. So the stair bannister instead of being sanded
properly before being repainted just had layer upon layer of gloss on it.
It was starting to peel off in great big chunks and the paint underneath was
various colours which was down to the age of the paint being used. So before
we could paint the banister it needed to be stripped of all the flaking paint,
in a lot of places that meant taking it right back to the woodwork. I helped
where I could but on the day after I had done an awful lot of sanding
I ended up feeling horrendous. I hurt everywhere and all I could do was
lie on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. I have to pace myself or my body
will make me pace myself by shutting down and making it so that I can't move.

Finally yesterday after two coats of undercoat and two coats of eggshell
the bannister was complete. I can barely move my fingers today as they are
so swollen with having gripped a paintbrush yesterday They are also red and
swollen. So today will be a very lazy day today for me.

This is the before (taken in December)

You can see that the banister is a variety of colours - this is where paint
has been flaking off and I had started it myself and then quickly realised that
I would be unable to tackle this by myself due to my health.

This is after - we still have to stain the wooden post tops, we are still deciding
what colour to stain them but it looks an awful lot better than it did. I am really
pleased with what we have done.

*          *          *

I thought as well I would give you a quick update on what I have been doing
sewing wise. On Friday 13th April I bought myself an overlocker,
(in June I will be going on a course to learn how to get the most out of it).
An overlocker trims excess material with a blade and also finishes your
hems in a much more professional way. It can also be used to stop fabrics

The following Monday I plucked up the courage to thread it - an overlocker
takes anywhere between two to five threads. Mine takes 4, so it has two
needles and two loopers. It’s a bit more complicated than threading a
sewing machine but it’s not too bad as long as you follow the instructions
and just take it slowly.

On the Tuesday I decided to make a large box cushion for the dogs wicker
basket. I have been meaning to do this for ages but the fabric I wanted to
use had a really horrible habit of fraying quite badly. On all the cushions
I had made out of it I had to use an overcasting foot on my old sewing
machine to ensure that the hems didn’t fray. The overlocker made the job
really neat and tidy. I used it to neaten all the edges of the fabric before
sewing it together on my sewing machine (using a jeans needle as the
material is quite thick as it is upholstery fabric). I finished the back of the
box cushion using kam snaps so that it can be taken off and put in the wash.

I have also been working on some hand sewing and making a quilt
using a technique called English Paper piecing. This is where you use
paper or card templates and either glue / sew baste ( tacking stitch)
the material around the template. Then you sew the templates together
to create whatever design that you want. I am using Octagons
and small kite shapes to join them together. On the top I am using small
triangles to straighten the top edge and doing the same down one side.
My plan is to have 100 Octagons on it and it is for Mr Myasthenia Kids
bedroom. I am going to use an old star wars duvet to back it.
I am using all my scrap materials to make it and I am
finding it very therapeutic to sit and sew in the evenings / afternoons.

I also made the second piece of clothing I have made. A Julia Top,
unfortunately it is too big and too short but it was a trial run.
I am thinking of turning it into a jacket / cardigan. I used my
overlocker and sewing machine to make it.

Sorry this week is a bit of a mish mash of stuff that has been going
on over the last few weeks. My mood is still very up and down but it
isn’t the crushing lows I have been having and my anxiety is settling
down becoming easier to manage. So this week is a week of bits and bobs.

Thursday 19 April 2018


I don’t tend to do product reviews and I am always highly suspicious of bloggers
who are always saying how wonderful a new product is, failing to mention they
have been provided the product free of charge in return for a favourable post.

I am also quite hard on products and I am acutely aware of what may work for
me may not work ( or even fail miserably ) for others. However when I do find
a product that works well for me I like to share. Now I just need to make it
clear, I have paid for these products myself and I have not been asked to
provide a review for them. I am just sharing these products with you because
I know many of you who read the blog have the same problems as I do and
they may help you.

The first product is the icloudy pillow made from memory foam. I have included
a link to Amazon as this is where I purchased it from. At £35.99 I am aware
it's not cheap, particularly for those on a limited income. For me it’s been
worth every penny.

I have bought many different neck pillows over the years in an attempt to
stabilise my neck whilst sleeping. Due to EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome)
I have terrible problems with my neck being unstable, a physio once described
me as having an owl neck, as I can twist my head around so far.
I wake up with horrendous headaches, stiff neck and just in an awful
lot pain. I have said to many doctors that a lot of my headache issues
and possibly my leak have been caused by my necks instability.
Unfortunately in the UK this seems to be an area that is completely
neglected by the medical profession when it comes to EDS.
With many EDS patients facing the choice of raising hundreds
of thousands of pounds to have surgery abroad or face a slow agonising death.
Now I am nowhere near that bad thank goodness but a few weeks ago I woke
up in agony. My head pain was so bad I was convinced that my CSF leak had
returned. I couldn’t do anything as the pain was so severe. I took every
painkiller available to me and it just wouldn’t shift. In desperation I took a
diazepam (which I had been prescribed for anxiety) it was the only thing
that worked which thankfully proved to me that it wasn’t my leak coming
back. You have no idea what a relief it was.

Over a few months my neck had become increasingly painful, sleeping
which should be a comfortable and relaxing experience was leaving me
racked in pain. I was already using a memory foam neck pillow but it wasn’t
doing anything for me. The only relief I had found was sleeping with just a
rolled up towel under my neck but due to EDS causing reflux, it was a no no,
as I kept waking up choking on my stomach contents. I also tried lifting the
head end of my bed and sleeping on a rolled up towel placed under my
neck but night was fine but the following night my lower back
and pelvis were extremely painful due to the angle raising the head end
of the bed was placing them in. Out of desperation I searched online for
a different type of neck support pillow. I needed one that supported the
natural curve of the neck but also dropped my head back rather than it all
being on the same level which is completely unnatural. After a good look I
discovered the Icloudy Pillow, which was shaped completely differently to
any pillow I had tried before.

As you can see the centre of the pillow is the lowest point so it allows
for the curve in your neck (my curve is completely reversed). The difference
has been incredible. The first night I thought it was a fluke, my sleep was
totally different and I didn’t wake up in the night with pain radiating from
the back of my head to the centre of my shoulder blades.  The second night
I had a bit of pain from lying so flat, so added one wafer thin pillow on top
of the icloudy pillow to see if that helped and it did. I woke up again pain free.
In fact every day since using this pillow I have woken up without my usual
headache and neck pain.

I still have to be really careful moving during the day, today I have managed
what I call a crick - I am guessing normal people may call it more than that.
So I have pain in the base of my skull and at the top of my shoulder blades.
I can live with that, its no where near as bad as a leak headache. My quality of
sleep has been completely altered by using this pillow. I can see now why it
gets so many good reviews. The good news is that it will also fit in a standard
Oxford pillowcase so no special case is needed for it.

Now as I said I am suspicious of bloggers who gush about products without
making it clear that they have received financial compensation for doing so
or received the product free. I never get free products and wouldn’t feel right
gushing about a product that I think is shite. So if I tell you about a product it
is because it worked for me and it may possibly work for you.

Those of you who follow my blog will know a few weeks ago I took a tumble
in the snow. At the time I wrote about the fact I had hit my head and that my
legs were really sore. Well I obviously had distracting injuries as a few days
later I was noticing that it was very sore to sit down for longer than about 10
minutes (not good when you love to sew and even worse when standing makes
you want to faint). I realised I had damaged my coccyx in the fall. I was quite
plain speaking when I told Mr Myasthenia Kid how it felt “ Like someone has
hit me with a shovel between my arse cheeks” - don’t say I didn’t warn
you ha ha ha! It was very painful and very frustrating as I was only comfortable
lying down but my back hates me lying down.

In desperation again I wondered if there was such a thing as a support
cushion for your coccyx. Again on Amazon I stumbled across the Supportiback
At £29.87 it’s not cheap, but when you can’t sit down without being in a lot
of pain and you can no longer do the thing you are completely addicted to
- sewing, then believe me you’ll pay any price to no longer be in pain. The
great thing is with the cushion is the size, I won’t lie currently I am wide
of hip so need a large cushion, this doesn’t disappoint. I have taken the
photo on my kitchen chair which is a standard Ikea chair.
The gap at the back of the cushion is where you coccyx sits over so no
 pressure is applied.

It’s made of memory foam and has a gel surface to it. It moulds to your body
contours and it has also relieved the pressure I feel on the backs of my legs
when I have been sat for a while. I also like the fact it is breathable so it
doesn’t leave you feeling hot and sweaty when you have been sat on it for
a while. The difference for me was night and day. The cushion also doesn’t
slip and slide so feels completely safe when you are getting up and down.
I only noticed this morning when I took a photo of it that it has a handle
on the side to carry it. I am contemplating buying another one for me to
use in the car, as that is now the only seat that I feel very uncomfortable on.
With the cut out at the back of the cushion there is now no  pressure being
applied on my coccyx which is also allowing the injury to heal much faster now.
I read in a lot of the reviews that people were also using these as cushions in
their wheelchairs and mobility scooters which is another excellent idea.

So no more numb bum or back of my thighs when I have been sitting at my
sewing machine.

I hope you have found my reviews helpful and if you have any questions
about either product please don’t hesitate to get in touch or use the links
in the post so you can read the reviews left by Amazon customers.

Thursday 12 April 2018

My latest sewing projects

My mood is very up and down at the moment, the only thing that is keeping me
sane and happy is my sewing. I am grateful that I still manage to find the joy
in putting fabrics together for projects and making magic. To me sewing is a
magical art in which I can lose myself. I am amazed at the things I create
especially when you consider I celebrated my 6 month sewing anniversary
on 7th April.

As I am all over the place I thought I would share with you some of my makes
from the last few weeks. I can’t remember what I shared with you last - my
memory is a bit dodgy from the new medications making me a little groggy
in the mornings.

I bought myself a new sewing machine a Janome Atelier 5 - I love it. Yes it was
expensive but it was bought with money I had inherited. I also worked out that
if I banked the money from not smoking for the next 14 months it would also
have paid for it. It is the best thing I have done, it is an absolute bloody work
horse and oh my days making quilts has been so much easier.

I managed to hurt my back getting the beast (which is what I have
nicknamed it )  through the house. So after setting it up I just sat and stroked
it for about an hour. However I soon got to grips with it and used it to sew the
binding onto to my first ever quilt.

I quickly started on a new quilt, which was another quilt as you go, which
was a Rolling Stone design. I wanted to get this sewn / finished reasonably
quickly as we were having new sofas delivered and I wanted a quilt for each

I managed to get quite a bit done but I didn’t complete it until after the sofas
arrived. I was about two days out. As you can see Mollie and Frankie
absolutely adore the new sofas

I also in between making the quilt and the sofas being delivered I made
6 baby bibs, for my friend Pam (who sadly passed away in January) whose
daughter who had given birth to a beautiful daughter. I had promised Pam
before she passed away that I would make something for the baby.
The bibs were finished with Kam Snaps that were adjustable so will fit the
baby for a while.

I managed to finish my Rolling Stone quilt towards the end of last week
and I was very pleased with how it turned out. There are still a few mistakes
in it but it is a vast improvement on the first quilt I made.

My next project has been something I have never done before which is
foundation paper piecing. I have always been a little daunted by FPP but
no longer! I have been making a pouffe for the lounge so that instead of Mr
Myasthenia Kid putting his feet on the coffee table he can put his feet up on
a pouffe. I am still working on it as I am waiting for some zips to arrive so that
I can put a zip into the bottom of it so that the cover can be washed (with two
mutts and Jay in the house things need to be washable). I have made a stuffed
inner out of some stuffing I have had hanging around for a while and two bags
full of fabric off cuts that I have collected over the last few weeks. I have also
made a covered button to put on the top in the middle just to finish it off.

Over the next few days I will finish the pouffe and hopefully remember to
post a photo on my blog. If I don’t it will be on my instagram account
@rachelmorrismcgee or on my facebook page

I finished late yesterday afternoon....