Thursday, 28 June 2018

My First Quilt

It’s just going to be a little blog post this week as all of a sudden I have started to
struggle with the heat. It is again ( as it was like this in the same week last year)
much hotter than it would normally be in the UK for the time of year. The last few
days I have been struggling with muscle weakness. One day I found myself
unable to chew - must be my idiopathic hemifacial spasm playing up….
***sarcasm*** because it went with an additional dose of mestinon. Obviously
the placebo effect ….**sarcasm**

Around the middle of May I posted about my trip to the dentist and the fabric shop,
where I chose the fabric I was going to use for my first ever proper quilt. Not a quilt
as you go where the blocks are all laid out for you but an actual proper quilt.
I had seen a quilt design I liked called “Floating Triangles” in a magazine called
Simply Sewing designed by Janet Goddard. I loved the minimalist look of it and
thought I’d love to make something like that.

So that was it, on a whim the fabric was bought and then it sat on my
shelf in the kitchen until June 2nd, when I decided to start cutting it out.

A few days later I started to make the half square triangles (48 in total).
I must be strange as I enjoy all aspects of sewing, it's the cutting out I find
hard but that’s been made a lot easier with my new creative grids stripology
rulers. However for all the squares I had to cut out I couldn’t use my new
rulers as they needed to measure 4 ⅞ inches. Typical! So I ended up making
a cardboard template. I am useless at drawing straight lines, I really need to
buy myself a set square to help in situations like this. I have already invested
in a compass for the centre of my Dresden Plate designs!

The following day I started adding the strips to my half square triangles.
Unfortunately I was a little over eager on my trimming of my half square
triangles and found that I had to remake a load of half square triangles
as they were so much smaller than the others and it would have made
the rows wonky. I think in total as further down the line I had to make some
more blocks I probably had to remake 10-15. Its annoying but I have kept
them all as I will sew them together to make a bag, as I love the fabrics
I chose for the quilt. I also had to buy more backing material due to my
many cock ups with measuring. Thankfully with the new rulers those
should be less!

Oh I forgot to tell you about my EPIC mistake of accidentally having
two rotary cutting blades on my cutter. How did that happen? Well I bought
some expensive blades and they were all covered in oil. I am guessing
when I replaced a dull blade I didn’t check properly that it was just one
blade. So it cut all my material as if a hoard of hungry mice had been
chewing the side of it. Thankfully most of that could be hidden in the seam
allowance. I am telling you this because some people seem to think everything
I do is perfect and I never make a mistake. Of course I do! If I didn’t make
any mistakes I’d never learn anything. I want you to know mistakes
are ok, even if I am known on Instagram now to some people as
“Two Blades Rach”. It’s quite funny really!

Once I had made all my blocks I sat down and worked out the plan of my
triangles. It was important that I did this so I knew how my rows would
go together. I also wanted to place certain fabrics together so they had
a bigger impact rather than drowning each other out. I did a full size
quilt plan and then I broke that quilt plan down into two.

Once my blocks were made I then put them away in a box and cracked
on with a lot of makes for other people, birthday presents, thank you gifts
and of course father's day. I made Jay an Owl soft toy for father's day which
you can see on last week’s blog post. I also made him this lavender pillow

I kept putting off making my quilt as I was terrified all the blocks would be
all the wrong size and it would be a disaster. It is quite common for me to
ignore a project for a bit if I am feeling anxious about it. I also have to be
in the mood to sew certain things. I have to be in the mood to make clothes
- I find it boring and hard work because I have such a skills gap. I have to be
in the mood to quilt as it takes a long time and you can be doing the same
thing over and over. It also involves a lot of pressing which in this heat you
really don’t want to be doing. It wasn’t until I started making quilts that I
learned there was an actual difference between ironing something
and pressing something.

Last Friday I decided to bite the bullet and put this quilt together. I really
hate having WIP’s ( work in progress) hanging around and I don’t do
UFO’s (unfinished objects). I have a small house so projects need to be
completed and gone rather than hanging around collecting dust! I checked
all the sizes of the blocks and as I said earlier realised that some weren’t
good enough and needed to be done again. So that added more time
onto getting the quilt completed. For me it seems like it’s taken an absolute
age to get done but Jay assure me to him it feels like he went to work
one day and came back to a completed quilt!

I only managed to sew the rows together that day, as a lot of planning
had gone into each row. Checking against my quilt plan I put all the rows
in order using post it notes on each - with the fabric order on also, so that
the chances of me making a mistake were minimal. I have made mistakes
before with my quilt as you go quilts, where I have decided on an order
that the blocks would go in. Taken photographs, only to realise once its all
been sewn together…………..3 blocks have been sewn upside down totally
ruining the pattern I had wanted to create. At the point of discovery of
my mistake it was too late, I had sashed and bound it by then.
Lesson learned, this time I over planned!

On the Saturday I started to sew my rows together.

As it was only 8 rows it went together very quickly, however disaster
struck on the 8th and final row when I realised I had sewn the blocks
together in the wrong order. Out came my trusty seam ripper and the
blocks were then sewn in the correct order. I am so glad I managed to
catch that mistake before continuing as it would have stuck out like a
sore thumb otherwise the final row would have been completely different
to all the other. If I am honest there was a lot of unpicking as the rows were
sewn together as I managed to sew triangles together in the wrong position
etc. I never let this wind me up though, I’d rather find a mistake at this
point than like the quilt as you go first quilt I made.

I then cut ( using my stripology ruler) my borders for the quilt and sewed
those on. At this point I was just totally in awe of what I had created. My first
ever quilt top was sewn together. This was a huge moment for me! I then
decided **ck it and decided I would baste my quilt. Basting is basically
putting on your wadding and backing fabric, to the quilt top. As I didn’t
have much room I did it in two halves not ideal but there was nowhere
with enough floor space for me to work. I did it using the ironing board,
it wasn’t perfect but it was done. I used a temporary glue spray and safety
pins around the edges to ensure it was secure.

Sunday was the day I decided to quilt my quilt, that sounds bizarre but
a quilt isn’t a quilt until you have sewn all three layers together. This quilt
had a very basic pattern just straight line stitches that went through every
second row of triangles. I managed to get some floor space in the lounge
whilst everyone else was asleep and I marked out the quilting lines with a
fabric marker and my huge ruler ( another creative grids one). Thankfully
I had set my machine up the day before, so my extension table was on
( I discovered a neat trick as my extension table can move a little, especially
when I bash the edge of it by accident, so I used masking tape to keep it in
place just taping from one edge of the table to the other sticking it on the
bottom of the throat space of my machine - avoiding the needle plate. I only
used two strips of tape). I had also ensured that I had rested as much as
possible, as I wont sew when I am tired. I started quilting on Sunday
afternoon whilst Jay watched the England match. I was finished just
after half time. I forgot to say I used my walking foot. I had to unpick
a couple of little bits due to puckers and re sew them but its the neatest
quilt back I have ever sewn.

Yesterday (Monday) I decided I would make my scrappy binding and
then attach it to my quilt. I machine sewed the front of the binding in
place using a tutorial from Lucy Brennans
It went on very easily and then I had the afternoon to slow sew
the binding onto the back. I finished late yesterday afternoon
( lots of frequent breaks as I have been really struggling with
double vision the last few days so that makes threading a needle
an absolute nightmare).

I had made a label for my quilt on Sunday evening but my eyes
were so bad by the time I had finished sewing the binding on that
I had to stop. I sewed my label on this morning at around 7am as
I had been up for an hour or so by then.

Once the quilt label was on it was time to give it a wash to get rid of
the temporary glue and the fabric marker from the quilt lines.

I am so pleased with this quilt I am still in shock that I made this!

And obviously I lied when I said it was going to be a little post,
hubby brought our huge fan down from the loft this morning and
put in the lounge for me. What a difference that’s made for me
and the dogs!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Sewing Secrets

I am officially one of the worlds worst secret keepers!
How I have managed to keep the following items a
secret over the last few weeks is beyond me. When
I make something for someone I always want
to give it to them immediately  or I accidentally let
slip what it is. This time however I have been strong
even though it has been incredibly hard.

A few times recently in blog posts I have said that I
have been unable to share what I have been making
that week due to it being a present. Thankfully I can
now share with you my makes - which I am incredibly
proud of as these two birthday girls have received their

Imogen will be 21 on 23rd June and is incredibly special
to both me and Mr Myasthenia Kid. I discussed with him
months ago what I would like to make for Imogen's birthday
and he was in full agreement. It took me a little while to source
the material as I wanted all kinds of Unicorn fabric but I also
wanted it in Pink and Grey so it wasn’t over the top girly.  
The first item I made was a 20 inch square cushion
cover in a Dresden Plate design

I had a bit of a nightmare with the cushion pad as although
it was sold as a 20 inch cushion pad, it was actually a lot
bigger. I, being a novice and idiot didn’t think to measure
the cushion pad before I started making the cushion. I just
presumed that if something was being sold as a 20 inch
square cushion pad that is exactly what it would be.  So when
I placed the cushion pad inside the cover it looked terrible
- in fact stuffed sausage would be an accurate description.
I was almost in tears as I had worked so hard. So I decided
to measure my completed cushion cover and make my own
cushion pad to fit it. I used my overlocker to do the edges
of the cushion pad and the ladder stitched it closed once I
had placed the stuffing inside. I took apart the bought
cushion pad and ended up with two nice squares of white fabric
and a little excess stuffing.

I also wanted to make Imogen a quilted patchwork Tote bag.
I had already made one as a project in my subscription box
was this exact thing and they had sent out 42 charm squares,
lining and webbing for it to be completed. I had really enjoyed
putting it together and couldn’t get over how much I was using
the bag as it was so roomy yet so light weight. So I made my
own charm squares and bought the webbing online and
knocked up one for Imogen.

I scotch guarded both the cushion and the bag to
help resist stains. Imogen can be a little clumsy the same
way I can. I also gave washing and ironing instructions with

Last week on the spur of the moment I decided to add
something extra to Imogen’s gift. I had been doing some
redwork for my other friends gift but want to change it up a
bit so I found a  unicorn design online, unfortunately there
is no attribution for this work so I can’t give credit to the artist.
I did change it up just slightly by putting a heart around it and
not using the words that had been printed under the design.
Here is the finished item

I have filled the inside of the cushion with a mixture of stuffing
and dried lavender. It smells divine and the whole house smelt
of it for a few hours as I filled several lavender pillows that day.
I again provided washing instructions / care instructions just
in case. Imogen was given her gifts on Saturday. The message
she sent me after opening them was so lovely it made me
cry, then Imogen's mum Helen sent me a message in the
evening which was really lovely too and that made me
cry as well. It’s really nice when you have spent hours
working on an item and the person is overwhelmed by
it and is truly grateful for them.

My oldest Exmouth friend Ellie also has a birthday
in June ( not until the 30th but with works schedules
etc it was difficult to know when I would see her next) .
I gave her the gifts I had made this morning.

This is a redwork lavender pillow. The redwork design was
free from a site called
which has some really lovely designs on there. I
added my own embellishments to the design and also
added Ellie's initial to make it even more personal.

This has again been filled with stuffing and lavender.
It’s a lovely small size that could be placed under a
pillow or in a drawer to leave the scent of lavender
behind. I have really enjoyed doing the redwork and
have made several more as gifts for people. They take
me several hours to do but I really enjoy sewing them.
The stitches on these and the unicorn cushion are
very basic just a running stitch, back stitch and french
knot are all that are needed to create something
that can look quite stunning.

The second part of Ellie’s gift had been in the planning
stages for ages. I was scared to start it as it was something
different than I had ever made before. Plus I kept adding
to the level of difficulty. It was the first time I had used the
product Odecoat which ( depending on how much
you use) can make something totally waterproof. I did
enough to make the item water resistant / stain resistant
inside and out.  This was also the first time I had used
my machines embroidery functions, I also used the
memory function. I used an iron on stabiliser as
well and proper embroidery thread. So it was a project of
firsts. The pattern comes from Lucy Brennans
blog / website and
the pattern is the #pieceofmepouch. It’s so stunning
and once I had my head around it not difficult to make.
I also have to say a massive thank you to Lucy who
helped me out when I was being a bit dim and not
understanding the pattern. Lucy is always so encouraging
and supportive, I can’t thank her enough.

This week I also had to make my dads father’s day gift.
This had been rattling around in my brain for weeks. I knew
I wanted to make him something that was special and a one
off but what. I decided after gaining confidence making the
piece of me pouch that I could use aspects of that and make
my dad a bag to carry his (clean and empty) dog poo bags.
I decided that I wanted curved edges on the top, that I
wanted it to be 3D rather than 2D. I wanted a loop on the
back so he could attach it to a belt and I also wanted a
clip on it so that should he not be wearing a belt he could
attach it to his belt loops. It also had to be small
enough that it would impede his walking.

In my mind's eye I could see exactly what I wanted
so last Wednesday morning I sat with an empty bonio
box (dog biscuit) in front of me and made my template.
I used Odecoat again to help make the fabric water resistant
and to make it a bit stiffer. Also when I quilted it, I made the
lines much closer together as I knew this would make it much
more rigid. I am delighted with the way it's turned out.
Unfortunately due to a series of events out of both of
our control I have been unable to give it to him as yet.
I am pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog - mum does
so I will be safe posting it here.

My last make of the week was this Owl stuffed toy
for Jamie, it was his father's day present from the dogs.

I absolutely adore this and it looks so cool on his bed!
So far the dogs have left it alone.

* * *

Health wise I have been up and down. The heat had
been causing a lot more ptosis than normal. I can really
feel the mestinon wearing off after a few hours so I
have had to been really strict with my dosing schedule.
As once I get full blown ptosis it can be difficult to shift.

I managed to have a large abscess develop under my
breast due to the chronic skin condition Hidradenitis
Suppurativa. Tuesday afternoon this decided to erupt
and immediately go into cellulitis. My breast was so
painful I couldn’t wear a bra. Thankfully the antibiotics
had it gone right down within 3 days.

A few days over this last week I have been woken
up in the night in a lot of pain with a headache
( not a migraine) . I managed to work out on Sunday
that it had been due to the position I had been holding
my neck in whilst sewing. This was causing me pain
through my collar bone and deep into the soft tissue of
my neck. This was then causing me to have awful
headaches. I actually got very paranoid that my CSF
leak was back, until Mr Myasthenia Kid pointed out that Leak
headaches don’t start when you are lying down, they start
on sitting up. This headache was with me whatever position
I was in. It was not a leak headache more poor posture
due to the heat making my muscles weaker than normal.

This morning I woke up with a bad pain under my sternum
and a burning feeling in the back of my throat.
I immediately worked out that when I had taken my
4am antibiotic (despite drinking loads) it had become
stuck in my gullet. The tablet had dissolved in the back
of my throat and burnt the tissue. I have been drinking
gaviscon straight from the bottle and drinking only water
to settle it down. It is feeling better than it was but there
is still a burning pain. I have had issues with taking
capsules for years due to problems with my swallowing.
This just highlights again how much weaker this has
become during the heat.

So although it may seem like I must be doing ok because
I have sewn loads don’t let appearances fool you. Everyday
I am on the maximum amount of painkillers I can take as
my back is so awful at the moment I have been having pins
and needles in both legs. I’m either too hot and feeling faint
or feeling cold thanks to my wonky Autonomic nervous
system. I am just determined to do my best every day
and be the best that I can be and let the creative juices
flow. It is what makes me happy. It doesn’t take away
all the shitty  health conditions I am living with.