Sunday, 28 June 2015

Skull Crop Top Burdastyle 2/2015 #127

I was initially a little bit wary of this pattern. I thought it was too short, but after a bit of thought I decided to give it a go.

I had some cream skull knit fabric left over from a dress I made my daughter a couple of years ago. I say knit, but it had next to no stretch and needed soemthing underneath - so I cut the pattern in both a white cotton and the skull fabric.

I lengthened the top by about 5 cm and it feels like a good length. I would wear it with high waisted skirt/ trousers without a top underneath, but today I was wearing my low rise jeans and so wore a vest top underneath.

I actually quite like the pattern and the fit was generally good. I will widen the shoulders just a touch for the next version - Oh and there will be more; this would look great over a fitted maxi dress or with high waisted trousers. Next time a cotton one I think - maybe some crochet edging.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Bells Palsy - other wise known as wonky chomp!

What a week (and a bit). Everything I had planned to do over the last couple of weeks has been turned up on its head when I woke last Wednesday to find that my face didn't work.

I got up as normal, just after 6 am and went downstairs to make coffee and breakfast. I had glanced in the bathroom mirror, but hadn't really noticed anything as my eyes were rather blurry - normal for first thing in the morning.

While I was making coffee I kind of thought that my face felt a bit odd, like I was pouting all the time, but I took the drinks and my bowl of cereal back upstairs and sat on the bed to eat. It was only when the milk started running out of my mouth I really knew that something wasn't right. I woke my hubby with the words - "I think there's something wrong with my face."

He jumped out of bed and rushed me off to the hospital to be checked out. They had just changed the A and E system and we ended up at the new emergency hospital that had only opened the day before. Bells Palsy is diagnosed by elimiating other more serious conditions first. So I was duly checked to see if I had had a stroke or TIA, but after blood tests, CT scan and ECG came back clear I was given steroids to take, a presciption for eye drops and sent home.

At the time I didn't really think I had had any warning signs, but looking back I had noticed the muscles in my eye flickering the night before and I had the most killer headache before going to bed.
Initially I didn't have much pain apart from a pain behind my right ear - the side which is affected.

Bells Palsy afects the cranial nerve that works the muscles of the face. It's not known exactle what causues it, but some research suggests a dormant virus, which inflames the nerve, and prevents it from sending messages to the muscles in the face. It almost always effects just one side of the face, making it appear droopy.

Initially I went back to work the next day, but only managed half a day both Thursday and Friday. Just speaking was a huge effort and pronouncing words with p and b sounds very tricky - and still is. I was drained and found I needed a lot more rest than I'd given myself. As with any virus or injury rest helps the body fight back and recover!

Straight Face

Eyes closed
raised eyebrows
So what symptoms did I notice.

1. The first thing I noticed was my mouth not working properly. Smiling looks more like and elvis sneer. This makes it difficult to eat and drink. I use a straw to drink and food needs to be in bite size pieces. eating a whole piece of toast or piece of fruit is almost impossible. Speaking means slurred speech and is very tiring as I try to make myself understood.

2. My Eye doesn't close and I can't blink. This means that the eye is at risk of damage as blinking allows the eye to keep itself lubricated and free from damage. I have sustained some minor scratches to my cornea, this is painful and means that my eyesight on the right side is blurry. I use the prescribed eye drops at least every hour and apply a gel at night and tape my eye shut to protect it while I sleep. Sunglasses also help as I can't squint in bright light.

3. Killer headache. Just behind my right ear - this has come and gone over the week, but tends to flare up when I've over done it or am tired.

4. Hypersensitive hearing. The hearing on the right side is super sensitive. Loud noises really do echo in my head. Just the kids being too loud hurts.

5. Taste has changed - I have a slightly metallic taste on my tongue. In face it's more like i've eaten Shechuan pepper and have a slightly numb tongue with a hint of aniseed.

6. I feel like the side of my head has been hit with a bat. Along the hair line, from my cheekbone to temple and the top of my eye socket feels bruised. I presume this is the swelling of the nerve that is causing it. It hurts and I want it to go away soon.

So what am I doing to aid recovery. On the advice from my GP I have taken some time off work to rest, but hope to be back at work towards the end of the week. I am hoping as we near 2 weeks after diagnosis that I will start to see some improvement in speech and being able to close my eye. This will help greatly when I return to work. But I know it could take longer! I have had a check up at the local eye clinic and will have a follow up appt. in a couple of weeks to check on my eye.
I am eating as well as I can. Enjoying a beer or two and trying to rest my face as much as possible. Progress could be slow and it may take up to a year to fully recover. Hope to be able to play my flute/ sax well before then!

Its safe to say everyone has been really kind and supportive. This could go on for some time! However, my family have decided that I should now be called wonky chomp - I think there's some dog chew called this!  Typical!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Claire Shaves her Head!

Heads up - I'm going for an extreme haircut.

On the 17th July i'll be shaving my head for charity, I'll be doing this at school and recording it!. I'm raising funds for Cancer Research and Nepal Leprosy Trust.

I've been deeply moved by the events in Nepal recenly and the very real need for long term aid. I have firends who have a long standing relationship with Nepal Leprosy Trust and have spent several year out there working with to support those affected by leprosy and those who are very poor in Nepal. They are there for the long haul and will not just disappear once most people have forgotten about the earthquake.

I've also had friends and family who have suffered from breast cancer, some have made it and some haven't. I have a choice - I can shave my head, my hair is not falling out from the side effects of Chemotherapy, and I am choosing to do this to help those who are going through it. Maybe one day there will be a cure.

If you would like to support me you can do so via JustGiving. I have two pages, one for each charity so you can choose who to support.

Nepal Leprosy Trust

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Cancer Research

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
Thank you

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Eat your heart out Mary Berry...

... or my mother in law's floral jacket.

Earlier this year my mother in law decided that she would like a floral blazer, a bit like the one worn by Mary Berry on the GBBO. The ones available in the shops were not quite the style she was after and she had a particular colour scheme in mind.

I took her measurements and went searching for a pattern, settling on #135 05/2014 from Burdastyle, which looks like this in the magazine.

We then went searching for the perfect fabric, we found quite a few quilting weight cottons, but nothing substantial enought to make a jacket from. Eventually we found some perfect fabric at a local funrnishing fabric store.

The jacket was an easy make and went together well. I only made slight pattern alterations, adding a little extra width at the waist and reducing the CB by about 2 cm. The sleeves were also shortened slightly. Instead of a press stud fastening we opted for a self covered button and made an in seam buttonhole.

This is my first successful attempt at bagging the lining and it worked perfectly. I did catch stitch the shell and lining together in a number of places to ensure the layers didn't shift when wearing.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Wrap Style Dress

I've been inspired by a dress I've seen in a shop recently. I tried on the dress in the shop, but the fit was off for me. too small on the shoulders and to big at the bust. I was in love with the dress, but however many times I tried it on - it still didn't fit :(

I set to work trying to create my own version. for my take on this dress I created a notch neck bodice, with a standing collar and cap sleeves - which was different from the dress I'd seen. I love cap sleeves and have been using them a lot this year.

I made a half circle skirt, which is not as full as the dress I'd seen, but better for everyday wear. I added long ties at the waist, which cross over the front and then tie at the back. This was the feature that I liked from the style in the shop.

I made my dress in a plain dyed black cotton from The Sewing box in Morpeth. It's fine for day wear, but something with more drape would be better for a going out dress.

I wore this dress with my restored DM mary janes and a red cardy for shopping in Newcastle today.

When I made the first draft I screwed up the colar on the bodice and had to redo the whole thing. thankfully I had enough fabric to make another one.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Masterpiece Seamed Dress Burdastyle 09/2014 #122

On first glance I had passed this pattern by. I think it was the styling of it in the magazine.

Then I saw this version by dawn at Two on, two off. I liked her adaptation of creating the dress without the godet, and as I only had 1.5m of fabric I decided that this would be the dress to make.

For Christmas my husband had bought me some bright pink soft cotton baby cord. 3m of it and at 150cm wide, that's a good amount. I had used 1.5m to make a tunic dress back in January that is still waiting to be blogged. the rest was destined for this dress.

I did not make a muslin, but measured the pattern carefully at the wait and hips. I cut my usual size 38 for the bust and waist and graded to 40 at the hip. I extended the centre front to avoid having to cut the godet.

As the dress has lots of curved seams around the bust area I wanted to make sure that the fit was good, so after sewing the fronts together and the shoulders. I basted the side seams and tried on. I ended up pinching out about an inch at the shoulders, tapering to the arm edge. The side seams were fine in the bodice area, but the skirt was far to big and I ended up taking quite a bit in at the hip. I could have got away with the size 38 for the whole dress.

The fabric is quite thick so I didn't bother with a lining and faced the armholes and neckline with bias strips in a matching cotton. In retrospect a self fabric neck facing would have been better, as it would have given a flatter finish, and I think I might reshape the neckline a bit too. I can highly recommend this dress. it takes a bit of skill, but it's very flattering and forgiving.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Wool sweater to cardigan refashion

I just love wool sweaters. Last year I was give a large mans wool sweater. I originally planned to boil it and felt the wool, but on closer inspection it was actually in good contition.
I adore wearing cardigans, they are great for layering and fab for spring when a jacket is too heavy but it's still too cool to go with short sleeves.

I used the pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. It was my first make from the book, and it won't be the last! I cut a size 6. I kept the original hem and cuffs, but had to find a way of binding the neck edge.

In the end I cut a strip of the sweater and treated it like I would a jersey binding. the results were great.

To prevent the neck and front edges stretching out of shape I applied a thin strip of interfacing. I also used ribbon to form a button band.

Wisely I tested the buttonhole first on a scrap, and it's a good job I did, as the knit fabric jammed and got caught in the button hole foot on two tries. I ended up folding a piece of baking paper around the edge and sewing the button hole over the top. this worked very well. It stabilised the fabric and was easy to tear away afterwards.

It's actually quite a while since I made this and I have worn it LOADS. It's a good basic cardy and great for layering. I need to make more of these.


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