Pom-Pom madness!

I recently had the opportunity to test out some Clover Pom-pom makers courtesy of the fabulous craft & fabric shop Minerva Crafts. You can read my review over on their blog here.

Not sure what you could do with a pommette (?) of pompoms? Then check out the inspiration below:

How cute are these pompom hedgehogs?! Check out the tutorial by MollyMoo Crafts.


Hit the beach in colourful style this summer by brightening up your beach bag with this quick make from Decorator’s Notebook


You could always trick that sweet tooth with these fun liquorice sweets pompoms! Find the tutorial over on the Love Knitting blog.

If you’d like to get in on this spring/summer trend and decorate all the things with your very own pom-poms be sure to enter my competition on Instagram for the chance to win a set of the pompom makers that I reviewed. Giveaway ends Friday 5th May at noon (BST).

Happy crafting!

March Monthly Mindfulness

Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me regarding my previous blog post on Sewing For Pleasure, Sewing For Pain. I may have been nervous to talk about my chronic illness before I posted but I must say it has been worth it just to connect with others in similar situations and hear their amazing stories. So pleased to see more sewing bloggers taking a brave step and talking about why they really sew.

Today I thought I would share with you one of my tips for coping with the depression of being stuck indoors due to limited mobility, having no one to talk to face to face during the day and getting lost in the oh so easy activity of binge watching Netflix and Amazon. Yup, I blitzed through the series of Travellers, 3%, Kimmy Schmidt, The Originals and Stranger Things, to name but a few, in those first months of being off work and juggling various cocktails of meds. Brilliant shows, but it’s just not healthy to sit and stare at the TV all day.

I mentioned last time about sewing in short bursts. Granted my twenty minutes of stitching is confined by the aches and pains of sitting down for too long, but it turns out that it is just the right amount.

In terms of sewing in twenty minutes, with brew in hand, you can do one of the following:

Get organised

Read through the pattern instructions, make notes of any techniques you’re not sure of or special supplies you may need. Gather your fabric, notions and tools for your project.

Pattern prep

Carefully unfold your pattern, making a note of the pieces you’ll need for your chosen style or in PDF situations stick all the pages together (whilst batting away the dog who insists on getting your attention by parking her backside right on top of where the next page matches up).

Trace

I never cut into an actual pattern. I always copy it using (top tip!) greaseproof baking paper (cheap as chips from Wilko or Asda at £1 a roll) or Swedish tracing paper (one of the best sewing investments I’ve ever made) which is much sturdier and also gives your seamstress ego a boost as all those dots and crosses printed on it make you feel very professional hehe!

Pre-wash and pin

Cut out and pin your pattern pieces to your pre-washed fabric. Yes, pre-washed. I know, it’s an extra faff and you just want to dive in to stitching but oh the torment and pain that follows if you don’t. For instance, you may wash your stitchery for the first time and it shrinks, so you look like you’re trying on your nine year old niece’s outfit that she left behind after a sleepover. Ahem, where was I was I? Yeah, buy fabric, wash fabric, that’s my mantra!


Chop chop!

With your pattern pieces in place, pattern matching on fleek, take those sharp (and never used for anything but fabric) dressmaking scissors or fancy rotary cutter and make the cut!

Fit and stitch

Baste your fabric pieces together and if you’re happy with the fit get stitching! Depending on your project this may take a few sessions. Just remember to set up your space beforehand with a brew, biscuits and no distractions. Stop checking that Instagram post, I can see you…we’ll chat later and get all Insta luvvy swooning over your fabric/new machine/cute pet that keeps you company whilst you sew, ok?

Get snap happy! 

And then we’re done! Now all that’s left is to share your awesome make so set aside twenty minutes to find the best spot in your house that has natural light, set up your phone camera and tripod, snap some rockin’ photos with your timer or selfie snap app.

So seven sessions, fits quite nicely into a week doesn’t it? Even if the actual sewing part takes longer don’t feel bad about doing both a morning and an afternoon session a few times a week. Just make sure you relax in between, taking in some fresh air by getting up and going for a walk, even if it’s just to pop outside into your garden to check on your plants or throw the ball for your attention deprived dog (yeah that’s how she sees it – if we spent any more time together she’d be sat on my shoulder, like a parrot…a furry, growly Yorkshire Terrier parrot).

I hope that helps to give you an insight into my current coping mechanism. As always please comment below with your thoughts and to chat. Oh and if you want to check out my vintage machine collection, or my latest fabric and haberdashery purchases, and my ongoing obsession with all thing rose gold coloured head over to my Instagram and say hi!

Until next time, happy creating! 

Annie

 

 

 

The Fabric Tag

Today we’re going to look at one of my most favourite things in the world, fabric! Yes, those glorious folds of woven threads, pile ’em high & stack them proudly I say! 😁

The fabric tag is a fun challenge started by Lisa Emerita and Renata of RunningNStyle. Thank you ladies!

1. What is your favourite fabric to work with?

Cotton prints. I collect fabric like an art collector curates a gallery (hence so many uncut fabrics, just can’t bring myself to do it!). Head over heels I go, falling in love with those fabrics that have detailed gothic prints or fun & quirky characters. For some time I’ve been against florals, they just weren’t my cup of tea. I think I must have mellowed in my 30s as I’m starting to see vintage inspired florals creep into my collection. I’m going to pin the blame on Gertie. Her pattern books make my heart flutter, conjuring up images in my head of made to fit wiggle dresses and pencil skirts in that wonderful 50s style!

2. What is your least favourite fabric to work with?

The shiny, slippery evil stuff. Yeah I’m look at you cheap, green satin like fabric. You were going to make a lovely evening dress. Flouncy sleeves, nipped in waist, the works. But you just couldn’t behave could you? I knew the moment I cut into you, the way you frayed all over the floor. The resistance to being pinned in a reasonable manner, then when I got you under that walking foot you even rebelled against the old tracing paper sandwich trick. We’re through, never again!

3. What is your favourite fabric to wear?

Depends on the situation really. Every day, knocking around the house I layer up and like to keep warm with a heavy knit jumper. I’ve recently purchased a ton of lingerie supplies including some beautiful soft lace so keep your eyes peeled for my thoughts on DIY underwear and photos of me prancing round in my keks come the summer. Ha, joking! It’s always too cold in this neck of the woods that kind of frolicking!

4. What is your least favourite fabric to wear?

Speaking of underwear, it’s that itchy band that you sometimes get on shop bought bras and knickers. Possibly got a nylon/barbed wire mix going on in there. Sets my skin off on a right rant. 

5. What is your favourite texture to work with?

On a previous visit to Abakhans fabric shop (my fabric mecca) I did spend an unnatural amount of time stroking the jacquard quilted fabrics. Ooh that texture was divine! I was particularly enamoured with the geometric patterns. I loved those quilted bumps!

6. What is your favourite print?

Without a doubt it’s anything Alexander Henry, more so if there are skulls or skeletons on it. 💀

7. What is your favourite colour palette?

Bold and bright to look at but for actual wearing I love turquoise shades, blues and strong reds.

8. What is your least favourite colour palette?

Due to my olive skin tone I really do not suit peach or nude colours.

9. What is your favourite fibre content to work with?

Ooh I don’t think I have a favourite, though I mostly stitch cotton. I enjoy experimenting with all sorts!

10. What is the first fabric you worked with?

Oh gosh, I imagine it would have to have been a cotton print of some kind. Way back in time when my mum taught me to sew on her old Jones machine with the bullet shaped shuttle. 

11. What is your ultimate fabric goal to work with?

I’d love to gain experience working with all the fabrics so a current goal is to make something with some stunning scuba fabric that I bought the other week. I’m not sure what yet so if you know of any suitable patterns please let me know!

12. What is your ultimate garment to construct with your favourite fabric?


I’m not one to shy away from a challenge so coming up in the future I hope to get creative with some lace for both lingerie and a dress.

So what’s your favourite fabric? Do you stick to a certain type or are you like me, diving into all the fabrics?! Let me know below & if you take part in The Fabric Tag give me a nudge on Instagram as I’d love to read your answers! 

Sewing for pleasure, sewing for pain

There are hundreds of hashtags related to the topic of sewing on Instagram. One of them should be #lifesaver. Read on for how a sewing machine saved my mind from an overwhelming chronic illness.

Here's Annie!

I got into sewing for pleasure when my son was born, as there were no rockin’ clothes back in 2010 for the little ‘uns. “Give me skulls and pirates, not lemon yellow vests with cutesy giraffes!” I cried whenever I was in the baby clothing aisle.

My hobby of sewing and alternative machine embroidery soon turned into a business which led to meeting great like-minded people, being featured in a craft business book “From Passion to Profit” by Claire Hughes, winning small business awards with Intuit UK, Theo Phaphitis’ Small Business Sunday & Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade 100, and eventually leading to running my own craft studio teaching sewing skills.

Then I stopped. After one thing and another, I went back into the world of full time paid employment, and I ended up ignoring my sewing and embroidery machines. I had lost my creative mojo. The machines sat gathering dust for months whilst I gave myself the summer off to relax and spend time with my family before starting a new job.

Then in Christmas 2015 I started to experience strange pains and symptoms. They occurred monthly at first, so sparse I thought back then that they were stomach bugs or colds. Then gradually from three days out of the month being severely ill, it went to a week, then two weeks and then I was lucky to experience three days out of a month in no pain.

Since October 2016 I have experienced pain every single day without a break. It hurts to walk, sit down, stand up, lift anything heavier than four pints of milk; my body feels like it is on fire and being stabbed with a hot blade in my abdomen most days. Yes there are better days and there are bad, but as time has gone on it’s got worse.

My GP’s believe it’s down to an illness called endometriosis. It’s where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body and they continue to act in the same way as those in the womb, building up, breaking down and then bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb however, this bleeding then has no where to go. This is what leads to the pain, inflammation and formation of scar tissue around whatever inner body parts the endometriosis has attached itself to.

A few facts about endometriosis:

  • 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK suffer from endometriosis.
  • Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition.
  • On average it takes 7.5 years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis.
  • The cause of endometriosis is unknown and there is no definite cure.

Source: Endometriosis UK

Check out the bling lol 😂 Had morphine but asked for Jack D's 😜 now to wait to see what went on 🏥

A post shared by Annie McGee (@scavengerannie) on

 

Just before Christmas I finally went in for a diagnostic laparoscopy under my local hospital but unfortunately the pain still continues to worsen.

It feels like I’ve experienced nothing but illness forever, not having a concrete diagnosis only makes this feeling worse. I’ve come into contact with other women who suffer from this condition and it’s incredible to hear their stories of how they have been fighting for a diagnosis. For some it’s been a battle spanning over 20 years, seeing consultant after consultant.

Now I never know how I’ll be from one hour to the next. On bearable days I potter around the house with multiple heat packs around my waist like a belt. I can sit or stand for around twenty minutes until a sharp searing pain kicks in. This is followed by stabbing pains in my abdomen and my entire pelvic bone exploding into a firey rage with sparks shooting down my legs, up my spine and into my right shoulder. This is in addition to the daily feelings of nausea, sickness, the constant fatigue and loss of appetite to name a few other symptoms. It really does knock you for six.

So a couple of months ago confined to the house, I found myself dozing on the bed in my craft room and my old friend the sewing machine caught my eye. That little creative bug said “Go on, sew! Don’t let this illness take everything away from you.”

I decided to give sewing a try once more. I set myself the project of a Coco top (pattern by Tilly and the Buttons) but I told myself to take my time and break the task up into small chunks per day. Over two weeks I set aside 20 minutes a day to work on my red Coco. I was as pleased as punch when I’d finished. When I’m feeling brighter and the days are less grey I’ll be sure to snap a photo of my awesome new top.

 

Well, something wonderful had happened. I rediscovered my sewing mojo and found that in those daily short doses the sewing distracted me from my aches and pains. From piecing up the PDF pattern pieces, to carefully cutting, stitching trimming and adjusting, Coco kept me calm. Yes it was light relief for brief moments in time, but it felt like I had something to aim for, a tiny accomplishment each day.

Sewing now provides me with the time to relax and rebuild. On some days I have to take some heavy going painkillers, but if they knock me out and my body needs a bed rest day that is what I do. I’ve told myself not to feel guilty, just let my body have what it needs and then when I have the energy I do what I can.


Catch up with me on Instagram to follow my journey to handling pain management through sewing and creativity.

If you or someone you know suffers from the symptoms of endometriosis you can find further information on the Endometriosis UK website.

 

The Pilar Bear Pattern Share

pshare-logo

This month I took part in a wonderful sewing community activity started by Pilar Bear over on Instagram.

What is a pattern share?

Self-confessed sewing addict Pilar generously posted 7 sewing patterns from her stash to a fellow stitcher with the idea that the next person would select a pattern from the bundle and replace it with one of their own from their stash. The bundle would then be posted on to the next person and the same process repeated. Being a sewing addict myself and let’s say curator (as opposed to hoarder) of sewing patterns I leapt at the chance when I spotted the post on Caroline’s Instagram.

pshareparcel

Lucky me, my name was pulled out of the hat and I soon found myself unwrapping a lovely package of stitching fun. Caroline had taken the time to include some rockin’ fabric scraps for me (hurrah for skulls!) and a handwritten note which made the parcel even more awesome having that personal touch. She had definitely taken the time to browse through my photos and see what I like which I really appreciated.

anouk

I selected the Anouk pattern from the bundle because the decorative front placket immediately caught my eye as a technique that I’d like to try. It is also labelled as an Intermediate level pattern and I’m not one to shy away from a challenge! I think this pattern will be one of those that you take your time with, reading through the instructions a few times and then tackling the steps a little each evening. The perfect winter sewing project!

pshare-bundle

The Anouk was swapped with the Lisette Traveler Dress pattern. I had two of these in my pattern stash in the same size range and I thought that this modern take on the classic shirtwaist dress was aptly named for the pattern share. I look forward to following the bundle on its adventures and seeing where my pattern ends up!

The journey so far

psharemap

The pattern sharing chain is growing with the bundle having travelled from Spain to Scotland, then down to me in Cheshire, up the road a few miles to Faye (we unexpectedly live the next town over from each other) and then onto southeast Asia where Mylene lives. It really is great to see the bundle travelling worldwide!

Getting social with sewing

The one thing I love about social media is that it allows me to connect with others who share my passion for sewing and all the paraphernalia that comes with it. Those bookcases crammed with fabric and multiple boxes of patterns hidden under the bed don’t seem so bad when you see others are doing the same!

The sewing community on Instagram is worldwide and you are instantly rewarded with a new perspective at the tap of a follow button. This pattern sharing activity wasn’t just a chance to expand my sewing pattern stash, it was a chance to meet other stitchers from around the world and follow what they are creating. By adding a pattern from my sewing stash and adding a few stitching treats the pattern share became a personal investment that I eagerly follow from one Instagram account to another. As Pilar noted in her letter to Caroline and in turn, Caroline quoted to me:

I think it makes a difference when you do things with care and love.

The Pilar Bear Pattern Share is a fine example of this.

How to join

Would you like to get involved in the Pilar Bear Pattern Share? Then head over to the pattern share’s Instagram for details of the latest keeper of the bundle and how you can pop your name down to be included as the next recipient.

Follow the progress of my Anouk stitching over on my Instagram and feel free to say hello or offer any tips if you’ve made the top or dress from this pattern before.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Time for a craft room spring clean!

It’s a job I’ve been putting off for ages. A spring clean of the craft pit, err I mean my craft room. Join me on my quest to discover the ever elusive Clean Craft Room!

 

With the long Easter weekend upon us, it’s with a determined sigh that I log off Pinterest, put down my Kindle, and tidy up my craft room before I sew another stitch. No longer will an arm sweep of my desk suffice – the sunlight from the window is being hindered by a mound of craft paraphernalia! If you decide to take up the feather duster this weekend and tackle a crafty tidy up then check out some craft room inspiration here.

Happy crafting!

Black Friday Sewing Sales

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With the work’s Christmas party in a couple of weeks I’m on the lookout for patterns, fabrics and haberdashery for a handmade outfit.

Here are some of my favourite independent pattern retailers with offers on this week thanks to the Black Friday sales:

Ahh, choices, choices! My urgency to stitch prompted me to go for my favourites in PDF. Time to put that printer to work!

Have any sewing sales caught your eye? What are your favourite go to patterns for the party season?