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.

 

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The Scavenger Studio

The Story so far...

The Story so far…

Hello I’m Annie McGee, an alternative embroiderer & seamstress in Warrington, England. I love to create textile gifts, clothes & accessories with an unusual twist, from rock & tattoo inspired pieces, to kawaii & steampunk. I set up my embroidery business when my son was born & I found that the clothes out there just were not alternative or “rocky” enough for my little fella. Quirky threads stitched with a twist soon grew from baby clothes to adult wear & accessories. With a range of home wares now available, Scavenger Annie’s is full to the rafters with all you need to ensure your lifestyle is suitably outfitted with the most rockin’ threads around.

Karina's review of the Pattern Perfection class

Karina’s review of the Pattern Perfection class

In the last 12 months I have started offering sewing & craft workshops with the Scavenger Annie twist. You can join me to reveal the bare basics of your sewing machine & stitch up a voodoo doll pin cushion, or discover pattern perfection & learn how to decipher a commercial pattern. With each class there’s a rockin’ take home project to help you progress with your stitching.

Hen party stitching

Beautiful ladies with beautiful bunting!

With your help I am seeking funds to build a sewing studio from which I can embroider, sew, design & teach. I currently work from the family’s dining table so as you can imagine space is limited & it restricts the number of lessons that I can provide as well as student numbers per class. It will cost around £5000 for the make, construction & fitting out of a log cabin studio.

This building project will enable me to continue to work from home, generating a regular income whilst looking after my four year old son. Since being made redundant from my day job last year I’ve found that running a small business from home is flexible to fit around my family commitments, keeps business costs low and is creatively fulfilling. It does however mean that I have taken over nearly every room in the house with fabrics, supplies & equipment, as well as relegating my family to the living room when I host classes in the kitchen/dining room.In order for Scavenger Annie to grow I desperately need the space to stitch in!

The money

The cabin will be built by a local company & the costs are as follows:
The log cabin itself (3m x 3.5m) : £3500
Concrete base: £630
Build: £390
Electrics: £400
Total: £4920
Insulation, painting & decorating will be done by myself.

The Perks

By contributing to Scavenger Annie’s Sewing School you can choose from the following perks:
  • £5 = My thanks & an exclusive Scavenger Annie patch
  • £10 = Gift voucher valued at £15
  • £12 = Embroidered Death Before Decaf calico tote bag
  • £20 = Gift voucher valued at £30
  • £24 = 1 x Cheshire Cat Cushion
  • £35 = 1 x 3 hour sewing class voucher valued at £40
  • £100 = 3 x 3 hour sewing classes valued at £120
You can find full details of the perks & make a purchase from my website here. All funds from this campaign will go towards funding the sewing studio. If the goal of £5000 is not reached within the 30 days of this campaign any monies raised will still go towards the build of the studio, it just may take me a little longer.

The Impact

Not only will the studio provide me with a space to design & embroider the rockin’ threads, it will provide a space for individuals to learn or refresh their sewing skills, to try out new craft practices and also will enable me to offer guidance to small craft businesses with social media workshops.

Each step of the way I will provide updates on the campaign via my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/scavengeranniesalternativeemporium and this blog.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you are unable to contribute financially then please share my campaign to build a sewing school with your friends & family.

Find out more about the Scavenger Studio campaign here.

The Handmade 100

Handmade Fair 2014 #handmade100

Handmade Fair 2014
#handmade100

It was a great honour to be featured in The Handmade Fair’s #Handmade100 list of Twitter’s top 100 crafters as voted for by the public.

The Handmade Fair was on this weekend at Hampton Court and from the looks of their Instagram feed it was a great event. I would have loved to have gone but unfortunately it clashed with my Little Man’s birthday. Here’s hoping for next year!

Check out the list here and discover some wonderful creations!