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Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

The first half of July has been full of new things I have put my hands to making. It has taken so long, but I have finally found something of ‘me’ in this experience. After sewing for simple necessity, I’ve been enjoying both hand and […]

Growing Paper Plants

Growing Paper Plants

I have given up on green things. I have a love of the wide green outdoors: the kind of outdoors of woodlands and shaded streams rather than sunny spots and beaches. As we are in a flat and so have no garden, and can’t go […]

Putting Together An Isolation Wardrobe

Putting Together An Isolation Wardrobe

I’ve never enjoyed clothes shopping, and I’m happy to wear my clothes until they are worn out and unfixable, so my wardrobe this spring and summer are the same as my wardrobe last spring and summer, but this isn’t working for my four year old on a growth-spurt, whose clothes are all looking decidedly short and flappy around the ankles and midrift.

After putting together a few successful pairs of pyjamas (or shorts and vests; the lines are pretty blurred between day wear and nightwear in my household at the moment), I’ve started on a few more simple essential pieces perfect for any child’s wardrobe.

Brindille & Twig Hooded Raglan Sweatshirt (L) and Cuff Pants (R)

The simple scuba-hood sweatshirt is made in a nice summer-weight loop-backed jersey print. Loop-backed jersey is one of my favourite fabrics to wear, and I find it so much more comfortable than a fleece-back. The trousers are made with a nice elastane stretch cotton, and comfortable soft ribbing, all of which I bought from JennyStitches fabrics.

I also made another pair of the Cuff shorts from the loopback jersey. I love this style of shorts for both bed wear and also hot summer days. They are all the more luxuriously comfy in this slightly thicker but still cool feeling fabric.

Finally, I made a simple T-shirt with the rest of the clouds fabric, this time with a slightly altered MadeByMe pattern. I added self-fabric neck and sleeve bands, but I’m not sure of these. In hindsight I prefer the way the rib neckband lay on the dinosaur T-shirt that I made, and if i had any left I would probably change the neckband in particular, but it is cute nonetheless.

I made all four pieces from just 1m each of the cloud and strawberry fabrics, with the addition of some ribbing (the amount of which I did not keep track of but I never seem to buy enough). The hoodie also used a small amount of red jersey for the hood lining. I’ve got a couple of small items ready-cut from a very lightweight jersey for an extra short pyjama set, and a metre of bumblebee fabric for another pair of deep cuff trousers and T-shirt, and then I shall reassess how the summer wardrobe situation is looking. So far it is looking comfy and cute.

Pyjama Days

Pyjama Days

We don’t just have pyjama days anymore. My little boy in particular, likes to have whole pyjama weeks since we started lockdown. Pyjamas are the most comfortable clothes that we own, and right now comfort is very much sought after. Because of this we have […]

You Don’t Need Shoes When Your Isolation Is Carpeted

You Don’t Need Shoes When Your Isolation Is Carpeted

My first bit of personal sewing during the pandemic was a pair of slippers. It seemed as different to a face mask as I could imagine. I reluctantly made a one-person production line of masks for ‘out there’, and slippers were as much of an […]

Slippers In Lockdown

Slippers In Lockdown

This has been my first pandemic. Two and a half months passed before I could make something for myself. At first I was too numb. My brain, numb to thoughts, bruised by the incoming news from every app, message and web page served up by my stupid palm-sized slab of anxiety. My fingers felt numb to fine or even broad work, but were pressed into squeezing as much of life ‘out there’ into this small little set of walls and windows that form the box we live in.

I did make. I cooked out of necessity. I even created; because you have to get creative when you can’t get to the shops, and your grocery delivery turns into a fortnightly lucky dip of what the online store seemingly didn’t sell much of that week.

I even sewed, pressing my machine into action like thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of others have been doing, up and down the land, mass producing masks, scrubs, and other things that the practitioners of often derided ‘women’s work’ always warned would be needed when the apocalypse came. I don’t know that many ever thought that it might happen in their lifetime, though.

But I could not make anything (make, in bold, with anything approaching joy, or comfort, or any of the other qualities that handmade entails), until this weekend, 16th and 17th of May. And I made slippers.

Slippers are almost inherently funny to me. They are perhaps one of the greatest symbols of comfort and homeliness, but to me they will always remind me of my Nan. She was obsessed with slippers and my need to wear some at all times. ‘You’ll catch your death! Put some slippers on!’ as if my entire biological form was dependant on that pink pair of stiff-soled Marks and Spencers moccasin slippers for children. I rebelled so very much. I was a barefoot child (‘you’ll stub your toe!’) through and through. Eventually we came to a truce and I wore socks. She made me wear the ones with the grips on the soles (Totes Toasties) so that I did not slip and have an accident in the kitchen, but she still always bought me slippers, and I would wear them occasionally to appease her.

Seven years ago I made myself a pair of slippers out of scrap fabric. I don’t know if Nan would have been happy in me calling them slippers, not having a rock hard sole nor little grippy dots all over the bottom, and yet they served me well and comfortably until I inevitably lost one.

I don’t think of those slippers (or, indeed, any slippers) very often, yet for some reason, when I was sorting mask fabric for pre-washing, I pulled out my little selection of fabrics and decided that I would also make myself a pair of slippers. Perhaps I need a Nan to look after me and worry about me at the moment?

These are not posh fabrics – they are from Ikea. I love Ikea fabrics, partly because that’s where my Nan (again) would take me to buy fabric to be made into all sorts of furnishings and projects when she would sew for me in my teens and 20s. I make a lot of things with Ikea fabrics, including the previous pair of these slippers. The outer fabric is an Ikea upholstery weight cotton with botanic and zoological specimens in a white on navy print. It’s perhaps my favourite piece of fabric and I’ve used it for everything from handbags for myself to blackout blinds for my little boy. The lining is a piece of quilting weight cotton, with a sole quilted with layers of Ikea fleece blanket, and the whole slipper given body and squooosh with high loft fusible fleece.

I quilted the insole with a 2.5cm diamond pattern. I got serious and brought out the overlocker to edge the sole liners. I really faffed around making these.

If you knew your way around a sewing machine you could probably knock a pair of these up in 90 minutes or less, including cutting the fabrics. They took me two days of a few minutes here, and a few minutes there. I took my sweet, sweet time. I took that time for me. I pushed away the idea that this was selfish sewing, and then I embraced the very idea that it was selfish sewing, that it had nothing to do with the pandemic, and that these slippers were totally seperate from what was going on in the world.

But maybe they never really were. Because slippers are comfort, and boy this weekend I really needed that comfort. I needed somebody looking out for me, to make sure that my feet were warm and that I did not stub my toes. And really, Nan would be so proud, because I will not be slipping in my kitchen with these on…

Non-slip soles!

The downloadable pattern for these slippers is available to buy from IThinkSew.


Coddswallop

Our First Two Years Together

Our First Two Years Together

It’s been two years since our family grew by one. I think we were always a family, Russell and I. From, perhaps, the day that I felt like I trusted in his goodness to let go of that little bit of certainty and security of the path I was on, soon to have my own little place to live, and took the leap that I could trust in this human to be good and to care and love enough that I could uproot once more and move in with him to a pokey little cold flat in Whitley Bay. Boy it was cold. And it was so tiny! But perhaps it was my favourite of all the places that I have lived due to it being where our story began and the first place in which I had felt safe in a very, very long time.

But my favourite chapters of the story so far all burst into colour two years ago when a tiny human popped into our world, a mixture of Russell and I. This whopping great blackcurrant stained baby shot into the world at a faster rate than I could really handle it. But after all the worry and panic there lay this 9lb bruise with a wrinkle for a nose and Russell and I cradled pure love in our arms. It had not been so very long previously that I did not think that I could trust anyone to truly love in my lifetime, and now I had these two pillars of love, one huge and protecting and one (not so very) tiny, heartbeat fluttering fast upon my chest, and I knew that I would never feel the same again. And our family was strong.

I truly love being a parent, but as so many people will tell you, parenthood is tough. Gosh, yes we have our off days. Tired, grumpy days, days of illness and the mystery maladies of baby and toddlerhood, sometimes that write themselves apparent three days after the screams and sobs with a scarlet rash and sometimes which manifest on no physical symptoms that you will ever detect and are put down to some mystical condition which may or may not have existed. And you are always, always doing it wrong. So says that lady in the supermarket, or the health visitor who you’ve known for four minutes of your life, or that relation who’d do that differently, or the neighbour who is old enough to remember when babies did not cry because in those days 10 month old babies did as they were instructed, and probably earned their keep down the mines at the same time.

If my little boy knows or feels anything I would hope it is just how perfectly I love him and that I love learning from him more than from any of those people. I hope that Russell and I can teach him, above all else, how to be kind, how to be thoughtful and how to have empathy for all the people whose lives touch on his. I do not expect that as he grows and natually makes mistakes for him to always be good, or that he will always make the right choice, but I do so hope that we will always have time to put three chairs around the table and to talk about how we feel and how others might feel, and the effect of our actions on others. And from him I am learning how to best see the world anew. How the most basic and fundamental feelings that I have can be best nurtured and put to use. I am tougher in my resolve to surround myself with good and kind people and to not let damaging influences into our lives without guard, and to that end I have a strong determination to stand up for my family and to know when to say ‘no more’.

I hope that our third year together will be one of greater learning and growth. I hope it will be full of rainbows and colour, but when there are grey days that we can make things better with love and understanding. I hope that that there will be laughter, kindness, and, importantly, dinosaurs.

 

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