raggedblossomhandmade

My Winter Coat Project (Part Two)

Finished at last! It was a tad optimistic to attempt this coat in 10 days, I think it was close to a month in the end. Just in time for some unseasonably warm spring weather! Although I’m sure Melbourne will provide me with a few opportunities to wear it before summer arrives.

Overall I’m pretty happy with it. Given the thickness of the blanket I knew it would be a bit tricky and perhaps bulky in places. I also made an attempt to match up the sides which I think worked out pretty well too.

 

The only problem that’s really bothering me is that it’s ended up somewhere between a half to one size too big!

So the question is ‘To unpick or not to unpick?’…

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The World Keeps on Turning…

I’m not sure if learning to let go is really the most accurate thing to say, neither is learning to move on. I think it’s acceptance that I’m really trying to learn.

It’s been two months now since I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks and it’s really been harder than I expected. Initially I was very accepting and philosophical – yes I’m sad, but these things just happen sometimes and my body did what it needed to do. And I didn’t really have any doubts that at some point I would have another baby.

I have days where I’m okay, days when I just pretend to be okay and days where I’m really not okay at all. Just when I feel like I’m coping a massive wave of emotion comes along and just bowls me over. I have no control. It’s like being a tiny little duck in a big stormy sea.

I felt like I needed the world to just stop for a while until I got my breath back, just give me a chance to find my feet. But the world just keeps on turning.

And friends just keep getting pregnant. This is something that is particularly difficult for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the most obvious is that it’s because I’m not anymore and I can’t say it. Secondly, I’m happy for them, honestly I am, but it’s covered in layers of ‘It’s not fair’ and ‘It’s my turn now’ and I feel so incredibly GUILTY about feeling that.

So I figured I just need to start changing my perspective, that I’d really come to a fork in the road and I had to decide which way to go…hence this little picture I drew:

I really try to be a ‘glass half full’ person, so firstly I thought about taking a step back and looking at the big picture. As a woman in Australia I’m already so much more fortunate than most of the women in this world. I don’t have to worry about violence or poverty. I have a roof over my head and food in the cupboard. I have a wonderful husband and the most delightful, precious daughter I could ever hope for.

There are also so many women out there who have such a difficult path to travel to even have children and I’ve heard some particularly heartbreaking stories in the last couple of months. Multiple miscarriages, IVF journeys and the hardest to hear (let alone go through) was of a woman who has had a late termination due to severe abnormalities of the foetus. This really puts my world into perspective.

The problem with both these thought processes is that I’ve realised I was kind of telling myself I don’t have the right to be sad when so many others have much harder issues to deal with, which really isn’t helpful either.

I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful group of women in my Mothers Group who have given me a voucher for a meditation course. I really think this is going to be the key to grounding myself, facing my emotions (however scary they are) and healing. I had the first session yesterday and spent most of the 1.5hrs crying, which just shows how raw I’m still feeling.

I hope I can continue to share this story with those of you that read it, it feels rather self-indulgent but it really helps to clear my head and face what I’m feeling.

Thankyou 🙂

My Winter Coat Project (Part One)

I’ve given myself 10 days to make myself a new winter coat. I have never found one I love at op-shops and so I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.

The next step was to find some fabric. I looked at buying it new but the wool blends at Spotlight were very expensive (at least $100 for how much I needed to make the coat) and seemed very thin. I really feel the cold so I want something nice and thick. Added to that it just didn’t feel right buying new fabric, I really wanted the coat to be upcycled.

So off the op-shop and first go I found exactly what I was looking for. I had in my mind a turquoise colour and I came across a check turquoise and yellow woollen blanket – yay!

My major concern is that the fabric will be too thick for my modest sewing machine to handle. But I’ve used it to make lounge covers using upholstery fabric and I have since bought a walking foot as well, so fingers crossed…will keep you posted.

Any suggestions/handy hints very welcome!!

Quick and Easy Upcycled Bunting

We are optimistically preparing for spring at our house and cleaning out an unused area under our balcony for our 2yr old daughter. My husband has been putting together a blackboard and a wee seat and I got busy making some bunting.

This is a great project if you are new to sewing, it’s very easy and you’ll have something to show for your efforts in a couple of hours.

All you’ll need is:

  • Scraps of fabric
  • Approx 4m of 25mm bias binding (not upcycled I know – but you can make your own)
  • Pinking shears
  • Sewing scissors
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Pen

Firstly I got a cereal box out of the recycling bin and marked out a triangle to use as a template for the bunting flags. Mine measured 15cm across and 17cm in length. I then hunted through my (admittedly extensive) fabric scrap collection and chose 7 pieces that were roughly coordinating in green.

Using the template trace out 18 triangles (3 of each fabric or however many you want) and then cut them out. Use regular scissors to cut the top and then use the pinking shears to cut the sides. This gives a nice effect and also stops the fabric from fraying easily.

Next lay out the bias binding and pin the triangles along the bottom edge. Leave approximately 3cm between each triangle and about 10cm at each end of the bias binding. Then sew the triangles into place.

Now get the iron out and fold the bias binding in half so that the folded edges meet (see photo). Iron into place all the way along. You can also pin it in place as you go.

Last step: Sew along the length of the bias binding (you will have covered the tops of the triangles). At each end fold about 2.5cm towards the back and sew into place. These will form the loops to hang the bunting.

Yay! You’re done!

Reaching For The Clouds

Today was a perfect Melbourne winter day and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. But I decided to add a few to my daughters room after I saw this craft activity in todays Home supplement in The Herald Sun – it’s written by Katie Evans and you can find her blog here.

It’s so simple, all you need is:

  • Scissors
  • Cardboard (from a box)
  • PVA Glue or similar
  • Paintbrush
  • Adhesive wall mounts
  • Fabric

My daughter’s room is an olive green so I was thinking about what colour would be a great contrast and I thought of these great pillowcases I just got from the op shop this week – a lovely deep orange with a dot paisley pattern.

Firstly you need to draw some clouds on your cardboard. I did some little sketches first…

I decided on three and upscaled them onto my cardboard. Before I cut them out I traced them onto baking paper in case I want to make some more another time.

Once the clouds are cut out I placed them onto my fabric. I only needed one pillowcase, by cutting it up the side seams I could place all three clouds on the one piece of fabric.

Trace around the cardboard and cut out the fabric. Then grab your glue (I put a reasonable amount in a plastic container or you can apply it directly) and use your paintbrush to cover the cardboard cloud in glue, being careful to get right to the edges.

Next get your matching fabric cloud piece and carefully lay it onto the cardboard, smoothing it as you go. It’s a bit like when you used to cover your school folders in contact in Year 7!

Once the glue has dried a bit trim the edges where there’s any excess fabric.

Attach the wall adhesives to the back and decorate your wall – lovely!

 

The Mystery of Miscarriage

I don’t really do personal blog posts but this has been a big week in my life and I felt there were things I wanted to say and information I wanted to share with anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation.

The subject of miscarriage is one often skimmed across in pregnancy books and mentioned in hushed tones amongst women. The reality is that approximately one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage and if you’re a woman in your childbearing years you can probably name more than one friend or relative who has experienced a miscarriage.

I wanted to write about my experiences because I feel there is a place for these stories in mainstream media. There are plenty of stories if you want to google miscarriage, but I really feel that it is a subject that many people are reluctant to talk about. From my experience I would have found it helpful to read about it in more depth in a pregnancy book. Sure they mention the symptoms and what might happen afterwards – but there’s no indication of what the actual experience might be like.

When I realised that my pregnancy was ending I just had no idea what to expect. Would it be painful? How long would it take? Would I be able to recognise a tiny baby? So here is my story:

*Note – if you’re not up for reading about the physical details about miscarriage it’s probably best not to read any further!

To begin with some background information: I have a 2yr old daughter who was conceived on the first try. When she turned one we decided to start trying for number two and I fell pregnant on her first birthday but miscarried a few weeks later – I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I basically just had a normal period but also passed some large clots. It took 8 weeks for me to get my period back and I continued to have some pregnancy symptoms during that time (namely nausea). We continued trying for another baby for the next 5 months but no luck. Having conceived my daughter so easily this really came as a surprise to me. At this point my husband and I decided to stop trying for a while as I was getting very emotional and distraught about it all. It seemed like every week there would be a new pregnancy or birth announcement and it was getting harder and harder for me to cope with.

Looking back now I really feel that my body just wasn’t ready for another pregnancy at that time and I don’t feel there was any other reason why it wasn’t happening. After a 3 month break we got back to business and hey presto! Pregnant first try again. Happy days!

The pregnancy progressed as it should. I get nausea about 1 week after ovulation so by the time I can take a pregnancy test I already know I am. It was similar to my first pregnancy, but the nausea wasn’t quite as intense, I didn’t vomit as I had the first time. At about 10-11 weeks the nausea really eased off and I thought this is great! Way easier than last time. Last Friday night, at 11 weeks and 1 day I began to have mild period pain. I wasn’t too concerned as in my first pregnancy I’d had period type pain almost constantly for weeks along with spotting everyday between week 6 and week 8. The following day I had some light brown spotting, but no different to what I’d had before. That night I think I had a little more pain and the next day the spotting became heavy and darker –  a dark brown/reddish colour. This caused me to make an appointment with my GP as I am a negative blood type and it’s recommended that I have Anti-D injections to prevent my body to forming antibodies (which can cause complications for the baby) in the case that some of the baby’s blood mixes with mine (I think that’s a reasonably accurate description?). The GP advised rest and really all I could do was wait and see. That afternoon the cramping returned and then I began to really worry.

At 9.30pm on the Sunday night I went to bed and straightaway the pain began to get really intense, like quite strong period pain and also very strong lower back pain. I guess deep down I knew this could only go one way, but I still wouldn’t take nurofen just incase things were going to be okay. And I guess I also didn’t want to be numb to what was happening. The pain kept increasing and I found it difficult to get comfortable. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I was a bit scared really. I had no idea what to expect or how long it would take. As the pain got really strong (not as bad as a contraction but more than the worst period pain I’d ever had) I placed my hands on my abdomen with my fingertips touching in the middle. Suddenly I felt a tiny little ‘pop’ right under my fingers, seconds later I felt a rush of fluid coming and had to race to the toilet. The pop had reminded me of my waters breaking and essentially I think that’s what had happened.

Now I had this determined idea in my head that I didn’t want my little baby going down the toilet – so the turtle potty came in very handy that night! My daughter has refused to use it, but I’m glad I left it in there. I passed fresh blood and a large jelly-like clot. I also saw a very tiny mucus plug which the scientific part of my brain found very interesting. Basically the whole experience was like a mini birth – which is exactly what natural miscarriage is. I went back to bed, my husband scooped me up in his arms and I just sobbed my little heart out. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, this little feeling of guilt crept into me. I started to tell my husband I was sorry. I just felt like I’d let him down, that it was my job to carry this baby and I’d failed. The physical pain then subsided and after about 20min I would feel the ‘contraction’ returning, it would peak and then I would feel the rush again.

The first bleed happened at 10.30pm and the last at 1.30am and I think I was up 4 times altogether. I found myself shaking a bit too, which may have been my body in shock I think. After the birth of my daughter I remember shaking uncontrollably. During the last bleed I passed what I believe was the baby sac. It was about 5cm in length, skin coloured and a bit shrivelled – meaning it had been deteriorating for a little while. There was no baby inside, just some pinkish ’tissue’ (I’m not sure what to call it?). It is amazing too how much of the jelly-like dark red clots I was passing, it must have been a very healthy uterus!

The next few days I felt very wobbly – physically and emotionally. It just so happened that the day before I miscarried we’d borrowed a cradle and life-like baby doll from the toy library. I thought it was a good chance for my daughter to get used to the idea of a baby in the house. In those first few days I felt such a strong urge to just cuddle that little doll. If I saw he was uncovered, I would wrap him up. Secretly I just wanted to cuddle up in bed with that little doll. It made me feel a bit crazy, but I guess it was pretty ‘normal’ considering I had just lost a little baby.

Sometimes I get frustrated about the expectation that you should not announce your pregnancy until after 12 weeks. It reminds me of the saying “Children should be seen and not heard” except it’s more like “Pregnant women should not be seen or heard until the risk of miscarriage is deemed acceptably low enough as to not offend anyone”.

I can certainly understand why women choose not to make their pregnancy public as it’s certainly not pleasant having to make numerous phone calls if you do have a miscarriage. But really, is it any better having to hide your nausea, tiredness and desire to eat 2 meat pies for lunch? And then if you do miscarry you then have to hide your pain, grief & loss as well. I’m not suggesting every woman should shout their pregnancy from the roof tops and it’s a personal decision that every woman needs to make. But I do feel it would be helpful if there was less secrecy around the subject.

I feel very blessed to have a wonderful husband, daughter, family and friends who have given me a soft place to fall, many shoulders to cry on and lasagne to eat – thankyou!!

Well that’s about it from me for now – here’s hoping 3rd time lucky 🙂

 

Afterword: A follow-up story can be found here.

My First Quilt

My little possum turns 2 next week and I couldn’t let that go by without making her something special. When she saw some Maisy fabric in Spotlight she was beside herself with excitement so I decided to make her a quilt.

I’ve kept it quite simple. It’s got a purple corduroy border and green corduroy back. For the inside I chose a beautifully soft 50/50 bamboo cotton mix. It was the first time I’ve had a chance to use my Janome walking foot and it made things so much easier. Frustratingly there were no instructions on how to attach it to the sewing machine but there’s some great photo instructions here.

To make it a bit more’quilty’ I choose a few squares to stitch around…

I’m so excited to give my daughter this quilt that it’s going to be hard to wait until next week!

Upcycled go kart

My husband knocked up this go kart last weekend and I was very impressed that it is 100% upcycled, so I thought I’d share it.

The wooden frame and metal handle were picked up from hard rubbish some time ago. Actually I just remembered we’d used it once before – Christmas Day 2008, for picnic down by the beach.

The funky orange vinyl seat is from a 1970s highchair we were given. It wasn’t very practical for our daughter but I was adamant that we should keep it for some other use. The seat belt is actually an infants lap belt from a flight on Jetstar and we accidently took it with us – at least she’ll be very secure in it!

The basket at the back is from a broken plastic toolbox.

All in all a very clever design I think – now we could just do with some nice weather to try it out!

 

Upcycled Wrist Warmers

There’s a few tutorials out there for upcycled wrist warmers – this one includes instructions for lining them.

So I had a lovely stripey jumper that I just didn’t wear that often and I thought it was perfect for wrist warmers.

I already have a pair so I used one as a guide for the size. I lined it up and just added extra length on either end to allow for seams.

Next you need to try it on and mark where to sew to make a thumb hole. If you’re going to line them with other fabric you’ll need to allow extra width to account for the extra layer of fabric. I only just added enough, next time I’ll add more.

Also mark with pins down the side of the arm if the jumper is quite roomy. I made it noticeably wider here to allow for the lining fabric. It’s best if you do the pinning with the sleeve on inside out as I had to redo it after I took the photo!

Stitch where you have pinned it. I used the overlocker for the side seam but it really wasn’t necessary. A straight and zig zag stitch is fine. Then snip out the ‘V’ at the top, taking care not to snip the stitches.

Next you need to cut out the lining fabric. This can be a bit of trial and error due to the difference in stretch of each type of fabric. I used microfleece which wasn’t nearly as stretchy as the jumper and the first one I cut out was way too small. To get the measurement right I put the wrist warmer on and measured how wide it was when being worn – hence the difference you can see in the photo. Mark and stitch as you did for the outer fabric.

Next turn the outer fabric the right way out and slide over the lining fabric so the right sides are together. Pin and stitch the raw edges together.

Then turn the lining inside the outer fabric and stitch again about 1cm from the edge.

At the bottom end you will need to turn in approx 1.5cm of both fabrics and stitch them together.

The thumbs are the trickiest part. I cut off about 1cm of the lining and folded the outer fabric inside, covering the rough edge of the lining. I then handstitched the seams.

And there you have it! Lovely, cosy wrist warmers for the winter!

Ethical Easter Chocolate!

This Easter I’m making my own chocolate – sugar fee, dairy free and fair trade (not to mention delicious!). My ingredients are sourced from Loving Earth who have a healthy, sustainable and fair trade philosophy. This recipe is taken from Chocchick – thanks girls!

Ingredients:

  • 100g Raw Cacao Butter
  • 6 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Agave Syrup
  • Paste from 2 Vanilla bean pods (optional)
  • 1 Small pinch of rock salt (optional – use good quality sea salt to lift the chocolate flavour)

Ensure all utensils and the bowl are dry before the ingredients are added as water can cause the mix to separate.

Directions:

Place the raw cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of water on a low heat and melt gently (Bain Marie or Baño Maria in Spanish).

Once melted add 6 tbsp raw cacao powder and mix well using a metal whisk (wooden spoons don’t blend as well). Ensure the heat is low and add the Agave syrup and mix well. Taste the mix once melted and add more agave syrup if you prefer a sweeter taste. Just a warning though – it’s not the same kind of sweet as sugar and I wouldn’t add more than 3 tablespoons. Then add the vanilla bean paste and salt.

Once completely melted and blended remove from heat. Your mixture should be runny and easy to pour and can be poured or spooned into ice cube trays, silicone moulds or even plastic tubs to make fabulous raw chocolate bars.

I put my chocolate mix into my Gran’s milk jug for easy pouring (and just because I like to use it!).

I added almonds into some chocolates and organic sultanas into others. Place in the freezer and leave to set for about half an hour on in the fridge for around 2 hours.

Tap out and try not to eat them all in one go!

If you’re used to eating Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate these may not be to your taste. However for any dark chocolate lovers like me – they are amazing!

Lucky Miss Maggie got her first taste of chocolate by licking the bowl…Happy Ethical Easter everyone!

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