Crafting with a chronic illness: my experience with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Crafting with a chronic illness can be a bit of a roller coaster for some.  One day, your hobby is a lifeline, providing you with a focus and keeping your mind in the present, the next it is exacerbating your symptoms.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Non-Radiographic Ankylosing Spondylitis (which I will refer to as AS from now on).  At the time, it was almost a triumph because it had been a long year of visit various health professionals and being able to put a name to the symptoms provides a grounding in a way.  That is, of course, until you have to acknowledge that it is something that is not going to go away and will affect you for the rest of you life.

I thought it might be useful to share what I have found helpful for my circumstance in case it is also useful for someone else.  Everyone is different though, so you must keep problem solving until you find your own strategies.

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DIY Hair Towel Turban: Follow step by step on Youtube!

I’m excited to be able to let you know that I have finished editing a video where you can watch step by step how to make the hair towel turban, which is a free pattern you can download from this website in the shop here.

I’ve popped the video below, or you can pop over to Youtube to view it.

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Cosy Winter – the Ivy pinafore

I’ve been enjoying a bit of dressmaking this month and am finally cutting into some fabrics I bought in one go for numerous projects.  One piece of fabric was some navy polka dot cotton bought especially for the ivy pinafore pattern by Jennifer Lauren.

One worry I had at the very beginning was that I didn’t have enough fabric.  The pattern for view 1 advises to purchase 150cm wide fabric, and my own fabric was 115cm after pre-washing.  However, my fabric did not have a one way nap or design, so i was able to re-jig the cutting layout plan, which reduced fabric waste as well.  I may have enough to make a tote bag too at some point!

I still have my stash of ceramic buttons from taking pottery classes last year, and have only used one so far, so I wanted to use some of these if possible for the fastenings.  The pattern suggests larger buttons, and I was worried that they wouldn’t be big enough.  However, I left worrying about this until the button hole stage came up, and decided that my own buttons would work well.  It’s a real buzz to see my own handmade buttons on a garment!

I selected a traditional lining fabric for the lining, as I wanted this make to work well with tights, leggings or jeggings.  It was a little tricky to work with, and I ended up hemming the lining by hand, but I think it means I will get a lot more use out of it!

It’s a real joy to wear this garment.  It’s loose fittings with seam pockets, which makes it a great lazy Sunday wear when all I want to do is sit in my rocking chair and knit or crochet with a cup of tea!  I can imagine wearing it out on a walk too, when I am on the hunt for discarded rusty items to use when rust dyeing!  It’s definitely a make reserved for my days off!

I’ll have to try out the gable top sometime soon as I only have one top that goes nicely with this pinafore!  The gable top has a high neckline, which works well with this style of pinafore.  Looks like I will be getting the walking foot and ball point needles out very soon!

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Reversible loop scarf

One of my goals is to use up my stash for smaller items and gifts before purchase more fabric.  For a friend’s Christmas gift, I followed this aim and found some fabrics to use.

Following a guide from Love Sewing Magazine (issue 01), I cut 4 rectangles of cotton fabric, two in each fabric choice, and then stitched them together to create a loop scarf.

One issue with using the stash is finding two fabrics which work well together.  Although the purpose of the scarf is to have the option of two different looks, I didn’t want the fabric choices to clash too badly if you could see them both.

This was a nice simple pattern to follow and I am quite surprised at how warm a scarf made from dress cotton fabric can be!

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Review of 2016 highlights and lessons

It’s nice to pause and reflect back over the year before looking forward to the new year, so here are my highlights and lessons from 2016:

Highlights

  1. Ceramic buttons!
    I don’t have any plans to continue ceramics at the moment, but a highlight for me has been making ceramic buttons!  So far, I have only used one (which may be part of the reason I have decided to leave ceramics for the moment from my stream of hobbies) but I have plans in the new year to use more of them.
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  2. Free machine embroidery
    Free machine embroidery has increased the use of my sewing machine greatly.  Since taking a 10 week workshop at the beginning of the year, I’ve struggled to stop!  I find it very fun and an easy way to personalise makes without the use of an expensive embroidery machine!
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  3. Man Engine Stitch
    Following on from my discovery of free machine embroidery comes my most focused project using the method – The Man Engine stitched.  It took a day – from editing a photo on the computer which I took in St Austell – to stitching the design onto calico.
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  4. Instagram
    I hadn’t really used instagram until this year and I have found it a great way to connect with other crafters and keep up to date with designers and artists.
  5. Poppy Playsuit (by Sew Over it)
    The Poppy Playsuit is my favourite make of the year garment wise (just a shame that the UK isn’t ideal weather-wise for it!)
    final playsuit
  6. Upcycled pouffee
    The new cover for the inherited pouffee makes me smile!
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  7. Baby showers mobile (from Chloe Owens All Sewn Up)
    Probably the longest and probably the most complicated make of the year!  However, it does look nice now it’s finished (and I should have started it much earlier than I did)
    showers-mobile.jpg
  8. Upcycled t shirt cushions
    Another Christmas gift make to be shortlisted are the t shirt cushions.  They came out much better than expected and it has been great to get them out of my stash!
    cushions_tshirts.jpg

Lessons

  1. Sewing with knit fabrics
    The main points I learnt were to use stay tape to stop seams stretching too much and to use a walking foot.
    dress
  2. Starting presents much earlier!
    I did learn this lesson a long time ago, but I still struggle to adjust my working pattern accordingly!  A couple of years ago, I made everyone’s gifts well in time for Christmas.  It hasn’t happened again, but it will be something I strive towards in 2017.  While I always argue that I need the deadline looming to be motivated, I am going to try new methods to get that motivation working much earlier to make it less stressful!
  3. Don’t always follow patterns blindly
    I had trouble making the baby showers mobile by Chloe Owens as the fabric glue made it too hard to attach the flowers at the end.  In the end, I had to adapt the pattern anyway.
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