Monday, November 11, 2019

What Doesn't Kill You

I read this on a friend's whatsapp status:
What doesn't kill you, comes back stronger.
I had a really good laugh because I immediately imagined Aliens. Did you?

Today is 11.11. A big day for sales. Hubs went out early to buy all the things. He went shopping from the western part of Singapore to the eastern part of Singapore before going to work. At midday, we talked on the phone and he said he hasn't bought anything yet because it seems he already owns all the things he wants to buy. Anyway, I bet he did buy something...

So, where was I? Yes, last month I had vertigo. Wh-what? Yup. That thing that whoozed round. It lasted at most 1 minute. For 1 terrifying minute, I thought I was going mad with the world spinning round and round. I shouted for hubs and you may not know him but he's not very good when it comes to comforting anyone. But he's all I've got and so I shouted for him. He ran into the bedroom and I told him what was happening. You know what he did? He gave me a big hug and tried to reassure me. He might even have patted me. I don't remember. I was spinning out of control. Yup, this person who deserted me while I was giving birth to my first born (he went to eat roti prata) and almost deserted me to go buy shoes when I was about to make a life changing decision to remove my gall bladder - he did the right thing this time. I felt so reassured by his hug that I was able to tell him to google for a solution. And fortunately, the solution was quite simple - turn your head to another direction. Which I did and the spinning slowly stopped. Unfortunately, I had severe motion sickness afterwards and had to lie very still in bed for the next 6 hours. Which was probably quite stupid because I should have gone to the doctor and gotten medicine and maybe I wouldn't be in my current state.

After that day, I was so afraid of triggering another attack that I was too cautious and it resulted in a very stiff neck. You may not know this but I have a history of neck pains and headaches. The stiff neck brought back an avalanche of pain on my neck, shoulder and head. My sleep was terrible and I kept having vertigo nightmares. Night after night. 

I came up with a solution which was to wear the $99 wedding ring hubs had bought me before we got married. Every time I woke up I would look at my ring to reassure myself nothing was spinning. I got the idea from the movie Inception.

I thought as time went by, I would get better and I thought I did. Then I went running and I discovered running was hard. I kept feeling like I was going to fall. When other joggers ran past me, I felt like I was going to fall. When I went round a corner, I felt like I was going to fall. I had to stop ever so often to look at my ring. After a few days, I went for a short run again to check if I was better and it was very bad.  I never thought I would say this but if I can't ever run again, I think it'll break me.

That 1 minute of vertigo really screwed up my mind. I am so psychologically scarred. I felt I was going insane. Walking fast, running, going round corners, going up the escalators - actions I've never given a thought to all became very hard. Since I don't actually fall, it means it's all in my head, my pathetic mind.

So finally I ran (ok, I walked slowly) to my doctor. This clinic had previously taken care of my neck pains and headaches. After a consultation, it was agreed that I should take medication for 3 months and if things don't improve, well, we'll cross the bridge when we reach it.

I've taken the medication for 5 days and I have improved a little. I still wake up at night but at least no more nightmares. Previously, I've felt the need to hold on to hubs or my daughter when I went out but today I managed to go to the supermarket alone and I had very little anxiety. Sure I had to pause now and then to assure myself but I didn't look at my ring at all. So that's a big leap for me!

Unfortunately the medication has an awful side effect. It gives me a ginormous appetite. I keep eating and thinking of eating. In 3 months, you will see a very fat Jane. I'm currently 58kg. Let's see how much weight I put on in 3 months time.

While the meds are healing me, I decided I had better line up some stuff for me to work on, to take my focus away from you-know-what. Sewing and crafting has historically helped me overcome many problems so it doesn't hurt.

This was my WIP from 2018 and I'm determined to finish it. I've already moved my stitches to a longer needle and knitted on a few more rows so yes, it's possible to make a shawl out of it.

This lace scarf I'm going to kill. It's actually a lot longer now and I was thinking I don't like it and it's far too narrow to be of any use so it will give me no pleasure to frog it.

I was going to make a sweater but I lost interest so another project to frog.

I have a yard of this fabric and I don't love it so I'm in the midst of making it into something to wear.

Hubs commissioned something something so I'll show you once I can motivate myself to do the something something.

This is the fabric my daughter bought for her Cleo skirt. I'll get cracking soon.

I became inspired to make this while making the cats quilt. Then I lost steam. I don't want to kill it so I hope I get inspired again.

I started a sourdough starter. Again. The ones from a couple of years ago were thrown out. I started another one 2 months ago but it didn't rise at all. Yesterday I thought what better way to occupy my mind than a pet to feed and nurture? So I started another starter this time using half wholegrain flour and half bread flour. Already I can see it's looking good.

This year I did a lot of decluttering and I have already given away a lot of stuff to either to charity or the karung guni man. Hubs parted with a lot of stuff which is amazing given his tendency to hoard. I have decided to give up on collecting my Pullips and Dals. I'll be selling most of my dolls and if you're interested, please stay tuned. I'll list them this month. I won't be shipping overseas so I hope you'll understand.

That's all I've planned for November. I'll also be working on a new bag pattern so that will probably take up most of my time.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

My Handmade Wardrobe - Hit And Miss

Although I've been sewing seriously since 2007, I haven't made many garments. I hope this doesn't shock you but I prefer to buy factory made clothes. Why? You must be screaming. The simple reason is it's a lot cheaper.

I live in Singapore and it's hot as hell. I wear cotton knit t-shirts 99.9% of the time and I wear them with a pair of dri-fit shorts or sometimes a skirt. Knit fabric is ridiculously expensive in Singapore so it's hard to justify making my own t-shirts. As for shorts I keep getting hubs' hand-me-downs so...

Having said that, I still consider making more garments simply to amuse myself and most importantly, use my fabric.

I have only made a total of 10 wearable items, mostly in 2018. Out of these, I considered 5 a complete fail so I never wore them. Not even once.

This pair of pants (blogged here) did not agree with me mainly because of the fit. It was too roomy and made me look fatter and for me, that's the most important criteria. Clothes that make me look fatter are out. I considered altering it but it's something I'm putting on a list but will probably never be motivated enough to do.

This lengthened Sailor Top (blogged here) I absolutely could not wear because of my family's reaction to it. Anyway, I can't wear it now even if I want to because guess what? My shoulder has broadened. Well, either that or I've gotten waaay fatter.

Shirt No. 1 with buttons (blogged here) never got worn simply because I didn't think it was good enough to wear out. As for wearing it at home, it just didn't make sense because I prefer to wear t-shirts.

The racerback adventure tank (blogged here) turned out not too bad but I made it 2 sizes too small. My daughter wore it to school once and decided it didn't suit her.

You must be wondering why I consider the One Hour Top (blogged here) a fail. Honestly, I don't know either. It doesn't look too bad but when I wore it, I felt I had to keep fussing with the sleeves. That annoyed me and that is why I only wore it once. Hubs kinda likes it and has asked me more than once, what happened to the polka dot thing? I told him I've lost it.

I consider these 5 successful.

The Acacia panty (blogged here) is such a perfect fit that I never wore it for fear of ruining it. I never made another pair though because I don't have a suitable fabric.

The Sailor Top (blogged here) I think I've worn out about 5 times. Then I forgot about it and one day I found it again and I tried to wear it but as we've previously agreed, my shoulders have broadened  (not fattened) and it's no longer comfortable. I'm a bit sad and one day maybe I'll make another one in a larger size. Dem those broad shoulders of mine!

Shirt No. 1 (blogged here) surprised me because I didn't think I would wear it that often. I usually wear it to the supermarket and I pair it with my dri-fit shorts. The shirt is a bit short though so I have to remember not to raise my arms unnecessarily.

I consider this skirt (blogged here) a success not because I wear it often. I haven't actually. What I love about this skirt is that it is a perfect fit and I use it as a bluprint of my lower body.

The Cleo Skirt (blogged here) was a surprise hit. When I made it, I thought I would wear it a few times at most but I've worn it so many times that some thread came loose and I had to sew some reinforcements. My daughter loves it and has requested for one. I think what makes this skirt work is the fabric choice and the 2 pockets. My daughter has already bought fabric for her Cleo skirt and hopefully I'll get off my fat ass and sew it.

Overall I'm pretty happy with my 50% pass rate. You can't be happy with every item you made. I'm going to start making wearable again (because I have a ton of fabric to get rid of) and let's see my success rate for the next 10 pieces.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Have you ever hated a fabric so much?

Dear friends,

I want to ask you a question. Have you ever hated a piece of fabric so much you lie in bed, night after night thinking up ways to kill it? Like wait till it's asleep and use a pillow to slowly snuff the life out of it? Have you hated the way the fabric smells and looks, the wrinkles on the face cloth, the smug looks it gives you, practically everything about the fabric irritates you. And of course how the fabric keeps forgetting to put the dirty dishes in the sink. I mean, just FOUR more steps and you reach the sink. Umm, where was I? Yes, the fabric I hate so much...

A long time ago, I was very into linen cotton fabric. I would buy them mostly for embroidery which I incorporate in my pouches which I used to sell at craft markets. One day I was at Chinatown looking for a solid colour linen cotton but I couldn't find any. Most times I would walk away but on that regretful day, I allowed myself to be talked into buying this butt ugly fabric. What was I thinking? Witchcraft must have been involved! Yes, it had the nice colour of linen which I love but look what's splattered all over it. Duck shit! Bits and pieces and chunks and chunks of duck shit. Try as I did, I couldn't use the fabric for a pouch or a bag. I did use small pieces of it for godknowswhat but anyway I had around 3/4 yard of it left and it sat on my sewing table for years. Every year I kept telling myself I must get rid of it once and for all. I have to use it somehow. But nothing. At the beginning of this year I washed it and it stayed hung in the laundry room for a few months. Finally 2 weeks ago, I washed the fabric because I decided the best way to kill the fabric was to use other fabric to hide it. So yes, I was going to make a quilt out of it.

I wanted the quilt to be portrait style so I needed to cut the fabric because some of it had been cut out and the shape was irregular. So the bottom was made up of 2 pieces joined together. But the important thing is I used every bit of the fabric.

I chose to use a simple cat applique (this one) because I wanted to use a needle turn applique technique instead of my usual raw stitch technique. I didn't sit down to plan this quilt as I was lazy. Instead I decided to make it as I go. I started with the big blue cat on top. Next I added the two cats at the bottom. I thought the cats looked too serious so I added the two floating cats on top and finally the tails drove me nuts so I added the blue cat in the middle to balance it out. I was quite pleased with the final arrangement of the applique and wouldn't change anything if I had to do it all over again. I eyeballed everything so it's not 100% proportionate. It's okay. I'm not one bit bothered by it. Well, I said I used needle turn applique technique but in reality I used my fingers to turn under. I don't know how people use their needles to do the turning. For me I feel so clumsy. My fingers manage to do a good job. For the really tight corners or angles, I use tweezers.

I think it's obvious I belong to the show-your-stitches camp. It only took me 3 afternoons to complete the applique. I did it while watching k-drama. The only painful part about the applique is I used my new fabric stash which I bought this year. I have so much fabric but I couldn't find anything else that I felt would be able to overwhelm the background fabric. My plan was to go colourful.

I had all these bits and pieces of fabric left after the applique was cut out so I wanted to use them up as borders. I had to pull in a few pieces of other scraps to make up the border. I notice that I tend to use a lot of blues in my quilts.

I found some batting in the storeroom and joined up some of my mother's batik to make up the back. Because the size of the quilt was larger than what I was used to handling I decided to spray bast the layers together. What a chore. There was a lot of squatting and kneeling because I had to do it on the floor. And it was smelly. I wore a mask but I got a headache afterwards.

After all that, I had to quilt the layers together. Guess what? I decided to do it by hand. I used a Sashiko thread and Sashiko needle. Still it didn't go quite as quickly. I wanted the thread to blend in more but the only colour I had that was close enough to linen was this copper colour.

Finally, the binding. My first choice was indigo. But that would mean having to go out to buy it and that would defeat the purpose of this whole exercise which is to use the fabric I already own. Finally I decided the next most pleasing choice would be this bright orange. I had found it in the storeroom, about 1 yard's worth. When I first started sewing bags around 2007, I wasn't as knowledgeable about fabric and I would buy these cheap poly-cotton fabric to practice my sewing. Well, this fabric is what's left from that "era".

The finished quilt is 28" across and 29.5" tall. It's not nearly as large as I imagined but the size was dictated by the fabric I hated. Now that the quilt is complete, I no longer see the background fabric. Instead I see the lovely cats. I think I did a really good job of "killing" the fabric. The one thing I would change is the back. I wished I had used a playful cats or even dogs fabric print but I had to stick to my principles!

I showed the quilt to my kids and both of them said SO CUTE! What do you think?
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