But I don’t Feel Sick

Before I go too far today I will be discussing a health issue but I must stress from the start it is not Cancer.

I have talked about how Womble and I gave up smoking in 2022 but I omitted a small part of the story, ok a fairly large part. When I went to my GP to get nicotine replacement patches I thought I would also get my reflux (which I have had for years untreated) investigated. I agreed to a routine blood test which revealed I had elevated calcium levels in my blood. Repeat bloods showed it wasn’t a one off result and I had hypercalcemia.

Image from Parathryoid.com

I had medical imaging scans and further tests to identify the issue including a 24 hour urine test. If you have never had to do a 24 hour urine test it is exactly that. You collect all your urine for an entire 24 hour period. I was given a takeaway container to pee in and pour into a large container. I would suggest getting an old plastic water bottle and cutting off the top to make a funnel to pour the urine into the large container, trust me it makes it easier. Finally an adenoma (benign tumor) was found on one of the parathyroid glands in my neck. You have 4 parathyroid glands in your neck, normally they are small but one of mine was 8mm which is about twice as large it should have been. When they are enlarge they produce too much of the parathyroid hormone which regulates the calcium levels your blood. There is no known reason for these adenomas or abnormalities to occur. They aren’t caused by smoking which naturally was my first automatic assumption.

We always hear that calcium is meant to be good for the body. In Australia the message is pushed to women in particular, make sure you have enough calcium. As you age you need calcium to keep your bones strong. For 15 years I had regularly consumed diary in my diet to keep my bones strong. What I wasn’t aware of is that too much calcium can have the opposite effect and degrade your bones. After the adenoma was found I was sent for a bone density scan and that was when osteoporosis was diagnosed. They scan your ankles, wrists, lower back and hips. It was only in my hip area that osteoporosis was present. I’m not surprised it was in that area. Due to this issues I have had since birth, which you can read about here, my hips already have arthritis so I think may been more susceptible to osteoporosis. At 42 I’m considered young to have osteoporosis. The treatment for me is different to an older person. I didn’t have to change my diet or lifestyle as I am already pretty active and regularly go to the gym. I started a once a week medication which does have some restrictions on how you take it, you can’t do certain activities or consume certain foods within a time frame around it. I get up between 5 – 6 am on a Saturday just to take it within the restrictions. In February I started to focus on my fitness again and concentrate on losing the “Covid” kilos. Like many I have gained weight over the last 3 years. I brought a fitness tracker and started to monitor my daily steps. I surprised myself at how many steps I actually do in a day without trying. I’m not getting obsessed with the fitness tracker (which is why I had never got one in the past) but use it as reminder to move. Food wise I started to eat more healthier again (except for the Easter hot cross buns, but I didn’t eat chocolate)

My impressive bruise which following a CT contrast scan

In January I saw a surgeon and was booked into have a Parathyroidectomy to remove the adenoma two weeks later in February. Womble and I put ourselves in a mini lockdown ahead of the surgery. One day we decided to walk to the shops for a day out and to return my library books. We wore masks and ate outside away from others. A week later Womble started to get sick but as he hadn’t left the house in a week we didn’t think anything of it. Two days later we did a RAT test on him which was Covid positive. He has underlying medical issues so we knew if he got Covid he would be very sick from it. He went to hospital that afternoon and I was able to visit with him everyday. I was feeling ok and I had no symptoms. The day before my surgery I did a PCR test anyway just as a precaution. That evening my result came back positive. Womble felt bad as I caught Covid from him but it couldn’t be helped, we did everything we could. I was with him the 48 hours prior to him getting tested when he was really sick so I don’t think the time I spent with him when he was in hospital is when I caught it. I had Covid in May last year so it was second time round for me. I wasn’t as bad as the first time. I had very little symptoms, just really a headache but I think that was more dehydration. My surgery was delay by 2 months which is standard policy for elective surgery following Covid. Emergency surgery can be done with Covid but elective surgeries they put off.

Last week the surgery finally went ahead. It was a fairly quick surgery. I spent one night in the hospital. Working in the industry I happen to know a few surgeons so I picked one whom I’ve known for over 15 years, he was thyroid and parathyroid issues expert. We live in a large health precinct area. It was also really handy that the surgeons consulting rooms and the hospitals he operated at were all within walking distance from our apartment. I knew that I undergoing surgery was going to be a very stressful time for Womble, I wanted it to be somewhere close so that he could be on the hospital grounds for my surgery and come and visit the next day. I also by chance knew my anaesthetist as I use to work with him. I have said it in previous posts when I’m on the “other side” of the operating table it can be a bit stressful as I kind of know too much. Knowing and trusting both my surgeon and anaesthetist was a big weight off my shoulders, I was in safe hands.

As I use the crutch to walk with I have a rule that done I don’t have needles, blood tests or cannulas on my left arm. As you can see in the picture from earlier on in this post I can’t afford for a bruise to happen on the one arm I rely on so heavily. It was good knowing my anaesthetist as I didn’t have explain in depth why my left arm was off limits. In recovery I needed a post op blood test, as I had drip running they couldn’t use my right arm so they did it from my foot instead.

Image from Parathyroid.com

I didn’t Google Parathyroid Adenomas until my surgery was booked for February and I started doing research for this blog post. I titled todays post “But I don’t Feel Sick” and that was the truth. I didn’t have any symptoms to indicate anything was wrong. I was a little tired but everyone had been through a rough few years with the pandemic so we were all tired. I have always had issues with reflux and I have had issues with sleeping for years. I was getting headaches but I thought it was dehydration as I never really feel thirsty and therefor forget to drink. My memory was a little off and I had to watch my concertation levels at times but I just thought that was because I was tired. Looking at the above the list the biggest standout was “Lack of interest activities that you previously enjoyed” That rang bells in my head. I mentioned in my review post that in 2022 I lost my craft spark. I couldn’t pin point why but the love and enthusiasm I once had for crafting wasn’t there. My love of blogging had decreased, even my love for to the gym wasn’t there anymore. It was a relief to discover that it may have all been due to the adenoma. I mentioned this to my surgeon after the surgery and he said it is common for adenomas to cause depression and lack of interest. My surgeon and I are hoping now with the adenoma gone and I can get back to normal.

After the surgery I was told no lifting more than 5kgs for two weeks which means I get of some of the housework. Recovery takes a few weeks. I didn’t know but the parathyroid hormone levels return back to normal within 20 minutes. The blood test I had in recovery showed my levels had already returned to normal. I knew I would have a blood test the following morning to check the levels but it blew my mind that they could see a difference almost immediately.

It has been a big 5 – 6 months from when from when we first found out about elevated calcium until now. What I’m most proud of particularly in the early weeks was we didn’t use this issue as an excuse to stop our plan to quit smoking. I had one day where I had to wait hours between imaging scans on my own, old me would kill the time smoking but I didn’t. I didn’t give into the stress. Womble took a little longer than me to quit but he still did it. With the increased stress going on he still did it. It isn’t easy to quit smoking but we did it during one of the most stressful times of our lives. I’m really proud of that.

Now to start moving forward with our smoke free life.



10 Years Of Blogging

I knew my 10 year blogoversary was coming up this year but I couldn’t believe it had been that long.

When I was little I wanted to be a writer “when I grew up” I was a big reader and I remember writing lots of short stories, unfortunately, I don’t remember what any of those stories were I just remember sitting and writing in my room. By the time I was in my mid teens at school when you had to decide a career writing wasn’t a viable option, I needed a career that I knew I could get a job in that paid money.

I was inspired to start blogging after reading Rhonda Hetzel’s Down To Earth blog. Rhonda’s blog was focused on simple living. Rhonda wrote the most beautiful posts, each post was a pleasure to read. A lot of her posts were about her and her husband Hanno’s daily activities in their backyard. As a retired couple they were very self sufficient. Reading about a retired couple may not sound interesting but Rhonda was a talented writer. The way she worded each of her blog posts and the simple yet lovely photos drew you into every posts. I had the pleasure of once doing a workshop with Rhonda and it was one of best days I have ever had, I learnt so much and it was just a lovely day. She signed my Down To Earth book and I treasure that. Sadly last year Rhonda lost her beloved Hanno. Having met Rhonda, read her books and her blog posts for so long like many of her readers when she announced the news about Hanno, it felt like losing a member of your own family. Hanno had been ill for sometime so Rhonda hadn’t blogged like she had in previous years. In February this year she decided to close her blog and she wrote her last post. The blog is still available for the public to read, it really is a beautiful blog so I urge you to at least take a look at it even if the topic of simple living isn’t for you.

Rhonda sparked my love of writing again so I decided to combine my love of writing with my love of crafting. On 10th April 2013 I published my first post in the blogging world but my first proper post was on 12th April. My first post was my About post and the second post was a brief introduction about my crafting adventures.

10 years back when I started blogging I was mostly sewing items like crazy. I was making all the gifts that I gave to my friends, nieces and friends kids. Every weekend I was sewing, during the week I would sometimes sew or finish off gifts. I had a long list of Christmas and birthday gifts that I was ticking off. Back then the kids were all little so now most of them are in their teens. Little kids are easy to sew for, pick a soft toy (bonus points if it is a colour or theme the child likes) and they are happy. Soft toys are easy to make because it doesn’t matter if your seams are crooked or if you use unusual fabric. You can be really creative with soft toys, I do miss making them and sharing them on here.

Over the years what I was making started to change. I started getting into dressmaking which was something I didn’t think I would ever do. I didn’t love clothes shopping but at the same time I didn’t hate it, I would go to the shops and buy my clothes without thought. I will admit prior to starting dressmaking I had a preconception of what it involved even though I had watched my mum make clothes when I was little. In my head I thought dressmaking was about making dresses or structured clothing with stiff or fancy fabrics. It was all buttons and zippers, all of which I don’t actually wear. In fabric shops I never looked at any of the “dressmaking” fabrics so I ignorantly didn’t know or realise that it did include knit or soft woven fabrics that I felt comfortable in. The items you could make were the items I wore everyday. My mindset has now changed and I don’t like clothes shopping. Now I only shop for clothes if I can’t make the item myself easily. I don’t own jeans anymore, I’m too lazy to sew them (I do have a pattern) but I don’t want to go to shops and buy them either so I live my life without them. If you told me 10 years ago I wouldn’t own jeans I would have laughed at you. I like being self sufficient and making when my own clothes where I can. It feels good to look down during the day at what you are wearing and think hey I made that. I like that I can make clothing that fits in with my personality. I’m a little bit quirky and out there and I can make clothing to suit that by the fabric prints I use. I still don’t wear a lot of zippers and have never sewn a button on an item of clothing I have made.

Not long after I first started sewing I learnt that I could make items for charity. Charity making became a big part of my life. At first it was just sewn or knitted wildlife rescue pouches but over the years I’ve made soft toys, beanies, scarves and in recent years the items for our annual charity bags. I don’t list or count all the charity items I make on here. Some items I’m constantly making (I always have a wildlife rescue pouch on my needles) so it isn’t a finished project. Often I’m using the same pattern each time so I don’t want to bore everyone by showing what looks like the same item over and over.

In the early days the majority of items I made I gave away so blogging was a way for me to document and remember what I made or the way I made it. I enjoyed sharing my makes on here but the blog has come in handy on more than one occasion for me to remember the finer details on the making of an item, an online version of project notes. I am not making the same amounts of gifts that I once was so in recent years the content of the blog has changed. I have moved away from strictly focusing on craft and started to write about the non crafting side of my life. Years before I started blogging I was interested in simple living and being frugal. In terms of money I have always had the mindset of cutting back in some areas where you can will allow you to be more plentiful in other areas. I like the challenge of being frugal. I don’t mind spending money on things we have to buy but I don’t like wasting on it on things we don’t necessarily need if other options are available. I want to explore the topic of simple living on here more. I want to show that you don’t need to live in a house with a big backyard or live in an area surrounded by resources to follow the principles of simple living, you can do it even if you live in an apartment in the outer suburbs or have a disability. You can incorporate simple living into your everyday life by the small things that you do and the mindset you have.

For those who blog can understand that blogging can be a lot of work before you actually publish a post. In recent years I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked. I won’t go as far as saying blogging had become a chore but my enthusiasm has waned a little. I see everyone else’s amazing blogs which are so well written with fantastic photos and I feel like an imposter. I don’t feel like what I’m writing is interesting or I didn’t take the right photos when I made something. The gifts I made for last Christmas I forgot to photograph at all. I think I am having a midlife writing crisis! I need to use this 10 year milestone as chance to recalibrate and think about things. I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time to stop and read this blog, thank you for taking the few minutes of out your life to read my little ramblings. I need to shift from the mindset of I am writing for someone else back to I am writing for me. When I first started the blog I wrote it for me and if anyone else read it then bonus. I need to stop comparing my blog to others and just write my own little unique blog. I have always said I believe everyone has an interesting story to tell it is just a matter getting them to share it with the world. Moving forward that is what I’m going to do.


Our Flock

Last September I mentioned that Womble and I had decided to give up smoking. I’m proud to say that we have both been smoke free since the start of December. As Womble had been smoking for 60 years that’s a heck of an achievement. I won’t lie it wasn’t easy but with use of quit smoking aids and will power it was doable. The key was Womble was ready to quit and therefore he was able to stick at it. For me it was mostly a case of smoking out of habit or routine, if I wasn’t constantly doing it I didn’t miss it.

Pets were never an option for us when we smoking as it was unfair to subject an animal to the environment were in (smoking inside the apartment with the doors closed) Our balcony worms are fun but let’s be honest they aren’t very interactive. Once we stated discussing about being smoke free I started to look at our options for pets. Although we are both dog people, a dog wasn’t practical for us. A dog requires walking several times a day and you need to pick up it’s poo straight away plus they are small and can get under you feet easily. As 2 people with physical disabilities we don’t have the ability to bend down to the ground and some days we are too tired to go for walks, even if it just to take an animal downstairs to a grass area. We didn’t want to accidentally trip on the animal and cause harm to it or our ourselves. I have never been a cat person but Womble mentioned a cat in conversation so I did look into them. A cat did fit our situation or lifestyle, they are a trip hazard but I don’t think as much as dogs. The only concern I had was a cat would fit in with all my crafting as I leave it out all around the house. I know many crafters have cats without issues but I have friends with cats who are always stealing items including sewing pins so I was a bit weary. After another conversation with Womble we decided not to get a cat.

We are bird lovers so decided birds were the pet for us. I haven’t had a bird since I was a small child, Womble has had many birds over the years. I’m fascinated with birds and just want to play with them. My office at work looks out into a courtyard. If a bird flies into that courtyard I don’t want to do any work, I just want to go and play with it. I’ll watch, go up to glass and talk to it. At our old place we used to interact with the local birds a lot and it is something that I miss. I am a crazy bird lady.

We had been smoking free all year and I knew it something we were going to stick at so when I was on annual leave last month I decided it was time we got a bird. Womble was the bird expert and wanted a cockatiel as in the past he had them and had been able to teach them to talk. I didn’t care what we got or how many. A cockatiel is a good size bird, a little bigger than a budgie but not too large that it would feel cruel to keep them in a cage. We intended to be very interactive with our bird/s and handle them lot. We wanted to play with them, take them out of the cage at times. We needed bird/s that would do that.

In Australia these days a lot of pet shops don’t have live animals in them so it isn’t as easy to buy a brand new pet as it was in the 80’s and 90’s. In a way that is good as it makes you really consider the purchase of the pet (not just a spur of the moment “it looks cute” purchase) To introduce a bird into your home from scratch you may need to get the cage and food from a pet shop and then find a breeder that actually sells birds. After some research I discovered about a 20 minute taxi ride away (both Womble and I don’t drive) there was a large pet shop which sold live animals and all the items needed to set them up from scratch. As part of my pet research I looked into travelling with pets in taxis, as long as the pet is contained in a carrier box and the driver agrees you can transport pets in taxis. Of course guide dogs or registered companion animals are exempt from any restrictions.

At the pet shop we decided to get two birds. We had the space for two, they could keep each other company if we went away for couple of days, it gave us one each to play with. We ended up getting a male and female. We don’t intend to breed them that is just the combination of the birds that kind of chose us in the shop. We went up to their cage and they instantly started to interact with us more. Both birds were supposed to be hand raised so used to human contact but we don’t think they had as much human interaction as what was implied as when we got them home we discovered they both didn’t like being touched as much as the shop said but after 3 weeks of us they are getting better. I will be honest and say we opted to have their wings clipped for their safety and ours. Although when they are out of the cage we have the balcony door shut we don’t want to risk them escaping. We have tall bookshelves and if they fly up on top of those we can’t reach them. They can still fly a little with clipped wings but not a lot. We had a couple of names picked prior to going to buy them but we wanted to see the actual bird/s to figure out if the names suited them.

Custer is the male, he is I guess your traditional coloured cockatiel. Both birds were meant to be born last November but we think he is a little bit older than the female. He loves eating different fruits and vegetables, even crumpet. He protests the most when you handle him. He will squawk, bite, try to break free from your hands so you really need to hold onto him. We don’t think his wings are clipped as much as the female as he can fly a little more but not a lot. He can be a handful to put back into the cage if he doesn’t want to go back in. He is getting better. We are trying to pat him more inside the cage and in the last couple of days we’ve noticed when he is out he is coming up and sitting on us more. He is motivated by food so we can use that interact with him. Womble is starting to have some success with getting him to talk, he can be very chatty at times. Womble named him after General Custer but we just call him Custer.

Bobbin is the female. Her colouring is called cinnamon. She is very sweet but she is a nibbler. She is constantly biting and nibbling at everything. She has taken great interest in my earrings to the point I sit with tape over my earrings when she is out as she has pulled one out. She is getting better and some days doesn’t even look at them. Apparently the females don’t normally talk but Womble said she is trying so she may just suprise us. She doesn’t like being picked up or pattered but will jump on your hand if you put it out. Now if she falls off the couch she will stand on your foot and wait for you to put your hand down. If she is a playing mood when Womble is cleaning the cage she will jump on his arm each time he puts it in. If I walk up to the cage and put my face up to the bars she will come up and give me kisses. I picked the name Bobbin partly because as it is a sewing term but also because I thought it was a cool name for a bird. She certainly does a lot of bobbing around and moving everywhere.

We adore our flock. They have fitted in nicely. Womble does the majority of care for them but they have given him another interest. The cage we got is on wheels, each morning we wheel it to the side of our lounge area so they can see us if we are in the lounge or kitchen. I turn the tv off and just watch them as they are always doing something. We do have some store brought toys as well as some homemade (yes I have been crafting for the birds and will post it on here at some point) Over the weekend we both laughing so much as Bobbin sat with her head in a half chewed toilet roll. She wasn’t doing anything just sitting with head inside it. As they settle in more their personalities are starting to really show.

Beware over time I will share more posts about our flock.


Mini Counting Book

Over the years I have made many fabric books as they are great gifts for babies between 0 – 2. In the past I have followed patterns but to be honest I don’t remember if I even own the patterns anymore or if I have passed them on. Fabric books are really easy to make so a pattern isn’t required.

Books can have as many pages as you want in them. You can do numbers 1 – 10, the entire alphabet, shapes. For old toddlers you can make busy books adding zippers, buttons, buckles, ties that they can play with to help develop their fine motor skills. The pages can be as large or as small as you want too. This time I decided to only make a mini counting books and only did 1 – 5. This was an additional gift to go with the bibs I made.

I make any fabric book I do low maintenance for mum and dad which means all fabrics used need to be machine washable. The book will be chewed on, have stuffed dropped on it, sticky fingers etc. I want my books to be used and when they get dirty to be thrown in the wash. On this book I used linen for the pages and wool felt for all the shapes. The binding strip on the outside is cotton. If you are using felt I do suggest using wool felt as it holds up better to washing than the regular felt you buy. It does cost more but long term it is better value if you want to wash it.

I raided my felt stash for suitable size pieces of felt then cut most of the shapes and all of the numbers using my Sizzix Big Shot machine. I do trim some of the numbers as the die design I own adds a few extra curves to the numbers on the ends which I don’t really like.

I hand embroidered all the pieces to each page before assembling the book on the sewing machine. I didn’t use any interfacing behind each page this time but it isn’t noticeable. I’m quick at hand sewing so I got all the hand sewing done in no time. In past books I have hand stitched the numbers or words which does take a little longer than just blanket stitching around a felt number.

I think this is the smallest book I’ve made in terms of page size. I wanted a mini one that mum or dad could thrown in a bag before they go out the door or something they could give bub during change time to keep them distracted (feedback from previous recipients have said they are great for this) Making this book I forgot how much fun I have during the process of it. Even though I have kept this book basic in terms of shapes and fabrics it was still fun to raid my felt stash seeing which bright scrap pieces I could use and where to place each one . I have said it many times over the years I’m sure I get more enjoyment during making the toy than the child does playing with it. I’m a big kid who never has really grown up and my inner child comes out in every toy that I make.


Cutlery Pouch

I have mentioned on here before about my food related OCD issues. One of them is that I don’t like touching my food with my hands when I’m out, if I can avoid it I do. Sometimes you can get utensils sometimes you can’t. At work in my desk drawer I had packets of plastic utensils but I decided to get a set of reusable ones and need something to hold them in.

If I want a zipper pouch my first pattern of choice is the Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk. I have only ever made the pattern twice as a wristlet all the other times I’ve used the pattern for pouch or bag. The size I made this time is the regular box corner version. I set myself a challenge of choosing fabric from a plastic storage tub full of random small pieces. The fabric sizes aren’t big enough to make a full project with but too big to be classed as a scraps. In terms of the fabric print I won’t say I was looking for ugly fabrics but more fabrics I was unlikely to use in other projects for myself. The size of the fabric was more important as I was looking for pieces around the size of my pattern piece to avoid fabric waste. I’m not a big fan of stripes or animal prints but I’ll happily use them on a pouch like this.

I used a cotton dress zipper I found in my zipper stash, again it was a zipper I was unlikely to use in another project. I didn’t use any interfacing in this pouch as I wanted it to collapse down. I have a lot of items in my desk drawer so I didn’t want it to take up more room than necessary. I’m really happy how it turned out.

After using the cutlery I brought I discovered I didn’t like the shape of them. The spoons were an odd shape, they felt more like a scoop in my mouth not a spoon. They were really awkward to use. The forks felt too fat too. Unfortunately we didn’t have any spare cutlery at home so I purchased a metal set and replaced the plastic ones. There was no point holding onto a set that I wasn’t comfortable using. The new metal ones are a slightly different weight to our regular ones at home so we can distinguish between home or work ones. Buying the plastic set wasn’t a total waste, they are quite sturdy so Womble can use them out on the balcony when gardening as small tools are easier when working in pot plants.

I mostly take sandwiches to work but when I do need to use cutlery I’m happy that I have my own now. 


Pool Dress

Some projects jump the blogging queue and this is one of them. I’m so happy with how it turned out I just couldn’t wait to share it.

A little background to this dress. At the end of last year (summer time in Australia) I finally started using the pool in our apartment complex after it had been opened for over a year. To get to the pool and back I need to walk through a few common areas including those which have air conditioning. I didn’t like to wear just my swimming costume in transit so I would wear a t-shirt and wrap a towel around my waist. On more than one occasion the towel fell off as I walked, I struggled to hold on to it as I walked. I needed to come up with a better solution.

I decided a dress would be the easiest option as it gave me coverage over my torso area plus it was only one item of clothing I needed to make. I have many dress patterns in my stash but I’m a creature of habit and instead of trying something new and having to fit it I went with a top pattern which I had made 3 times before and lengthened it to a dress. Even though it is March and now autumn in Sydney we are having a period of hot weather, I wanted to get this dress made so I could wear it whilst the weather was still warm. The pattern I chose was the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top. This is my TNT (Tried and Tested) top pattern and now dress pattern it seems.

This wasn’t the first time I had lengthened a top pattern to a dress. I’d previously made a dress using the tutorial from Wendy Ward’s a Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics. In essence all you are doing is adding length to the bottom of both the front and back pieces. If the top doesn’t fit over your hips you may need to grade out the angle to fit your hips. I measured Peak dress to get an idea of how long to make my pieces. I decided on finished length of 43″ from top of shoulder to hem which in hindsight was a little long so next time I think I could do only 40″. The length doesn’t restrict my movement and I can still negotiate stairs in it.

The fabric I used was a terry toweling knit which has been in my stash for over 10 years. From memory I picked it up at a charity shop and have only used a small portion of it in a previous project nearly 10 years ago which is how come I know how long I’ve had it. I knew it would shed fibres when I cut it so I used pinking sheers instead of regular scissors to cut it out. This saved my floors immensely from looking like a fight with Big Bird.

I make my Cedar’s a little different to pattern instructions. The design has a centre front seam which I eliminate. I cut my front piece on the fold just like the back piece. Due to the seam allowance the front piece is 1″ wider than the back. I can’t remember what I did on my 3 previous ones, I think I placed the front pattern piece 1″ over the fold line of my fabric to remove the extra fabric. This time I moved my back piece 1″ back from the fold of the fabric so that I it would have the same amount of fabric. To make this top as low fabric waste as possible I pinned my front piece to the fabric, measured down 21.5″ from the bottom of it and drew a rectangle to make the front of the dress. From the bottom of the rectangle, I then drew up another 21.5″ and placed the bottom of my back piece and pinned it. My fabric wasn’t directional and didn’t have a nape so I could flip the direction of the pattern pieces. I’ve done this technique many times before on bag pieces but not on clothing and it seemed to work well, there was very minimal fabric waste.

Whenever I make an item with shoulder seams I reinforce the tops of the seams. Normally I use stay tape which I fuse on to the back pattern piece. This stops the shoulder seam from stretching out. For this dress I decided to use some of the same fabric to reinforce the seam. I didn’t know how well the stay tape would fuse to the towelling fabric and I had scrap fabric leftover so why not use it instead. After I cut out my pieces I measured along the top of the shoulder and cut two pieces to fit which were 1.5″ wide. On each strip I overlocked (serged) the short ends and one of the long ends. I then placed them on each shoulder of the back piece and stitched my shoulder seams as normal. They are rolling a little as this is a knit fabric. I’d forgotten I have used this technique before but with a narrower piece as the shoulder and in a fabric that didn’t shed. If I do this again with a wider strip like in this dress I would top stitch down the pieces before I did my side seams. On this garment I’m not bothered by the rolling in. I constructed this dress all on the overlocker and only used the sewing machine for the binding.

I make 2 other small modifications when making my Cedar’s:

  • I add between 1″-1.5″ to the end of the sleeves as I don’t hem them the traditional way
  • I don’t put a facing on the neckline instead I use bias binding or a band

On this dress I used binding on both the neckline and sleeves. I had some leftover soft cotton twill bias binding I’d made previously so used that. Normally I sew the binding to front and flip it back to the inside of the garment and stitch it down so you don’t see it but I decided to have some fun and make the binding a contrast feature so this time I did the opposite sewing it down on the front. The bottom of the dress is a double fold hem. My hot ruler came in handy for this and it took no time to do.

I did have the thought I hope I’m more banana than Big Bird which is something I never thought I would ponder. I actually really like this dress hence why it jumped the blogging queue. It is functional, it used a fabric and binding which I had on hand so it is sustainable and decluttering at the same time. I was a little worried about the colour (I’m not a bright yellow person) but I think this dress actually looks cute.


Polka Dot Unicorn

When I came across the Rebecca Page Unicorn Pillow pattern I knew I needed to make it. The pattern is free if you sign up to her newsletter. This is technically a pillow but you could also call it a stuffed toy as it is more 3 dimensional than a regular pillow.

Depending on how big you call a fabric scrap you could make this all from scraps. For me I term scraps as offcuts leftover from other projects. I went shopping my fabric stash for a piece of fabric large enough for the main body and the ears which is the main part of the pillow. I found a thickish quilting cotton that was just about the right size to use it all up. I then raided my scrap stash for the mane, horn and inner ear fabrics. Both the horn and the mane have a gold glitter print on them. A unicorn needs sparkles. The inner ear fabric was just another scrap of quilting cotton. You don’t see the inner ear that much so it doesn’t need to be fancy. I don’t normally sew closed eyes on toys but on this occasion I followed the pattern and did so, her head is down so she does look like she is sleeping. Instead of using felt or embroidering it on as per the instructions I used pom pom trim. It adds that extra dimension and texture.

For the nostrils instead of using felt or fabric I crocheted a heart using a variegated embroidery floss from my stash. I think it is adorable. I used the heart pattern from another crochet pattern I was making at the time. I remember years ago crocheting a tiny heart so I know there are heaps of free pattern out there for them.

This was a simple yet very cute pillow. I do have another one semi cut out so I will be making it again for another gift. 


Calista V 25K Bralettes

Confession at the end of 2022 I made another Bralette but I thought before I blog about it I should post about a couple I made in 2021 that I never got around to sharing yet.

Back when I was doing “To Sew” lists which were lists of clothing patterns I wanted to try the Calista Curvy Bra by Stitch Upon A Time was on my list. It is a sports bra which came in 2 versions for the front and 4 options for the back. The 25K bralette by Rad Patterns I came across in a Facebook group. It is a plain sports bra that comes in multiple cup option. The pattern is free for those who join the Rad Patterns Facebook group otherwise the pattern is only $5 (US) so not too much and I have to say is worth the money. I decided to make both bras at the same time.

At the time my measurements were
Full Bust – 46″
Under Bust – 38″

For both bras I ended up picking size XL for the front/back and size L bottom band. Both patterns had options for the cup size so I chose the larger option for both. For the Calista I kept it simple so went plain front and back. On both I used cotton lycra for both the inside and outside. On the front I used a print and the back was black.

Unfortunately the Calista didn’t work for me. Across the back it fitted but at the front there just wasn’t enough fabric to give me coverage. I couldn’t even get away with just wearing it around the house. I found the shoulder straps to be very narrow too. You sew it via the burrito method and it was very hard to pull the right way out with the narrow straps.

The 25K was a lot better. It was a similar shape to the Calista but I had full coverage at the front. The only drawback as such is that there is a little bit of uni boob going on but that isn’t too much of an issue. It is so comfortable. It is designed for low support. In 2022 I pretty much lived out of it on weekends if I had to dash to the local supermarket (about 60min round walk) It gave me a break from having to wear wires (which I do Monday – Friday) To make it more supportive instead of using cotton lycra you could use athletic or swim knits or line it with power mesh.

With the leftover fabric I made a pair of Scrundies. It was the first time since I was about 11 that I had a matching underwear set. At the start of 2022 I had to have biopsies done (they came out negative) I wore my set to the appointment. In my mind I just needed that little bit of me made clothing and comfort to get me through it. The biopsies were done under local and I didn’t have any pain after it but it was very reassuring to know I was going to put back on a comfy bra afterwards.

I offered the Calista to a friend’s daughter but it was too big for her so in the end I unpicked it. I haven’t done anything yet with the fabric. The pieces are an awkward size, too small for me to cut into undies for me. It is in my knit scrap box and I’ll figure out something with it.

After making the two I had been meaning to make another 25K but never got around to it. If I was to make another I would take up the shoulders a little. You have the option of putting non roll elastic in the bottom band which I might also try. I’m unlikely to make another Calista, I think I would need to do a full bust adjustment which is a lot of work when I know the 25K fits. As mentioned at the start I recently made another bra which, like the 25K does need some adjustments but it does fit, so I won’t be making another Calista.


Make Do And Mend – Denim Tote Bag

Back in 2015 I made a denim tote bag. It was to replace a tote bag which I had for nearly 10 years. At the time I said I hoped it would last me 10 years.

Unfortunately late last year the bag got a hole in it. Womble didn’t realise it had fallen from his grasp and it dragged on the ground besides his wheelchair for a period of time. The hole wasn’t huge but it was large enough and in an awkward position that you had to be careful what you carried in it. As the bag gets used a lot by Womble these days I decided to repair it. There was one jagged tear and a couple of places where the fabric was grazed. The easiest way to repair it was to put a patch over the entire area so the grazed areas wouldn’t later turn into holes.

For the patch I used an offcut of denim leftover from when I made the aprons. The denim is slightly thicker than the stretch denim which I used to make the bag but it isn’t too bulky, it isn’t like a jeans denim. I measured the area around the hole and cut my patch an extra 1″ wider and taller. Using my hot ruler I ironed over a 1/2″ seam all around the patch. I wanted a generous seam allowance so that I could stitch it on securely. I hand stitched it into place. Given the location the patch was it in it was easier to sew it by hand instead trying to manipulate it around on the sewing bed.

I’m really pleased at how it turned out. I like the little bit of contrast the patch adds. It is also a great little visual reminder that I’m making sustainable choices and prolonging the life of items where I can.


Book – A Zero Waste Life In Thirty Days

Another of my library borrows was A Zero Waste Life In Thirty Days by Anita Vandyke. Once again prior to reading the book I knew nothing about the author, the title caught my attention as I was looking through the online library catalogue. Anita is actually from Sydney so it was nice to a zero waste book written by a local.

The book is written as a 30 day challenge to start the reader off on living a zero waste lifestyle. The book has the traditional introduction to zero waste living chapter then is broken into 2 halves
Days 1 – 15 – Think and Do
Days 16 – 30 – Reflect and Review
The book focuses on broader activities instead of physical items to swap out of your life. Each day is like a mini chapter where you are asked to an activity that day and then an explanation is given as to why you are doing that activity, it is important to understand why you are doing something.

For each activity there is 3 levels of participation

  1. Reduced waste
  2. Low waste
  3. Zero waste

It allows the reader to perform the activity at the level they are most comfortable with at the time, the reader can ease themselves into zero waste living slowly. Anita points out that the key to living a sustainable life is that it needs to be sustainable for you. As someone who is lazy I find that point very true, for you to actually change your lifestyle it needs to be changes that you can continually do easily or you won’t stick with them. Zero waste or sustainable living isn’t hard but it is somewhat of a change to how the majority of people live and it can take time to adjust and create new habits. By starting small and reducing you can overtime increase to a level you can maintain.

This book has a big emphasis on the link between zero waste living and minimalism. Only having items that you need or that are meaningful to you means you are consuming less which is better for the plant but also for your mental health as there is stress or visual clutter. One of the activities I found interesting, but it may sound a bit morbid is to write your own eulogy. Wait what does that have to do with zero waste? It allows the reader to think about in the end what do they want to be remembered for? Will people remember you for your values and generosity or because you had the latest fashion clothes? You character and values are more important than keeping up with the latest trends. Zero waste living is also about using your time more meaningfully, doing activities which have a purpose instead of mindlessly consuming social media. Social media has a purpose (you’re reading a blog post which is considered social media) but the types of social media you consume is important. Informative or educational social media helps to broaden your mind but social media that is feeding ads to get you to consume and purchase items you don’t need is zapping time away from you that you could better use to do all things you say “I would if I had the time”

I didn’t do the 30 day challenge, I read the book in an afternoon/evening. It was a hot summers days, I sat on the balcony after a swim, it was really relaxing. I even remembered to take notes as I read. I’m not a novice in the zero waste world but I still found the book interesting. The way the book is set out with the mini chapters and the fact it measures 5.5″ x 7″ (14cm x 18cm) makes it the ideal “waiting” book for your bag. You know the times when you’re waiting for public transport or sitting waiting to see a doctor, you just want a book you can whip out and read in small chunks. This would also make a great gift for someone who is interested in the topic but doesn’t know where to start.