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Blog: Catch up and Fill in

You may have noticed, if you follow me on social media or Twitch. that there is a glaring gap in my presence from late February until last week. I’d love to say that I went on an exotic holiday. Maybe I won the lottery? Definitely not.

It started with a pain in the crook of my elbow. I had done a load of hand sewing the previous day and assumed I had irritated some sort of tendon or muscle. Within 12 hours there was a raised hot welt about the size of a £2 coin which then was about the size of my fist 24 hours later. My mum in law is a nurse and she thought it was cellulitis so up I went to the out of hours doctor and got antibiotics. It got better. Then worse. Much worse. Then I developed clots in the veins. Those spread from my wrist to my shoulder. 2 more courses of antibiotics and steroids followed and we thought we were winning until I suddenly couldn’t breathe. One ambulance ride and a lot of tests later, it was discovered that the clots were now in both of my lungs (pulmonary embolism). Which is pretty firmly in the ‘can be life threatening’ category. What complicated matters is that my pre-existing conditions meant it took practically a UN summit to decide on what medication was safe to take. 2 months later, I can honestly say I am beginning to feel better. I am still phenomenally tired and want to nap every 4 hours (good luck with that when you have a cat and a child!) and still have residual pain in the chest plus some arm swelling. The NHS, although pushed to their absolute limits and therefore slow, were fantastic and I hate to think what would have happened if we didn’t have that wonderful service access when it is needed.

So that scrubbed the last week in February, the whole of March and half of April. I had projects on hold which I knew needed finishing and that was quite stressful. Luckily the clients concerned were really understanding. It isn’t easy being self employed and then falling ill, particularly with something that has you bed bound for a number of weeks AND when it involves the very limbs you use to create with! There isn’t sick pay or someone else who can pick up the slack for you. You do feel an enormous sense of panic when you cannot complete something you have started in a timely fashion.

March was also spent in chocolate abstinence. When I told people I was giving up chocolate to raise money for the British Heart Foundation during their DECHOX event, I was met by a spectrum of response from concern, to laughter, to admiration, to ridicule! My name is Hannah and I am a chocoholic. Badly. I love everything chocolatey and this was a huge test (especially when running concurrent to illness and therefore moping). But I raised over £500 for BHF and some lovely folk sent me some delicious treats to celebrate the end of the challenge. Apparently I will be receiving a medal in due course which is very exciting. My mum and my great uncle both have pacemakers due to heart problems and the BHF were a really helpful resource when I was coming to terms with my mums condition.

In other news, I welcomed a new nephew in March – baby Harry! As per my other nephew, I made some bunting with his name on to match his bedroom. I will post some pictures up when I can finally find a space to lay it all out properly. I’m not the best at photographing my creations! I did a quick scrap buster solution to donate to a little boy with sensory needs at my old school. Quite tricky to make when you have sensory needs yourself and just want to play with the fabrics! I also made some ears and a tail for the lovely Octav1us Kitten, star of YouTube and many other projects to come. I’m going to blog about that separately as the process was quite a new one for me, but there are some photos here to show you the outcome. I also finished a stack of promotional cushions for the team at The Code Show, who have a brilliant travelling computing museum. What a time to be alive when the machines you played on as a child are now in a museum haha!

I have plans in the pipeline. My wonderful cosplay for my appearance at PLAY London in August will now not be happening. There’s no way I can complete it properly and take on clients and be a mum and sleep. I will still make it eventually but for now, time and finances preclude starting that one. I have a couple of patterns to make some summer dresses for myself. I purchased these in the whole 5 days of hot weather we had recently – like any true Brit! I have a secret project in the works which you are going to love, but requires a financial outlay so I am just weighing up my options on that front. We also have a new member of the family joining us in two weeks time, Merlin the kitten. Very excited! One last point, if you nip over to Twitter, I am running a gift voucher competition to celebrate reaching 500 followers. Be in it to win it!

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Blog: October Review

The business is constantly evolving and tweaking at the moment. It’s strange as I always assumed I would have an idea and that would be it. However I’m learning very quickly that one task or piece can lead to another that is quite different yet still relevant to what you love doing. As I have made several pieces this month, I thought that doing a general monthly blog would be better suited. This will probably be the format for future blogs as it gives me a good quantity to talk about while still being manageable to fit in to my often hectic life.

Sensory Cushions

‘Mermaid’ Sequinned fabric with envelope closing. Removable weighted pad insert to support sensory based therapies.

As someone with autism myself, it was such a pleasure to be able to make these cushions for a family to support their children’s additional needs. Each one was made with a different front and back (we all know that kids want their ‘own’ item!) and had a weighted removable pouch inside. The weighting is very therapeutic for many with additional needs and can reduce anxiety and manage behaviour(s). I can tell you now that sequinned fabric is a nightmare to work with being that its so slippery! My machine went through the sequins with no problem, however the fabric often slumped or wrinkled without me noticing and its A LOT harder to undo than create a seam using this stuff! Another problem was maintaining my focus when working with the weighting and the sequins as they really appealed to me and relaxed me to the point where I just wanted to sleep! All being said and done though, they were really appreciated by the client and will be an exciting Christmas Day treat for some lucky boys.

 

 

 

 

Hair Bows

Large bow size in hair for reference

I’m one of those people that loves to use every scrap of fabric. Throwing stuff away is definitely not in my nature – I’ve even been known to make products that reuse fabric (such as some pillowcases that I picked up that were unused but perfect for my Switch Case which I’ll show off shortly). Seeing as we live on a planet where it seems easier to throw away than recycle, I try to use everything to the max including reusing packaging. So I came up with the idea of using leftover character fabric to make bows. They have a simple ‘crocodile’ type slide on the back and require only a small amount of fabric. The bows have to be hand finished as its too small for the machine which takes a little more time, but its something I can do in bulk at the end of another project to use up any leftovers. It makes for a great pocket money item as well for those who want something fun but can’t afford a big spend – especially for the kids as stocking fillers.

 

 

 

 

Switch Console Case

The Switch case has a fleece lined pocket for the console plus space for 3 carts, a cable/headphones and a boxed game.

One of my favourite makes ever, the Switch case was actually born out of necessity. I had a hospital appointment recently which involved waiting around for an hour to trial a new drug and see if it was suitable. The Switch was the perfect distraction but I had to wrap it in a hand towel as I had no case! I therefore decided to create my own case from the pattern to the finished product. It involved making a paper mock up initially as I wanted to be sure that the net I produced would go together and that the measurements would be correct. I do lack confidence when measuring and I’ve found that this is the best way to manage without wasting expensive fabric with wrong cuts! Inevitably there was a lot of swearing, shouting and frustration. Sewing things together doesn’t always mean doing them in the order you expect. I sewed the lining and then realised that my pocket needed to have been stitched to the top fabric first…very simple but impacts on the finish of the product at the end. I certainly learnt a lot by making my own pattern – especially about the need to learn how to effectively box corners which I can now do moving forward. I live streamed the make which I LOVE doing and then popped it over on my YouTube if you would like to take a look. It has been received very well and I’ve had a commission on the back of it which is great.

 

 

 

 

 

Personal/Development 

I lost a good two weeks this month to my back problems yet again. I’ve been assessed by a physio and am looking to get treatment. It does however really have an impact on my mood (if I can’t make things I’m sad) and naturally the business as well. Then my son was really poorly with this horrid virus going around and that was, as you might expect, all consuming. My parents are moving house (today in fact!) owing to their health so that has been very much an ongoing factor in life at the moment. All of this added up has also made my anxiety pretty rubbish but I’m finding that making really is the best therapy for this. I hit 300 followers and surpassed it on Twitter this month and the #MakersHour hashtag run by @GuildofMakers (Run by @DrLucyRogers) is really helping me build up like minded contacts which is always good for a lift but also inspiration for new makes. I’ve had some particularly great interaction this month with Rachel (@KonichiwaKitty) and Tash (@CaffinatedCraft) who make pieces that really motivate and inspire me. I’m undertaking some coaching with the lovely Tim Nicholls (@Guessonomics) who is a good friend and mentor. I’m finding it really great to bounce ideas off a fellow maker and generally have a giggle and socialise (be it via Skype owing to the distance) – its good, as Tim discussed on Twitter this month, to find an effective way of making your work and your life one and the same in a positive and healthy way. I’ve got something really exciting in development as a result which I’m hoping will take off and underpin the Sew 8-Bit brand. It really is so exciting when an idea starts to form that you can really see working out. I’ve also started uploading ‘Live Makes’ to YouTube and ordered my very first set of Sew 8-Bit tags for sewing it to makes which felt very pro! Let’s see what November brings.