Bits and Bobs

Last week Mr Myasthenia Kid was on holiday, so it meant we had to catch up on some jobs around the house that were long overdue. The problem with this is that it leaves me utterly exhausted / in lots of pain when he goes back to work. The work over ran into yesterday so my hands are killing me, so for word count this post maybe a little light.


The wood work in the house has been crying out for some TLC for a while. We both hate using gloss paint and over the last 15 years we’ve never managed yet to paint anything with gloss without ending up with dog hair stuck to it. One of the mutts always manages to brush up against it. We have tried quick drying gloss and the same thing happens. So this time we decided to use Eggshell as it would dry quicker, it may not be as hard-wearing as gloss but it doesn’t smell as bad and dries an awful lot quicker.


The house we live in was 30 years old last year. Before we bought it the property had been rented out, DIY jobs had been done on the cheap by the landlord and the renters. So the stair bannister instead of being sanded properly before being repainted just had layer upon layer of gloss on it. It was starting to peel off in great big chunks and the paint underneath was various colours which was down to the age of the paint being used. So before we could paint the banister it needed to be stripped of all the flaking paint, in a lot of places that meant taking it right back to the woodwork. I helped where I could but on the day after I had done an awful lot of sanding I ended up feeling horrendous. I hurt everywhere and all I could do was lie on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. I have to pace myself or my body will make me pace myself by shutting down and making it so that I can’t move.


Finally yesterday after two coats of undercoat and two coats of eggshell the bannister was complete. I can barely move my fingers today as they are so swollen with having gripped a paintbrush yesterday They are also red and swollen. So today will be a very lazy day today for me.


This is the before (taken in December)

You can see that the banister is a variety of colours – this is where paint has been flaking off and I had started it myself and then quickly realised that I would be unable to tackle this by myself due to my health.

This is after – we still have to stain the wooden post tops, we are still deciding what colour to stain them but it looks an awful lot better than it did. I am really pleased with what we have done.

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I thought as well I would give you a quick update on what I have been doing sewing wise. On Friday 13th April I bought myself an overlocker, (in June I will be going on a course to learn how to get the most out of it). An overlocker trims excess material with a blade and also finishes your hems in a much more professional way. It can also be used to stop fabrics fraying.



The following Monday I plucked up the courage to thread it – an overlocker takes anywhere between two to five threads. Mine takes 4, so it has two needles and two loopers. It’s a bit more complicated than threading a sewing machine but it’s not too bad as long as you follow the instructions and just take it slowly. On the Tuesday I decided to make a large box cushion for the dogs wicker basket. I have been meaning to do this for ages but the fabric I wanted to use had a really horrible habit of fraying quite badly. On all the cushions I had made out of it I had to use an overcasting foot on my old sewing machine to ensure that the hems didn’t fray. The overlocker made the job really neat and tidy. I used it to neaten all the edges of the fabric before sewing it together on my sewing machine (using a jeans needle as the material is quite thick as it is upholstery fabric). I finished the back of the box cushion using kam snaps so that it can be taken off and put in the wash.



I have also been working on some hand sewing and making a quilt using a technique called English Paper piecing. This is where you use paper or card templates and either glue / sew baste ( tacking stitch) the material around the template. Then you sew the templates together to create whatever design that you want. I am using  Octagons and small kite shapes to join them together. On the top I am using small triangles to straighten the top edge and doing the same down one side. My plan is to have 100 Octagons on it and it is for Mr Myasthenia Kids bedroom. I am going to use an old star wars duvet to back it. I am using all my scrap materials to make it and I am finding it very therapeutic to sit and sew in the evenings / afternoons.




I also made the second piece of clothing I have made. A Julia Top, unfortunately it is too big and too short but it was a trial run. I am thinking of turning it into a jacket / cardigan. I used my overlocker and sewing machine to make it.

Sorry this week is a bit of a mish mash of stuff that has been going on over the last few weeks. My mood is still very up and down but it isn’t the crushing lows I have been having and my anxiety is settling down becoming easier to manage. So this week is a week of bits and bobs.


I don’t tend to do product reviews and I am always highly suspicious of bloggers who are always saying how wonderful a new product is, failing to mention they have been provided the product free of charge in return for a favourable post.


I am also quite hard on products and I am acutely aware of what may work for me may not work ( or even fail miserably ) for others. However when I do find a product that works well for me I like to share. Now I just need to make it clear, I have paid for these products myself and I have not been asked to provide a review for them. I am just sharing these products with you because I know many of you who read the blog have the same problems as I do and they may help you.


The first product is the icloudy pillow made from memory foam. I have included a link to Amazon as this is where I purchased it from. At £35.99 I am aware its not cheap, particularly for those on a limited income. For me it’s been worth every penny.


Icloudy pillow at Amazon


I have bought many different neck pillows over the years in an attempt to stabilise my neck whilst sleeping. Due to EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) I have terrible problems with my neck being unstable, a physio once described me as having an owl neck, as I can twist my head around so far. I wake up with horrendous headaches, stiff neck and just in an awful lot pain. I have said to many doctors that a lot of my headache issues and possibly my leak have been caused by my necks instability. Unfortunately in the UK this seems to be an area that is completely neglected by the medical profession when it comes to EDS. With many EDS patients facing the choice of raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to have surgery abroad or face a slow agonising death. Now I am nowhere near that bad thank goodness but a few weeks ago I woke up in agony. My head pain was so bad I was convinced that my CSF leak had returned. I couldn’t do anything as the pain was so severe. I took every painkiller available to me and it just wouldn’t shift. In desperation I took a diazepam (which I had been prescribed for anxiety) it was the only thing that worked which thankfully proved to me that it wasn’t my leak coming back. You have no idea what a relief it was.


Over a few months my neck had become increasingly painful, sleeping which should be a comfortable and relaxing experience was leaving me racked in pain. I was already using a memory foam neck pillow but it wasn’t doing anything for me. The only relief I had found was sleeping with just a rolled up towel under my neck but due to EDS causing reflux, it was a no no, as I kept waking up choking on my stomach contents. I also tried lifting the head end of my bed and sleeping on a rolled up towel placed under my neck but again…one night was fine but the following night my lower back and pelvis were extremely painful due to the angle raising the head end of the bed was placing them in. Out of desperation I searched online for a different type of neck support pillow. I needed one that supported the natural curve of the neck but also dropped my head back rather than it all being on the same level which is completely unnatural. After a good look I discovered the Icloudy Pillow, which was shaped completely differently to any pillow I had tried before.


Side view

View from above

As you can see the centre of the pillow is the lowest point so it allows for the curve in your neck (my curve is completely reversed). The difference has been incredible. The first night I thought it was a fluke, my sleep was totally different and I didn’t wake up in the night with pain radiating from the back of my head to the centre of my shoulder blades.  The second night I had a bit of pain from lying so flat, so added one wafer thin pillow on top of the icloudy pillow to see if that helped and it did. I woke up again pain free. In fact every day since using this pillow I have woken up without my usual headache and neck pain.


I still have to be really careful moving during the day, today I have managed what I call a crick – I am guessing normal people may call it more than that. So I have pain in the base of my skull and at the top of my shoulder blades. I can live with that, its no where near as bad as a leak headache. My quality of sleep has been completely altered by using this pillow. I can see now why it gets so many good reviews. The good news is that it will also fit in a standard Oxford pillowcase so no special case is needed for it.


Now as I said I am suspicious of bloggers who gush about products without making it clear that they have received financial compensation for doing so or received the product free. I never get free products and wouldn’t feel right gushing about a product that I think is shite. So if I tell you about a product it is because it worked for me and it may possibly work for you.


Those of you who follow my blog will know a few weeks ago I took a tumble in the snow. At the time I wrote about the fact I had hit my head and that my legs were really sore. Well I obviously had distracting injuries as a few days later I was noticing that it was very sore to sit down for longer than about 10 minutes (not good when you love to sew and even worse when standing makes you want to faint). I realised I had damaged my coccyx in the fall. I was quite plain speaking when I told Mr Myasthenia Kid how it felt “ Like someone has hit me with a shovel between my arse cheeks” – don’t say I didn’t warn you ha ha ha! It was very painful and very frustrating as I was only comfortable lying down but my back hates me lying down.


In desperation again I wondered if there was such a thing as a support cushion for your coccyx. Again on Amazon I stumbled across the Supportiback pillow –

At £29.87 it’s not cheap, but when you can’t sit down without being in a lot of pain and you can no longer do the thing you are completely addicted to – sewing, then believe me you’ll pay any price to no longer be in pain. The great thing is with the cushion is the size, I won’t lie currently I am wide of hip so need a large cushion, this doesn’t disappoint. I have taken the photo on my kitchen chair which is a standard Ikea chair.


The hole in the back is placed underneath the Coccyx so that no pressure is applied.


It’s made of memory foam and has a gel surface to it. It moulds to your body contours and it has also relieved the pressure I feel on the backs of my legs when I have been sat for a while. I also like the fact it is breathable so it doesn’t leave you feeling hot and sweaty when you have been sat on it for a while. The difference for me was night and day. The cushion also doesn’t slip and slide so feels completely safe when you are getting up and down. I only noticed this morning when I took a photo of it that it has a handle on the side to carry it. I am contemplating buying another one for me to use in the car, as that is now the only seat that I feel very uncomfortable on. With the cut out at the back of the cushion there is now no  pressure being applied on my coccyx which is also allowing the injury to heal much faster now. I read in a lot of the reviews that people were also using these as cushions in their wheelchairs and mobility scooters which is another excellent idea.


So no more numb bum or back of my thighs when I have been sitting at my sewing machine.


I hope you have found my reviews helpful and if you have any questions about either product please don’t hesitate to get in touch or use the links in the post so you can read the reviews left by Amazon customers.


My latest sewing projects

My mood is very up and down at the moment, the only thing that is keeping me sane and happy is my sewing. I am grateful that I still manage to find the joy in putting fabrics together for projects and making magic. To me sewing is a magical art in which I can lose myself. I am amazed at the things I create especially when you consider I celebrated my 6 month sewing anniversary on 7th April.


As I am all over the place I thought I would share with you some of my makes from the last few weeks. I can’t remember what I shared with you last – my memory is a bit dodgy from the new medications making me a little groggy in the mornings.


I bought myself a new sewing machine a Janome Atelier 5 – I love it. Yes it was expensive but it was bought with money I had inherited. I also worked out that if I banked the money from not smoking for the next 14 months it would also have paid for it. It is the best thing I have done, it is an absolute bloody work horse and oh my days making quilts has been so much easier.



I managed to hurt my back getting the beast (which is what I have nicknamed it )  through the house. So after setting it up I just sat and stroked it for about an hour. However I soon got to grips with it and used it to sew the binding onto to my first ever quilt.



I quickly started on a new quilt, which was another quilt as you go, which was a Rolling Stone design. I wanted to get this sewn / finished reasonably quickly as we were having new sofas delivered and I wanted a quilt for each sofa.



I managed to get quite a bit done but I didn’t complete it until after the sofas arrived. I was about two days out. As you can see Mollie and Frankie absolutely adore the new sofas



I also in between making the quilt and the sofas being delivered I made 6 baby bibs, for my friend Pam (who sadly passed away in January) whose daughter who had given birth to a beautiful daughter. I had promised Pam before she passed away that I would make something for the baby. The bibs were finished with Kam Snaps that were adjustable so will fit the baby for a while.



I managed to finish my Rolling Stone quilt towards the end of last week and I was very pleased with how it turned out. There are still a few mistakes in it but it is a vast improvement on the first quilt I made.


My next project has been something I have never done before which is foundation paper piecing. I have always been a little daunted by FPP but no longer! I have been making a pouffe for the lounge so that instead of Mr Myasthenia Kid putting his feet on the coffee table he can put his feet up on a pouffe. I am still working on it as I am waiting for some zips to arrive so that I can put a zip into the bottom of it so that the cover can be washed (with two mutts and Jay in the house things need to be washable). I have made a stuffed inner out of some stuffing I have had hanging around for a while and two bags full of fabric off cuts that I have collected over the last few weeks. I have also made a covered button to put on the top in the middle just to finish it off.



Over the next few days I will finish the pouffe and hopefully remember to post a photo on my blog. If I don’t it will be on my instagram account @rachelmorrismcgee or on my facebook page


I finished late yesterday afternoon…

Our Sewing Quarter Visit

I have been meaning to write this post since our trip to Birmingham on March 12th but with one thing or another it has kept being delayed. To ensure it gets written this week, I have got up at 1.30am, purely because I can’t sleep and because with it being Easter week (well Easter week just gone) I have had a jammed packed diary full of spending time with both Mr Myasthenia Kid and my parents.


We knew about the trip to  the TV Channel Sewing Quarter HQ for around 4 weeks before we travelled and we had been asked to keep it quiet. Neil the boss, had asked us via our email correspondence to keep it a secret to surprise the viewers. It was one of the hardest secrets Jay and I have ever had to keep. Especially when Jay would post another video of him doing an impression of the presenter John Scott and many of the Sewing Quarter fans would be asking when the two of them would meet or saying how funny it would be for them to present a show together. All the time I wanted to say “It’s happening!” but couldn’t. The only time I did very nearly spill the beans was when there had been a couple of snide comments on my social media regarding Jay’s “attempt to be famous”. We had never set out for him to be famous, both of us quite enjoy our quiet lives, all it ever was and would be was a bit of a giggle.


We were offered hotel accommodation for the night before Jay would be on air but we declined due to the dogs never having been left alone with a dog sitter overnight, plus it would have messed up their morning walk. Since Willow’s death we have tried to keep as much to a routine as possible to reduce their stress. Leaving them like that would have only upset them. It did mean however that we had to get up at 2.30am so that we could leave the house by 4am. We had to be at the studio for 7am. We knew at that time of night / early morning the traffic would be very light and the trip to Birmingham could be made without having to travel at breakneck speed. It was just as well because the weather was truly awful for the majority of the journey with incredibly heavy downpours.


I had estimated that we would arrive at Sewing Quarter HQ between 6-7am, we managed to do exactly that arriving at 06.40am. Luckily we managed to park right outside the building also. The building itself was nothing special. Unless you were a fan of the show you’d have no clue what went on behind the doors of this tiny building. There was nothing on the outside that gave the game away. I was so concerned that we had arrived at the wrong place I looked it up on Google Street View. I text the lady we had been corresponding with to let her know that we had arrived and would be at the front door shortly. Jay needed to change into a more flamboyant shirt and change his shoes whilst also topping up his nicotine levels due to nerves.


As I pressed the buzzer on the intercom I was rehearsing what I was going to say in my head. Even though the building was small I was still expecting there to be some sort of receptionist. That’s when I got the shock of my life as who opened the door but John Scott one of the shows presenters and the man we had come all this way to meet. I won’t lie I went all fan girl and all I could say for about 30 seconds was “OMG,OMG, OMG” John laughed and said something along the lines of “come here you” and gave me a huge bear hug. He was so down to earth and welcoming. I have met a few famous people in my time and some of them, in private / on their own territory when the cameras aren’t rolling are the biggest dickheads going. I can honestly say John is as mischievously charming off-screen as he is on.


He led us down a corridor to meet Hayley – my point of contact and a few of the staff members who were already in working. Two of them being little Paul and Vegan. We know their nicknames as John will refer to them as he does the show. I was expecting it to be a small studio setup but this was even smaller than I had envisaged. Once you left the main corridor you came into the main work area / office space. This is where guests prepare the projects (or put the finishing touches to) that they will be working on during their hour (if you’ve never watched it the show is broadcast from 8am until 12pm and each hour is dedicated to a different subject area to do with sewing, be it tools to help you, dressmaking, bag making, toy making etc, it is essentially there to sell products but it also teaches you so much by following the experts advice). It is also where they keep completed projects such as cushion covers, quits, toys etc



Hayley took us on a quick tour of the building and it was quick! In the main room there was access to the studio via a double door, when on air the red light would show above it. To the left hand side of that was a small kitchenette and staff toilets. We were led into the studio and couldn’t believe that all the cameras were operated by one person. I did media studies as part of my degree over 22 years ago now, as part of my degree I did editing, camera work, sound recording etc etc All I can say is like everything in life, things have moved on a great deal.



As you can see there is a bank of cameras, what you can’t see is the small camera above in the lighting track which takes the overhead pictures of the desk. So when John, Natasha or any of the other presenters or guests need a close up of something they are doing this is done by the overhead camera. It reminded me of a store security camera. Quite often they will do shots of the sewing machine in action, a small camera is hidden in the shelving to the presenters right hand side. Most of the time there is a graphic  being displayed down the left hand side of the screen so viewers would never see that camera. I found all of this incredibly interesting as when I did filming at university the cameras were still absolutely enormous and needed a great deal of physical fitness to lug around.


Hayley was called away for a few minutes which gave Jay and I the chance to explore the studio alone and take lots of photos









When we came back from the tour we were called into a little huddle, where it was explained what Jay would be doing. Jay was told he would be on air around 08.30am and that he would take the viewers through some fabric. If anyone has wondered what preparation Jamie got for going live on air that was it. He had no clue what the fabric was until he was live on air, he was given no notes on it, what colours it would be nothing. All we could do was go and have a cup of tea in the kitchenette and then sit in the green room watching the show before Jay went on air. At around 08.15am Jay got miked up, that was quite funny as never having done anything like this before he had no clue that the cables had to go under his clothing and into a little battery pack in his back pocket. After that was done he went very quiet so I knew he was really nervous and to be honest I was nervous for him. It’s one thing messing about doing an impression of John Scott in our front room with only me and the dogs as his audience but to then go live on air, with virtually no preparation…..he is my hero.


I watched him in the green room which was really odd as the show is broadcast on around a 10 second delay (maybe more maybe less) so I could hear John and Jamie talking in the studio before I could actually watch him on the screen in the green room. I don’t know who was more relieved when it was over me or him! We headed straight to the kitchen and had some breakfast as neither of us had been able to eat before the broadcast. For the rest of the morning (even though at 9.15am it felt like it should be 4pm) we amused ourselves by talking to staff members, looking through all the shows previous makes and I got chatting to that mornings guest Deborah Simms who has to be one of the nicest people I have ever met. I chewed her ear off all morning about sewing etc and she answered every question. She even gave me a quick demo on the sewing machine that I had been lusting after for a while that they use on the show the Elna 680. ( last week I decided to hell with it and bought myself the Janome Atelier 5, which is the Elna 680 just with the Janome badge as they are the same company).


We watched quite a bit of the show in the green room, at around 10.30am Hayley came in and asked Jay if he would like to go on air again towards the end of the show. They would like him to read the menu for the following days broadcast. Of course he jumped at the chance. This time he was much more relaxed as he could read through the menu before going on air and we bounced ideas off each other for things he could say. I am pleased to report he did use one of my lines!

Around 10 minutes before he went back on air he was miked up again and this time you could see how much more relaxed he was. As I sat in the green room watching him on the screen my heart swelled with pride. He did so well the first time on air but this time it was even  better. He looked a lot more relaxed and this time I could see he was really enjoying himself. That was all I ever wanted, as it was a kind of thank you for everything he has done for me over the years.


After the show we were called into the studio to do some publicity shots by the social media team. We also got to take out own photos

To wrap up our day we went out to lunch with Deborah, Hayley and John and it was hilarious. I can’t go into detail as it wouldn’t be fair on any of them as other than Hayley none of them knew I was a blogger and I never told them directly that anything said to me would be repeated on my blog. All I can say is John needs to write a book and tell all his wonderful stories from his wildly varied work he has done over the years. I could sit and listen to him for hours. Alas the day was over far too soon and we were back home by around 16.30 that afternoon. It was a day we will both remember forever.


The Sewing Quarter can be viewed daily on channel 678 Sky, 78 Freeview and online at www.sewingquarter,com or on YouTube.