Tag Archives: special needs

Two steps forward, one step back

My small start back into sewing went quite well last week.  I made a few more iPad covers, remembered (well – was reminded) that I still ‘owed’ my kids a few promised sewn projects, and started developing some new designs.

One of the products that I want to develop is a man’s wallet.  (I also want to make a woman’s wallet/purse but with Father’s Day around the corner thought that the men’s products had to take priority!)  I played around with some ideas and then made this prototype.

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I put it up on my Facebook page and asked for feedback.  Quite a few of my lovely female followers responded, with many of them commenting that it needed a closure of some description.  There were also comments on fabric, leather, colour etc, but I am not too concerned about those as simply making items with different combinations addresses that issue.  However I was concerned about the fastening issue, so I put a post on my personal Facebook profile, asking for input from males on the question of fasteners on wallets.  The first response was ‘No fastener for me. If you need one of those you’re not a man.’  And the following 40+ responses followed that pattern, except for one friend who responded that he had a fastener, then read the other comments and made various ‘manly’ statements to reclaim his manhood.  The respondents were of varied ages, educations, locations, backgrounds etc, so I think this is a fairly definitive indication that men do not like fasteners on their wallets!   I will tinker a bit with the design and hope to make some more this week, and will be sure to label the wallets as ‘man approved’ so that the women buying them don’t think they should have a fastener!

I also put out some feelers on whether people preferred baby bibs to fasten on the back or the side.  The responses were mixed, so I have decided for my next range of bibs to do a bit of both!  This was a custom order, but I plan to make a few more, and make some square ones with teether chews.

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I then had a great Saturday afternoon and produced a Kindle cover, shoulder bag, and library bag for my chicks (finally!!)

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The shoulder bag as a work in progress

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Kindle cover

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Library bag for the boy using the fabric he chose some weeks ago.

My steps forward were going well.  But I feel like I am going backwards this week.  The boy only managed to last 40 minutes at school today.  Last week he was there most days for between one and two hours, so I had some time to get things done.  This week, although we have only just started, I am feeling much more dejected about my ability to sew, to earn a living on my own terms, and to keep everything afloat.  I have finally decided to apply for some government benefits to help out.  While part of me feels grateful that the services are there, the other part of me is falling into a deep well of self pity wondering how I went from high-flying lawyer to government benefits.  Of course I know the logical answers – parenting a child with special needs means a change of course – but it is still sucking the energy out of me.    My mission this week, then, is that, in between filling out many, many, many forms, and organising my financial records for my tax return, I will find time to make things that are fun, and will re-energise me.

One of my ideas is to make a few more stencilled bags.  I made these two over the weekend as gifts, and enjoyed it, so a few more will be fun!

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I have also been playing with ideas for handwarmers and road tested a couple  with my boy and his friend yesterday – and received positive feedback from them, so will try to make a few more – sure to get me up and going!

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Right.  Here I go, off to get re-energized and move forward again!

 

Bibs, bibs, bibs!

I am very excited that I can finally announce that I have launched my new range of bibs for big kids and they are now available in my Etsy shop!  After falling into bib making earlier in the year, and making them to be sold on other websites and in shops, I have been itching to take the same idea and apply to bibs for older children, especially those with special needs, and oral sensory needs.  And I have done it!  (And I have also managed to finally list baby bibs in my online shop as well, so you can buy them direct from me as well!)

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Regular readers will know that I started making the baby bibs with a teething chew attached after a friend asked if I could design and make a bandana bib with a teething chew sewn in.  I agreed to give it a try, and after experimenting with different options (including walking around with wet bits of bamboo fabric on my shoulders to test their ability to hold moisture!) I came up with the design for a bandana style bib with an absorbent bamboo backing, and the teething chew sewn onto the end.  (I even worked out how to stop the sewing machines feed dogs from scratching the chew!)  They have been selling well in the Shop Handmade here in Canberra, and at markets and through a friend’s facebook page, but from the beginning I wanted to make them for older children.  This weekend the planets aligned, I had all the materials, the time and the will, and the first batch have been made.  (Can you tell I am a little bit excited!?!)

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 Little kids bibs

Having a child with special needs has introduced me to a whole new world of needs.  Although my boy doesn’t have a problem with dribble, he and one of his sisters both like to have something to chew on at times of anxiety.  With multiple holes in sleeves and collars I have discovered chewellery – plastic and or silicone jewellery that is designed for teething – or for kids with sensory needs.  It occurred to me that children who also have problems with controlling dribble or drool might also need something to chew on – so taking the teething bib to a new audience made sense.  I am also keen to make things that suit their age – because no 10 year old boy wants to be wearing teddy bears around his neck to make him stand out more than he already thinks he does.

Being able to combine my passion for sewing, fabric, research and children into one small accessory has been very rewarding.  Now to get the word out and let people know that they are available – and make some more!

Hmmmm…… other things that have happened in the nest over the last week or so……  we had rain.  Lots of rain.  The grass is long and high and in need of mowing…. soon.   Autumn weather is well and truly kicking in, with winter wardrobes starting to peek out piece by piece, and heaters occasionally being turned on to take the chill off the morning.

The chicks and I and some friends went to see The Lego Movie yesterday morning as a treat (promised since Christmas when it was advertised, and then we had to wait until April for it to be screened in Australia!).  We loved it!  I suspect that “everything is awesome” will be part of our everyday language for a long time.

I also started preparing for the workshop that I am running at the Mega Craft and Makers Day here in Canberra on Saturday (12 April).  Attendees at my workshop will make a freezer paper stencil and then paint their own design on a tote bag.  I thought that I needed a few examples to take along and show the group, so here are the two I made on Saturday.  I have about 100 more ideas to make, so will make a few more before Saturday!

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I hope that you have had a great weekend!

 

New directions

I was going to start this post with a lovely poetic piece about the rain.  But while I was writing it I had a phone call from the boy’s school.  Again.  His father is handling the situation, but the very fact of the call is enough to make me change my direction.  For the post, and for my/our life.

I have been on leave from work for some months now for a combination of reasons.  Trying to support a child with special needs, getting more and more worn down myself from constantly keeping all the balls in the air – working full time at a high level, being a full time single parent, the boy’s need for extra everything, the fact that the girls miss out on so much when the boy needs so much, keeping everyone fed, clothed, alive……  It all got too much at the end of last year and I fell apart.  So my leave (thank goodness I have worked as a public servant for so long) was needed to get me back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) so that I could go back to juggling the balls again.

Except that I have realised that, as a wise woman I know says, ‘If nothing changes, then nothing changes.’  If I go back to juggling, I will fall again.  And next time I might not get back up.  Something needs to change.  The boy and his sisters won’t change.  They will always be my top priority.  Whether we live in this house or another, the same basic level of housework, maintenance, and general ‘home-ness’ will not change.  Although my ex-husband is back living in the same country, so I am not a full time single parent anymore, that change is not enough to balance it all out.  That leaves work – my paid employment and my creative business.  I am not yet sure what the answer is about which of these will need to change the most in order to build a new direction for me/us but it is obvious that one or both will need to.

I have applied for some further leave (of the long service type – again – so glad that I have worked for so many years!) so that I can work this question out.  Because life as a parent of a child with a disability can’t follow the plan that I previously had.  We have to find a new path, and a new approach, and a new plan.  This plan has to put my health near the top of the list of priorities, to allow flexibility so that the boy can have the support he needs when he needs it, to produce enough income to pay for the necessities in life, and to be manageable.  Expect to see a lot of idea bubbles floating around above my head, growing or popping as I work through all of them, weighing up, assessing and looking at how to build a new life for the chicks and I.  Although it is daunting, it is also exciting.  The possibilities are endless!

Meanwhile, back in the sewing studio (sounds posh doesn’t it?!) in between periods of intense chaos, some goods have been produced!  I have completed some custom orders, delivered a pile of bibs to restock the Handmade Shop (the first lot almost all sold out in under a month!!), and am ticking things off the list I made on the weekend.  This custom order was delivered today, in time for the birthday of a girl who loves Dr Who, and who loves the willow pattern.  I can’t wait to hear how she reacts to it on her birthday!

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And, after all my protests about bibs not being ‘in scope’ they are selling well, I like making them, and I have some plans to expand my ‘range’ for older children and teens.  Stand by for that development (once my new fabric order arrives!!).  In the meantime how gorgeous are these fabrics?

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Another thing that I ticked off my list this week was listing my new stock in my Etsy shop.  I was so busy making things in the lead up to the Markets at the beginning of the month that I didn’t stop and photograph many of them – a good lesson for the future!  Here is a small selection of the newly listed bags.

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And finally, my big news of the day is that I have been accepted to sell my bags through Shop Handmade!  This was part of the plan that I created last year, so I am proud that I have followed my plan, and that I have been accepted to sell in such a wonderful shop.  The biggest danger is that each time I deliver stock I will have to be careful not to leave with just as many pieces of other people’s work!

This week’s plan is to finish more custom orders, sew up some new designs, and get some planning happening!  I hope that your week goes well (and that you get the rain that is so badly needed if you are in Australia!)

For now I am off to think about new directions over a cup of tea.