Thursday, 1 November 2018

Diabetes Awareness Month

November is ‘diabetes awareness month’, so as a fairly recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic, I thought I’d give you some info about this disease.  I was diagnosed 4 years ago in my mid-50s.  Most people who have type 1 diabetes get the disease in their childhood or as a young adult.  It is rarer to get it when you are older. 

Blood sugar regulation
People with diabetes cannot control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.   We require glucose for energy, and a hormone called insulin allows the glucose to enter from the blood into the cells in our bodies.  Our bodies have some fantastic mechanisms, and one of them is blood sugar regulation.
We get glucose from the carbohydrates we eat.  In a non-diabetic, two hormones; insulin and glycogen work to stabilise the amount of glucose in the blood.  Normal values are between 5 and 7 mmol of glucose per litre of blood.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas, and acts like a key, letting the glucose in the blood gain entry into cells to be used for energy.  When blood glucose rises, eg after eating carbohydrates, the pancreas produces more insulin and the excess glucose goes into the cells.  If the blood sugar drops, there is another hormone called glycogen, that causes the liver to release some of its stored glucose.

Types of Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, the receptors on the cells do not work properly – they do not recognise the insulin, so glucose cannot enter the cells.  The pancreas works harder to create more insulin and eventually 'tires' and stops producing insulin all together.  Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, and lack of exercise.

In type 1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells) are attacked by the immune system, and there is no insulin produced. Type 1 diabetics always have to inject insulin.

There are over 3 million people with diabetes in the UK (29million in the USA).  By far the majority – 90% are type 2.

I am a type 1 diabetic, so not producing insulin.  I have to inject insulin 4 or 5 times per day.

Insulin comes in 2 forms:
Basal insulin.  One injection per day of long acting insulin, a kind of background insulin that counteracts the liver’s own production of glucose.
Bolus Insulin.  Injected before each meal depending on amount of carbohydrate consumed.
I use this ‘Multiple Dose Insulin’ regime, but some people have a pump, permanently attached which drip feeds small amounts of insulin constantly, more like the pancreas in a normal person.

Hypos and hypers
There is always the possibility of the blood sugar going outside the ‘normal’ range, especially as other factors apart from food can affect the blood sugar too, such as activity levels, illness, stress and alcohol.

Hypoglycaemia.  When the blood sugar goes below 4mmol/l, it is called a ‘hypo’.  This can be caused by too much insulin on board, and/or exercise, etc.  Hypos can be a bit scary, as you can feel quite unwell, sweaty, dizzy, jittery, nauseous, confused.   You need to treat the hypo as soon as possible by consuming fast acting carbohydrate such as fizzy sugary drink, jelly babies, dextrose tablets etc.  If not treated, it can become a medical emergency as you can slip into a coma and die.

Hyperglycaemia.  When the blood sugar goes high, ie above 7mmol/l, it is a ‘hyper’.  This can be caused by not enough insulin on board to cover the carbs in the meal, stress or illness etc. If blood sugar is constantly high, the risk of complications such as blindness, heart attack, stroke, nerve damage leading to amputation and dementia increases.  There is also the risk of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), a nasty condition where the blood gets acidic and you can become very unwell very quickly and require hospital treatment.

Measurement of blood sugar
DSC_7949Consequently, I check my blood sugar at least 5 times per day.  I used to use a blood sugar meter like this, and have to by prick my finger and use a drop of blood on the test strip that goes in the meter.

Abbott Freestyle Libre

Nowadays I use a flash glucose system called the 'Libre'.  I have a sensor stuck to my skin (on my arm) and swipe a meter over it from time to time.  It gives me a reading of my blood glucose plus an arrow showing me which way it is going, up, down or stable, and a graph of how my blood sugar has been over the last few hours.  Here's a picture of my reading just now.  I try and keep the line within the blue band.   The Libre has helped type 1 diabetics get their blood sugar under much better control, and is beginning to be available on the NHS.  (At present I do not qualify for the libre, as my control is quite good, so I buy it myself.  It is quite expensive at £100 per month!) 

I always carry a blood sugar meter and hypo treatments, especially when walking the dog! 

Low Carbohydrate diets
Many diabetics are finding that a low-carbohydrate diet helps, and some type 2 diabetics have been able to reverse their disease with this diet plus exercise.  I have been trying to eat low-carb, but it is difficult!  I avoid starchy food such as potatoes, rice and pasta, and limit the amount of bread I eat.  No cake, sweets or biscuits as a general rule!

It has been an emotional rollercoaster.  From shock at first diagnosis that I have a life long medical condition, to fear about the future and the complications, to sheer desperation that I can’t seem to get my blood sugar levels right, and depression for the relentless slog of having to think about it all the time.

However, after 4 years I am getting used to the daily slog, and realise that there are worse diseases to have!  I can continue my life reasonably normally, I still exercise, I still drive, I can still do all my crafts.  I am grateful for that, and that Insulin was discovered and it keeps me alive. I am grateful too that I became diabetic in my 50s and haven’t had it all my life.  It must be really hard if you have a small child with type 1 diabetes.

Do please let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but it’s amazing how much I do know about the disease now!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Feeling all grown-up!

My most recent sewing is this shirtdress Simplicity 8014.

A shirtdress always looks crisp and smart don't you think?  So much so that I feel all grown-up when I wear this one!  I have wanted to make one for some time.   I did make the Collette Hawthorn a few years ago, but it is sadly too small now.

This one has a loose fitting bodice, pleated into the waistband.  I added the gathers at the yoke by cutting the back wider.  I cut a size 16 for my narrow shoulders, tapering out to a size 20 (eugh!) at the waist.  I did make the dress quite a bit shorter than the pattern, as I ran out of fabric!  The fabric is from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton, bought several years ago, when I decided that I ought to have a 'stash' of fabric.  That wasn't the best idea I ever had, as I don't love all the fabrics in my 'stash' now.  In fact, I was a bit dubious about this ditzy print, as I am hankering after the big blowsy prints now.  But all is well now as I love this dress!  I am looking forward to trying it with boots and a cardigan in the cooler weather.

I am not sure if you see the buttons agains the busy print, but I decided to use the wong side of some pearly buttons.  It adds to the vintage vibe of the dress.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Cold Shoulders!

During the hot weather a few weeks ago, I decided to try out the popular 'cold shoulder' look.  I had not done so previously because being type 1 diabetic, I have a blood sugar sensor stuck to my arm, and I am rather self conscious of it, not wanting it to be on show.  I actually bought a couple of tops in the sale at H&M and realised that in actual fact, the lower sleeve hid the sensor quite well. 

I had this top pattern in my stash.  It came free with a sewing magazine last year.  I don't buy the sewing magazines very often nowadays as I find there is very little in there to read!  So I only buy if I really like the free pattern. 

So, this pattern was sitting in my stash, and then Laura at More Sewing got this fabric in - blue and white stripes with flamingos!  Perfect for my top!  This fabric is sold out now, but have a look here, at her other lovely jersey fabrics.

I had to go out and buy white trousers specially, but managed to find some in the sale at Peacocks.  I rather like the little bow at the ankle. 

I love the top!  But I hadn't realised how difficult 'cold shoulder' tops are to wear.  The 'sleeves' ride up all the time, and the front edge kind of strangles me, so I am always pulling it down.  Consequently, I am not sure how much wear I will get it out of it, but it is nice to wear out on summer evenings.  Shame the hot weather has left us now!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

New Summer Dressing Gown

My old summer dressing gown was looking very tatty, but I held off buying a new one because I wanted to make it.

I had spied this lovely fabric from More Sewing, and already had a pyjama pattern that included a robe, New Look 6233.  The fabric is lovely, a salmon pink jersey, with the words, SWEET, CUTE, and LOVE written diagonally across the fabric.   It has an interlock backing, which gives it a lovely weight.

 I made a larger size than my measurements, just because it is nice to have a robe/dressing gown that wraps right round, with lots of overlap!

I matched the writing on the pockets exactly!  I sewed it with a mixture of overlocking and small zig zag.

I love it!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

10 x 10 wardrobe challenge

I am interested in Sustainable Fashion, and as such have been following Style Bee ( blog recently.  One idea struck me as something I would like to try was the 10 x 10 challenge, where you choose 10 items from your wardrobe ad wear them over 10 days.  I didn't really have a clue about how to start this, so I downloaded Style Bee's helpful checklist, and jumped right in!  I picked 2 pairs of jeans, one black and 1 blue, a pinafore dress, one skirt, 5 tops and 1 cardigan,  I cheated a little in that I din't include outerwear or shoes in my 10 items.  I did actually only wear 2 items of outerwear, my black leather jacket and my black denim jacket.  I mostly wore the same black boots.  I did have to change one of the tops as I realised I didn't have much to wear with the pinafore dress.  I changed a red and white striped top for a black top.

Here are my 10 outfits:

Day 1: leopard print knit top with me-made black jeans.  Accessorised with long gold pendant.

Day 2: Me-made green handkerchief hem top with blue jeans.  I had not worn this top before as I wasn't sure about it, which is why I included it in my 10.  I am still not sure I like it!  It's made of a cheap fabric that doesn't drape well, and the neckline is not good.  Accessorized with dark red beads.

Day 3: Me-made skirt with red top.  (Leather jacket on top).  I quite liked this combination, nice and bright for spring.  This picture shows my black ankle boots too.

Day 4: Me-made orange 'butterfly' shirt with blue jeans.  I love this shirt!  I still can't get over the fact that it fits because I made it to fit my body shape.   Second picture shows my me-made black denim jacket over this combo.  Blog post on the jacket coming soon!

Day 5:  Half way through!  Black jumper over blue jeans, accessorized with long gold and green necklace.  Very comfortable combination.

Day 6: Same black jumper with me-made black jeans.  Looks a bit bare without the necklace don't you think?

Day 7: Red top with blue jeans.  Black cardigan over the top.  This is the only time I wore the black cardigan.  Love this accessorized with this colourful scarf.  I put some red lippy on for this photo, something I don't usually like, but I have to admit it looks OK here!

Day 8:  Going out to lunch and a sewing class, so wore the orange shirt, blue jeans and black denim jacket again.

Day 9:  I had better wear the me-made pinafore dress!  Here it is with the red top.

Day 10: Leopard print top with me-made black denim jeans

I have just finished my first 10 x 10, and have learned a lot about my style and my wardrobe.  I have followed the headings on Style Bee to write my report:

What were my Goals?
I wanted to wear more of my wardrobe, and to find different styles and pairings, so that I felt more 'put together', and mindful about what I was wearing..  I wanted to wear more than 'dog-walking clothes' when I was at home, and not to gravitate to my fleece jackets!

What did I learn about my personal style?
Nothing brand new, but it did consolidate ideas.  I love bright colours.  I like simple dressing, not too many layers.  I like to pair bright colours with neutrals, rather than wear all over bright.  I love to sew and make my own clothes with bright colourful, patterned fabric, so maybe I need to temper that a little in the future and make more neutrals.. 

What was my MVP?
My new blue jeans - a real success!

Did I make any mistakes?
OMG YES!  I didn't make my 10 a capsule wardrobe, so there were things that didn't go with each other.  eg leopard print top didn't go with skirt or pinafore dress.  I did cheat a little and didn't include outerwear or shoes as I was worried about having enough choice.  In fact, I had plenty of choice, so next time I will include jackets and shoes.  I wore 2 different jackets and mostly the same pair of black boots.

My favourite outfit
The orange butterfly shirt, blue jeans and black denim jacket

items not paired
See above!

Hardest part
Choosing my 10 items.  In the end I just jumped right in, and decided that I could always stop or add something else in if it was too hard.  I surprised my self in that it wasn't hard to keep to the 10.  I did swap a patterned top for the black top as I realised I didn't have much to wear with the pinafore dress.  In fact, I only wore it once in the end.

Going forward:
I want to buy and make more good quality, good fitting plain neutral staples, jeans, tops etc leading to a more 'capsule' wardrobe.  I don't need loads of new different clothes, and would like to invest in some staples that will last a long time.
Shoes!  I would like to find something to wear in between boots and sandals.

I will have another go at a Summer 10 x 10 wardrobe challenge.

Friday, 9 February 2018

What I made in January

All I want to do in January is hibernate.  It has been a cold, dreary month here.  Perfect weather for staying indoors and making!  So I thought I would write a blog post to show you what I made this month.  I am hoping to continue this as a series throughout the year.  Let's see if I can keep it up!

I made these jogging bottoms/lounge pants (I much prefer to call them lounge pants, there's not too much jogging goes on here!).   The fabric is a grey marl, which is so soft and comfortable,bought from Fabricland.  I will be definitely wearing these around the house lots.  I am calling this a stash buster, because although I bought this fabric with this pattern in mind, I have had it a while.

I crocheted the 'weekend bag' from Attic24 in the hot colourway.  I just love the colours!  I have lots of wool leftover too, so I might make some leg wamers seen on Jo's blog here.

And finally, here is a quilt I finished this month.  This is my Calendar Quilt.  It was a project that I did with my craft cabin friends Tash and Burnice.  (We meet once a month in Burnice's craft cabin in her garden).  We decided to do a 12 block quilt, each block representing a month of the year.  We tried to do as many 'techniques' as we could, eg, English paper piecing, applique, drunkards path, dresden plate etc.  My blocks are all inspired by blocks I have seen on Pinterest and in a magazine called 'Quiltmakers, 100 Blocks' .  I should probably do another blog post with details of each block.  Suffice to say, I spent quite a few long January evenings hand quilting these blocks.  

Friday, 26 January 2018

2017 sewing, Mostly Hits!

I have finally got round to reporting on my 2017 sewing!  It's taken a while, but I think it is an important thing to do, to look back to see what worked and what didn't.

I sewed 12 items to wear last year.  4 dresses, 6 tops,  a 2-piece jumpsuit, and my favourite item, and the most worn - my jeans!

I used a shorts pattern (Kwik Sew K3614) that I had altered to fit, and simply lengthened them into trousers.  I made them with a gorgeous black denim, from

I made 2 dresses for weddings:

I just love this bright red crepe fabric, again from  The pattern is Loretta Jewel Neck dress by Simple Sew.  This is the second Loretta Jewel dress I have made.  It came free with a magazine, and says it is for beginners.  I am not so sure about that!  I needed a lot of help to alter the pattern to get it to fit right.

The second one is a Tiramisu, by Cake Patterns.   I really like this pattern,  this is my second Tiramisu, and I will probably make it again.  This lovely bright fresh fabric, (again from More Sewing) gives it a summery look. 

I made a maxi dress to take on holiday to Sardinia.  The pattern is New Look 6230.  It feels really nice to wear, and look how colourful this fabric is! Another More Sewing purchase!  It's great with a tan!

Other successes include a black and white jumpsuit, which is in fact a two-piece, t-shirt and trousers. I love wearing this and always get compliments!  The only problem is that the fabric was very cheap, and does not have good recovery.  I might have to take it in for wearing this summer. 

Finally, here's a picture of my 'Christmas' top.  I decided this year to make a top to go with black trousers.  I meant to make the trousers, but ran out of time, so had to buy some.  This is a Katherine Tilton pattern for Butterick, B6325.  I love the collar detail - the little pleats make it looked 'puffed', and the side detail, which unfortunately is a bit lost in the pattern of the fabric.  It is very loose fitting, which I am not sure really suits me, but I did love wearing it!

I didn't have any complete misses, just a couple of items I made from cheap fabric that didn't drape or recover well.  I go to sewing classes at More Sewing, where Laura the owner and teacher, helps with fitting and techniques to make sure that we don't get any compete misses!