Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body with Michelle Mason

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Hi, I am Michelle Mason, I am a disabled Mom of three children. I have a few different illnesses including a rather unknown one called ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or often called CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and I also have Fibromyalgia. These two illnesses have a profound effect on my every day life and I am now housebound and rely on mobility aids for my daily life including an electric wheelchair. I have a lot of muscle pain and any activity I do causes rebounds and more pain. I have to weigh up if an activity is worth the pain it will cause me. For a long time after my health declined I was getting extremely depressed due to the isolation and loneliness of being stuck inside and also the feeling of uselessness and being a burden on my partner and children. I have enjoyed a fair few crafts throughout my life including cross stitch and knitting but I found myself unable to process patterns and where I had got to, my short term memory is affected due to brain fog and fatigue.

By chance my daughter was looking through the Argos catalogue and saw a sewing machine which I noticed you could use without a foot pedal. This gave me a big boost as my old brother machine was foot pedal only. For Christmas 2017 I got my first computerised machine. I was soon hooked and had even ordered a Sew Hayley Jane box on the December so I had some nice fabric to play with. I had a box with fabrics from past sewing. I had made a few bits and pieces including some dresses for my girls. I was soon hooked and involved myself in the Instagram community, at first I hid my wheelchair as I was embarrassed so would stand up and endure the pain and making sure I was close to something to hold onto in case I wobbled. I at first thought I was the only one like me who was sewing and then Andie (@sewprettyinpink) launched a new Instagram page especially for those with chronic illnesses (@Chronicallysewn) and I found people like me. Some in wheelchairs and even others with ME. I found an amazing friends and have connected with others who understand the challenges of limited energy and sewing for being in a wheelchair.

Clothes look different when sitting and you have to make sure nothing will catch in the wheels. I also have trouble with temperature regulation which means even in winter I overheat a lot, but if I am outside I get cold extremely quickly as I am not physically moving and have to wear thermals and even gloves in the summer. It is very rare to see patterns that are designed with sitting down in mind and normaly there is not a picture of someone in a wheelchair or even sitting which makes it hard to see if the pattern will look ok or if it will be uncormfortable. I received this beautiful Red Chino Twill from D&H fabrics and the Salida Skirt pattern from True Bias. Thank you both very much, the fabric has a lovely texture which makes me want to stroke it and I really enjoyed the challenge of this pattern. I did the longer version to ensure decency while sitting although due to my short height it comes a little further down than on most people but I love it and it keeps me warm when neded and I love the colour as it stands out. I plan to continue showing how patterns look in a wheelchair as its important to others to see how sitting affects the pattern and fabric.

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Tammy Lee