Tutorial: How to make a T-shirt quilt

T-shirt quilts are popular in the USA but less common in the UK as far as I am aware.

The idea is you find a collection of t-shirts, such as for your favourite football team, or collected on holidays or at music festivals, and cut them up to make a quilt. I tend not to wear t-shirts much, but in my work overseas in the humanitarian world, branded t-shirts are common to identify yourself as a staff of an NGO and make it easier to work with communities and government officials etc, as well as showing off your donor’s logo as required!

As a natural-born hoarder, I have kept all of my response t-shirts from all my overseas aid work, as well as various t-shirts collected from other events here and there, and I recently discovered them gathering dust and mould in my attic and decided my maternity leave was the ideal time to get started doing something useful with them.

It is also 10 years since my first deployment as a humanitarian to South Sudan in 2009, the beginning of my career as an aid worker, so a quilt to mark 10 years of my humanitarian career seems fitting! However I must admit that over the years some of the NGOs I have worked for have significantly more t-shirts than others, and one NGO I have worked with for around 3 years only ever had 1 t-shirt (once you settle into HQ you tend not to get so much of the branded stuff) so the quilt appears rather skewed towards one particular NGO which is not necessarily reflective of my career but nevermind – I’ll let you guess which one!

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Homemade Christmas

This year, partly for environmental reasons, but also mainly because of my reduced salary while on maternity leave, I am trying to do a mostly homemade Christmas (with a few small exceptions).

In order to do a good homemade Christmas you need to plan ahead and not leave it to the last minute – there’s never any time in December! But also I’ve got more time on my hands than I used to at the moment so with that in mind I have been busy making all sorts of things!

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More crafty things

You may have noticed my blog has become utterly dominated with adoption stuff, because, you know, becoming a mum is the single biggest thing to ever happen to me. It’s fairly monotonous and dull, which is not unlike my life at the moment – very little else going on in my life so there’s less to write about.
However in my boredom I have been missing my pottery classes and so have set about doing some more knitting and sewing and crafting in the evenings to keep myself busy and less bored.

So to break up the monotony of talking about adoption and being a mum here are some of my recent crafty projects instead!

Our first trip away

We had our first trip away from home a couple of weeks ago, up to Yorkshire to visit my mum for a couple of days. I drove up at night, so she slept most of the way. She woke once or twice and went “Where the hell am I?” but then went back to sleep again. We arrived at 10pm, and she was initially very frightened and freaked out but then calmed down and settled.

The whole time we were there she seemed absolutely fine – I was worried she would be anxious but actually I was more anxious than she was (ironically I was mostly anxious about whether or not she was anxious!). She had a lovely time meeting some extended family members and lots and lots of cuddles with Grandma – she has bonded really quickly and well with my mum, which is lovely, although occasionally hard not to feel slightly rejected when she preferred Grandma’s hand/cuddles to mine! I suppose Grandparents do have novelty value! All in all she was happy, smiley, quiet and well behaved, and we both had a lovely time. Continue reading

Feeling like a “Real” mum at last, and immediately handing back my Feminist card…

So after my previous post when I was wondering when the “mum” thing would kick in,  I finally had a moment the other weekend when I really felt like a proper mum.

On Saturday, we got up, dressed and breakfasted, went to Tesco’s for a weekly shop, then I batch-cooked a huge load of Bolognaise and we made some savoury muffins together for the freezer, and I managed to get 3 loads of laundry done and changed the sheets on the bed all before lunch. By the time my little one went down for her nap, I felt like I’d accomplished a lot, and was feeling very much like a real proper mum.

But then afterwards I started thinking how incredibly sad it is that I associate being a mum with unpaid domestic labour/household chores. Such a traditional stereotype that has no place in 2019. I used to have weekends like that before I had a kid, weekends when I would be super efficient and cook and clean and tidy and achieve loads of my #WeekendGoals, usually proudly announcing my achievements on facebook to the world. So why now, does achieving the same household chores suddenly make me feel like a “proper” mum? Continue reading

Cloth-Bum-Mums

When does the “mum” thing kick in? I was reflecting today that we are just about 6 weeks in, and I am still not sure I feel like a proper mum – I still feel a bit like I’m pretending or playing at it. I  guess it hasn’t really sunk in properly yet. I’ve had plenty of mum moments, such as:

  • accidentally giggling while trying to tell her off sternly (because she made such a funny face while doing something naughty),
  • poo explosions and wet sheets,
  • plenty of cuddles and snuggles and giggles,
  • pins and needles where she is sleeping on my arm and I can’t move or I’ll wake her up,

but I’m still not sure I really feel like a proper mum yet. I have no idea when your fundamental sense of self and identity shifts from “ordinary person” to “mother”, but I guess it takes time for that. Presumably it’s the same for birth mums (quite a few friends commented to me that they couldn’t believe the hospital just let them go home after the birth and suddenly be totally responsible for another human – most said it was terrifying!).

They say that with adoption, it can take time to love your child, and you shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. I can’t say exactly when the love part seeped in, but I know that I have adored her from the first magical day that she put her tiny hand in mine, and every day I feel more and more strongly about her. Love and adoration that seems to get stronger and stronger each day. Every smile and giggle and funny face makes me just melt, each time I realise I am learning what her facial expressions and noises mean, when I suddenly realised I can interpret her body language to know how she is feeling, those feelings get a little stronger. I guess that’s what bonding is in a nutshell. Learning all about one another, feeling each other out, getting used to one another’s rhythms and patterns and love growing stronger and stronger each day. Continue reading

Our first month together

So far, it’s been an interesting ride into motherhood.

The first week was amazing – packed full of new memories and new things, and she behaved and slept well – a dream child. However a lot of that was fear. Most people have either a fight, flight or freeze response to fear, and when you are so little you can’t really fight or run, so you tend to freeze. Make yourself very small and very quiet and hope nobody notices you.

So I had an inkling that our first perfect week together might be a little bit of a honeymoon period, which indeed it was. Continue reading

The Mum Hour

A friend of mine, who writes a fab parenting blog called Plus the Dog, asked me if I would do a guest blog about being a first-time parent. She is especially interested in the similarities between our respective parenting journeys, even though she hasn’t adopted, many aspects of our journeys to parenthood have been very similar, as she noted in her own blog about it recently.

So I drafted a little post about my first two weeks as a parent, and you can read all about it here.