Monday, May 18, 2015

"Large Mail Sack" Purse by Pink Chalk, Made by Brook

Hey guys!

Differing from anything I've ever posted before (except for maybe my Tie Dye Sharpie Shoes post) I'm blogging today to show you all something I've made! At the very least I know my grandma will enjoy seeing this :)

So back in 2011, my grandma and I found this great purse pattern at a quilt shop. It's called "The Mail Sack" by Pink Chalk, and it is so great! For someone who gets frustrated at every turn when sewing, this bag is a really quick thing to whip up without pulling out too many hairs. My grandmother and I have probably made over a dozen bags total over the years and have no plans to stop. That Christmas, everyone got a bag. I felt like Oprah. 

When I moved here, I obviously couldn't take grandma, her pattern, and her entire sewing room (complete with every tool you could ever think you'd possibly need) with me. But then Patrick bought the pattern for me for Easter a few months ago and I was excited to make another bag!

When Patrick got his new desk last week for work (it's a 3 sided desk) I finally had a place to sew without having to move computers and the like to do so, so I decided it was time to start a project.

I spent about an hour at Joann's picking out the perfect fabrics and started on it the next day. 

Unfortunately I did make a mistake and I bought the wrong type of interfacing for the project (it calls for fusible, I got the regular kind), but I was able to run over to Wal Mart where they had exactly what I needed (and for super cheap, too! I was tempted to buy the whole bolt!). While I was there, I also picked up a zipper, which the bag calls for but I initially thought that was too adventurous for me to try.

Up until this point, I had only made the "Mini Mail Sack" but they did provide a pattern for the "Large Mail Sack," which I opted for this time because I've always found that the mini one doesn't hold enough stuff for me. 

Here is the fabric I went with:

This was for the "base."

This was for the "yoke and strap" and also the pockets.

This was for the lining. The picture doesn't do it justice. The fabric is a little darker than this and less yellow, which you can see in other photos.

I believe the two multi-colored fabrics I chose were from the same line and I just happened to find them in different sections of the store. I always love making bags with fabrics from the same line so that I know they will effortlessly go together. When I go to fabric stores I often mentally shut down because there are TOO MANY OPTIONS but if I choose one fabric that I like and it has color matching fabric from the same line, it makes it much easier on my poor brain. Then I simply have to choose a lining fabric. Sometimes I get lucky and there are multiple fabrics in the same line and I don't even have to search for a lining!

Please excuse the mess, it was so late by the time I finished the bag and I was falling asleep.

I've placed a DVD here for size reference.

Here is the bag inside out to show you the zipper pocket. This is a much more accurate photo of the color of the orange fabric.

(Sorry about the pale photo, I don't know what that's about!) 
This is my zipper! I'm pleased with how well I did on it for my first time. The pattern called for a zipper "the same color as the lining fabric" but I thought, "how will I see the zipper if there is poor lighting?" and I went with the green one. Actually, it's because there were no other colors at Wal Mart that matched the pattern except for this one, so green it was! But I really like it :)

Here is the bag inside out to show you the other side of the pockets. It's a simple large pocket divided with a line of stitching. But I thought that wouldn't be good as-is because I would lose things like bobby pins in such a large pocket...

So I added baby pockets underneath the large pocket! I can never make one of these bags without customizing something. 

Here is our lovely model, Patrick, showing you how the bag looks on a human. 

Overall I'm super pleased with the outcome and I can't wait to show it off! Initially I went to the store intending to make a Marvel Avengers purse because I'm in love with The Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man (in that order), but they had some really terrible options and I was really bummed about them. 

And because I still have my "Mini Mail Sack," I'll include photos of that one as well so you can see the size difference! 

The "Mini Mail Sack"

My "customization" (I added a tab and a button)

The "base" fabric. Also the fabric of one of the pockets.

The "yoke and strap" fabric. Also the fabric of one the other pocket.

The "regular" pocket (no stitching in the middle). I believe this was an addition of my own and the pattern only called for one divided pocket, as shown in the next photo.

My divided pocket.


As you can see, the size difference is pretty great. I almost wish there were a third "middle" option for the bag size! I'm sure I could eventually whip something up on my own, though. 

Again, our lovely model Patrick :)

So there you have it! If you're interested, the materials for the large bag were about $22 (but all of the fabrics were 40% off). Additionally, you can purchase the pattern from Amazon here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Surgery for Patrick

Hey everyone,

Last time I wrote to you all, I shared with you that Patrick was suffering from chronic pain from an injury that he had almost a year ago, and I mentioned that I would keep you all updated on the result of that situation. I'm here today with an update and a little bit of back story.

When Patrick was a child, he had surgery to shorten his right leg so that it would match up with the left. Medicine at that time was not as advanced as it is these days, and though he probably would have grown out of the different lengths, his family made that decision for him. Fast forward to his late 30's, and while he is out running one morning, his right achilles tendon snaps and it sends him straight into surgery just days later. The cause? Extra bone that was growing as a result of said childhood surgery kept tearing away at the tendon until it could no longer hold up against the tension.

After a long surgery where they removed tendons from other parts of his leg to reconstruct his achilles, Patrick was in a cast for many weeks, followed by a boot, and then physical therapy. Because of the nature of Patrick's job, he was on the road just weeks later at client after client, and while he had great medical care and good insurance and the means to cover all of the copays and medical costs that insurance could not, we are now writing a very different story.

Back in August, Patrick injured his left leg with a completely different injury-- the tendon in his calf separated from his muscle. Given no time to rest or get to a doctor, Patrick went on the road almost immediately for most of the next three weeks, walking heavily on his heel to keep the pressure off of the arch of his foot, which is what had caused his tendon separation. While that injury continued to heal, Patrick was unknowingly creating a new injury-- the same achilles problem that he previously had on the right.

Because Patrick was booked for weeks and weeks in advance, he was eventually able to go to Urgent Care to have the leg looked at, but the doctor told him to RICE the injury and that it should be fine-- which is something that Patrick can't necessarily do, as he is often up in front of a class teaching, pacing back and forth. The injury continued to get worse and he has been living with chronic pain for months.

When Patrick was finally able to take a day off for himself to get to his regular doctor in San Mateo (he still has not found a suitable doctor here in Tracy and therefore has kept his same physician), his doctor then had him set up an appointment with a specialist for the following week.

A second day of missing work passed as he made his way back to The Bay Area to meet with the specialist, who promptly put him in a boot, scolded him for not getting in to the doctor six months earlier-- when they could have treated and healed the injury-- and sent Patrick to get an MRI.

And so a third day was taken off of work to go get that MRI, which put us over $1,000 in the hole (really, what good is insurance, honesty?) along with the cost of the boot, all of which will come out of pocket once they bill us.

The MRI results came in and Patrick confirmed with the doctor what we were already dreading: he needs reconstructive surgery on his left achilles before it does what the other one did and snaps beyond repair, making the surgery and healing process even longer.

Right now we are looking at six weeks in a cast, four weeks in a boot, followed by four weeks of physical therapy. Patrick's doctor would rather him have the surgery sooner than later to prevent further damage, but we have a very important trip booked in July and we are moving in August, both things that we cannot reschedule and things that Patrick realistically cannot do while in a cast. Lugging boxes up and down the stairs just isn't in the cards for him (in his current state with the boot or with a cast just weeks after surgery), yet we also cannot afford to hire professional movers. We have to get the timing just right with this or the damage becomes worse and his heal time is even longer, or we aren't able to move without professional help.

What we're really struggling with right now is the medical cost. When Patrick renewed his insurance this past January, his company was in the middle of switching administrative positions and he was mistakenly given just a few days to choose a new plan. Without being able to look at them himself, he requested to be put under the same plan regardless of the cost. It would appear that this was a mistake, although had he not been on the road at the time he may have had the time to look over the different options.

Not only is his insurance so expensive that we cannot add me on it without it skyrocketing to more than double his current monthly payment, but he also gets hit with a $5,000 minimum deductible, which does not include any at-home expenses, medical supplies, or time off of work.

And so while we were hoping to be able to move to save more money on rent and save up for a house, it would seem that we are now moving to save more on rent so that we can try to pay off medical bills and any other debt that may come with this surgery, and a house can wait.

Patrick is the sole breadwinner in our household. It is difficult to find a job where I make enough for the entire ordeal to be worth it. Isn't it funny how the worst paying jobs are often the most stressful? With my mental health in mind, I made the decision not to get a job when we moved to Tracy. Such a small town had very little to offer in terms of decent jobs, and even so I would only have brought in a small fraction of what Patrick brings in, and I now regret that decision, knowing that what I could have brought in would have helped significantly with these costs, which we simply don't have the savings to cover.

I know that in the "man of the house" role, Patrick is too proud to ask for help, and the stress has been eating away at him-- even now I'm watching his attitude change and harden just a little bit as he tries to take all of this upon himself.

I've watched this man do amazing things-- both for me and for other people-- and be brightens my day every single day. When he and I found one another, I knew I was taking a risk with him, but it took me a long time to realize that he was taking the biggest risk of his life with me, too. A long distance relationship with a much younger woman was laughable-- crazy, even-- but he still did it. He flew to see me and showed me what the greatest love could be like, and when the distance just didn't make sense any more, he waited patiently for me as I traveled across the country and he welcomed me into his home and his life with open arms, confident that we would work together as a couple and that we could get through anything together. Confident enough that even though he had sworn he would never get married again after his second divorce, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

Now that you all know what is going on, and now that Patrick and I are both ashamed and embarrassed that we cannot cover these costs on our own, I'd like to share with you the GoFundMe account that Patrick's sister, Renee, graciously created to try to help with this cause. I know times are hard-- even harder for some others than it may be for us right now-- and we understand that a lot people simply have to take care of themselves. That's okay, we completely understand. There are a billion things that I wish I could help out with but we simply cannot, and we are in that boat with you. However, for those of you who are interested in helping us stay out of medical debt and have the means to do so, I have provided the link below. If nothing else, your good vibes and positive thoughts will go a long way in helping us get through this.