Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tutorial: Drawer Organiser

Sounds wickedly exciting, doesn't it?  This is what happens when you can't go out; you spend your Saturday nights organising your stationery. Or maybe that's just me...

Moving on, here is what my stationery drawer looked like before:

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

Not great, right? There was all sorts of crap piled in there, and it was damn near impossible to find a pen when you needed one.

This is what it looks like now:

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

Much nicer to look at and a hell of a lot easier to fnd what I'm looking for.

The first thing I did was to measure the inside of the drawer. This particular unit is a small filing cabinet with a shallow drawer at the top, and it measures  43cmL x 34cmW x 7.5cmD

I used 3mm fibreboard to build the insert because I had some left over from a project to smarten up one of my bookcases (which I might post about at some point), but pasticard or even cardboard would probably work fine. I cut out:

a base piece at 42cm x 33cm,
two edge walls at 33cm x 7cm
two edge walls at 42cm x 7cm.
three insert walls at 27cm x 7cm
one insert wall at 34cm x 7 cm
one insert wall at 33cm x 7 cm

If you're seeing a problem with these measurements then you're smarter than I am, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial
I had to join two pieces together for one wall, but it holds fine

Next I cut out my fabric. I used one cross shaped piece (see picture) and five strips at 15cm x 35cm.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

You need to have the piece of fabric big enough to cover your entire base piece, including the walls. I cut the flaps to cover the walls a little too small. Either that or I measured it wrong, which is also quite likely. Make sure you have the flaps big enough to cover up the inside of the walls and back down the outside with a bit left to glue underneath the base. You also need to make sure that they're long enough to wrap around the corners a little bit or you end up with gaps where the wood shows through.

Now it's time to start assembling. Luckily I had the foresight to line up the walls with the edges of the base piece before I started glueing, because it turns out that when I was cutting them I forgot to compensate for the width of the fibreboard. Did you catch that in my measurements? If you did, give yourself a round of applause and a cookie. So, 6mm off each short piece and we're ready to go.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

Once your box is assembled, lay your fabric inside to check the placement of it and make sure it covers the whole box, swear a bit when it leaves gaps at two of the corners, and decide that it doesn't matter because it'll be at the back of the drawer and you can't see it anyway. Once you're happy with your placement, fold one of the short flaps back to expose the join between the base and the wall and add a line of glue along the join, a little at a time, smoothing the fabric over it as you go. Next do the two long sides in exactly the same way, and finish with the last short side. Make sure to pull the fabric tight as you go and check it hasn't wrinkled anywhere.

All you need to do now is glue the fabric to the outside of the walls and underneath the base. Do the long sides first, then the back, and leave the front for last. Honestly, it's not too important what the outside looks like as you aren't particularly going to be able to see it once it's in the drawer.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

For the interior walls, wrap your strips of fabric around them and trim off the excess. Again, I thought I'd made the fabric strips big enough to wrap around the walls with some excess but 15cm on a 7cm wall isn't quite big enough to get an overlap. Once they're all covered run a line of glue along the bottom of each and stick them into place. I did the three shorter walls first so I could be absolutely sure they fitted (because of course I'd forgotten to compensate for the width of the fibreboard again).

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial

The wall furthest to the back I only glued along the bottom because the section can't be reached in the drawer without tilting the wall forward.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial
There's another compartment back there. Can you tell I don't think things through very well?
Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial
We'll call this a feature rather than a design flaw.
I really wish I'd got a picture of Andy trying to put this in the drawer. It doesn't fit through the opening without taking the front of the drawer off! I think making the walls slightly lower would have sorted it out if it had occurred to me before I started.

Feminist Cupcakes: Drawer Organiser Tutorial
I can actually find stuff in here now!
One last piece of advice: Glue straight out of a glue gun is very hot. Do everything you can to avoid putting your hand in a blob of it because it will remove skin and leave you with a nice big blister.

So is it worse that I spent half of my evening organising my stationery drawer, or that I spent the other half blogging about it?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Being Kind To Myself.

*Content note: fat shaming, body hatred, disordered eating, self-harm, ableist language*

Being Kind To Myself by Feminist Cupcakes

This is a difficult post for me to write. I'm potentially opening myself up to a lot of abuse here, but I think it's worth the risk.

I've had problems with self-esteem for as long as I can remember, probably because I've been fat for as long as I can remember. All my life the people around me have made a big deal out of my weight and their own. My mum has three sisters who were fat* when I was growing up and I have numerous older female cousins who are also fat, and they are always talking about their weight and how to lose it. I was first taken to a doctor about my weight at seven years old; the doctor weighed me, then told me I needed to go on a diet. Whenever I did any physical activity I was praised for it because it would help me lose weight. I was teased at primary school for being fat, one boy told his friends that if he stuck me with a pin I'd pop like a balloon. On the bus on the way home from school one day some older kids got on and one sat next to me. His friend told him not to look at me ''or you'll turn into a retard." I can only imagine he meant that I was so awful to look at that he risked losing his mind from doing so. I was about 9 years old at the time, and the memory still has the power to make me cry.

At high school the bullying continued, and at twelve I started self-harming. I was already constantly lacerating myself mentally, so to do it physically was something of a relief. It stopped the hatred and anger for a while, and I found taking care of the cuts to be soothing; it felt good to do something to take care of myself for a change. When my parents found out they encouraged me not to tell any of my friends, I'm sure because they were worried about how people would treat me if they found out, but it made me feel like I had yet another thing to be ashamed of.

As I've grown older, and especially since having Adam and Jack, my weight has increased, and so have my self-image problems. I now spend long periods of time at home because I hate the looks I get from people. I've had people shout insults from cars, I've had people mutter disgusted comments as they walk past, I've had people follow me down the street screaming abuse at me just because I dare to exist in a public space while being fat.

I've recently discovered the idea of body positivity and fat acceptance, and the revolutionary idea that being fat does not make me less valuable as a person. That sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm serious; I have always felt like I'm worth less than 'normal people' just because I weigh more, and the idea that this wasn't true was mind-blowing for me.

Over the years I have abused my body dreadfully; I've never taken care of it because I hate it so much, and why would I take care of something I hate? I have alternately starved myself for days at a time and stuffed myself with so much food I feel ill. I've stayed awake for 36 hours as a punishment for trivial crap. I've cut myself, burned myself, punched walls hard enough to leave bruises, and I smoked for 10 years all because I hate the body I have.

I'm tired of hating myself. I'm now attempting to be kinder to myself, to try and love myself even if it's just a little bit. Whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror I make a conscious effort to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, to replace "Fuck, I look awful. I'm so disgusting." with "Fuck it, I'm fabulous." When someone compliments me I try to accept the compliment instead of dismissing it as an attempt to cheer me up, and I try to believe that the compliment is objectively true, not just something that they believe. I'm trying to eat healthier food, and move around a bit more. Not to lose weight, but because I want to be kinder to myself. I want to take care of the body I'm in, because I'm tired of punishing it for not looking exactly how I want.

If you're the kind of person who abuses people for the crime of being fat, I hope this post has made you rethink what you're doing. Trust me, there is nothing you can say to me that's worse than what I've been saying to myself, and there's no way you can punish me that's worse than the way I've been punishing myself for years. If fat shaming inspired people to lose weight I'd be a fucking size zero by now.

Being Kind To Myself by Feminist Cupcakes
*I use fat rather than overweight because I dislike the way the word 'overweight' implies that there is a single correct weight. There is obviously no negative association intended in my usage of it.

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to body acceptance here

Ruffled Flower Pillow

Ruffled Flower Pillow by Feminist Cupcakes

Last month I made the prettiest pillow to sit on my bed. I found this tutorial on Pinterest and I desperately wanted to make one. I wasn't even put off when I realised that I would have to make ruffles without a ruffler attachment for my sewing machine. After all, the tutorial says that you need to end up with a strip of fabric at least 9 feet long, so I figured that wouldn't be too hard. Yeah, it turns out that it should have said that you need a strip of fabric at least 9 yards long. I ended up cutting many many strips of fabric that added up to about 28 feet long.

I didn't take any in progress shots because honestly it's pretty easy to ruffle fabric (just a little tedious if you're doing lots of it!) You just sew 2 parallel lines of basting stitches along the entire length of the fabric (but make sure you don't backstitch the ends!), gently pull on the top threads on each side and move the fabric towards the middle of the strip. If that sounds a bit confusing, there's a very good explanation here. The most important thing is to loosen the tension of your machine first. I did a test run with the top tension as loose as it would go, but it was still too tight to gather without snapping the thread, so I had to loosen the bottom tension too, and that worked perfectly.

I love the way this pillow turned out. It looks so impressive, but it was really quite easy to make.

Ruffled Flower Pillow by Feminist Cupcakes
I'm 29 and I still sleep with a teddy bear. Go ahead and judge me, I don't care.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

BBC 500 Words Competition

(Note: This post is unashamed parental pride. I realise it may not be of any interest to anyone but myself, but I'm posting it anyway.)

This morning Adam decided that he wanted to enter the BBC's 500 words short story competition, so he sat down and wrote a short story. I asked if he minded if I posted it to my blog (because I think it would be a breach of his trust to post it without his permission), and he said he didn't, so here it is. It made me laugh, and I think it's pretty good for a seven year old (but I am slightly biased).

In Search Of The Magic Ring
 I was just about to find my boat when somebody tapped me on the shoulder. I turned round and saw who it was. It was the King! He told me I had to find the magic ring. “What is the magic ring.” I asked.
 “The magic ring has magical powers. We have been trying to find it for ages. I believe in you.” the King told me. “Okay I just have to find a few friends and a metal detector and I’ll be off.”
 I got Nathan, Caleb, Ellis, and a metal detector and we got in my boat to set off through the shark infested water. Nathan held the map, Ellis did the steering and Caleb was on the lookout for sharks. A shark came close to eating us but Caleb warned us and we went on full speed so the shark took a great big gulp of water and we kept on full speed because the shark might want to get revenge.
 When we got to the deep dark forest we were greeted by werewolves so we bopped them on the nose and ran to the red river. We swam through the red river when I got a nip on the toes and noticed there were Japanese spider crabs in the red river. A crab fisherman let us have a go on his speedboat so we clambered aboard.
 We jumped out of the speedboat and ran into the monster cave but the monster was at Sainsbury’s. I got the metal detector out and started to scan the ground. I didn’t hear a ring sound when suddenly I heard a thump and Ellis was lying down on the ground. We asked him “Are you alright, Ellis?” He said “Yes, just a little bump. I slipped on a slug.” He had his mouth open wide, and was pointing toward the ceiling. “The ring, we’ve found it!” Ellis said. We all looked at where Ellis was pointing. There was a ring of plasma floating just above our heads, and the magic ring was stuck inside it. “How do we get it out?” I asked. As soon the words left my mouth Nathan shouted out “I know! The magic word on the back of the map!” I held out my hands underneath the ring and exclaimed “Shambo-Chambo!” The ring fell into my hands, and we shouted altogether  “We’ve found the ring!” We ran to the safe harbour to tell the King and give him the ring. The King tells the town crier to announce that we have found the ring, and the town has a big party with lots of fireworks. Everyone is very happy that we found the ring.
 The End

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A small change practically, a huge change emotionally

I've made a very small change to my About page today; I removed the word 'straight'. No, I'm not about to leave Andy for another woman, but I have accepted recently that I'm bisexual. It won't make a huge difference to my life because I'm happily married and I have no intention of changing that, but it's a relief to have finally figured it out.

It's something that I remember worrying about in my early teens. I definitely fancied boys but I started to worry that I also liked girls, and I was terrified about what my dad would say. I'd already heard him say on various occasions that if my sister or I 'decided' we were lesbian he'd disown us. So I buried it. Even when I found myself in bed with another woman in my late teens I still denied it, told myself we'd just been messing around. Even though I am an ardent supporter of gay rights I apparently had this enormous mental block when it came to my own feelings. I don't really know what caused that to change. I think I'd been mentally screaming it for years and I finally started listening. I told Andy around Christmas, and last week I told my mum. I was so scared; she's always been accepting of people being gay but sometimes people react differently when it's their own son or daughter. Thankfully she was fine with it. Whether that would have been the case if there was a chance of being in a relationship with a woman I don't know, but I hope not. We came to the mutual conclusion that we probably shouldn't tell my dad though, and I'm pretty okay with that. It won't make any difference to my life and it's stress that I don't need.

So it's taken me until the age of 29 to realise that I'm bisexual, but now I feel uncomfortable using the term to describe myself. Not because I think there's anything wrong with it, but because I feel like a bit of a fraud. I'm a cis-woman in a happy marriage to a cis-man, I have never and will never be in a relationship with a woman, and I have never and will never face any kind of discrimination based on my sexuality, so what right do I have to call myself anything other than straight? Can I identify as bisexual in spite of these things? I hope so because the fact remains that I am attracted to women. I am bisexual, and I am happy with that.

Coming Out by Feminist Cupcakes
At least I didn't talk too much about sex, right?