International Women’s Day 2022 #BreakTheBias

Happy International Woman’s Day! For those of you who may be new here, the two things I talk about are sewing and female healthcare. The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias. This theme encourages us to consider the myriad ways in which women experience bias and to challenge those biases. As is probably obvious from my overarching theme this month, I want to talk about bias in female healthcare.

It’s fitting that we are talking about gender bias in healthcare in Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide, approximately 1 in 10 women or those observed female at birth. Despite its high prevalence, Endometriosis is massively under-researched and under-funded. A significant reason for this lack of attention is the normalisation of extreme female pain and the stigma that still persists around the discussion of menstrual health (As-Sanie et al. 2019)

Social stigma towards menstruation causes women to feel like their pain is something to be borne quietly and something that everyone suffers from. A 2012 study showed that the stigma attached to discussing menstrual issues caused women to delay seeking help for up to 2.5 years(Hudelist et al. 2012). One study investigating public perceptions of endometriosis in both male and female populations found that women with endometriosis were more likely to discuss their condition with their physician than women without the condition, leading to a lack of awareness in the wider female population (Shah et al. 2010). 

When women do seek treatment, the response from their physician can still be skewed by gender. While men with chronic pain are often described by physicians as ‘brave’ or ‘stoic’, women are more likely to be described as ‘emotional’ or ‘hysterical’ (Samulowitz et al. 2018). In addition, 74% of Endometriosis patients have received at least one false diagnosis and the social normalisation of dysmenorrhea was shown to dramatically increase diagnosis time (Hudelist et al. 2012). 

It’s sad to say that female pain is treated differently even when its nothing to do with gynaecology. Despite exhibiting the same pain scores, women are less likely to receive opioid analgesia (opioid painkillers) in A&E across both gender and non-gender specific diagnoses. Women also have to wait longer to receive painkillers in these situations(Chen et al, 2008). Furthermore, when presenting with chest pains, men are 2.5 times more likely to be referred to a cardiologist than women despite presenting similar symptoms and pain scores(Clerc-Liaudat et al. 2018). Women have a lower chance of receiving emergency  CPR from a stranger and women are 22% less likely to survive hospital admission for cardiac arrest – men have a 55% chance of survival whereas women only have a 37% chance (Macdonald, 2019).

So what can we do to improve the situation for women?

  1. We break the cycle of menstrual shame and go to our doctors straight away when something isn’t right.
  2. When other women tell us their experiences we can listen openly and accept that our own experience isn’t universal.
  3. We can complain loudly if something isn’t right. If you’ve had a bad A&E experience, complain to your hospital trust. Don’t let them get away with providing sub-standard biased care.

Together we can fight for systemic reform. Together we can break the bias.

References:

As-Sanie, S. Black, R. Giudice, L.C. Valbrun, T.G. Gupta, J. Jones, B. Laufer, M.R. Milspaw, A.T. Missmer, S.A. Norman, A. Taylor, R.N. Wallace, K. Williams, Z. Yong, P.J. Nebel, R.A. (2019)

Assessing research gaps and unmet needs in endometriosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. [221:2] 86-94.

Chen, E.H. Shofer, F.S. Dean, A.J. Hollander, J.E. Baxt, W.G. Robey, J.L. Sease, K.L. Mills, A.M. (2008) Gender Disparity in Analgesic Treatment of Emergency Department Patients with Acute Abdominal Pain. Academic Emergency Medicine [15:5] 414-418.

Clerc-Liaudat, C.C. Vaucher, P. De Francesco, T. Jaunin-Stalder, N. Herzig, L. Verdon, F. Favrat, B. Locatelli, I. Clair, C. (2018) Sex/gender bias in the management of chest pain in ambulatory care. Women’s Health [14] 1-9.

Hudelist, G. Fritzer, N. Thomas, A. Niehues, C. Oppelt, P. Haas, D. Tammaa, A. Salzer, H. (2012) Diagnostic delay for endometriosis in Austria and Germany: causes and possible consequences. Human Reproduction. [27:12] 3412–3416.

McDonald, A. (2019) ‘Women less likely to receive bystander CPR than men, research shows’ British Heart Foundation Website. 22nd May. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/may/women-less-likely-to-receive-bystander-cpr-than-men-research-shows

Samulowitz, A. Gremyr, I. Eriksson, E. Hensing, G. (2018) “Brave Men” and “Emotional Women”: A Theory-Guided Literature Review on Gender Bias in Health Care and Gendered Norms towards Patients with Chronic Pain. Pain Research and Management. 1-14.

Shah, D.K., Moravek, M.B., Vahratian, A., Dalton, V.K., Lebovic, D.I. (2010) Public perceptions of endometriosis: perspectives from both genders. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. [89:5] 646-650 

#SewYellowForEndo 2022 – Prizes, Sponsors and Much Much More!

Hello wonderful people and Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month! #SewYellowForEndo is back for another year with livestreams, blogs, vlogs, lots of yellow sewing, and lots and LOTS of chat about menstrual health and periods.

I’ve been literally silent here on the blog as things have been so busy I’ve not had the mental space to write but Sew Yellow For Endo is back and I’m hoping this will be a nice push to get back to blogging.

Endometriosis Awareness Month 2022

Endometriosis is a cruel condition that affects one in ten women and is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK. It causes agonising periods, pain with sex, problems with bowel and bladder function and can contribute to infertility. Despite that diagnosis takes seven years on average and honestly? Thats way too long.

Endometriosis is a cruel condition that affects 1 in 10 women and people observed female at birth, making it the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK. It causes agonising periods, pain with sex, problems with bowel and bladder function and can contribute to infertility. Despite that diagnosis takes eight years on average!

Endometriosis Awareness Month prompts us to talk openly about Endometriosis and menstrual health and the impacts it can have. No one knows what causes endometriosis and there is no known cure. However the earlier you catch it, the more effective treatments can be. The first step is knowing something is wrong which is why discussing menstrual health is vital. I am an endo-warrior and although I had a successful surgery back in June 2019, it is still a condition I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

The aim of #SewYellowForEndo is to raise awareness and provide a platform for other sewists to share their experiences as well as raise money for Endometriosis UK, the main charity supporting Endo warriors in the UK. The month involves Instagram Lives with a range of guests, sharing resources to improve menstrual knowledge, running mini-quizzes, destashing our fabrics for a good cause, and sewing up plenty of yellow garments!

Key Events: Sew Yellow For Endo 2022

The Big Destash – 12th & 13th March

The Big Destash invites you to destash for a good cause! You can destash fabrics, patterns, notions – whatever you want! Over the weekend of the 12th and 13th March share your fabrics on Instagram for whatever price is appropriate and then donate what you’re able of the profits to our Just Giving page.

How Do I Enter?

  • Take photos of what you want to destash and post them on Instagram with the price either on your grid or on your stories on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th.
  • Post off your destash item to its new owner!
  • Donate whatever amount you are able to to the Just Giving Page

The Sew Yellow Challenge – Reveal Day 26th March

I am inviting you to learn more about Endometriosis and sew up a yellow or partially yellow garment/outfit. Put your sewing skills to the test and support the Endometriosis community by whipping up a gorgeous yellow garment and show it off on 26th March on Instagram!

How Do I Enter?

Like the sound of the challenge? Well entering is super easy! All you need to do is:

  • Sew a yellow (or partially yellow) garment/outfit and post a picture on instagram with the hashtag #SewYellowForEndo2022 on the weekend of the 26th March. Please tag me @sowhatifisew so I can find your entry.
  • Donate £1 to Endometriosis UK via my Just Giving Page (remember to include your instagram name in the donation message!)
  • Include a fun fact you’ve learnt about Endometriosis or tell me whats been your favourite part of the Endometriosis Awareness Month in the caption of your post.

Entrants must be over 18 and UK resident to be eligible for prizes. If you’re none-UK based and still want to take part I would love to see your yellow outfit and I am working on sourcing some international prizes as we speak.

Challenge Prizes

I am extremely pleased to say that we have some fabulous sponsors on board who are donating prizes to the challenge! We have…. *drum roll please*

  • Lush Cloth will be offering a £25 gift voucher for the winner to use on any products within 3 months of the challenge.
  • Sew Sew Sew are donating a £20 gift voucher to spend in their online shop.
  • The Stitch Sisters are donating any one class for free to one of your winners. 
  • Crafty Sew & So and their sister brand My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns have teamed up to provide an amazing prize! Imagine waking up and choosing a unique garment from a wardrobe full of your own creations. With My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns, you can create comfortable and stylish everyday essentials to get you excited about getting dressed every single day!  The winner chosen will be able to choose three MHW pdf patterns to download. What would you choose?  Our oh so comfy Cosy Jersey Dress, the classic Ready To Party Dress, or a stylish Button Up Skirt. We can’t wait to see! *N.B. The extension pack for the Cosy Jersey Dress will be excluded from this offer.
  • Stitch & Ink Fabrics are donating a £10 voucher for their online shop.
  • Tammy Handmade is offering a wonderful pattern bundle including the Raj Dress & Hayley Robe.
  • Jenny Stitches Fabric is offering a £25 gift voucher, for use on anything in store and online, to one lucky winner.
  • 1st For Fabrics are donating a £20 gift voucher.
  • Size Me Sewing are offering 5 people the chance to win 1 pdf of their choice
  • CLC Essex would like to offer any Ellie & Mac pattern plus the pattern pack with the A0 pages, premium booklet and printed envelope all included.
  • Pattern Pouch Nest, a new business in the sewing community, is offering one of their new pattern goodie bags with a pattern of your choice .
  • Hey Sew Sister are donating a prize of a £25 voucher to spend on our website. 
  • Sew Totally Me are offering a £15 fabric voucher to spend on their website.
  • Stitch Crafts UK are donating one of their stunning handmade sewing machine covers to one lucky winner.

Winners will be chosen randomly on Monday 28th March over on instagram!

Yellow Fabric Discounts

To help you get involved a number of sewing companies are offering discounts on yellow fabrics or will be donating a percentage of sales to Endometriosis UK.

Fabric Donation

  • Crafty Sew & So will be donating 10% sales from Yellow Fabrics to Endometriosis UK during the month of March. Check out their website here: https://craftysewandso.com
  • Made With Love Scrunchies are donating 20% of their sales from the month of March to Endometriosis UK – find them on instagram!
  • Fleur Et Oeurs are going to be donating 10% of their yellow fabric sales to Endometriosis UK, check out their collection of fabrics here: https://fleuretours.com/product-category/yellow/
  • Scrunchies & Sew are donating 20% of their sales that include a yellow item to Endometriosis UK – find them on instagram!

Instagram Live Series

The other big event series going on this month is the Instagram Lives with Endometriosis Warriors from across the sewing community. Join us every Wednesday on instagram to talk about all things Endo! Lets normalise discussing menstrual health, raise awareness of the condition and the variety of experiences had within the Endometriosis community. We will also have some more scientific content talking about what the condition actually is so anyone who hasn’t heard of it can learn more. I’ve listed the lives below so check them out and come along!

  • 2nd March 8pm – My own endo experience (this has already happened but you can watch it back here!)
  • 4th March 8pm – What I’m Sewing & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 9th March 7pm – Sew Much To Say & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 16th March 8pm – The Mindful Scientist & So What If I Sew – What is Endometriosis?
  • 23rd March 8pm –  Sew Sew Becki & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 30th March 8pm – The Hungary Sewist & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences

The fact is that many women have to go through an average 8 years of agony to get diagnosed and it’s terrible. How many women will go their whole lives not being believed about their pain, being told its normal or ‘part of being a woman’ to suffer? This year I want to shout about menstrual health, have some fabulous conversations, learn, sew some beautiful yellow garments, and support EndometriosisUK.

Let’s end the stigma around menstrual health and let’s talk about Endometriosis. 

Back To Reality: Keeping My Sew-Jo Alive While Working Full Time

Hello everyone! Yes I am still here, I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth and I’ve not given up blogging. What has actually happened is something I think has happened to a lot of sewists. After 18 months of working from home and getting enough space and time to myself to enjoy my hobby, I’m now back in the office and crucially I’m back to commuting.

Now I wanted to say first off that I love my job, I am an event manager at a leading cultural venue in London, I’m lucky that I get to work on amazing events and with fantastic clients. However there is a reason I didn’t have much time for sewing pre-pandemic. There’s a reason I’m sitting on the sofa blogging before I head to work at lunch time and work until midnight. My job by its very nature is stressful, the hours are unpredictable and its exhausting. I pour my heart and soul into every event I run and it leaves me tired and all I want to do at the weekend is sleep forever. I will say though this job, unlike any other I’ve ever had, has got a greater awareness of welfare which is amazing. I’ve had jobs in the past where if an event runs from 6am – 10pm you would work the whole thing yourself, my current job recognises that not only isn’t feasible, it isn’t good for your physical and mental health.

Its not just that though, commuting is tiring (although I have to say I am loving how much reading time I get now!) and the reality is that once you are home you don’t want to do anything at all. I feel like it takes so much brainpower that its a struggle to reset and go and do some sewing because the reality is there is dinner to make, dishes to do and then I need to be in bed by 10:30 because I get up at 6am. In addition, I’m now back to my second year of my MA degree. Although it only takes one day of my week, it means that there is a lot of additional work i need to do on my evenings/weekends.

Plus I haven’t felt as inspired in this flat because I don’t feel as on top of everything. The office is a mess because I’m in and out all the time. The washing is piling up because Adam and I are both working in London. Our landlords are trying to sell our flat so I don’t feel like I can make mess on the weekends by sewing if they are coming around with viewings.

So altogether even when I do have the time to sew I don’t want to because I’m so tired. I’ve got beautiful fabrics, loads of projects I want to do, the equipment to make them but no brain power. Sewing should be relaxing and fun but its hard when you don’t have enough brain to relax. I’ve bought loads fo fabric because that was a way of getting inspired, now I need to find the time to do it. I’ve got two projects cut out that I’ve got no desire to finish.

And I guarantee I’m not the only person struggling with this. Last year at the beginning of lockdown Hobbycraft’s sales of sewing machines tripled. There was actually a global sewing machine shortage! So many of us took up sewing in the last year when we were working from home or furloughed and so there will be a corresponding number of people who are now having to fit their favourite hobby around commuting.

It’s hard. I miss the inspiration I had when my brain had enough space for it. I miss how relaxing saturday morning sewing felt when I wasn’t exhausted from a commute that went horribly wrong on Friday night. At the end of the day I love sewing and I love vlogging and blogging – I just need to find a way to fit it around my work life and to boost my energy levels enough to do it.

So What Is The Plan?

Firstly I’m going to plan out everything I do in a week without sewing, which looks like the following pie chart:

Realistically I have two hours every evening to myself or for myself. I won’t sacrifice sleep during the week because I know the effect that has on me so I’ve not included it on the pie chart, its a given that I need 8 hours sleep or I am useless. Lack of sleep reduces my ability to cope with stress and decision making so I prioritise that over everything else.

So maybe I need to change the way I sew. I’m big fan of long sewing days where I pretty go beginning to end on a project in one 8 hour day. I find that relaxing. I find I can really sink into the sewing and ideally I would still like to have one of those days at the weekend but maybe there are little sewing tasks I could do in the week? Maybe I could I cut out a pattern during the week so I’m ready for sewing at the weekend? Maybe I can do planning? Maybe I can dedicate one night to tidying to office so its all set-up and ready for sewing at the weekend? Realistically I go to Ballet on Monday and Thursday, Tuesday night I try and do my MA reading while its fresh in my head from Lectures that day so lets start small.

I’m going to commit Wednesday night(or morning if I’m working) to sewing activity. To doing something sewing related whether that is cutting out a pattern, filming a talking vlog, proper project planning, tidying the office or just pre-washing fabric. I will try and post to IG every Wednesday to let you know what I’ve done, I find accountability tracking really important for the way my brain works. After a few weeks Wednesday nights will be demarcated in my mind but I find its important to schedule it into my diary as a commitment so I take my own welfare and relaxation as seriously as I would an appointment or a work commitment.

Scheduling in down-time is actually a technique I was encouraged to use when I had a therapy session a few years ago. Its not for everyone but if you are a busy person like me then its important to block out time in your diary for yourself so you can’t book over it. You don’t have to schedule what you do in that time but its like creating a window in your week or your day for you. Even on a small scale I now actually put my lunch break in my diary at work to reclaim an hour just for me. I’m advocating this technique for everyone as I know it would stress some people out more but for me its having that reminder and committing the spending time on myself or my hobbies.

This month I will mark out my Wednesdays for myself and I will also be doing my Simple Saturday Sews on YouTube where I do a project on a Saturday that should only take a couple of hours and I’ll vlog along, the first of those will be coming up very soon!

Even writing this blog I feel like I’ve had the time and space to consider my needs and I feel much better. The key is finding the time to stop and think and find a way forward that works for you.

I should say I am off to the Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday, I booked a whole day off work to go and enjoy myself and I’ve even booked onto some workshops which will hopefully reignite my sewing passion so I’ll come home and will be sewing all of Saturday!

Have a great Wednesday everyone and I’ll back much sooner next time xx

Welcome To… So What If I Sew

Welcome to the So What If I Sew blog, a place for me to learn new sewing techniques, explore different patterns and document my progress as I go.

The Blog Logo

As a human being my three main hobbies are reading, yoga and sewing. Yes I enjoy other things but those are the three that I am genuinely extremely passionate about. Sewing is also one of those hobbies that comes with an incredible community spirit which is lovely. I wanted to make this blog because I really love sewing and I feel like I have actually have something to share. I want to document my own progress as well. I inserted a sleeve perfectly yesterday for the first time and it made me realise how far I have come in just a year. This blog is all about progress, projects and developing new skills.

Sewing has always been a big part of my life; growing up I was surrounded by sewing. I was lucky enough to have an incredibly skilled mother who taught me the basics of sewing at a young age and did various sewing projects with me such as bunting and quilts. Once, on one memorable occasion, we saw an amazing pillow in a fabric shop that wasn’t for sale so mum decided we would get the exact same fabrics and we replicated it perfectly at home. I have always been quite headstrong and I just wanted to get on with it but sewing requires patience. Before I was event allowed thread and fabric, my mum taught me to machine sew by drawing lines on paper and getting me to sew along the paper until I could sew straight. She had endless patience with me and still does. Even now I ring her up even though I live hundreds of miles away to get her to talk me through facings, sleeve insertions and demystify sewing language for me. I started sewing in earnest in 2014 and now I am here in 2020. I have made multiple garments that I wear often and now I can do zips, sleeves, bust adjustments, bodices, dresses and even wired bra’s!

One of my favourite things about sewing is fit. The ability to create a garment perfectly crafted for your own body is so incredible to me. Fit is something I have always struggled with as I have what would best be described as a 1940’s build and its hard to find modern clothes that fit everywhere. Hence my particular interest in pattern hacks and pattern drafting. I am hoping one day to draft an entire dress pattern from scratch based on my own measurements.

What is the main focus of the blog?

  • Patter Adjustments & Pattern Drafting – Fit is so important to me and I can’t wait to document the tricks I am learning.
  • Dressmaking – I’m not really a “craft” sewing person, I don’t make things, occasionally I will make a quilt or similar but my main focus has always been clothes.
  • Improving my sewing – The main reason I am doing it is to document my sewing and see how much I’m improving.

I want to start a public blog to add my voice to the sewing community and contribute the little amount of experience I have. Sewing is a hobby you have for life, its a skills that never really leaves you and no matter what there is always something you can make. My big project for the next month is a Shirt Dress and for this year I want to make my own coat! I have a lot of sewing practice left to do and lots of garments to make along the way but that is my next big milestone. Hopefully you will all join me on my sewing journey!