The Big C, World of Wee Top
In which I have an adventure sporting my new top featuring extreme bladder appliqué. Really? A … bladder? You betcha.
"Ummmm", said the lady in the shop staring at my chest (yes, I know this is not an unusual phenomena, although it is normally an affliction of the gentlemen in my world, however, I digress) … , "Is that a bladder on your top?"
I looked her squarely in the eye, "Yes, yes it is."
*Silence* Nobody blinked. After several uncomfortable seconds some large tumbleweeds cartwheeled past, and still the woman did not utter a single word. I stared at her harder and willed her to speak. She fidgeted nervously in the corner and looked for something (anything) to distract her and save her from having to talk to this bladder wearing crazy at her counter. As the tumbleweeds whirled around for a dusty second lap two she finally coughed, " Ahem, … well … lovely …" she trailed off, her eyes flitting to the door, desperate seeking an easy escape. "It's a special design, to promote awareness of bladder cancer," I explained. Apparently that was the last straw … her mouth made a little O shape of disappointment (I swear she almost mewed) as she turned on her heel and fled into safer territory at the back of the shop. You see, I had committed an unspeakable act, I had uttered the dreaded C word in public. CANCER.
You may not know this about me, but I am the proud Chairman of Fight Bladder Cancer, a charity that provides support and advice to everyone affected by bladder cancer. You can find out more about why in the links further down this page, but I am mindful that this is a sewing blog, so let's cut to the all important project details. I should also point out that there are some very lovely T-shirts that we've designed as a charity that require absolutely no sewing surgery whatsoever (because they fit normal size people) and you can get your hands on one of these lovely designs for yourself here. I did try on the largest ladies T-shirt, but let's just say there was little/no room in the boobage department so it was a definite fail. A overstuffed overcooked sausage is generally not the look I am aiming for. I then tried the bloke's shirts, which were more than ample for 'the girls', but with a men's cut crew neck they made me look like a black lego brick … 'nuff said. It was with a slight air of desperation that I contemplated transforming an existing T-shirt into something I could actually wear, but with the very first meeting of the UK members of the support group in the diary, I really needed something on brand. I had another peek at the original shirts …
My favourite TNT top pattern of late is the much made Deer & Doe Plantain Top. Yes, that does make this number 5 (you can find version 1, 2, 3 & 4 here and here). This top is just perfection for me … I love the fit, it's easy and quick to sew and it's wonderful to wear. For this incarnation I raided some butter soft black cotton jersey from the stash and set to work. I also managed to find some tiny scraps of polka dot jersey for the elbow patches. Most of you are familiar with my polka dot obsession, and I can reassure you that I am working on it. Pah!
Still, with this top the most nerve wracking bit was the cutting and assembling of the bladder from the existing T-shirt. With a steady hand I cut round the shape of the design, leaving an ample margin, and then smoothed and pinned into place on my cut out front. Once I was happy that it was straight and unrumpled, I sewed all the way round with a short zig zag stitch and then trimmed as close as I could to the stitching with some very sharp scissors. I was delighted with the result. The rest of the make was a breeze (thanks overlocker, did I mention that I love you?).
And there we have it, one transplanted bladder on one Plantain top. Result. My absolute favourite phrases in the design, which feature different words for having a wee are Tinkle, Widdle and Shaking hands with the vicar. Just delightful … with the added benefit that they give people a whole new reason to stare at your cleavage.
A little bit about Fight Bladder Cancer
Bladder Cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the Western world.
It is the most expensive cancer to treat.
It has the highest recurrence rate of any cancer.
Of those diagnosed (over 10,000 people a year in the UK alone), half will die from the disease.
It is the only top ten cancer where survival rates are getting worse.
No-one wants to talk about it.
Almost five years ago my bloke was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive version of bladder cancer. A grade 3 tumour, it was Stage 4 when they discovered it, advancing into other organs and making radical surgery his only option. They gave him a 15% survival rate. After a long operation and during his recovery period, we discovered that we were all alone … there was no support group or charity to give us advice or help in any way. So we decided to start one. Now we have an active online support group and reach thousands of people from all across the globe with our website. We are in the process of raising more money to further spread the support and help we offer internationally, so that people in every corner of the globe affected by this disease have somewhere they can find comfort and feel safe.
You can find out more at www.fightbladdercancer.co.uk