Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My first partial button placket

I finally confronted my fear of pattern-matching and made this top using one of the lovely shirt fabrics I got in Hong Kong. You can't really see it here but the stripes are dark blue and mid-green. I used Butterick 3383 as a basis (petite-ing the bodice length, cutting a 14 everywhere except around the sleeve and armcye, which was a 12). I used a button placket pattern and instructions from a Japanese sewing book - but I can't tell you which one is was as it's gone back to the public library.

The buttons are from an old men's shirt that I pulled apart for parts...

I managed to pattern-match pretty well from front to back and from side to side, but utterly failed to do this between sleeve and bodice

TLM, my photographer, made my bum look tiny! And my shoulders look massive...The pants, which I posted about just earlier, fit damned well if I may say so myself.

And the front view. Buttoned up the neckline is a comfortable distance from neck, but the walk home in the sun was hot so I was pleased to see that it looks fine unbuttoned too.
You can't see the trousers in their entirety but I can tell you that they end at the ankle.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Wide leg jeans a la Style Arc Sandra

I've tried Style Arc pants patterns for stretch fabric before and I've been able to get them to fit well with a minimum of adjustments. But I wanted a pattern for non-stretch fabric. I also wanted to work out whether I'm going to be able to make rigid selvedge jeans (and whether they will turn out ok) from the Japanese selvedge denim I bought in Hong Kong.

So during the Black Friday sale last year I bought a printed copy of Style Arc Sandra. But this is a narrow leg jeans pattern, I hear you say. Yes it is. But I am going to use it to make narrow leg jeans, wide leg jeans and in-between leg jeans. I just wanted it for the waist-bum-tum-crotch fit, which I was confident would be good.
Back view - I moved the patch pockets for maximum bum flattery

Front view - you can see the contrast fabric I used to bind the waistband, and the tiny patch on the front to fix a rip in the fabric which I didn't notice at the time. That's when I realised why I had found the fabric already cut and tossed on top of some other rolls!
Inside front, showing the lovely pocket lining shape that guarantees the linings will never pop out of the pockets.

  • I shortened the pattern at the legs (because I am 5'0" but also because I wanted the jeans to be cropped) and also the crotch height.
  • I laid out the leg patterns as though I would have with selvedge denim - right up against the selvedge but still on grain. This mean the leg would be wider since it is mean to taper down toward the hem. I also added to the width on the other side - because I wanted to make wide leg jeans. If I go on to make actual selvedge jeans I am supposed to taper the inside leg a lot to keep the original hem width.
  • When sewing the inside leg seams I stretched the back leg between crotch and knee. This is to reduce the amount of fabric that ends up at the back leg when you are wearing them. I think it worked.
  • I didn't have enough fabric to cut a curved, seamless waistband - so I cut two pieces and sewing them together at the back.
I also meant to put the coin pocket on the right instead of on the left which is how the pattern has you do it. But something went awry when I cut out the coin pocket piece and I ended up putting it on the left after all.

There are no flat fell seams. The seam allowance is about 1 cm so I just didn't bother. But if I make proper jeans from this pattern later I'm probably going to have to increase the seam allowance before I cut the pieces out.

I don't yet have a photo of me wearing the jeans, but trust me - this is the most well-fitting pair of trousers I have ever made! I have worn them quite a lot already and they're really comfortable and I feel good in them.

Solid moisturisers

I have been wanting to try solid moisturisers as a way to reduce the amount of plastic I have in my life - I get through a lot of moisturiser because I have dry, sensitive skin.

I started with a box of face care samplers from Ethique. I have tried an oilier one for night time /  winter and also the one for normal-oily skin. Neither of them bother my sensitive skin and both of them do a good job of keeping my skin from drying out. I also tried a cleansing bar and that has also been great at removing makeup without stressing the skin.

So I would definitely recommend Ethique if you want to try their face products.

As for body moisturisers, I wasn't confident that the Ethique products would suit me because they seemed to include fragrance ingredients. So I had ordered a selection from Clover and Clay. They have their own blends but also allow you to choose a custom blend. I ordered 3 of their house blends plus a custom blend that excluded any essential oils (because I'm suspicious of anything that smells nice). The most successful for me were the mango butter blend and the cocoa butter custom blend (ie without any essential oil).  Both were soft and moisturising and easy to apply.

So I was all set to get some more, but they have moved and won't be making any more till around April. I am definitely looking forward to when they are back in production.

In the meantime I ordered a solid moisturising bar from Dirty Hippie. They only have the one, and it is a basic blend that smells of beeswax and no fragrance. It comes in 3 sizes, and the middle size comes in a cardboard cylinder that applies like lipstick. I found it comically phallic! Apart from this it is not as easy to apply as the Clover and Clay because the applicator doesn't work as well as it could but also because it's not quite as soft so it's harder to tell whether I am getting enough onto my skin.

However it seems to be doing the job and should keep me going until I can get hold of the Clover and Clay stuff again.

So every now and then I fall back on my existing supply of creams just to make sure I'm not unintentionally letting my skin dry out. I have definitely noticed lately how wrinkly it has got, but this might just be a result of my middle-age-ness.

It's now just a matter of convincing the boy to use this stuff as well, as he is still buying the Head n Shoulders and shower gel etc.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Still an alopecian - just

It's been eight months since my hair fell out completely for the second time, and while much of it has regrown (the crown is looking relatively bushy) I still have to wait before going out in public bare-headed.

There are still two bare patches at the back of my head, one on each side. Over time, the hair on top of my head will grow long enough to cover those patches. But that time hasn't come yet.

Also, this time last year I had side burns that I really liked. But this times the side burn hairs are sparse and white. This is a problem because from a medium distance those hairs are invisible so that from the front it looks like I have a Hitler hair-cut. So that's not very stylish. Also, .

And yet I am sick of wearing my wig.

Looking back at our holiday photos - some bewigged and others beanie-ed - I actually prefer how I look in a hat. I think somehow my head looks more oval and my forehead more high, when it is not framed by a fringe. Perhaps my next wig will have a lace front, so that I can go fringe-less (or side-swept) without fear of displaying the hard edge that I get with my current wig.

I had to go out of town for work last week and decided that I would pack headscarves instead of the wig (because it's too hot to wear a beanie). It was certainly a style statement, which with my very large shirt resulted in a pirate-y effect.

There is of course no photo.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A very large shirt

One of the fabrics I bought in Hong Kong was a lovely shirt cotton with purple pinstripes. I traced a pattern from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori - View D Button-up blouse in Liberty print.
I traced the size 14 based on the bust measurements. I am in between size 12 and size 14 for this book and probably closer to a 12. However after making it up I think maybe I should have made a 10...
But even if I had gone with a size 10 the sleeves would still have been waaaay too long.

I'm still going to wear it, if I can figure a way to style it.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Recycling me-made jeans

A couple of with trees ago I made some jeans using a Mcalls pattern and some stiff non-stretch denim. The fit is really off though so I didn't wear them much.
So I turned them into a summer shoulder bag.
I inserted 4 additional inside pockets, including a zipped pocket rescued from TLMs old school backpack.  There is still no satisfactory bag closure tho, nor for the outside pockets.

Friday, January 04, 2019

First make of 2019

We came back to hot weather but my bung ankle has prevented me from going for walks or to the beach. Instead I started sewing and made this simple linen maxi dress.

I added side pockets and trimmed it in change at bias binding. Also inserted bias bound godet-like pieces at the lower sides.

From the photo I ca

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

It's harder to be green in Hong Kong

Yes they recycle. Yes they have recycling bins.
But we often could not find one when we needed one.

Also, it is hard work avoiding the plastic. When we bought takeaway dim sum it came in polystyrene and plastic bags, along with plastic cutlery. Yeah we could have brought our own reuseables, but I didn't want to buy any. So instead we mainly ate in (when we weren't having lovely lunches or dinners with my aunt).

It is also really really hard not to eat meat in Hong Kong. I knew there is a vegetarian eatery in Mong Kok, but I never managed to go there. And all the relatives are meat eaters - so I decided we would just go with the flow rather than make nuisances of ourselves when eating socially. Usually when eating out there is just one vegetable dish on offer - and it's cooked with meat. (Though I will add the food is delicious.)

Though I was pleased to be able to avoid partaking in the shark fin soup, it was unfortunate that this dish was on the menu.

In Taipei, the plastic thing is slightly better in that there is collection of used cardboard. But the main great green thing about Taipei is that you can get great vegetarian and vegan food there (but there are plenty of meat eaters so vegetarian isn't a default option). We had great vegetables and great fake meat (made of tofu), our favourites of the latter being the fake kung pow chicken the the fake sweet and sour pork.

Hong Kong and Taipei - the final episode

Our other leg of the trip took us to Taipei to visit our friend. Because we would be staying with her, it was just for a few days, and I knew we would want respite from sightseeing after a very busy week and a half in Kowloon - I didn't bother to get a map of the place before we went. I did get a book out  of the library and make notes about places to see and things to do though.

It turned out to be a week of food. Our friend does not do walks, so despite living at the edge of national park we didn't get to go there. But we did get to sample a large variety of north-Chinese influenced foods (including dim sum and spicy pork schnitzel); wonderful tropical fruits; and smashing frozen desserts.

Mango ice plus fresh strawberries at Ice Monster

Almond and black sesame with red beans, also at Ice Monster. This sounds like an acquired taste, but it is well worth acquiring!

deep fried bread roll at Celestial Restaurant - the crust is thin and crisp, the insides are a soft cloud of  mmm

The first course of Peking duck (at Celestial Restaurant) - pancakes, duck skin etc. The second course, of duck flesh, arrived soon after but I was too busy eating to take another photo.

On day 3 in Taipei I forgot to look where I was going and sprained my ankle going down some stairs at the National Palace Museum (about ten minutes after going in). I was totally bummed out at missing seeing the contents of the museum but the staff were great about wheeling me off to the infirmary, packing ice around the ankle and so on.

However my ankle was still not up to scratch for the long flights home, so we arranged for wheelchairs and assistance. Wow - flying is a breeze when you are a special needs passenger...

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 6

I read an article about the Kowloon Walled City before we left for Hong Kong, and I was fascinated by the idea of a lawless, super-crowded city that was still going strong when I was doing my OE (it was only demolished and replaced by a lovely Chinese garden in the early 1990s, and it's now called Kowloon Walled City Park).

What it looked like in 1972. Due to a legal weirdie this piece of land was not overseen by either the British government nor the Chinese one. Unlicensed dentists and doctors did well here, as well as factories and the "legal" businesses that bought from the factories.
What it looks like now.
Days after we left there I continued to be utterly fascinated by this place when it was a bustling mini-metropolis full of people trying to live away from the prying eyes of government officials. There's a book about this place called City of Darkness but it seems to cost around $US200 per copy so I can only hope there's a copy at the public library...

There's some good information about the city and about the book. This is the best site I found.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 5

We went to Tai O, a village on the island of Lantau which is famous for it's houses on stilts. Hong Kong's airport, their Disneyland and a whole lot of designer shops are also on this island - but on the opposite end of the island. So Tai O still feels remote.

Apparently a fire in 2000 destroyed many of those houses, so there aren't so many in the traditional design.
The streets are only wide enough for pedestrians but they are still called streets.

This abandoned stilt house is in the traditional shape

Above and below - views from the boat

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 4

Wong Tai Sin is a big temple complex north east of Shamshuipo. I remember going there with my mum, my bother and my aunt.

It's popular with people wanting to get their fortunes told, and that time the fortune teller told me not to try to have everything my brother has because he is older and bigger than me. I think my mother might have taken that to heart...

This time around I didn't bother with the fortune telling as I wasn't sure my Cantonese is good enough to understand the answer. But we did enjoy the personifications of the 12 Chinese astrological signs, and the lovely Chinese garden that apparently wasn't there last time.

The dragon

The front of the temple gets covered in smoke because of the burning incense - and the cauldron of burning logs.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 2

We went to visit a tomb from the Han era. It's in Shek Kip Mei I think. The tomb itself was interesting-ish but the really interesting bit was the exhibition about Hong Kong's earliest government housing. My mum and her siblings lived in one of these - shared a tiny apartment with other families; there was one bathroom shared by all occupants of one level; and some families lived in the corridors.

We went on to visit the last remaining of these buildings, which is now a (pricey) youth hostel with a museum section. This had mock ups of the apartments, as they were originally and over the decades.

My aunt lived in an apartment like this when I first visited as an 8-year-old. The trauma of my experience of a squat toilet at her place has never left me!

One view of the living space/bedroom
And another.
When I find the photo of the kitchen I'll add it here.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 3

We went to Ocean Park. It's a lot more over-the-top Disneyland-like than it was last time I was there (about 30 years ago!), but the aquarium is still a fantastic way to see marine life.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 1

Happy New Year!
TLM and I just arrived back from visiting our Hong Kong relatives and a dear friend in Taipei. We had a great time, ate lots and saw lots - but it is soooo good to be home again.

Just so you know, I'm not going to be posting about our rellies and friend here, since I don't do the personal blog thing. This is strictly a travel series.

Have a look at our hotel room in Shamshuipo (Kowloon) -
Our room was literally two beds wide, though we had a deep window sill that we used as storage.

That's the view of the toilet/shower, with basin at the foot of one bed.
The view of abroad - from our hotel window.

Yes it was a piddlingly small hotel room - but it was very clean and located really close to the airport bus; fabric shops; Apliu Street flea market; the quirky fashion shops of Cheung Sha Wan and many small eateries. It was also quite close to Shamushuipo MTR station, which is on a central line.

Also, the reception staff a helpful and there is a social space occupying one level of the hotel which is handy for hanging out in the afternoons and evenings while the cleaners are working on your room or for meeting friends. The one thing that would have improved our stay immensely would have been a fridge.

My brother and his family had been in Hong Kong for a week already, and due to fly out a few days later. One of our joint activities was walking around the flower market and the bird garden,

Sorry about the boring photo. It was much more impressive than this!

Most of these birds are "walked" here by their owners, usually in cages. They are left here while the owners take off for tea or shop for live bird food (which I really should have gotten a photo of).