Saturday, February 28, 2015

My not-so-classic denim jacket

I finished that jacked I posted about a while back.

Although I could have done a much better job setting in the sleeves, I'm happy that I managed to reduce the width of the shoulder and at the same time reduce the amount of ease in the sleeve cap.

It's unlined but I've bound all the seams either with flat fell seams or bias binding.

And the buttons are a large version of the buttons I used for my Rosemary cardigan, but I think they work better here. On the cardigan, the list raised bits on the buttons often snag on the buttonholes.

And I think that next time I make a topstitched garment I will splash out on topstitching thread and whatever needle needs to go with it.

Everything but the buttons

Here's a knit I prepared earlier.
It's the Cocoa Cardigan from Interweave Knits Winter 2015.
I will get buttons for it as soon as it gets cold enough to wear it. It's actually navy not the royal blue that it appears in the photo.

Why was I compelled to start a winter knitting project at the beginning of summer?

A fit problem

Add caption

This is how I know that I have a long, long, long way to go before I will be able to sew well-fitting trousers for myself.

It's a test garment made from a polyester twill, using one of the Simplicity Perfect Fit patterns. According to their instructions and my measurements I used their curvy fit. But as you can see I have a flat (and possibly droopy) bum and probably should have used the slim fit version (maybe).

All I can say is, I'm glad I don't have as much trouble finding jeans that fit me well...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Japanese influence

It all started when I looked up images of linen dresses on the 'Net and came across those super-oversized indigo Japanese dresses. They looked so cool (in both senses of the word) that I had to have one. I sewed one up and it fits - but I don't need to tell you that mine doesn't look as cool on me as those dresses look on those Japanese models.

I am thinking of chopping off the neckline section and replacing it with a new bodice that has a deeper neckline.

I was more successful in my next Japanese-style activity though...

Continuing in the Japanese vein, I re-read Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. Great story. Sad. Perhaps a touch too much detail about butlering. A great story nonetheless - I loved the way he made it about the relationship between a super-uptight butler and a housekeeper, while in the background World War II is brewing and his employer is unknowingly becoming a traitor. (As you can tell, although the writer is Japanese this is a very English story.)

Then I read Never Let Me Go, also by Ishiguro. I'd not heard of it before the movie of the same name came out, and didn't bother to go see it. The book is marvellous. He delves into a world in which... sorry I had to delete the next two sentences in case you want to read it and don't already know the "dark secret". But the main story is about the relationship between three young people as they are schooled and grow up. The other thing is just the background, yet it's what makes this story so heartbreaking.

It's very handy having a Kindle because I can go right through Ishiguro's entire catalogue.

The next one I finished was A Pale View of the Hills. A Japanese woman living in England remembers the time in post-WWII Nagasaki when she befriended a strange woman who lived alone with her daughter. Not a lot happens, and yet the story covers a lot about surviving in the aftermath of the atom bomb. The two previous novels left many loose ends. This one not only leaves loose ends, it also throws a few extra ones right near the end. Frustrating yet compelling, it makes me want to read it again in the hope that it will make more sense the second time around.

I hear his latest novel will be out really soon.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The cost of taxis

In my rush to get my mum out of her house, down the steps and into my car, I accidentally locked my keys in her house.

Her appointment was in ten minutes.

My mum had not brought her house key with her.

So I called a taxi to take us down the road to the medical centre (that cost $8, which my mum complained about even though she wasn't the one paying), then I called my brother to ask him to come and give us a lift back and let us back into her house.

While this was happening, my mum - who is obviously feeling much better lately, because she now has the energy to complain about everything under the sun - was telling me in a loud voice that she no longer wanted to get her injections because "everybody" says you only need to get them monthly rather than weekly.

My brother couldn't leave work any earlier than 6pm, so after her appointment I got another taxi to take mum and I back to my place. We would wait for my brother there.

That taxi cost just under $20.

We got home, my brother arrived, he drove us to mum's house and let us in.

I could not find my keys. Anywhere.

Then my brother found them outside on the grass, where I'd dropped my bag while helping my mum down the stairs two hours before.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Aphids. Hate 'em.

I was admiring our swan plant and all the little monarch butterfly caterpillars feeding off it, when I noticed little clusters of tiny wee yellow bugs with lots of legs. But I wasn't sure what they were or whether they were a bad thing.

When it comes to gardening, if I'm not sure I let Nature worry about it.

A few days later I decided they didn't belong on our swan plant, so I scraped some of them off with a stick. I didn't do a great job, but then I was trying to avoid damaging the plant.

Then TLM googled "swan plants yellow bugs" (or something), and found out those little yellow things with tiny little legs that seemed wave at me were in fact aphids.

Apparently you have to kill them or they will kill your swan plant. And you have to keep at it or they will take over. Then you will have no swan plant with testicle-shaped seed pods, and you will have no  monarch butterflies or catepillars because they will have nothing to eat.

It sounds like aphids are the nits of the swan plant world.

When you crush them they leave a pretty yellow stain on your fingers...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A different standard

I've been on a bit of a sewing binge lately, because it is far, far too hot to even think about knitting. Sewing, reading about sewing, thinking about sewing, and watching the Great British Sewing Bee.

After reading many sewers' blogs about the difficulties they have with getting a good fit when using commercially produced sewing patterns, I noticed a common thread in what they said.

What I got was that, in general, younger sewers have few (if any) problems with sewing garments from commercial patterns and getting them to fit well without making any modifications.

But when they got older, their bodies changed and became "non-standard", and they had to learn how to modify sewing patterns before using them to make clothes to fit.

I can totally sympathise.

It was only while perusing an old sewing book (Sandra Bettina's "Power Sewing", to be exact) that I remembered that once upon a time sewing pattern companies used to make patterns for different body proportions.

Nowadays, patterns for adult woman are mostly categorised as "Misses" (i.e. the body proportions of a young woman), with a very few in "Petite" (i.e. for short young women), or "Plus" (i.e. too fat to fit into the "Misses" sizes).

But a decade or so ago you could also get patterns which were designed for other proportions too - "Woman" (i.e. women in middle-age or thereabouts) and "Half" (i.e. the same as "Woman" but shorties).

I looked at the measurements for each of the standard pattern size categories and realised that my body is approximately the standard "Half" size. Other women who, like me, can't find a trouser pattern that fits their bodies, are probably either also "Half" or "Woman".

And that's when the light went on for me. My body is not non-standard. It's just a different standard to the one which the pattern companies - and commercial clothing manufacturers - have decided is the only standard to use.

Unfortunately that doesn't much help me to sew trousers that fit me...unless you have a Half size trouser pattern to lend me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The last of our summer holiday

Just before Christmas last year I had spontaneously decided to take a couple of week off in January in addition to several days over Christmas and New Year. It meant I'd have only crumbs of annual leave for the rest of the year, but while I'm on holiday at home it feels like the right decision.

We'd had restful mornings followed by leisurely lunches followed by splashing at the beach. We've had visits from TLM's friends, I've managed to cover our porch (as well as my hair, some of the concrete around the porch, and some of my clothes) in a couple of coats of paint. I've nearly finished my non-classic denim jacket and finished my Japanese-inspired linen maxi dress (to be posted here later).

Although it hasn't been all fun and games, what with my elderly mum requiring visits to the doctor, the practice nurse and the medical lab, as well as many visits to cook for her while waiting for her home health service to kick in.

At the same time, the boy was diagnosed with shingles in his optic nerve. That was pretty scary at the time but the big box of various drugs seems to have worked because he looks normal now and didn't lose his sight. He still gets a lot of pain though, unsurprisingly.

I sure hope the rest of 2015 isn't so medically stressful as it's been so far...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

There's a difference between a jacket and a coat

This, I have learned, is most obvious when you are trying to sew a light jacket using a sewing pattern for a coat. There's a big gap at each shoulder which is calling out for a shoulder pad - though I really wanted to avoid using them because my shoulders are wide enough (or maybe they just look that way because I'm sort of wide overall).

Also, I get why tailors use all that extra interfacing and stiffening now - it's to fill in the gaps between your body and the jacket so that you don't get lots of unattractive wrinkles near your armpits when you wear it.

Still, I'll do what I can. This is to be my non-classic denim jacket which is definitely not a denim blazer (cos I hate those). The pattern I used is the one I used to make my spring coat a while back.

I've shortened the skirt a lot, have added rounded sleeve tabs, will add a back tab, and plan to have 3 button fastenings: where the skirt joins the bodice and; two more between there and the collarbone.  I also plan to use dark pink bias binding to cover all of the seams which aren't flat-felled.

It's been a funny old Christmas

It started with having to take my mum to the hospital on Christmas eve, because her GP was concerned about mum's blood test results. We spent all day in there.

The red-bearded Irish doctor told me my mum was cute and even went as far as asking the nearest Cantonese-speaking doctor to tell her in her own language. One day I must remind mum that "I love you" is not what you say when you want to tell someone that you think they have a nice bedside manner.

Afterwards I returned her to my brother's house, where she'd been staying. As I left, my sister-out-law said a few words about Christmas lunch - I could have sworn she said that we should turn up any time after 2pm.

On Christmas morning, we opened our presents and covered the entire lounge floor with discarded wrapping paper. The boy seemed very pleased with his manly jewellery box.

It turned out I was quite mistaken about the start time for Christmas lunch....and we'll just leave it at that...

At least, I thought, this would be one Christmas lunch when my mum won't nag us to take her home right after we've eaten, because she is already at home (albeit a temporary one). Wrong again - as soon as we'd eaten and finished shared desserts, she was nagging us to pack up her stuff and transport her away. I left my brother to sort it out, as mum doesn't listen to me anyway (I'm just her daughter).

Today my mum has been back at her home for two days, with my brother and I taking turns at 3 visits per day (which is what her home service package will be when it starts on 5 Jan). She has already rejected all three pieces of disability equipment, including the walking frame which had initially been indispensable. There is, as they say, life in the old bird yet.

I leave you with a photo of the hand made fridge magnets I told you about in an earlier post. Pretty, no?