Saturday, July 27, 2019

What I did for Plastic-free July

Not much actually, that I wasn't doing before:

  • Getting our dish detergent, laundry detergent and hair conditioner bottled refilled at a local Ecostore refill station.
  • Intercepting compostibles before the boy puts them in the rubbish and diverting them to the compost bin
  • putting empty, clean, bread bags (and other suitable plastic bags) in our reusable shopping bags so they can be used to hold fresh produce items.
  • emptying out our plastic-bag-lined indoor rubbish bins into the big rubbish bin (rather than lifting out the bags as well)
  • picking up bits of rubbish off the street and putting them into a nearby bin, if there is one.
  • avoiding buying stuff we don't need
  • eating vegan most breakfasts and lunches (the boy does the dinners and they are usually carnivorous)
  • Taking my own containers when I buy my lunch, or eating at the cafe instead of taking away
  • saving up for a set of period undies for TLM (who is not yet at the stage of needing them)
  • washing my face with bar cleanser
  • using cloth napkins instead of paper towels
  • trying to use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues (unless I have a cold and need a LOT)
Next up I am deciding whether to replace disposable pens with pencils or with fountain pens and bottles of ink.

And I still haven't been able to satisfactorily replace my moisturisers with waste-free versions (as it's winter and my eczema-ry skin does best with the petroleum-based stuff with added urea). But I have had good results with basic mango butter + almond oil mixes which I buy in a glass jar. And I may try to do it myself so I don't end up with a ton of glass jars with plastic tops over time.
I also haven't had great luck with bar shampoo yet, but there are quite a few to try so it's only a matter of time (surely!).

A sewn, woven cardigan

I had it in my head that I really wanted a v-neck cardigan. A slouchy one that I can wear over a shirt, buttoned up, and then walk around with my hands in my pockets. Sort of like this one from Envelope -
I spent some time knitting one up from The Knitter, using leftover acrylic/alpaca yarn left over from the jumper I made for the boy. It had a column of Viking-inspired cables going up each side, front and back. Then I tried it on and it was a bit tight.

So I gave it to The Little Madam (now nearly 14 years old!) and resolved to make another one.

I went to the local yarn shop but I couldn't decide on a yarn. I went online and couldn't decide either. So in the end I bought some double-sided fabric on sale from the Fabric Store and used my Tamarack Jacket pattern to sew one up.

I did have to cut it down a lot in size. I probably should have used the cutting lines for a size 6 or 8 instead of for the size 10. After all, there as none of the thickness involved that the jacket is designed for.
As the fabric is reversible I wanted the finished product to be too. The red side is the "fun" view and the black side is the "business" view.
This is the black side out 

This is the red side out. after taking this photo I did fix the pockets so they are more symmetrical.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I fell off the green wagon on our weekend away

I thought that it was hard to minimise waste in HK. Well it turns out it's hard to minimise waste when away from home.

We stayed in a really nice little apartment in Christchurch - but it had no recycling bins let alonea compost bins. I did consider asking Reception about it, and I should have. But after I had to tell them about the bed having a loose leg I felt like that was enough complaining for one stay!

At least we did not do takeaways, instead eating out a nice eateries or else buying small amounts of food from the supermarket to make our own food. But yeah, by the time we left we had also left a few uneaten bits and pieces that would have made great compost...

We also have a few more shopping bags than we really need now.

I shall pick up more litter to absolve myself.

Patchwork jeans

After cutting out my selvedge jeans pieces I thought there was enough fabric left over to make most of another pair of jeans. So I did. Though I did need to supplement with pieces salvaged from a pair of the boy's discards.

I used the Style Arc Sandra pattern again, but created a seam down the front and back of each leg (by folding each leg piece in half before cutting). I used the leftover selvedge denim to  make the inside front and inside back pieces, the yoke and waistband; and the boy's jeans to make the outside front and back pieces, pockets and belt loops.

The boy's jeans were a bit holey when I first got hold of them, and I'd originally made this long skirt out of them (which I liked, but didn't wear much).  The patches are from another, dark blue pair of jeans of his and a tartan-y piece from TLM's old jeans.
Something happened around the front pockets so that they are a tad higher than they should be  -but this is really the only thing that is slightly off. They fit really well. I think the softer denim at the sides helps these jeans to be comfy and have a bit of "give", compared to the selvedge jeans which are still quite stiff even though they have eased a bit with wear.

After taking these photos and wearing them for a day I shortened the hem just a little, about 2 cm. I have left the old denim raw at the hem but hemmed the dark denim bits. To me they are just about perfect!

I made myself a pair of selvedge jeans

I did it. I cut into my rigid Japanese selvedge denim and sewed myself some selvedge jeans (sorry no photos yet).
The sewing pattern I used was the Style Arc Sandra narrow-leg jeans, with the leg shortening and rise shortening described in my earlier post (about the jeans made with minimal stretch denim).

I made these additional modifications:

  • a flat bum modification in the back leg pattern, to reduce the amount of below-the-bum wrinkling 
  • redrew the legs so that the side seams are straight up and down, and the inner leg seams are moved to keep the leg width the same - based in this diagram on Pinterest (thanks Reyna Lay).

I decided to wash the denim before cutting into it. I can't tell for sure whether the fabric is raw or sanforised, but if it's raw and I wash it I'm sure the jeans will still fade nicely - just not as markedly as they do on unwashed raw denim.

Once I cut out all of the pieces I realised that I might have enough denim to make another pair as the leg pieces take up less than half of the width of fabric. Or I might make something easier to wear, like a skirt!

Apparently rigid denim jeans are supposed to fit tightly at first, and they should loosen as you wear them and conform to your body. So I made them tight around the hips.

I've started wearing these in, though they still don't have or hems. They might shrink in the next wash, or I might decide they are just too uncomfortable to wear and not worth finishing!

These definitely fit better than my last pair as there are less back thigh wrinkles, but its difficult bending down in them.  I followed the advice to do the squat and lunge while wearing them, and squatting is a bit of a strain.  Am I too old to be breaking in stiff jeans?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

On the difficulty of being a discerning and conscientious consumer when you have health needs

I was going great with the solid moisturiser bars until winter struck and with it, ezcema flare-ups.
I did push on through but my skin was just not getting enough hydration, so I have had to go back to my plastic bottle of sensitive skin moisturer made from petrochemical ingredients, plus my plastic tubes of body moisturiser with the urea from petrochemical ingredients.

I will keep trying though!

I lost a friend and patted a cheetah

So during Queens Birthday weekend I found out that I had lost a dear friend. She had been living in Taipei (TLM and I had stayed with her at the end of 2018) and was looking forward to finishing up there after one more year, and then retiring early. I was in shock for a couple of days after finding out. We saw each other at least once a year although we were on opposite ends of the earth, and have known each other since I was about 16. I'm so going to miss her.

The boy recently had his 50th birthday, and he wanted to do a Close Encounter at the zoo with their two cheetahs. And because he is lovely he wanted me to do it with him.

The zoo's cheetah's are hand-reared so apparently the cheetahs both enjoy human contact. One went straight to the far corner, looking over now and again. The other strolled over, strolled past and repeated - sometimes stopping by for a pat.

It was quite different from having a close encounter with the red pandas, but that's the be expected...

These are all photos of the same cheetah - either Cango or Kunjuka, I forget which. Behind him are the boy's lower legs and, to his right, mine.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Style Arc Sandra narrow leg jeans

Although I have lots of pairs of jeans (8?), at any one time half of them are either too big or too small for me.

And with this logic I present my latest finished sewing project - Style Arc Sandra narrow leg jeans. I used denim with minimal stretch and cut a size 10. Though I could probably have gone with a size 8 around the back hips as I took about an inch off through the hip. Other that this the only modifications were to shorten the crotch a smidge and the legs a lot.

Just so you know, I was going for a slim leg look rather than a skinny leg.

Not bad eh? It didn't occur to me to "style" my make...until I saw this photo 

Side view of an attempt at a "jaunty" pose

The back view is really unimpressive but trust me - when i'm not posing for a bum shot it looks fine!

I bound the bottoms of all my leg seams with scraps of Liberty print fabric (leftover from my shirt making). So I can show off my red leather laceup boots!
Overall I'm pleased with the final result though having seen the back view photo I can't stop myself from hitching the jeans up whenever I change position. I've decided it's a flat bum effect and may do something about it next time I use this pattern.

Funny how the fit around the hips and bum is quite different from that of my Style Arc Sandra wide leg jeans.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Fast food and plastic avoidance

There's no avoiding plastic when it comes to eating fast food - at least, not when the boy is in charge of getting it.

TLM and I have our own ways to get around it though.

If we are getting sushi, we take a reusable box each from home, along with our own chopsticks - I do anyway -  TLM is happy to eat with her hands.) This only works if it's one of those shops where you choose your own individual pieces - not so well with St Pierre's where it's all pre-packed and sitting on the counter.

Taking our own boxes has also worked for our local Indian, Vietnamese and Malaysian takeaways (in most cases they are boxes that came with our earlier takeaways from there). It's surprisingly easy to just ask if they'll put the food in our containers, and so far every one I have asked has been fine with it.

Another option of course, is to dine in at the eatery. No boxes and no washing up! Though amazingly I have been to coffee shops where they serve up your coffee in a disposable cup even if you are drinking it on their premises!

Fish and chips - a relatively sustainable option (as long as you don't think about by-catch), in that it's all wrapped up in plain paper which I can later rip up and put in my compost bin.

Which makes McDonalds sound not so bad, regarding packaging anyway. Their straws are plastic but most of the stuff is packed in cardboard,which is recyclable (when it's clean ) and compostable (when it's not). I just hate eating their food.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Doubly reusable

At one point last year I thought perhaps the highly anticipated menopause had arrived, because I had two consecutive blissfully period-free months.

Hopes were dashed on the third month, but even if the meno really had paused for good it's nice to know that I wouldn't have to throw away the joyfully coloured reusable pads I've had since the mid-2017.

It turns that, when they aren't being used to stem the crimson tide (so to speak), they are also a true knicker-saver during allergy season - when hacking coughs and explosive sneezes overcome puny pelvic floor muscles.

That's nice.

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.