Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Three nights in Roto-vegas

In the second half of our family week 'o' fun, we stayed in a two bedroom, two bathroom motel unit (Ascot on Fenton) that was close to town, the supermarkets and the shopping mall.

 Not that much non-food shopping was done though. The fruits of our shopping labours from this time is limited to:

  • one pair of tramping trousers with zip off legs for TLM, to replace the ones she'd paced because they are now too small.
  • one iPhone USB recharger because I mistakenly thought the boy was looking after packing the rechargers ("they're only, like, two bucks" he said. No they weren't. They cost 25 freaking dollars).
  • A Nintendo DS game for the boy because he finished playing the one he'd brought with him, and he'd foolishly neglected to pack any reading material.
The highlights of our time in Rotorua:
  • swimming in the Blue Lake
  • walking around Lake Rotorua
  • visiting Wai-o-tapu thermal valley
  • going up in the gondola and taking the luge down
We did also stop off at Huka Falls on the our first day coming into Rotorua - it was before that guy was arrested for boogey-boarding down the falls.

I'll leave you with a photo of the Champagne Lake...

One night in Turangi

On our way to Auckland we stopped off in Turangi for one night. Our motel (Judges Pool) was just across the road from the Tongarairo River so I had multiple walks along there. At this part of the river it was relatively calm and quite a few people were there sunbathing and swimming.

Unfortunately the long drive didn't do the boy's back any favours (yes I did some driving, but not as much), so he missed out.

Two nights in Onehunga

I haven't seen my elderly aunt in many years so the aim of our summer holiday was to go see her before it becomes impossible. We'd never been there before, but when we found her house and peered through the glass in the door it was pretty obvious that an elderly Chinese lady lived there.

It looked like a much tidier version of my mum's place, plus I could see some chairs that had been covered by a protective layer of plastic. A yellowing photo of her late husband had pride of place on one of the low tables which were otherwise decorated with doilies and Chinese ornaments. The remote was covered in a layer of clingfilm.

Once we were inside I was amused to see that she - like my mum - had a second fridge. It was in the garage, along with an assortment of pots, pans and woks, a cupboard full of dried ingredients and a couple of gas cooker thingies. The sheets on our beds smelled like the parcels we used to get from Hong Kong when I was a child and were decorated with florals on a peach background.

Needless to say we were pretty well fed those days, on pork ribs, soy sauce chicken, stirred green beens, almond cakes, coconut jelly and lashings of Chinese tea.

In case you were wondering,  I didn't get a chance to go to DressMart, which came up at the top of Google's list of things to do in Onehunga.

A new hat for summer

After my hat got covered in ice cream at the beach yesterday, I decided to make another one so that I could have one to wear while the other is in the wash. TLM is modelling the new hat.
The crown is made from strips of linen/cotton that I've woven into a grid (after first tidying the raw edges). The band is made from super-stretchy denim left over from my jeans-making and the brim is made from non-stretch denim also left over from jeans-making.

As you can see, I topstitched here and there in bright yellow but left the brim edge unfinished. I've encouraged a bit of fraying so that I could do some pre-emptive fray-trimming.

I won't show you the underside because it's pretty rough.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

There's no getting away from the fish-eye dart

The last pair of jeans I posted about were wrinkly at the backs of the legs - as you can see if you scroll down a bit to look for the blog post. But I was able to fix it, by taking in the inseams by about a centimetre all the way down and by resizing the back pockets.

When I say "taking in the inseams", it sounds like a simple thing to do - but it's not if the inseams are flat fell seams. Because they are, it meant unpicking the topstitching and seaming of the inseams, then unpicking the outer leg seams in order to restitch the inseams and re-do the flat fell stitching. In other words I practically took them apart and put them together again.

Unfortunately I don't have a non-blurry photo of the improved back view, so you are left with the saggy old lady butt view in the last post.

I made a second pair of jeans, this time using some rigid (but not raw) denim. It was way easier to work with than the super-stretch denim because the rigid stuff doesn't stretch out when you stitch over it.

Unfortunately I have not learned from all of the pants-making that I must do a fisheye dart on the back leg pattern piece in order to remove all of the excess fabric that results (which comes from having an apple-shaped body) -
Because it's rigid denim, simply taking it in at the inseams will make them uncomfortable to wear, so I'm thinking of just sewing a massive dart in the back of each leg so that they look a bit like this -
See - they are much less wrinkly now. But there is a crease under each bum cheek (which will become a seam if I proceed with my possible plan).

In the meantime I have been wearing them in and they are pretty comfortable now, though not as comfy as the leggings-like fabric of the stretchy jeans.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Time slowing down

For a long time now I've often felt that time was going way too fast, that I was running out of time to do all the things I want do in my life. Its made me anxious, panicky and sometimes (when I feel that time really has run out to do some thing) sad.

But I haven't felt this since I started working from home (due to our office closing down until certain repairs are done to make it quake-safe).

I'm not sure why, but I think it's to do with there being slightly fewer or different events to mark out the different points of my day - mostly not having to travel to and from work.

It's also helped by the fact that we are in the middle of Christmas and New Year holidays, and aren't doing anything much during this period.

The effect is probably going to wear off in a while, but in the meantime I'm happy with the feeling of time slowing down and allowing me to relax more.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Patchwork jeans for The Little Madam

Just so you know that sometimes I am quite successful in my sewing projects,here's a pair of too-skinny Pumpkin Patch jeans that I bought off TradeMe for TLM.

  I inserted a long triangle of mixed denim patches down each leg and turned them into flares. 

Actually the pocket topstitching is quite fetching and I might try to copy that for a future garment for myself.

In case you're interested, I did manage to improve the fit of my jeans (in the previous post). After buying and reading the Closet Case Files guide on sewing jeans I tried taking in the inseam along each leg. It seems to have worked. I'll post up a photo some time.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

These are not the jeans I was looking to make

I decided to have a go at making my own jeans, since there are now quite a few sewing patterns for jeans.

The really popular ones are from Indie designers and they cost about $30. So, despite hearing great things about Morgan jeans from Closet Case files (and others), I went for a cheaper pattern to save money.

McCalls 6610 has had a number of positive reviews so that's the one I bought from PatternPostie.

I first made a test pair in stretch navy needlecord, because 1) I got the fabric cheap, and 2) since I don't much wear cord I wouldn't care much if it didn't work out.

Unfortunately it's really hard to see fitting issues on really dark material which hasn't got any contrast stitching on it. So I made a second test garment in stretch indigo denim which I also got cheap on sale.

As before, I cut a size 12 at the hips (going up to 14 or more at the waist and down to a 10 at the legs) even though my measurements would point to a 14 at the hips. But I possibly should have cut a 10 at the hips because the whole garment looks oversized in my opinion (you'll see when you get to the photos).

I did a bunch of fit adjustments, after following a page of fit instructions that came with the pattern. I also made the same adjustments that I'd made on my previous trouser makes e.g. scooping the back crotch seam to accommodate my low-hanging bum, going down a size on the legs and going up at least one size up the waist, adding to the front crotch seam to accommodate the inner thighs, removing from the back crotch seam because there's always too much fabric in the back, shortening the crotch depth at the front, adding to the crotch depth at the back (because the last pair didn't come up high enough), shortening the legs...

I even went as far as taking measurements from a shop-bought pair I like the fit of, and using these to help me decide on the adjustments for the pattern.

From here they look pretty good, eh? (I haven't hemmed them yet as I want to put them through at least another potentially shrinking wash first)

Below is a close-up of the front. You can see that my top-stitching is great except when it's located in an extremely visible place i.e. the fly. You might be able to discern that I've used two different colours for my topstitching thread - bright yellow and bronze.
And below is a closer-up, where you can see I didn't have much choice in jeans buttons. It was either the spares that came with previously bought Max jeans or these cheesy USA! buttons like the one you see below.
You'll also notice I didn't quite manage the sewing tension right - I had the thicker topstitching thread in the top and normal thread in the bobbin. I didn't want to muck around with the bobbin tension so limited myself to adjusting the top tension. It didn't really work, but the stitches seem strong enough.
That's the relatively good news. Don't look at the following images if you are offended by old-lady butt.
I'm not proud of this butt. I think I will have to do a flat-butt adjustment (it's a real thing) next time. Last time I tried that there wasn't enough room in the back, so I will have to do more research. The pockets are also way too big and maybe a little too low ( I should have listened to the blogosphere). Also, those damned wrinkles just above the knees. 
The front view is not quite as bad, in my opinion.
The legs are also way wider than I would like, even though I was going for a straight leg. It's probably not helped by the fact this is a super stretchy denim, so it stretches out a lot with wear (it's really best used for skinny jeans I think).


I'm pretty sure my shop-bought jeans fit way better than this, so I must be the only sewer who can't make her jeans fit as well as her ready to where.

I don't want to work with high stretch denim any more (the only reason I have any is because that's what was on sale). A little bit might make fitting easier, but lots of it makes fitting harder and also makes topstitching harder to do without causing it to stretch out of shape. If I do use this stuff again I will cut the pieces on a single layer of fabric rather than folded double which is the usual procedure. These legs got a bit twisted, which may or may not have caused some of the back leg wrinkles.

I have some really rigid denim but I'm aware that no stretch at all will make it hard to get the fit right too.

I think this pattern is probably no worse than any of the other jeans patterns by the mainstream pattern companies. I just need to find one that is close to ready to wear in cut.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Sewing successes (2)

Here are a couple of photos of one of my more successful trouser sews (mentioned in an earlier blog post.
Here's a closeup of the button, button fly and contrast waistband lining. The same fabric lines the pockets.
This is Simplicity 1430, made in very stretchy denim that I got from the Fabric Store on sale. I cut a size 12 at the hips (widening up towards the waist) and blending into a size 10 on the legs. I also shortened the legs, of course.

Normally I wouldn't wear them with cow-skin slippers, so just imagine I've got stylish slingbacks on my feet 
instead. No doubt the trousers would have looked better if I didn't have my hands in the pockets, but I wanted to show off that there were pockets... they are slant pockets.

I didn't interface the waistband and I may end up unpicking that bit of the waistband and adding some layer of stiffening to keep the button end of the band from folding over when I bend.

I'm pretty happy with the fit.

Next up, some tunics.
This is KwikSew 3161. Once I worked out that I needed to cut a smaller size at the shoulder (which was a revelation, as I'd always thought I was broad in the shoulder), I liked it so much I made second one. This one's in an organic cotton I bought at Spotlight, and the other one was made in a purple linen (not shown).

Then I wanted to make a long sleeved version of the top that came with Simplicity 1430. Rather than try to adjust the pattern to fit a sleeve, I decided to modify the KwikSew pattern to make it more like the Simplicity top. Below is a close-up of the neckline detail I was after.

The Simplicity top has a zip at the back but I didn't want to put a zip in mine, so I just re-cut the neckline to ensure I could get it over my head. This fabric is actually a cotton bedsheet that I bought from the Salvation Army Family Store for $5. I still have half of it left for another project. The only thing about this fabric is that it's a bit see-through so I have to wear something under it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On shaky ground

In case you are concerned about the welfare of me and mine since the massive earthquake at midnight on Sunday - we are fine. Our house shook a swayed a fair bit on the night, sent us gentle reminders throughout Monday, and had us diving under our desks today at work.

Work and school were cancelled on Monday, which was a relief because we were all very sleep deprived (that's what happens when your daughter crawls into bed with you and, over the course of the night, steals your duvet and leaves you clinging to the very edge of the mattress).

At home only a couple of knick-knacks fell off the shelf. At work we were mainly affected by a big water tank upstairs falling over and leaking its contents all over our kitchen - though I noticed that two of the big round windows in the stairwell were either cracked all or blown in and boarded over.

We really should replace our emergency water at home.
At least at work I have replenished my civil defence kit with five Whittakers peanut slabs. If I ever get stuck at work in a natural disaster I will have enough to last me maybe a day...

Anyway, this is pretty small stuff compared to what's happened closer to the epicentre of the quake. Huge cracks and rifts in the roads and farmlands, seabeds lifted up into the air, landslides destroying road and tunnels, livestock stranded on quake islands - my heart goes out to the people who live there.