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.

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.