Sunday, December 09, 2018

New phone, new excuse for a quilting project

I'm off to Hong Kong soon to visit the cuzzies, and the boy thought he would do me a favour by getting me a tablet so I can continue to do web-related activities without having to peer at a phone screen.

He thought maybe it could take the place of my iPhone 4 while I'm away. So I installed WhatsApp, which is what I've been using to chat to my Hong Kong cuzzies (on the iPhone).

After I did this I had trouble using WhatsApp on the phone, and then found out I wasn't supposed to have the same WhatsApp account on two devices at the same time.

So I uninstalled it from the tablet. When it made no difference to my WhatsApp on the phone, I uninstalled it from the phone and re-installed it.

But I still couldn't get it to work. And that's when I found out that iPhone 4's are too old to be compatible with the recently released latest version of WhatsApp, and you can only longer get it to work on an iPhone 4 if it was already installed at the time the latest WhatsApp version came out.

And that is why I have a new phone.

The new phone is a Samsung. It's larger than my old one and feels slippery and damage-prone.
So I made it a quilted case -

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why I've given up on sewing with organic cotton

It's because the stuff is so damn hard to find where I live, and when I've found online suppliers in New Zealand it has been really expensive.

Once, I found a small selection of plain, block coloured organic cotton. At Spotlight of all places. It was lovely to sew with and is lovely to wear. It seems to need less ironing than the normal cotton, and has that softly crumpled linen look and feel. But I haven't found it the last few visits.

Come, NZ fabric retailers - surely you can do better than this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Prize giving at primary schools

When I was at school we didn't have prize givings, not until I got to secondary school.
So I was surprised (but initially not unpleasantly) when I would read in the newsletters from TLM's primary and intermediate schools about end of year prize giving.

Then I would be slightly disappointed that TLM never got any prizes - because she is brilliant. At writing, designing and drawing greeting cards, making comics and beating the boy at computer games. And probably other stuff too. When I saw who did get the prizes, it looked like sportiness was an important selection criteria so I left it at that.

So recently in the news I read that an Auckland primary school decided to do away with prize giving. And lots of people responded by saying it was PC gone mad, cosseting our kids, discourage kids from aiming for excellence etc etc.

Now I'm not against kids competing to win, or kids working hard at something to reach a goal.

But you know what? I reckon most prizes go to kids with natural talent, who didn't have to work particularly hard to get there.

I saw a study about rewarding kids for being clever vs rewarding kids for trying hard. And the kids who were rewarded for trying hard kept trying hard - so they kept improving. But the kids who were rewarded for being clever either slacked off ('cos they are clever) or were crushed by the self-imposed pressure of needing to stay that way.

And here's another thing. If there are 100 kids and only 10 of them get a prize but you don't, then it's no biggie because clearly you had to be something special to get a prize and if you didn't then you're in good company. But if there are 100 kids and 80 of them get a prize but you don't, then wouldn't you feel really shit? Something like this happened to TLM at the last year of her primary school. Needless to say we haven't bothered to attend those events since.

ranking the memoirs

In a fit of post-birthday shopping I decided "to hell with only buying digital books or borrowing from the public libary" and that I would buy me some books.

I ended up with four memoirs:

  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Diary of a bookseller by Shaun Blythell
  • Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
  • Girl with the lower back tattoo by Amy Schumer
The first three were all books on my mental must-read list after listening to the authors interviewed on Radio New Zealand; the last one I got because there was a buy-3-get-one-free deal at the bookshop.

I began with Diary. It's quite amusing in a Lake Wobegon sort of way and really reminds me of the Black Books tv show. So, not a waste of money but not un-put-down-able.

So I moved on to Educated. Which is a wonderful read. Westover's Morman-but-different family is fascinating and horrifying in equal parts. I was amazed at how great her family's talents are considering they have no formal education (apart from Tara and one brother, and that's not until their mid- to late teens).  It was hard to understand how the family allowed one brother to abuse Tara and her sister pretty much without any consequences. The workplace accidents and near-accidents are hilarious and horrendous. It's a must-read and I will recommend it to anyone who will listen.

Priestdaddy was next. Actually when I was looking for Educated in the bookshop I asked an assistant and accidentally described this book instead. But he found me the right one anyway! So I ended up putting this one down about a chapter or two in. Not sure why - maybe at first glance it is too similar to Educated, maybe Educated is just a hard act to follow.

Funnily enough, Lower back tattoo was a great read (it made me laugh, it made me cry...). Before reading this, I had found Schumer raunchily funny. Now I just want to be her friend (but I'm not really in her demographic so she would probably find that weird).

Now that we have the two winning memoirs out of the way, I am alternating between Diary and Priestdaddy. I'm pretty confident they will grow on me.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Evicting fruit flies from the compost bin

Not being a proper gardener, our compost bin is mostly full of "green" organic waste (unfinished apples, old bits of veges, tea leaves) and hardly any "brown" waste (which in our household is mostly bits of shredded cardboard).

As a result, the bin has fostered a largish population of fruit flies, as well as a couple of very happy weed plants.

So I have dumped most of a bag of citrus fertiliser into the bin. At least now the contents look more like what we are supposed to end up with eventually!

On trying to be a tidy kiwi

On the one hand, I've always tried my best to follow the rule that you should always put your rubbish in a rubbish bin (I think I've succeeded).

On the other hand, I always drew the line at litter that ended up around my property because it was put there by some lazy passerby, or the wind.

Since it's not my rubbish (nor that of my family members) why the hell should it be my job to dispose of it?

This of course is not a very constructive reaction, because unless that rubbish is helpfully blown off the property again by another gust of wind it means the rubbish just hangs around on the property or just on the other side of the fence. Not to mention the fact that the wind is an unreliable rubbish disposer.

So recently I've come around to the idea that maybe it's worth picking up other people's rubbish. Both TLM and I will pick up the odd bit of litter while out and about, and put it in a nearby bin - as long as it's not going to require  full-on rubber gloves, rubbish sack and the availability of hand washing facilities nearby, in which case it has to be an organised event.

Yesterday, I picked up three plastic bags on the way to the bus stop to go to the Green Expo. But I couldn't do anything about the bag stuck on the pohutukawa tree.

Monday, November 05, 2018


On Sunday TLM and I went to a beach clean-up, organised by Kowtow to celebrate the launch of their swimwear collection (made from old fishing nets, but on no way resembling fishnets).

For a couple of hours we scoured the sand, peeked under piles of seaweed and poked around surrounding shrubbery. We managed to fill a third of a sack, which is no small amount because it's a small beach and there were at least 20 other people there.

Afterwards there was free People's Coffee for all - bonus!

Even better, it turned out that one of the people blocking our car was Kowtow designer herself, Gosia Piatek. While her designs are a big oversize for someone of my height, I really appreciate the effort they go to to produce an ethically made, eco-conscious product. So I did as much of a fangirl thing you can do when you have only ever bought two of their t-shirts.

In the Folds pants part 3

Today it was finally warm enough to wear my new outfit

Its been a heck of a long time since I last walked around with my top tucked into my bottoms! But I felt I needed a bit of shape and wouldn't have got it otherwise. But when I wear the pieces separately I reckon I'll be fine to go untucked.

It is possible I added too much to the crotch curve, but I dunno...they are pretty comfortable!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

In the Folds pants part 2

I have finished the top to go with the wide leg pants, so that as an outfit this will be a both a maxi dress alternative and a jumpsuit alternative. I used Simplicity 1430 (originally bought to make my ill-fated trousers). The only modifications I made were to lower the bust dart and shorten the body by a couple of centimetres.

A pillow makes a reasonable mannequin here, so you can see the front neck detail 

Close-up of the back neck detail
Unfortunately the weather this weekend has reverted back to winter, so it may be a while before I get to model this in person.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

In the Folds wide leg pants - part 1

I have been thinking about palazzo pants for a long, long time - at least two summers now. I finally decided to make some after In the Folds and Peppermint Magazine put out a free wide leg pants pattern. And I'm really happy with them so far (having not worn them yet, apart from for fitting purposes).

I went to the Fabric Store and found this fabric, which I've already used to make my vintage dress (about two posts ago). It's such nice fabric (100% cotton, white asterisks on a textured navy background) that I decided to get another 3.5 metres. The plan is to make a sleeveless top from the same stuff, to wear with these super-wide leg but fitted at the waist and hips trousers - for a jumpsuit effect but without the bathroom-related impracticality. I reckon they will also look good with other, short and sleeveless tops.

Having an almost straight up and down figure, I cut a size C from hem to hip, then widened out to size E at the waist. I also added 2 cm to the back and front crotch curve, tapering to the inside seams at the knees. I have needed the latter adjustment in previous trouser patterns and thought I could always take these seams in if I didn't need them here. But it looks and feels fine with these adjustments. I also removed 4cm from the crotch length.

I wanted these to be full length as I'm not sure that a cropped wide leg would look very good on my short stature, so I didn't make any length adjustments. This worked out perfectly.

Also I left out the back darts. Instead, I took the sides in by about 1-1.5 cm at each side from hip to waist.

Its possible I could have just cut a straight size D and needed less taking in at the sides (but have a narrower seam at the waist).

The fit in the end is great. As soon as it's warm enough I'll be wearing these out and about with short tops! And posting a photo of me wearing them!

Household sewing

In preparation for the ban on single-use plastic bags that is coming (soon, I can't remember when exactly), I replaced a couple of our household essentials:
Our plastic peg holder completely fell apart, and I wasn't keen on buying another crappy bit of plastic so I sewed this out ofsome stretch cotton originally made (badly) into a skirt. The handle loops around one of those hooks that attach so effectively to belt loops

The plastic shopping bag we'd been using to hold re-usable cloth napkins (basically cut up rags) was used for rubbish collection so I made one up in scraps left over from my Tamarack test jacket.
And while we are looking at things that are brown and round -
Mushrooms on the roadside in spring? What the heck?!

Something came between TLM and her Calvins

I've been sewing up a storm. Last week I got out a sewing pattern for kids' Calvin Klein jeans (bought for $1 from an op shop) and a pair of jeans I'd made for myself two years ago (which I didn't wear because I kept having to hitch them up) - and made jeans for The Little Madam.

Thankfully TLM is no clothes snob. She doesn't care whether I buy her jeans from Just Jeans, Farmers or The Warehouse, And she was pretty pleased that I made her some jeans. The fabric is super stretchy, which she likes as that makes them really soft and comfy.
I re-used the patch pockets from the original jeans, so they're massive on her.

By the time I was done with the resizing, the front pockets were quite high so I had to re-do the coin pocket

They were a bit loose around the waist so I inserted some buttonhole elastic and sewed on the belt loops from the original pair. I might use buttonhole elastic next time I make trousers for myself!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

On reaching THAT milestone

It looks like I have finally stopped needing to pollute the world with used menstrual products.

Of course, TLM is likely to pick up the baton in the next while (I give it a year), so I guess it's not really getting us closer to greenness!

What's it to be - hair or weight? Neither.

For the last two years I have experienced weight loss (and I'm talking about a difference of half a dress size to one full size) coinciding with hair loss, followed by weight gain and hair re-growth.

At first I thought the weight was caused by actual effort on my part, and the hair loss was caused by the weight loss.

But last autumn I shed both hair and body fat, yet I hadn't made any significant changes to my diet exercise. But there was still link between going bald and being able to fit into smaller jeans than before.

I started to think - if I could choose, would I prefer to be thin and bald, or fat and have a full head of hair? I couldn't decide. It's so nice to be a size 10 (NZ size) rather than a 12. But it's so nice to not  have to wear a wig or hat or feel self conscious about my head's resemblance to a kiwifruit.

It turns out that not only do I not get to choose, but maybe this summer I'm going to be fat and bald. Because in the last week I have had to get out my fat(ter) clothes again, yet I still have almost no eyebrows (and very little head hair).

Friday, September 14, 2018

I'll blame it on the menopause

It had to happen sometime, so I'm not really surprised that suddenly and randomly I feel very hot when no-one else is.

Quite possible it's overheating my brain.

I wasn't ready for the massive brain fog I experienced right in the middle of  my Taiko class a couple of weeks ago. I had great difficulty focussing on what I was doing, which ws really unfortunate as we've been learning a drum routine that involves moving around the drums in a coordinated fashion.

Brain fog isn't not very good for coodinated mobile drumming.

While my memory isn't great at the best of times, I've decided to blame my subsequent Taiko disasters in this change-of-life event too.

Last week I actually felt like I'd made some progress in learning the routine, but this week my ego back back to zero. I'm kind of competitive in a way - I don't have to be the best, but I really hate being the worst.

"I wonder if we are allowed to be beginners forever" I joked to a fellow drummer (who only started this term but is so much better at it than me). In response, she said that maybe I could talk to our teacher about it...

So because I hate to be the weakest link in the Taiko chain, I'm going to actually practice, and but I don't mean just watching the video of the advanced class doing the routine. I mean air-drumming and moving around the room like a ghost dancer.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

In a universe where I am a standard size

That universe happens to be this universe, back in the 60's and 70's.

It's a half-size pattern - Size 14 1/2 for bust measurement 37". Half sizes are for women with narrower shoulders compare with the Misses sizes, a fuller hip, and a height of 5'3" or 5'4". 

I think they must be for womanly figures (ie a bust that has been affected by gravity over the years) because the french darts and bust darts end EXACTLY where they are supposed to on me. (In Misses patterns the bust darts usually stop a little too high for me even when I don't "petite" the pattern.)

It's quite roomy at the hips but this is only partly because I'm relatively narrow hipped (compared to my shoulders - not compared to other women my height!). It's got quite a flared skirt so that's all good.

I only just finished my version of this dress late this afternoon so I don't have enough light for a good photo. But I will post one soon.
A close up of the neckline 

I made view B in a nicely textured navy blue cotton with little white stars/flowers all over (actually this would be great fabric for a summer jacket). I started out with long sleeves, but when I tried it on I realised it gave off a modesty vibe that I wasn't after. So I shortened them to just below the elbow dart. I also made some self-lined round patch pockets, because I hate to miss out on pockets.  They and the neckline are top stitched in white.

A close up of one of the round patch pockets

I still had to shorten the dress by probably 3 inches, so it finishes above my knee. It's got to be short or the modesty affect prevails.

Normally when I sew something with sleeves in a woven, the damn thing doesn't fit me until I take the sleeves off again. This dress fits great with sleeves (though the sleeves don't fit that well into the armcye - but I always have this problem with Big Four sewing patterns).

Monday, August 13, 2018

OMG - TLM is a teen!

The Little Madam turned 13 on Saturday.


She's definitely doesn't fit the stereotype of a teenage girl though - doesn't care about clothes (as long as they cover her up), completely uninterested in boys, and doesn't shower unless we force her to.

Based on what she's into now, TLM will grow up to make a living in graphic novel-writing, stand-up comedy or Pokemon. We love her so...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

At last, a compost bin

We have what I like to call a compost heap in our back yard, though in fact it's just organic landfill. I knew that just chucking banana peels and old cabbage leaves into the designated spot wasn't likely to produce the stuff that keen gardeners love so much. But I thought it would be better than putting them into the rubbish bin where there really will be added to landfill.

At last we have a "proper" composting system. A bin, with a lid, ventilation holes at the side and a sliding door (for retrieving the finished product) at the bottom. Woohoo! no more discarded fruit peels going mouldy from all the rain, no more wasps and no more feeling embarrassed when the man with the mower comes around...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

My reversible Tamarack jacket

At the risk of going full-on Chinese grandma, I give you...

the reversible linen, cotton and bamboo Tamarack!

Linen side out. It's looking paunch, but only because I wanted to show you the big sewn-on snap buttons ok?

Some pocket detail, with sashiko-inspired hand stitching

Back view - to show some quilting detail


  • linen from The Fabric Store (colour Marsala)
  • cotton chambray from The Fabric Store (also used for the binding)
  • bamboo quilt batting (140gsm) from Spotlight
So the only synthetic component would be the (lots and lots of) polyester thread.

  • Made it reversible by binding all edges and replacing the welt pockets with patch pockets 
  • Made a straight size 12 instead of a 10 as I was using 2 layers of batting. 

  • Should have stayed with the size 10 and kept the shorter length of my test garment (a couple of inches shorter). This size is fine but it is voluminous.
  • Should have known to remove bulk from the seams. As it is, the underarms seams take up too much room to allow me to wear a big jumper underneath.
  • Did not consider that I would get bearding! On the linen side, bits of the batting work themselves to the surface of the garment and it looks like pilling (I pulled it all off before taking these photos). This only started happening when I had worn it a couple of times.

Cotton side out, the back view

    Cotton side out. I used a classic chambray, which gives me a double
    -denim look if I wear it with my jeans (so I don't)
    and pocket details for this side out

    Sunday, July 01, 2018

    It's a bit soggy

    Yes I know it's winter and I shouldn't expect anything different, but - I am getting pretty tired of it raining all the time. It would be nice to have just a few more days of clear, sunny days interspersed among the days and weeks of showers, drizzle and downpours.

    I've been waiting for like 4 weeks to pre-wash and line dry the bamboo quilt batting that I bought to make my "real" Tamarack jacket from, as well as the burnt red linen that I'll use for the top layer. (I decided on a mid blue chambray for the inside layer, and that I'll do patch pockets instead of welt pockets because then I can make it completely reversible!)

    In more upbeat news, I am taking a week off over the school holidays, so I'll have more chances to do the aforementioned pre-washing and drying, plus cutting, quilting and construction. (If you're a quilter and the idea of line drying bamboo batting sounds like a really bad idea please tell me!) I may even finish it before the end of winter.

    And in even more exciting news, I am planning a trip to Hong Kong to see the relatives at the end of the year. The last time I was there was maybe 30 years ago - so I expect it will be even more crowded than it was then. But hopefully there will be more and better public loos than I remember...

    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    Tamarack jacket test garment

    I ran out of bias binding before I could finish the sleeve hems and side seams

    I've been wanting a quilted jacket for some time now, and nearly bought one last year while on a family getaway in Martinborough. I didn't though, because the boy thought it was a "granny" style. I suspect he meant "Chinese granny", as this style does have a bit of the Mao jacket look about it.

    That is probably why, when I decided to make the Tamarack jacket, I didn't choose an indigo blue fabric.
    Please excuse the inclusion of my faux-woolly blue polka dot socks
    The above is the test garment (but there is the possibility that I won't get around to making the "real" garment for a long time - that quilting takes so long and so much chalking).

    I used just two fabrics rather than the standard two fabric layers plus an insulation layer. The facing layer is a cotton poplin quilting fabric that was on sale at my local sewing, quilting and knitting shop. It's got variable brown polka dots on a black background and makes me think of a crowd of planets.

    The backing layer is actually from the boy's old grey sweatshirt which I had originally intended to use to make a sweater dress. Using this meant that I didnt have quite enough meterage to make the jacket or sleeves quite as long as I wanted - but actually the length is fine on me (high- to mid- hip length). The sleeves are definitely a bit short though, and I'm considering adding some "cuffs" to lengthen them.

    According to the instructions I am in between a size 10 and a size 12. The dimensions of the size 12 garment looked like it would be too wide on me, so I made a 10. Now that it's almost finished (I ran out of bias binding so didn't get the sleeves finished just yet), width-wise there is plenty of room around the torso but not a lot of ease around the armcye.

    So for my next version I may try either going up to size 12, or doing a 12 around the armcye and a 10 everywhere else.  

    2 Possible user errors
    I had never attempted a welt pocket before but was confident the instructions would be so good that I wouldn't need to do a practice on on scrap fabric. My first pocket was a disaster - the slash I made was about one inch wider - on each side - than the welt! I then re-measured the marking on the pattern versus the marking I'd made on the jacket but they match, so I don't know what happened there. For the second pocket I did not sew the rectangle according to the markings but instead based it on the width of the welt. This worked and the resulting welt pocket is something I'm not at all embarrassed for people to see.

    The sleeve was also somehow much wider than the jacket armcye, so I just made sure the top of the sleeve lined up with the shoulder seam and trimmed off the excess at either side. This might be why the finished jacket was relatively tight around there, so maybe I traced the wrong lines in that area (on front and back pieces)!

    Anyway, once I have finished binding the sleeves and washed all of the chalk lines off it (and sewn in some hook and eye closures) I will be happy to wear it around, outside the house even.

    Friday, May 25, 2018

    Op shopping win!

    This isn't me or my jeans - but I think it illustrates nicely what my usual dressing room experience is...

    Coinciding with my extreme moulting has been a slight size reduction body-wise. It's a bit disconcerting (but still welcome) when I lose weight and don't know why.

    So now very few of my jeans fit me, unless I am doing the boyfriend look (ie. looking like I am wearing the jeans of a boyfriend who is a 5 foot tall wrestler).

    So on Monday when I had a day off I decided to go secondhand jeans shopping. I would limit myself to no- or low-lycra denims because once that lycra stretches out the jeans look rubbish.

    At the very first op shop I visited I found three - yes three - pairs of designer jeans in my (now smaller) size and in great condition! I had one pair each of Ashley Fogel (a NZ company, now defunct), Mavi and Workshop jeans for the princely sum of $35! Sure, two of them are bootleg styles, but that should be easy to alter into straight legs.

    I now have jeans ranging from size 10 to what would probably be size 14 (the latter being pairs I made myself during a fatter time) and I have realised that I should really keep the jeans that don't fit me because in 6 months' time they might fit me again.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2018

    From edgy to Dixie

    Yesterday I started wearing my wig at work again. I take off as soon as I get home - although to start with it felt like putting on an old shoe (ie fairly comfy), as the day wears on it starts to really bug me where the ear tabs hit the top of my ears. (On one side, anyway. It must be true that one of my ears is higher up than the other...)

    It's a nice wig style (a dark brown with red highlights version of this) I have, but definitely a bit on the bouffant side, no? It's probably due to the need to hide the construction bits of the wig that it is so bouffy, but I do wonder whether this amount of volume is a hangover from the Southern belle look?

    I started swimming again a few weeks ago, and now I am going to start swimming with a cap on. I tried one of those latex ones in a shop yesterday, and after I took it off I probably spent 10 dodgy minutes trying to remove all the stray hairs off it. Awkward!

    And what am I going to wear to my Taiko drumming lesson? A wig? A beanie? Or go head-commando?

    Anyway unless there's a sudden reversal of folliculer fortune I aim to buy one of those hand-tied wigs to replace this one. This type of construction is supposed to produce a more natural look, but costs an unnatural amount of money compared to what I've already got (not that that was cheap!).

    I'm thinking this onethis one or this one. Though if I want to get the government subsidy to help with the cost of it I will have to wait until July (12 months after my last subsidised wig purchase).

    Wednesday, May 02, 2018

    It's raining hair. Again.

    In the past week or so I've gone from no noticeable hair loss, to seeing the odd hair slipping off my head onto whatever surface, to experiencing a worrying amount of hair loss.

    So what do I mean by a "worrying amount"? If I stand over the washbasin and rub my scalp as though proactively shedding all available dandruff , there're enough short hairs collecting on the bottom of the basin to plush up your average-sized mouse pad. It definitely looks like more than about 80 hairs per day to me (supposedly a normal hair-shed).

    I keep asking the boy and TLM to check the top and back of my head and they've promised to let me know if they spot any scalp show-through. The boy said that I always shed hair at this time of year. But I'm pretty sure he's only told me that once before - 13 months ago just before it all fell out.

    Once I got to work I checked in the mirror and was concerned that up top was already looking alarmingly flat. Hours later I remembered I'd worn a beanie on my way to work - and even very short hair can be subject to hat hair. Although... there's definitely more scalp on show at my left temple than there was a few weeks ago.

    Saturday, April 28, 2018

    A greenish pullover

    I've been wearing this pullover quite a lot - surprisingly I quite like the pistachio colour and high neckline (one good thing that has come out of my hair loss and subsequent pixie regrowth is that high necklines actually look okay on me now).

    The yarn is a cotton and acrylic blend I got on sale at KnitWorld.

    The pattern is called Keynote Pullover, by Mary Lou Egan. I can't recall the name of the book - Easy Knits, Simple Knits or Quick Knits - something like that. Boring title, very knittable designs.

    I have been thinking I should be knitting with organic fibres, but knitting yarns are expensive enough as it is. My next knitting project will be from an unraveled cotton/acrylic cardigan I made two summers ago that I never wore. Even if I can't do organic at least I can do re-purposed :-)

    Friday, April 27, 2018

    A slightly different jeans-to-skirt refashion

    This is the skirt I made during the sewing meet-up I went to a while back. The boy gave me a pair of his jeans which had a nice fade on it but was well ripped in the knees, plus a pair of navy blue twill (rather than denim) jeans.
    This is the back. One of the two patches is from TLM's old tartan cord jeans
    I cut up both pairs and flipped them upside down so that the pants' hems form the waist of the skirt, while the skirt hem is from the crotch of the pants - giving me some swishy shape.

    This is the right side view. 
    The navy pants were used mostly to form side pieces, which I pleated up until the total width around the waist felt about right to me. Then I add a D-ring and strap (from The Little Madam's old school backpack which I cut up) so the skirt would stay up. A red jeans zip that I bought cheaply from a furnishing's shop was added to help with the closure but in the end is just decorative.

    Front view
    I added one of the jeans pockets (the other I had inadvertently cut through), plus a pocket I sewed up out of the navy. Once I'd sewed them down with two  lines of topstitching I realised they were too low and close together to be front pockets. So that side is now the back!

    The end result is just above ankle length - a little too short to wear with sneakers but still wearable, especially with boots.

    I haven't been back since, only because of a lack of suitable sewing project and/or it was going to be too nice a day to spend indoors. But if the timing is right I may get to the next one with a Tamarack jacket.

    Saturday, March 31, 2018

    The undies saga returns

    In this episode of the undies saga  heourroine makes more attempts to make herself well-fitting, sporty-looking, affordable cotton undies.

    The story began when, armed with a swimsuit sewing pattern (Kwik Sew 3239), this slightly stingy sewer bravely tackled issues of pancake bottom, lack of overlocker and few materials (due to stinginess) - to produce promising but not-quite-there-yet underpants.

    Then she received a valuable gift - a free bikini-style undies pattern (Megan Neilson's Acacia). This produced a few wearables -

    Acacia - Used lingerie elastic for the classic look. The shape wasn't exactly what I was after but it was quite wearable - until the elastic started to come apart with each wash!

    I made a couple of versions of Acacia with self fabric binding, with mixed results. One pair didn't stretch much after I was done stitching it up, the other pair wouldn't stay up.
    In the spirit of upcycling, the next pair was made out of two of the boys' unwanted t-shirts. I won't be doing a  gusset in a contrast colour next time, okay? 

    For this pair I went back to the Kwik Sew pattern for a higher waistline - but it is too high. At least there's a barbeque on the back. I used  foldover elastic at the waist (but it's not folded over), and strips of viscose/elastane (from a maxi dress that I shortened) around the leg holes. 

    I made a second pair from the same Kwik Sew pattern with a slightly lower waistline and using viscose/ elastane for the waist and leg openings. But theres no photo because but I'm taking them out for a test drive. My takeway from this exercise is not to use old or thin jersey. It feels a bit baggy on (though the shape is fine.

    This one I have high hopes for. It's the boyleg view from the Kwik Sew pattern, with a deep panel of viscose/spandex around the waistband (so it's not too low cut) and the legs are just folded under and sewn down. I had to draft a gusset for this because the original pattern doesn't have one (just a front lining piece).

    I found with my first boylegs that the seam at the centre back gives me a nice bum shape. However the flip side of this is having to put up with wedginess. I wanted short legs on than designed because  I want to be able to wear them with re-usable pads when it's that time of the month.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Bamboo is back in my life

    As a person of Chinese extraction, I'm familiar with things like the sight of a building completely covered in bamboo scaffolding, eating with bamboo chopsticks and cooking on bamboo steamers.

    Less traditionally, I'm dipping my toe into bamboo fabric and knitting yarn (well, thinking about it and looking for it anyway).

    But it's taken me till now to buy a bamboo toothbrush and bamboo clothes pegs (which can be tossed in the compost once you remove the non-bamboo bits).

    When I announced this to the boy, he said that his family used bamboo toothbrushes when he was a boy! Which would have been back in the 70's and 80's! And they weren't even hippies!

    So it's great that I can slowly switch to bamboo where possible (and affordable - 7 bucks for a toothbrush seem expensive) without having to worry about resistance from the within the household.

    Though it makes me sad that bamboo implements went so out of fashion for so long, to be replaced by animal-choking plastic.

    Sunday, March 11, 2018

    Mindful walking

    While the boy and The Little Madam were off playing croquet, I decided to take a mindful walk.
    A mindful walk is when you go for a nature walk somewhere and make yourself really conscious of the views, the smells and how you are feeling.

    For example on this morning's walk I was really, really mindful of how my vulnerable my knees are since my injury about 6 weeks ago, and how much I really don't want to break them again.

    You might actually call it a stroll, but that sounds so common...

    Sunday, February 25, 2018

    Middle aged activism

    I always thought it was supposed to be the young who get all angry about injustice in the world.
    I didn't getting particularly angry about it in my youth.
    Or maybe I did but I have just don't remember.

    Anyway lately I find myself getting really angry about all sorts of issues - plastic in the oceans; Syria's government killing it's own people; sexual harassment; workplace bullying; the National Party; freedom campers who treat the wilderness (or other people's back yards) as toilets...there's too many.

    Should I be pleased that I am finally willing to talk about this stuff and even give my MP a piece of my mind?

    Or should I be worried that I have started the journey towards becoming a grumpy old woman?

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    In which I discover we have been unwittingly eating caged pork! And pick up rubbish as penance.

    One weekend I wasn't able to get out of accompanying the boy grocery shopping (usually I get to stay at home and TLM goes with him).

    But its a good job I did.

    For I don't know how long, he's been conned into thinking that a "pigcare" label on a packet of pork means it's as good as free-farmed. I didn't think so, and after we got home I went on the 'Net to check.

    Sure enough, I was right and he was wrong. That label just means the pig farmer met the minimum animal welfare requirements - which is nothing to hug your tree about.

    I hope the boy goes back to buying Freedom Farms products because that's a brand I do trust to let their pigs roam.

    Also, last weekend TLM and I picked up plastic rubbish that we found in the gutter as we went for my shuffling walk! For the longest time I felt guilty for not picking up rubbish because I knew that by not doing so I was increasing its chance of ending up in a waterway. But this time we did it anyway.

    We did have to walk the rest of the way home with our hands away from our bodies, to avoid spreading rubbish germs to the rest of our body...

    On social sewing and the picking of brains

    So last Sunday I went to a sewing meet-up, my very first. It was a bit daunting at first, because everyone else seemed to know each other well from years' of previous meet-ups. But in the end I not only enjoyed some sewing camaraderie but nearly finished making a long fluted skirt from two pairs of the boy's cast-off jeans (photo to come after I'm done with the project).

    I also had the good fortune to be at a meet-up when Bernina sewing reps cam a-visiting. So - after 30 years as a Bernina owner - I learned how best to clean the shit that accumulates in the machine when you use it. Not only that, I got to pick their brains about how best to handle stretchy fabrics.

    The main takeaway from this is to use stretch needles (not just ballpoint needles) and the machine's vari-overlock stitch, and that I have the very presser foot that goes with this stitch. So that's what it's for!

    I'm still not convinced this will allow me to topstitch the binding on my Thunderpants-lookalike undies, but I will take what I can get and try it out.

    Snail's pace

    For the last few weeks now I've been forced to choose between not walking anywhere, or walking very slowly, carefully and tensely.

    It's not easy being crippled by tendonitis and doc-knows-what other causes of knee pain. It started in my left knee, but I'm now getting more frequent pain in the right knee too (due to the rest of my body compensating for the injury).

    I'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow and he'll probably refer me to physiotherapy.

    Monday, February 05, 2018

    A stripy linen something

    I bought 2 metres of this nice candy-striped linen at the Fabric Store sale recently.
    This amount should be enough for me to make a sleeveless max dress, a long sleeved short dress, a maxi skirt and a sleeveless shell top, 2-3 sleeveless shell tops or a long sleeve shirt plus something small.

    But I cannot decide what to make.

    I really enjoy wearing my long linen skirt in this heat we've been experiencing, so it would be good to have another long skirt to mix and match with my tops.
    And I wouldn't mind some more tops, a mixture of sleeveless, shortish sleeved and long sleeved.
    But I really like the idea of a stripy sundress.
    Mind you there are some very appealing jumpsuits around too - even though I'm far too practical-minded to wear one.

    Saturday, January 27, 2018

    A leftovers summer knit

    Sometime after I found out I couldn't wear wool hats due to my new-found wool allergy, but before I started wearing a wig (and well before my hair grew back), I ordered enough cotton knitting yarn for hats in five different colours.

    By the time I had finished my first cotton beanie (in dark green with a criss-cross texture pattern) I'd already started wearing a wig.

    So after a bit of research and a couple of false starts I made this top.
    The front is in blue and green stripes, with an eyelet row every 2 or 4 rows. I tried to vary the width of the stripes so that they were narrow around my waist, for an hourglass effect.

    It's my own design, loosely based on the measurements of a knit chevron top in one of my Designer Knitting magazines.

    The back is the same pattern but with red and orange stripes. You can also see my new hairstyle. does look better from the front especially if you screw up your eyes a bit so that the wrinkles blur.

    Worn with my cool Britannia-themed singlet underneath, plus a pair of jeans which has been over-dyed, patched over where the denim has stretched out and become bubbly, and finally chopped off to become a pair of casual shorts.

    Unsurprisingly my new top is too warm to wear this summer, except when it rains and the temps dip below 22 degrees and I'm sat on the couch with my injured knee resting on cushions.

    Stoppable (except when it comes to sewing)

    So I was going to take this whole week off, get TLM out of the house and away from her electronic devices, and enjoy some summer.

    I revived my high intensity interval training-style hill walks - this means whenever I have to walk uphill I walk up as quickly as I possibly can. (This, along with my sugar intake restriction, was behind the satisfying weight loss that I enjoyed about 10 months ago.)

    I even ran up them hills - well, for the first couple of days of my holiday anyway. On the second day I felt my left knee graunch during an uphill lope. The next day I took TLM to the local surf beach to play in the waves and do an ice cream stroll. And then my knee kind of blew up on me.

    Three flippin' days on the couch followed; days of heat and sun (and one of refreshing rain) and restlessness. My laptop sure did get a good workout.

    I did get some sewing done - a more successful pair of undies and bucket hats for the boy and me. Making the hats was a great way to use up fabric scraps. I used the free denim bucket hat pattern this time (rather than designing it on the fly, which is so time consuming...). I highly recommend this pattern. Any flaws you spot in these hats is probably due to user error.
    I made this in the size large. It turned out to be too big for me so I gave it to the boy. It is mostly a single layer of linen plus a double layer for the brim. The boy won't wear it in public because it's not his style - but he won't give it back to me so that I can resize it for myself :-(

    One side of a reversible hat in size medium (which does fit me). Love this cotton print,  which is scraps from a kimono sleeve top.

    The other side of the reversible hat. The purple is linen, the navy is cotton, the grey-blue is linen I think.

    Undies #6, bound with  lingerie elastic (not correctly, but it works) instead of self binding, using the Acacia pattern. Fits really well, but I think it's a bit low-cut for my taste.
    In case you're wondering, I don't often sew for The Little Madam. She is very picky about what she wears - mostly cargo pants and long sleeved t-shirts in non-girly colours. And hat-wise she will only wear baseball-style caps that she can fastern around her ponytail.