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!