Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Highs and Lows

Sometimes I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday,  and trying to look back over a week is often impossible. Let me see what I can remember....

I went on a 2 day Workshop to make a dress form of myself.   It was an interesting process, involving cling film, wettable brown tape, PVA glue, and lots of standing around.   Plenty of people would pay a lot of money for the experience without the end result, I'm sure.

The second day was learning a bit of draping skills and making a skin-tight cover for her.    

It was quite effective, and the end result was technically very good.   At the moment, she's in the bedroom with a dressing gown on.   I wish I'd done it in the winter, when I am less prone to water rentention.  Still, it's done now, and Nellie tje Elephant will be a real asset to my dress making, I'm sure.

I had a bit of a fright.  I walked in to the bedroom to see a person in a dressing gown, collapsed on the floor.  It took me a second to realise that Raymondo (the iRobot vaccuum cleaner) had knocked Nellie off her stand.


On Saturday, my granddaughter arrved for a day's sewing.  Her sister, Mum and Dad, went off to do something else for the afternoon, while we spent some time leaning about pattern envelopes and,  stretch v woven fabric. Then we tried the mountain of fabrics that I had bought, and got the list down to 6. 

At that point, we (well, she) tried on the pre-made toile, and we draped the 6 fabrics so she could choose the one she wanted.   I had to be strict, so we went from 6 down to 1 very quickly. As soon as a fabrci was not top choice, it was removed from the options.

Next was learning why we trace patterns rather than cut them,   doing the tracings,  and learning to use a rotary cutter,    Then on to laying out fabric, selvages,  pattern placement, cutting the fabric.   Then out came the sewing machine, the news that it was hers to take home,  some sewing practice,  and a spot of lunch.

After lunch,  we (she) started to make the dress.  She did everything herself, I just explained what she needed to do.    She managed to sew on the interfacing (had to unpick it and re-do it).

We didn't get it finished before dinner, so we left it until Sunday and then completed some more bits - the armholes,  deciding on the hem.  She's got a couple of bits to do at home to finish it,  but it looks really lovely.  She did a fab job.

Her sister, meanwhile,  got a very special set of treats on Saturday- she is big enough to have a go on Segway,   and then they did a Duck tour (plus had sushi for lunch). 
On Sunday, after they'd gone,  I did the allotment chickens, and spent the afternoon clearing up and lolling about.   I cut out the fabric for my next skirt. Sunday, frankly, is a bit of a blur.  DH popped home for the evening and night, which was lovely.
Monday was a whirl of making the skirt, clearing up, doing washing,  and battling with escapee chickens.  I've had to top up the fencing (2 girls are flying over, despite the fencing being extra tall and the girls having a wing each clipped).    Now it looks like Stalag 15, with random very tall bamboo poles stuck along the fenceline and bunting in X shapes in between.   OK, no Stalag had bamboo, much less bunting, but it is a bit of a mess.

The 3 youngsters, who are now well over a year old, have given up trying to sleep with Poppy and Gloria,  and have decamped as a mini-flock to the other Cube.

I also watched an old black and white film, Hell is Sold Out, starring Herbert Lom and Richard Attenborough.    They really don't make many films anymore where someone does the morally decent thing and doesn't end up with the girl.  A happy ending for 2 of the 3 leads.


Oh, and I've remembered why the rest of the time was a bit of a blur.  My lovely neighbours' equally lovely son  was involved in an accident on his bike on Friday.     He came out of hospital yesterday, and is incredbly lucky he wasn't even more badly hurt.  It's his birthday this week.


It's really hot again, so I need to check on the chooks.

Catch up soon.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A noteworthy event

I'm wearing a skirt.

Wit hthe exception of wearing a dress to my DSD's wedding,  I haven't worn anything but trousers since...well.. I don't know how long.  More than 20 years, maybe 25 years.

And not only that, it's a skirt I made myself!!

It's a maxi skirt, with a yoga waistband.  I made the yoga waistband a bit too deep and a bit too loose, but it's hidden under my tee shirt.  I didn't quite get the gathering even, but again, it's hidden. I put the slit on the opposite side to the way convention dictates, to hide my puffiest leg.   

I'm going to make another one, asap.  ASAP won't be until Sunday or Monday, as I've got commitments for the next 3 days.

I might, might, try and make a top to match the skirt, so it will almost look like a dress.  I might. But I'll make another skirt first.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Expanding foam

When we first finished converting part of the spare room guest bedroom (my DIL uses that phrase, and it sounds so much more pleasant than "spare" room) into a sewing area, I had SO MUCH space I didn't think I'd ever fill it.   Lots of Ikea Kallax storage,   a fitted wardrobe,  units under the desk...

My grandson is coming to stay for a few days, followed by his mum and sibings for one night, followed by other son, partner and two children for one night.

I've been trying to tidy the sewing area so that it looks more like a Gues Bedroom with a sewing table, rather than a sewing room with a bed in.

I've also been making a maxi skirt.  My first skirt.  The first skirt I will have worn in.....25 or so years . (I did wear a dress to my step daughter's wedding. But that's all. The rest of my life has been trousered.).   It's a bit of a Big Thing.

I saw online about yoga waistbands, and I decided that would probably be a good idea.  However, I didn't have any suitable stretchy fabric (I said suitable stretchy fabric), so I decided I'd go ahead and make a traditional elasticated waistband. It would all be good practice.

It was good practice.  But by golly, I wish I'd gone for the yoga waistband instead.

Today, I finally completed an Ebay checkout for a basket of suitable fabric. It's been in my basket for several weeks actually,  since I first thought about a yoga wasitband (I was thinking about trousers then).  There was just too much choice of suitable fabric, and it was all getting a bit ridiculous.

So I went through my basket.  I ended up buying more.  More colours (thinking of the fabric I've bought and will of course be making into skirts, trousers and shorts),  and more of each colour, as I realised that I'll need about 15 inches depth per waistband.   Besides, I was already at the maximum postage, so any extra was really just the cost of the fabric. Fabrics.

It's all ordered now.   I have no idea where I am going to put it.  When I started with the sewing room idea, I hadn't anticipated that I would be trying to sew clothes; and so I hadn't thought about all the ..stuff that I'd be needing.    Honestly, it's like expanding foam.

I need to have a bit of a rearrange.  I suspect I'm going to end up with storage boxes stuffed behind the draws under the desk.

Still. It'll keep the dust off the floor.

I might make a second skirt out of a more challenging fabric, just to see what happens. Then when the suitable fabric arrives, I can do two waistbands at once.

Yes, sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Moving on

The 4 dinner chicks moved to the allotment today.

We'd moved them off our main "lawn" area so we could rake it and water it,  and for the last couple of days they've been in another part of the garden.   This area wasn't ideal - it was too close to the Big Girls, and much smaller than the lawn bit they were used to. 

The Big Girls have been even more cranky than usual since the babies moved closer.  The 3 girls from last years hatch have started sleeping in the second Cube, not through their own choice.  Even Gloria,top chook,  was being a bit pecky -  and that's most unlike her.

 Today was the day we'd marked for their move.

It went well, and their area at the allotment is HUGE. It's been rested for  about 8 months, and was re-seeded with a special chicken friendly grass mix earlier in the spring.

They've got a mixture of grass, long grass, and areas to rook around in.  Some of it is in sun, some of it is under the shade of trees.  It really is a lovely setup for them.   They were busy exploring when we left, and we'll be going back down this evening to make sure they've managed to find their way to their coop to sleep.

The lawn looked better after being scarified and watered - we used water from the water butts to give it a good soaking.

We've now removed all traces of the chicks.  All the equipment has been removed, cleaned and stored. It's as if the babies were never here.

Hopefully the Big Girls will settle down again.

Until next year.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Still laundering

Another day of fabric washing yesterday.  I'm now washing some of the stretch fabric that I bought a few weeks ago,  plus some of my other, older, purchases that I can see me making into clothes. Eventually. Maybe.

The day 1 fabrics have been folded - correctly, selvage to selvage - and wound on to cards.  After a snappy exchange with DH, I ended up using the kitchen table.  This had to be cleared completely, which is no bad thing.  I  attempted to sort the clutter last night, when I'd had enough of fabric wrapping.

This morning, I switched to clothes laundry. 

Teh solar panels are earning their investment this week,

Sunday, 14 August 2016

...and Porn

My young granddaughter phoned to tell me how her birthday present sewing class had gone.

She loved it. 

She described visiting her local fabric shop, and she talked about all the gorgeous fabrics she had seen. She's 11.

I shared my love of fabric, and mentioned a place in Wales my brother and I visit - usually just to look at the fabric.   I went on to say  "We call  it 'Fabric P...'".   Luckily my brain realised what my mouth was about to say, before the  word came out.

"...Paradise", I said. Barely a heartbeat in between.

Drug Dealing ...

Washburn is a complete Nep head.  

Some years ago, we planted some tiny Catnip plants in the garden, around the Pampas.  There were two varieties, can't remember the names off the top of my head.  Wash loved them. 

Over the years the chooks have trodden these plants down to nothing, or near nothing. Wash still rolls on the spot where one of them is/was. His nemesis (the black and white cat that comes in the garden to fight him) also likes to roll around on that spot.

Isobel, meanwhile,  loves the dried stuff but isn't really interested in it fresh.

I felt sorry for Wash that the plants had dwindled to the point where we couldn't see them at all.  I decided to buy some new plants - plants, not seeds - and I eventually I found a seller on Ebay offering little plug plants of  Nepeta Cataria, a variety we hadn't had before. (The seller was plugsbypost, in case you are interested)

The little plugs arrived quickly, and we potted them up.   They thrived. 

When they were strong enoughm I squished a leaf and let Wash sniff my fingers.  He went beserk, desperate for me to stroke him.  I crushed a leaf in each palm, and rubbed his face and back, and then let him eat the leaf.  He really did go doo lally, chasing shadows in the garden. He also had a good wash and his fur became very silky.

Since then, he mugs me whenever I go near the plants, which are on a raised table outside.   He made me jump yesterday, appeared from no where, looking (I thought) rather furtive.  

At one point the plants looked distinctly flattened. I suspected a cat had been lying on it.  I don't think it was Wash, he was still asking for me to give him some each time, so obviously hadn't tried the self service option.

We rescued it, I took a cople of cuttings and attempted to get those to root... they aren't dead yet, so maybe it's worked.  I also decided to try drying some.  I picked loads of leaves, and laid them out in the dehydrator.  It took some time - even with the dry weather - and eventually I had a tuny pot of leaves.   I crumbled some into a scratching thing Izzy uses, and I was interested to see if she would use it.

She most certainly did.  A lot.  I've had to refill it.

I've just finished drying a second load, and I'll probably do a few more through the summer while the plants are growing.

It's definitely a bedder grade product than the dried stuff that I've bought before.  

Wash, meantime, salivates almost uncontrollably whenever he gets a whiff of the fresh stuff. I have to limit his supply.

I feel like a drug dealer. 

Saturday, 13 August 2016


My fabric-for-clothes shopping of the last week or so has been coming home to roost over the last couple of days.

It's quite difficult buying fabric online. Well, it is when I don't really know the difference between "cotton", "quilting cotton", "cotton poplin";  and I'm letting viscose into my house for the first time, "cotton feel viscose", "powdered viscose", some chiffon (that was an accident, what on earth am I going to make with chiffon.  Every time I think of chiffon, I think of an old Immac advert).

I'm washing everything, so that it will be ready when inspiration strikes.  Because of ther risk of colour runs, I am washing eacb 3m piece individually, on a quick wash.  I've got 7 x 3m pieces hanging on the line (it looks fab out there),  2 off the line waiting to be folded and pressed, and several still to go.

The "cotton feel" viscose feels OK, but I doubt it's breathable, despite what the blurb said.  The powder touch viscose....well, I could feel my armpits prickling the moment I picked it up. It drapes beautifully, but I can't see it working for me.  Maybe as a sleeveless dress or something?

The chiffon...well, I could hardly bear to touch it.  I don't know what chiffon has done to me in the past to make me feel this way. I suspect it's just not breathable, and that's what I'm reacting to.

There were also some real successes.

We'll see.

I've had a sort out of the patterns I've also been buying in the last 10 days.  I've managed to buy 2 of  2 patterns.  I also had some with a magazine  or two (cough). ome are fab, some not so much. I've been ruthless, and advertised 9 for sale. 2 have sold already, and I found myself thinkng "ooh, fabric money".  That's not the case.  The proceeds WILL be used for paying for the patterns I bought.

The other patterns have been sorted into fabric types,  and I WILL be making something from one of them shortly.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

My day made

My lovely cousin-in-law texted me this morning, to thank me for her birthday card.  Her text really made my day.  She really is lovely.

The photo of the card isn't very flattering, I have should put a light on it.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Procrastination strikes again

For heavens sake!

I've got the front of a new top cut out on the kitchen table.  I haven't cut out the back, nor the sleeves.  It's been sitting on the kitchen table for some days now.

I was going to go for a mighty FART (fabric acquisition road trip) on Friday last week.  There were humungus traffic problems en route, so I decided to delay until "sometime next week".

I want to do a body blueprint for DH, so I can do a second attempt at a pair of shorts. Did I post about the first attempt? Let me check.....

..apparently not.

OK. DH has some linen blend M&S pull-on shorts, which are easy to wear and he's worn them to death. M&S, of course, don't anything remotely similar.   I'd seen that pull on shorts are, alledgedly, super easy to make.    I started with my SureFit Designs (SFD) system, but the pull-on variety were an afterthought to all the stuff about trousers ("pants"),  and I didn't know what I was doing...so I gave in and bought a simple pattern for pull on shorts.

I measured DH.  I made a toile version out of some sheeting.   I made the real version out of some very thin linen stuff (I had my doubts about it before I started, frankly).   The shorts sewed up OK, not a bad job really.  The back fitting was lovely.  The front fitting...was OK, but not quite right.  The fabric was hopeless.  So thin and see through that DH wouldn't be able to wear them outside.

However, now that I'd made them, I felt more confident in the process, and decided I'd go back to the SFD system.  I need to clear away the top from the worktop in order to lay out the stuff to do a body blueprint for DH.

I have tidied up everything else around it.  I've put away scraps;  I've carded and put away the fabrics I had out;  I've put away the stuff we got out to make DGS2's bum bag..... but I just have this stupid blockage about the top.

I know exactly what and why this is happening.  I'm annooyed at myself for not just dealing with it, and I guess I'm hoping that writing it down will spur me into action.

You see, I've made another pattern adjustment.  I'm proud of this one.  I've moved the bust dart to the centre, to make it into gathers.  This should be an improvement on the last one, which was a similar process but had not quite worked out.  I had identified the problem, and I believe I've corrected it in this version.

Deep down, I know that the procrastination is because I'm concerned about whether this one will work or whether I'll just find something else not-quite-right.   I desperately want this one to be good.  

I know I should just get on with it.  I know that it might be right, and then I'll be able to make several versions from the same template.  I know that I will have to do it, sooner or later.

It's because I know all that, that I'm stubbornly refusing to clear the darn thing away.  I am trying to force myself to get on with it.  Today I even struck a bargain with myself.    If I cut out the rest of the pieces, I could then clear everything away to get on with DH's blueprint,  and then sew my top later in the week.

That seemed like a good and acceptable compromise, and I was full of hope.   Instead, I've sorted out the chicks,  emptoed the dishwasher,  done my monthly banking,  bought some sewing machine feet in a sale,  caught up on all my Facebook groups,   emailed my mum,  sorted out some tax stuff for both me and for DH,  emailed Sodastream about some old cannisters,  done some filing,  washed 2 lots of fabric in anticipation of shorts,  made several batches of coffee,  been to Costco to get cream to make butter,  looked up a recipe to make ham for dinner tomorrow,  I've bought a couple more patterns,  I've ordered some back issues of a sewing magazine, I've cancelled a subscription to another magazine.... and more.

I'm driving myself to distraction.

I WILL get the darn thing cut out by the end of today.