Laundering

I know…ho hum, who writes a blog post about doing the washing?

Well, I guess that must be me.

As household chores go, I don’t mind doing the washing. The reward last longer than the next person in the clean kitchen, or the next pair of shoes worn inside the house onto clean floors. Yes, at least with clean washing, you have a day of enjoying the experience of wearing nice-smelling clothing and a whole wardrobe of clean stuff to choose from 🙂

As most of you know, I am living in a rental property at the moment and the design (or lack of it) of the laundry is a sobering experience. My current laundry is little more than a very big cupboard off the passageway, with a trough/cupboard and nothing else.

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Without any cupboard space apart from underneath the trough, I usually keep a lot of washing stuff on top of the dryer. I don’t mind this, but there is no bench space at all and with a rotten back that is a problem. I hand wash quite a bit of my summer clothing, mainly because the fabrics are light voiles dyed in India and the colour bleeds excessively. Hence I hand wash each piece separately rather than hazarding a lot of cross-clothing discolouration.

What to do? I have done the whole bending down to the floor with a second bowl thing and my back just can’t take it any longer, so I have resorted to the bathroom sink.

IMG20180303073255.jpgYes the bowl is small, but it is perfect for these light, filmy pieces and the heaven of not having to bend down and up all the time is just luxury. Not too much water is used because of the small bowl which is an added plus and I don’t get weighed-down by a huge laundry basket full of clothing, because (you guessed it), the washing line is not convenient to either the laundry or the bathroom.

I don’t use a dryer much, with the weather here, most of the time it is unnecessary. I will use it in winter just to take the damp off line-dried washing before I put it away (mainly thick items like jeans and towels), but really, the dryer is just a nice luxury.

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I quite like the position of my (fold away) washing line, it faces south-west, which means it is shaded for quite a lot of the time in summer, this, plus hanging my coloured clothing inside-out means that fading is not really problem. I am not so sure it will be that great when the weather turns autumnal though, I wonder if it will be a problem trying to dry thick items.

Reading through this post, I wonder why I even thought to write it! Boring is the word that comes to mind and I don’t blame you if you switched off a while ago :0

Rest assured though, I am unlikely to blog about the next chore that comes with laundering; ironing (though necessary, especially for a seamstress) is one chore from which  I derive very little pleasure, so I won’t be boring you with that one!

Cheers 🙂

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Do you or don’t you [or, a calculated risk]

Here in Western Australia it has been compulsory for many years to wear a helmet when cycling. When the law came in I embraced it wholeheartedly, taking to task anyone who wasn’t “doing the right thing”.

As a nurse, I had looked after several people with traumatic brain injuries and there had been numerous documentaries on television of people and families who had been affected by them; indeed, there has been a big re-think on how to accommodate young people in “vegetative states” as they were often cared for in aged-care facilities, amongst people three times or more older than them.

But I digress, this is not about people with brain injuries, it is about the current state-of-play for cyclists here in Perth.

As time has gone on, I now take a more moderate approach to bike helmets. As I usually commute to work by bike at least 3 days per week, drive one day and catch public transport the other day, I think I have a fairly balanced look at things.

When I cycle in the morning, I stick to cycle paths and ride upright (Dutch style) and fairly slowly, I think my risk of coming off my bike and being hurt is small. Whenever I have had an accident cycling in the past, I have hurt my knees and hands, with no involvement of my head, mainly because out come my arms to break the fall. Therefore I have reasoned stopping wearing a helmet in the morning.

It doesn’t feel reckless, although it did feel odd at first. I dress in work clothes, not cycling gear, I have makeup on my face and I don’t have helmet hair when I get to work.

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Ha ha, this is definitely NOT me, I like her omafiets but I don’t think I have ever been that put together (although cycling in that footwear is a no no for me, too many stubbed toes are a possibility)!!!

Am I being vain? Perhaps a little, the facilities at my workplace for showering are minimal to say the least and there are no places to iron clothing, so personal hygiene and looking professional are compromised if I wear full cycling gear and ride flat-out.  I have done this in the past and been crumpled and a bit stale (Yuck!); I don’t want to go back there.

The cycling community in Perth is growing quickly, people are seeing the benefits of exercise and it is relatively easy on the joints, all good. I think I fall into a minority sub-group of people who cycle for pleasure but with a commute being the driving factor, uni students usually fall into this category. Remember these are just my thoughts on the subject, I think the biggest growth group is the MAMILs. The MAMILs (Middle-age Men In Lycra) are a pretty cocky group. On the whole they are male, but I occasionally see women riding in the ever-increasing numbers and sizes of pellotons around the place.

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The MAMILs give the rest of us a bit of a bad name I think. I have yet to hear any of them ring a bell and I have seen plenty of them getting hot under the collar with other people. They tend to stick to cycling on the roads and a pelloton can often go 3 or 4 riders wide- very rude!!! On a few occasions I have been told off for not wearing my helmet by single MAMILs as they have silently sped past on their bikes at a rate of knots, not caring about pedestrians on the dual-use paths. The last time one of them said sarcastically “Nice helmet”, I retorted, “Nice bell”!!!

Riding home in the afternoon is different for me. I ride a different route and often on roads, so the helmet is firmly on and appearance is irrelevant as I am not out to impress, all I want to do is get home and put my feet up with a nice cup of tea 🙂

Am I foolish to take the risk in the morning? What is your opinion of bike helmet laws as they are at the moment? Do you live in a country where helmets are not compulsory, if so, what do you think about it?

A piece of cake it was not!

Well this piece of cake took forever to make, it was supposed to be my Christmas dress, but never made it to the day.

This is the Piece of Cake frock by Jody Pearl. It is called the Piece of Cake because it is supposed to be a very straightforward make and to be fair to Jody, the troubles I had making this dress were because the bodice is not suited to my body shape, but I was impressed with the photo img_2742 and went ahead without thinking. You can find out more about Jody here.

I am drawn to an empire waistline, I don’t like the feeling of constraint around my body, which is why an empire waistline is one I really like wearing. Unfortunately, this bodice has no provision for anyone with more than a B cup bust, nary a dart or shape is to be found and the length of the shoulder “strap” was just too long for this shorty 😦

I did do some fitting through the making of the first version, but thought I could deal with the bodice length problem afterward.

WRONG!

When I shortened the bodice, it brought the waist up too high and squashed my breasts to billyoh- I could hardly breathe! I became quite despondent and disgustedly put the dress into the too-hard basket.  There was another problem with it and that was the colour of the bodice. There are no pictures (they were quickly erased), but the bodice was a very pretty solid blue poplin, unfortunately it was just too much blue and I hated it.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, Christmas is over and I have 3 more weeks off work to fill, out comes the Piece of Cake. I started unpicking the bodice, but gave up and cut it off the skirt, I thought I might salvage it, but I think it is destined for the bin.

I thought I would try making a new bodice pattern, customised to me. I did a Connie Crawford workshop years ago on making a bodice “sloper”, but tbh it was a bit beyond me at the time. This time, I pulled out my trusty Threads fitting guide and attempted a full bust adjustment. I know many seamstresses do this as a matter of course, but it is a first for me (and it does stick in my craw because I had a breast reduction years ago!).

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So I took the dartless bodice and added side darts and waist pleats and it turned out pretty well, it also gave me a new bodice pattern to use for remaking this dress.

I had to shorten the bodice again, but without worrying about the end result as this white poplin was never going to be the final version. It did however give me a new colour for the bodice and I ended up making the final version in some white bengaline left over from my sage pants (bought from Spotlight last year), the skirt is made from a really nice stretch woven cotton from Knitwit in Nedlands. I did a sway back adjustment, added a waistband to compensate for the shorter length at the shoulder/neckline and raised the back to accommodate a bra band.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is okay and I will wear it. The inside is a mess which needs tidying up and there is a bit of topstitching to finish (not compulsory, but I do like a bit of topstitching!). Unfortunately, being sleeveless, it does accentuate my tuckshop-lady-arms (yet another point I failed to take into consideration when buying the pattern), but I am working on those and will probably end up looking like a weightlifter instead of someone with two huge, flaccid bags swinging from my shoulders. The waist darts look a little odd, but I can live with them, I stitched down the skirt pleats (you may have problems seeing them as the skirt fabric hides them), so as to not accentuate my tummy, but it is not the most flattering garment I have ever made.

 

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Forgive the unironed appearance, that will be remedied before it is worn outside the house!

Will I make it again? The jury is out, I may, but probably just the tunic version and in a lighter-weight fabric. I have learned a lot making this little dress and will not shy away from altering patterns to make them fit better in future although I do prefer clothing that is looser to wear.

A new toy and some pants

I recently made another pair of the StyleArc Sage pants in a white bengaline, lovely slim fit with a flat front (and I really need a flatter front 😉  ).

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Anyway, I used the Janome to make them and found it has a really nice overlock stitch which got me thinking…

I had a rush of blood to the head… I needed wanted a side cutter presser foot. The question I ask myself is why? Why, when I had given away my overlocker/serger a couple of years ago, it wasn’t a finish I was looking for on my garments (I didn’t want anything that made my clothing look like it had been commercially made) the conclusion is I guess I am my Mothers’ daughter after all (oh she of the multitude of kitchen gadgets).

Here it is in all it’s $15 glory  (free postage from Hong Kong)

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That little round knobby thing at the front is the cutter. Can I say it’s not perfect (hey, it’s a 2 thread overlocker which nobody would ever buy), but it serves a (limited) purpose, here are the first two attempts on a piece of calico- not too bad methinks

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Unsurprisingly it has its limitations, they being mainly that it doesn’t cope with thicker fabrics or more than two layers of thinner fabric. I am currently making a dress for Christmas and the foot did not deal with a lot of the work so my opinion is, the foot is cute but a bit meh (unlike the pants)!

 

The head is getting bigger…

Sorry, still proud.

Over the weekend, I made this FullSizeRender Um, no, I didn’t make the whole thing, just the teal-coloured slipcover. 12 square metres of stiff cotton (covered in sizing because I thought it would be easier to control- wrong, just bent a whole heap of pins), tailored to fit my oversized three seater sofa.

It was relatively straightforward, draping, folding and pinning in stages, but incredibly bulky and difficult to manoeuvre in the space on my little Pfaff. I had to engage the machines IDT because occasionally the fabric just wouldn’t budge, there was just sooo much of it.

I topstitched all the seams FullSizeRender (3) and made the ties in the same fabric IMG_2441 now I need to make new cushion covers in a complementary shade as that red is just a bit too jarring 😦

You may ask why am I recovering a sofa? It’s simple really, back in the day when my (now ex) husband and I had more money than sense (and no children or dogs), we spent a ridiculous amount of money on a Parker lounge suite. It was late eighties peach coloured in the softest leather, truly a marvel of furniture-making and I am loathe to get rid of it. He got the chairs, I got the sofa. Sadly, the leather has deteriorated over time, helped along by dog toenails and the usual family high jinks, but it is still amazingly comfortable. Now I am on my own, I cannot afford to replace it with anything close to its quality, hence the cushion covers and slip cover.

I think one day, it may find itself in a share house with either of my young adult children taking it with them, only then will I replace it (and I will be a little sad to see it go), but for now, it is staying put.

One question, given I am into colour, what do you suggest for the cushions? All helpful hints will be considered 🙂

Update- thanks everyone for your help, I went with this very busy boho printed upholstery fabric, nice and thick and comfy- I love it!

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Does pride goeth???

I am just a teensy bit proud of my latest efforts in making.

(What feels like) a couple of years ago, I started working on a piece of fabric, learning to do free motion machine embroidery, it was not really a project as such, more a scrap which could turn into something. The fabric was a piece of Ikea stuff that I had made a top out of and I liked it, I may have even mentioned it some time ago (but I can’t be bothered looking- sorry-not!).

Anyway, as time went on and it got to look a bit nicer, I thought I might make it into a cushion for my Mother. She was an embroiderer (hand) in the past and really likes soft furnishings with that kind of embellishment (as do I).

So, to cut to the chase… I used a whole bag of stuffing so it’s nice and firm and heavy, plenty of support for Mums back and here it is 🙂

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On the weekend, I wondered why it took me so long to make and besides the amount of time each little picture took to embroider (between 20 minutes and an hour each!)  I realised that it was because my ex-partner resented the time I spent sewing. I am relishing the freedom to do as I wish with my time and not be beholden to look after the emotional needs of a very needy person, it is blissful.

One of the activities I promise myself I will do when I am retired (which is about 16 years away) is ceramics. As a child and teenager I loved working with clay, our property in Darlington was surrounded with beautiful red clay and there was kaolin going begging at the old quarry up the track in Glen Forrest. When we moved to another part of Darlington when I was 12, there was no clay, but my cousin came to the rescue and gave me a huge bag of brickmaking clay from Midland Brick where he worked as an electrician. When my children were smaller, I would go off to Jacksons in Jolimont and buy bags of beautiful terracotta clay for us all to work with. (hmmm, what is stopping me from doing that now I wonder…).

So I don’t have any clay at the moment, but my friend Ange and I went up to Joondalup recently and spent the evening doing china painting at Fired Cafe. Forget pastel roses and dainty teacups, that is NOT my style! I wanted something bold and ended up buying a bowl and painting an oversized paisley on it.

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To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I picked it up after the firing, but it has grown on me (I may be even a little bit proud of this too).

img_2335 (after firing the glazes really brighten up)

I am keeping it because it’s a bit rough, but I am going back and will be painting a tray, probably with a “Scandi-style” pattern of leaves or feathers with the idea of giving it to someone as a gift.

Do you ever feel proud of something you’ve done, but keep quiet because it’s not the done thing to “blow your own trumpet”? My parents who were somewhat spare in their compliments and we were not encouraged to think too highly of ourselves. The old saying “Pride goeth before a fall” (is that the right spelling?) makes me reticent to puff up my chest and go “Look at me!”. In some ways I think I am not in the minority amongst people my age; I am thinking something might bring me down a peg or two after this blog post!

As an aside- Salsa has had to be ditched, I am having some pretty intensive physio on my poor, wrecked back and there is no way I am going back on a dance floor in a hurry 😦

The Inner Critic

One of the negatives of attaining age and wisdom, is an increasing reluctance to expose oneself to failure. I have always been my own worst critic, calling myself an idiot is fairly commonplace and while I don’t really think I am an idiot most of the time, it is my go-to descriptor when I let myself down and do something silly.

Last week, my friend Angela and I started a beginners class in Salsa. Now we are two mid-50s girls who clubbed our way through our early twenties, you would think we know a little about timing etc…wrong!

Turns out, we are strictly “free-style” (as Ange calls it) and the foot moves are proving difficult for these former New Wave/New Romantic afficionados.

I really can’t stand it when I am crap at something. Years ago I did an 8 week Jazz Ballet introduction and I am embarrassed to admit that it took all that time for me to master running across a room, why did I expect Salsa to be any different?

Ah Salsa…the fluid movements, lithe bodies, beautiful skin, short flared dresses, what a lovely image. TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY AARON MAASHO Dan

Ah Salsa at 54…the wooden jerkiness of a 54 year old with a long-term back injury, the thickened waist, the sun-damaged skin and the clothes chosen to conceal the lumps and bumps, it doesn’t sound like the same dance does it!

To be honest, very few of us in the class are any good, although some of the blokes think they are hot (when all they are is sweaty!). Although the instructors are lovely (and it’s wonderful to dance with someone who knows what to do), I have a feeling that the forced jollity of a group of people who have really very little talent may end up wearing a bit thin.

Will I continue?… it remains to be seen….