Posts Tagged ‘hobbies’

Boy, it’s been nearly a month since my last post. In that time I have interviewed, dreamed about what I could do with my pay, ridden my bike a lot, flew to another country without my passport, gone to the beach, and gotten a bit of a tan. I also got to hang out with a pretty cool three year old who has discovered, “What?” and its cousin, “Why?”, much to her mother’s and my dismay.

I’ve spent some time sewing, spent some money, hung out, and went to my mother’s wedding reception (the wedding was in Vegas, before I got my passport back). Life has been pretty awesome, but I’ve been too lazy to write in the blog. I’ll catch up soon, hopefully with pictures.

Can’t wait to get back to my husband, my pillow, another pair of shoes (who brings only one pair of shoes on vacation, the pair that still needs breaking in?), and our garden. I wonder how much it’s grown? I hope the peas are flowering, I’m definitely looking forward to that.

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We got the rubbish pile organized and all the herbs in pots. The washbin had to have holes drilled into it, as well as the galvanized steel pail that we planted the strawberries in. We also drilled holes in a decorative pot that had been used mostly to allow water to stand in it and become fetid. It stank up the whole back garden as well as the kitchen when we dumped it out. Now it’s being used to grow tarragon, thyme and coriander. It may be too small for so many herbs, or we just won’t get as much of each as we’d like. But how much of those herbs will we possibly use?

We had to put bricks between the fence and the raised bed to help keep it from falling apart as we couldn’t attach it to the posts. Then we put in the “walkway” in front of it and marked off the outer edges of the bed at the right so the few rogue pea plants I put in over there won’t get stepped on when the decking and shed start to get built. I also put in more red onions back there and filled in the row behind the rocket with white onions.

lavender and rosemary

herbs & bucket o' strawbs

Here is when we started the project.

I seriously want to try this upside down plant idea, I don’t like the bags (Topsy Turvy), I think pots are the way to go, even though its more plastic.

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a McCall’s pattern for a scooter skirt from 1969. I bought it thinking it’d be perfect for bike riding, then when I opened it and saw there were only five pieces and five steps I thought it would be a piece of cake! I’d had this gorgeous dark purple and blue 100% linen plaid material I got to make a dress/jacket combo. However, when I took the jacket pattern pieces out of the envelope, I panicked, and put the whole thing away. Then I found the scooter skirt pattern and knew it would be great in that plaid! It’s basically a pair of shorts with a flap at the front and at the back.

Because of interning it’s taken me two weeks to finish, but that’s another blog post. At some point I’m going to have to get off my duff (maybe when I’m drawing a paycheck) and sign up for some sort of intermediate level sewing class because there’s still tons I don’t know about sewing. The zipper nearly drove me bonkers and in the end I just sort of winged it, doing something between a lap zipper and an invisible zipper. At least I used the zipper foot. I had the problem with a sort of “dip” at the bottom of the zipper that I was warned about if I didn’t sew from the bottom up, but after two tutorials and two books, all of which told me different things, I was sick of it and just got it in however I could because I was afraid if I didn’t, I wouldn’t. It had been sitting there waiting to be put in for a week as it was.

Then, I couldn’t figure out how to do the bottom hems like the pattern wanted so I ended up just doing a double-fold seam so the linen wouldn’t fray. The machine’s manual gave me the hint to cut corners off at certain parts so there wouldn’t be too much bulk and I must say, I’m super happy with the result! I opted to slipstitch the rest of it b/c I didn’t know how to do an invisible stitch and couldn’t figure out if “blind stitch” was my English machine’s manual’s way of saying that.


To top it off, when I got to the snap at the waist band, the two ends didn’t meet up flush, and then I sewed the snap on the wrong side. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Oh well, this is one of those things where if I don’t tell people about it they won’t know it’s there. And of course, here I am, not only telling but showing. But I don’t know how the sides ended up not matching, so I’ll have to be more careful when I make them next time because THEY ARE AWESOME! I also plan on trying to make them not quite as wide through the legs, because as you can see, they appear to be at least an inch and a half wider on either side than the picture indicates. I don’t think I’ll adjust them quite that much, though.

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I did a little research on my sewing problem, utilizing a gift from my mom, in the form of Nancy Zieman’s book Fitting Finesse, to find out why everything seemed to come out too big, regardless of whether I measured for my size, or how exactly I matched the stated size on the pattern. It turns out that because my bust is larger than what most pattern makers design for by using my bust as the guiding measurement makes everything else too big, hence the too large dress (though 10″ of ease is QUITE large), the too large blouse I’m making, the too large everything. She suggests going by the “front width” measurement but if I go by that I am less than a size 6. Hm.

The thing with vintage patterns, though, is that I’ve made them and they’re not as far off. The little jacket I made fit perfectly. The dress that I made needed only to deepen the darts at the back. So now I just have to learn how to alter patterns because it will be a requirement in anything I make. I’m looking forward to it! At present, though, I have about 6 patterns that may or may not fit me (especially a jacket pattern with no back darts) and I want to be sure they’re right before I cut into fabric.

To that end, I and two friends I’ve met through the LFGSS are going around London visiting fabric shops today, one in Lewisham and one near Hackney. A stopover at one of their friend’s places, in the first part of the day, will allow me to talk to someone about pattern altering and perhaps see if I can pay her to alter mine so I can have something to do until I can find a class. Or maybe I can pay her to let me come over and have her teach me. Then in about a week and a half we’ll end up over at one of their houses, up to the craft room (!!) to work on our various projects all day, punctuated by cocktails and homemade pizza.

Last night was one of those horrible sleep nights where you’re waking up every hour. It’s gonna be a two-cup a’ coffee kinda day.

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I think rhubarb is mostly seen as a sour, strange thing in the States, though that may just be my Southernness, as it doesn’t grow down there. I personally love tangy rhubarb pie and sweet delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie (and jam!). Since coming to London, I have noticed the British predilection for rhubarb; it’s sold at every place that sells fruit & veg, around this time, and every major brand of yogurt makes a variant (even Activia!). I am in LOVE with rhubarb yogurt! A while back I bought a yogurt machine but it just ended up being a bit more work than I had anticipated and you can’t re-use any of the pots you make to start more than the very next batch, or at least so I remember. I am up for the challenge of making yogurt again, but I need to buy a strainer. I think that’s what was the problem with my last attempt; it was so wet it hardly resembled yogurt, especially when I’d been eating thick-as Greek yogurt.

I also really want to can things. When I tell young British people they should can something, they look at me like they’re waiting for me to finish the sentence. It’s then I realize that I haven’t seen canning jars in the £ stores. Or anywhere else. And I think, “But this is England! Everyone prides themselves on their can-do, old school DIY, make-do attitude!” But it doesn’t seem like they can here the way we do in the States. So I’m not sure how I’ll can anything, especially since my main goal was to can tomatoes, and I’m pretty sure you can’t can tomatoes via the hot water method. Something about the acids, but I don’t quite know what. I am sure, however, that people make jam, so I wonder how they can it? I mean, do you have to close it up a different way than you close up canned veggies or soups or whatever?

£ stores, that reminds me of another story. Last night at South Drinks, a friend was saying her boyfriend wants a dog and she wants a cat. She’d told him they could get a dog only if they moved to a bigger place. I said, “Make sure you get a pound dog.” The two Brits stopped and sort of looked confused, so I said, “Wait, what do you call the RSPCA?” “For what, dogs? Cats? You just say “Battersea” (after the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home).” “Right, because we have £ stores. That would be a cheap dog!”

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So there, Meg C. at McCall Customer not-Service:

Patt-O-Rama mail order pattern, probably mid-50s. Size 14, measurements of 34-26-36, View 2.

An example of the instructions (whoa!):

Please let me insist that you read instructions all the way through before beginning a pattern. It will allow you to, for instance, a) not cut the interfacing all the way through when they only wanted you to slash to the large dots, and b) cut the interfacing and the back waist piece at the same time, as the pattern wants, instead of cutting both pieces at different times, not quite cutting them in the same places, and having to running stitch together the two pieces of the interfacing.

Also please, if you realize that you don’t have enough fabric to make both pieces of interfacing and decide you’re going to stitch together two pieces to be the front neck facing? Please make sure both pieces are either wrong side out or right side out before cutting.

Lookit that understitching!

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny neckline!

Sharp as a knife.

Can you spot the blue dots here? This pattern was very interesting, it was already cut and the markings were made as little dots in the paper. They want you to mark on one side, poke a pin through and mark on the other side. I suspect that my marking was not perfect and when I make the next blouse in this pattern I will just use tracing paper and my tracing wheel (which I’m much more pleased with than the pointy kind, though at first I thought I wouldn’t like it as much, because it does not rip the pattern as easily as the pointy kind).

Edit: Double-plus important to read the instructions all the way through – those blue dots aren’t markings, they’re just on the pattern piece to tell me whether to cut on the fold, on the bias, or with the grain. *facepalm*

As I do not have any fabric I can use to make the band at the bottom of the blouse, nor zippers (5″ at back of neck, 9″ at right side), I will have to wait to finish it. Actually, I also just realized that it doesn’t tell you anywhere how to finish the armholes. Hmm…

The workspace (ie, the kitchen):

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Awwww, Man!

Does anyone reading this besides G sew? What is your experience with completing commercial patterns? This one told me I should be a size 12, but seeing the dimensions for the finished dress, I decided to make it in a size 10.

Apparently I’m a size 8. Since I neglected to pre-wash in a hot wash, I’m going to first try shrinking it, then selling it or giving it away. The way it had me do the armholes was pretty cool! I can’t explain it, but it was really interesting. So at least I learned a new method for that. Next up is whichever vintage pattern I decide on, probably the one I decided went best with the cool fabric from Liberty.

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