Ultimate Worm Farm Update

I think it’s time for a worm update. Don’t you?

I know many, nay probably all, of you having been wondering: how is the hobo worm farm extravaganza doing? Well, friends, wonder no more. I am here to report that, sadly, my hobo worm farm is defunct. You will never have to wonder again.

Just to recap for those of you not familiar with my worm farm story: I made a worm farm from some polystyrene boxes acquired with manic grin from the local grocers. I have an urban concrete courtyard garden, so a worm farm was the best option for organic food waste disposal (and trust me when I say I researched and considered many options.) I like being frugal, so I made the worm farm for the cost of a smile and a few well chosen, but nervously delivered, words. I then bought the right kind of worms from Ceres, a local nursery (and lots more) Alas, summers in Melbourne are unbearably, whingingly hot. The heat is dry. The people and plants wilt. Each summer thus far, my worms have died in droves. A few usually survive, and the entire worm bin ecosystem eventually revives with judicious application of newspaper and lashings of patience.

But I do not like being a worm murderer. Each summer I have worried and tried to find a better location. I have watered the bin, and covered the bin with a tarp and watered that and felt sick at heart when I saw their hundreds of dessicated little bodies on the outside of the box, fried as they futilely attempted to escape the heat inside the box.

Also, dead worms smell.

Also also when we moved from the little flat to this not-so-little house, I could not find a satisfactory location for the worm farm, and the worms were surviving but not thriving the way they had back at the little flat. I moved the farm around quite a bit to try to find a good spot, but the worms just weren’t doing as well. They took ages to eat through a usual serving of food scraps. I cut our scraps even smaller than when we were at the flat, but even so, I sometimes had to extract mouldy banana peel (worms don’t eat mould!), which I just then tossed into the compost bin.

And therein lay the nub of the problem, but also the solution. As this not-so-little house has a narrow patch of dirt, we acquired a compost bin, which hulks in a corner of the courtyard, under some thriving jasmine (well, jasmine always thrives.) We alternated between the worm farm and the compost bin; if the worms weren’t eating fast enough, the scraps went in the bin. Compost in the bin has been doing really well, plus there are lots and lots of worms in there (some were relocated from the worm farm; the rest are either third/fourth generation worm farm descendants or emigrants from the dirt.)

At the end of this winter, I decided not to go through the summer ritual massacre of my worms and moved them from worm farm to compost bin, emptied the worm castings into our various pots, and spoke a eulogy for my hobo worm farm . The polystyrene box will be repurposed as a planter box and the worms will live more happily in the compost bin, where when it gets too hot they can head deeply down into the dirt, and the compost goes from vermicomposter to hot composer with me doing nothing (this is the best way to compost – doing very little).

Just as my bokashi era ended with the advent of a compost bin, so too has the era of the hobo worm farm ended. I know you share my sorrow, but there will be much to look forward to with the black monster compost bin.

Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you composting is hard. It is easy. Anyone who says differently is selling something (name that movie, wherein there was, strangely enough, no mention of compost.)

Hop to It!

Look! You’ve blog hopped to me! Lucky you!

Thank you, Rachel, for selecting me to be hopped to.

I met Rachel pretty much around the same time I started sewing garments seriously. (Well, okay, I was still pretty silly about it, but you know what I mean, don’t you?) I had started thinking that I would take my sewing beyond a miscellany of tote bags and alterations like shortening the length of store-bought trousers, and I’d started googling sewing on the internet. I found heaps of non-Australian bloggers, and then stumbled upon bloggers IN MELBOURNE. It was very exciting (obviously exciting enough to warrant some all caps action).

This was right at the time of the very first sewing bloggers Melbourne meetup, organised by a different Rachel. I had bought a sewing machine at that stage, but not actually made anything on it except for practise stitches, so I just did not feel I could attend the meet-up. I’d be a right fraud.

Then, Rachel organised Social Sewing and the draw of sewing in a large space spurred me to get at least a garment under my belt before attending the first one. Social Sewing is now a regular part of my calendar, even though I no longer need the large space as I have an entire sewing room of my very own, and if I miss a month, am desperate to ensure I’m at the next one because I miss seeing and chatting to everyone, even if I’ve been reading what they’ve been up to on their blogs. I look at the photo in Rachel’s post about the very first Social Sewing, and all those erstwhile new scary faces are now familiar, firm friends.

Enough yabber, let’s answer some set questions and hope to pass the exam:

Why do you write? I have always written. Before the advent of blogs, I kept diaries. Remember them?

I never wrote them just for me; I always expected someone would read them. Not because I thought I would one day become so famous/important that people would wish to know what 8 year old me thought, but because when you’re one of many, you just don’t expect privacy. Everything I owned as a child was someone else’s, and my things would also become someone else’s. I just never had a sense that anything was uniquely mine nor that I could demand that it be mine and mine alone.

I have always written with a putative audience in mind. It was not that hard to take the step of starting a blog – back in December 2004. And as my obsessions change, what I write about change. The only constant, is that I write.

I write because it is how I think things through. I think in words. I do not think in pictures or feelings or sounds or whatever other ways people might think. I think in words. It’s possible I dream in words too because my dream images are always nebulous but any words spoken or thought in dreams remain with me.

I write because I love to read, and writing is the natural progression, the productive progression from reading. Have you read An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett? It is wonderful, and its theme is the importance of reading, its joys and its pitfalls, and what it turns one into (spoiler: a writer.)

I write because I love telling stories.

I write because it is my prime creative outlet. I might have sewing, now, but creating via writing is what I consider my prime hobby. It is the thing from which all others derive. However, I don’t write creatively. I have never written fiction (although I’ve tried. Ha.) Fictionalised accounts of events and people, yes, but not fiction as such. It’s just not my way. I don’t kid myself that I will ever be a Writer (although I am a published author – did you know that? Rachel does!)

And I write because, simply, I love writing.

What are you working on? Honestly, what aren’t I working on? I am not a single project person. Not in sewing, not in life. I have multiple sewing projects on the go at all times. I realised, the other day when I was at the library, that I sew like I read. I find it really difficult to start a book if that book is my only reading choice, even if it is something I want to read. I like having lots of choices, and then I will actually start one of them.

But because you are, perhaps, not interested in the meta level, here are my current projects (and my process in brackets):-

  • Dreaming (I mean Planning) Phase
    • Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt and shirt dress (planning phase; pattern acquired, not yet traced. No idea what fabric. But I am planning very diligently.)
    • Thread Theory’s Strathcona tee shirts for my partner (pattern acquired; not yet traced. Fabric assigned, so that’s pretty good)
    • Kitschy Coo’s Trifecta Top (need to identify suitable fabric. I need more casual clothes!)
    • Cake’s Tiramisu-Belladone in black merino, gifted to me by Ms Cake herself (need to cut into the fabric; might need to trace a 30A bodice, and re-do the waistband as well because I have taken it in in each Tira I’ve made up)
    • Another Cake Tiramisu-Belladone in a knit suitable for work in summer (need to acquire grey-ish or navy-ish (or both-ish) fabric. I love these as work dresses for me. I love the Lady Skater knit dress but it’s a bit too casual. The surplice neck and waistband of Tiramisu just lifts this into the ever so slightly fancier camp)
    • A Sew Over It wrap dress (pattern gifted; must trace and allocate appropriate fabric!)
    • True Bias Hudsons for hiking (made three Hudsons so far; just need to buy suitable technical fabric in appropriate colour and then they’ll be done as soon as the fabric is washed and dried. Fancy trackie-daks sew up fast.)
    • An ever-changing cast of bags.
  • Practically Completed (otherwise known as Fabric Cut & Waiting to be Stitched Up)
    • Sew Loft Emma Pants (only the waistband to go! take that!)
    • Kwik Sew 3422 (button up shirt) for my partner (fabric cut out and collar interfaced)
    • A variety of knit tops
      • More Maria Denmark’s Day-to-Night with sleeves,
      • Maria Denmark Birgitte tee (cut this out ooh maybe summer this year, maybe last year. Still not sewn up. Because it got cold and I did not need the t-shirt. It’s warming up again now, so maybe it will end up with some seams stitched together. Who knows?)
      • more Tessuit Brigitte tees (I’ve taken to randomly cutting a knit tee whenever I cut another project. Then it’s there ready for me to sew when I need to feel productive. Knit tees are my sewing palate cleanser, while things like trousers are my prolonged degustation meals.)
    • A white and navy blue florally print Christine Haynes’ Emery dress hopefully wearable muslin (all cut out since May/June, not even got anywhere near the sewing machine yet. Kinda lost interest. Squirrel!)
  • Some People Might Call These Unfinished Objects But I don’t Because I Live in Fantasy Productivity Land
    • A red linen Deer and Doe Sureau (zipper put in and waiting on a decision from me about whether I rip it out and re-insert; so very close but in that state since June)
    • A floral blue Victory Patterns Chloe (needs zipper inserted or the decision to sew up that seam and wriggle my way into it, because I can)

There. Are you glad you asked or did you need three cups of tea to get through the list?

My winter sewing plans and big blue ticks to show that I’d done stuff. Also, moving some plans to Spring. And maybe next winter (Iconic Patterns’ Jackie Coat)

How does it differ from others of its genre? Well, first, I’d have to define my genre. I guess I’m now firmly within the Sewing Blogging Community, but honestly, I don’t see myself as a sewing blogger. I’m a blogger who happens to sew. I’m also a blogger who loves to read, ride my bike, garden, talk about worms and all kinds of other random stuff called, Life.

No, I’ve worked it out. Worms. Worms is what makes my blog quite different from others. I love them. (But not to touch. Ew. Don’t be gross.)

How does your writing process work? I write much like I sew. In snatches of time. Sometimes, in the 5 – 10 minutes before I eat my lunch at work (okay, I never sew like that). Most often, in the evening at home. Blog posts get written over many days. Photographs get taken whenever I remember and consider there is sufficient light, but I’ve got really, really slack with photographs lately. I blame the iPhone. We are considering purchasing a micro 4/3rds camera and launching back into taking good photographs. We shall see, we shall see.

Once a blog post is ready, I don’t post it for a day or two. I usually go back and proof-read. Depending on the topic of the post, I spend that time thinking about whether I should post. This used to be more of an issue when I blogged about Life, instead of Sewing. Some of my sewing posts just get posted after an hour or so of stewing, rather than days. I rarely write the entire post in one hit, which is possibly why they end up so long.

But, hey, I’m having fun here, not trying to win any blogging awards or, heaven forfend, monetise my blog. So it’s how I like it and how I want to do it and you cannot make me stop. Just try. It will be misery for both of us.

Now, I am supposed to pass this on. I am really bad at passing these things on. My blog is the place where Internet memes go to die. But Rachel did an excellent thing, which was email me FIRST to see whether I would accept the blog hop. Genius, she is. So I followed her lead and emailed some likely candidates, and am therefore passing this onto:

  • Ms Macstabby of Crafternoon Naps I love her post titles. My favourite title so far is: I believe that children are our future. Unless we stop them now. Also, we are fabric twins.
  • Kokorimbaud whose no nonsense style I thoroughly admire. Cake? No, she sews cucumber sandwiches.
IMG_0134.JPG

A Serendipitous Pouf for Scraptember

I am one of those people who hoard scraps. I blame my mother, who used to fetch things that might still have life in them from rubbish tossed by my siblings and me. She’d rescue tossed and torn clothing for rags, half-used notebooks, and unwanted other things, stored in one room of the house, with our supply of toilet paper for when the apocalypse happened and you really needed the loo. I blame my father, who used to take me to garage sales at ludicrous pre-dawn hours (my father was *that garage sale customer*; I was his interpreter) to buy a miscellaney of things for the house. He used to store his treasure under the roof of our car-port. We got new kitchen and laundry sinks regularly, but he would not toss out the replaced one (they often became garden pots). My favourite of his scrap(sorry,treasure)-made items was the chicken coop made from old wire bed springs, old doors, and old kitchen sinks.  It was the most wonderfully creative riot of rusty wire and crumbling wood, just demanding you go off to have tetanus shots.

I now have a lot of fabric scraps. I find them really difficult to throw out. (I blame my mother.) If a garment might still be made from leftover fabric (1 metre plus), it remains stored with the fabric stash on my shelves. The larger potentially useful, scraps I wrap up, tied with their selvedges, and store in a plastic box, which lives under my sewing tables. After I have cut up fabric, I slice off selvedges and keep them as ties (they make great, and wonderfully colourful, garden ties). The completely not useful scrap (i.e., you cannot make a garment or a tiny drawstring bag out of these …) go into two drawstring bags, one for knits and one for wovens.

Both drawstring bags were overflowing, and I was on the brink of just throwing them in the bin, except … I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. (I blame my father.)

Recently, I discovered the blog of someone who uses fabric scraps in a delightful way: Minki keeps every little itty bitty scrap and turns them into gorgeous fabric art and useful items, like decorated tote bags. I am not that artistic, but I am inspired! Inspired to NOT throw out my scraps, which is not helpful. Not helpful at all, Minki. But goodness, the gorgeousness. I love the idea of embroidery but I passionately despise hand-sewing. I might give free motion machine embroidery a try. I need more hobbies, just like I need those tetanus shots.

My other idea was to use the useless scraps as stuffing for Something. I had no idea what. We have a lot of cushions in the house already, including four awesome floor cushions made by my partner’s mother. These have been with us wherever we have lived, and I adore them. They are covered in patchwork from scraps made from my partner’s mother’s sewing projects! So they will never be replaced. Refilled, yes. Replaced, never.

Eventually, I came up with two ideas (pathetic, no?) and polled my partner for the one that was more useful in the near future. Out of (1) pouf and (2) armrests for the sofa-bed, he chose (1) pouf. My constituency had spoken, so I set about working out how to make one by googling and googling and googling some more.

Here are some useful tutorials I found:-

I decided I wanted a round, drum-like pouf, with a zipper somewhere and a handle somewhere else.

A zipper was necessary so as to have no hand sewing in the project (in addition to hating hand sewing, I’m nervous that a hand sewn closure will not hold in all the stuffing) and for adding stuffing (and continuing to add stuffing when the stuffing gets compacted, as it invariably will.) The placement of the zipper was what flummoxed me the most. Eventually I settled on having it at the base of the pouf. However, we have wooden floors and I did not want the zipper pull scratching the floor, so I resolved to work out how to install a lapped zipper.

I think a handle is necessary too, for moving it about the place, but my partner thought it superfluous. Whatevs, I’m the one making it, not him.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Make Pattern Pieces: Basically you are making a cyclinder, so the pattern bits you need are two circles and a rectangle.
    • I made a pattern piece – a really large circle – using the lid from a saute pan, and then adding an inch all around. I sat on the pattern piece to be sure it was big enough. It was.
    • Add seam allowance: I added a half-inch for my seam allowance because I like half inches and 3/8 seam allowances. I don’t like 5/8 seam allowances so much. Just a thing.
    • Cut two of these but not yet
  2. Work out the pattern piece for the sides of your drum (the rectangle)
    • Measure the circumference of your circle, not including the seam allowance, this is the length of your rectangle
    • Work out what height you would like it. I wanted mine so I could sit at the coffee table, so I trotted off and measured the distance from the floor to the underside of the coffee table.
    • Add seam allowance
    • As it’s just a rectangle, I didn’t bother making a pattern piece; I simply notLed down the measurements.
  3. Work out which scraps you have that are suitable for the pattern pieces. This might involve destroying your beautifully organised stash, requiring commencement of that favourite game of OCD seamstresses everywhere: Time to Tidy! I am very good at this game.
  4. Block fuse everything now. (That is, fuse interfacing to fabric before cutting it out.)
    • I find block fusing much easier and more palatable than fusing pieces individually.
    • The kind of interfacing you use will depend on the fabric you have. The end result you want is something pretty stiff. I was using upholstery weight fabric that was fairly thick already, so I fused medium weight interfacing to it. Not to all of it because I did not have enough medium weight interfacing so I fused two layers of lightweight interfacing to some bits. No one will ever know. Except the internet.
  5. Cut pieces
    • 1 x rectangle piece
    • 1 x smaller rectangle piece for the handle. I just eyeballed this. You want the piece as long as you like and four times as wide as you want the finished piece to end up. Mine was approximately 12″ x 10″ but I did not measure it.
    • 1 circle piece for the top
    • 1 rough square at least two inches wider than the diameter of the circle piece for the base
  6. Make the base
    • Cut your large square in half, making sure that more than half the circle piece will fit on it.
    • Sew pieces together with a zip in between.
      • I am not going to give you instructions on how to do a lapped zipper, because I don’t think I did it right, and you may want to insert a different type of zipper. Zippers are not hard to insert! They’re just fiddly.
      • Google how to insert a zipper. You’ll find lots of excellent tutorials. My personal favourite is Erin’s of Dog Under My Desk.  She designed the Two Zip Hipster, and she can really insert a zipper! I don’t like any tutorial that tells me to cut things and fold things back and blah blah blah. The easiest way I find to insert a zipper is when you have two separate pieces and it is inserted flat.
      • I also added a zipper guard to make it easier to close the zip when the pouf is filled.  To do this, I simply sewed the zip right side up onto a strip of lining fabric before sewing the zip onto the base pieces.
      • For the ‘lap’ (the bit that overlays and hides the zipper pull) I sort of followed instructions in Christine Haynes’ book and also kinda winged it. Tip: if winging it, use basting stitches. Just sayin’.
    • Once you have joined your two pieces together with a zipper in the middle, cut out the circle base. Unzip partway, and pin the lap down, to make sure you do not accidentally cut off your zipper pull!
  7. Sew handle & Attach to rectangle
    • Fold rectangle in half (right sides together) and sew short ends
    • Flip right side out and halve it again by tucking the raw edges inside
    • Edge stitch all around, and sew a few lines of stitching parallel to the long edge
    • Sew onto the rectangle piece approximately halfway along and halfway up. Sew boxes for security and strength and because boxes with crosses in them make you feel like maybe you could do freehand motion embroidery. What hubris.
  8. Attach circles to rectangle. This bit is fiddly. Pin and wrangle and ease and swear under your breath.  Swearing makes it work.
  9. Finish your seams: I had cut my pieces with pinking shears, but the fabric was still fraying like nothing else so I bias bound everything with scrap bias binding. The insides look a bit … harlequinesque.
  10. Stuff!
    • I did not actually have enough stuffing! It now sits open, waiting for more until I can get it nice and full and firm. Might need to go sew some more dresses. (Oh, the cruelty.)

Zipper plus lining.

Harlequin bound insides.

I think, once this is filled, I may as well make another one and fill it with scrappy fabric scraps as I go.  And another.  And another, and so on forever and ever.

I am not a hoarder. I have turned my hoard into something useful.  It is therefore necessary to keep things in case I can find a use for them. I am not my mother. I am not my father.  Well, I am always worrying about running out of toilet paper and I do loves me a garage sale. 

Mocktails* (Melbourne Frocktails)

*Do not fear.  Alcohol was indeed imbibed at this event.

The Melbourne Frocktails event – Mocktails – went off with lots of sparkle** and laughter at Brunswick Mess Hall on Saturday night just past.

** Actually, all the sparkle was courtesy of Lara.

All up, there were 17 attendees.  I had a large post-it note to do a roll-call*, but I handed that over to our waitress, Rosie, because I had also written dietary requirements upon it!  So, no roll-call.  (*not really; but I did need reminding of who was coming, in case anyone got lost.  I’m a bit of a mother hen. No one got lost.  I handed over my post-it note with nary a thought.)  We had a few drop-outs for various very understandable reasons, and missed those who could not make it – next time! There will be multiple next times!

It is such a lot of fun to meet with like-minded folks and talk a wee bit of sewing, a wee bit travel, some politics (that happens if you ask me certain questions) and lots of tales of sewing mishaps (also, yeah, maybe just me).  Obviously I can only report on the conversations that I was party to, though clearly everyone was having a great time because I attempted to move about and join other conversations but found many already in full flow, so I slunk off until there was a conversation I could interrupt with tales of pinning my partner into his Jedediah trousers.  Hilarity all round.

I find utterly fascinating and heartwarming that we all get along so enthusiastically, united by this ostensibly solo hobby of ours.  And it never fails to delight me when we turn up our hems for each other.

Brunswick Mess Hall did a sterling job, including having a big picture of a puffin up, just for me (this last might or might not be true).  My only criticism of BMH was that it was too noisy for conversation.  That is why my idea for a future event is a picnic.  Also, I am pathetic and getting home at midnight is much too late for me.

Everyone looked, unsurprisinly, utterly fabulous.  Fabulous enough to elicit quite a few unsolicitations.  The BMH staff, in particular, really wanted to know who we all were and why we all looked so great. (“Just because we’re fabulous, darling,” seemed to be an insufficiently informative response.  I love channelling Patsy, although I am Patsy’s diametric opposite.)

There was a wee bit of that favourite game of seamstresses everywhere – Spot the Pattern!

Here’s who attended and what we all wore (I’ll update with links to blog posts as they come in, if they come in.  No blogging pressure being applied here.)  I did not take any decent photos to speak of.  Because, you know, that’s not the point.

  • Abby wore Simplicity 2444 made up in stunning floral fabric with carnations, geraniums and bell-flowers (I love playing Spot Whether the Flower was Accurately Drawn on the Fabric game. I’ve accumulated many points.)  Abby’s blog post is here.
  • Alison wore a dramatic, floor sweeping Mission Maxi (I think! Correct me if I’m wrong!) Alison has confirmed that I was right. One point for Alison, Bonus points for me.
  • Belle was stunning in a gorgeous Sew Liberated Clara dress
  • Carita astounded us with her red wool Anna, although no thigh high split shenanigans occurred…
  • Claire was also in an Anna, but not in red wool.  I must admit to being unsure of the colour (I blame the lighting, Claire!) Claire says, ” It was purple! A lovely dark dusky purple…”. I am inclined to agree!
  • Helen wore her Ballan Collection “Go Anywhere” dress –  It will go anywhere as long as that place is fabulous enough.
  • Jackie dazzled in her licorice all sorts colourful stripey skirt.
  • Jenny snuck in wearing a collarless polka dotty Alder dress.
  • Lara was sparkly!  I think if there were prizes, Lara should have won all of them.  Especially when the lights went down.  I could still read my menu as I was sitting beside Lara.  Lara’s blogpost here.
  • Laura in a sweet cherry Cambie with matching cherry brooch.
  • Liz was another Franken-patterned in her Emery / Elisalex hybrid.
  • Nee wore a lovely & beautifully fitted Flora.
  • Nichola joined the fancy knit dress crew in a royally purple Moneta.
  • Renee shone in geometric voile Staple dress.
  • Ros joined us landlocked lubbers in arrrr Pirate Washi dress me hearties.
  • Sasky wore something very sassy indeed.  I don’t have the spunk to describe it with words.
  •  And I, despite threats of Hudson pants, wore my red knit pattern smooshed Renfrew Day to Skate-done Night dress

It appears that By Hand London have won this round of “What did the Seamstresses Wear?” and that the Indies still have it over the Big 3/4/5.  We shall see how it pans out at the next meet up.

{Life is always a game and/or a competition.  Everyone’s a winner.  That’s the truth.}

Trouser Saga

Oh the vexed matter of making one’s own trousers (or pants.  tee hee.)

Although I had wanted to sew clothes for a while, Sewaholic’s Thurlow trousers is what inspired me to properly commit to garment sewing.  I very much have a uniform: trousers and a shirt.  If it’s a workday, a button-up shirt; if it’s non-work, a t-shirt, and the trousers are more likely to be jeans.  I even have a particular style of trousers and jeans that I’ve worn since becoming an adult and which the vagaries of fashion have not moved me from.  Roughly straight legged, mid-rise, slash pockets.  There was a time in the late 90s, when trousers were cut exactly as I liked them.  Alas, that time is past.  I of course wear leggings for legging-relevant activities, and trackie-daks for trackie-dak related activities (like going to the shops in the middle of the night for ice-cream).  But even my preferred hiking trousers fit exactly this mold.

I have occasionally tried to branch out and wear other styles of trousers: higher-waisted, wider legged, harem (lordy, what was I thinking?) and fisherman (dear god why?). Those trousers invariably hung in my wardrobe watching their straight legged, mid-rise counterparts get worn to such an extent that they become threadbare and the knees permanently bag out.   

The Thurlows look exactly like the trouser I have always worn.

I made Thurlow shorts a long, long time ago.  I did a bunch of things wrong, but they were my practise pair, and I thought the fit was alright.  I recently (ish) made a muslin (!!) of the Thurlow trousers and they are huge on me.  Huge all round and especially huge in the derriere department (please read that with a terrible Pepe le Pew faux French accent).  I pinned out excess fabric and thought long and hard and researched longer and harder about the changes I would need to make to the pattern.  I had neglected to consider one key factor: Sewaholic does not design for me.  Tasia designs for the pear-shaped woman, and I am very happy she does. particularly as you with booty who have sewn her patterns appear to think that she does a sterling job.  I love the Alma.  The Cambie is also very sweet.  I am not a pear-shaped woman (mouthy stick with shoulders, remember?) and I decided maybe I needed to find another pattern.

There is no one, that I’m aware of, designing for a mouthy stick with shoulders, but that’s okay.  I’ll just try me some other patterns until something works.  I thought it might be easier to modify a different pattern, rather than work on the Thurlows.  But I do rather like the Thurlows so maybe one day I will return to it when I have more fitting expertise.  My unfinished projects are never discarded.  They visit a lovely resting place until I’m ready for them again.

I put my Thurlow muslin on to take photos for the blogpost, and lo and behold: it is not as bad as I remember.  I can only think magic sewing elves fixed it for me while it hung on my WIP rack.

There is someone designing for the petite woman, and she has designed a pair of trousers that look about right, but I have two issues: (1) I really don’t like the brand name and (2) though I’m short, I’m not sure I actually qualify as petite.  Petite is 5’4″ and under.  I’m just on that, but I’ve never really found RTW petite clothing fits me, so maybe I am proportioned averagely rather than petite-ly?  I’ll keep an eye on the patterns, but I just don’t feel persuaded enough to overcome my dislike of the brand name to purchase a pattern.  

Style Arc has a bunch of patterns that I’ve “pinned” (which being also a sewing term is practically like making them, right?) and I even bought the Audrey trousers, which came with a pair of free Lola trousers.  I’ve made the Lola but I did not like it.  Because it was not a pair of mid-rise, straight-legged trousers!  (I’m really an idiot, sometimes.)  And actually, the Lola trouser is a woven version of True Bias’ Hudson Pants (tee hee), which I have made three times and liked *a lot* but the Hudsons make no pretense of being anything other than fancy trackie-daks.  Woven trackie-daks? Not for me. I just cannot think of any occasion when I would wear them.  If it’s casual, I may as well wear trackie-daks.  If I want to look nice, well, I would not be wearing trackie-daks.  See?

I’ve settled on my next trouser pattern: the Sew Loft Emma pants (tee hee. Oh, you northern Americans.)  They’re like a skinnified Thurlow.

Muslin sewing is fast, though muslin photos are always terrible.  The Emma pants are pretty good! I was right (how gratifying). 

Sew Loft is a new to me pattern company, and I’m keen on these trousers and the Harper blouse, although I feel like a stranger to myself when I want to wear a sleeveless top.  The PDFs are well designed and not at all wasteful of paper or annoying to piece together.  I haven’t sewn anything yet, so I cannot say (nor am I particularly knowledgeable on the matter) whether the patterns are well drafted.

Finally, in my Epic Trouser Saga, I’ve signed on for a sewing class with Thread Den, here in Melbourne.  The class is called “Perfect Pants Pattern” (please interject tee hee in the correct place if you too are juvenile).  That’s a big call, no? We shall see, we shall see.  I’m fairly confident of my sewing (and unpicking and sewing again) skills, but I just feel all flummoxed when it comes to fitting.  I haven’t had any major issues so far: take in a bit here; let out a bit there, lengthen, or shorten and we’re done. And usually it is only one issue on a pattern.  But trousers have a whole lot of cascading issues and I think I need someone to hold my hand, and provide me lots of fortifying chocolate.

Wish me luck, and keep a beady eye on your feed readers for the next installment of Oanh’s Trouser Saga!  Coming probably not very soon to an internet near you!

To the Lighthouse!

This isn’t the first time we’ve slept in lighthouse-based accommodation, nor is it the first time we’ve used this title.  It’s too perfect a title not to rehash, and I’m allowed to plagiarise myself, surely?

Since arriving back in Australia, we have neglected Our Blog.  It’s possible that, in the same way that we have photography exhaustion, we both have blog exhaustion post the mammoth effort that was the Bike Tour Blog.  I still have the blogging bug, but I’ve never been a good ‘reporter’.  I just write whenever I feel like it, about whatever I feel like.  And I feel like writing about our various trips; well, okay, this one in particular and maybe I’ll write up a few others.  My family think I am on a perpetual holiday, so I may as well start that mis-belief with my blog audience.

You know I do not lie when I say we are The Outdoors Type? Since moving to Melbourne, pretty much everyone who finds out we are The Outdoors Type tells us we have to go to Wilsons Prom.  In almost the very next breath, they then tell us how terribly crowded it gets.  Crowds is emphatically not why we go to The Outdoors.  

I had been to Wilsons Prom once, a long time ago.  I remember two things clearly from that trip (I was a teenager, so forgive me): (1) There was lots of rubbish on the short walking trail we did and it made me really mad, and (2) March flies ate me alive.  Literally.  Small chunks of flesh were missing from my lower calf and blood poured down my legs until I could bear it no more, I asked my brother for his car keys, ran back to the car and sat in there until everyone else came back from the walk.  No one else got devoured like I did.  Not. Fair.

So, we decided we should visit Wilson’s Promontory National Park (that’s it’s proper name but we all call it Wilson’s Prom, or even just The Prom, because, you know, too many syllables) and we decided winter would be a smashing time to do so, hoping that there would be no crowds.  As it would, after all, be winter, we decided we would not hike and camp but would stay in accommodation with fancy things like a roof and walls.  We picked a weekend from the calendar and then tried to book accommodation.  We failed.  I won’t go into the boring details, suffice to say, we considered giving up and going to somewhere warm instead.  Then we booked a trip to Tasmania (yeah, we get confused), then I remembered that Wilson’s Prom has a lighthouse That You Can Stay At.

We booked two nights accommodation at the lighthouse.  Unlike Portland, Dorset, UK, you don’t get to stay inside the actual lighthouse, but you do get to stay in the lighthouse keepers’ cottages (there are multiple).  It is up to you whether you pretend you are a lighthouse keeper for the weekend.  You might be able to guess what I did.

Here is some information from Parks Victoria about the lighthouse.

Here is some more information from someone who went there (quite detailed and very helpful).

Here is my summary of the information, in case you want to go there as well:

- Be aware you have to hike into the lighthouse.  It is at least a 19km walk if you take the shortest route – the Telegraph Track.  The shortest walk is a perfectly fine walk, but if you want a scenic walk, it will be more like 23++kms.  I will tell you about our walk shortly.  You have to carry all your food for your stay.  The walk is undulating, with some steep sections and one very steep section at the very end when you are so close to the lighthouse that it seems unfair.  

What you need to take with you

– Food 

– Clothes

– Towel

– Toiletries

– Sleeping bag (although you can choose to hire doonas if you do not wish to carry or do not own a sleeping bag but if you take the doona option, you still need sheets or a sleeping sack.  If you’ve ever stayed in a backpackers, you will know what it is you need sleeping wise)

– Things you would usually take on a long daywalk e.g. first aid kit, torch (just in case), wet weather gear, enough water for the walk.  Honestly, if I need to tell you what to take on a daywalk, perhaps this accommodation is not for you.  Or go with someone who knows.  

What the accommodation has

– pillows!

– cooking equipment: stove, microwave, oven, pots, pans, crockery & cutlery.  They have a plunger (french press), folks.  All good.

– a fridge

– drinking water 

– lovely sitting rooms with views

– wombats

Our original plan was to leave Melbourne on the Friday and find some accommodation like a motel or a caravan park cabin, so that we could start our hike out to the lighthouse early Saturday morning.  Google Maps told us that it was a 3.5 hour drive.  Friday was miserable, wet and cold, and we were lazy.  We decided instead to set off from Melbourne at a hideously uncivilised hour on Saturday morning.  It was a good plan except I failed to turn the alarm on, despite setting the uncivilised time.  Nic woke at 7am with sunlight edging in around our curtains and said, “Oanh! It’s 7am!”  We scoffed breakfast, packed the car and ske-daddled down to Wilsons Prom as quickly as the speed limit would allow us.

We paused in Fish Creek – a little township near the Prom – for coffee at the excellent and very friendly 9 Acres coffee shop.  And we bought some ground coffee because I forgot to pack it.  (Sense a theme?)  Fish Creek is pretty much your last stop for provisions should you have forgotten anything, and its stores (we visited the cafe and I visited the petrol station/roadhouse) seem sufficiently well stocked.  The 9 Acres coffee shop had delicious looking freshly baked sourdough, and we (mildly) regretted packing our own two loaves from Melbourne.

Finally at the visitor centre at Tidal River at 11am, our hike was only briefly delayed by technology: we had booked under the old system (phoning someone) and they had since changed to an online system, and our booking could not be found.  The person checking us in was a little bit worried about the time we were setting off; we blithely reassured her that we were fit walkers, though I admit to being worried myself.  

Despite not actually starting the walk until 11.30am, we decided against the most direct route because it was along a vehicle track, which makes for hideously boring walking (not that we’d done it; just surmising).  Instead, we chose to walk along Oberon Bay, and reassess our options when we reached the vehicle track.

The walk along Oberon Bay was gorgeous.  It undulates.  It mostly hugs the coast and you get magnificent views.  You also get a patch walking along two beaches, and there is a short creek crossing, where your feet will get wet.  I personally really dislike water crossings but I’m getting much better at them.  Basically, you just have to accept that you will get wet; don’t mince about and just go (i.e HTFU).  If the weather’s alright and not too cold*, and the water might go above your ankles, you may as well take your shoes and socks off, because walking with wet socks is no fun.

(*which, let’s be honest here, it’s Australia.  It is highly unlikely to ever be too cold.)

Oberon Bay



Time to take off those shoes and socks.

After we left Oberon Bay, we headed inland towards the vehicle track (known as Telegraph Track).  At Oberon Bay campsite, we had our first close encounter with a wombat.  I love wombats.  They just seem the most ridiculous creature.  They’re large and quite round, they have massive claws and they’re vegetarian.  Also, their poo is square.  I’ve only ever seen wombats at dusk, disappearing into the undergrowth, so seeing one in broad daylight that was more interested in chewing grass than bounding away from me felt pretty special.  We watched for a while, and then we continued walking.  (Weekend wombat count: 3. As we saw two by the side of the road when driving in.)

As we reached the Telegraph Track around 2pm and we still had another 13kms to go, we decided to just follow the vehicle track all the way to the lighthouse.  There are options to take a walking track at various parts, and to detour out to the sourthernmost point of Australia’s mainland, imaginatively called South Point.  We figured we’d do them on the way back.

No bones about it, it was a hard slog.  Harder than any walking I can recall doing but predominantly because we were not stopping to rest as often or for as long as I probably needed, and I was worried about getting to the lighthouse in the dark, and I was worried about the reported steep last patch.  It is a beautiful walk, through varying Australian coastal scrub and eucalypt forests, with patches of wetter forest and ferns.

There are plenty of track markers giving distances and times.  This was the first time on a walk that I did mental mathematical exercises, which were a regular part of our rides during our bike tour.  I worked out what pace we had been doing, and what pace we needed to still be doing in order to make it to the lighthouse before dark.  I am notorious for freaking out about it getting dark, to which my partner usually says, “Oanh, take your sunglasses off,” and then all is well and the light is much brighter than I had realised.  Also, I tend to conservatively estimate my abilities, and occasionally remind myself, If Nic thinks I can do it, I can do it.  However, on this walk, I learned that Nic views me as the voice of reason of what our capabilities are.  I’m sure this means we strike a balance, because nothing has ever gone as disastrously wrong as I’m capable of imagining… (I’m a fan of survivor stories, so I’m very good at imagining disasters.)

Near dusk, we approached the lighthouse.  The notoriously steep bit?  It deserves its notoriety. Even if you were not tackling it after 20kms in a mere 5 hours, it would be considered steep.  I’m not good at gradients, but there are two patches of very ridiculously stupidly steep shortly before the lighthouse; each patch is about 200 – 300m long.  

The lighthouse. 



Lighthouse complex, from the top of the lighthouse. 



Compost bins with a view.  

I admit to being pretty excited that the lighthouse collected organic waste for composting.

We were warmly greeted by the park rangers and settled into our cottage quickly.  The complex has 3 cottages for accommodation.  One is the couples cottage, which (strangely enough) sleeps two.  The other two sleep groups.  We were staying in the smaller of the two cottages, which could sleep a total of 8.  The large cottage can sleep 12, I think (I kinda was not listening at that point of the tour…)  That evening, there were another pair and a group of 3 women.  The large cottage was apparently full as was the couples cottage, but we heard not a peep from them, nor did we even see anyone except for the others in our cottage and a mysterious pair who walked past our window in the morning.  

Nic defeated me in a game of Scrabble (curse him!) that evening as we waited for our dinner of lamb stew to cook.  Hot tip: don’t cook stew when you’re ravenous.  It takes forever.  It was rather delicious when we were finally able to consume it, and we had a strange instant ‘self-saucing chocolate cake’ for dessert (which may have tasted much better if, ooh, I’d remembered to pack butter …)

We had two nights accommodation booked at the lighthouse, which I highly recommend.  I mean, why trek out 20++kms, sleep, only to turn around and do it all again the following day when you can instead, laze about the lighthouse complex, take a leisurely tour of the lighthouse complex, mooch about the lighthouse complex and go WOMBAT STALKING at the lighthouse complex.  

During the excellent and informative lighthouse tour (although I ended up being the girly swot who answered all the questions because I happen to be reading a novel – Between the Oceans – that involves lighthouse-living.  I’m often the girly swot on a tour.  Sorry.) we went to the top of the lighthouse and emerged to check out the view.  As soon as I stepped out I said, Wombat! because the sneaky creature had decided that it would meander along the main path while we were all on top of the lighthouse!  (Weekend Wombat Count: 4)

Later that afternoon (around dusk), we spotted more wombats, and I even had the chance to sit down and have a meal with one.  Well, s/he was munching on some grass, and I got real close (less than a metre away), and then just sat down to watch.  I video-d her/him and Instagrammed it, so get thee an Instagram account and check it out. (or, just follow this link.)  After a few more minutes, I kinda felt like I was intruding, so I left.  (Weekend Wombat Count: 7) But that would have been the highlight of my weekend except …

Later again that evening when we were out wandering around the lighthouse complex looking at the stars, we startled two wombats who gallumphed off in different directions: one away from us (tick) and another directly towards us (uh oh).  It charged us, and I’m still not sure if that was a very interesting form of self-preservation (attack being the best form of defence and all that) or if its senses just weren’t quite right.  We, being slow-witted creatures, did not get out of the way fast enough.  Good thing too because when it got quite near, it veered around us.  For an enormous thing, it has excellent maneuverability.  Also, we were kinda incapacitated by the giggles.  It really is hilarious to be charged by a wombat.  And that, my friends, is the highlight of my life. (Weekend Wombat Count: 9)

Wombat stalking at dusk.

We walked out via Little Waterloo Bay, crossing the peninsula’s isthmus and Telegraph Track to finish the hike by retracing our steps along Oberon Bay.  This was another gorgeous walk through a variety of landscapes, dropping in and out of coastal scrub and rainforest.

Looking back to the lighthouse, on our way to Waterloo Bay.

(Weekend Wombat Count: 16. 16 Wombats!  Also, 3 emus, 4 rabbits and a lot of wallabies)

Frocktails in Melbourne = Mocktails

So, many of you will recall the wonderful Frocktails evening organised by lovely Kat last year.  Well, this year, Kat has organised the Frocktails extravaganza in Sydney.  As some of us cannot make it, I and Helen and others we mooted the idea with at Social Sewing thought it would be fun to have a companion event on the same evening.

The real event is in Sydney.  Details are over on Kat’s blog, and linked above.  This is the companion event in Melbourne, hence Mocktails has so many meanings my head is in a spin.  It’s the Melbourne Frocktails, and it’s not the main event, geddit? Boom tish!

Date: Saturday 13 September

Venue: Probably Brunswick Mess Hall, (400 Sydney Road, Brunswick) but I haven’t booked yet.

Cost will be approx $50 per person, plus drinks but I will confirm that once I have numbers and venue etc.

If you would like to come, please let me know.  You can use whatever Internet means suit you best (this here blog post, Twitter, or Instagram).  It’s important that whatever means you notify me, that you leave me an email address, so please direct message me if via Twitter or Instagram including your email, or just make sure you complete the relevant bit of the comment form if commenting.   

Deadline for letting me know that you would like to attend is end of Friday 22 August 2014.