Wicking beds, stained

The other day I decided now was the time to stain the garden beds. There’s nothing edible growing in them (The zucchini has all but had it) and they were looking a bit grey and sad. I decided I’d stain them with linseed oil. I bought the pre-mixed ‘anti mould’ stuff that is 65% turps. You have to mix it with turps anyway, to get it to sink it. Boy did it stink! But the beds look great. It’s subtle but they are much richer in colour, and feel smoother.

Here is the bed before:

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And after:

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Stained bed in foreground, unstained behind.

I did two coats on all of them, and I think the ends of the logs and the sides that get the most weather could probably do with another. You could practically hear the wood soaking in the oil.

Before:

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After:

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I’d like to get in and do one more coat before winter sets in, because they’re still a bit dry. I really enjoyed spending some time out there, getting up close and personal with the beds. It’s a good opportunity to check in and find any issues with them. I think an annual stain will have to go on the calendar!

Gluten free apricot choc chip and coconut cake

Recently I had a craving for a cake. Actually I frequently have a craving for this cake. It has been my favourite for many years, and was always my birthday cake request. The juicy chunks of apricot, crumbly cake and solid nuggets of dark chocolate are hard to forget. Of course I haven’t had it since I went gluten free, but the other day I thought I’d see if I could find a recipe because maybe I could adjust it.

I found a version here that looked about right, and to my joy there was only a small amount of flour, proportionally. This, plus the fact that the coconut is providing a lot of the body makes it a really good candidate for de-glutenising. I’m not much of a fan of coconut myself, but it takes a gentle back seat here, there’s basically no coconut flavour in the cake itself.

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Some notes:

  • You can use any juice you like to soak the apricots, just bear in mind that this will affect the flavour – I used apple because that’s what I had on hand and it was fine, but a bit sweeter.
  • Any kind of coconut is fine – desiccated, flakes, whatever.
  • You can also use any gluten free flour mix. I use the America’s Test Kitchen blend which I mix myself, but you can use whatever you have to hand. Bear in mind this cake doesn’t need gums – I don’t like using mixes with gums unless they need it, I find it makes things chewy and tough. All personal preference of course. You can use self raising if you like and then just add 1 tsp of baking powder instead of three.
  • The original recipe calls for choc chips. I prefer to chop my own because then the pieces melt slightly and you get little molten pockets when the cake is hot, and delicious seams when it’s cool. Chips are designed to keep their shape and don’t have the same effect. Do what’s easiest for you, though – the other reason is I usually have dark chocolate to hand anyway.
  • If you yourself are fine with gluten but you are making this for someone who has an intolerance, or is celiac, please prepare appropriately. Make sure you have washed your bowl and cake pan VERY thoroughly, in very hot water, and don’t use a wooden spoon or a bowl with scratches, as these can harbour flour. Contamination is a real issue and can make people really sick.

 

Gluten free apricot, choc chip and coconut cake (with no gums)

Ingredients

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup apricot nectar or other juice

125g butter

2/3 cup raw sugar

2 eggs, separated

1 cup coconut

1 cup gluten free plain flour

1/2 cup almond meal

3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

 

 Method

Chop the apricots and soak them  in the nectar for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Grease a round cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks and beat.

Stir in the coconut, the  flour and the apricot mixture. The mix should look quite wet. If it’s merely moist, add a couple of dashes of a neutral tasting oil like rice bran or sunflower.

Add chocolate and stir.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then fold into the mixture.

Bake for one hour.

Stand for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Definitely eat at least one slice of this while it’s hot, because the little pockets of hot chocolate are fantastic.

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And now, for the jungle itself.

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This right here is view B of Butterick 6102, just scraping it in for Jungle January.

I’ve had this sateen from Spotlight for ages now – I saw it while I was trying not to buy fabric (an ongoing struggle) and I just kept on thinking about it so eventually I went back and got some. I think maybe I got 3m of it, given that I just barely scraped this pattern out of it. I was always intending to make it into a skirt like this – A line, big pleats, yoke. But I was intending to draft it myself. However, I have yet to follow through on my intention to finish my craftsy skirt drafting class before January is up.

I seem to be having a little burst of sewing mojo, and I was sitting there last night, wanting to sew something, with nothing on the cards. I was thinking about my SWAP plans (have I mentioned that I am doing this yet?) and also just about what my wardrobe actually needs. And more skirts was the answer – I want to make some tops but I don’t wear the ones I have because I don’t have enough skirts that fit me and that I like. I wasn’t up for drafting right that minute, and waiting till I got around to the drafting was causing a hitch in my plans. I didn’t want to sew something less practical and necessary for my wardrobe. So I thought ‘I bet I have a skirt pattern like that’.

I actually don’t have a huge number of skirt patterns, on the principle that most skirts are variations on a theme so why buy multiple copies of the same thing? Especially when it’s easy enough to hack a skirt pattern if you have a shape that fits you, to make a pleated skirt out of an A-line, etc. But I bought B6102 in a sale because the line drawing shows a nice basic with a good shape, and not just some ‘attached pleated rectangle to yoke’ business. I’m not paying $5 for that rubbish. Nope. But this one has an A-line shape, with three big pleats front and back – or four, depending on which view you sew. Last night I was a bit hesitant because the cover is a bit… well. Frumpy and/or school girl

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Those drawing ladies know it, too. They know. You don’t have to tell them, thanks.

I could only find a couple of examples of this skirt made up. But I believe in line drawings. And muslins. So I whipped up a quick muslin and I was sold. I cut it out last night and today I spent some time putting it together. The pattern is listed as a ‘fast and easy’ and it certainly was easy, but it took me something like three and a half hours, cutting not included, because I took the time to put it together properly. I also underlined it.

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Sorry about the crappy night time photo, but hopefully you can still see the details. I wanted to line the skirt but wasn’t sure how to navigate the pleats and the side seams and the zip, so I simply underlined it, by basting the lining onto the top of the skirt and letting it hang loose below. The lining is cut to the view A length, which is pretty short – just on knee length for me, unhemmed. If I made view A I’d want to add a couple inches.

I didn’t sew down the pleats, either, which did add some time because it meant more basting and wrangling than if I had sewn them shut as per the pattern. I did this on my muslin and didn’t like the look of them for this version but I would like to try it for a future version.

I also skipped the construction order and put the back together, with yoke and facing, did the same with the front, and then sewed the side seams last. I think I am going to start doing this as often as possible, because of the ease of adjusting. I dealt with the facing by folding over and sewing the seam allowance on the bottom, and then top stitching from the front. I thought about top stitching in light green or aqua but stuck with white, in the end.

I promise the hem is not uneven, I just stand wonky a lot.

These photos are a bit variable, because we took them at the end of our regular evening walk. It was a bit windy and bright, so I didn’t get as many good ones to chose from as usual. Also, S very kindly took them, but he was feeling a bit unwell so was not as open to direction as he sometimes is. The closeups, for instance, are all from his head-height and give me slight vertigo because of the angle:

But hey, I am not complaining. He is very helpful and supportive and I am grateful for the photo assistance. I couldn’t help resist showing you some scenery, though:

We live in a very beautiful place.

There’s a hawk in that photo, too. Here’s a close up

ANYWAY. Skirt. My waist is 102cm any way I measure it, which is outside of the size range of this pattern. but I know from bitter experience that if I make a skirt to my actual size, it basically falls off my hips. My theory is that there’s a couple of inches that are very smooshable. So I made up a size 22 muslin, which is Waist 94cm, Hips 117cm (and also the size indicated by my full bust measurement of 112cm). The muslin was slightly too big, so for the final version I made a size 22 front, and a size 20 back with a 1cm wedge taken from the centre seam, tapering to nothing, for my swayback. I’m REALLY happy with the final fit. Feels very secure at my waist without being constricting, even when I sit.

The pattern calls for a regular zipper, but I didn’t have any the right length and colour and also I’m crap at them so I just did an invisible zipper, although I sewed a bit close to the teeth so it takes some finagling to do up and that makes me worried it’ll jam or break eventually. I need to put a hook and eye in but I didn’t have one big enough so I’ll pick one up tomorrow.

It gapes up the top above the zip but every single photo has it covered by my shirt so I guess that’s not a problem!

Speaking of the shirt, I also made that today. Yet another Kirsten Kimono tee, out of ‘performance knit’ from spotters. This is expensive for a spotlight fabric – something like $24 a metre – but is the good stuff. It’s what I make my bike shorts out of, and it holds up well. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t put the ‘take a wedge out of the front for cheater FBA’ adjustment on the actual pattern (I have now), so the front gaped a bit. To compensate I pulled the binding very tight at the front, so it bunches, but I’d rather that than gaping.

One of my more flattering angles. I guess this is how S sees me all the time… gosh.

I have enough of this fabric to make another one if it annoys me too much, as well as some other, thinner, white knit that needs something doing with it. Binding is a 2″ binding in the usual way. I added 1cm to the shoulders – next time I might leave it off the back, as I find the shoulder seam migrates to the front. I serged the seams because I had white thread in my machine already so why not? I cut the sleeves with an extra 1.5cm, with the theory that a larger turnover might make for a less wibbly hem. That appears to have been true, it’s much neater than my last few. Hems are just sewn with a zigzag.

The hem on the skirt is a bit shorter than as per pattern, because I didn’t have quite enough to cut it out to length. So I’d say it’s maybe 1.5″ shorter? Hem is just serged and turned up an inch. I really like the length, though. I am so pleased with this pattern – I found it to be really well drafted. I can’t speak to the instructions because I skipped them beyond peering at the photos for suggested construction order but it goes together like any skirt, and the pattern markings are clear what to do with the pleats etc. I really like the way the pleat in the centre back seam is drafted around the zipper. Very clever. There’s another view with a different arrangement of pleats, and I’d like to give that a whirl.

I’m very glad I was too lazy to draft my own skirt! This one’s a winner.

 

The Sav-Anna dress

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Hot off the back of the struggles with my last BHL Anna dress, I thought I’d launch into this one, to try out the adjustments I’d made last time.

Insides. I love the contrasting zip – you can’t see it at all from the outside. I managed french seams throughout this time, neck and shoulders just serged and turned again.

The fabric is a zebra print rayon from Spotlight – it comes as a black and white print, and I dyed it green using Dylon dye. I initially did it in the washing machine and it came out a pale pale mint colour, so I re-did it in a pot on the stove. The pot wasn’t really big enough so there were a few areas with less dye uptake, but with the pattern you can’t really see them. I cut around the biggest areas. The dye colour is imaginatively called ‘green’.

I cut everything on the cross grain to have the pattern going the way I wanted, and I got this out of 3m of fabric, since the fabric was quite wide. I cut the skirt 4″ shorter than the pattern, knowing it would be still too long, which it was. But when I trimmed the hem after trying on somehow it came out all wonky and one side was already a bit shorter than I wanted it – I guess I wasn’t paying much attention by that point. So I evened it out and serged it and left it at that. Luckily I had bought thread that exactly matches the colour.

I cut the bodice with adjustments made last time – an extra inch on each bodice seam tapering to nothing at the underarm. But it came out too big! I think this is because it’s a loose, drapey fabric, AND it’s on the cross grain, so it doesn’t really need as much wriggle room as my last version, in a much firmer fabric, did. I unpicked and sewed in smaller, so there’s still probably an extra 1/2″ at the side seams. I’m not sure I like it, it makes it just loose enough that it feels a bit frumpy.

However, it maybe doesn’t matter because this dress is probably doomed. Even as making it I was worried it would be too much. In theory, I really like it. But I think it’s not ME enough to feel ok wearing something so loud. I am debating whether to give it some time and a few wearings, or whether to just take it apart now and make it into a skirt and a top. I would probably wear it a lot as a skirt and a top, separately! Trouble being, I’m in dire need of some plain black skirts and without that I’m not sure what I’d pair it with. I have a real hard time finding decent quality bottom-weight fabric, here. And maybe the dress will grow on me? Objectively I think it probably actually looks better on me than the last, teal version. But I just don’t feel as at home in it.

I was going to say that at least I made it for Jungle January. But zebras don’t live in the jungle, they live in the Savannah. So, this is my Sav-anna dress! I did try a little tiger claw action but they were so ridiculous I’ll only show you my reaction to them:

 

 

Anna, thy charms my bosom flatten

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How’s that for a more interesting title? Thanks, Robbie Burns.

Here is my second version of the By Hand London Anna dress.

My photoshoot yielded some blown out results and then I got lazy and used a preset to adjust them. They look overprocessed now, so I apologise. The colours are pretty accurate, though.

The fabric is rayon from DK fabrics – it was labelled ‘lycocell’ but that’s rayon, pretty much. I bought it at the same time as I got the black rayon I used for my first Anna. This one feels thicker and denser – once I washed it on warm (to avoid distressing shrinkage later) it thickened up even more and now it hefts almost like a heavy silk. As you can see it’s pretty wrinkly too but as I’ve said time and again, that’s natural fabrics for you! It’s less obvious irl and I don’t mind it. This is straight off the line, no ironing, mind you. I took it out of the washer as soon as it was done and the wrinkles just fell out, so that’s a plus! But a few hours of wearing it means it wrinkled again. That’s life.

I cut the same size as last time – size 18 bodice, no adjustments. I was going on auto though and cut the skirt out at a 20 without thinking. That proved providential, in the end ~~foreshadowing~~. When I first sewed it up I did NOT get a good fit – I had a boob squish situation:

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It’s hard to take a photo of it, but trust me it was VERY obvious in 3D. You can kind of see in the above photo that my boob is kind of square. It was like someone had wrapped a rubber band around my bust. This is how I felt about it:

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Not good. Not good. The back was also too tight. Like, sausage casing tight. I spent a while mucking around and unpicking seams and resewing them. I tried sewing the side seams at 5cm instead of 1.5. That reduced but didn’t fix the issue. So I took out the zip and sewed that with a smaller seam. But then I sewed it in so one side was back to front, and had a mini hissy fit when I realised. I put it to one side, making a mini WIP pile with my B6055 and refused to sew anything for a week or so, because sewing is stupid.

After photographing and blogging B6055, I started to feel better about it – and thank you everyone for you nice comments about it! It helped a lot. I think high expectations were the cause of a lot of my disappointment, although I still shake my head at the hem and zip. But I no longer felt like sewing was stupid and awful, so I picked up Anna again. I re-set the zip and tried it on and my boobs were still squished. So going off of what I’d seen in the difference between the bodice shaped in B6055 and Anna, I decided to insert a 2″ panel in the side seam. With seam allowances this meant I added approximately 1.5″. This solved the problem entirely, although I did end up taking a dart out of the top because it was making the sleeves gape at the underarm.

Can you see the panel? It’s just visible.

I then took the front pleats in a bit because it was a bit roomy there. I had originally sewn them a bit smaller so I probably just put them back to as-drafted. I could maybe have taken the back darts a bit smaller, too, I am getting a bit of gaping there, but I do also use that room when moving in other ways, so that’s fine. My black version sometimes feels a bit tight across the mid-back when I’m sitting at my desk, and I didn’t want to replicate that.

I sewed one of the pleats a bit too high up but I’m not going back to fix it.

I also took a wedge out of the back neck, as that gapes on my black version and I find it really annoying.

My black version does have the boob squish issue but not as drastically – I suspect this fabric has less give and so there was no wriggle room at all.

I cut the skirt at the ‘midi’ line. But it looked like it was going to be really short, to me, so I cut it with 2″ extra length, figuring I could always cut it off later. Turns out it was basically the perfect length, I just turned up a 1cm hem. If I made this length again I think I would cut it 3″ longer and do a 1″ hem.

I had originally sewn the skirt together with 1.5cm french seams. Then when I realised the skirt was a size bigger than the bodice I just sewed them so the seam allowance was 2cm, but I only went a little way down, figuring I’d finish them off once the bodice was fitted. This was convenient, as I simply unpicked that, left the seams at 1.5cm, and it fit the bodice nicely! I compared the sizes and I still think the 18, adjusted, is better for me than the 20, because of the shape of where I need the extra room.

I am not sure the waist is sitting in totally the right place – I feel like it emphasises my stomach a bit. But then perhaps that’s just because I have a stomach! Whatever, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. There is a bit of folding happening there, though, perhaps I could shorten it a half centimetre or so next time. I almost certainly can’t be bothered, however!

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Zip is from Lincraft because Spotlight didn’t have anything approaching the right colour and anyway, I think Lincraft’s haberdashery range is better in variety and quality. Don’t ask them for help though, I have asked about tailor’s hams and tracing wheels and no one there knew what I was talking about. I had to explain what carbon paper was before I could explain a tracing wheel, and I’m pretty sure the young woman serving me still didn’t know what I was talking about. Madness – but I shouldn’t trash talk them because I then sent them a mildly cranky email about it (my NY resolution a few years ago was that if I cared enough to complain about something to other people, I should let the business know as well) and got a very quick, very polite email thanking me and saying they’d do some more stock-knowledge training.

ANYWAY. The inside started out being mostly French seams but ended up with a fair bit of serging as I lost patience, and had to sew smaller seams. The waist is sewn and then serged to finish (plus a few zigzags where I ripped it whiel unpicking too aggressively. Ooops! Well within the seam allowance though so I’m not worried). The neck, arms and hem are all serged and turned over. The facing is SO annoying in my last version, and I just couldn’t be bothered. So far I think the neck finish looks just as good as the facing does, but we’ll see how I lasts – I suspect it will pucker over time.

I am really really pleased with how the zip went in the final time. The waist seam matched beautifully.

I am very glad to have this in my wardrobe! I pretty much only wear me-mades now, and since I’m not a fast sewer that means my wardrobe rotation is pretty limited. I am finding I need another dress I can wear when there’s a heatwave – the last few weeks have had temps up to 40C. This fits the bill perfectly! And I also needed one for when the weather is maybe 30C or so – and my blue linen works perfectly for that – the underlining makes it a bit too warm for heatwave wear. I showed this to S and he said ‘you’re so clever! You just whipped up two whole dresses this [long] weekend!’ I very politely did NOT laugh in his face, I just bathed in the praise instead! :P

I have another dress cut out to sew and I am hesitating starting it because I feel like the sewing Gods have kind of turned their faces from me… tell me, how do you all get over the hump when you feel like everything you touch turns to ashes? Quick cleanser project? Just persevere? Turn to knitting? Let me know!

How do you find ‘good enough’?

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This here is Butterick 6055, and I have some mixed feelings about it. Without feeling the need to ablogogise, I am stating for the record: this is a very imperfect make. It is not made at the peak of my skills. And I think I might be ok with that (mostly).

These photos were kindly taken by my partner, S, at noon on a very sunny day, so they’re pretty high contrast. Not ideal photo taking conditions but at least you can see the dress clearly! It also means I have more facial expression, although many of them are versions of exasperation! I enjoyed myself, anyhow. They’re taken in Soldier’s Memorial Park in Unley, after a morning at the Unley Museum. My dude knows how to treat me to a good time! (No sarcasm involved, it was lovely).

I fell in love with this pattern a little bit and had visions of a breezy, simple summer dress in linen. I was mildly put off my the slightly strange shape of the sleeves in the line drawing (see below, they’re kind of… tubular?) and the fact that only about three other people have made it. Which is not necessarily a sign of anything, but can be.

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But I was in love with the idea of this dress (perhaps an inauspicious start! Expectations to live up to) and in fact paid full price for this pattern, something I never do. Full price patterns here in Australia are something in the ballpark of $20, which is too much for me. I will pay that for an indie pattern but not a big 4 – I usually save a list of patterns I want and then wait for one of Spotlight’s frequent sales. Which is partly why I have very few vogue patterns – they don’t go on sale much. Butterick doesn’t either, although it does happen if you can wait. But I couldn’t! I wanted this dress and I wanted it NOW. So full price it was.

The fabric is a cotton linen blend from Spotlight, from the stash. It has a VERY loose weave, to the point where it would be a bit scandalously see through by itself. Because of this, and to tone down wrinkling, I underlined the bodice with a navy lawn, also from spotlight. I just basted the bodice pieces together by machine before sewing. The skirt is lined with the same lawn. I had 3 metres of the linen, significantly less than it calls for. I just squeezed it out, by not doing the pockets and some pattern tetris. The skirt is a 1/2 circle ish skirt, which uses a reasonable amount of fabric. Because my fabric was thin, it limited the tetris I could do, and I was glad of the centre front and back seams in the skirt pattern.

The collar calls for sew in interfacing, but doesn’t say what weight. Is it just me or is that a bit strange? Interfacing weight can totally change a pattern. I used a medium-heavy weight because I do like a dramatic collar, but I’m not sure a lighter one mightn’t have been better, especially as there are a lot of layers here. There’s the fashion fabric, underlining, and the collar facing, and the interfacing. I like how it looks but it does feel a bit poufy and voluminous when on.

All wrinkles are after a morning of sitting in the car and walking around. Pretty acceptable, I think.

I made a straight size 22, the largest size. My measurements are, high bust 41″, full bust 45″. The pattern measurements are size 22 fits 44″ bust, finished garment bust measurement 48″. I wasn’t sure how an FBA would manage with this shape of bodice, so I muslined to see and it looked fine out of the envelope. I think a sleeve shape like this is kind of more forgiving my dint of kind of not fitting anyone – everyone is going to have bubbles under their arms, etc, so there’s not as big a difference for a large bust.

I say I didn’t make many changes but I did muck with the sleeves a bit. The first muslin, I basically couldn’t move my arms! It had huge batwings of fabric between my arm and torso and I couldn’t lift my arms much at all. I didn’t manage a photo, unfortunately. Given the scarce but hard-won knowledge I have pieced together about sleeves, I theorised that I needed to cut the arms higher up. Here is a good article about sleeve fit for tightness vs movement, and the last image in this pin shows how a low sleeve/armhole restricts movement. I often have this issue because when patterns are graded up they don’t reduce the armhole size and proportions. I need a larger sleeve but not a larger armhole.

Anyhow, I laid the BHL Anna bodice on top to see how they  looked together:

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A pretty drastic difference! You can also see the interesting collar piece, here. I ended up laying the Anna bodice sort of in between the centre seam and the side seam of the 6055 pattern, and drafting in the ‘sleeve’ shape. It’s much higher and closer to the shape one’s arm and torso actually make.

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Anna on top, adjusted 6055 between, original pattern below. I think this also solves my current Anna fitting issues – I need an inch more room there at the side seam, where the sleeve starts.

I also traced an inch more room up the top seam, but only on the ‘sleeve’ portion. So the shoulder seam still sits in the same place, but once it leaves my shoulder there is more room up top than the pattern has as drafted.

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I shortened the waist by 1″, just at the lengthen/shorten line. I needed a bit more room in the stomach area, so I drew the darts back in a bit thinner after I adjusted the length.  I had initially raised the neck 1″ because it was a bit scandalous on the muslin. However, with all the extra thicknesses in the real version, that was too high and I lowered it back to the original length. My second muslin looked pretty great, so I forged ahead – this muslin did make me think it would be nice as a top, as well. It’s long enough on me to be a top without adjusting.

The sleeves with the adjustment are MUCH better. They still slightly restrict movement upwards, as all cut-on sleeves will unless they are totally baggy. But I can still do this:

It just strains a bit. I actually am pretty happy with the general fit of this now. The bits that I am unhappy with are all with the finishing. The first trouble came with the collar. I had sewn the collar on in the muslin because I couldn’t understand the instructions and thought I’d need practice. That helped, but I should have sewn it with all the layers to test. There is one step in the pattern that I straight up do not understand, I cannot see where it would come in or how it would make sense. I also misunderstood and sewed the back of the collar together, and trimmed it. However, this is supposed to be left unsewn and then sewn to the back neck, and finished off with the facing. So because I trimmed it, the seam was a bit shallower and it doesn’t sit quite right.

I feel like the fabric wants to fold a bit wider out from my neck than it is, and it’s pulled back in by the back of the collar. This is not helped by the almost spongey effect caused by two layers of loose weave over tight weave interfacing and underlining – it feels and behaves almost like scuba fabric.

If i did it again I would also not overlap the back as much – I overlapped it less than called for but even then I feel like it pulls. I would sew it so the points meet but don’t overlap. I also wouldn’t cut the corner of the collar piece, I would sew it on square. It seemed to want to go like that but that wasn’t how the pattern said to sew it (sorry, I don’t think this makes sense without the pattern piece in front of you!).

I read someone else saying they had to fuss with the collar, I wonder if this was the same problem? I do wonder if it’s the larger sizes/larger busts that cause this? I am not sure if my suggested fixes would work, I am just sort of fumbling around by instinct here. I also feel like the top sits a bit far back.

The pattern drawing clearly has the top of the collar sitting in front of the collar seam. But it looks to me like the pattern photo of the real made up version might have it behind the seam. I did think about trimming it down but in the end, I like it enough. It took some fussing and pressing but I am ok with it now. Enough to not want to muck around with fixes I’m not sure will work! Here are the guts of the collar:

I used a combo of serging and french seams throughout. By the time I got to the hem and the sleeve hems I just used the teal that was already in my overlocker rather than changing back to navy.

The facing actually sits pretty well once it’s on but I am going to go back and tack it down anyway. The interfacing is showing because I didn’t have quite enough self fabric to cut the collar facing out all the way down. I will be going back and trimming this.

The other issues I had were the hem, which was a royal pain to sew. I have worked out that the linen dropped a LOT. Like, three inches. So I sewed up the suggested 2″ hem but it was way way too long still. So I broke my own rule of not doing anything irreversible after 10pm (bad decisions happen that way) and just serged that hem off. That left me with a slightly wonky serged edge, and not much hem to turn up. I just aggressively sewed it by eye, and it turned out pretty wonky. However, after a firm pressing the next morning, it turned out my eye was much better at getting a straight-sitting hem in than I thought. The 2″ hem was, I assume, to give it heft, but I think the serged and turned hem does this much better, in a linen, than a deep hem would – it sits almost like it’s got horsehair braid in it. Next time I would do a shallow hem but with a ribbon or bias binding to turn it up and give it heft.

A twirl and a view of a wibbly hem.

It looks ok-ish. It’s absolutely far from my best work, and I am disappointed with myself for pushing on when I knew I was making irrational decisions. On the other hand this was languishing needing a hem and a zip to be done for about a month so at least it’s done now? I was going to go back and rehem it but you know what? I probably won’t. It’s good enough. The sleeve hems are also pretty terrible, and I WILL go back and fix them because that’s quick and comparatively easy and will make a big difference since they’re at eye-height and will get seen. Speaking of zips:

YIKES. A total hash of a job, partly through rushing and carelessness, and partly through struggling with the loose weave of the fabric + underlining making it kind of spongey and hard to manipulate. The waist seam doesn’t even line up!

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I had said I would go back and fix this zip. I probably won’t. I think I should but I also think the worst bit is under my arm and won’t show, and I am not confident I will actually improve on it if I do it again. I will go back and reinforce the seam above the zip, though, as it gets a lot of strain when I’m taking the dress on and off.

So, all up… mixed feelings. Mostly I think I am cross with myself for rushing and not taking care when I knew I should. On the other hand, doing that got me a finished object as opposed to a WIP which was starting to linger. I know there are things I should go back and fix, and I also know that I probably will only do about half of those. But I also also know that that’s because the other half are things that are signs of poor sewing, but don’t actually show that much in the finished object – or at least not to a non-sewist. I certainly have owned bought skirts with worse hems, but that doesn’t make me feel better for having done such a poor one. I guess that’s a good sign about where my skills are at, but it doesn’t feel good!

I am pretty sure, however, that those annoyances will fade with time, as the dress becomes more of an object and less of a project. And in the meantime, I have a dress which I quite like and I think I’ll grow to love, if I can just get over myself!

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Stand alone drip irrigation system

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As I’ve mentioned before, the beds with the trees in them are a good way from any tap, and basically all the surrounding areas are walkways. I wanted to put in a watering system but I didn’t want to do too much digging, as all those areas are still in flux. Maybe one day I’ll put a more permanent one in. For now, I decided I’d pop in a stand alone system that I could connect up to that regular garden hose. The downside of this is it’s pretty susceptible to getting dirt in the system – I don’t expect this to last more than a couple of years, for that reason.

This post is mostly for my own reference on what bits I used, but it might be useful to someone else, who knows? Please don’t use this as a how to run irrigation if you’ve never done it before. There are HEAPS of good resources on the net for understanding the requirements of irrigation, and the hows and whys, and you should get across that stuff first. Here’s a good example, and here. But maybe it will give someone an idea of what’s possible for a simple system. You don’t have to have a complex, multi-tiered system to benefit from irrigation. This whole set up cost me just over $50 – well ok that’s cheating, I already had some of the bits. Let’s say $100 for two duplicate systems, watering six trees total. And it’s going to let me water my trees deeply and thoroughly while saving me effort and water. It’ll probably pay for itself within the year. I bought everything at Bunnings, and it’s all really standard stuff.

If you are creating a system like this, as well as the parts specified you will also need something to cut the pipe (I just used regular scissors but it’s probably worth buying a proper cutter because the scissors give dodgy edges), poly pipe clamps to keep the connections secure, a hole punch for connecting in the 4mm bits (you can do without but it’s a pain, just buy the three dollar thingo) and probably some cable ties. You should probably just stock up on cable ties anyway. They are handy as. It’s also not a bad idea to have these repairers for if you make a mistake or want to move where your watering bits are.

The photos aren’t really very descriptive, unfortunately, because it all just looks like a black tube with another black tube. So I drew this very precise and professional outline:

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Here is the start of the system. In order to limit dirt entering the system, I bought a hose to 19mm connector. I connected it to a bit of 19mm poly pipe and clamped it off with a cable tie. I could have used an end cap but I didn’t. Cable ties work fine, especially since no actual water will be going through this bit. I’ve used cable ties to end off a system and they’re fine but you do have to check them regularly to make sure they haven’t atrophied and slipped off and you’re pouring water onto the garden and the first time you know about it is when you get a water bill that’s 5 times what it usually is. Ask me how I know.

Anyway, this goes on the end of the system when the hose is elsewhere, closing it off. It’s on the right in the next photo, sorry it’s not very clear.

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The start of the system is an adapter piece which was about $2:

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This attaches to the water filter/pressure regulator. You can buy these all in one, just make sure you get the right size – 19mm or 13mm. My system is 19mm because I already had that size poly pipe but really it only needs 13mm, because it’s short and simple. If you’ve got a more complex system with different levels or lots of things coming off it, you’ll need 19mm to get enough pressure. Again, do your reading.

The filter/pressure regulators are sold with the bit at the top of a size to screw on to a regular tap fitting, but it’s actually got a sort of double head – you can screw the tap fitting bit off and then you’ve got a bit that fits around smaller pieces, like this clip on bit. Test this out when you’re buying stuff, before you walk away from the aisle check that everything you need to connect does actually connect. If it doesn’t I guarantee you you’ll be able to buy a $2 adapter to make them fit – its just much less annoying to figure this out the first trip.

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So, so far we have: hose clip bit (idk what that’s called?) is attached to the filter/pressure regulator. All systems should have the pressure regulator/filter on them. They’re about $12. The other end of the filter has a bit to fit into poly pipe, so it goes in that. Don’t forget to put the clamp around the poly before you shove it in there – without the clamp the first time you turn the system on it’s going to shoot apart. I just used the plastic clamps, they’re fine. I used them in my old system and they lasted five years, no worries. You’ll note that I forgot the clamp on this one and it did in fact go shooting off. Popped a clamp on and it was fine.

Then you lay the pipe the length of the system, and you pop an end cap in, with a clamp around it. That’s the basis of your super basic system. You’ve got a water delivery pipeline running the length of your bed that you can attach things into.

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You can’t really see the end cap cos it’s in shadow but it’s there. Promise.

Next bit is to actually put the watering bits in!

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My watering bits are these spectrum jets. I chose them because they distribute water over a large area (you can screw the cap on tighter or looser to adjust how much) and I want to establish a good root zone for my trees so I figure that’ll do it better than a dripper. I am not an expert so maybe this is the wrong choice. It’s the one I went with. These jets come with an attachment piece provided, so if you’re using them you don’t need to buy any connectors, you’ll just need the tube to connect the poly to where you want the watering action. Cut a generous length, connect it to the jet, connect the other end to the attachment provided, pop that in the poly pipe, you’re done. You can also, of course, buy drippers and sprinklers that come straight off the poly pipe, but I like being able to place them precisely where I want without wrestling with the poly pipe, which I find never sits in place. Give yourself more length than you think you need with the 4mm tube, better to have more give than not enough.

I ALSO have dripper tube on some of my trees. I had this on hand and I put it in and then it wasn’t dripping well. I figured it was maybe clogged up with dirt, being about 7 years old and having lain on the ground for most of that. So I replaced it with the spectrum jets but since it’s a short system and I don’t have to worry about pressure, I left it in.

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But then the spectrum jets also weren’t working very well! With a bit of mucking around and to-ing and fro-ing and exchanging of parts, I worked out that the issue was the pressure regulator. If I turned the tap up high enough to give enough pressure to the drippers, the pressure regulator was spitting out a fountain of water. I neglected to get a photo of this but it was pretty impressive. So I went back to Bunnos and got a stand-alone pressure regulator. They come in 100kPa and 300kPa – the one that comes with the filter is 200kPa. Not being totally across all of that, I went for 300kPa, and that seems to be doing the job just fine. Now everything works as it’s supposed to. I have had that experience with a pressure regulator in that past, and didn’t realise it was a problem with the regulator and not something I’d done wrong. It leads me to suspect it is not an uncommon problem. I wish I’d kept the receipt, I’d have taken it back.

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All in one filter and regulator, and the replacement in front
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All the bits come apart. Filter on the right, the pressure regulator that comes with it top left, new one bottom left.

And that’s it! A simple system, and my trees are not finally getting enough water. They look very pleased about it, too.