Going under cover

Not us. The furniture.

In March last year, I posted about turning one huge table into two smaller but much more useful ones. The smaller of the two became our front porch ‘visiting’ table, where cold drinks and tea and peanut butter cookies were consumed. It’s well under cover, but in the recent lashing torrential rain we’ve had, it got soaked, and despite being robust Japanese cedar, it didn’t enjoy the experience.

I therefore decided that a coated, water-resistant tablecloth was called for. You can get some very pretty prints these days as well as the more traditional red and white check variety, and I chose a teal Japanese-inspired print.

After that, of course, my outdoor chairs looked a bit naked. So I’ve set myself the task of making four scrappy cushion covers to beautify them, to match the tablecloth. The cushions will have to come inside at night or during bad weather, but it will make the whole set up look more intentional and elegant, and less practical/ prosaic. Or at least I hope so. In any event, the chairs will be more comfortable if the weave isn’t digging into our backsides! Maybe even some coasters or napkins might turn up eventually. You never know…

It’s not like I lack teal scraps, or anything…

The end of an era

We resisted for years, but the time has come.

Miz Lizzie

We are retiring our beloved Miz Lizzie. She’s going to our friend Mitch at Yard 5 Caravan Repairs. He’s going to lovingly do her up and let her as a holiday rental.

She’s going to be very, very well cared for. It’s sad, as she was our first and looked after us very well. We’ve had some epic adventures in her, but it’s time to move on.

Let me introduce VanEssa. She’s a 2014 Legend Wild Native 19ft/5.8m single axle caravan. And she has a bathroom. Let me be clear. If Miz Lizzie had had one of those, she’d be going nowhere. But as we get older, we’re increasingly unwilling to duck out in the middle of the night to, er, commune with nature, whether it’s in an ensuite close by or amenities at a distance. The bathroom is microscopic, but it’s there. Other advantages? She’s a full-height caravan, not a pop-top. Also the fridge/freezer is much bigger (and newer), the air conditioning is in the roof instead of at ankle level, and there are reclining chairs (straight off the Husband’s wishlist). There’s a considerable list of advantages, but I won’t bore you.

The Boss is as yet unaware of the impending change. He will be resentful of the lack of individual dog bunk, but will definitely appreciate all the extra floor space, the fact that the dog fence will now encompass a much larger area, and the larger awning will give him more shade. Also, because VanEssa is lower, it won’t be such a leap up the steps for him (he tends to attempt it in one bound in Miz Lizzie, not always successfully).

The new caravan isn’t yet ours. We do a final inspection at the end of the month, hand over our deposit, do our final trip in Miz Lizzie down to Nambucca Heads, and on our return, the new one will be delivered to us and paid for. And yes, of course I’m already planning on how to furnish and redecorate her. Do you like the name, by the way?

The interior is predictably bland, like all comparatively modern caravans, heavy on the black & white colour scheme and plastic surfaces.

That will change. She’s clean and tidy and in good shape, but she needs personality, warmth and comfort. She will be our last caravan, so I’m going to personalise her properly inside.

The storage is, predictably, laid out differently, and I haven’t had a chance to poke into every cupboard (I think the current owners might have something to say about that, as they’re still using her!). But I can see that certain things I’m used to are not present. Like drawers.

So I did a bit of very premature sewing. Storage baskets for the Husband and I to put stuff in. And yes, of course they’re scrappy. That’s a pair of worn out work pants and some colourful bits from my scrap baskets you’re looking at. I think it would be fair to say I’m champing at the bit to get in there with a tape measure and a notebook… Things are going to be colourful!

I must be patient. VanEssa is waiting for us.

We’re dry

There’s been a LOT of rain.

I’ve had questions from all over, wanting to make sure we’re OK, and we are. Knowing the local weather, when we moved here we chose a solid brick and tile house, at the top of a hill, and we’re safe and warm inside, even if the sloping back yard is a soggy quagmire and the water running down the brick path is ankle deep. We emptied our 7,000 litre/1,800 gallon garden rainwater tank earlier, so we could flush it. It took less than 24 hours to completely refill with the runoff from our 5m x 10m/16ft x 32ft shed roof.

The chooks are Not Happy, but there’s not much I can do for them. They have a tarp stretched over their yard and another over their tractor if we deem it dry enough on the grass to let them out in it. They have a warm, dry chook house filled with wood shavings and plenty of grain in the feeder.

Mouse is happy lounging about in the house until he needs to go outside, and then there is severe Princess Syndrome. If I make him wear his raincoat, only his paws and tail-tip get wet, especially if I put his hood up, but he sulks and trudges. If I don’t, he gets very wet, he tows me along at speed, shakes himself off on me at regular intervals and demands a towel-off when we get home. Lots of side-eye…

So far, the main road into town is still open. One end of a local through-road is closed where it dips down to cross the creek. It’s at least a metre under water. The main creek crossing on the highway is about 30cm below the bottom of the bridge, and rising. Low lying land in the area is under water. A small town northwest of us received 357mm/14 inches of rain in 24 hours and is currently cut off. Many roads are closed, including the No. 1 Highway north and south of here. Which means that supplies are not getting through to supermarkets and shelves are emptying.

All that said, and despite ongoing Bureau of Meteorology warnings and hourly phone alerts, the weather is  s l o w l y  moving away. By tomorrow afternoon, the worst of it will be over, the flood warnings will revert to Falling instead of Rising or Steady, and roads will slowly reopen. It’ll take a while for the supply chain to come back up to speed, but I didn’t wash in on the last tide, and my pantry is well stocked. The worst of it is the plethora of wet dog towels, and trying to dry laundry. I can normally expect wet washing to be dry within a couple of hours tops. Some of it has been on the line in the laundry for the last two days and I’m having to bend to the inevitable and use the drier. Once dry and folded it has to come into the rest of the house where the air conditioning will keep it dry rather than getting damp all over again. But seriously, if that’s the worst of my problems, I have much to be grateful for.

Give it another 24 hours and for us, the worst will be over.

ScrapHappy January

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I have invented a new scrappy garment.

It’s called the Trous-A-pron. Seriously, though, I was having a tidy-up in the sewing room a few days before Christmas and came across an old pair of the Husband’s work pants which had been cannibalised for repair patches. There was a leg and a half left attached to the waistband.

I have a lot of patches already, and this particular pair was exceptionally richly endowed with pockets. An idea formed…. So, I unpicked the inside leg seam on both sides, followed by the crotch seam from front to back, eliminating the zipper section en route. The whole leg became the lower half of the apron, minus about 30cm/12 inches of leg at the bottom. The other half leg became the bib of the apron, and the bit I’d cut off the bottom of the full leg became the front shoulder straps. The waistband became the back shoulder straps where they cross over and rejoin the apron at the waist.

Lots of fiddly unpicking. Lots of working around bumpy seams and pockets. End result: one useful, durable, extremely pockety apron for working outside in muddy, chickeny, weedy conditions. There is not a new thing in it apart from the thread.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). The list below is the most current one I have, so if you’d like me to update something, let me know in the Comments.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

Delft #7: thinking through the border

So, I put down my secret project for a couple of hours.

It was time to get cracking on the border for Delft. I’ve been putting it off because I knew that the fabric I’d bought wasn’t quite long enough now that I’d added an extra row to the bottom of the hexie panel. I knew I’d work something out, but it was going to take a bit of consideration

Sorry about the gloomy lighting, it’s been a very dark and overcast day

So, here’s the result. The border pieces are short by 8 inches each. I had enough left over to improvise cornerstones, but not the length I needed to make each side long enough to mitre the corners elegantly. Cornerstones it was, then. The borders are 10 inches wide. This meant that there would be a Y seam running diagonally up to the cornerstone. The fabric is, as you can see, very directional, so I needed a solution that would address this. So I cut half square triangles and alternated the print direction. I think it works. I’d already made the 4 pink hexie flowers thinking I might use them to disguise any, um, messy bits unsuccessful improvisation. I’m not sure about them. Do you think they look like afterthoughts, or like I’m trying to hide something?

I need to be happy with the solution before I start work, as the next stage is to press all the edges super hard, pull out all the papers and then baste the edges to the borders. Once they’re secured, I’ll make the mitre that forms the bottom of the Y seam and then insert the cornerstones. If I do the mitres first, it will inevitably mean that something doesn’t fit, there will be gaping or puckering and it will be nasty. Far better to attach the edges first and then fold away the mitre.

So that’s the plan. Probably. For now, anyway.

Juggling

Another word for busy with no tangible outcome!

I have lots of things on the go, I’m actually quite busy, but nothing really post-worthy on its own, which is why the photo is pretty random – we took doggo and a picnic to the newly-developed Riverside leisure area in Mackay for a bit of a change. Beautifully done: loungers, tables and chairs and benches under cover, very nice amenities, ample rubbish bins, and best of all, a couple of free filtered-water dispensers for people and doggos. We’ll be going back again soon.

The entire central panel of the Delft quilt is now entirely stitched together, a mammoth undertaking. I’m currently cutting borders/ working out what I want the corners to look like, preparatory to taking the project away with us when we go travelling at the end of January, as handwork. Stitching the hexie edges onto the straight border should be challenging, as well as tedious time-consuming. It’s easy for things to get puckered and bubbly if your stitch tension is too tight.

I’m making a skirt out of a thrifted pair of pants. It’s a work in progress… If it works, I’ll show it.

I made a work apron out of a pair of the Husband’s old work pants. More on that for ScrapHappy Day on the 15th.

I made a waterproof iPhone hiking pouch for a friend. Fold-over press-stud top for waterproofing, and zippered bottom for quick access.

I made a set of 3 ‘feminine hygiene’ kits for a young lady of my acquaintance who is going to need them soon. Ecologically friendly, washable, comfortable, colourful, practical, discreet, and nothing to landfill or the sewage system.

The red kurta is still on Rosita, my dress form. I have opened out the side seams and basted in muslin panels to act as patterns for the eventual final inserts. And there it has stopped. For now…

I have a green silk thrifted top that is waiting to be altered with a patterned silk insert. It’s a gorgeous colour, but as an occasional-wear item it’s not high on the To Do list.

I just finished making a set of napkins from some beautiful French red and white striped linen. I wanted super-large ones (nearly tea towel-sized), and you just can’t buy them that size.

I carved, vacuum-packed and froze the rest of our Christmas ham. I made pea and ham soup from the bone and smallest scraps. The shells from 2kg (4 pounds) of prawns are still sitting in a bag in the freezer waiting for me to make a stock from them for a bisque. The soup I made from the two chicken carcasses is almost history already. And that’s the end of the Christmas leftovers.

I am 3½ pages into the instruction book for my latest miniature kit. The booklet is 24 pages long… The kit is a surprise gift for someone, so I’m not going to be showing any pictures, but it’s one of the most content-intensive ones I’ve seen, so there are literally dozens of pieces to make for it. And I’m on a deadline. Why do I do these things to myself? Oh yes, because it’s heaps of fun!

And finally, we gave Miz Lizzie the caravan (travel trailer) a major bath and beauty treatment. After years of restrictions, we are finally getting ready for an out-of-state 1400km/870 mile trip down south to Nambucca Heads in northern NSW, where the Husband and I will both celebrate birthdays with friends and family. Miz Lizzie is looking very clean, shiny and spiffy. She will shortly be off to visit the caravan repair yard, to have two more inline bilge fans fitted to her new air conditioning system to help the cold air shoot out faster. The new system couldn’t be fitted in the old location due to size, and the new ducting is much longer, so the built-in fan loses efficiency and the cooling is reduced. We fitted one in-line fan at home to test whether it helps. It does, so she’s off this coming week to get the rest of the work done before we go away. I hope it gets done fairly quickly, as we had to strip the interior to get at the relevant ducting, and it all has to go back in again before I can clean and start packing!

So, as you can see, my comparative radio-silence has not been evidence of idleness, but rather of too many irons in the fire and not enough completion.

So clearly, my word for 2023 will continue to be FINISH.

The light of nations

It’s that time again.

The time of year when people incline their hearts and minds towards not only family gatherings, convivial company and the giving of gifts, but to change for the better, peace on earth, and goodwill towards all men. Whatever your nationality or form of belief at this time, a common theme seems to be Light. Hannukah, Diwali, the Winter Solstice and Christmas* all embrace light as a symbol, for example.

So I leave you with a little light of my own. This year, my Christmas decorations have consisted almost exclusively of lights. Perhaps my subconscious mind is telling me that all men need a light to show them the way.

Be the light.

Peace.

 

*If this is your personal belief, I give you Isaiah 60:3

Tiny sewing is done

I’ve finished the tiny sewing room model kit.

Do click on the image and zoom in for a closer look. It’s adorable. The little light really brings the whole thing to life. I changed out a few of the fabrics used; the ones they provided were a) a bit dull, and b) rather stiff. I think, for example, that my curtains are much more cheerful than the single blue one they suggested. There have been comparatively few tweaks, though. Some things I’d change, some things were not entirely clear on the instruction pages, but overall it was easier than I feared.

For the next one, I’ve added superglue to my toolkit. Sometimes you need the instant hard set, but most of the time I liked the wood glue because it allowed me to tweak, reposition and even pull apart if necessary. I’d also recommend adding rubber bands, clamps and glue stick to the toolkit, to aid with securing things so they dried in the correct position.

I’ve got another kit lined up, but this one’s going to be hush-hush as it’s a secret gift. I’ll post about it once it’s out in the open.

And now, it’s time for something completely different.

ScrapHappy December

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

After last month’s highly successful and so far, much complimented scrappy fabric necklace, I eyed the remaining triangles of batik from the Floribunda quilt with a much more assessing eye. And this is the result. A Christmas hemi-wreath, decoration, whatever you’d like to call it. I call it pretty, and hung it on a door. I love those colours!

Scrappy Christmas, everyone!

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). The list below is the most current one I have, so if you’d like me to update something, let me know in the Coments.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

How much more will fit?

It’s getting to be a LOT.

I’ve finished the cheval mirror, the stool and the fabric roll display stand. I don’t think I could squeeze a whole lot more into this miniature sewing room, and the instruction book is rapidly approaching the section on actual construction of the set.

These models are really well thought out and designed. It seems a lot, but once it’s all it, it’ll look totally like a busy sewing room, and it’s the quantity of small details that contribute to that effect. Notice, for example, the tiny white vase on the corner of the display stand, the vase of flowers, the fact that there’s two pairs of scissors (one would be completely unrealistic, right?).

Anyway, onwards. I have a lot to do today, and not on this. I expect I’ll get an hour or so later, but I’m not counting on it.

But the next piece (the chair) is calling my name…