Chunky denim

I was scuffling about in Miz Lizzie yesterday. As you do…

It struck me that her pale vinyl flooring  was easy to keep clean but a bit hard under foot. A rug was needed. Having handed over large quantities of the Husband’s hard-earned cash to buy her, I didn’t want to go and spend yet more money on a non-essential rug, so obviously, I’d have to make one. What did I have that would be the right colour, and how was I going to make it?

Something I have in large quantities is the Husband’s worn out work clothes, especially the blue denim jeans. They go down at the heels and wear away on the seat and inseam. But there’s nothing much wrong with the legs, or the pockets. Light began to dawn…

One big pair of scissors and one worn out pair of jeans later, I’m here:

denim-crochetI can’t crochet properly. But I can make a chain and then simply hook backwards and forwards along it. I’m using the largest hook I could find, an N or 10mm. The strips are roughly 10-12mm wide – very roughly! I just started cutting at the bottom of the leg and spiraled my way up by eye, no measuring or fancy ruler work. What you see here is one leg crocheted and the other cut into a continuous strip. It’s hard work; the denim is very tough and the seams resist being hooked through, but it does make a gorgeously chunky texture, and my arms are getting a workout.

It’ll make a nice, textural, washable bedside rug in the perfect colour. And that’s another pair of jeans I don’t have to throw away. Recycling in action 🙂

I’ll show you what I’m doing with the pockets another time.


Miz Lizzie 2: a pile of goodies

It turns out I won’t get to play with her over the weekend, boo!

They’ve tested the aircon, which is working fine, but the brackets the unit’s mounted on inside its cupboard are worn and the thing makes a huge din when it’s working. New brackets will take till Monday to arrive, so while we’ll get the handover and electric braking fitted to the car on Friday, Miz Lizzie herself will not be available till Monday afternoon. It’s good the problem’s getting fixed, but not so good that I have to wait, as patience is not my strong suit…

Meanwhile, I went to Spotlight to buy fabric for seat covers and curtains, based on what I could remember of the sizes. Their 20% off sale finished yesterday, so I had to do it quickly to get the reduction. I’ve got the fabrics I wanted, ticking for the seat covers and a lovely seaside themed print for the curtains. Luckily I remembered the sizes quite well, as when I went back the next day to measure the actual seats and windows, it turns out I’ve got just about enough. I can always get a metre or so more at full price if I run short.

curtain-cushion-fabricscurtain-fabric-scaleWhile we were standing in the queue for the cutting desk, clutching the two huge rolls of fabric, the Husband said “Have you seen those tiny little cheap sewing machines over there?  Do you think you could use one for the caravan?” Er, silly question, my darling… you really need to ask? Only $99, too.

lilibetSo here’s my baby Singer, Lilibet. Isn’t she little and cute? She weighs only 4.4kg (9.5 pounds). She’s got straight, zigzag, invisible hemming, edge-finishing and decorative scallop stitches as well as buttonhole stitching. There’s stitch width and length adjustment, and a reverse lever. She has regular, zipper and buttonhole feet, and a cover for the feed dogs for quilting. That’s plenty. She doesn’t have lock stitch or needle down buttons or speed control, but I can work around that. So while we’re gallivanting around the countryside, I can carry on with whatever project I’m currently sewing 🙂 The Husband’s a treasure, isn’t he?

Meanwhile, bloke-type presents are also being bought for our new baby: power cords, amperage converters, that sort of stuff. We have 10 days before we go away, and just about enough time to get everything sorted. I won’t have time to do the curtains and covers, either, but it’ll give me a chance to see whether I’ll need blackout lining, and if the bed cushions need more padding, that sort of thing.

Time to do some proper sewing, I think, instead of petting my fabrics….

Miz Lizzie

The more observant among you may have noticed I’ve been off the radar a bit…

Aside from the secret sewing, which is progressing well, I’ve had a new Project, involving lots of internet research, comparisons and in the end, a spreadsheet. Believe me, it deserves its capital P. Are you ready? We bought a second-hand caravan/trailer. Allow me to introduce Miz Lizzie.


img_20170210_170402959_hdrI was brought up to believe that caravan owners were road hogs of the worst kind, dawdlers and blockers of the highways of the world, curtailing the rights of regular people to unfettered zooming along the open road. However, we have sadly acknowledged that while we love trips and camping, the day is fast approaching when Miss Scarlett Thunderbolt and her follower Rolling Thunder will be too tiring and too uncomfortable for the longer distance adventures. We are not getting any  younger…

img_20170210_170920131Add to that the regular appearance of cyclone activity up and down the tropical coast, necessitating a bolt for safety of some sort if you have the means, and the fact that the Husband’s Long Service Leave is coming up in 3 years and we’ll be wanting to have an adventure, and you can see that the lure of cheap independent travelling accommodation becomes more understandable.

img_20170210_170850908_hdrFinally, she was inexpensive for what she offers compared with equivalent ‘vans on the internet, being neat and tidy, and strangely roomy for something only 4m/13ft long. And with aircon…

We take delivery on Friday. The intervening period will be taken up with servicing, checking for defects and testing the gas, the fridge and the aircon to make sure they’re running OK.

I’m looking forward to happy hours in my new play-house. There will of course be lots of decorating, arranging, re-upholstering and furnishing fun to be had…. I’m not going to go all Cath Kidston floral about it, nor the other vintage vibe, ’50s diner, but I do need to get rid of the horrible curtains and the naff bed/seat upholstery. I can live with the blue/grey and white cabinetry and the neutral vinyl flooring so it’s not going to be a full-on rip’n’strip.

Quilts? Well, of course there will be quilts!


The 102nd thing to do with duct tape…

Did you know, there are dozens of books out there filled with duct-tape-related activities and crafts? Frightening, isn’t it?

I don’t own any of them, in case you were concerned. They all have titles like ‘101 Things To Create With Duct Tape’ or ‘Duct Tape Magic: Fun For All The Family’

Don’t worry. I’m not radically re-thinking the focus of this blog, I promise. But I am quite proud of my duct-taped transformation of something broken into some really useful.

base-empty base-storage-pockets-and-loops packed-base utensil-panel lid-storageIngredients:

  1. Husband’s very old and very broken tool case. It was about to go into the bin because it had cracked on the corner and would no longer stay closed, allowing all his tools, logbooks, etc, to make a sneaky break for freedom.

A pile of camping stuff. Plates, cups, cutlery, mess kit (fold up pan and dish set, to those without military family), napkins, condiments, utensils, etc, which needed organising and taming.

An old picnic hamper/insulated bag, ripped, bulky and badly designed inside, also destined for the bin.

A roll of duct tape.


First I cleaned out the tool case (it’s still a bit dingy, but what do you expect after 7 years of hard life?). Then I duct-taped the cracked corner multiple times. It’ll hold just fine with just picnic stuff inside, as opposed to tools, wrenches, logbooks and manuals. After that, I took a craft knife to the old picnic bag and neatly sliced out all the heavy duty nylon panels that had the dinky Velcro® straps, elastic loops and pockets for plates, cutlery, etc.

Finally, it was time for Duct Tape Fun. One panel was taped into the lid, the other into the base. There’s a dinky sort of lift-out board/panel which clips into the lid, and it has pockets for wrenches, screwdrivers, etc kitchen utensils and teaspoons, etc. So far, so awesome.

Turns out everything I want to take by way of eating and cooking equipment fits neatly and perfectly into this old case. I am, as they say Down Under, rapt!

Best of all?  It takes up less room in the trailer than our previous storage solutions, it’s durable, and I saved something still useful from landfill. Thanks to duct tape….


Rolling Thunder part 6: Get the motor running…

Head out on the highway / Lookin’ for adventure / And whatever comes our way…

I don’t think I was exactly Born to be Wild, but I couldn’t resist the lyrics in this instance. And yes, I admit it, I may be slightly reliving my lost youth…

thunder-and-lightningSo, we’re packed, and ready to go. I think Miss Scarlett looks rather handsome with her follower, don’t you? I still need to do some touch up work when we get back, but the job is good enough for this trip.

I’ll be checking in while we’re away, and there are bound to be some nice photos I can share with you. First stop Townsville for a day and a half, then on to Atherton in FNQ.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a bit more Steppenwolf:

I like smoke and lightning / Heavy metal thunder / Racin’ with the wind. But observing the speed limit at all times, of course!


Rolling Thunder part 5

More spraying. More taping. More masking. More spraying.

After the third and final coat of black, the next job was the silver swoosh up either side. Leaving the first mask in place, I created and taped around a template and then masked off the black that needed to be protected when I sprayed the silver. It took 3 hours in all to tape the swoosh top outline and then mask off the rest on both sides. I gave my back a break after that lot… I’d started at 6.30am, when it was cool, there was good light but no wind for the final black spray. By the time that coat was dry and I’d finished the masking it was 11.30am, the sun was high, the temperature was 28°C/82°F and the wind had risen, making further spraying impossible for the time being. So I took my extremely hot and bothered self inside for a period of recuperation.

After lunch, it was time to start the silver. The wind was intermittent, so I sprayed and waited and sprayed and waited. And next morning, after the final silver coat, here’s how it looks. The silver calls itself ‘chrome’, and it does have a good sheen and reflectivity, but it’s definitely not a chrome finish!  Still, it looks pretty OK.


There’s a fair bit of adhesive residue to clean off before I can attack it with the clear lacquer. That’s the problem when you have to leave the tape on for a while. Hmm. Wonder what would be best for that, without making a mess of the new paintwork. Time to consult Mr Google, unless anyone out there has a good suggestion?


There were a couple of small patches of over-spray to clear up/spray over. A couple of places on the swoosh where I hadn’t bashed the tape down hard enough so there’s a minute bit of black creeping through, and the same for silver. But having taken care of the worst bits, I’m not anal enough to get in there with a teeny weeny paintbrush and take care of the tiny stuff. I’m also not totally in love with the shape of the top edge of the curve, but see comment above! It’s fine…

We have 10 days to go before our trip. Before anything else, I have to remask the rear lights; I took off the old tape, which was getting very thickly caked in paint, just to make sure it still would come off! I have to do at least 3 coats of clear lacquer over everything. Then it’ll be time to restore the hardware: catches, handles, registration plate, etc. I’ve resprayed the tray that sits at the front of the trailer and holds the cooler; that needs bolting back on too. We’re running a strip of hi-vis reflective tape around the back of the trailer – in red, of course! – and above the mudguards on the wheel arches. Hopefully it’ll make us even easier to see in the event that we reluctantly have to ride at night.

In the home stretch now. It’s good to know I can still do this stuff, but perhaps not too often…


Rolling Thunder part 4

It’s been a bit of a grind, this job.


First coat of red. Everything that’s not red will be black

We got the first coat of red paint on, and it was immediately apparent it was too dark. Still, having had two cans of it mixed, I put it all on. We tried again, a brighter red. Yikes! It was almost fluorescent, and didn’t get any better as it cured. Third time lucky. This time we went to a paint specialist rather than an automotive parts store to get the paint mixed. It’s still not a perfect match for the bike, but it’s a whole lot better than the other two.  The motorbike is what’s called a ‘candy colour’: silver undercoat, multiple layers of transparent red dye, a coat of gold flecked lacquer and a final coat of clear lacquer. The colour is lively, it shifts in different light, the layers of dye give it a depth and richness that can’t be achieved with a flat colour, and the gold fleck gives it the final brilliance. I’m not a spraying specialist, and I wasn’t going there… So we’ve gone with a sort of intermediate, neither the brightest nor the darkest.


Paper masking. Not very flexible…

Once the multiple layers of red paint were dry, I took the template I’d made of the curve we want for the silver swoosh on the side, applied it to the side and masked off the curve with flexible blue masking tape. Over that went wide regular masking tape and paper on one side, plastic dropsheet the other. Paper’s easier to manage but not very flexible, the plastic flaps more and is hard to peel tape off if you want to reposition. Just thought you might like to know, in the unlikely event you’re ever mad enough to take on a project like this yourself….


Red paintwork safely covered while we spray the black.

On with the black, on top, at the front, the draw-bar and up the sides as far as the masked swoosh line. Two black coats later, I’m thinking a third coat might be a good idea to make it more hard-wearing. The lid will take all the weather, and the front and draw-bar will get a lot of stone-chip action, even with the clear lacquer we’ll be adding as the final coat.

Still, after a fairly gruelling day, I can confidently say we’ll be ready in time for our holiday!