Speed record – dress in one day

I’m in the market for another wedding dress, but this time it has to be on the cheap. So yesterday arvo I ventured out to the salvos in Red Hill. This is a massive op shop, with separate “boutique” section with a high end selection and a well organised and huge “normal” section. It seemed to be my lucky day, with a wonderful wedding dress at display in my size! However, its price tag of a 1000 dollars didn’t really fit my budget. So I had to rely on my ingenuity and went to work. Alas, the Australians are simply too short, so it was though going. After a good hour of  deliberations with tops and skirts, I wandered into the section with fabrics and saw this perfect off-white tablecloth with silk embroidery, complete with 8 serviettes. Finally something I could work with to create a full-length wedding dress that fits!

The plan was to make a “square skirt” from the table cloth, which is a simple as cutting a hole that fits over your hips and finish said hole with a (elastic) waistband. The serviettes would have to be assembled in a top in some fashion. After an evening of plotting and scheming I had the rough outline of a plan.

This morning Linecraft proved to have the perfect ribbons and other haberdashery to make this vision a reality, so I ended up spending more on this than on the fabric itself.

Next step: cut a big hole in the table cloth. No guts, no glories! After that first big step, the rest was rather smooth sailing and before afternoon tea I had transformed a table cloth in a proper dress. I’m not showing the whole dress for now, since it will be a few weeks before I get to wear it. Don’t want to spoil the surprise, that would be bad luck *grin*.

I’m actually quite pleased with the end result, having a bit of a twenties vibe about it. Now all that is left is to trash it a bit, but why that’s necessary is another story.

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Australia as you’d imagine it

When talking about our Australian adventure, non-Australian people tend to respond with some envy and tell us how they would love to live in Australia for a while and what a great country it is. I frequently get the sense that when this happens, two things are conveniently forgotten: #1 – Australia is mindbogglingly huge and, as a result, most of it is about as far away as any typical holiday destination in Europe would be. #2 – we’re not actually on an extended holiday here, so most of the time, Australia is just a strange country with a strange culture in which we work and have our daily lives; not the wonderful beach, diving, outback and jungle experience that the word ‘Australia’ evokes in people’s minds.

However, recently we treated ourselves to a bit of exactly that and chose to ignore the distance for a bit. We headed out to the west coast, through Perth and up to Exmouth for a diving and snorkeling trip that turned out so much better than we’d hoped for. And hopes were high, because we weren’t going out there alone. My sister Trudy and her husband Eric were along for the ride – for them, this was the final leg of a long trip that took them up the east coast, including the Great Barrier Reef and this was to be the grand finale.

The Ningaloo Reef is an amazing place. Remote, relatively untouched and fairly close to the West Australia coast. Exmouth is a town of 2,200 people, although at the height of the tourist season, its population will swell to about 6,000. With a few 100 more in Coral Bay, that’s pretty much all the people in an area 200 km long and 50 km wide, with most of the reef just off its coast. Just the flight in offers views of a land that really resonates with that National Geographic stereotype of Australia we’re familiar with.

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We went diving and snorkeling on the Muiron Islands to the north of Exmouth, as well as on the Oyster Stacks to the west and in the Coral Bay, but the absolute highlight of the trip must have been our experience with the humpback whales. This is one of the very few places in the world where you can actually swim with them, something the local diving outfits are trialing for the very first time in West Australia – and we were lucky enough to be on board for a trip that had even the crew jumping for joy at the end of the day. Whales swimming underneath us, next to us and rising to the surface to greet our boat, almost inviting us to swim – we had several opportunities to literally look these wonderful creatures right in the eyes.

After all that, Trudy and Eric left and would soon after return to Europe. Between them and Simone’s parents earlier this year, that was likely the end of family and friends visiting from Europe as well – we’re out here by ourselves and just Australian friends and colleagues for some time now.

Simone and myself weren’t quite done enjoying Ningaloo though – Sail Ningaloo took us on the Shore Thing, a catamaran with a crew of two and up to eight guests. Us and four other guests were taken out onto the Indian Ocean, to parts of the reef that are too far for the day-tripping diving outfits to visit. A diving trip straight out of your dreams, 5 days and nights of every need being taken care of and just great diving on untouched sites with lots of life and variety.

Most days, Australia is just a country, where you need to work, shop for groceries and take care of everyday jobs. But every now and then, we find the time to be reminded why Australia is high on the list of countries people would like to visit. And it can really deliver, if you accept its tremendous size…

16 years togetherness

Selfie time for this old couple in West End.

Last week we renewed the lease on our West End unit and tonight we celebrated the 16th anniversary our first kiss in some of the local establishments. Seems like we’re here to stay a while longer 😉

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I work out

I’m in need of external motivation to work out, so I’ll be counting my buttons in public in this post.

Big button equals 25-30 minutes on the cross trainer at level L, followed by a mini circuit of 3 x B repetitions of weight lifting , with stretching as an active break in between.

Small buttons equals a mini circuit of 3 x S repetitions elbow planking for x seconds, body weight squats and push-ups or  backwards push-ups, with stretching as an active break in between.

2016-08-01/07 – Mon/Wed Canberra Fri/Sun Charrette, aka workworkwork
2016-07-25/31 – Sat boat and jet ski license, Sun Mnt Glorious bike ride
2016-07-18/24
2016-07-18/24 – Thu radio exam, Fri Urban climb + Northbrook gorges, Sat Straddie snorkel
2016-07-11/17 – 3 x Urban climb
2016-07-04/10 – Thu Habitat drinks, Fri whiskey tasting, Sun Cherub dive
2016-06-27/03
2016-06-27/03 – Wed/Thu trip to Sydney
2016-06-20/27 – Botanica gym, pool night, urban climb, mooloolaba reef
2016-06-13/19
2016-06-13/19 (3kg, L10, B10x. S10x, 40s) Visit to Canberra messed up my schedule, but I made it up in the weekend.
2016-06-06/12
2016-06-06/12 (2kg, L9, B10x, S10x. 30s). First full week
2016-05-30/5
2016-05-30/5 (1kg, L8, B10x. S10x. 30s)
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2016-05-23/29 (1kg, L8, B10x, S10x)

6 months

According to some random blog (by the New Zealand government), 6 months in is about the time when you enter the “fright state” and should be preparing for the low moods to come. According to a trusted friend, this is when you enter a limbo state where you’re done settling in in the practical sense, but are still months away from building a network of friends and acquaintances.

I’ll formulate my own opinion on this in a few months time, but for now the 6 month milestone seemed reason for a celebration. So we baked cookies :).

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This weekends rainfall had a much more sensible timing, so we enjoyed a walk in the rain at dusk. When it rains it pours!

I do hope that this concludes the very wet weekends for now. It’s the second weekend in a row we had to cancel our scuba diving plans, while the weekdays remain familiarly sunny. But I guess there are worse things, like damaged houses, flash floods and power outages.

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And then there was one

We came to Oz for me to replace my colleague Alex, but there was a comfortable overlap of almost 6 months. This has now come to an end, as Alex and his family have boarded the plane that will bring them back to Europe. There have been plenty of good-bye-lunches, drinks and barbies this last week, one of the benefits of having multiple offices.

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One of the things I was not looking forward to coming out here was to have no direct colleagues around in the same room, or even the same time zone. I’ve really enjoyed the company of Alex in this starting up period. Always good to have someone to talk shop with and complain to and have fun with. Monday is the start of a new era, where I still have plenty of friendly people around, but will fly solo on all company matters. Hey ho, here we go!

I hope Alex and family have a safe journey back home and find it easy to settle in again. They weren’t looking forward to leaving Brisbane, but are happy to be closer to their family again. Jaap and me both are happy it’s not us yet that are moving back, so I guess we like it here :).

In unrelated news, I’ve been plenty active these last few weeks with some sewing. You can find more details on my sewing blog: purr-purse  and you-say-mens-shirt-i-say-my-shirt/

The photo at the top is to show it’s not -always- sunny in the sunshine state. (By the time I found my way to the roof on this lazy Saturday morning the worst had already passed.) Today we saw quite some rain in South-East Queensland, although from the comfort of our apartment it was less impressive than I had expected. There was enough excitement elsewhere though: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/qld-authorities-happy-with-rain-response-20160604-gpbmmb.html

 

You say mens shirt, I say my shirt

Another method to turn a formless shirt into a fitted shirt. Some would call the original a mens shirt, all I see is a shirt that is long enough to cover my upper body, but lacks any shape or form. The latter is more easily fixed than adding length after the fact!

I found a nice red shirt, not quite as large as I would like, but half price at Vinnies, so who can complain. This time I used a black tailor made shirt I had ordered with Bivolino as my inspiration. The end result is a fitted shirt, that’s comfortable enough to move around in. I think I might use this method more often, so I’ve described the process below.

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I used the iron board as a pin cushion, when copying the pattern pieces from the Bivolino shirt. This works very well, as long as the pattern pieces fit on the board.

I matched the two front panel pieces at the arm hole (overlapping so that the seam lines match). The center front piece follows the center front of the shirt (button strip) off course. For the second panel I matched the bottom corner with the shirt. Of course there was some excess fabric to trim at the sides.

There was not enough room to actually cut the princess seam, but the since the overlap of the pattern pieces was something of 1-2 cm short, I decided to replace this seam with a small dart. (The picture below is from after I already put the dart in, so it’s less clear.)  The dart starts where the pattern pieces lose their comfortable overlap (fortunately below the breast pocket), ending straight at the hem of the shirt.

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You can see why the original shirt should ideally be XX-L or XXX-L. It is because arm holes in a straight cut are pretty wide, whilst in a fitted shirt they are much smaller, therefore you need more width in the fabric higher up. Since was only a L, I had to get creative.

For the back panel, I simply put the Bivolino shirt straight on top of the red shirt, marked the size and trimmed the excess fabric at the sides. Here I did not need to use the entire width of the shirt at the bottom. I did add up to 2 cm by eye, over the length of the back darts, to have enough fabric to add those. I drew each side separately by hand, hoping the front panels would still match (i.e. be the same length as the back panel). This worked better on one side that the other, but the end result is not bad enough to necessarily do it more precise next time (although I should).

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Because the arm holes ended up larger than the Bivolino shirt, I had to cut the sleeves a bit wider as well. Instead of measuring as I should have done, I made a lucky guess which was close enough. But next time I should definitely spend the extra 5 minutes to do it properly.

I kept most of the original shape of the sleeve head (which I separated carefully of the original, allowing me to use the complete length), which worked out well. Using a wider arm also allowed me to keep the original cuffs (at the smallest position), which is a necessity I think. That’s a benefit of a smaller shirt, the cuffs are less wide.

 

By the by, here is a photo of the end result of the project I mentioned previously, but forgot to put online.

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