Purr purse

March 2014, Singapore, an emergency purse is bought in absence of a handbag needed to go clubbing.  Turns out it is -the perfect- purse, including a soothing kitten to stroke in times of need for something soft. In fear of it falling apart (it was dirt cheap), the search for a replacement begins, but fails miserably. The size, the phone pocket, the arm strap, the many pockets on the inside, and of course the soft kitten to stroke. All simple features on their own, but combined they make for an unique purse it seems. So a new search begins, for enough courage to make a copy. Loads of how-to’s on line are read, for purses with some of the features, but never all. Then, after more than 2 years have gone by, the Work begins! Fabric is bought, a toile is made,  then a first attempt which is soon ript apart to start again. And then… I proudly present you the Purr Purse, together with the inspiration.

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Since this was quite the project, I wanted to make a manual on how to do it. Not an easy task and it made me appreciate the sewing descriptions available even more. Also, drawing is hard! But I persevered, so here it is.

Stuff you need:

  • Fabric cut in rectangles of 12.5 x 19.5 cm, which is including 1 cm seam allowance:
    • 2x outer material (yellow)
    • 2x fusible interface (not used this time, but would recommend it)
    • 4x faux leather (purple)
    • 8x lining (white with constellations)
  • More faux leather for bits and pieces:
    • P: 2x zipper pull tags (1.5 x 2 cm)
    • E: eye for hook (1.5 x 6 cm)
    • Z1: zipper end enclosure (4 x 6 cm)
    • Z2: zipper end enclosuer (3 x 3 cm)
    • T: 2x enforcement top (3 x 19.5 cm)
    • S: arm strap (1.5 x 32 cm)
  • Soft fabric for kitten (5 x 10 cm, brownish purple)
  • Non-fabric things
    • 3x zipper (15, 17.5 and 21 cm) The long zipper might have courser teeth.
    • bias band to finish lining seams (roughly 120 cm,  white)
    • hook to attach strap to loop (copper)
    • 2x small rings (1 cm diameter, copper)
    • thread matching all fabrics (i.e. yellow, purple and white)

Instructions

At every step, consider which colour thread to use. Always use same color for top and bottom thread for the best result.

  • Step 1: Prepare the faux leather bits and pieces
  • Step 2:
    Step 2
    Step 2

    Inner pocket zipper. Insert zipper for the inner pocket, including the zipper end enclosure Z2 (see drawing). Don’t sew zipper into the seam allowance. Leave room to tug away the zipper ends. Add lining.

  • Step 3: Prepare inner pocket. Top stitch the zipper, be careful not to sew into the seam allowance. Sew lining and faux leather together within the seam allowance, to make things easier in later steps.
  • Step 3 and 4
    Step 3 and 4
  • Step 4: Prepare inner halves of the outer pocket. Sew faux leather and lining together (r.s. together), top stitch (w.s. together). Sew lining and faux leather within seam allowance (w.s. together).
  • Step 4a: Prepare ending of the main zipper, as explained with step 9.
  • Step 5:
    Step 5 and 6
    Step 5 and 6

    Combine. Sew inner pocket and inner halves of the outside pockets together at 3-4 cm from the edge. Inner pocket is positioned 1 cm downwards relative to outer pockets. Use thread in the color of the faux leather, this will show in the end result. Catch zipper enclosure of large zipper (see step 9) within this seam.

  • Step 6: Finish inner pocket. Put the inner pocket together inside out, i.e faux leather sides together (purple thread). While doing this, bundle up the inner halves of the outer pockets, to get them out of the way of the seam. Sew together, making sure to trap the zipper endings in the seam. Don’t forget to include the eye for hook attaching the arm strap at the opposite side of the ending of the large zipper (see step 5). Finish the seems with bias band.
  • Step 7:
    Step 7 and 8
    Step 7 and 8

    Side zipper. Apply fusible interface to outside material (yellow). In 1 outer side, cut an opening, similar to halve a welt pocket, to insert the side zipper (2 cm from the sides, 3 cm from the top). Add lining to zipper. See also the drawing for this step.

  • Step 7a: Kitten. Cut kitten shape and sew to other outer side. Position it, such that your thumb will rests on it when holding the purse.
  • Step 8: Phone pocket.
    8a: Attach faux leather top enforcement to other half of the zipper and top of the side panel, folding away the “welt pocket triangles”. Top stitch zipper.
    8b: Add lining to top half of zipper.
    8c: Sew outside fabric + 2 layers of lining together within the seam allowance. Trim excess lining fabric.
  • Step 9:
    Step 9 and 10
    Step 9 and 10

    Main zipper. Attach zipper enclosure Z1 to start of the large zipper (see drawing) and insert zipper to outer sides, similar to the inner pocket zipper at step 2. Make sure you enclose the zipper endings.

  • Step 10: Outer pockets. Fold away the inner pocket and 1 inner half. Sew together the first outer pocket. Repeat for the other outer pocket. Procedure is similar to inner pocket at step 6.

And here once more the same description, now in all it’s hand written beauty.

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Climb every mountain

If it is true that we do not conquer the mountain, instead we conquer ourselves, then today I have defeated myself… At least it was a worthy opponent :).

My airbnb host Morgan from Melbourne was visiting his parents in Brisbane with his girlfriend and invited me and Jaap to come along for a hike up mount Tibrogargan. Morgan warned me that we would spend most of the time on all fours hugging the mountain, but he assured me we wouldn’t be needing climbing gear like ropes and things. With our bush walking experience in the mountains of Flinders Ranges, I figured we’d be all right. Long story short, I climbed farther than I initially dared, but when my muscles started to twitch involuntary, I decided enough was enough and found my way back down.

So today I learned a thing or two about rock climbing, and I now fully understand the difference between bush walking, rock climbing and mountain climbing. That, and I know fear when I smell it.  I guess we’re not in Holland anymore.

Fortunately, there was a lovely plan B. So while Morgan and girlfriend made their way successfully to the top, Jaap and I found our way to the lovely Victory tea parlor around the corner, where the host got stuck in the fifties, serving tea and cakes in style to all who venture into her garden.

But no worries, I’ll be back. Just give me some time to grow actual muscles. Next time I’ll make it a bit higher up (I hope), but in any case there’ll be cake in the end.

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Expect the unexpected

We know how to prepare for life changing events. Ask anyone who ever helped us move or who were involved in the planning of our wedding. We prepared for our move down under the only way we know how: thoroughly. The number of to-do- and where-at-lists we made (and length thereof) is probably more than normal people can stomach. But hey, that’s how we roll. As a result our move and settling-in went quite smoothly. Yay us :).

Still, some things here are not as expected. Not in a bad way, just unexpected. Which is telling in its own way I think, so mostly for my own memory I made a list of things that come to mind.

  • The weather. How could I not start with the weather. It’s amazing how much simpler life is when the weather is always sunny. I hoped I would adjust to it, but I did not expect I would like it as much as I do. It’s just so easy. Even though some of the other points in this list might seem to contradict this, they don’t. They’re just a different side of the same coin.
  • Your stuff. No matter how well you try to imagine your new life when you decide what to bring and what to leave behind, you make mistakes. For example, I hardly wear any t-shirts down here and I brought so many! Between the Deltares polo’s and my singlets (of which I made a bunch before we left) a T-shirt is just too warm. Things might change in winter though. This is just a silly example, but many a time I have found something, wondering why we brought it and other times missed the stuff we left behind. Maybe this should teach you to just leave everything other than a suitecase with clothes. Especially considering the next item in this list.
  • New stuff. Starting a new life starts with buying loads of stuff. And then some. And some more still. It got to a point that I decided against buying some things, just because. Silly of course. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for it. All you do those first weeks/weekend is hang around in malls. It can suck the life right out of you.
  • Adventures. Life down under is pretty much just that: life. We work, eat, sleep, repeat. No exiting trips every weekend, discovering this whole new continent; no diving all the time; no coffees and lunches and dinners out every day. Basically we’re still boring old us, just in a different location. What also doesn’t help is the sun. You can be dissuaded from leaving the shade of the apartment pretty easily in the middle of the day. You really need to plan your outings for the start of the day, or else you might not find the courage to go out.
  • Exercise and diet. Since I no longer have a proper bicycle ride in the office every day I actually have to make an effort to exercise. It looks like I found my rhythm though. I try to hit the gym (cross-trainer) and pool at least twice a week. Should be more, but what can I say. Food wise, lunch in the office is generally not a cheese sandwich over here. Often people go out for lunch, which basically means you have dinner twice a day. All the more reason to exercise!
  • Internet. Emigration nowadays is not a big deal as it once was. Especially for folks like us, who live half their lives online anyway. You stay in touch with friends and family on Facebook and Skype, and with you colleagues on email. Apart from the timezone difference, which is less inconvenient now because of Daylight Saving Time, you hardly feel the distance. Also, sites like linguee.com help you navigate a new language more easily. And stuff like Netflix is just as available as anywhere :). Did I already tell you Oz TV sucks balls even more than Dutch telly? But to be honest, these are things we did foresee while planning, so I’m cheating by putting them on this list.
  • Kids. Don’t worry, I mean other people’s kids :). Those are the people in your life with whom it’s hardest to stay in touch with over the internet. Just talking gets boring pretty quick. And at the same time, they are the ones who change the most. We’ll have to get to know them all over again in a few years time. Which will be fun too, no dramas!
  • Visitors. I sure did underestimate how much I would want to share the fun bits of our new neck of the woods with the people I love. These blogs help, but I can’t wait to show my parents around town next weekend! Also, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law will be here in winter. Good times!
  • Books. I actually read a lot more down here. Less distraction maybe, but breakfast on the balcony every day without a proper newspaper to be found in Queensland sure helps. Maybe this is not such a good thing after all.
  • Sewing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’ve learnt here that – even more than I thought – I’m happiest when I can sew. Can, not must. Just knowing it’s one of the possibilities is sometimes enough.

And on that note, and because I wanted to add a photo, I started work on Project Purr Purse this weekend. More on that as the story unfolds.

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Hot cross buns

A good three months in and we’re checking all the boxes. By now we’ve had our first visit to the GP, gotten a haircut, (some of us) got a facial, went on a short holiday in SA (more on that will follow), had our first dive and most importantly, our first barbie. Still no thongs though, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere!

During the long Easter weekend (Good Friday is exactly that over here), we joined the lovely people of UniDive on a one day trip to Tweed Heads (NSW) for a shore dive. We saw a spotted eagle ray within the first minute, and a turtle soon after that. But the highlight of the trip was an encounter with a super chill porcupinefish, that did not mind us checking him out while he was getting his scales cleaned. Never knew they had such puffy lips! Jaap shot an amazing video, but I got an image online for this post. According to the sign on shore there’s plenty more fish to be seen, so we’ll definitely be back. Also because it’s practically the only shore dive you can make from Brisbane. At the barbie afterwards we made many an omnivore envious of the shashlicks and burgers we made. Go veg!

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And Easter over here is all about hot cross buns. It’s like a krentenbol, but different. For some reason, everybody goes apeshit over them.

Hot-cross-buns

Vinnies

An interesting difference between The Hague and Brizzy. In The Hague I lived within walking distance from a fabric shop, in Brizzy there’s a second hand shop (Vinnies) just down the street. Upcycling for the win! Sometimes upcycling is almost more work than to start from scratch, but not this weekend. I got myself three easy projects.

I found the perfect dress to take with on upcoming diving trips: all polyester to withstand salt water and lots of sun, and nice and loose fit for ease of use. But the puffy sleeves were restricting me. Off with their cuffs and on with the flow: my rolled hem pressure foot to the rescue. Bam, done!

The trousers were a good fit. One seem at the back was torn, and fixed before it knew what happened to it. The length though, an awkward 7/8th. A quick look inside revealed the biggest hem ever made, so in a snap these were too long. How is that for awesome? Add a hem, boom, ready for my trip to Adelaide this Wednesday.

And as if Frankenshirt never happend, I bought a loose fitted blouse. A women’s blouse this time, with a revealing neckline due to a poor fit. The colour is lovely though. So out with the scissors! I used a different (single) pattern this time, no need for impromptu fixes left and right so far. No guarantees though, I haven’t actually sewn any seems. And the sleeves still pose the usual challenge.

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Discovering Straddie

We ventured off to North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie for short. It’s to Brisbane what Texel is to Amsterdam, but with more whales, sharks, rays, turtles and dolphins.  It’s about a 45 min drive and a 45 min ferry ride across the Moreton Bay. You book the ferries in advance, so you have to to guess how long you want to stay before you even get there. However, this also means they greet you by your first name when you arrive.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but wildlife is what we got. During the North Gorge Walk we saw big sea turtles, wallabies, a sting ray, no less than two groups of dolphins and quite possibly a shark in swift succession. Yay! All of that on a backdrop of beautiful beaches. And in winter this is the place to be to spot whales from land, so we’ll definitely be back!

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We also tried our first shore snorkel session at Deadman’s beach. It was pretty strenuous to cross the surf, but we got through it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually not that bad. However, no flora or fauna was to be seen anywhere within a comfortable distance from the shore. Fortunately, on our way back we stumbled on a group of Jacks and Snappers (somewhat like this). Maybe we should try a guided tour next time, so we know where to look.

Our interest was piqued by UniDive with their stories about the under water flora and fauna at Moreton Bay and at Point Lookout. They ran a project called Point Lookout Ecological Assessment (PLEA), where they mapped the flora and fauna at the local reefs – we even managed to get our hands on one of the last copies of their photo report “Straddie”. They’re starting up a new project called Flinders Reef Ecological Assessment (FREA), which we hope to participate in.

Frankenshirt

My first attempt at revamping a mens shirt. Always a good idea to use a shirt of really nice fabric and color for an experiment, right?

Couldn’t find any examples on-line to rehash a loose fitted shirt to a fitted shirt. Makes sense, since a fitted shirt has the armpit placed much higher up, which results in the need for more width than a non-fitted shirt typically will offer.

That’s how Frankenshirt happend, using the arm scythe of a shirt, the bodice part of a dress and free styling the bottom half of the shirt, again to match fit the available fabric. Feeling master of my universe, I decided to let the darts of the bodice just end open, to get a sort of emperor dress style.

Then came the sleeves. I didn’t want to take the cuffs apart, so I had to cut the sleeve head and trim down the sleeve width from a semi constructed sleeve. I though I used the sleeve head pattern that went with the arm scythe pattern, but I had way too much fabric. Enter the pleats. This, of course, resulted in somewhat puffed sleeves. Like princess style puff sleeves. This is becoming one royal design!

I had some fun with the collar. Decided to go mandarin style by simply removing the collar and closing up the collar stand. The result is not quite mandarin, but I kinda like it.

Anyway, the result. Could be worse I guess, but not really what I was going for. Or my style. But I’ll take it for a test drive and see if it grows on me. Or I might just pop a seam stretching too far. Who knows, life’s a gamble :).

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