A New Neckline

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I bought this top a few years ago and have only worn it a handful of times.  In fact, I did not even wear it last winter.  When I rearranged my wardrobe recently I decided to make sure that every piece earned its place.

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I put the top on briefly the other day and realised why I don’t choose to wear it.  I do not like the feel of high, fitted necklines and this was simply not comfortable.

I had nothing to lose so I set about modifying the neckline.  I cut just below the ribbed band.  The pins mark the quarter points of the new neckline.

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New ribbing pinned in place.

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The finished article with a new, more comfortable neckline.  It will look better once the seam is pressed.  I am looking forward to getting plenty of wear out of the top in the coming months.

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Approximately 15minutes of my time was all that was needed to turn this into a garment that I will be happy to wear.

Patched Pants

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Some would say that these shorts are not worth mending.  They are at least 25 years old and once upon a time they were 3/4 length travel pants.  After much wearing the knees finally gave way and I cut them off into a fairly unflattering pair of shorts.  They were only ever destined to be worn around the yard but they get a good workout fulfilling that role.  An incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that are lightweight and perfect for our hot summers.

They have been patched several times but the most recent rips almost saw the end of them.

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I decided to make an attempt on one more patch.

I selected a piece of strong cotton fabric which would generously cover the two large rips.  I then cut a matching piece of double-sided iron-on interfacing and ironed it to the wrong side of the patch.

 

Remove the paper backing and place on the wrong side of the area to be patched.  Make sure that the rips are closely aligned then press again to fuse the patch to the garment.

Use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch over the rip.  You may need to do several runs to cover it.  Finally, use a narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges of the patch.

The outside and inside views when completed.

This is not invisible or even particularly neat so is really only suitable for clothes where looks are not important.

We spend a significant amount of time in the garden or painting and renovating so functional ‘old’ clothes are a must.  It makes sense to extend the life of them as much as possible.

My shorts with multiple patches have survived to see another summer but that is a few months away yet.  It is good to be prepared, though.

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More Than Washing

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What does doing the washing mean to you?  Grabbing an armful of used clothes and tossing them into the washing machine and then transferring them to the dryer?  Or do you have a careful sorting and separating process?

I sort my washing into light and dark fabrics, check the pockets for errant coins, tissues or slips of paper and then turn the articles so that they are the right side out.  They are then washed and hung on the clothesline under the verandah.  When the clothes are dry I sort them into the items that need to be ironed and those that can be folded and put away immediately.

All of this process allows plenty of opportunity to examine items for any damage or wear and tear which requires repair.  The old adage, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true.

This week I found a small hole and run in the front of one of GMan’s merino thermal tops.

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My darning skills are somewhat limited but I do have a rudimentary understanding of what is required.  Since this is an undergarment, a perfect result is not essential.   I found some similar coloured tapestry wool and split it to extract a single strand to use.

The end result is functional if not particularly pretty.

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Regardless of the type of garment, it is worth checking clothes regularly to ensure that they are maintained which will prolong the life of the garment.  Things to look for include loose buttons, hems coming down, breakage of side seams near pockets or armholes.

Bug-Free Brassicas

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I have occasionally managed to grow cabbages, broccoli and to a lesser extent, cauliflower but it is a constant battle to keep them bug-free.  I choose not to use pesticides, therefore, exclusion remains the best option.

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After much research, I finally bit the bullet a couple of days ago and ordered a quantity of Vege Net from eBay.  I was particularly pleased to discover that the seller was located in my home state.

The order was dispatched promptly and I received it within 2 days of placing my order.

Then it was time to wrestle with 120 sq metres of knitted polyethylene fabric.

My plan was to make a reasonably fitted cover to slip over the hoops we had positioned over the garden bed.

I cut a large rectangle which would cover the majority of the bed and 2 semicircular pieces for the ends.  Pins are useless on this type of fabric so I used some old pegs to hold the pieces in place while I stitched the seams using a regular sewing machine.

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Once this was done, it was simple matter of slipping the cover over the hoops.  Because this is a raised garden bed the extra fabric simply hangs down to completely enclose the desired area.

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View of the new seedlings safely undercover.

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I anchored one end with some rocks so that it will not blow off.

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I am considering adding some lead weights to the other edges or making a long elasticised tie to go right around the raised bed.

There is another cover to be made for a second garden bed which is not raised so I will just anchor that one with rocks all the way around.

The total amount of fabric I used to cover the 2 beds was about 24 sq metres or 20% of the total.  The remainder is back in the bag for use to cover fruit trees or other garden beds in the future.

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I spent $125 on the fabric (including postage) and believe that it has been money well-spent as it is an investment in our future food production.

I would definitely recommend this product if you are considering exclusion netting for any plants.  It is available in smaller quantities and you could also simply drape it over the area rather than making fitted covers.

Isolationism or Self-Reliance

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I have seen the following text and similar being shared in various posts on Facebook over a number of weeks.

Two can play that game China
Threaten our economy
All products from China will be left on the shelf !
Who’s With Me

However, there never seems to be any commentary from the person sharing the post as to how they actually propose to achieve this goal of not buying products that are made in China.

I believe that wherever possible we should be buying food produced in Australia.  Fresh and unprocessed food are generally the best nutritional option.  Additionally, packaged food may be produced in Australia but presented in packaging from China or elsewhere.  It is highly unlikely that you would be able identify where the packaging was sourced.

Food is not the only thing that most of us buy.  There are clothes, shoes, homewares and hardware supplies.  When was the last time that you checked where your purchase was manufactured?  Does it matter?

In my opinion, it is more important to be a conscious consumer generally rather than targeting goods from one particular country.  Buy only what you need (not want), understand what is ‘enough’, care for and repair what you have and source pre-loved items where possible as ways of stepping away from over-consumption.

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Over-consumption means that we are drowning in ‘stuff’ that is cheaply mass-produced in countries such as, but not exclusively, China.  Become a conscious consumer and you will immediately significantly reduce the products you are buying from China.

Your thoughts?

Small Things

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Not everything I do is a massive project, like the photos.  It is often all the small day-to-day jobs that can make a real difference.

Today is a case in point.  Last week I received a birthday parcel from my younger daughter who lives in another state.  She had made me a decorative embroidery which was mounted in a frame.

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I have now hung it in my sewing room alongside the one she made a couple of years ago.

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The other small task I completed was mending a pair of GMan’s jeans that he wears when working in the yard.  I no longer have a mending pile so when he showed them to me I mended them straightaway.

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You can see more of the story on the inside.  The blue patch had been done some time ago and then they split again immediately below that patch.  So, today I added the green patch.

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Here is an old post with a bit more detail about my rudimentary patching methods for clothes that are worn in the garden.

 

 

Some More Structures

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Following on from the completed compost bays, I thought I would share some of our other handiwork in the garden.  Unlike the compost bays, we needed to purchase the materials for our latest endeavours.

Growing food crops invariably invites other critters who also deem it to be food.  While I am reasonably happy to share, I am not keen on seeing the entire crop destroyed.

This year has seen the inclusion of an additional pest in our garden – the citrus fruit piercing moth.  From what I have read it would appear that this is as a direct result of the extended period of drought last year followed by good rain.

We have an orchard of numerous citrus trees which generally produce a bumper crop each year but 2020 is not shaping up so well.  We have lost the entire crop of Washington navel oranges as well as the majority of the grapefruit.  These are the earliest maturing of the citrus and we are less able to assess the losses on the two Valencia orange trees as well as the two mandarins.  Fortunately, the lemon and lime trees do not appear to have been attacked much at all.

In normal seasons the only real pest to the citrus trees seems to be the scrub turkeys helping themselves.  They particularly like the mandarins.

I had previously read about using poly pipe and star pickets to create a frame for netting to cover fruit trees, however, we had never implemented this method.  A few years ago we had simply tried draping the netting directly over the tree but while it was relatively effective the netting ended up with rips in it.

The arrival of the citrus fruit piercing moth spurred me into action and we bought the supplies to create the poly pipe frame for the mandarin tree.  We chose to do this one first as it seemed to have very little damage so far which is probably due to the fruit still being quite green.  Everything I have read plus my own observation indicates that the moth attacks ripening fruit.

We used an unused net which we had over the new poly pipe frame.

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The net barely reaches the ground and I am not sure how diligent the moths are when it comes to finding their way in.  I plan to extend the length a little by adding an extra piece of netting to the bottom edge.  This will be salvaged from the previously damaged net.

The next job is to monitor the tree by torchlight at night to check for any moths which are already inside the netting.

If the netting of the mandarin tree proves to be successful in eliminating the moth as well as the scrub turkeys we will consider doing at least some of the other citrus trees.

While we were buying the supplies we made sure we also bought enough to create poly pipe tunnels over at least a couple of the garden beds.  The critter I had in my sights this time was the white cabbage moth.  Unlike the citrus fruit piercing moth, there are many and varied home-remedies to deter these pests.  However, the best prevention is to eliminate them from the brassica garden entirely.

I am determined to grow a successful crop of cauliflower this year so I  used more of the poly pipe to create hoops over the bed.

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Using some of the damaged fruit tree netting I set about making a cover.

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I included shaped ends so that it fits neatly over the hoops.

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There are a few holes which need to be patched but I am confident that this will make a difference.

I regard the money spent on supplies to create these exclusion zones as a worthwhile investment as there are a few hundred dollars worth of produce at stake – and that is just in one season.

 

Making and Growing

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It rained almost all day yesterday and today has been a succession of intermittent showers.

I had managed to plant some more seedlings before the rain started.

New snow pea seedlings.

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Eggplant seedlings.

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The climbing beans are thriving and enjoying the trellis.

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Lettuce and bok choy growing quickly.

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GMan created a new bed for the cauliflower seedlings.  It is located where the compost heap was so the soil is particularly good.  As an aside, GMan is working on building new compost bays so there will be more about that before too long.

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Meanwhile I have not been completely lazy.  I made covers for the armrests of the sofa.  On one of them I added a pocket to hold the remote controls.  The fabric I used is the leftovers from the upholstered seats of the dining suite chairs.

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I try to mix the days up with outcome-based activities interspersed with day-to-day housework and periods of complete relaxation.

 

 

Making a Mask

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**DISCLAIMER**  Everything written in this post is based on my experience and the best information I can source.  It is general information only and should not be taken as medical fact.

If you had seen this blog title a year ago you would have assumed that I had an invitation to a masquerade ball.  Fast forward to March 2020 and many of us are thinking of some sort of protective mask.  A couple of months ago in Australia, it was bushfire smoke and now it is coronavirus.

Wearing a mask is no substitute for practising ‘social distancing’ which means keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and any other person when you are out in public or preferably, staying at home as much as possible.

A homemade, cotton fabric mask does not offer the same level of protection as masks manufactured as ‘fit for purpose’.

This article lists different types of masks and their intended purpose, cost and effectiveness as well as some general information on mask-wearing and control measures.

Due to the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, masks seem to be in short supply and people for whom they are not necessary or recommended should not be buying them.

If I don’t need to be wearing a mask why did I make some?

  • I am currently healthy but that may change
  • I will not feel like making masks if I am ill
  • A cotton mask worn correctly will reduce my risk if I have to leave my home for essential tasks
  • Wearing a mask will remind me not to touch my face when I am in public
  • A mask is a visual reminder to others to keep their distance

How to wear/use a mask:

  • Wear it once
  • Wear it over your mouth and nose – not around your neck or on top of your head
  • For maximum effectiveness masks should be changed every 20 minutes or after sneezing, coughing or talking
  • Handle only by the elastic/ties when removing after use
  • Disposable masks should be discarded as soon as removed
  • Reusable masks should be contained immediately in a lidded bucket, thoroughly washed and dried in sunlight

So, you want to make masks for you and your family?

There are many, many links, instructions and tutorials.  Like all instructions, they vary enormously in the detail and quality.  Furthermore, some do not look as though the finished product would be of any use at all while others are so complex that they would be beyond they capability of many people.

As a retired operating room nurse, I am very familiar with the general size and construction of a mask as I wore one every day of my working life for over 30 years.  Therefore, I had several features in mind which I felt would make it as effective as possible under the circumstances:

  • Ties instead of elastic loops
  • Pleats to assist in contouring it to my face
  • Wire to conform over the bridge of the nose
  • Several layers of fabric
  • Tightly woven cotton fabric for the outer layer

I found this link which met my criteria.

I made 2 alterations to what is in the instructions:

  • The ties on my mask are only 36 inches in length rather than the 54 inches recommended.  That was the length of bias binding I had available and it works well for me.  You need to be guided by the size of the head of the intended wearer but you definitely do not want to be hampered by excessively long ties.
  • I added an additional layer to make a total of 3 – outer layer is a strong, tightly-woven cotton, middle layer is very fine, lightweight cotton and the inner layer (next to my face) is used cotton sheeting which is very soft and non-irritant.

The fabric you choose is important.  A tightly woven outer layer will provide the best physical barrier while the inner layer should be soft and comfortable against your skin.  If you add an extra layer keep it fairly lightweight otherwise it will be too bulky and sewing the pleats will be difficult.

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I bought a roll of plant tie wire from Bunnings for the wire to conform over the bridge of the nose but any plastic-coated twist tie would be suitable.  Be sure to turn the ends over and flatten them.

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Remember, a mask may be an adjunct in preventing the spread of COVID19 when used properly and in conjunction with effective handwashing and keeping your distance as far as possible.

The better a mask fits, the more effective it will be.  It must completely cover your mouth and nose at all times when you are wearing it.  A neat fit, without being tight, over the bridge of your nose, under your chin and in front of your ears is desired.

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Please take care and stay safe.

 

 

 

Buying with Purpose, Not Panic

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There has been a lot written in recent days about people panic buying everything from toilet paper to rice, pasta and Panadol.

We have plenty of foodstuffs and have continued to top-up more perishable items like cheese and butter.  Today I did my small version of panic-buying.  This was prompted when I broke a sewing machine needle yesterday.  I went to the drawer to get out another and found that it was the last of my regular machine needles.  I still had some heavy-duty ones which are designed for jeans and heavy fabrics like denim.

Here is the result of what is likely to be one of our last forays into the shops apart from a basic weekly (or less) grocery shop.

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Spotlight for 3 packs of sewing machine needles, a new pastry brush and a couple of packets of seeds from Bunnings.  The needles should last me for many years but the prospect of being stuck at home with piles of potential sewing and no needles was too much to bear.  In the past few days the media has been reporting that seeds and seedlings are being cleared out everywhere.  My own experiences this week would make me agree with that assessment.  GMan offered the observation that you can’t eat sweet peas!  However, they are one of my favourite flowers, they make me happy and it is the right time to plant them so they came home with me.

Then it was off to another Bunnings as GMan continued his quest (unsuccessfully) to purchase a new wheelbarrow.  We checked out the garden section and were surprised and delighted to find plenty of vegetable seedlings.  I think there must have been a very recent delivery so I took advantage of this and bought punnets of cauliflower, celery, pak choy and eggplant seedlings as well as a well-established capsicum plant.

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The cauliflower, celery and pak choy seedlings had not been thinned out so I did that when we arrived home and found that I ended up with 29 cauliflower seedlings and 24 each of celery and pak choy seedlings.  I am now keeping my fingers crossed that they all survive.

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I hope to share and swap some of these seedlings with others in my extended family so that we can all benefit from nutritious, home-grown produce.