Little Yard of Horrors

I have discovered another hobby to add to the already ridiculous list!  Hooray!

It’s gardening!  Veggie gardening, to be more specific.  If you know me in real life, you’ll be sitting there going well duh, it’s not like you’ve been talking about anything else besides your freaking garden for like the last month, but hey.  The good people of the interwebs haven’t had the chance to be overexposed to me jumping up and down, eyes maniacally gleaming, squealing “MY BABIES ARE FLOWERING!!!” yet.  My friend Death is an extremely skilled and creative gardener, and she got me into it and has been watching and helping and guiding me (and giggling at me from a safe distance), and I now see why just about every retiree/wanky eco-family/school with ANY non-tarmacky ground is really into it.  It’s ridiculously calming and enjoyable and nowhere near as complicated as I thought.

First we had a massive trip to Bunnings, testing both our Tetris skills and the structural integrity of Death’s car.

Then in the front yard, I used my new mattock to clear out all the manky grass, then dig down through the soil to churn it up until it became sort of fluffy and edible-looking.  The grass went in a pile on the veranda so that it would dry out and become all innocuous.  It sounds quick here, though in reality it took a whole afternoon mostly because I’m not the Hulk, but I did it nevertheless, and by the end of the afternoon I felt like I had the hang of how to use a mattock with relative efficiency.  I now feel confident that in the event of the zombie apocalypse, that mattock could get me a few extra minutes.  Then one of my housemates helped me carry the rotten old bookcase out the front that’s been mouldering out in the back yard for however many millions of years, and I just kicked the back out of it and used it as a raised bed.  The shelves got propped together to form another raised bed behind it.  Behold!

October garden

MY BABIES!!!  Back when they were babies… *tear*

November garden

On the top left are two types of potato, on the top right are five heirloom tomato varieties (tigerella, red dwarf fig, green zebra, lemon drop and mortgage lifter), and then at the front are snow peas and normal peas.  As the potatoes grow, you pile pea straw around them and they break it down into soil.  The higher you pile, the more potatoes you get.  Death likes to grow them in cheap laundry tubs from Kmart with a hole bashed in the bottom for drainage. Neat and productive!

The peas may look a little stunted in the second picture, which is mostly because while the snow peas chose to put their energy into growing tall with big leaves, the peas put theirs into, well, peas.  Like these:

pea 4

pea eaten

After.  Except then I ate those bits too. 

My tomatoes are also starting to fruit!  They’d probably be a bit more on their game if Melbourne could maintain a solid run of warm-ish weather (honestly, it’s two weeks away from summer and it’s been cold and rainy for the last two or three weeks)  Efforts to pollinate them with a paintbrush are somewhat hit and miss (maybe I need to put on some 70s music for them?  Handcuff them? Play them explicit videos of other tomato plants pollinating?)  But at least so far the green zebras and the lemon drops have started to get the message:

tom 2

tom 3

The lemon drops will get a little bigger, but turn yellow.

Out the back there’s pretty much only one spot that’s not concreted and wasn’t already being used for something, so I pulled out the stubborn, unfriendly grass that lived there, tilled it up, added a little blood and bone (to the delight of the local cats) because the soil’s not as nice as it is out the front, and then planted some pumkins and  some curious plants that came courtesy of Death’s odd mother called ‘tree onions’, which apparently produce edible onion-like things at the top rather than under the ground.

October pumplings

Wittle pumpkin-lings…

November pumplings

And again only bigger now.

The tree onions have begun to develop buds at the top, which release these sort of tentacle things.  I have no idea what they’re doing…

tree onion

“Taking over the world, puny earthling!  Soon I will be invincible! Mwahahahahaha!!!”

Not turning into onions yet though, that’s for damn sure.  In the meantime, I have some herbs to content me also, which look faintly wanky yet fetching in their assortment of pots on chairs and whatever outside the door to the kitchen.  Tasty and convenient!  I have taken two photos with appropriate hipster-filters:

November herbs 2

Only it was all dark and rainy this arvo so the filter didn’t work so well.

October Herbs filter

The photo from just after I planted was better for hipsterlicious instagrammy glory.

Ermergerd they’re on, like, chairs and stuff in like, non-matching pots. Does it count as wanky if it’s totally unintentional?  If I literally just used random old crap we had lying around because I couldn’t be bothered buying stuff?  And then took a photo with a silly filter for giggles and then realised OH GOD THIS LOOKS SO PRETENTIOUS.

But tasty.

And for the final twist in the tale, I chucked an old potato I found last time I cleaned out my kitchen cupboard (it had grown legs and possibly developed intelligence and was trying to escape) into a big pot with some compost.  Look what happened next:


It’s aliiiiiiiiive! 

On Such a Roll.

I keep finishing things.  WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME???

This morning I finished the Bootleg Bottega Veneta dress, which I then wore to Oaks Day (ie: Ladies Day at the races) with friends.  I don’t really like the races, and this is the first time I’ve been to a Spring Racing Carnival thing at Flemington.  Probably due to the slicey wind, it was actually pretty tame, though some of the hats and outfits were pretty funny.  Now I’m not against crazy fashions, but it’s when people are deadly serious about their hat – or turquoise pea shrub gone bonkers,  or Loki’s helmet from the Avengers, or giant beehive made of nylon foliage, or scarlet basket starfish, etc – that I, in my manky old straw sunhat, couldn’t quite contain the gigglies.  Fashions on the Field takes itself way too seriously.   Also, ladies who know they’ll be walking on grass and still wear stilettos.  Try maintaining your dignity while hobbling along stiltedly like a praying mantis through a bowl of molasses.   Never was a better argument made in favour of chunky heels.

Now back to the dress.  Hooray I didn’t cut loads of corners! Well, the zip set-in could be better, but everything’s hemmed or finished or tucked away so that there can be no frayage, and it’s not ugly as sin on the inside for a change.

Instead of the original back with long straps that I’d envisaged, I went with a big floppy 70s-style tie which looked more balanced.  Knee length is a funny length on me because I’m such a pear, and especially with the cut-away neck it needed something up top to even out the froof.

I even have a metre left over of that ikat fabric, which is quite lovely apart from the tendency to pucker, and I think I want to use it to make some kind of summer top that I can wear more often.

So without further ado, here are some photos of the finished thing:



I don’t know why these always turn out so blurry.


And one of the back. 

Oh, and I finally got some pictures of my sexy flute friend in her new 1920s dress…

                                       naomi dress back           naomi dress front

I can guarantee it’s at least six times hotter in real life even.  The train just flows as she walks.  Slinky.

Botherpower, Irony, Peplums and… Lieutenant Hornblower?

Because my apple-green linen is so very very nice (and was so very pushing my frugal nature cost-wise) I decided to make a working toile yesterday of the Peplum of Irony skirt.

Ironically enough, the fabric I decided to use is a completely different weight.  I don’t remember what it is or from whence it came, but for the last three years (at least) it’s been sitting in my stash as two metres of this black and white strangely-woven, strongly-suspect-it’s-upholstery-fabric stripy stuff.  In fact, it’s spent a lot of time pinned/draped over various bits of furniture in pretty much all of my student flats, slowly absorbing all sorts of nasty grime and stains.


The fabric.  It’s sorta stripy and lumpy and nasty.

But it was what I had, and I couldn’t be bothered actually getting other fabric,  and I was up for a bit of a stripe matching challenge, seeing I’m about at good at stripe-matching as most dogs are at making soufflè.

My pattern-drafting is mostly ok these days, so I used the basic skirt pattern from my Jigsaw skirt-refashion, and drafted some pleated peplums, two parts-per side.  I thought about cutting them in one, but the stripes gave me too much capacity for epic screwups.  Unfortunately I didn’t think the bulk thing through, and now I have these fat peplums.


My pleaty peplum draft.  And the bum end of my cello case.


Front with pleated peplums basted on.

Strangely, I was suddenly bothered to do the whole thing PROPERLY.   Properly as in baste EVERYTHING, bias bind the seam allowances, and bag out the peplums with Lincraft’s infamous $1.99/m ‘polypop’, which for those who aren’t familiar with this beastly stuff, is nowhere near as fun as it sounds.  Also, I am one of those rare people who detests making bias binding.  It’s one of my absolute least favourite things to do, and I’ll go to great lengths to avoid it.  But lo!  The whole thing is nothing but bias binding on the inside, and  (yucky acetate lining so I can wear the damn thing with stockings and not have it do the annoying ridy-uppy thingy that happens otherwise.)


Carefully matched and basted stripes.




Bagged-out pleats.


Almost matched stripes on the back.  To quote Kryten: ‘Smug Mode’.

The other reason why I don’t normally do things properly is that it takes me literally forever to do anything.  I start doing something and I suddenly end up outside the space-time continuum for what feels like a few minutes to me, but in actual space-time is more like seven and a half hours.  It’s a special skill I’ve inherited from my Ronnie: my dear grandad, who can take up to a week to eat breakfast, and entire seasons to vacate the bathroom.  So what I do to make sure I don’t suddenly look up and find it’s 3:30am and I haven’t eaten anything for 18 hours, is I watch things while I sew, and when something ends, it pulls me back into normal space-time and I can see that x amount of time has elapsed.  It started as a productive sing-along with Nixon in China (SQUEE!   My very first professional opera is going to be Nixon in Freaking China!  So unimaginably excited!), then the most recent episode of 24 Hours in A & E, then a doco about the links between private security and the diamond trade in Liberia (I’m not kidding, and it was actually very interesting, thankyou very much), and then it finished up with Horatio Hornblower.  Which is fine for watching, but not so fine for sewing.  It’s all, oh no, French warships!  and woah, plague!  and look out, fireships! and I’m like, WHERE?  QUICK!  FIRE THE CANONS!  LOOK OUT MISTER HORNBLOWER!!! OH CRAP I JUST SEWED THAT UPSIDE-DOWN.  And of course there’s the very best uniforms that ever existed in the entire history of the world.  Oh the crisp stocks and neckties…  The bicorn hats…  And I sit there thinking, why am I making this stupid skirt?  I should totally be making one of those uniforms instead.  And then I can go to fancy dress parties as Horatio.  Fan-girl?  Who, me?

funny hornblower face

Keep dreaming, daggy fan-girl, you’ll never make a uniform as smart as mine!

Picture via Entertainment Trivia: UK Edition | Knight

I digress.  The skirt is so close to done.  Here it is modelled by my curvaceous 19th Century mahogany dining chair (the best find ever, after the battered Danish Deluxe I found on the side of the road).


Yeah, I know, that fabric’s a bit thick for pleating, and it looks very huge and wonky on my chair!


It just needs hemming, some of the basting taken out, and a hook and eye for the back.  The stripe is what makes it ironic, I think, and the fabric.  The fabric is way too thick for pleating, but somehow it sort of works.  The stripe-matching still isn’t perfect, but I guess that’s practice. The other weird thing, it’s slightly too big at the waist.  I don’t get it.  I draft a pattern with no ease in it, baste right at the edge, sew inside the basting, using a bulky, non-stretch fabric, without even including any fabric allowance, and it STILL ends up sort of loose-ish.  Maybe my darts were a little conservative? Who knows.  It’s a mystery.  Hopefully it won’t happen again when I make my green linen version.  Now I’m thinking of tweaking the pattern though, because pleats would work better on someone who doesn’t have the insane waist-to-hip-ratio that I have.   Seriously, Horatio doesn’t know how lucky he is to have that straight-up-and-down guy-figure of his.  Fitting clothes would be so much easier.

Now the cool weather’s back, Bella the cat has re-discovered her frisk.  She thinks rightly that all fabrics from Lincraft  – polypop particularly – are hostile incursions into my stash and need to be dealt with using a strategy code-named Operation Pounce.  I managed a couple of blurry action shots.




Once subdued, the polypop is carried a safe distance into the hallway.

Also, I have more illustrations in this month’s Farrago!  Pick it up from Union House!