Sunday, October 24, 2010

Undoing my front garden

This weekend I spent a lot of time working on my front garden. On Monday, Allie, a friend from the historical society and an avid gardener, is taking me to a gardening center to get fertilizer, mulch and whatever else I need to improve the sandy Western Australian soil.  Then we're going to her house where she's going to give me some plants from her garden.  (I'm still not sure why she doesn't need them, but Yay for free plants!) 

Both my front garden and back garden are really small, shaded for most of the day, and have to compete for soil space with trees.  So far I've not had much luck in figuring out how to add color to my spaces, but I'm hoping Allie will have some good ideas.  But let me show you what my front garden looked like before this weekend.

It's L-shaped, with a tree in the corner.  (Funny fact about my tree:  When we moved in it looked completely dead and barren and really ugly, but as soon as spring hit it started sprouting leaves like crazy.  Now, the foliage is so dense that barely any light gets through to the soil below.  I'm not sure which is worse.) 

I got the landlord's approval to do basically what I wanted with the garden awhile ago, and was just waiting for my Impatiens (my fine with shade and sandy soil Impatiens) to grow before I dug up anything.  But that was a bust (see previous post), so yesterday I pulled up all the leafy green plants, and today I hacked the mostly dead vine-thing down to the branches that still had growth on them.  I also attempted to turn over the soil, but I kept encountering large roots.  I don't want to harm my annoying tree, or the vine-things, but I have no idea how any other plants are going to survive in my soil with the existing root structures.  But maybe Allie will offer insight with that too.

The after photos:

All those sticks on the patio came from the vine.  About 2/3 of the thing was dead, and seemingly had been for a long time--the branches were really brittle.  So now the vine looks lopsided, but it'll hopefully grow better.

Growing Impatiens with growing impatience

About a month ago I bought Impatiens seeds, potting soil, plastic cups, and trays to set them in.  I cut holes in the bottom of the cups so the soil could drain, and I faithfully set them out in the sun (per the instructions on the back of the seed packet) and kept the soil moist.  This is what they looked like on day one:

The seed packet informed me that Impatiens have a sprouting period of 14-21 days.  So, after 30 days, this is what my little seeds looked like.

Actually, it's the exact same photo, but you get the idea.  My impatiens were a monumental failure.  Of 75 seeds, after 1-2 weeks longer than they're supposed sprouting time, only two seeds have done anything.  Yesterday I decided I'd had enough, and gave up on all but the two.  And it's not like any activity could be going on under the soil, because Impatiens are supposed to be sewn at most 1mm down.  I could still see several seeds just sitting there, inert.  So now all my gardening hopes and dreams rest on two little sprouting seeds. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Regency Corset

Before I left California, I completed the mockup for my regency corset. I had decided to use the 1800-1820 Regency Corset pattern by Mantua-Maker , but knew from reading about other people's experiences that it was probably going to need some alterations.

I knew that in order to create an accurate corset mockup, I would need to practically create an entire corset. You can't really know how a corset will fit until it is boned and laced. So, I used old scraps of ribbon to create boning channels, and punched holes in the back panels to lace it up. Thankfully, my cotton canvas held up and none of my holes ripped out.

Back panel with pink cotton velvet boning channels

If I remember correctly, the next two photos are of mockup one. As you can see, I still needed to adjust the bust gussets, and the hip gussets. The Mantua-Maker pattern calls for two hip gussets on each side, but I found that the corset fit much better when I made them smaller and added a third gusset along the back seam.

In the end I was really glad that I took the time to make my mockup as "real" as possible. I think the corset is going to fit a lot better because of it, and I knew I wouldn't need to worry so much about fit when I was working on my actual corset.

From my mockup pieces I drafted new pattern pieces, and from there cut out my beautiful white coutil from Lacis. Then I stopped sewing for three months while my sewing machine made its way to Australia.

Two weeks ago I got my machine back and was finallly able to start sewing again. After taking a day to get back into my mindset of three months ago, not the easiest task, I put together a corset. I'd like to think it would be done by now, except I seemingly forgot to buy an awl on that last Britex spree, so I couldn't make the holes for my eyelets. Also, with all my alterations to the original pattern, a couple of my bones needed to be an inch shorter than the ones I had. Other than the binding along the bottom and my eyelets, though, the corset is complete.

I was able to use a "fancy" triangle stitch on my new machine to reinforce the base of my gussets.

Regarding my new sewing machine--the best possible graduation gift from my parents--It's fantastic! I was incredibly fond of my previous machine, but there's no way it could have handled eight layers of coutil. This one punched right through with no complaints. My only problem is the technology. There are too many buttons, and too many options, neither of which are well explained in the instruction book. But it's made for some fun experiments.

Early this week I hope to receive my new bones and the awl so I can start handsewing--what I'm sure will feel like--a billion eyelets.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Animals fall from the sky here.

A couple weeks ago I was out on our front patio painting side tables a very lovely shade of blue, when I heard two small thumps. After looking around, I looked up and saw that two little lizards, maybe about 4 inches long, had fallen onto our plastic awning thing from somewhere, perhaps the roof. Neither one moved for awhile and then they both started scrambling up the plastic, seemingly unharmed.

Later, I heard another, with a slight smack sound, thump. This time, a lizard had fallen all the way down to the patio (thankfully missing my still-drying furniture pieces). The odd thing was that I had no idea where it had fallen from. The little thing would have had to make a monumental leap off the roof to land where it did, and nothing else seemed to be above where it landed. By the way, the lizard seemed fine--at least it disappeared when I looked away.

So...flying lizards. Not too weird, yet.

Yesterday: I was walking down our alley (yes, we have an alley, and I love it) when I noticed a dead fish lying on the ground. And this wasn't a fish fillet or parts of a fish. He had his head, and his silvery scales and everything. Eight inch long fish, just lying there, with no bodies of water anywhere near by.

So...flying (or at least falling) fish.

I figure that as the falling animal of September was the tiny lizard, and so far in October we had a fish 5 times the size of the lizard, in November I'm expecting something the size of cats to start falling from the sky.

Hello and Welcome

So I told a bunch of you I'd be doing this thing, called a blog, so here it is. Finally.

I suck at long distance communication, as you all know, so I'm hoping you'll read this and it will somehow make up for my lack of individual emails. Probably not, but I can dream.

Anyway, Hello. and Welcome.