Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

I was going to write something about what I'd done this year but today I got some brioche buns on special which meant having to make raspberry and bread and butter pudding. It has pretty much eclipsed anything else I may have achieved this year!
 I hope you are celebrating in whatever way you choose to do so. I couldn't think of anything worse than being at a huge party right now. I think I ran out of people space in my brain about three months ago and this time is for recharging and clearing space for 2018.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Sister Act

Well jumping around, back to Christmas Eve, I was waiting for some photos but meh, instead I've taken some screen grabs of the live video I made for Facebook. That was fun! I only discovered how to do it by accident too.
I can't link the video here but it really is pretty terrible. Here's the "highlights":
Me pointing out the scaffolding on the church, which is being "de-earthquaked."
 Jo, showing us her eye makeup. she's a really good makeup artist for "real lady" looks, and she got into my glitter! She also, obviously, got into my Christmas costume! With multo safety pins too.
 Us mugging it up for the camera. The imbalance of face was because I couldn't work out how to put the camera into selfie mode while it was live so I was guessing.
Silliness indeed!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Another UFP Finished

Another UFP (unfinished project) lurking in my house is a footstool I bought a couple of years ago in a junk shop in Taihape as discussed here. But to save you jumping around, here is the photo I took of it when I got it home. Sadly the beautifully executed tapestry top was so badly faded, there was no hope for it. I did try washing it to see if it was just dirt but nope, munted. I binned it and the naked, flock covered inset has been sitting balance on a chair in the lounge while the frame skulked behind the dining room table. This all had to stop today!
Its original magnificence -mine for $23.
 The components. 
 A close up of the fascinating flock stuffing, clearly made from shredded rags. It's revoltingly dusty, over a straw sub layer, but I am reusing it because I can't be bothered spending hours recreating this part from scratch.
To contain it all, I put a layer of the thin non woven stuff we call pattern cloth over it. This also gave me a chance to vacuum it without sucking the whole lot up the cleaner!

Next up, my fabric. It was an upholstery fabric sample from goodness knows where, and I fiddled about for a bit to get the right part of the pattern on top.
The big flower and leaf were the best option, and I am happy with them. I've fiddled with the colour to try and recreate the richness of the fabric but even here it isn't really showing how fabulous it is!
This is the top cut out with just enough underlap. Or so I thought. When I was pressing it I saw that there are holes along one short end from where the sample was pinned to its header. I could have easily cut it a bit longer had I seen, GAH!
See the holes? I managed to just make it fit at both ends by putting the holes here. As the inset is well and truly fitted into the frame I think these will last just fine in their trapped state. But you can see below how short I had to make it at the other end.
After gun-stapling all the way around. I distribute the fullness at the corners into a series of pleats. I think we could have stretched the fabric a wee bit more but it is firm enough. This is the big rookie mistake with upholstery - either not stretching the fabric firmly enough, and/or pulling it into the corners too tightly so the bias distorts and the corners eventually wear through ahead of schedule. Ask me how I know...
And here it is! I decided I wasn't going to chalk paint it because the oak is in such lovely condition and it goes with our house really well as it is. Also, this means it's now DONE.
No more weird bits of furniture in my lounge, but  a lovely foot stool and extra seat for visitors!
I am so not caring that I didn't line the bottom with some pattern cloth to hide the raw edges. I would have, had the sides not been deep enough to well and truly hide it.
What do you think; pretty?

More sewing!

Holiday projects! We lovez them! For years I have had it in my mind to embellish a denim jacket with one of my beloved Virgin Mary panels. The trouble was, I needed to find, or make, a denim jacket. Making one has never appealed to me, and it was only this month that I found one I love at City Chic (ahem).
I love that it comes to the natural waist and is just a really good, classic shape.

I "auditioned" the various colour and style combos for VM panels and this one won:
Because RED, and an interesting shape, kind of like a ginger jar.
I pressed some Steam-a-Seam onto the back and cut it out like this:
Shown cut out through all layers, the back (this is an old piece of SaS, before the grid markings we get now) and the back after the backing was peeled off.
Just to be sure I didn't put it on crooked, I put a pin at the half way point of the back panel top and bottom, and lined up the cut out panel with them. Then I pressed it into place. Weird photo of me pressing as I am left handed!
See why I called it a ginger jar? 
Never one to stop at a single thing, I decided to add some embroidered motifs, These roses had no iron on back and though the plan was to machine embroider them on, I did want them SaS'ed first so they wouldn't shift about.
 So I had a play; first I finger pressed pressed the rose onto a piece of SaS, then roughly trimmed off the excess paper. Then using the big piece of backing peeled off the main motif as a pressing cloth, I pressed it so I could peel off the backing. The result is bottom left. The back is bottom right, showing how cleverly I left the price sticker on it! You can see a bit of a web of glue left over. Not good. I trimmed this out before pressing it onto the jacket, again using the backing paper as a pressing cloth.
The rose pressed into position - a little bit of glue residue but it will fall off or wash out or whatever!
Still being determined to make this easier, I tried a different tactic. 
I got all the way to the point where I have just hot pressed the SaS onto the rose and peeled off the backing paper, but to get rid of the residue, I laid it onto a scrap of fabric, right side down (so opposite to if I was attaching it) laid the backing paper over it and pressed it. What this did was to melt the residual glue onto the scrap, while leaving the rest on the rose. It was a teeny bit mozzarellaish peeling it off but it was fairly easy.
Hard to see but it has less residue to trim off. 
 Rose two positioned. And now, onto the Birds! I grabbed a symmetrical pair of these gorgeous birds from the shop. They already had an iron on back which was pretty useless but really it is only to hold them in place for a wee while.
Here we are so far. I've machine embroidered this all with variegated thread. I am IN LOVE.
And now, rhinestones.
More is more, right? ;-)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Boxing Day!

We made it through, huzzah! A brunch with lovely friend Chrissie, then lunch with my family at sister Jo's house, then popping into the shop (?!) to deliver iceblocks to the hard working kids who perversely decided to spend the day sorting out the stock room. After they were done we fed them a late vegetarian Christmas dinner of falafel, hummus, and lovely salads. Followed by an espresso pavlova.
This is my second helping. It did not last long.
Pavlova is the WTF of desserts. It is simply sweet, and bland, and to me it is the perfect base recipe on which to get creative. I make rose scented ones, orange and balsamic vinegar with white pepper ones, and I thought I would try one with a shot of espresso in place of the hot water.
This was delicious!
Here is the recipe:

Hot Water Pav with Espresso

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
1.5 cups of caster sugar (I found raw caster sugar so used that)
2 egg whites
1T each of cornflour and vinegar (balsamic gives the best flavour but malt is fine)
a pinch of salt
a teaspoon of really good vanilla paste
1/3 cup of boiling water or freshly made and still hot espresso (stovetop in this case)
Now this is the weird bit. Put EVERYTHING into the beater bowl and beat it. Get it beating fast or the hot coffee may cook the egg whites. It's never happened to me but I worry!
Beat it on max for about 10 minutes, or until it is thick, glossy and not grainy at all. I ended up adding a wee bit more hot water to mine this time
The way I cook it is c/- Nigella, thank you darling. I draw around a dinner plate on a piece of silicon baking paper, turn it over so the drawing is not facing up, and stick that paper to a baking tray with a few blobs of mixture. Then pile the mixture into the circle and shape it nicely. Believe it or not this two egg white mixture makes a dinner plate sized pavlova. Double it and you have a pav big enough for 10-16 people!
Turn the oven down to 120 and pop the pav in. Let it cook about 40 minutes - it is ready when the top is crisp and has a hollow feel to it when lightly tapped. Turn the oven off and leave it in there to cool.
This I topped with vanilla flavoured whipped cream, slices of orange marinaded in triplesec overnight, and grated dark chocolate. I think it would also be delicious with black doris plums.

So, did the kids get the stock room finished? Yes they did! When we popped in to deliver cold drinks and iceblocks about 3pm, I was quite concerned about the enormity of the task, especially as I had to ask them to redo nearly everything because of the shapes and sizes of what was to come. But they got it all done by 7.30!
And here they are in the kitchen after dinner and after gifts were unwrapped, tying each other up with the leopard print ribbons. I KNOW RIGHT? This is what you get from giving burlesque performers too much sugar and too much leopard print! (the gifts were all leopard print too)
For those of you who read long you will know that Charlie (left) and Jack (right) are not the children of my loins but of my adult life choices, and I am their mother for the same reason. And it is rather lovely that they have a very brother/sister relationship. This moment looks rather intimate but was really about concentrating on what to do next with the ribbon. It was hilarious in the way overtired antics can be!
Merry Christmas to you all and may you make sensible life choices, especially in regard to Boxing Day Sales xo

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Eve Shennigans Planned

My darling sister Jo, aka Popsy Turvey, has asked me to co-host her church's Carols on the Lawn on Christmas Eve. This is St Margaret's Presbyterian in Silverstream. I wanted to put a photo up but I could only find photos of kids doing fun things, which says a lot about St Mags, which is a bubbly, fun and down to earth church. Just like my sister.
St Mags had a hard time in the 2013 quakes, rendering the church itself out of bounds, and the usual insurance  bollocks. Services transferred to the hall for the intervening years. Jo and I did a rendition of The Bathing Suit Song at some point in the past, and it is so nice to get a chance to work together.

We sound great together - she has a much better singing voice than I do which is fine, and her rich soprano and my alto voice harmonise as only common DNA can do. Plus we've been bouncing off each other for over 40 years so we know how to interact and improvise.
I'm allowed to wear the infamous Nativity costume! Jo is wearing my red sequin Santarina horror.
It should be hilarious! Well, for us anyway. I'm not sure how the good people of St Mags will take it, but I think it will be all right :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Weimar? Vy not?

Sorry about the heading! (not sorry!)
Recently I had a photo shoot with a 1920s Weimaresque vibe, which is quite different from my usual look. So I did some research into makeup styles; good grief that Great Gatsby movie has a lot to answer for!
This one was by far the most fun and had a really good look:
It's also a masterclass in eyebrow blocking. I found it very inspiring, trouble is like most 1920s looks for women, the result is a sort of "worried and vulnerable" look that really doesn't suit Constance, who is neither!
So, I cherry picked the aspects that I liked, and adapted it for my own look.
I also adore the looks in Cabaret the Movie - while heavily influenced by 1970s fashion, the use of colour really adds to the sense of a surreal world of crazy stuff that is the Club. I love that. I don't so much love Minelli's "bedroom eyes" so I underplayed that aspect of the look.
Selfies taken on the day. I know the green is quite vivid but most of the photos will be in some kind of unsaturated state if not actually black and white, and I am enjoying playing with green right now. Brings out the gold in my eyes. And, Cabaret! I didn't overdraw my mouth, and finished it off just a tiny bit inside its natural width. Pale base, over blushed cheeks, big lower lashes, thin brows, shadow starting under them and sweeping out to join the rest. All this is fairly new to me. Such fun!
So what do you think? Can you imagine this face singing a Kurt Weil song?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Just me

It's stinkin' hot here right now. Around 28-30 degrees and a bit humid. So on my all too rare visit to the hair dressers on Tuesday (trim and deep conditioning), Martin used cold water to wash my hair. It was heavenly! Then he blew it dry and put some GHD curls in for fun. I took this selfie on the street afterwards. I should have gotten one with him!
Because I didn't, this is my darling hairdresser, friend and fellow drag queen, Martin/ Harlie Lux. Current holder of our city's Drag Artist supreme title - Mx Capital Drag. Apart from being one of the kindest and most talented people I know, I love how totally different Martin and Harlie look. But also, neither of them will ever smile for a photo but rarely stop smiling in real life!
We also share a passion for synthetic hair, and talk incessantly about it while he is doing my real hair. This tickles me.
Martin (left) and Harlie Lux (right)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The lure of faster fashion

I just had an insight. I am not a conscious consumer, I am a previously starved consumer. A consumer for whom there was nothing to consume, therefore I did not consume it, therefore I am "conscious."


As a lifetime fattie, I've mostly been ahead of the size range game. The availability of clothes that fitted was pretty dire, and clothes I would wear? Next to nothing. As a teen my only items of RTW apart from unders, were my school shirts (men's ones bought at op shops) and my dad's old suit jacket, which I loved. The eclectic collection that comprised my wardrobe was no more attainable in a womenswear shop in New Zealand than a handful of magic beans.
Over the years in between, more fashion in my size range has appeared, but its at one end uniformly depressing quality, cut and fondness for cheap synthetics, or at the other end loose cut and lovely fabrics but scary prices, kept my engagement very low and picky.
So, here we are in the 2010s, and I have been on a quest to own only A Few Good Things for most of it. And feeling a tad superior about it too I am ashamed to say.

Last night I performed the cross seasonal ritual of taking my most wintry clothes out of the wardrobe and packing them in flat containers that live under the bed, while hauling out sundresses and other summer fare to hang up. I have three feet of hanging space only so this really is necessary even with A Few Good Things. But this year I have noticed that my three feet is feeling a bit pinched. My wardrobe appears to have been packing on the pounds. And I have only sewn costumes for Constance (kept elsewhere) and done mending. So where did all the extra stuff come from???

Oh hai, City Chic.

City Chic (CC) is my Achilles heel. A ready to wear shop that has many flaws, such as having no colour sense whatsoever and an uncanny fondness for polyester. But it also acknowledges that women love a fit and flare silhouette, a peplum top, a maxi dress, and an interesting jacket cut.

It started with Constance - I was given a converted CC cocktail dress and it looked so good on me, I sought out the shop to see what else they had in that cut. QUITE a bit let me tell you. A good half of  Constance's wardrobe staples come from there. But then I started noticing real girl clothes, trying them on and getting interested. And then when I landed an office job again, I went a bit mad.
So yes, I am off my high horse. Of course if you can't find anything that you like and fit, it's easy not to buy anything.

I am really incredibly grateful to have had a body that bucks the RTW trend for most of my life, otherwise I would never have had the motivation to sew, I would never have formed a sense of style that was initially more about making a point about being different than anything else, but allowed me to learn to draft and drape and learn how to make the shapes I wanted to wear.

But it won't get me to Heaven any faster. Not when I keep prowling the online site Sale section, and buy things because they are marginally ok, instead of exactly what I wanted.
You may let out your breath now -having rumbled myself doing this, I am stopping.
Here's a collage of Constance in costumes that started life as City Chic buys. They've all been embellished in some way, except the devore corset cover. Which ripped at the seams on first wearing. More reason not to buy fast fashion tat!