Thursday, 25 August 2011

For the Geek who has everything

As I mentioned a few days ago, I made my first sale on Etsy this week. I don't have much up there, and I haven't been doing much marketing at all but I was still getting a bit upset that I hadn't sold anything, so it's cheered me up no end and prompted me to think about finally getting all the other bits and pieces I have planned made and listed.
Pink tabletop roleplaying set
At the moment everything I'm selling is the same - tabletop roleplaying sets with a set of dice, two mini pencils and an eraser in a handy bag. These went down really well when I made them for Christmas, so I thought I'd try them on Etsy. They've been favourited by quite a few people and I'm hoping that they'll take off more around Christmas time as people look for gifts. I have them in various colours and have plenty more dice sets waiting to be made up - if you'd one in a specific colour scheme let me know!

Whilst looking around at the competition for geek gifts, I found lots of fun items and I thought I'd share them with you, in case you're stuck for things to buy for the Level 20 Ranger in your life..

For all hard drinking, dice-rolling guys and girls, there's a very professional looking hip flask. This is one to bribe your GM with!
Dungeons And Dragons Liquor Hip Flask Stainless Steel

Most cultists like a bit of bling, and worshippers of the Destroyer of Worlds are no exception.
Time Traveling Cthulhu Brass Locket

Just so you always know who's handing out quests, and who you need to take with you when you leave the tavern.
set of 3 geeky gaming 1 inch pinback buttons

Geeks breeding. It shouldn't happen, but it does. Baby geeks are destined to grow up knowing the dice modifiers for every race in the DnD manual , but to give them an edge, you need to introduce them to polyhedral dice early. These felt toys are perfect for little ones, and don't carry the same health risks as hard D4 left on the floor.
.My first gaming dice

Something borrowed, something blue, something icosahedral as the old saying goes. Cute for the geek bride, and handy if an impromptu game of 3rd ed D&D breaks out at the reception.
D20 Garter and Toss Garter Combo

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Three weeks of silence

Ack. Three weeks since my last post and all I'm saying today is that I won't be posting for a while...
My laptop's gone and stopped working and I expect it'll be several days, if not a week before I'm back online.
So until then I'm restricted to work access and my phone, neither of which are conducive to blogging!
Still, when I return I'll have lots to write about - the haul of clothes I got from my Nan's wardrobe (better than it sounds!), a new business, some tentative exercise and a new kitchen!
I also made my first Etsy sale today from my geek shop, so I'm pretty happy about that.
 I hope life is treating you all well, I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Boating trousers

As I mentioned in my last post, I made my first pair of trousers at the weekend. I'd been out all day and realised on my way home that I didn't have the trousers I'd been intending to wear for the punting trip made yet. I had 2 choices, make a pair in one evening or wear something old. So it was that I came to be sewing late into Saturday night!
Deryn 'helping' me cut out
I started at 6pm, cutting out my pattern pieces. As I knew I had fitting issues with simplicity 3688, I decided to try my 'tried and tested' pattern, Eva Dress 650 which has some loose fitting 1930s trousers. Given how simple the blouse is, I was hoping that the trousers might be easy to put together too!
Eva Dress 650
I cut out the pattern pieces and then used them to make a very rough toile while we watched Torchwood. As it ended I whipped the pieces through the machine and tried them on. Miracle - they were a perfect fit! No adjustments needed!
I cracked on with the cutting out, going more slowly this time as I didn't want to ruin my lovely fabric, a linen mix in blue and white stripes that I bought for a song at the Nylon Shop in Kingswood, Bristol. It still had a sticker on one end from Italy, presumably where it's from. This linen is fine but in a very tight weave, giving it some weight, but is as soft as most vintage linens I've come across. I was really paranoid about messing this up!
The pieces went together very easily. There are 4 darts front and back and then the regular seams to sew up. One piece has a 'tab' at the side waist for the opening which I sewed up to. I wanted to use buttons to fasten these and not the press studs that are suggested, so I faced one side of the opening and used the tab to face the other.
Button holes could do with tidying up...
I overlocked pieces as I went which probably sped things up because I wasn't stopping to carefully finish seams. It was a bit mad as the overlocker merrily cut the fabric - lose concetration and you end up missing a chunk of your trousers!
The waistband was a bit of a trial - it's cut out in 2 pieces and then the instructions get very vague about how it all goes together. I improvised and just stitched the 2 pieces together and binged it on, but I think it may have a more refined approach if you take the time to figure it out. It was about 10pm by this point though and I just wanted the trousers finished!
Look how tidy the inside is!
The turnups are so simple. The hem it turned to the inside and stitched about 2 inches in. The resulting cuff is then turned back to the outside and sitched on the side seams. After I'd pressed them, they stayed up all on their own! I could have made the turnups a bit deeper as it turned out. I was paranoid about making them too short but as it is they are slightly on the long side. For someone of 5'9 using a 1930s pattern, this is pretty impressive!
I'm amazed at how wide the legs are - 14" each! They billow as you walk :)
The only really tricky parts were the tab bit or the side opening and the waistband construction. Sadly the instructions are vague enough that I couldn't work them out in my half asleep state, but my bodge job seems to have worked just fine.
I finished sewing the button holes at a bit before 11 - 5 hours after I'd started cutting out the pattern pieces and toile. As I stopped for a dinner break we can probably say that's 4 1/2 hours work.
I sewed on the buttons and hand stitched the inside of the waistband down in the car journey to Oxford, so that's about another hour's work, although I could have 'stitched in the ditch' has I been at home and saved myself about 50 minutes.
And here I am enjoying the fruits of my labour!
The trousers are so big and the fabric so light that they were perfect for the scorching day we had. They're also very comfy, being huge and unfitted at the waist, so again great for sitting around in the heat.
The crotch is surprisingly low - as 1930s trousers for lounging I suppose that's to be expected. This means that there's plenty of space for my 'full derriere' as it's delicately put, and when sitting they don't ride up at all.
The waist fits nicely and the darts shape the top 2-3 inches, but after this the trousers just hang. No fitting required!

These are absolutely wonderful trousers and, like the blouse (which I'm also wearing here - entire outfit from one pattern!), are simple enough that I can see myself making various adjustments to get new pairs in the future.
I think I will be making these again in a soft fabric specifically for lounging in - they're like pj bottoms but much smarter.
If I made them for work or something similar, I'd probably raise the crotch by about an inch, just to take some of the excess out and narrow the legs by an inch or 2 as well. Otherwise I'm pretty happy with these as they are! This pattern really does come highly recommended - for the cost you get 2 very simple, very effective patterns which are both simple enough for beginners to tackle. The only thing that lets them down is the 1930s style instructions which are pretty vague and not terribly well explained, but anyone who's made 2 or 3 garments before should be able to figure them out.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Messing about on the river

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Kenneth Grahame

I've always loved boats and water and after watching Brideshead revisited one too many times, decided that I had to give punting a go. So it was that on Sunday I headed to Oxford with Tom and 3 friends to take my chances on the river.
With our Marks and Spencers picnic safely stowed, we gave in to our upper class pretentions and tentitively wobbled our way from the bank. Other than how lovely the boat house and woods were all around us, the first thing we noticed were the champagne corks floating in the river. This isn't a place that kids come to drink White Lightening at the weekend!
Tom heroically took first punt and we meandered our way downstream, narrowly avoiding other wobbly boats and the bank. Whether it's just Oxford, or the fact that most people were absolute beginners I don't know, but everyone was really friendly. Passing boats would swap pleasantries, joke about piracy (I was tempted to raid the boat carrying Pimms myself) and generally make the whole thing feel like a jolly caper that we were all in together.
We stopped twice over the course of the day for picinics and I got out the G&T in a can (thanks Marks for your genius inventions!). Desipte the boathouse being heaving when we were setting off, once we'd gone a few hundred yards away the river became very quiet with only the occasional boat or picnicers to be seen. While the punting itself was reasonably tricky and hard work (I'm just not strong enough to control the massive metal pole), laying in the boat as it glides under trees was a totally relaxing and rejuvinating experience.
When I planned the trip back in May, I'd envisaged myself wearing wide linen trousers and a bonnet. On the Saturday I realised that while I had a suitable hat, I didn't have any trousers and set about running some up. Foolishly, this meant that at 6pm I sat down to attempt my first pair of trousers...
I think they turned out damned well for a first, rushed attempt! I was still finishing them off in the car on the way there, but they stood up to a day of punting and for that I'm giving myself a pat on the back. I'll be posting about them in detail very soon! To continue the blue theme I wore my blue bow blouse and a vintage hat with a pale blue ribbon on it. You can't see my shoes here but they were this pair from Primark.
Sadly I left my parasole in the car - actually I'm very annoyed about that as my shoulders burnt quite badly in the sun! Luckily the hat performed its primary function (other than decoration, obviously) and kept my face out of the worst of it - I have a light tan but no redness. Go hat!
I had a really wonderful day and more than being on the river really appreciated the chance to share something nice with my friends, free from modern distractions (we all though it best to leave our phones in the cars!). We laughed more than I have for a long time as we got stuck in mud, nearly lost the person punting to low hanging trees and getting the pole stuck we drifted away from it, and of course, low bridges.
This one was barely higher than the punt. Much hilarity ensued.

I highly recommend punting for a day's fun. We'd never been before but managed not to drown ourselves and Oxford has the most wonderful scenery beside the river. We hired our boat from the Cherwell Boathouse where they provide everything you'd need for a very reasonable £16phr at the weekends, or £80 for a full day (10am - dusk) and as you can get 6 people in a punt (plus dogs!) it works out pretty cheaply.