dogs

Daisy adventures

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My parents are having fun in North America so I have had the pleasure of looking after Daisy. Rory was meant to join her but sadly he didn’t live long enough. Anyway, I’ve been cuddling Daisy for two weeks and have two more to go. It’s so nice to have a furry companion in the house. She is such an adorable doofus. Also a needy one. I’m learning to cross stitch with one hand and pat with another. Even now I’m typing and patting.

The difficulty here is that I’m away from home 11 hours each working day. Daisy is not a dog that is meant to be alone. I came home from work to find a note on my doorstep claiming that Daisy had been barking outside all day and asked if she could be kept inside. I know a lot of dogs happily spend their days indoors whilst their humans are at work. Our dogs have always spent work hours outside and it is a little difficult for me to adjust to the change. I worry about Daisy, particularly since she can’t poop or piddle for 11 hours.

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Daisy did show signs of anxiety in the first week. But she seems to have settled down in her second week here and is comfortable. It helps that I take her for a walk/run when I get home. She loves to run. And I like running with her. Although she did manage to break a nail on her first outing and splatter blood all over my floor. I was amazed how much blood there was.

What I don’t like is that Daisy is dog reactive. When she sees (and sometimes hears) a dog then she will enter Insane Bark Mode. It isn’t an aggressive bark, more of a “HELLO NEW FRIEND!!! I WANT TO MEET YOU BUT I CANNOT REACH YOU FAST ENOUGH!!!!! I’M COMING NEW FRIEND!!!!!!!!!!!” Of course, a lot of people (and dogs) don’t look at a big dark barking lab pulling her heart out against a lead as the friendly gesture of the socially stupid. They see it as a threatening dog. She is generally fine once she has reached the dog and had a chance at some private sniffing. I really want her to meet lots of dogs but gosh Daisy, that’s not how you make friends.

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art

Steampunk

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This has been in the works for way too long. I had hoped to finish it during annual leave in March but got tonsillitis and spent a lot of time on the couch. I’ve never had tonsillitis before and hope to never have it again. Then I was swept up in a month of dog/house sitting. But finally I have finished and can spend ‘too long’ on something else (except I have no idea what to do next).

This was my first time using Clip Studio Paint since the short class I took last year. It took a long time to get a feel for the brushes. I was getting so frustrated that they wouldn’t do what I wanted. Then somehow it all started to work and now I love the program. It is so much better than my crappy free Photoshop Elements. The program also made editing the picture much easier, which was fortunate as I made a lot of changes throughout the process. Aside from “window” and “purple”, I had no clear idea of what I wanted. And I kept fiddling with the proportions.

I can’t stop staring at it thinking “shit, did I make that?” It really does seem a big step above the last thing I made. How did that happen? I’m been spending less time on digital art, not more. I feel like I should be losing my skills.

This is the pattern I used on the corset. Other images that I used for reference are saved to my Pinterest board.

food

Ombre Cake

It’s been almost two years since I’ve attempted a fancy cake (which was less fancy and more silly). I have been putting effort into making pretty cupcakes but there hasn’t been much reason to put in the effort for a fancy cake. But it’s my boyfriend’s birthday I have wanted to go crazy with colour and make an ombre cake for years so naturally I used the birthday as an excuse to make an ombre cake.

The latest season of the Great Australian Bake Off had an ombre cake challenge so I chose this recipe (spoiler: it doesn’t doesn’t taste lemony). The recipes themselves haven’t been tested and I was a little worried by some of the instructions. I never feel easy when recipes say “add the flours” when there is only one flour used – is there another flour that they forgot to add to the list of ingredients? Or heat eggwhites to 115C over water when that feels wrong to me (and my limited experience) and my boyfriend is adamant that a water bath can’t reach that temperature anyway (I panicked and took it off ~75C).

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I used this page for advice on how to ice the cake (plus my boyfriend showed me a handy brick layering strategy!). I might not have a turntable or icing smoother but it’s still an improvement from two years ago. It is a little disturbing slavering on large quantities of icing that I know exactly how much butter and sugar has gone into it. And it was a lot of icing. I might have a sweet tooth but that outer layer is way too much. I think I need to stick with cream cheese based icings.

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I still have a large amount of blue fondant from my very first fancy cake so I used some to make a quick flower. I used this page as a guide but I didn’t have the tools and I wasn’t trying all that hard. There’s only so many hours I can spend on a cake before I suffer from cake fatigue. Besides, my boyfriend’s family will still be wowed by my inferior flower. And wowed they were.

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I really enjoyed the process of making the cake. I felt a warm and fuzzy feeling finishing the cake, thinking ‘wow, I made that’. And everyone was vocally impressed. And there are so many more beautiful cakes on Pinterest that I’d love to try. But damn, it’s a lot of work. And a lot of cake that has to be eaten.

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sewing

New Look 6431

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After struggling with my first jacket, I thought this dress would be a breeze. And it was…except that I made a horrible error…

Until recently my career has focused on following instructions. Deviations from procedure were a big no no. I haven’t yet developed a good core understanding of sewing so I tend to stick pretty closely to the instructions. I attached front to back, then bodice to skirt. I took what I learned from the jacket and sewed mainly without pins and was very pleased with my work. Then came adding the zip and I realised that the waist was in fact too small. 😦

I did a lot of unpicking and then ignored the pattern instructions. I attached bodice to skirt, added the zip, and then attached front to back with some alterations. It was a little tricky as I had already attached the bias binding to the arm holes and didn’t unpick that. So the side seams (particularly under the armholes) don’t look quite as nice as I originally did but the main thing is that it now fits.

The frustrating thing is that I already had the relevant knowledge, I just didn’t know. When I made a dress in a sewing class in 2013, my teacher told me to add top to bottom first instead of front to back. But she didn’t explain why (ie. makes it easier to alter the size if it isn’t quite right) and I never thought about the reason why. So here I am, mindlessly following the instructions like I always do, instead of actually understanding what I’m doing. This is what makes me still a beginner despite sewing for four years.

At least I now know a to attach my dresses top to bottom instead of front to back. May I never make this mistake again.

sewing

Motor City Express Jacket

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After all the time I spent preparing the pattern pieces for this project, I was very keen to start sewing. It didn’t start well – I had my needle in the wrong position for two seams before I picked up my mistake. It was only 1/8″ so it was very annoying to unpick and redo it over such a little mistake. Then, as things were starting to go well and I was feeling confident, I could not for the life of me match the front facing to the front lining. Normally the issue would be the lining, I’m terrible at cutting out lining. But it turned out I had cut some sides of the front facing a size too large. Urg!

Throughout the sewing I cycled between thinking “I’ve got this” to “This project is beyond me”. I do have a tendency to be overly ambitious in my creative projects but in many ways it is a good thing. I might not get the outcome that I want but striving for something that is beyond my current skill set pushes me further than I could go cruising through an easy project. I might have felt that this jacket is a train wreck but I still had the sense of satisfaction that I’ve come so far in learning how to sew and that I am learning a lot more from this particular class.

Attaching the sleeves to the rest of the jacket just wouldn’t work! The lining crimped easily but it still didn’t match the jacket so I ended up easing it. And I managed to rip one of the sleeves. I picked it up and the notch ripped! Fuck that, I’m not cutting it out again…so I stitched up the rip and went ahead with attaching it.

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And then, after months of agony, I was so close to the end. And the hems were wrong! I don’t know what I did! It looks like I didn’t properly correct the front facing when I cut it wrong way at the beginning. But I really have no idea what I did or how to fix it. So fuck it, I stitched it up as best I could…

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So there you go, I finished it. It does not look even remotely professional but fuck yeah, I did it!

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sewing

Oh Deer

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The moment I saw this pattern (Simplicity 1218), I knew I had to attempt it! It is just so ridiculous and cute. My mum gave it to me as a birthday present in 2015 and I did not start it until a year later.

Lumpy3.jpgIf you have browsed my past posts, you would see that my few attempts at soft toys have not been too successful. Because of my past experiences, I spent a lot of time procrastinating and this project has dragged for months. Then I got up to sewing the antlers and they drooped. I think this would be an expected issue? But the instructions make no mention of preventing droopy antlers? I feel like that should have been mentioned instead of assuming people know what they’re doing…

Thankfully my handy engineering boyfriend gave me some wire and told me the best way to rig it.

I’m pretty pleased with my deer head. I’ve named him Lumpy because my sewing wasn’t great and he looks lumpy because of it. Sewing soft toys is a lot harder than clothes but I think I’m getting a little bit better. Lumpy now adorns my study.

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