Thursday, 31 July 2014

we're gonna need a (bigger) boat

Its only rained twice this week.

Once for 3 days and once for 4 days.

Ok. Its been raining a lot.

This morning we had pools of water all over the paddocks. At lunchtime we had a lake.

It all starts up here, where the creek overflows near the ford.

The problem is ongoing and we've been trying to fix things since we bought the farm. First thing we did was hire someone with an excavator who swore he knew exactly what needed to be done, then went ahead and did what he wanted even when we and the neighbour behind us jumped up and down and told him not to.

See, it all began way before our time here with a combination of things.

First the landowner up the hill sold off blocks but kept the road/driveway as a private road. And didn't put in culverts. 

And the council allowed that to happen.

Next, the creek that runs down from the hills behind us was redirected by the guy who owned our property before us. The creek used to run through the middle of the top paddock and he moved it to where the ford is now.

This resulted in an unnatural sharp bend on the creek which overflows every time we get more than a light rain. Add to that the fact that there are no culverts on the road above, so we also get sand washing down in the stream. The sand fills up the creek bed and, when it rains heavily, the water overflows the creek sides and floods our paddocks.

For the first two years we lived here we couldn't get up to the top of our property in winter cause we couldn't get over the ford. It was under water.

Enter our amazing excavator man who decided we needed a 'secondary creek' for overflow and this is what we have now:

See where the water runs into the creek at the top of the pic? Now notice where the sand filled 'overflow' has overflowed into the paddock.

This is the result:

The creek is on the other side of the fence on our next door neighbour's land at this point... the lake is ours. It follows the line of the creek, not IN it, all the way down our property.

In case you're wondering, the water at the bottom of the pic is dam overflow...  that joins the creek overflow at the bottom of the middle paddock and forms a bigger lake in the bottom paddock.


Then it breaks out and flows onto the road...

Both at the side of the creek in a small waterfall:

And over our driveway:

Down past our gate:

Where the two rivers happily join together:

Rushing down the road and eventually crossing it in a couple of places:

Straight down into our neighbour's property opposite:

Almost to his doorstep. This is his driveway outside his house and shed.

It then runs off over his paddock, joins another river coming down from the road and runs down to the river beyond.

Needless to say, our neighbours love us.

This is our dam. Its pretty full. Note the overflow spot our newest excavator man put in? (near the top middle of the dam about where the geese are.) He did a better job than 'amazing excavator man'. Only one problem... the overflow doesn't go down into the paddock as planned (where it would just add itself to our lake and the river flowing into the road)... it just follows the side of the dam and floods the areas just below our house.



Meanwhile, this the side of the shed... my poor plants. That's a very sickly mexican orange blossom near the corregated iron. Not looking happy at all. Lucky I put the hardenbergia in a pot!

The good news is the hardenbergia is flowering!

The bad news is the grooming room is flooded. And at this stage I'm not sure if its come in from the slightly opened window or through the floor!

If its from the window, how come there's no water near the other window??? 

If its from the floor, how come this has never happened before? Sure its damp in there when it rains, but never so damp you could swim in it!

Then again, the casita in that section has concrete floors... I bet they weren't built to withstand this much water. 

I'm seriously considering making some major alterations to the casita - namely removing the flat roofed sections of the building, leaving only the older/original part. It would mean some knocking down and a lot of rearranging the spaces that are left. Doable... but I think Wayne will kill me if I mention it...

Maybe I'll get him drunk, then tell him...


Thursday, 24 July 2014

costumes, stepping up the hardness factor - part 3

When I first started this project I thought 'easy, just alter and adjust clothing to create the look I want'.

Yeah. Right.

As I said before, shirts might sound like a good way to make tunics but they're not. They have buttons down the front and pockets and the sleeves aren't nearly wide enough for a full puffy effect. My first attempt at making a puffy sleeve shirt was to add slices of fabric to shirt sleeves.

This was the result:

First I removed the buttons and collar. Then I sewed the front shut and added braid to fancy it up. It wasn't enough, so I added criss cross in silver thread. Better, but not great. I tried buttonholes for the laces.

Monumental fail.

Turns out I've completely forgotten how to do nice neat button holes. And you really need more than one layer of thin cotton to do them properly anyway.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

I removed the cuffs and added elastic to the sleeves (the shirts are way too big for some of the guys I'm making costumes for).

Last, as I explained, I wanted puffier sleeves. So I cut out some long 'slices' of grey cotton fabric and inserted them into the sleeves. Two on each sleeve. They work okay.

Tried the shirt on the king and the shoulders are like, halfway down his arm. Sigh. I'm putting in a kind of capped look which I'll fill with padding.

It'll do.

Next came the dresses for the two queens and the mermaid-made human. Three dresses needed.

I'd found this design on Pinterest, sorry, no website attached to this one:

How perfect is that? So easy! Just a couple of cuts and viola, a dress!

I found a fabulous old doona cover at the tip shop which was perfect for the first dress and made it up using an average measurement of the two actors playing the roles (one is a girl, the other a guy). Basically, I made the dresses to fit me cause it ends up they're more or less the same size as me in the bust area (though obviously distributed differently).

The dress turned out great though I did shorten the sleeves. The doona was the same on both sides so all I had to do was follow the pattern and cut out the shape. Easy.

I added a bit of black and gold braid at the neck and under the bust, then added a bit of lace to hide chest hair (cause this is the dress a guy will be wearing - a comedic touch as he's so much taller than the small statured king).

However, one catch. That pointy armpit thing doesn't work in real life.

So I amended the pattern. Later I found these patterns which are more or less what I did to fix my dress.

This pattern is great, however I didn't need any waistlines... Which is good cause by making the dresses kind of square at bust and waist there's no need for zips.

On to the next dress. This fabric was donated by a colleague. Another creative, collector of 'things that will come in handy one day'. Its a beautiful blue shimmery satiny type fabric and there was enough to make the dress using the first pattern. With the rounded armpit of the second.

This time I added lace to the neckline, facing inwards in a medieval fashion. I then added a ribbon which is stitched in place at the back, then goes through loops at the side and ties up under the bust.

I also kept the sleeves open a la Guinevere's gown above and sewed on a string of tiny pearls to decorate the sleeves. It looks amazing.

The sleeves are a little long, but turns out the actor can put her hands through the last gap in the sleeve and it looks fantastic. And intentional!

Happy accidents are my friend. I create in such a slap dash manner that I really rely on these windfalls!

For the evil character's cloak I used a pattern I found on YouTube by a guy who makes his own medieval costumes the easy way. Pretty cool dude.

The basic pattern is the same folded over, half circle pattern as the capes I made before, but this time I had to do some patchwork to get enough fabric to create the length of cape needed... I didn't have any single piece of fabric big enough. The only black fabric I had was a slippery type I have no name for, but it has some weight to it so it will swish well on film.

At the neck I put a simple black button, nothing flashy about this bad guy's cloak. On the hood though, I went with a more evil/ku klux clan type of hood, long and pointy.

Disclaimer: All these photos have been taken in the office against my awful peach blind with indoor lighting. The pics aren't the best but I had nowhere else to take them in better conditions. You'll get to see the costumes on humans later.

I have an old 60s-70s Singer sewing machine my father bought me at a trash and treasure market about 25 years ago for $10, and I don't own an overlocker. I either pink fabric edges or zig zag them. And I'm no seamstress. My grandmother (who was) would turn in her grave if she saw my butchered finishes.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

costumes not so easy - part 2

More badly cheaply made costumes for our film. 

When dressing in a fairy tale/medieval style you need tunics. Loads and loads of tunics. And shirts just don't make good tunics. At least not for the 'common folk' costumes, which can't have fancy braid to cover the button down the front look of shirts.

So, using some plain grey cotton fabric from my stash, I made the simplest tunics I could. Basically I laid the fabric out in half and cut out a T, along the lines of this pattern:

I added elastic to the sleeves to give them a puffy look.

This is where my bad sewing and laziness becomes obvious. I used black thread cause it was on the bobbin and I didn't have grey, and what the hey, its for a film. You can get away with a lot of fake in movies. 

I bought myself one of those eyelet tools and a pack of eyelets in different colours for the lace up front which is a requisite for tunics. Took a few monumental fails putting on the eyelets but eventually I managed to figure out how to use the tool which came without instructions (not even those translated from Chinese to Russian to Swedish and then to English). Not the neatest eyelet/lace up setup I've ever seen, but hey... I blame the thin cotton fabric, the fact that I have no patience and no hand strength.

I finished it off with some thin black string I found in my odds and ends.

But hey... its for a film. And you can hide a lot of fake in movies.

The second plain tunic was better. This one is for the cook and is made of cream fabric with white string. I put more eyelets on this one so it worked better. The sleeves are short cause I didn't have enough fabric to make the T sides long enough. But its the cooks costume and I figure the cook can have her sleeves pushed up.

The costume is finished off with a cap and an apron. The cap has no pattern. I simply cut a circle cut out of fabric, put elastic around the edge and lace trim. The apron is pretty plain, just a simple apron out of plain white cotton.

Another costume, for one of the kings, is a cape and puffy pants in a heavy silver fabric. I got lucky with this fabric which I found at an op shop. I think its unlined curtain fabric, but its rich and very royal looking.

This cape will be worn with a pair of gray leggings (on loan from my wardrobe) and some fake boots (more on those in a later post). I also have a cap for this costume cause when this character is young he won't need to wear his crown (also in a later post).

I made the cape using the simplest template, basically the same one I used to make full circle skirts in my rock'n'roll dance days:

Once the cape was hemmed I got a fluffy knitted scarf and sewed it on to give the impression of fur. Cause kings wore fur of course.

To finish it off I used beads, wire and a bit of chain to create a fancy way to hold the cape closed.

Lastly, the cap was made the same way the cook's cap was, only this time I had to made it in 4 sections to allow for the stripes in the fabric. I trimmed the edge of the cap with a finer line of scarf/fur, made a scarf/fur pom pom for the top and added a couple of feathers.

One thing that guys used to wear back then were tights and puffy pants. The skirt I found which I shared in Costumes Part 1 gave me the inspiration to base my 'puffy pants' on a more skirtlike design. Instead of trying to make actual baggy shorts, I just made a skirt with elastic around the thighs which will bunch it up, creating a puffy look.

I don't have a photo of the king's pants, but here are another character's pants, they're basically the same... 

Ok, I could have made shorts. I actually did make shorts. Huge fail. 

I've made trousers before, I know how to make a pattern for them... but for some strange reason the shorts I cut out in the silver fabric just did not work. I did what any imaginative fake seamstress would do... I converted them to a skirt which would look like shorts.

Hey. It works.

And you can hide a lot of fake in movies!


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

costume making the easy way - part 1

In case you've wondered where I got to over the last few days... weeks...

I've been buried in the chaos that is my life. I've had no time to post and nothing much to post about. I'm overworked and over-committed. The house hasn't yet been tidied up since I started making over the office about a month ago. I still have things stacked in the corner of the living room from the kitchen remodel. Instead of finishing things and putting things in their place (or getting rid of them), I've just kept adding to the mess.

We haven't been able to see the living room floor, much less the coffee table surface, for over three weeks now. It looks like my brain exploded in here.

Why you may ask? Well... its because I offered to make the costumes for a movie we're making in one of my programs at work.


See, I take pride in what I do... and since I have nothing to do in my 1 minute of free time a week, I thought I'd offer to take on yet another TO DO for my list cause I want our movie to look as good as possible.

As good as possible means costumes that look right for the story and aren't just a mishmash of cobbled together bits and pieces we could scrounge from wherever. That means making costumes that look right from bits and pieces I could scrounge from wherever... tip shops, op shops, my fabric collection, my wardrobe, my friend's wardrobes, wherever.

And all those boxes and bags have been placed in the living room in an orderly fashion.


Ok, firstly, what's the movie about? Its a fairy tale of good vs evil, kings and queens, a prince, a mermaid, love, friendship and a magic rabbit. The story was written by the group I work with so it pretty much had to cover everything.

Its set in a land far far away, a long long time ago, therefore the costumes are more or less renaissance in style.

So I started the easy way.

First I looked through the wardrobe shared by the drama programs. This blue cape is one piece we'll use but I'm not sure which character will wear it yet. 

I also found this purple cape which had a silver collar that made it look very 'magician'-like. I put some fake black fur on the collar to make it a bit more regal.

I found this funny skirt in an op shop. Its perfect as puffy pants. You know those puffy pants guys used to wear over their tights? 

Ok. I'll get photos of the full costumes so you'll be able to picture it then.

Next I moved on to adjusting clothing. These shirts were donated or found at op shops and were in my program's wardrobe. I cut off the buttons and collar, stitched the front closed, added fancy braiding and voila: tunic.

A black one for the bad guy.

A regal looking burgundy one.

Embellished with gold buttons, gold stitching (bad stitching) and a vintage earring.

A regal purple one with gold braid trim and an oversized gold button embellishment.

I adapted a white shirt for the magic rabbit costume. All I did for this one was add ruffles of wide lace ribbon.

Since the jacket worn over this shirt won't close (its not big enough) I made the lace bib nice and big to make it a feature. 

The rabbit costume is based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland white rabbit but I couldn't find a blue blazer. I opted to use my old dog show red jacket. I shortened the sleeves temporarily by hand stitching them, then added lace to the cuffs. The lace was cut off a ripped table cloth.

The bow tie was an op shop silk scarf which I tied into a bow and added elastic to go around the collar. Of course this costume comes with a set of pink and white bunny ears and a pair of white trousers.

No rabbit costume is complete without a tail. For this I used a leftover white pom pom from the pom pom chair suite

The rabbit costume has optional spats made from a red tartan napkin. I thought they might add a bit more 'spiff' to the rabbit but it'll depend on how the costume looks when its all together. I have a small gold clockface and some gold chain which I hope to make into a fob watch too.

Stay tuned for more costumes.


Shared at:

Beyond The Picket Fence