Leopard Spots

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Animal prints have been in fashion for quite a few years now, so it is rather surprising that leopard spots are still an ‘in thing’. Normally I would not care, Lagenlook is much more long lived than mainstream fashion, so I am used to being able to wear my favourite pieces for many years. But when you venture into the obviously mainstream trendy such as a leopard print top, you want to avoid still wearing it when the trend has long passed. Fortunately I need not worry with this tunic yet, which is just as well because it is one of my go-to ones when the temps get chilly. The weather has suddenly turned cold, and while a top daily temperature of 17 degrees may seem balmy to some, here on the sunny Central Coast of NSW it represents the depth of winter.

The pattern I used is one i developed myself and has been a favourite for a good number of years. I initially got the idea from this Eileen Fisher top I saw on Pinterest.

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And here are a few more versions of the ‘wide body with dropped shoulders halfway to the elbow and skinny sleeves’ silhouette.

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Pinterest is a wonderful source of inspiration and you can even find this version with the pattern obligingly attached.

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My own version has a hi-low hem and you can find the details about the pattern and sewing process here. Instead of the cowl I made a matching infinity scarf which I am wearing looped double. This was mostly because I could not decide whether I wanted a cowl or not, classic indecision, but I should have just gone ahead and made the cowl as I have never worn the top without the scarf.

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The skirt is a bengaline pencil skirt with a yoga style waistband, one of my all time favourites. I winged it when I made it, adding a little extra width for the bum, then tapering inwards towards the hem. It is the classic quiet achiever and I wish I had preserved the pattern to make more skirts, but bengaline is such a stretchy, forgiving fabric that a few cm here or there don’t matter and I can probably wing it just as successfully with the next one. The important thing is to make it just wide enough below my saddlebags so it doesn’t pull inwards, highlighting them unnecessarily.

I used Australian bengaline, which is the stretchy kind, not the ribbed unstretchy one sold elsewhere as bengaline. The fiber mix is similar to Ponte, but it is a woven, not a knit, despite the stretch. The best version is viscose, nylon and Lycra, NOT the one containing poly. I love ponte for tops and dresses, but you really can’t go past bengaline for pants and skirts, because it doesn’t bag, pill or wrinkle, and it wears like iron. You will be enjoying your pull on pants and skirts for years and years, which is unfortunately rarely the case with Ponte.

If you fancy a similar pencil skirt of your own, Maria Denmark has posted a great tutorial on her website. Hers is much shorter, but of course every sewist will adjust the length to their preference.

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Blue Lizards

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Sometimes it takes a bit of perseverance to get a garment to behave. This top started life as an unattractive shade of khaki and although I liked the fact that the cotton jersey was fairly hefty, the colour got me down. I had also been a bit lazy when carving the lizard stamp and hadn’t carved all the little lizard toesies quite nice and round enough. So the print was scrappy as well.

Then my first attempt to improve the colour was a disaster. I had overdyed in a turquoise, hoping for a nice sea green. As if! There was far too much yellow in the original khaki and it ended up a hideous shade of sickly light green. Oops.

The only way to fix it after that was to get the big guns out, meaning to overdye with a much stronger colour. So I mixed 2/3 of mid blue with 1/3 of blue black, off again into the dye pot, and here we are: much better! From flop to favourite, even the scrappy print does not show because of the reduced contrast. Happy days!

The pattern is my usual TNT tunic pattern, based on the Burda Lydia t-shirt. I paid for mine years ago, but it has now become a free download. The details of how to adapt this pattern to make a tunic are here.

 

 

Getting Ready for Winter

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I really love cosy quilted knits like the one I have used for this tunic. Precisely because we barely get a frost on the sunny coast of NSW, nobody bothers much with proper heating, and sitting for hours on a computer in a chillly office has given me an appreciation for warm gear.

The design is a nod to the StyleArc Toni Designer Dress, without the CF and CB seams and the collar, shortened to tunic length. For an actual pattern I once again used my TNT t-shirt, the free Burdastyle Lydia, cut one size larger to accommodate the thicker, less stretchy fabric. The pointy bits are 20cm below the bottom of the armscyes, vertically measured, and the tunic is around 110cm wide there, then comes in again slightly towards the hem.

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I usually just fold the neck edge inwards and coverstitch, but this time I cut the neck larger and added a wide band. I would have preferred a cowl, but cowls are fabric hungry and the 2m I had was not quite enough. It rather surprised me how much I ended up liking the look of a traditional plain round neck with a shirt collar peeking out.

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The points are pushed inwards when worn, forming a sort of pouch, and although there is no actual pocket you can put your hands in these if you want to keep them warm. If you like pockets, you could easily insert a pocket bag into the seam just above the point and maybe even a zipper to make the pocket secure.

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TNT Dress With Variation

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TNT stands for Tried ‘n True, a pattern that you have used over and over and know that it works for you. Not merely from a fitting point of view, but also because it looks good on you, and you like wearing that kind of garment because you feel comfortable in it, and it suits your way of life. As a bonus, using mostly TNT patterns, the colours that look good on you and the sort of prints you like, will result in a strong personal style. So what’s not to like?

I rely heavily on TNT patterns and rarely sew with anything else. This makes it possible for me to sew as fast, if not faster, than I could buy RTW. Not always of course, a special occasion dress or a jacket or coat will take longer. But my steady diet of separates and the occasional simple dress can be made in a few hours, no longer than it would take me to drive to a shopping centre, cruise the shops, try on a heap of garments, despair about the quality, feel bad about my figure and end up with an expensive compromise. And make no mistake, any garment, other than perhaps a tee-shirt, that is not made entirely of polyester WILL be expensive.

Much more rewarding to pull out a TNT pattern, shop my stash of cottons, linens wools and silks, spend a couple of enjoyable hours at my sewing machine and end up with something that will fit and look good, at least to my way of thinking. My non-mainstream style is not everybody’s cup of tea, but then it doesn’t have to be. As long as I feel good in what I have made, my mission is accomplished!

Any TNT pattern is of course open to all sorts of variations to keep things interesting and adapt to the seasons. Here is the latest iteration of the dress pattern I discussed in my last post, a little bit more cold weather friendly with warmer fabric and a cowl instead of the V-neck. This time I also left off the CF and CB seams. But again it is based on my favourite tee-shirt pattern, with the front and back pattern pieces lengthened to a midi length dress. I kept the side splits, so this has to be worn over an under-dress, or a pair of pants, or possibly over a skirt. I haven’t tried this yet, but I will.

The sewing nitty-gritty is as usual on Pattern Review.

The fabric is a heavy cotton velour knit bought at Clear-It in Melbourne maybe 10 years ago. I bought a lot of it because it was only $1/m and have made other garments using it which I have worn and worn. It is a lovely quality, very comfortable, washes up like a dream and is warm as well. Who says you can’t save money sewing? The dress would have taken a bit under 2m of the velour (less than $2) and 3 hours of a rainy Sunday afternoon to sew. As a bonus it goes really well with my me-made jade and silver necklace.

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A New TNT Dress Pattern for Winter

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I think I have mentioned before that I don’t sew based on patterns. What I mean by that is that I don’t browse the offerings of pattern companies, pick one that appeals to me and sew it up. I find that way of building a wardrobe ends up being deeply unsatisfying.

Why? Because what I want is a stylish new outfit, not a pattern. And because I am not a genius it is much easier to find a look online that I really love and try to recreate it, than to invent something from scratch based on a pattern. Especially since most pattern companies are rather pedestrian as designers and fixated on making patterns ‘interesting’, so as many people as possible will buy them, not on creating exciting fashion.

So when I browse Pinterest and other online sources and come across an outfit I love, I have a close look at how I can recreate it. Sometimes I will conclude that it is too difficult, but often I can figure out how to find a pattern or adapt one I already have to do the job. I keep a board of these inspiration pieces and the vast majority of them never get made, but it helps me calibrate my personal style, and browsing my board usually motivates me when my sewing mojo is a bit blah.

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Ironically, my latest attempt is of an outfit created by a pattern company, on the front page of Tina Given’s new pattern magazine. But then Tina Givens is a fashion designer turned pattern company, not the other way around. Her patterns are pedestrian but her outfits always look great.

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This time I would have been very happy to go buy the pattern, a rare luxury to be able to do that when I see an outfit I want, but after scouring Tina Given’s website I found the mag is no longer available, or at least I could not figure out how to get my hands on it. So after a good look I decided that this dress is just a long sleeve t-shirt with a seam at CF and CB, and extended to maxi length with slits from about the hip down. My trusty TNT t-shirt pattern would easily be up for it. So below, allowing for the much less glamorous model and the lack of stylist and fashion photographer to create the perfect photo, is a good look at my first version.

 

There is some room for improvement with the V-neck not being quite as low as it should be. I am not used to making them, preferring round necks as a whole, and I was too conservative when cutting out. 5cm lower would have been better. Other than that I am pretty happy. Fabric restrictions meant that the dress is shorter in length than the original, so I left the four sections at different length according to what the available fabric would allow. I rather like the result.

The cupro viscose I used is not as beefy as the knit of the Tina Givens original, but it has been in my stash for yonks, and I am glad I found a good use for it. This style of dress would look good too in a heavier knit, or a Ponte or even a merino, so watch this space for more. It makes for a very comfy outfit, like going to work in your nighty, and is easily varied with different scarves and jackets or cardis. I think this will be my new TNT pattern for winter, with and without the CF and CB seams, and with and without a cowl. Seems I am transitioning to a slimmer version of Lagenlook to go with my slimmer body. For more detailed sewing instructions have a look at my write-up on PatternReview.

The under-dress is a Tessuti Lily dress, with long sleeves and lengthened to a maxi, which has been an orphan in my wardrobe for at least 5 years. It is too plain to be worn on its own, but I always knew it would come in handy one day.  🙂

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The Jac Shirt

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I do love Tessuti patterns and have made their Jac shirt several times now. The first time I made it as per pattern and it turned out fine. However, I can never resist fiddling with a pattern, and have since settled on some modifications for further versions.

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As you can see in the pic above, I have added some ‘swing’ to the back of the shirt by tilting the back pattern piece away from the fold of the fabric when cutting out. This leaves the top part unchanged so it will still fit the collar and shoulders, but adds volume at the CB hem. You can’t really see that I have lengthened it by 5cm too, but here is my original make for comparison, sewn as per pattern. I am wearing it with harem pants, in case you are wonderin what the funny garment is.

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Nothing wrong with this version of the Jac, except I am probably acclimatised to the volume of Lagenlook, so I prefer a bit more swing and length, especially when the shirt is worn open as a light jacket. A bit more length also lets the shirt tails peak out from under my jumpers, which I quite like. One thing I have discovered though, lengthening does not look so good without a simultaneous increase in volume at the hem, as you can see with the version, below, cut from the good parts of another worn out doona cover. I have used only the collar stand for a grandpa style collar variation. It is sort of ok, but not quite, without the swing at the back.

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The original green version is silk dupioni, which has lost some of its shine and acquired a subtle distressed look after a few years of being worn and washed. Just right for a casual shirt, and I don’t do dry cleaning in any case. All my silks are washed, usually with shampoo as that is formulated for protein fibres, which both human hair and silk are, but in the machine and without fuss. I line dry everything, using my dryer only in emergencies, and to cure my hand-printed projects. All my silks so far have coped very well with this treatment. I don’t cater to primadonna fabrics, except maybe for very special occasion garments like my MOB and MOG dresses, and they get worn only once anyway.

The blue striped fabric is a batik bought in Bali, originally grey and white striped, which had an encounter with the dye pot. Unfortunately I got distracted and forgot to agitate for about an hour, which is a big no-no if you want an even result. So it is a bit blotchy, but thankfully that is not very noticeable due to judicious cutting out. I really like the colour, and with winter around the corner, under jumpers only the collar and tails will be visible in any case.

Regarding the sleeves, I am not a huge fan of traditional sleeve plackets and cuffs. They are useful if you want to roll up your sleeves, but I never do. At least, when wearing the shirts where I have made plackets and cuffs, I don’t remember rolling them up even once. So, being a lazy sewist, I ask myself if the extra time making this is worth it. The Jac has a bracelet length sleeve with a notched hem that can be folded back into a 3/4 length sleeve with a notched cuff. I have lengthened the sleeve to make the full length in shirts I want to wear in winter under jumpers, to avoid potentially scratchy wool around my inner wrists. More about the sewing nitty-gritty on PatternReview.

And here is one more version of the Jac shirt, this time collarless for summer, again in a cotton batik. Like the other versions, it works really well as a light jacket.

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The Eva Dress on the Straight and Narrow

 

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I have used the Eva bodice and sleeves for so many of my frankenpattern projects, and yet I don’t believe I have ever shown an Eva dress sewn as the designer intended it to look. Let me fix that today!

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These are the very first Eva dresses I ever made, one sleeveless and the other with short sleeves. The red is a fairly hefty linen, originally a tangerine/peach and later, when it began to look a bit washed out, overdyed to cranberry red. The grey was my wearable muslin, repurposed from an old doona cover my son left behind when he first moved out of home to go overseas and work in Amsterdam. I missed him, but that I cut up his bed linen to wear because of that is a vicious rumour!  🙂

Anyway, the doona cover originally came from the ‘As Is’ bin at IKEA, so using it for the, at that time, still untried Eva pattern was not a huge gamble in financial terms. It is quite a nice light grey cotton jacquard, a little discoloured from wear in certain places, but there was plenty of fabric to cut around those areas. I believe there may even be still enough left for a pair of pants, but that is a project for another day.

I made this version of the Eva straight out of the packet as far as the pattern is concerned, although of course it was a PDF, so no packet involved. The only changes I made was to forego the bias bound hem at the bottom and the sleeves. A narrow, topstitched hem is very doable despite the curves. Besides extra fabric, bias tape takes time and effort, and I felt I had expended quite enough of that with all the piecing and topstitching required for the skirt sections. I even made the pockets, which I don’t use of course. I never use pockets, unlike a lot of other people who find them indispensable. For me they are only indispensable for forgetting the odd used tissue in, which then causes me hassles in the wash, so I usually leave them off.

I really like the result. The grey jacquard looks quite classy ( — ok, so it is an old doona cover but nobody need ever know!) and it suits the lovely lines of the Eva very well.

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The dark red Eva is quite a heavy linen and hardly crushes at all since I overdyed it. Score! I should overdye a few more linens to get that effect!

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Details about the sewing process are on Pattern Review.

In Stripes from Head to Toe

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Although I like stripes I haven’t worn them much lately. This dress is an exception and, being a maxi, the stripes are pretty much all over. The black and grey combo has a bit of a Japanese vibe, at least as far as the colours are concerned. Japanese people seem to like a very subdued colour scheme of black, grey and white, with black and white checks being a particular favourite. I once took a JAL flight to Osaka and as I was standing in the boarding queue I noticed that pretty much everyone was wearing black, grey and white, with the exception of one brave rebel who wore a purple dress. No doubt everyone thought her outrageous!

Black and grey are also very much colours for autumn, although summer is hanging on stubbornly here and we are still having temps of over 30 for a few days this week. Today was a bit cooler, so I thought I might make a start digging out the autumn wardrobe. I hear New Zealand is already having snow, so it won’t be long before we will need our woollies here too. It usually takes a week or so for the weather to cross the ditch (the Tasman Sea between NZ and Australia, for those not familiar with the term).

I have used this pattern quite a few times before and have blogged about it here. The basic shape of front and back looks like this, cut on the fold, with the back neck line higher than the front, of course.

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I based the above on a t-shirt pattern for the bodice, then did the rest based on a pattern found in a magazine. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I later found the StyleArc Toni Designer Dress pattern to be much the same basic shape if you ignore the collar detail and centre seams, although it is a bit wider in the bodice. Good for wovens but for knits I prefer to overlay the Toni pattern with t-shirt pattern at the top to make it narrower in the shoulders and bust. I have explained this in detail on Pattern Review here.

When wearing the dress you can tuck in the pointy bits or just leave them to hang on the outside. I prefer to tuck mine in a fair way. The skirt sort of collapses into interesting folds. Sorry it is not very easily visible with the dark colour, which is why you might want to look at the dresses in this earlier post too.

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I have blogged about a sleeveless summer version made with a cotton woven fabric here.

Hello Alabama Chanin!

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Anyone who can build a successful business based entirely on hand sewing in this day and age must be a very special type of genius. I take my hat off to you, Ms Chanin!

And I didn’t think anyone could ever inspire me to embellish my clothes, it just isn’t my thing. Beading and machine embroidery have never appealed to me. But this is different, and so here I am, showing off my first appliquéd top in the Alabama Chanin style.

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I had been contemplating making an AC garment for a while, but never quite got off the ground with the reverse appliqué. The way I buy fabrics, mostly opportunistically when I spot a bargain, doesn’t lend itself to having two plain pieces of cotton jersey in the right colours to hand at the same time. Buying them online from AC was out of the question with our low dollar and high shipping costs. But as it happens, merino jersey is very available where I live, often at a very good price, and doing a normal appliqué instead of the reverse one allows me to use up scraps and still add some warmth to a winter garment. Double win, I’d say!

The normal, not reverse, type of appliqué also can be done on a finished garment, which is another advantage. As it happens, I had made a navy merino top last winter that was a little uninspiring and also a bit thin for its oversized style. The perfect candidate for a trial, and I had just the right olive coloured wool knit left over for the appliqué shapes from a top I made years ago. Plus some perfect stone coloured linen thread I had bought for knitting but that turned out to be too thin when it arrived. The planets had aligned for my first Alabama Chanin oversized merino jersey top!

Naturally,  not only did I use wool jersey instead of cotton, and an oversized style that isn’t AC at all, I also altered the technique a fair bit. AC spray paints a negative and positive of her designs on the two fabrics to help her cut out and place the shapes. I have no patience for lots of little bitty bits, and I like my motifs, whether for block printing or appliqué, to be about the size of my hand. The design I had chosen was much less intricate than the one in the AC demo video I saw, and I thought cutting the stencil for spray painting would be just as much work as tracing the shapes out individually. On top of that, fluffing around with spray paint when I have no experience with it would be an unnecessary complication. I am all for simplicity, and to make it even easier I chose just one of the branches from this Alabama Chanin design, to be repeated over and over.

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So I cut out a template shape of my chosen leafy branch and traced around it on my fabric scraps, using a sliver of soap because it showed up better than texta on the coarse, spongy, darkish wool. (I find the small guest soaps picked up during hotel stays very useful for marking fabric.)

I placed my shapes on the top freehand, starting around the neck, pinned and then stitched them in place one by one with a simple running stitch. Very therapeutic!

One thing I noticed fairly quickly is that the AC appliqué is not nearly as time consuming as one might think. That my chosen motifs were large naturally helped, but I soon discovered that I could appliqué as many or as few motifs as I wanted and the top would still look as if it was meant to be that way. The first Sunday, with a beginners boundless enthusiasm, I powered through stitching on six motifs around the neckline and one on the upper sleeve, and this actually already looked really nice. I could have stopped there if I wanted and still had a very wearable top. The next evening I stitched on another three of the branches and it looked even better. After I did another five, I actually thought that the top didn’t need any more. It was only because I found the stitching process relaxing and enjoyable that I wanted to continue, and I also thought that the more wool pieces I appliqued onto the top the warmer it would be. Warm is good. It does not get below freezîng in winter where I live, but because it is not very cold nobody bothers to heat anything properly. Sitting in my only nominally heated office for hours on end at a computer can chill a cold frog like me down to the bone!

In the beginning it took me about an hour to trace, cut and stitch a motif to the jumper, but you get a bit faster with practice. There are about 20 motifs currently, so 20 hours, which is not at all bad for a hand stitched project. I could maybe fit another 20 motifs on the top if I cover it completely, so 40 hours in total and another couple of hours for the sewing if it is done by machine, which I think preferable. 42 hours would still be very much less than a knitted jumper, the vast majority hand stitching, which is not like sewing by machine, where you need to concentrate and negotiate relatively tricky operations in rapid succession. You can sit in your comfy chair with some music and a glass of wine and just hand stitch away, with nothing more demanding to do than following the contours of your appliqué shape. 🙂

The original navy top had been sewn using one of my TNT jumper patterns, a wide body with the shoulders dropped halfway to the elbows, the hem curving longer at the back and shorter at the front. Amusingly, the top made with the olive Marc Jacobs knit whose leftovers are used for the appliqué shapes was also made with the same pattern.

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The details of the pattern and the sewing process are written up here.

So this is how the top looks right now, although I will probably sew on a few more of the motifs. As i already mentioned, I find hand stitching at night very relaxing and might just continue until I find a knitting or other appliqué project to do instead.

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A few more photos on the bod, but headless unfortunately because I placed the camera a bit too low.

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15 Months on the 16:8 Diet

This doesn’t have a lot to do with sewing, but I really should write a post about it, just in case it helps somebody else.

After a couple of deaths in the family, not untimely ones but still emotionally difficult, and a lot of subsequent comfort eating, by the end of 2015 my weight had reached epic proportions. While I have never been skinny, most of my life I have been comfortably in the normal weight range. But now I was not only well into overweight range, but getting towards the border with obese. Yikes!

I felt quite helpless, not being able to stop myself from gaining weight and not feeling able to stick to a low calorie diet for the months on end that would be required to lose as much weight as I needed to. Finally my brother gave me a stern talking to and suggested I try the 16:8 diet. I am a big fan of Michael Mosley and had tried the 5:2 diet before, where you fast for 2 days a week and eat normally on the other 5. Success had been modest, that way of eating never really gelled with me.

But I gave the 16:8 diet a try and I am so glad I did. It consists of eating for only an 8 hour period each day, and fasting for the  remaining 16. The fact that the latter includes your sleeping hours makes it a lot easier than it otherwise would be, and you can choose the 8 hour eating period during the day that suits you best. Some people skip breakfast, others dinner. I am in the unfortunate position that I am a breakfast person, but DH is a dinner devotee. I could skip dinner, but if I did I wouldn’t of course cook any, which means Mr Rivergum would rarely get to eat a vegetable if he had to cook dinner for himself on a daily basis. Not good!

So I compromised by making my eating period start at 10am with a breakfast at work and finish at 6pm, which gives me time to produce and eat dinner. The 10am breakfast is a bit difficult for a breakfast lover like me, but the diet success has made it well worth the effort.

So I started this regime on Jan 9 in 2016 and it worked like absolute magic. The principle of 16:8 is not strictly about caloric restriction, but I found myself eating about 1000-1200 calories a day, just because I found I could. I wasn’t hungry, nor was I tempted to eat rubbish in the least. So I gave up sugar at the same time, because it was ridiculously easy, and was high instead on feeling so incredibly virtuous. For once, my body was on my side and seemed to be urging me on. I lost nearly a kilo per week, previously unheard of when the best I could hope for was a kilo a month.

By Easter that year I had lost 7kg and finally hit the inevitable plateau. So I eased up a bit and ate normally for a few days. That helped and the weight loss continued like magic. By the end of April I was 10kg lighter. Then we went away for a couple of weeks holiday and I suspended my diet in order to enjoy myself. I still ate sensibly though, my stomach had been retrained to expect smaller portions and I was no longer in the habit of chronic overeating. I did not gain much weight, maybe half a kilo or so. When I got home I continued with my diet without too much trouble and had soon lost that again.

Of course the weight loss slowed down eventually, after the initial 10kg loss the honeymoon was over. Another holiday in Austria, the fabulous Cake Central of the Universe, Christmas etc resulted in a kilo or so gained, then subsequently lost again as I returned to my diet. In all I have lost nearly 16kg. My initial target was 10kg, then 12, then 15. As my thighs and hips slimmed, my tummy disappeared and my arms started to look good in sleeveless tops, the changes have kept me motivated to push a little further as each goal was reached. I enjoy my new, slimmer body.

I also find that my current eating regime is something I can stick to indefinitely. I have a set routine adhering to the 16:8 during the week, then have an earlier breakfast and a treat or two on the weekend. During the week, if I have few more salads for dinner and no wine, I lose a little weight. Pasta meals for dinner and a glass of wine or two, and I don’t. Gain a little as I indulge during a holiday. Lose it again as I get back to normal afterwards. Seems good to me.

I am now at around 64kg and aiming for 62. After a 16kg loss that seems very doable. More would be greedy.

But, as we all know, losing weight is one thing and keeping it off quite another. I don’t think I can ever afford to return to the eating I thought of as normal before. One or two treats a day, really? Thankfully my appetite has changed, I am much more aware of when I feel full, or just not hungry. I can look at chocolate all day without feeling tempted, although I have enjoyed eating some this Easter, the first time in months. But it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice that it will be off the menu again until Christmas now.

My big temptation is cakes. I just love them. So I allow myself a treat on the weekend, sometimes two. Apart from that I stay away from sugar, other than whatever is in fruit. I try to stick to food I have prepared myself and don’t eat take away much at all, except for the odd salad and even then I am suspicious of how much sugar they put in the dressing.

During the week I have a set routine, which I find helpful. I have a home made Bircher Muesli for breakfast, consisting of apple, skim or normal milk, oats and a changing addition of something healthy such as linseed or almond meal or quinoa flakes or some such. 400 calories for breakfast are about right. I have a few tea with skim milk during the day and my lunch consists of a bit of plain salad, plus two slices of healthy seeded bread with hommus and goats cheese or smoked salmon or trout. Twice a week I have freshly made sushi instead because it is available. Dinner is whatever, but home made and in sensible portions. I don’t eat much meat and we have a vegetable garden, which encourages me to eat vegetable based meals. They can be very simple, last winter we ate a lot of spuds with spinach, herbs and a bit of feta. Delicious, cooked up quickly and far superior to any take away available in my neck of the woods. I love a good cheese platter, but have it instead of dinner, not on top of it. A choice of a couple of cheeses with dried and fresh fruit, tomatoes and pickles, with a glass of wine, makes a great Friday night dinner.

Routine during the week really helps me stick to good food, although I am aware that  variety is important too. I am fond of a glass of wine, but try to cut down as much as possible, thinking that if alcohol is not good for kids’ brains, maybe it is not so good for seniors either. Having some hand stitching or knitting to do at night strangely enough helps me to stick to herb tea.

So this is what has worked for me and I am comfortable with the idea of sticking to it indefinitely. But everyone is different and has to find out for themselves what works for them. I think added sugar on a daily basis is problematic and best avoided, particularly when there is a danger of setting up a habit. One biscuit with afternoon tea is not the devil, except when you have afternoon tea every day and there is a temptation of having that biscuit every day too, and then a couple etc etc.

One trick I use when I feel like a little something while I am working, — mostly this happens because I am doing something that I am not enjoying –, is that I keep a vial of rosemary oil on my desk. I rub a few drops on the back of my hands, the smell is not overpowering like perfume but it is a little treat and keeps me away from edible ones. A bit of a weird habit, but whatever floats your boat…

If you have read as far as this you will be on your own weight loss journey or at least contemplating one, so good luck with it and know that it can be done. In my case even without too much pain and with a significant health gain along the way.