WooHoo! Just checked on our tour of Thailand for our dates and it is “Sold out”. YEAH!!!
This means that it is 99.9% sure that they will not cancel the tour from not having enough people signed up. That is a big relief… as I was pretty worried it could be canceled last minute and we would be left scrambling to get tours and transfers booked after arriving in Thailand.
So at this point we are all booked and confirmed for everything except the tour portion in Beijing (which I am working on now). Sadly I just found out that the whole time we will be in Beijing will be their equivalent of “Labor Day Weekend”. So I guess we will get the full maximum-crowd everywhere we go. ( Yikes! Is it too late to ask the doctor for some more valium? LOL )
I did get malaria pills, antibiotics, and just enough valium for a low dosage during the 20-ish hours of flight each way (just in case). Luckily it looks like all those vaccine shots that made me feel like a pin-cushion for Colombia cover pretty much everything I need for Thailand, too.
On the sewing front, it is very important for a big trip like this to pack as small as possible not only to keep luggage light, but also to provide some room for bringing back souvenirs. This means making some hard decisions on whether or not to take things like coats or jackets (it may be cool in Beijing), raincoats, all the shoes we want to take for different situations, and deciding between taking shorts, pants, or skirts when random stops may need different dress on the fly.
So while some things seem nearly impossible to decide like how many shorts vs pants, others are solved just by being multi-task objects. Take for example... a rain coat. Somewhat big, somewhat bulky, and while it can work to keep off rain and as a very light jacket for warmth, it isn't really all that versatile and is still likely to let your legs get soaked. On the other hand... a custom made poncho out of water proofed rip-stop nylon...
Starting with the neck hole. I first made a poncho with a hood, but realized almost immediately that the neck hole that way made the poncho less versatile and I didn't like how much of my peripheral vision the hood blocks. Since we are already taking pop-open hats that are water resistant and an umbrella for sun and rain, it also seemed a bit of over-kill to have the hood, so I decided to go for a slit style opening with a soft-nylon "hidden" zipper (because you don't want your neck scratched up by a standard zipper).
The challenging aspect of sewing a zipper into the middle of fabric is pretty obvious. How do you get it in there without leaving ragged fabric edges? Well... like this...
Start by sewing a piece of fabric about the length of your zipper opening +1 inch, front-to-front where you want the opening. Sew two lines about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart then double stitch across at about 1/2 from the ends so you have a very thin rectangle. Then slit through both pieces of fabric down the center of the rectangle.
Flip the added fabric inside of the main piece of fabric and smooth out as much as possible (the type of fabric can make this easy or very hard and if the fabric can be ironed, I suggest to do so at this point to get things smooth).
Then place and pin the zipper with the pull sticking out of the opening on the "right side". Stitch on both sides of the zipper and across the ends.
Now flip the fabric over and ta-da! A thin zipper opening with no frayed edges. (if your fabric frays easily you may want to flip back over and zig-zag around the added fabric edges to keep things tidy.
In this project I put the neck-hole in diagonally at the center of my large square of fabric. This gives an over-sized poncho that comes down long on the arms as well as very long in the front and back to help protect from rain and wind down to the knees. I also added a small ribbon loop to each corner.
So how does this make something more versatile than a raincoat?
#1. Protect yourself from the rain and wind.
#2. Protect yourself and your backpack from the rain. (And a small village of Thai people depending on their size and how big your poncho is.)
#3. Fold in half and protect you and a friend or two from a wet bench or other sitting area.
#4. Open up fully and use as a beach blanket or picnic blanket. You can use sticks or other spikes to hold it down at the loops on the corners.
#5. Use as a tarp cover for luggage or other items while you are waiting for a taxi.
#6. Use the loops with some string to make a shade, windbreak, or rain-fly / tent. (this is more if you are camping, but still)
#7. Put items in middle and pull edges up like big sack and tie tightly with bungy-string to keep items dry and protected from thieving monkeys while on the beach (because evidently this will be important for at least two of the locations we are going to) or help to keep things dry while transferring from a boat to beach, etc.
#8. Ummm... fold in half and tie around waist for a temporary skirt when visiting temples? LOL... okay... maybe we are stretching a bit now, but it does work.
And of course, probably the best part is that it folds up into a pouch I made... smaller than my tiny hand!
Now… on to a pair of cargo pants that are hopefully going to fit hubby but probably won’t since I am trying to modify a pattern for pull-on pajama pants into a pattern for fitted pants.
Wish me luck!