Tuesday, 31 December 2013

DIY Suspender Skirt & 2013 Science in Review

Skirt is DIY | bag and hat are thrifted | top (swimmers) are from Asos (sold out) | shoes c/o Yeswalker

Just like I did two years ago, my mum got a sewing machine for christmas! She's decided she wants to start being crafty and learn how to make her own clothes (she also happens to be one of the most stylish ladies I know, so I can't wait to see what she comes up with). After I taught her how to make a dress, which we used an owl-print fabric for and which turned out AWESOME, I used the machine myself to make this blue gingham circle skirt with detachable suspenders! I love the fullness of the skirt, although the wind made it a little difficult to show that off in these photos. I paired the skirt with some retro-inspired Cadillac swimmers for a summer vibe.

If you follow any other sciencey-type blogs or news sites, then you've probably seen a lot of "the best science of 2013" posts. Well, this one is a little bit different, and while it may include more stories about 3D-printed prosthetic foots being made for ducklings rather than, say, the oldest human DNA ever being discovered, I feel like it's more representative of the kinds of science that really piques my interest.

So, science in 2013 through the lens of the Pineneedle Collective:

April: I explored the likelihood of alien life being found on Europa, Titan, Enceladus and Io.
July: 3D printing continues to impress me, this time by saving the life of a duckling.
Image source
September: Two seperate studies arose that suggest we're all martians.
Image source

Happy New Years!

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Monday, 30 December 2013

Lizards, Mustard and Anamorphic Illusions

Shirt is thrifted | skirt is from Japan (Momo Wonder Rocket) | shoes are from Italy | hat is thrifted

The time between Christmas and New Years has got to be the best time of the year. There's nothing that has to be done, I no longer have to stress about making people's Christmas presents, I don't even have to give a thought to university and I can spend days reading in the sunshine and, because I've escaped the city for New Years, going swimming at obscure waterholes in the most beautiful, quiet valleys.

And, because it's me, I've also been using this time off to watch endless youtube videos about the psychology of illusions.

This is one of the most mind-blowing tricks of human perception I've ever seen. Just watch the video below all the way through. At first you might wonder why the video features a long close-up of a rubik's cube, but you'll soon realise why. The third illusion with the shoe really got me. Oh boy. Which is your favourite?
Vsauce explains why brains are fooled by anamorphic illusions really well in this video!

I hope you're all having a beautiful day,

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Pastel Pinks & Blue Skin

Top is from American Apparel | necklace c/o I Love Crafty | skirt c/o Faith & Lola | shoes from Ebay

There was a time, back when I had the real-life-pink-hair to match, when I would dress almost exclusively in pastels. I still have to stop myself from bleaching my hair and going back to pink ALL THE TIME, reminding myself that if I do this, my hair will go brittle and shrink and I'll have to cut it all off. But I still love at least pretending that I have pretty pink hair now and again. I'll admit, I've even missed the weird looks that having pink hair and dressing like this gets from strangers.

I just learnt about this curious condition today. The people pictured below are not merely doing a Tobias F√ľnke - they are actually blue.
The Blue People of Kentucky became famous in the mid-1800s for, as the name implies, being blue. A rare recessive genetic condition called methemoglobinemia caused many members of this family to have blue skin - but were otherwise, essentially, pretty healthy. Methemoglobinemia causes higher levels of methemoglobin relative to hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the blood, which reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood of affected individuals, causing cyanosis - or blue skin. As hinted at in my last post, blood does not become blue when it is low in oxygen - in fact, in people with this condition, their blood becomes chocolate-coloured. But because cyanosis develops, these people often have blue-tinged lips and fingers, and in the more extreme case of the Kentucky family, their entire bodies can appear blue.
Most people have less than 1% of methemoglobin in their blood, but with this condition levels of methemoglobin can rise to around 20% and cause cyanosis without any other health problems. Exposure to silver can also cause a condition with a similar appearance (but with totally normal oxygenated blood) called Argyria. This isn't generally harmful, but can cause people to be irreversibly blue for the rest of their lives. Dayyy-um.

I hope that you're all having a wonderful day so far!

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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Harajuku / False Science 3

Dress is Chicabooti (last worn here) | socks are from Daiso | shoes are c/o Yeswalker | bag is DIY | hat is thrifted

Lately I've been getting super nostalgic for Japan, rereading my Japan travel posts, stalking the website Tokyo Fashion and exclusively reading Zipper magazine every night. My outfits have been a reflection of this, with this outfit in particular being inspired by Harajuku girls and this Zipper model.

A trip to a new Daiso Japan in Sydney (mainly to look around and pretend I was in Japan, although I did also buy the socks in this outfit) only made my longing for Japan even stronger! As a consequence, Luci and I have been eating all the Japanese food that we can, including frequenting a ramen restaurant called Ichi Ban Boshi - has anyone else been there? There is inevitably a queue every single time we go, and we always make sure to get the quintessential Japanese drink - melon soda! If you live in Sydney, and have never been, you absolutely need to go. It's also right next door to Kinokuniya, where you can get a bunch of different Japanese fashion magazines (but don't anyone dare buy the Zipper magazines! Those are mine ;) ).

So, as is the case at many an extended-family gathering, Christmas being no exception, someone will invariably spout some kind of ridiculous received wisdom, a so-called "fact" which they have entirely neglected to think critically about, such as "we only use 10% of our brains" or the wonderful "water has memory". Things which would be fantastically interesting - if they were actually true. In these occasions, Luci or my immediate family often literally have to restrain me from going "UM ACTUALLY THAT'S NOT TRUE, THIS IS WHY" and making everyone feel bad by being the science grinch (I feel a stong affinity with Tim Minchin in Storm).
So posting this video today may possibly be a way of releasing some of this frustration without causing a family drama. But it's also an awesome video. 
Did you know that the Great Wall of China certainly can't be seen from space, and that even though veins are blue, the blood in your veins is actually red?
I also wrote about a bunch of scientific misconceptions back in this post if you want to have a re-read!

I hope you're all having an absolutely gorgeous day,

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Obligatory Christmas Outfit Post & 3D Audio Illusions

So it's been about 50 bajillion degrees (accurate scientific measurement) in Sydney for the past week or so, which has made me somewhat hesitant to take photos of my outfits for this blog. And let's face it - outfit posts of me in a stained singlet top and underwear sitting in front of a fan with messy hair and a red face (my stunning daily attire for the past week) wouldn't be particularly inspiring, anyway.

To make up for the lack of outfit posts over the last week, here's not one, but two Christmas outfits (my oh my, it's a Christmas miracle!)

The first is the outfit I wore for the Christmas party we threw for our friends last Saturday at our new city house. Tartan and lace are Christmassy, right? I thought so, which is why they are both in abundance in this outfit.
Shirt is from somewhere online (very old) | skirt originally c/o Choies | bow is from Japan | shoes no longer available | socks from a market stall

I also made a pavlova, a traditionally "Australian" dessert consisting of soft, gooey meringue smothered with whipped cream and fruit. This needs mentioning here because this was probably the first food I've enjoyed making ever. Never have I gotten so many compliments on food I've made (though you can't exactly go wrong with sugar, sugar and more sugar, which is essentially what this dessert is made of)! I made sure to take photos of it in all its glory before it was devoured.
I'm still sad that it's all been eaten...

This is the second of my Christmas outfits, which I will wear for visiting my family on Christmas day! They live somewhere much cooler, so a long-sleeve shirt is appropriate (I may even have to layer up). This skirt is a beautiful thing that I found while thrifting a while ago! The bow on the front is velvet, which makes it all the better.

Skirt and shirt are both thrifted | shoes are from Japan | socks from a market stall | hat is thrifted

I hope you all have a lovely holiday, guys!

OKAY, SO THIS IS AMAZING. If you're at a Christmas lunch with your extended family that you only see once a year, and at a loss as to what to talk about, show them this!
Binaural recordings record sounds by placing a dummy head - a simulation of a real human head, with shaped ears that modulate sounds - with a right and left microphone inside it into a recording room. This is done with the intention of creating a "three-dimensional" sound, causing the listener to feel like they're in a room with people and objects moving around them - and it's extraordinarily effective.

This video demonstrates the illusion of 3D sound (note: you will need headphones for it to work!!). I had to keep constantly taking out my headphones to figure out if the sounds were real, or if they were in the video. And if you're listening to this late at night, don't be freaked out by that opening door like I was, haha. *Mind blown*

(Also available as a 6MB audio file here).

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

DIY Crop Top

Today I will teach you how to make your very own elasticated crop top just like the one in the above picture!

Before we start... 
You need to know that each piece of fabric has a "right side" and a "wrong side". I'll refer to these terms throughout the tutorial. For example when I say place fabric "right-sides together", I mean place the pieces together with the pretty sides touching.
Also, you will need to know how to do a straight stitch, and how to back stitch (sewing backwards and forwards at the beginning and end of each stitch you make, to secure it in place and ensure that the stitches do not "fall out"). As long as you can do these two things on a sewing machine (and seriously, just google it if you can't), you're ready to give this DIY a go!

What you will need:

  • Fabric - I recommend a fabric with a little bit of stretch. You will need fabric for the outside of the top, as well as fabric for the inside “lining” - you can just use the same fabric for both, if you want, but both top and lining fabrics should have the same amount of “stretch”. Note: I've made this top using non-stretchy fabric too, but unless you have double-jointed shoulders, it's pretty hard to get on and off!
  • A small piece of elastic (just enough to fit around your waist!)
  • Scissors
  • A pen
  • Pins
  • A safety pin
  • A sewing machine (you could do it without if you are very patient, but using a machine will make your life a lot easier)
  • A measuring tape
  • Newspaper

Making a pattern
Cut out a pattern that looks like the newspaper piece below, but using your own measurements. Note: Waist and under-boob measurements go all the way around you, and shoulder-to-shoulder is basically bra-strap to bra-strap, across your neck/chest (to get a better idea of where you should be measuring, if you're confused, click here).
I usually just round up my waist measurement to make it the same as my bust measurement, because I find that easier in drafting a pattern (and I don't have much of a bust anyway), but if you're bustier, I recommend taking note of the difference! I also recommend adding 2 inches or so to your bust and waist measurements before drawing them onto your pattern (this is your "seam allowance", and giving yourself a bit of extra fabric is never a bad idea - you can pretty easily make something smaller if it's too big, but it's much harder to make something larger if it's too small!)

After you've drawn your pattern and cut it out, "wear" it to make sure that it is about the right size.

Cutting your fabric
Next, place your pattern onto your piece of fabric and cut that out. Tip: to save on time, I doubled my fabric over before cutting it out - which means that I got two pieces from one cut!

You should end up with two identical pieces cut from your fabric. One is the "back" and the other is the "front".
Making darts
This step isn't necessary, and you can feel free to leave it out if you want (you'll just end up with a slightly different style of crop top)! To make darts, take your "front" piece, and on the wrong side of the fabric, draw a horizontal line just underneath the "arm hole" about 6-8 inches long (depending on your size), then make it into a triangle.
Fold the fabric on the horizontal line, and using a straight stitch sew along one of the triangle's edges.
And you should end up with something that looks like this:
Lining your top
Your lining pieces need to be cut out so that they are the exact same size and shape as your front and back pieces. To cut out your lining, all you need to do is place them (right-side down) on the lining fabric, pin, and cut around them! Keep your fabric and the lining pinned together (you'll see why in a moment). (Note: as I mentioned before, my lining is cut from the same fabric as my top.)

You should end up with this after cutting out: front and back pieces pinned right-sides-together with their lining.
For both the front and back pieces, sew them to their lining pieces by sewing all the way around the edges EXCEPT for the bottom edge.

Then, turn the pieces inside out, and you should have two of these (they should remind you a little bit of Finn from Adventure Time's hat).
Constructing the top
You need to pin these two "hats" together at the shoulders and sides. They should be pinned right-sides together (remember that I used the same floral fabric as my lining, so don't get confused by that here!)
Then you just need to sew the back and the front together at only the sides and the shoulders!
Turn it inside out, and try it on (this will work if you've sewn it in all the right places)! If it's a bit too big, then all you need to do is turn it back inside out, and sew the seams further in! For example...
Make sure you do this (especially if it's too wide) before the next step, if you do need to resize it!

You're very almost done. Now you just need to fix up that raw edge, and insert your elastic!

Elasticating the waist
First, wrap your elastic around your waist, stretching it a little bit, but not so much that it's uncomfortably tight. Cut your elastic while it's stretched at this length.
Then, while while your top is turned inside-out, fold the bottom edge of the top up like in the below photo, making sure that it's folded up the same distance all the way around (and is a little bit wider than your piece of elastic - put the elastic next to it for reference).
Pin the fabric together all the way around to secure it. Then, simply sew a straight stitch almost all the way around, creating a "casing" for your elastic. Unlike before, your stitches are now going to be visible, so make sure that the thread compliments your fabric.
You stitch almost all the way around because you need to leave a small gap where you will insert your elastic.
Pin a safety pin onto one end of your elastic.
Insert this end in through the gap in the top, and use the safety pin to pull it all the way through the casing, and out the other end! (Make sure you don't lost the other end of the elastic while you do this! A good tip is to put safety pins on both ends of the elastic, just in case this happens).
After you've threaded your elastic all the way through, sew the ends together, and push the elastic back inside the casing.
To finish it off, sew across the "gap", making sure that you don't accidentally sew over the elastic inside the tube.
And that's it!
Enjoy making your very own! For a different style of crop-top, you might choose to leave out the elastic, make a higher or a lower neckline, make it oversized, or forget about the darts - a huge number of variations are possible! Please tweet or tag me in a photo if you happen to try this out for yourself - I'd love to see the results!

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