Month: June 2021

Darlow Pants

I sewed pants! 👖

For a really long time, trousers have been my Mount Everest as a sewist. I’ve sewed lots of dresses, shirts, and even shorts, but never a pair of actual trousers. I made a valiant but cursed attempt last year at a muslin for the Moji pants by Seamwork before accepting that a drawstring waist was never going to work with my shape…

Then a few months back I started to see the Darlow pants from In the Folds popping up in my Instagram feed. “No way,” I thought. Those curving seams?! These aren’t straight up-and-down pants; they have multiple curvy pieces that swoop around the legs and create volume. It seemed like jumping several levels of difficulty. The style was also slouchier and baggier than what I normally wear. But then I clicked on the #darlowpants hashtag, and I was able to see them on different body types and in different materials, and I started to think, “…maybe??”

I bought the pattern. Back in Australia I’d purchased several meters of a soft drill-type fabric for future pants — I never remember to write down the fabric I buy — and I’d shipped it all the way here. It seemed a shame to let it go to waste. Why not give it a go?

I decided to go with View B, which is the less voluminous version and has less pattern pieces. I cut a straight Size I and printed out all the pattern pieces and assembled. Just as I was about to lay out my fabric for cutting, I realised there was one crucial modification I needed to make right from the start – lengthening the legs! The pattern is drafted for someone 5’7”, and I’m 5’10”. So I added three inches at all of the length/shorten lines. This isn’t as straightforward as on normal pants, as the curving lines mean you have to redraw some curves and then “walk the seams” to ensure they still line up. (Thankfully the designer has provided a Fit Kit which walks you through several common modifications.)

Finally it was time to cut the fabric and start sewing! The first thing you assemble are the back panels, and I had a lot of fun using my special overlocker foot and stitch to finish the raw edges. Once the panels are sewn, you then create the rear welt pockets. I decided to make them a design feature by using some scraps of paisley fabric. The pattern instructions are pretty straightforward and suggest several places where you should hand-baste just to keep everything all lined up. Everything went well until I got to Step 23, when I got confused and just couldn’t figure out how to secure the welt. I ended up emailing the designer, who helpfully sent me a video that explained everything. The key is that Piece 17 (the pocket lining) needs to be folded up under the back panel and out of the way for Step 23. Then you’re meant to fold the welt on Piece 18 and then sew along it. If you look at the photo here, you can just see a line of white stitching at the bottom of each welt. That’s where I did it WRONG. Mine isn’t securing anything; it’s actually meant to go through both layers of the paisley fabric. Oh well – I’ll get it right on the next pair! (Note: the bodgy red stitching along the top is just hand-basting to keep the pocket flat while you assemble the rest of the pants.)

Welt Pockets

The rest of the pants assembly was pretty easy – even those big curvy bits! – and you end up inserting nice deep pockets into the side seams. Then it was time to insert the zip. I’ve sewn zippers before, but only side-seam ones. I decided that I really wanted a quality metal zip rather than futzing about with crappy nylon ones. I made a pilgrimage to a local haberdasher – which was amazing – and got everything I needed. I was nervous about inserting it, but the instructions were great and again had you baste things together to keep everything lined up. And guess what? IT LOOKS LIKE A REAL PROFESSIONAL ZIP!

The waistband assembly was pretty simple. You have the option of binding the inside edge with bias binding or enclosing it within the waistband. I had some leftover binding from a previous project so I went with that, and it actually makes it look really nice. Then I just needed to add a buttonhole, sew on a button, and also sew on a trouser hook for the tab. Here’s what it looks like on the inside…

Inside out waist

And here are the welt pockets from the inside as well.

Welt Pockets

The final step was to finish and sew on the hem facings to the legs. And then they were DONE!

As a wearable muslin, I’m pretty happy with these! I think the three inches I added to the length was just right. There are definitely some fitting issues remaining though. You can’t tell in the photo, but I think I actually need to go down a size in the waist (but leave the size through the hip) – they’re actually quite loose around my middle. (And since there are no belt loops, you can’t really cinch it up.) I also think I need to add a bit more room to the seat, possibly by extending the back crotch point. But still – entirely wearable PANTS! I’m looking forward to making the next pair even better. 🙂

Wolfie! A Trip to Salzburg

It’s summer in Deutschland, and now that we’ve had our first vaccine shot, we feel a bit more comfortable travelling again. Two weeks ago we headed out of Munich for the first time since the Zugspitze last year. And where did we go? Salzburg, Austria.

On the trainWe actually started the day with a Covid Schnelltest at our local shopping center. Austria has lifted a lot of its restrictions, but we knew that it was important to have a negative test result. By the time we got to the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) 20min later, the results were in our email inboxes. Protip: Bavaria offers a special discount ticket called the Bayern Ticket, which lets you ride regional trains and most public transport through Bavaria. It also gets you to Salzburg, which is about two hours from Munich. The weather forecast was for clouds, but it was a beautiful sunny day as we headed southeast towards the mountains, whizzing through idyllic German villages and rolling green fields…

First glimpse of SalzburgWe crossed the Salzach River and got our first glimpse of the Festung Hohensalzburg (“High Salzburg Fortress”) atop the Festungsberg as we pulled into our destination. I had planned some activities based on this blog post, including booking tickets up to the castle. We had a few hours to kill though, so we started by walking to the Altstadt along the river. We crossed over at the Marko-Feingold-Steg, a pedestrian bridge decorated by visitors with thousands of padlocks.

Snookums on the Marko-Feingold-StegWe headed to Getreidegasse (“Grain Lane”), a busy shopping street in the heart of the old town. It’s narrow and historic and super charming, even despite the fact that many of the shops were the same as you’d see in any major city. It was also surprisingly busy, and I found myself feeling a little wary of all the unmasked folks! (It’s been a long lockdown. 🙁)

GetreidegasseIt was lunchtime and we were hungry, so we headed to the Zipfer Bierhaus. We got a table out the back in University Square and enjoyed a couple plates of sausages along with some local Austrian brew…

Zipfer BierhausOur next stop was back on Getreidegasse – Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart’s birthplace). It was fairly empty at the time, and we enjoyed wandering the rooms and  learning a bit more about his life and his family. Did you know that Mozart’s sister Maria Anna (nicknamed “Nannerl” by the family) was also a musical child prodigy, but because she was a girl, she eventually had to stop touring and performing? (I found myself feeling so angry on her behalf.) I was also surprised to see that pianos in Mozart’s day had the black and white keys reversed!

Mozarts GeburtshausWe ended the tour in the gift shop, of course, where I bought a cool lenticular magnet to add to our collection. They had a TV set up showing scenes from Amadeus, and I confessed to the Snook that I’d never seen it. That was going to have to be rectified, I decided…

Mozarts GeburtshausAnd then it was time to head up to the fortress! We caught the Festungsbahn (funicular) up to the top and were greeted with stunning views across the city to the mountains beyond.

View from Festung HohensalzburgThe day was turning out pretty hot, so we headed into the Zeughaus (Armory) Museum to cool off and learn about medieval weaponry. They had a lot of interactive exhibits, including a kiosk where you could picture yourself as a knight. The Snook also enjoyed creating virtual gunpowder and seeing how far he could fire a cannon.

The real highlight of the Festung is the view over the city. How stunning is this? This is why we came to Europe. ❤️

Me and Snookums It really was quite hot though. 😅 We were also getting tired from all the walking so we caught a quick rest in the shade.

Catching some shadeOur tickets also included access to the Prince’s Chambers, the richly appointed staterooms installed by Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. My favourite part was the Golden Hall, with its 17m-long beam, carved columns, and decorated ceiling.

Golden HallAnd from every window, an amazing view…

MountainsWe were really flagging by this point, so we caught the funicular back down to the Altstadt. In need of refreshment, we headed to the nearby Stiegl-Keller where I was delighted to sample their Grapefruit Radler in the rooftop biergarten. What a way to end the day!

Stiegl-KellerWe walked back to the Hauptbahnhof and caught the return train to Munich, exhausted and happy. What a perfect day! Can’t wait to do more exploring over the next few months…

OH! And the first thing we did back in Munich? Watch Amadeus, of course. I loved it. ❤️


I’ve been a Twitch streamer for six months now. Isn’t that weird? I’ve noticed that a lot of the really fancy streamers use an elgato Stream Deck as part of their setup. This is essentially a “macropad” – a little programmable keyboard that you can set up so that clicking a button kicks off a series of actions. People use them for adding sounds and graphics to their streams, replying to comments, even controlling lighting and cameras. They’re not cheap though, and as much as I coveted one, I didn’t think I’d use it enough to justify the expense.

Then somehow I found out about the duckyPad. This is an Open Source “do-it-yourself” mechanical macropad, and all up the components come to about half the cost of the Stream Deck. It has a very simple little scripting language you use to program each key, and it has a little screen that shows what each one does. You can have 32 different “profiles” (set of 15 keys), which means up to 480 different key actions. And it also lights up! I decided to order one and explore what I could do with it.

Here’s what it looks like straight from the box if you order the standard components:

duckyPad unassembled

Putting it together was actually very simple following the instructions in the Assembly Guide. Man, those tiny 2mm standoffs are awfully small though, even for my hands! The only difficulty I had was getting the keyboard switches inserted. They required a little more pressure than I expected, and I was really paranoid that I’d break one or bend one of the pins. As it turns out, when I had the thing together and turned it on, one of the keys was indeed dead. I pulled it off and saw that, yep, I’d bent one of the pins flat. Luckily the Snook whipped out a pair of pliers and managed to straighten it out, and once reinserted it worked fine. So yeah, the instructions say over and over to be careful for bent pins, and now I understand why!


The duckyPad comes pre-programmed with a couple different profiles, but most of them were Windows-specific. I installed the Configurator app and used the provided USB card reader to plug in the SD card. Then I was able to start creating new profiles and scripts.

duckyPad configurator

The duckyPad is literally just sending off key presses, just like you’re typing on your normal keyboard. So anything you can do via keyboard shortcut, you can trigger with the duckyPad. The critical thing for Mac users is invoking Spotlight with “COMMAND SPACE”. That’s what you use to open apps and change focus. I also found that often the duckyPad is too fast and I needed to insert a DELAY before subsequent key presses (like between opening the browser and typing in a URL).

One annoyance is that some apps’ keyboard shortcuts only work while the app is in focus. If you’re using Windows, there’s an “Auto-switcher app” that will automatically switch profiles based on which app is foregrounded. There’s currently no Mac version (someone is working on it), so I’ve found it helpful to have a dedicated key that switches focus back to the desired app (especially when presenting or streaming).

I’ve spent a few weeks now tweaking and refining my setup, and I keep finding new things to automate. With some of these, I just cannot remember the keyboard shortcut so having a button helps. With others, I’m finding that I already have the muscle memory for the keyboard shortcut so I may not need the macro. The ones that get the most use by far are volume control (much better than the stupid Touchbar on my Mac) and the “mute” shortcut (used to invoke Mutify and turn on/off my microphone), so I’ve reproduced those as the bottom row of keys across multiple profiles.  But read on to see what I’ve got so far…

And if you have any suggestions for things to add, please let me know!

Read more →

My first ever GPS art!

The AWS Summit EMEA is coming up next week, and a few of my colleagues created funny videos to drum up excitement. Seb documented his preparations…

As did Darko, but a bit more retro. 🙂

Isa did a super cute one with her pupper Jago, a “Solutions Barkitecht”. 😂

My first impulse was to do something similar for mine, but of course include myself surrounded by knitting projects. But the more I thought about it, the more boring that felt. I knew I really needed to raise the level of creativity.

Teaser video plan

And then I had a flash of inspiration – GPS art! This is where you run/walk/cycle a particular path and the GPS path in your tracking app draws a picture. What if I could cycle my way across the AWS logo?? I immediately started searching for an app, hoping there was a way to automatically plan out a route. But guess what? Tech has not cracked this particular problem yet. My only option was to do it the hard way.

I opened up Google Maps and realised immediately I was going to have a problem. Munich is an old city, and it doesn’t have a nice rectangular grid for its streets. It’s also got the Altstadt (the medieval city center) and a river running right through it, all of which really limited my options. I decided to focus on looking for something suitable for the smile part. It probably took me half an hour to find a nice big curving bit to the south-east. I used the drawing tools in Google’s “My Maps” to draw on the map and plot out the rest of the logo. Not too bad! All I needed then was to join it up into an actual cycling map that I could follow.

For that I used Strava, which I’ve been using to track my cycling for a few years. It has a feature where you can create your own Routes and it will help plot out the path. I ended up creating it as a “walking” route because that gave me finer-grained control over which streets I could take. (When you select “cycling,” it will push you towards cycleways – which is normally great, but for this I was willing to forego that.) It turns out this caused me one slight issue, which I’ll get to shortly. But pretty quickly I had my route, as well as an estimated distance – 21.8km. Yikes! And that didn’t even include getting from the start/finish to my house. I knew this was going to take me a couple hours to complete.

On the day of the ride, I had the Snook film me getting ready. I filled up my hydration backpack and wore my new padded cycling pants. Then I was off! I have a mount for my iPhone on the handlebars, which allows me to easily see the map as well as film footage of both the road and my face as I’m riding. Everything went pretty well, until…

Yeah. My route had me turning left… onto that bridge way above my head. There were stairs, but at that point I was in no state to drag my bike up there. This is the downside to using a walking route! So I had to improvise a bit, going down a side-street and walking my bike along a path to get back onto the route.

The only other mishap was a wrong turn at the base of the second point on the “w”, which I thankfully caught quickly. Unfortunately Strava doesn’t allow you to remove points afterwards, but it was small enough that it doesn’t really detract. On the upside, I also discovered that when you “pause” tracking on Strava and then “un-pause,” it will draw a straight line between those points. I realised I could use this strategically to create diagonals and smooth out some of the rougher bits along the “s”.

As I got back to the house, I messaged the Snook to come out and meet me so he could film one final bit of me arriving and saying “I’m getting ready for the AWS Summit. Are you?” I was pretty puffed at that point, and the hydration pack was completely empty. 😅

So here’s the final cycling workout!

Then I used iMovie to cut together all the footage I’d created, along with a final screenshot of the map. I was really pleased with it and sent it to a few folks. One of them loved it and was really enthusiastic, but the other reactions were muted. It was only when I probed them further that I realised they didn’t get it! They weren’t seeing the logo at all. Once I pointed it out they could see it, but without that context it just looked like I was riding around Munich aimlessly for no reason. 😂 So I had to do a lot of explaining, including for the lovely marketing folks who cut together the final version with music and graphics.

Anyway, here it is! My first ever attempt at GPS art. And if you’d like to attend the AWS Summit next week (it’s free!), you can register here: