Monday, December 29, 2014

A Cross-stitched Cat

What C's wardrobe really needs right now are some basics. Since, you know, I haven't been clothes shopping for a while now and all her plain tees have become somewhat soggy, which are vivid images of pickled cabbages.

I got super inspired by this post. I am a huge cross-stitch fan, probably because it's so brainless and the end product has that wow factor. I spent my whole pregnancy finishing this piece that's just shy of 100 thousand stitches. That's every night sitting in front of the TV and stitching....

Back to this tee shirt. The pattern is from my beloved book called Tsukutte Agetai Onna no Ko no Oyofuku / Girls Clothes I want to Make. I love the bubbly sleeves, which really give the plain tee a girly twist.

I found a few simple cross-stitch patterns on Pinterest and C picked out a few to be made. This black cat is her first choice. It took longer than I expected, with minor mistakes here and there.
C is in between sizes. I made it a size 120cm this time. It fits her perfectly and I do hope it lasts longer considering the amount of work I put in.
The cross-stitch patch could've been a little higher, but overall it's a success. I've got other patterns saved and pinned for future tee shirts. Can't wait.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Letter to Santa

Christmas in our household is a time of straight forward gifts giving, with very little celebration. For a starter, I was not brought up with Christian, being Chinese and all. M's side is a lot more complicated with him dabbling in almost every single religion one can think of. He's religion sober now and that makes us a religionless family.

However we (especially C) believe in Santa and his elves. C wrote two letters to Santa this year. She requested a new Lego set and then realized that Santa might not know which set she'd chosen. Here is the follow up letter:

Of course Santa must've searched high and low for that specific Lego set and delivered just in time.
We displayed a Christmas tree the whole month and moved it near a window on Christmas eve so Santa could have easier access. C was beside herself when she found the new bike surprise. I got a new electronic toothbrush (speaking of being practical), and M a wireless keyboard for the TV.

Thank you Santa for your generosity.
Post-Christmas greetings to all.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Lily of the Valley Dress

It seems a miracle to me that I even accomplished some sewing during this crazy holiday season. Crazy not because we have tons of families or friends coming over to visit; Crazy, simply because it's a long school holiday and I don't know how to chill.

Ok this dress (pattern from Cotton Friend) is sewn in between some days of strawberry picking, horse feeding and Lego building. I wanted to do something simple and casual that I can wear most of the summer days. I find myself only fancy wearing the garments that I've made myself nowadays.  They are in heavy rotation and I often have to wait for a specific item to dry. I need to make more clothes.

It was an easy sew, with some front tucks. If you haven't noticed, I'm all in for the tucks now. I was worried that white fabric could be see-through but these three small pieces of double layers created by tucks have taken away all my worries.

The shape is somewhat baggy and it reminds me of Lily of the Valley. Don't get me wrong. I like baggy. It doesn't make me look like a stick all right, but I also wouldn't like to be mistaken as some escaped mental patient, especially during the school holiday season when my sanity is rather questionable.

There's no way C'd let me pass without a joint photoshoot.
Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ear Piercing

C browsing the jewelleries. I was sure the lady behind the counter had cold sweats over all the fingerprints on the glass.
With more and more C's friends at school getting their ears pierced, she couldn't sit still anymore. She was so determined to get it done this holiday, in spite of her needle phobia.

I had my ears pierced probably around the same age. My late grandmother used to say "if you want to be pretty, then you have to embrace a little pain." I was head strong, and just like my daughter, I begged my mom into buying me earrings.
I proudly wore earrings for a year, feeling brave (it was a body piercing at any rate) and flashy, until the school rules hit me --- no jewellery of any kind was allowed. I swapped my earrings for some thin stalks found in Chinese green tea, which was a popular earring subsititute back then.

Two youtube videos later, she was ready to go.
The whole procedure was quick and involved no tears. To be honest, I was more nervous than her. The mall had an ice sliding thing going and it automatically became part of the reward.

C's first body piercing, check.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Silver Dust Dress

The side effect of dragging your 5-year-old to do fabric shopping includes buying something that's a big no-no to you, besides all the heavy labor incurred at the store.  We came home with this silver knit fabric. I don't know what it's called or what the percentages of contents are, but what I do know is that this is a piece of eczema inducing polyestery fabric.

Because of its unfriendly nature toward human skin, I decided to make something that should stay as far away from C's skin as possible. A circle skirt came to my mind. As I browsed through the books, this very similar to Geranium dress style caught my eyes. I could easily borrow the bodice part and change the bottom to a full circle skirt.

I made a mental note to cut the circle skirt a little longer, as this bodice part is quite short. C came along requesting a piece of fabric to make a trampoline for her toy figurines. I was too excited to contribute the center circle piece that I totally forgot to lengthen the skirt.... The dress is a little shorter than what I had pictured, but I figured that it can be easily worn with tights and long sleeve tee underneath in cooler months.

Her latest enthusiasm is ball bouncing and wouldn't give up practicing during photoshoot.

That evening, she found a pair of my shoes and got inspired again. "I wish I could have this pair of shoes like yours." C said. Me too! I wish I could upcycle that pair of shoes just for the dress. Crazy thoughts. :-)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Born from a Seed

A while ago, C asked me where she's from and how she's born. Instead of throwing a we-found-you-in-the-trash-can version that I was told when I was a kid, I told her that daddy gave me a seed and she sprouted in my tummy.

She had a play date two days ago and I overheard her telling her friend the seed version.
"My mom ate a seed and I grew inside her tummy. Then she gave birth to me."

My own parents have never told me how I happened. The stories went with baby me either left under a bridge, or in a trash can. They had found me and raised me up. It's still one of my mom's proud jokes today. I don't have a better answer yet even if C had to pursue any deeper now. However, I know I would like to be a little more matter-of-fact than my parents. :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Holiday

The December school holiday is the longest and most daunting one. We are a family solo in Cape Town so the Christmas spirit is not very high. Last year we went away to Kalk Bay and Standford to escape the city crowd. We spent a good month in the middle of nowhere, and I squeezed my brains out trying to think of new ideas to entertain C. Eventually we discovered a nice beach half an hour from where we stayed and it became our daily highlight.

This year I want to do something totally different. I want to stay in the city where everything is accessible and several beaches are merely 5kms away. I said to M if we were ever going on holiday again, it has to be either one of the three:
  • an all-inclusive trip to Disney Land
  • an all-inclusive vacation to Mauritius
  • an all-inclusive cruise vacation
The keyword is "all-inclusive".  I want to sit back and have meal served (preferably fed) to me and do nothing. My kid has to be fully entertained, and that's why that Disney Land is on top of the list. However, to haul the whole family from the African continent to North America is not some cheap exercise, especially with the current useless rand to dollar exchange rate.

So how am I going to survive this holiday?
  • buy more ready-to-cook food than my usual make-everything-from-scratch style
  • be more flexible with the iPad and TV
  • organize lots of play dates, indoors and outdoors
  • get help to clean the house
  • and lastly, stay away from a moody husband
For the past 5 years, I've been hard on myself and have never relaxed one moment. I actually have forgotten what it's like to slow down. This season I'm going to keep reminding myself that it's my holiday as well as everybody else's. I've been doing a double shift looking after the whole family with zero help, and at the same time, trying to keep a blog running. I deserve some good quality me time, and hope to bring more creations next year.

*pictures shown above are taken from last year's holiday.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pink Floral PJ/Work Pants

Yes, that's right. All I am sharing today is a pair of super easy pants that can be worn when you chill during the holidays. No pockets + Elasticated waist = Nothing fancy.
C and I decided to go fabric shopping after the last day of school. We have had more successful experience before. This time we were both instantly drained as we stepped in the store, and she wanted to be in my arms all the time. The 20kg weight wasn't easy to carry, plus shifting multiple fabric rolls at the same time.

This print is the pink version of my own floral pants, which she always asks for the same pair whenever I wear them. She was so excited when she spotted the fabric that for a moment I thought I could just put her down and let her have some romance with the fabric roll. That didn't happen...

I felt almost ashamed to have used a pattern for the pants, after making numerous versions of shorts and three-quarters. Anyway, I wanted to be precise and possibly keep the pattern for future use. The fit was spot on. Some perfect house work pants.

The long school holiday officially kicked off 4 days ago. It's usually easily detectable from the intricacy of my sewing projects, isn't it? :-)
Happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Baby Geranium

A mom friend from C's school just gave birth to a baby girl last week. You know what it means to me? Time to deliver some handmade present. I went straight to Rae. When I just started sewing and reading all the related crafty blogs, hers always gave very informative tips. I like her designs, a lot. I remember very clearly that she offers a free pattern of a little dress called Geranium for 0-3 months old. Perfect!

You really only need scrap fabric to make this dress. I had some leftover fabric from the dresses I made for C and myself.  I could've easily made another 9 dresses out of the fabric. That's how little you need for an infant size.

C and I went through some old pictures of her when she was a new born. I can't believe how fast it went. She was once so tiny as well. As we moved onto the first year of her life, C asked me "mommy, how come you're not in these pictures? Did I only want to take pictures with daddy?" What can I say? The one that's behind the camera rarely gets any pictures taken? I had to ensure her that even if she can't see me in the pictures, I was there all the time, not even a meter away.

She'd decided to wear her own dress made from the same cut of the fabric (literally) that day.  I decided to deliver a suicidal question "Would you like to have a baby sister?" and I got a strong "No!" as feedback. What a relief.  I'm not sure if I'm ready to do it all over again... :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Petal Bleu Mini Me Version


Lately, C has her eyes on everything I make for myself. She wouldn't stop after I made myself this outfit, and as usual I take her demand very seriously ;-)
I used the same fabric for both top and pants, as mine. Found a similar pattern for the top. As you can see, I'm far from done with tucks. When it came to pants, it's always a gamble with C. To avoid the heartbreak of her total rejection I opted for a super simple style, and she loved them. And besides that, I was too lazy to add side and back pockets at this stage.

These patterned webbings at the bottom might just be the reason why she loves the pants so much. I was too eager to break my own pattern tracing speed record and completely forgot to extend the bottom seam allowance outwards, which resulted in some severe puckerings. I just had to sew on these webbings to cover them...

The photoshoot nowadays is fun, quick and motion friendly.

She's worn this outfit throughout the weekend, and is planning to wear again on Monday to school. I'd say it's a huge success!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Petal Bleu Outfit

Let me start by saying that I'm so deeply in love with sewing. I don't think that I've ever had so much satisfaction from wearing a new outfit. I'm starting to have a designer's vision now --- or a shop merchandiser's vision maybe? A sewer's vision at least...?

I love tucks and I hadn't had enough from the dress I sewed two weeks back. This top shares the same bodice pattern and has some petal like layers as sleeves. I immediately spotted this flower print fabric as I was walking into the shop and had it cut and out of the shop within 5 minutes. Zero fabric browsing time is my new record.

Oh I have a tripod now. It's still in it's testing phase. I had so much fun yesterday taking continuous shots all by myself. A little weird but fun. Now I've got probably 100 photos of this outfit. When C came home, she quickly learnt how to do it and drained my 8Gs of camera storage space. A new toy!

I've made these sarouel pants before and this time around I made sure that I bought proper linen fabric. They are much lighter and comfy to wear. I want to make a pair in every single color. It's certainly my sprint/summer go-to pants.

C got tiny upset when she saw these photos of my new outfit and demanded that she has the same one, but in her size. I've got some pattern ideas on mind already. I do hope this style will slowly infiltrate her wardrobe.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ready For Pre-3

No, I didn't make all those clothes in the picture. They are thrifted school uniforms indeed, for the beginning of next year. Less than two weeks of school days before C moves onto pre-3, the year before Grade 1. It still feels like yesterday when we sent her off to pre-school for the first time.

Next year will be a transitional year for the kids to familiarize the concept of wearing uniforms. The school's strict that they have to wear a uniform everyday, but the style is totally up to the kids, be it t-shirt + shorts, or just a pinafore. Since Grade 1 introduces a whole new set of uniform, we went straight to the second-hand sales and got 10 pieces of clothing for a steal.

I have this mixed feeling towards school uniforms. I understand it's ideal that the kids have less or no comparison with regards to what they wear, but as a sewing mama, some part of me feels sad...
On the contrary, C's super keen to try on her new bigger girl outifts, even excited over the colors she normally wouldn't touch. As a matter of fact, she wore a pinafore to school right after I've washed everything.

I'd say she's definitely ready for a whole new year of fun and learning.

Monday, November 17, 2014

High Fashion Witch Outfit

Halloween's long passed but since I had promised to still make C a witch outfit back then, it'd been humming at the back of my ears for two weeks. I went through some pattern pieces back and forth, trying to picture a witchy potential, and eventually I landed here.

I like the simple design of the pattern and obviously lengthened the skirt part to its maximum.

The skirt part is made from some most expensive fabric that I have purchased, to date. I'm usually a very conservative shopper that I always double check the price tag. But when I saw this fabric, what I had envisioned a modern witch dress came alive. That particular fabric roll didn't have a tag and I was too excited to confirm the price. Luckily, I only needed half a meter and the expression on C's face was totally worth every cent.

We found some broken branches as a witch's wand/broom stick.

A witch is not complete without some cat.....

This hat deserves a red carpet of its own, if I hadn't made it teeny weeny too small. I followed Delia's tutorial and added these rolled flowers that I had been wanting to try since forever.

C decided to set up a scene for herself. This is by far the most fun shoot we've had. The power of costumes I'd say.
I'm not sure how to wash this fabric though. Dry cleaning? Well, the good news is it's in black. Maybe I'll never have to wash it, ever.... :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Clover Jacket Revisit

Since the epic failure of this what I call the Clover Jacket, it's been hanging in my closet. I knew for a fact then that I would never wear it. Even after the annual winter to summer cupboard spring clean, that jacket was still there. What can I say? It's owned its place there and not letting go just yet.

For weeks C has been saying how she wishes she could have the same jacket. I messed up with the pattern at the first time and what's supposed to be hers is now mine and I don't have enough fabric to make a kids' version for her and it's burning a hole in my head. Besides, don't they always think what you have is always better than theirs? Ah kids....

I revisited the pattern sheet and this time I found the correct pattern pieces for kids, just to show you that I've made friends now with my Cotton Friend. I stripped apart the whole jacket. I was too scared to cut too much fabric, so I chose to use an unpicker. Honestly, I didn't know wheather it was quicker to sew up a jacket or to deconstruct one. I had just enough two small pieces of leftover fabric to correct the mistake I made on the front panel. Now everything's perfect.

It was a quick sew, since I kept the bottom part as is and had all the bias tapes ready. C came home from school in the noon and saw the jacket. "Wow mom, you did all this while I was at school? You are Kini now!"

Well the truth was I slipped and twisted my ankle pretty bad that morning. So my mobility was limited. I trapped myself at the sewing table.  Right after my fall, the first thing that came to my mind was "Oh thank goodness, I didn't hurt my sewing foot." Funny.

before and after