Sunday, June 29, 2014

Holiday Bubbly Dress

The winter school holiday has officially kicked off. We are about to have great fun together all day long, C assures me that.

While she's taking care of our holiday activity plans, I made a dress from one of the Japanese sewing books I ordered recently. It's the cover dress, which Chiara and I fell in love with straight away.

As you can see, we even had a holding-a-plate-of-cookies photo shoot. The cookies, however, magically disappeared during the shoot.

I mentioned in a previous post that the instructions in the book are very simple (not vague, simple), and that I preferred the detailed version from indie designers. I take those words back. The instructions are enough for me. I'm at a level where I'm able to figure out and put things together by myself. Really proud of the progress I've made in a short amount of time. :-)

There are more pattern pieces to cut compared to PDF patterns I've sewn from so far. For example, usually the skirt part from a PDF pattern is made of 2 rectangles; the skirt part of this pattern is made of 2 trapezoids, front and back pieces slightly different to each other. Just shows you how much the designer puts her effort into the work to make the fit and style perfect.

I didn't add the ribbon around the waist. This fabric is busy enough for me.

And also didn't make the head band, yet.

I've started to work on another pattern from the book already. However, C's requested a dress with one shoulder strap. I'm really over-joyed that I get a lot of requests from her lately. My to-sew list is definitely growing longer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Long Waited Pattern Books

Let me start by saying that I'm lucky to live in a city like Cape Town. With breathtakingly beautiful mountains and oceans, I wake up everyday reminding myself how lucky I am. BUT, there's a downside of it, more so now that I am in the sewing world.

The fabric resources and sewing books are very limited. I've searched high and low for some Nani Iro fabric, so far no luck. Some locally milled "designer" fabric can cost up to R600 (US$60) per meter. Outrageous! Book shops usually don't stock a wide range of sewing books. *sigh*
Ok the negativity stops here.

Two weeks ago (it felt so very long ago though), I ordered three Japanese sewing books online. Today I received two out of the three.

I literally ripped the package open, took out the books and started reading with Chiara --- her telling me which style she likes and me getting to flip through the pages without the background "mommy, come play with me" chanting. Win-win.

The instructions are not what I had in mind. They are way simplified than the indie designer versions I've been using so far. Confession --- I far prefer the written-for-dummies version. The book geniusly put 24 patterns on 3 big front and back sheets. Wow!

A long ruler, a can of coconut milk, a pencil and one roll of freezer paper. I'm totally in the zone. Memory brought me back to geometry homework during school years...

You get 20 to 24 patterns per book. This is better than any other deals I've seen so far. What do you say?

Happy sewing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sadie Tunic Top/Dress

It's the second pattern from Shwin Designs I've tried in a week's time. Considering my sloth productivity, that's a lot. I love the way they write their instructions. Simple and clear. Both garments were super fast and easy to put together.

It's a little too short to wear as a dress, but C insisted on having some legging-less shots due to our one-day heat wave in the beginning of Cape Town winter.

You know how much little girls (or boys) love their pockets. They are not just there for the hands.

They are there for the little treasure hunt. These jet pockets are my new favs.
Mommy look how many leaves I've got in my pocket.
To me, the buttons and pockets are the highlights of this top/dress. Love the details here and there on a simple cut.

I'm now starting to enjoy tracing and cutting out sewing patterns. It's still time consuming but not everything needs to be done in a rush, no?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Crocodile Farm Visit

It was beautiful and summery day here in early winter. We decided to head to the Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm. Actually I told C last night before bed that we'd take her there, so this morning 5am sharp, she woke up and told us she's going to the crocodile farm and that she's going to touch baby crocs, and feed them with chicken. She went back to sleep straight after uttering her wishes. Thank goodness for that!

This must have been the baby croc that came to her dream this morning.  The skin is still soft and not hard and scaly yet. It feels ... ahem ... like soft cold leather. I'm sure it will become some nice handbags one day.

The tour guide put double elastics around the mouth. Can you still see the teeth? Something I learnt today --- the inside of a crocodile's mouth is yellow and you still see all the teeth with its mouth shut; while with an aligator you don't see the teeth when it closes its mouth and it's pink inside.

Of course, at a crocodile farm, you don't just see one baby croc, you see hundred and thousands of them.

I had to use my phone to take these pictures, a little blurry, but you get the idea. Apparently there are hundreds of them under the water still.

Something else I learnt today --- the crocodiles with thick tails mean they're well fed.
I'm not so sure what it means with these two guys and their fat tummies.

The place is super kids friendly and it has a nice cafe and playground as well. It's so totally worth the trip.

Bye crocs. Enjoy the sun and the lazy days.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Start Twirling

I remember when I was a little girl, my favorite clothing item was circle skirt. And I successfully passed the gene to my daughter. Everytime I ask her to put on a new item for a photo shoot she'd ask me if it's a circle skirt, or whether the skirt part of a dress can twirl....
Her wish is my command.

Georgia Twirl Dress is a little girl's dream come true. And mom-friendly. I couldn't believe how easy it was to sew the whole thing together.
I used a size 5 for a 4-and-half year old. The top part seems a little baggy. That's why I added an extra button at the back after the shoot, just to tighten it a bit more.
Ok it doesn't look too bad when she's standing straight soldier style.
It looks like I'm stuck in fabric with small floral prints lately....maybe it's time to add some plain colors to the stash.
Chiara really likes the dress and she started to twirl, and twirl, and more twirl...
Somehow I had problem capturing a front twirling picture and eventually she collapsed from a heavy dizzy spell.
Ha! Here's another back view.
Happy Friday.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Elsa Dress x 2

C's invited to a Frozen themed birthday party. It's like her dream coming true. We are big fan of the movie here. She went through a stage that she had to dance to all the songs every single night. The theme song is so powerful and it's definitely my most hummed song at the moment as well, especially during the shower.....

A while ago I mentioned that C would ask for the same present that we bring to a birthday party. That hasn't changed. My plan was to make 2 Queen Elsa dresses. I looked at the versions on pinterest when the movie just came out. They're beautiful, but truth be told, I wasn't (and still am not) ready to draft my own pattern yet. You can imagine just how excited I was when I found a princess dress pattern at Create Kids Couture.

The pattern calls for some intermediate sewing skills, which made me hesitate. I think it's mainly because of it's shirred back, which I only found out much later.

I've never done shirring before. In fact, it's the first time I heard about the term. I would usually call it elasticated back before my sewing addiction kicked in.
But, there's no way turning back, I had to finish the two dresses in a week. It's like a moving-from-beginner-to-intermediate graduation project.

I made it!!!
She much prefers the version with simple plain fabric, than the one below.

which we wrapped up with a cape as a present.

Coming back to the one I made for C. She wore the dress the whole weekend, playing with Lego, climbing the cat tree, riding scooter.

She's asking me now whether I can make the dress Elsa wears on her Coronation Day.

Thank you for having so much confidence in mom's sewing skills, and a pass with distinction on that graduation thing I mentioned earlier.
Moving on to my next project.
Happy sewing.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Chicken Sausage Roll

Who doesn't like chicken sausage rolls?
C was very addicted one stage that she would request a chicken roll for lunch everyday. I made a rule --- she can only have one on the day that she has ballet extra mural. Two favorite things happening in one day. Ballet day is truly her highlight of the week.

I used to get the chicken rolls from one particular Woolworths on way home from school. One month ago, the shop announced that they wouldn't be selling them anymore. What a blow. So for 3 weeks now we have to go a little further to a different Woolworths. You know me, homemade is always better than shop bought. I discovered this recipe.

The ingredients are reallly simple. Chicken breasts, bacon, sundried tomatoes and some spices.
Super duper easy to make. I made these while M took C to school this morning. Father's Day morning meant extra time for me to make chicken rolls. Thanks!

They are a grow-up version compared to shop bought. Sundried tomatoes and bacon add extra flavor. Everything tastes good with bacon, no? They are, however, not approved by my picky-eater. Maybe like I said, too much grow-up flavor....

The recipe is definitely a keeper for party snacks. Yum!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


When was the last time you had your milk warmed up in a milk pot?
Winter's set foot here in Cape Town. I always believe you should have something warm in your tummy in the cold weather. Breakfast with warm milk?

For years and years, I've been warming up milk in a microwave oven. It's fast. It's convenient. It delivers the warm milk, on time. But let's face it. It doesn't heat the milk (or other food) evenly. I often wonder if it's really destroying the goodness in the milk, and that I've been drinking "dead" milk?

On this particular cold winter day, I decided to warm up milk the old fashioned way. What a treat! It's like having warm milk at my granny's house when I was little.
This is what a cup of true warm milk should taste like.
Dear Milk Pot, there's always a spot on the stove for you this winter.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bias Tape and Weekend Roundup

My productivity is below low these past two weeks. C had 3 school days off due to some religious holidays and that meant I was on a full-time entertainment mission. Even right now with the cartoon on and I'm on my laptop, she says "mommy, you're not watching with me".... I keep reminding myself that I'm a mother first and she's only small once, and that I should treasure every minute I'm blessed to spend with her. My mother-in-law phoned this morning and asked me if I was still sewing..... that says something right?

On Saturday night, while I was reading Dana's tutorial on to make bias tapes, I was drawn to the movie M was watching called Non-Stop. Good movie. Result was I spent the whole movie reading the tutorial.

Love this little bias tape maker. Very easy to use and churns bias tape like a machine. Really, a little machine.
A super nice way to use up all your left-over fabric. I'm definitely making more of these.
Since not so much dresses happening lately due to printer problem/pattern shortage. I looked up online for some mouth-watering Japanese Sewing Books. Love the style. Simple lines with details. Below are the books I've ordered.

Have a great week ahead.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Easy Drawstring Bag

A friend in Chiara's class has had a drawstring to put her ballet outfit for 2 weeks now, or at least that's how many times she's noticed the friend using one. A request was nicely delivered "mommy, I also want a drawstring bag to put my ballet outfit, please..." I was like sure thing, nothing can be easier than a drawstring bag right. Instead of making a plain white old fashioned bag, I had a little pinkie girly ballet version in my head.


2 pieces of rectanglar fabric. I used size 44 x 30 cm
thick ribbon to use as a casing, about 61cm long
thin ribbon, about 118cm long
a safety pin
lighter to burn the ends of the ribbon

Place the 2 rectangles right sides facing each other and sew along the 3 edges. Finish the seams using a zigzag or overlock stitch.
Turn the right sides out and press neatly. Hem the opening by folding it 5cm then again 8cm. Press and sew.
Attach the ribbon all around. Leaving a 2.5cm gap at the front.
Make sure to fold the ends in and stitch down. Your casing is done.
Use a safety pin to guide your thin ribbon through the casing (thick ribbon).

 Now put all the ballet gear in and show your little princesses.

Wait for a big smile.