Thursday, October 30, 2014

Not-So-Sportive Sports Day Outfit

Last week, I got a reminder from school saying this coming Friday's Sports Day and her class dress code is green. I had all that birthday plan happening at the same time, yet I still found myself in a fabric store searching for green fabric. I'm hopeless.

I had to check the weather report, to see what kind of weather we are getting on the event day. Wind and a temperature drop. Anything that's not too summery should do. I settled for this cardigan.
Although I did try sewing some matching green leggings but this ribbing fabric failed miserably to stretch to much needed legging capacity.

Here is little C in her sporty mode, doing kung-fu maybe. She now knows the drill --- new clothes = photoshoots. And she's learnt to do it as coorporative and fast as she can.


The construction was easy-peasy. Unlike my previous projects that I sewed up over days, this one actually has a deadline. Maybe because of the time pressure plus my determination, I finished it in one night, my record speed. I like the gather effect created by elastic at the bottom.

I see a lot more potential in this outfit than some possibly once-off sporty look garment for C. She's too girly to accept sportswear, at least for now.
In any case, C's Sports Day ready.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birthday Outfit

Technically speaking, I didn't plan to make this outfit for C's birthday. But both of them were finished and ready to wear just 2 days before her birthday and C was very determined to save them and wear on the day.
Top pattern is here.

I'm quite surprised as this is not some extravagant dress that little girls like her adore. It's clean, and with a little girl scout twist? Maybe the Asian style scouts. I remember me growing up wearing a lot of similar two-piece like this.

I love this fabric. The embroidery pattern gives the white fabric such a lift.  After sewing some really stubborn polyester fabric, I was simply happy to lay my hands on this pure cotton that's willing to be pressed. 

I made these shorts while I was in a grand pants sewing mood. I had kept them aside to wait for a perfect matching top, since you know, we are all dresses nowadays. I had the shorts in my head while I was making this white top. I dug out some leftover red fabric from a previous project to make the neck binding, aiming for a more coordinated look with the shorts.
By the way, C had a great birthday. She woke up in the morning and saying "Oh my feet and hands are bigger. I'm f-i-v-e!"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Life Lately

What's on life lately is this coconut oil. I can't get enough of it. Actually our whole family can't get enough of it.
Originally I got this for C's on-and-off eczema attack. I'm still not sure how strong its eczema suppressing power is yet as it's still in the testing phase for us, but wow that coconut scent is enchanting. I find myself rubbing it on my hands all the time. It's oily at first then it gets absorbs so quickly and leaves this delicious dreamy smell. C says "Oh I want to bite my arm. It smells like cookie."

Having had a pretty drugged-up childhood, I'm still in the transitional stage of learning and accepting all the natural alternatives. Soon I shall be brave enough to put it on my face and condition my hair with it, and I won't be shy to report. One day, I mean one day, I will reburbish my whole cupboard with natural or homemade toiletries. Ambitious.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Floral Pants

Two pairs of PJ pants for M ignited my sewing passion for pants, simply because they're super easy and fast to whip up. Originally I wanted to make some PJ pants for myself as well, but a trip to the fabric shop changed my mind. With fabric like this, too much of a waste just to make something to sleep in. I found a loose fitted style in this magazine and now they're dual functional.

"How do I look?" I asked M. "You look like a granny" was the feedback. Ok, maybe the pants were a little forceful under this dress. I imagine I can see where he's coming from....

These pants are from a one-piece pattern. I was worried at the beginning wondering if the back would be too low or the front too high. Never saw the problem once they're finished. This is my second pair and I didn't even bother to zigzag the hem out. A few broken thread later (probably due to my speeding on the machine) the pants were born already.
M keeps telling me that I look stiff in the pictures, so I bounced around like a monkey and a few monkey dance moves later, I present this girl in misshaped top, obviously enjoying the new pants. 
These pants have reinforced the steady growth of my pants' pile. Keep them coming I say.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekend Things --- Butterflies and Tea

Remember those yucky caterpillars that invaded our house one week ago? Look at them now. There are butterflies everywhere inside and outside the house. I've never seen so many of them before. There are at least 20 of them on the lavendar bush at a time and many more flying around. They've turned our place to some enchanting fairy garden and frankly, this beats Butterfly World far and away.

I'm usually not a big fan of insects, of any kind. But these butterflies are like watching your own baby grow, or growing your own vegetables.... Maybe I'm not using the metaphor correctly. What I'm trying to say is we have established some kind of bond and I don't mind them hovering around and laying more eggs, and providing enough entertainment for the cats at the same time.

Some other things that I don't normally do --- coffee + cake. We had some friends over for tea and I brought out this killer cheesecake. M calls it the million-dollar cheesecake. Not only because it's super delicious, but also the cost of the ingredients to make this cake is quite high. Was it worth every single penny? Totally.

Beautiful friends. Lovely cake. Dreamy garden. It doesn't get any better.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

PJ Pants

The weather's changing and we are all in need of some light-weight PJ pants. I passed the PJ pants section one day after grocery shopping. They're reasonably priced and some of them were even on sale. The thing is since I took sewing seriously, I just can't bring myself to purchase new clothes from the shops... It's  a curse I'm telling you, but I'm happily and willingly bearing this "curse".

I found a free pattern from Simplicity. The 25-page pattern printout led to a one-and-a-half hours' workout.  There're no page number or border lines, so I had to solve the puzzle then measure the 1-inch blocks near the edges and cut of the overlapping pieces.  I shouldn't complain too much for something that's free, right? :-)

Once the pattern was solved, the pants came together in a flash. I made these two for M and he insisted that I chop off 12cm from the bottom. So here are the chubby short legged version of PJ pants that he adores.

While doing the fabric shopping, I ditched the idea of making matching PJ pants for all of us. A few cotton with floral prints immediately caught my eye.  I decided to rather make something more functional than just home pants. I'm burying myself in pants/shorts patterns of all lengths and sizes right now.  Fun way to spend the weekend for me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Birthday Party Thought

Source -- Ultimate Chocolate Cake
"Mommy, I don't want a birthday party this year. I will celebrate my birthday with Lego Friends" --- Music to my ears. "But I still want the chocolate cake you promised to make." --- For sure my love.

C's birthday is two weeks away and she has made up her mind that she'd rather have a selection of Lego sets. Realistic, like me.

My parents are never into birthdays. Memory tells me that I'd always go buy a new outfit for my birthday, then my father would cook noodles, which symbolize longevity, on the day. I was never into cakes, and still am not, so that saved some trouble as well. Birthdays were spent with my parents and families.

The South African parents shock me, in a way. I've been to some really extravagant kids' birthdays that involve meal catering service for the adults, multiple gigantic jumping castles, fancy venue hire, kids entertainers and out-of-the-world decor. Usually between 20-40 kids are invited. The cost of these parties are no less than US$1000.  Kids parties have become a competition among the parents.

I do have some surprises planned for C's birthday this year. I might have spent more than that amount already (spoiler alert: a new iPad geared for exciting new apps for the family to share. Our first generation iPad is stuck on iOS 5.0 and looking forward to a decent retirement). But I am just glad I don't have to throw the money away and entertain the whole class or whole grade. I'm not a good entertainer, after all.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Weekend Things -- Spring House Invaders

C has been home for a week now due to another school holiday. I am still not quite used to the 4 school breaks in the southern hemisphere. Plus the school C goes to are off during multiple Christian and Jewish holidays, something that we don't relate to at all.... It's like every second week there are two days off because of some kind of religious holidays.

All right, let's change a subject and talk about Spring. Since the Capetonian wind marked the beginning of the season, we've been spotting caterpillars all over the place, some are hairy, some not, but they give me the creeps all the same. I have to tiptoe now walking at the back of the house, because they're everywhere on the ground. I suppose if I had been raised in a farm, I would have been more immune to these nature's little creatures?

Locust found in the garden


Oh where do I begin with these two? Don't be fooled by their innocent faces. Before we got the cats I had never seen a mole in or near the house. Now they're bringing in a mole inside the house, on a daily basis. Sometimes I come home to a murder scene, like National Geographic Channel on a small scale. Should I stop buying food for them now and get a bunch of deworming pills instead? Aaah just the thought of that is enough to make me sick. Nature. Again.

School starts tomorrow. Happy 3rd term.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Project Runway Inspired Bellflower Dress

C's recent obsession is Project Runway. It's becoming our family's favorite TV show as well. I hear her talk about Mood and squins all the time while she plays her imaginery games. Speaking of Mood, if I ever get to go to New York one day, it will be my first stop.

One day she was going through my fabric and accessories stash, which happens quite often lately, she pulled out some fabric from the deep bottom that I bought long before the sewing days and something I thought I'd never make use of, plus some squins elastic. "Mommy, I want a high fashion dress with this fabric and the squins as a belt." She had already wrapped herself in the fabric before I got out my pattern collection. Ok I have to admit that the color coordination is good.

I like the print, and that's probably the reason why I bought it years ago. The thing is, back then, I had no understanding of fabric and this material feels funny. It's got a shine and definitely not 100% cotton. I found out more about it later on.

The pattern is from this book and it has a back zip closure, something I was still afraid of. My first attempt with a zip was 3 months ago on this one-shoulder dress. I did a lousy job then and after that dress, I still wasn't sure how to sew it on probably. This time I decided to be more commited. A few searches later, I landed at Craftsy and they have some free mini series on zipper techniques, offered by Sunni Standing. Boy did it make a big difference. I didn't even know there was such a thing called zipper foot. So I went to my sewing machine manuel, got out the zipper foot, watched another tutorial on how to install it. I couldn't believe how close the stitches are to the teeth. It looks so professional this time around that I'm not shy to show it off.

The dress is twirlable and gives this lantern shape which fancy. This montrous fabric is something else though. I was too scared to set the iron temperature high due to its syntheticity, but somehow no matter how much I try to press, it bounces back. So I ended up using tons of pins to secure everything in its place.

The fit is great.
C is over the moon. "Mommy, I know I've got one million dresses already, but can you make me an evening gown?" Aah Project Runway side effect.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paper Cranes

Last year around this time we turned our house into a sweat shop. With C's birthday approaching, I decided to decorate the party with hanging paper cranes, since she didn't request a specific theme.

I loved origami as a child and could probably fold a lot more at a faster rate. During my teens, folding paper cranes was the thing to do. Everybody was making them with small origami paper then put them in a glass jar. There were a few sayings, of which I used to believe that if I had to make 1000 of them, I would be granted one wish. If you gifted the cranes to someone else, s/he would receive the blessings from the cranes God.

I'd like to share a brief picture tutorial of how to make these cranes.
Start with a square piece of paper.

Pull the left and right sides together and do the same to the back.

Bring the front parts together and back parts together, as in the previous picture.

I've found this origami website equipped with videos that will walk you through the whole making process. If you are brave enough, do try some more.

And if you own some skinny fingers, go crazy.

This year I haven't got my party actions started yet as we are still in the debate whether to have a small birthday party or not.....tic tac...tic...tac...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Step-in Culottes

Sometimes I feel like just sitting back and letting the pictures do the talking, except that my pictures aren't very expressive yet, so I will step in.

These culottes are something I'd been wanting to make for a long time --- summer skirt pants. They're convenient, cool to wear, Cape Town wind proof. Who doesn't like that? Not a shorts person? I hear you. I wasn't, either, until I saw these frills. They definitely give these culottes a feminine booster.

These frills, are more difficult to gather than they appear to be. I'm not sure if it was the thickish fabric, or the double layer, I snapped the cotton twice before I dug out my upholstery thread. From there on, everything was a breeze. The pattern is from Sew Chic.

It's school holiday here and we are home a lot playing games and building Lego. C insisted that we go have a "hand-stick-ball" (I have no clue what it's really called) game photoshoot. So there you go. The culottes are motion friendly. Tested.
This is a keeper. I do have plans making more for this coming summer.  We were hit by a heat wave today and I was lucky enough to wear them the whole day! Happiness.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Since I became a regular at the gym, I've been "spying" on this girl in the change room, same hour, same spot. I suppose taking a picture with a bunch of undresssed ladies as background would be highly inappropriate, I came home and sketched this picture which C couldn't wait to lay hands on with her coloring pencils.

There she was, blow drying her hair with a curling brush and at the same time paging through some Italian text book. My eyes can't move away from the mirror when drying my own hair, let alone reading something that requires some sort of processing and memorizing.

As a kid, I could handle multitasking much better. We lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. My mom would watch TV shows while I was doing homework in the other room. I was too curious to hear what's going on on TV so I moved my homework in front of TV shows that she was unwilling to turn off (not good parenting mom). Nowadays I have to switch the music off  to read. I envy that girl in the picture.

Since her image is stuck so deep in my head, I've moved the sewing machine to the dining room table so I make pancakes and sew at the same time now. The problem is M has started suggesting that I rather combine pancake making and dish washing......