Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grey-Striped Tapered Pants


"Mom, I'm bored of you wearing the same pants all the time." That's definitely my cue of expanding my pants range. I have been wearing my sarouel pants a lot. It's so comfy and easy to wear --- nothing beats elastic band waist. Actually most of the things I wear nowadays are the ones I've made myself. I have always wanted to give my wardrobe a spring clean and take a vow to only wear handmade clothes. I need more guts get rid of my old clothes all at once, and of course I will have to make more clothes to rotate.

With my new book I Love Pants in one hand and some newly acquired Japanese fabric in the other I was ready to work. Let me start by praising the fabric. This cotton is so so soft, like baby blanket material. Gah I always feel mighty content to work with good quality fabric. Excuse the pictures. C insisted being the stylist slash photographer, claiming it's her turn....I have no clue why the pants look so drunk in the pictures. Does it always happen to fine stripes?

Here is a better view on the fabric, and some details of the pants. The leg bottoms are tapered, created by layering up the hem. Same with the waist. One of the many brilliant things about sewing with Japanese sewing books is that it teaches you solid techniques. I've sewn inseam pockets once before, but this time the book showed a different method which is easier, cleaner and the pocket edges are sharper.

I opted for a size L designed for 168cm tall ladies and lengthened 5cm. However, these supposed-to-be full length pants still look three-quarterly, which I'm totally fine with. I mean I can always pair them with long socks in winter? The high waist and tucks give a slight bubbly look, exactly what I need for my almost non-existing hips.

These pants have just taken the space of a dress that I've never worn once for the past 5 years.
One in one out.
Good strategy yeah?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Thought

Two weeks ago, one of my aunts in Shanghai had an annual check-up. The results weren't too good, indicating that she had a malignant tumor in her liver. The whole family became cats on a hot tin roof.  She was immediately checked in at a hospital. By Friday of the same week, she had had surgery done already.  One week after that, she earned a 50cm long wound and a surprisingly cheerful result from biopsy clearly stating the tumor was nonmalignant liver nodules, which require no further treatment.

Now, apart from being happy for her, I can't say I appreciate how things are done in a haste over there. I'm sure there're a lot of similar cases. This is a liver surgery we are talking about after all. Shouldn't the doctor double or triple check before putting patients on the operation table? Would she have gotten other conservative treatment options if it was diagnosed benign at the first place? My aunt is doing very well otherwise and I wish her a speedy recovery.

This reminds me of the birth options I had 6 years ago when I was pregnant with C. I heard about everything I needed to know about episiotomy and it really scared me. Just the thought of it is still making me cringe, even to this day.  Somehow in comparison that cut through your abdomen and uterus didn't sound as painful (?).  In the end, I went for a natural birth, doing what I thought was best for the baby and me. My birth story was rather short. I went into labor late at night and by morning I was discharged already. That episiotomy didn't happen and I felt grand. I was a lucky one.

But still, is episotomy absolutely necessary? China has made it a standard procedure. The chances of getting one are close to 100%. If I had to give birth in China, I wouldn't've escaped from those surgical scissors. I fully understand under certain circumstances it is a must and can be life-saving. But I do feel most of the time it's only to make the doctors job easier but lengthen the recovery time for the patients.

I don't know. It's just my thought of the day. I could be wrong.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Star-Light-Star-Bright Bolero

We are experiencing some load sheddings lately and this evening the power went off from 6pm to 8pm. As a consquence, when I put C to bed tonight, we saw millions of stars in the sky, thanks to a pitch-dark neighborhood. I'm not exaggerating. Millions of them! We were both mesmerized and stared at the sky for a long time -- long enough to replace the bedtime story.

Then I thought, what better names could I possibly give to this bolero? The fabric, from Focus Fabric, is black linen dipped in golden glitters, just like a starry sky. I fell for this fabric the moment I saw it.... However, I had some big issue with the fabric when I started working on it. The color started to run, out of control. My sewing machine, iron and scissors had multiple black marks until the help of some invasive Handy Andy. My hands were stained for two days. At this point, in spite of my frustration, I was still glad that I had forgot to throw it into the washing machine and prewashed it with other fabric.

Let me quickly move to the positive side of this bolero. My local supermarket has stopped stocking the baking paper that I had used for one year to trace my patterns, and that pushed me to look for other resources. I found something called "poly trace" at Cape Town Sewing Center. I imagine it must be the equivalent to the very famous Swedish tracing paper. My old baking paper was great to use, but now I'm feeling awesome as I upgrade to a more professional ... ugh...pattern tracing media.

This pattern is from Girls Style Book. It's not very obvious but the bolero is full of gathers, which explains the bubbly look. I must've done something wrong along the line, the two front yoke pieces are much bigger than the neck lining, so I had to create two tucks at the front, one on each side, to make things even. Felt like a genius when I did it, but again it's not so noticeable on the finished product.

The dress underneath was my last year's proud produce. It's been one of C's dress-up faves. "Marley" in the picture was from our recent Shanghai trip. She got a few stuffed animals from IKEA and we had to shop for some vacuum storage bags. Note to myself: vacuum bags should become travel essentials.

I guess my sewing motion has officially kicked off. I've got tons of new fabric and trimmings from the trip all prewashed and ready for me. Be back soon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Back --- Part 2

Whenever C sees any one of these buildings that represents Shanghai in the picture above, she'd always proudly say "That's in Shanghai and it's where my mom is from."
True, Shanghai does have its beauty in a mega way. It is like that because most Chinese people possess some level of vanity character. You either go big or go home. That's why Shanghai has some tallest buildings in the world, some most amazing shopping centers, a theatre house called "The Grand Theatre", a nickname called The Pearl of the Orient.

This city is the second destination of our trip after Tokyo.
I was born and fed in Shanghai, a true Shanghainese in blood and heart. I am in awe everytime I go back and see how much this city has built up, yet nowadays I have a more complex feeling. When I see a place, I always look at two things: hardware, which is the city facilities; software, that's people. The metropolis Shanghai has everything to offer, however I feel people there have a long way to go to match Tokyo. You still see people try to cut a queue, talk loudly in public, not as polite --- definitely not polite at all compared to people in Tokyo, etc etc. All these little things I used to blame at the migrants from other parts of China. There's nothing wrong with people going to a bigger city looking for more opportunities, but bringing the bad habits along is just not right.

street food

Once we landed on the China soil, most social media apps on my phone stopped working. China has banned Google, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook etc. The local search engine takes its time to respond to foreign websites. Imagine my frustration when I had zero access to my gmail account, blogger and life lines! As a matter of fact, among the 2701 websites China bans, blogger and wordpress are two of them. I guess my little space here doesn't exist on any Chinese computer screen.


My outings were very limited when we were in Shanghai. Most of the time C only wanted to stay at home and play with her daily delivered toys. The very few times that we did go out, that's what happened (picture above). Lots of walking for those little legs. Most pictures are from M's phone. At least he had a better glimpse of the city.

Once again, I've left Shanghai and escaped Mother Dragon's den. Someone asked me if I could go back and live in Shanghai again. The answer was negative. I'm already too laid-back for that fast-paced city. Plus, no blogger? no way! :-)
I do hope years later when I go back again, I should feel more positive impact from the people not just the city itself.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I'm Back!


It's been a few days since we got back from our school holiday trip, but no matter how hard my mind screams "blog blog blog", my body says sleep. The flight on way home felt hopelessly long and at one point I started to doubt if I was going to survive those thousands of kill-me-now "Are we there yet?" questions from my 5-year-old. OK as long as our next trip doesn't involve any plane ride, I am cured.

Back to our amazing trip.
We arrived in Tokyo at midnight, thanks to the delayed flight from Cape Town which had caused us to miss our connecting flight from Dubai to Tokyo. But once we arrived, it's a new chapter.
The people are unbelievably polite, I mean even the bus driver on his last midnight shift? We had booked an apartment from Airbnb but somehow we misread the directions and were lost, 2 a.m. in the morning, with our 3 pieces of luggage, in Shibuya.  A few failed attemps to solve the problem ourselves later, we decided that asking around with my broken Japanese would be the best bet. And there, two guys walked us to the building where our booked apartment is. I don't know, people in Tokyo just have that "trust me" look on their faces.

Is Tokyo the capital of "World of Crafts"? It should be. If there's something craft related that you can't find in Tokyo, chances are you won't find it anywhere else. I had to hold my breath to contain my excitement when I was at Yuzawaya inside Takashimaya shopping center in Shinjuku. They sell everything from small buttons to fabrics and sewing machines. Really, I could've easily spent 2 full days there time permitted.

Bad service doesn't exist in Tokyo. People are extremely helpful and full of enthusiasm no matter where you go. I had never seen people who are so dedicated to their work.
Walking at Shibuya Crossing --- possibiy the busiest intersection in the world, I just saw tons of people dissolve into each other. It's so crowded yet so in order.  Talking about fashion sense, almost every single one of them in Shibuya is a fashion icon that can be easily photograghed and put in Japanese sewing books.

C lost her first baby tooth in Tokyo. She's looking for a Japanese tooth fairy.
I spent a good amount of time playing with C at the apartment. Traveling with a little kid means compromise and I had no problem with that. After all, my purpose was served on our first outing.

Back at home in Cape Town. I have loads of fabric washing still to be done and my library has expanded. Those Disneyland staffs' cheerful chants are still at the back of head. I'm so ready to tackle the rest of the year with a little Japanese spirit.