Saturday, September 26, 2015

Seven Signs Show that School Holidays are Here

Besides all the national holidays, C's school celebrates both Christian and Jewish holidays. On top of them, there are occasional school holidays here and there, when the school just decides to bonus us a long weekend. If it could celebrate Chinese New Year and have those days off too, my guess is the school would have done so. As a result, we are almost homeschool trained. The third holidays have arrived, one and a half weeks earlier than other schools. The endless imaginary play at home has kicked off.
There are a few noticeable changes in our school holiday life.
1. The alarm clock is off, but sometimes you still get an early wakeup call from the daughter who is not in the holiday time zone yet.
2. We have plenty time in the morning to go wild with hair styles. This morning I did 8 plaits.

3. Unnecessary baking is happening. We've made healthy double chocolate muffins with zucchini, honey and wholewheat flour. Here is proof that C did take a bite but not liking it. I am not a muffin fan either but don't want them to go waste. There are 10 muffins still in the fridge and that kind of puts me off for any further "healthy" baking exercise.
4. My sewing table, a.k.a. dinning room table is spotless clean. Not because we have guests and we need to make use of the whole table. It's simply because there's no sewing related activity happening, at all.

5. C is dragged to do the grocery shopping. Somehow I always compromise to a frozen yoghurt, which I just found out only sounds healthier than ice cream.
6. School holiday is not my holiday. However, dear hubby automatically thinks I have more time now. As a result, I am buried under the house chores and keeping C busy at the same time. "When will you cook a traditional Chinese meal again, with many different dishes?" I had to laugh. "Right after two loads of washing?"
7. The fact that I'm writing this moonshine instead of doing any positive sewing says it all.
On a different note, we are enjoying the lounge around and we have moved our meal spot from in front of TV to the said sewing/dinning table. Improvement. Unlike the last holiday, this one feels more relaxed wthout a sense of desperation for activities.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tangerine Tango Frilly Blouse Mini Version

When I made my Tangerine Tango Frilly Blouse a week ago, C was upset that it was not for her. She requested a same blouse in her size. "Same fabric. Same everything." I get it. She likes the ruffles.

Two options went through my head. I could even downscale everything to her size -- which involves pattern grading and drafting, or I find a pattern that looks quite similar then add ruffles -- which is easy peasy. I went for the second option. I mean I'd like to try pattern drafting one day, but for the time being with madam asking me every few hours "Are you making that blouse for me yet?" even when she clearly saw me standing in front of a stove preparing supper, I had to go for the quick fix.

A few months ago, we went to a corner fabric trim shop on Ravenscraig Road (in Woodstock) and C got so involved looking for buttons and trims for her art. She would take one button here and one bow there and ended up having a whole bowl of stuff. Instead of calculating a sum from every single item, the lady there was child friendly enough that she gave a "kiddie special price" for the whole bowl. I found these five little flower shaped button from C's art supply after I got her permission to dig around. She actually doesn't have to undo the buttons to put on the blouse, but who wants to miss out the fun on practising undoing some buttons?

The blouse pattern I'm using is from this book. I measured the length from one side of the hem, going all the way up around the neck and down to the other hem, then times 1.5 and gathered it up. There are many tutorials online. This one is pretty good with visual explanation.

The skirt was made a few months ago. It's long enough to last for at least a year or two I think. Plus the blouse is roomy too.

I've started putting a behind-the-scene or silly photo at the end of a post. This is just before the shoot of me rubbing hair off her face. It occurs to me that sometimes she looks so grown up posing in front of the camera and all, but other times she's more like a baby always looking for a cuddle.  That sweet girl, I love her too much.

Happy Heritage Day!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tangerine Tango Frilly Blouse


Color. Tangerine. Eyes wide open.
Unlike the current Asia's stock market index, our temperature is going up pretty firmly, which means it's time to sew for Spring, which also means I can finally use some of the lightweight fabric from our previous Japan trip. This piece is pure cotton with some woven details. For some reason, the material doesn't take air erasable pen well. The color almost fades within a minute. I've long given up chalk and pencil, as they tend to grab the fabric.

The pattern is from Sweet Dress Book. It's the first time I sewed with darts. I always felt intimidated with darts, having seen so many of those Project Runway designers scratch their heads "the darts are at the wrong place". But you know what, I didn't draft the pattern and I have a normal(ish) Asian body shape. Wherever those darts are, they shouldn't cause too many problems. It turned out, that sewing with darts is just like sewing a pintuck. Don't let darts scare you.

The opening is quite low, so wearing something underneath is essential. I also packed away the winter clothes and took out all the wrinkly Spring wear. This skirt, which I didn't make, goes pretty well with the blouse, don't you think?

It's also my first encounter with hook & eye fasteners. They made the front closure looks almost invisible. I wondered if the commercial line have a specific machine to sew on these little things, because hand sewing them one by one was kind of time consuming. The frilly bits really give the top a feminine look. C proclaims she has to have a top exactly the same like this one. "You cannot make any mistakes. Exactly.the.Same." Oh dear, I will see what I can do....

C and I take turns being the photographer and the model. So when I sew something for myself, I set up the tripod for her and she gets behind the camera. Sometimes it can get a little ... silly. I tend to be goofy and animated when I am with her. Or, maybe that's just an indication of my true self. Below is a picture of me when I just got in front of the camera, in my house slippers, and trying to follow the photogrpher's instructions. It's exactly what I need to stay sane (or insane) at the thought of another upcoming school holiday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Double Spined Snow Leopard Swimsuit

I present you this snow leopard that has spines at the front and back. While cutting the fabric, I paid extra attention (maybe too much) to make sure that pattern fold is on this line which represents the center of a leopard's back. I was so overwhelmed picturing a leopard swimsuit with a proper back print, that I cut the front piece just as the back piece, without thinking twice. I only realized this mistake when C put it on. So I took pictures as usual, showed them to M later that night. I wasn't sure if it was the late hour, or it was really not that obvious. It took him some good two minutes to scroll the hundreds of pictures and gave a "I cannot see any problem."

Can leopard swim? Surprisingly, they are good swimmers. That's how I end up with this fabric. The fabric shop I went to doesn't have swimwear fabric, but they showed me their scuba fabric range, which was all with colorful bold and wild prints. I felt my heart sink and was ready to be on my way out. Then I saw this guy carrying a roll of animal print back to its shelf. That's it. My swimming leopard. I don't know if this stretchy fabric is salt and chlorine proof, but the name "scuba" definitely sells it. We will see how it holds its shape tomorrow at swimming lesson.

The pattern is called Sun N' Fun Swimsuit and Leotard from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. Generally, I like simple styles so at first I skipped the bow and shoulder ruffles. During the shoot, one shoulder kept on falling off. Then a bow was added to hold the straps together, kind of.

Sewing a swimsuit wasn't as scary as I thought it might be. On the contrary, this was done in 20 minutes. I didn't line the whole suit as instructed but added a crotch lining to cover the seam of front and back pieces.

A happy leopard in her new swimsuit/leotard.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Summer Days Pyjamas Dress

If there's anything I've learnt so far about my 5-year-old's summer dress code, it's the more shoulder exposing the better. She would negotiate from a short-sleeve to a sleeveless, or better, from sleeveless to two thin straps. Actually, what she wears most during those hot months is sun screen. With bare skin exposed in the African sun, my religion is applying maximum sun protection.

I am not sure what triggered me to make this pyjamas looking dress at the beginning of our Spring. But hey we've got a few temperature hikes already and if she's lucky, she'll be wearing it this weekend when it goes up to 27C again on Sunday.

She was playing with these strong magnetic capsules in the top picture. It was her idea to get creative during the shoot and my idea to move our bed and couches around so we could have a not-so-white background for a oh-so-very-white dress. C was very excited with the layout change of the bedroom, so much so that it made me decide to keep things like this for a while, so I can have a permanent alternative background.

What do I like about this pattern from Girly Style Wardrobe? It's super quick to sew, and can be very versatile with different fabric and trims. I saw a Princess Aurora inspired dress using very similar pattern pieces. This material is so soft that even I could easily dream in it, whether it is a pyjamas or not.

The dress is tiny bit big on her. I temporarily pinned the shoulder straps, but will have to get a more reliable solution.

C doesn't have one specific soft toy that she's slept with since birth. Sometimes she'd grab a toy to go to bed with, until the novelty wears off.  Right now, this fox is having her turn three nights in a row.  One lucky fox.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Double Gauze Gray Frilly Dress

There are about 80% gray and 90% dark shades in my closet. I noticed it today. As a matter of fact, I'm wearing a gray jersey right now as I'm tying this. Is a person's character shown through the colors he or she wears? As much as I wear gray, I hope I don't appear to be too sad, or monotonous...

I'm drawn to gray for a number of reasons. One, it almost matches any other colors; Two, it's got that neutral and calming tone; Three, it's in between black and white duh; Four, Fifty Shades of Grey people; Five, do I really have to associate having a full on grey closet with any potential psychological disorders?

So I guess details play a big part when the color is achromatic. This dress is full of gathers and frilly pieces. Pattern from Sweet Dress Book. The dress was super fast to sew. Nothing beats these one-pieces without closure. I've finally got the momentum of sewing after shifting my daily timetable a little. It's a great feeling to be productive and knowing and proving that I'm doing more than just being a kitchen slave.

I didn't have much luck with photoshoot today. With our gloomy weather, all the pictures had to be over-exposed by photoshop. And here in the picture above, I was negotiating with our cat see if she could stay out of the scene and let me be for one minute. Look who's winning.

Photo bomber.
Behind the scene picture --- the result of setting a timer on the camera and having your 5-year-old around.
That's it for today.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Spring-into-Action Outfit Part II

As I was planning for the Spring-into-Action outfit a week ahead of time, I checked the weather forecast. 25 degrees Celsius on Friday. A short-sleeve dress should do it. However, over the weekend, we had rain and wind blowing from all sorts of directions, which pushed our Monday and Tuesday's temperature back to the 15C. That's no good... A backup plan is in order.

I happened to have this brushed cotton in my stash. Bought it from our last trip again. I know I'm constantly buying fabric still, but the fabric that I "smuggled" in our suitcases should last me a long time. I haven't even used it half of them.

Pattern is from my beloved book by Mano Akiko. I truly love this book. I wish I could fit in all those clothes myself. It's not too girlish, which is exactly what C's looking for right now. She's transformed from a "pink only" girl to liking more neutral colors. We were buying a hula hoop the other day and I asked her which color she'd choose. "Any color but pink." was the answer.  There's nothing wrong with pink, it's just I feel my little girl is growing fast.... Her saying bye to pink is almost like a farewell to the little girlhood.

She came home straight from Hip Hop practise and I put the poncho over her top, not bothering to change anything else. I suppose she likes the way it's put together too --- not too girlish.

As a pro in front of the camera nowadays, she goes to take various props herself and this one is showing some fruits that we painted together. Yum. She's also willing to try out many new foods. It doesn't matter to me whether she likes it or not. Trying is a big step.

So I walked into the classroom yesterday when it's 22C outside, just to make sure she won't be boiling in this poncho. There stood the teacher with a scarf and thickish long sleeves. The classroom doesn't get much sun so it's quite cool indeed. Exactly what I wanted to know.

Spring-in-Action Outfit has changed from a short-sleeve dress to a two-layer. Something that shouldn't surprise you when you live in beautiful Cape Town.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Spring-into-Action Outfit Part I

Miss C's school is having a casual day this Friday, meaning the children won't be restricted to wearing school uniform. Good news. To celebrate Spring they are encouraged to wear something green. How do they always know C doesn't own anything green? I did make a jersey a while ago for Sports Day, but that piece had mysteriously disappeared....

At the same time, I bought this beautiful fabric from Studio 47.  Doesn't the print remind you of Spring? It's so very soft. According to my not-so-reliable fabric knowledge, it is loosely woven cotton linen. I get excited when I find treasure tucked in an unnoticeable corner. After countless visits, I've finally learnt to take time and dig deep.

The pattern is from here. C flipped through the book and chose this style. The closure is at the back with 6 buttons. There are a lot of cute styles in this book, thus the name I'm sure. I've got a few books with sizes go up only to 130cm. Sometimes I feel I've got way too many sewing books, yet I still constantly looking for new releases.

Here she is holding up a chair on her head.
Me: Shall I switch on some music?
C: No, mommy. I know how to pose. Look, I'm an African lady.

And then she decided the dress didn't have enough flowers.

Of course, the twirlability needs to be checked.

Tomorrow is the said "casual day". However, she's not going to school with this dress.
Spring-into-Action Outfit Part II to come....