Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekday Bits

It has been a good week for me.
At the beginning of the year, I signed up for this active rewards programme with our medical aid, and I get weekly goals and an app to remind me. Once I've achieved the goal, I get a free juice/smoothie/coffee. Thus far, I've achieved three goals. I am not a smoothie/coffee person, but funny enough this silly strategy works for me. It motivates me to go exercise and reach my goal.
I've realized that I am a goal person. I need something to lead me. Life is crazy as it is and it's so easy to let the time slip through your fingers. I've always wanted to document more often but ometimes I ask myself why I sew and then write about it. Who's ever going to see my growth as a sewist (?), or be interested to know what's going on in my life? Here, I need to thank to all the lovely people who support me with their kind comments and likes on my instagram page, facebook link and here on the blog. Even if I've only got one reader, my goal is to deliver the content.
It's about living your life full, isn't it? For 6 years, I've been giving all my attention to my daughter and set being-a-good-mother as my utmost priority. By doing that, I started to lose myself and my own life. I want to be a little selfish this year and I'm slowly getting  back to my pre-child spirit. Being able to work and be acknowledged definitely brings positivity. See I've written something every single day this week. I think I'm on the right path this time.
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Back Tie Top and Button Up Skirt

C asked me yesterday, "When are you making the rest of Nounours' clothes?" I assured her that they are going to happen, plus Nounours has got enough clothes to rotate for now. At the mean time, I plan to do some more practical sewing. To call it practical, is actually questionable. C has the most clothing items in the family but the whole summer she wore mostly tank tops and shorts. I get it. They are practical. She's in school uniform five days a week now. How often do her other clothes get worn? Not often. But! My logic is when she does pass down her clothes to other kids, they would be at least still newish.
I like the gaps and imfection of her teeth, more than the outfit. I find it cute but it's a constant reminder to save up for braces, if they don't get straightened by themselves...
I'm digging through my stash boxes. Any fabric that's been in there for more than a year is too long. Often it's not because I don't use the fabric, it's because I cannot part with the leftovers. I'm not sure keeping on buying new boxes for the scraps is a good solution either. This grey fabric for the skirt had been used for a temporary curtain for a month. Of course "curtain fabric" is a big selling point here. "I'm wearing a curtain, mom." This is my first kids' skirt with fitted waist band. I can always move the buttons later on to make it last longer. The pattern is from this book.
There's a new extra mural at school this year called Eazystitch. It's more like "easy craft". There's stitching involved yet. C had her first lesson on Tuesday and made this wired heart with scrap ribbons and fabric. She's so very proud and insisted wearing it as a necklace for the photoshoot.
The highlight of this top is at the back. It's two pieces of the fabric overlapping each other at some part yet still releaving a little bit of the back, with a tie at the top. I'd wear it myself if it were in my size. Pattern from the same book.
She's into spelling and playing word games, which explains the masking tape galore on the wall. Part of learning is about making a mess and having fun, right? Very much like sewing.....

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Wardrobe for Nounours

When C was one year's old, she started watching this French cartoon called L'ane Trotro. It's a 3-minute short mini series, in French. We were looking at opportunities of moving to Quebec so some French would be handy. Anyway, there's this teddy bear called nounours (which means teddy bear in English) that belongs to the donkey, the main character. C had (still has) a teddy bear that looked just like the one in the cartoon, then she started to call it nounours. At that age, your brain absorbs everything you hear. Over the year, she has acquired many many other stuffed toys, but this teddy bear has a special place in her heart. 
This happened when she asked for a plain black outfit for her all-time favorite nounours. It was just a black top and shorts she needed. She was saying she'd like me to make her teddy bear a Woolworths outfit --- the staff wear black uniforms at Woolworths stores. Her specific instruction was to leave out the white "W" logo. I fulfilled the order -- Row two left one, but then I realized this is really fast and because both knits and stuff toys are stretchy/spongy materials, the fit is very forgiving. I had just found the best way to use some of my leftover fabric.
Once I started, I couldn't stop. These outfits take such little time to sew. It's addictive.
I briefly measured the teddy bear and drew these four pattern pieces. I left all the hems unfinished on knits because I wanted to make as many and fast as possible.
When C came home that day, she was beyond herself. These little outfits beat her Christmas presents. She immediately got a box and one by one folded everything neatly. "Nounours Wardrobe" she calls it. These little moments make sewing so worthwhile. "But mom, now Nounours needs  jackets, pajamas, capes, head pieces....."
I won't surprise myself to sit here again and write a Nounours Wardrobe update.
Untill then...
A bientot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

French Sleeve Pintuck Dress

My sewing mojo is back, and hopefully it stays. I cut out this dress pattern during the December school holidays, and it had been left hanging throughout the entire holidays. As much as I wasn't surviving on two dresses that I brought with me after our recent move, I just couldn't find the time to cut the fabric and put it together. Luckily, C's wardrobe is full and she basically only wore tank tops and shorts the entire time, so she's not desperate for new clothes. A neighbor asked me yesterday "What did you do today?" That kind of question usually triggers deep thinking. What I did do yesterday was making the beds, prepared breakfast, got my daughter to brush her teeth and all her morning things after 100 repetitive calls, vacuumed the house, cleaned all the dirty dishes, did the laundry, made lunch, cleaned up the mess after a play date, prepared supper, showered said daughter and put her to sleep. Even to me, those things seem worthless mentioning, even though they did take up majority of the time. I knew he was looking for something else, like what have you "produced" today, "work"-wise? What have you done, like is there an end product? So, instead of giving him a rundown of my day, I said "I did some in-between sewing while the girls were playing." and I believe that's the answer he was looking for. How do you other "work"-at-home moms do it? I find my days are drowned in house chores, and at the end of the day, everybody thought I did nothing. And I don't blame them. House gets cleaned and becomes dirty soon; dishes get cleaned and get used again. It's not like "There, I've made a dress today." or "I've made a business deal." With endless daily housework, you see very little results in comparison.
I don't know why I nagged about housework so much. Maybe it's from the global underappreciated stay-at-home situation, or maybe, the real maybe, that I made a dress that reminds me very much of a 1950's housewife. I had this fabric in my stash for almost a year and I never found a suitable pattern for it. Now I look at it in the pictures, I should've turned it into an Archer. As if the small floral prints weren't enough to give it a housewifey vibe, I lengthened about 10cm, due to precious experience. I thought now "the wind won't bother me anyway." <-- insert outdated Frozen theme song.
In order to break that 1950s look, I thought it was genius to pair it with a messenger bag and tackies. I was hoping to achieve a more out-of-the-house image but only to be told that I look like a school teacher....well at least I'm not inside the house anymore.
Anyway, the credit of this pattern goes to Sweet Dress Book. It's an extremely fast sew. There are front and back bodice pieces only, with facing and pockets. It's the type of garment that should boost your confidence and of course it's suitable for person who's just getting back in touch with their sewing.
This picture above shows me on my way to a mental institute, already in my gown, still in the same era. However, I've got a new vision for next time, with shortened above-the-knee length, in black linen. Now that's going to be something totally different.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Paint a Star

It all started from an artwork M brought home temperorily. He bought it on behalf of a friend and needed to wrap it to be sent away. My daughter and I looked at the gigantic piece. There's nothing more than straight lines. "This is so easy. We can do that.", said my 6-year-old. It indeed looked rather easy to make, but I'm sure there's a behind-the-"line" story or message. Anyway, what's important was I heard C saying "We can do that." and I don't tend to let go any crafting opportunity.
If you've been to my house, you'd know my walls are pretty empty. There's no pictures of us on the wall whatsoever and it lacks artwork, partly due to my preference to a clean space for photoshoots. But lately, I feel the walls are becoming too sterile. I bought some photo frames for C's room, but before I could even develop the photos, she always drew some pictures and proudly put them in her new photo frame. That's it. This house needs to become alive.

To make this star painting, it's not difficult. I believe there's not much technique involved. Basically, it's masking tape on --> paint --> wait, then repeat. C was keen at the beginning, but because often it required multiple coats and the drying time was a bit long, she lost interest and it became my job to get it finished, and her job to peel off the masking tape only.  But you know what, I really enjoyed it. And I look forward to filling up our walls in the future....
Sometimes I feel I've dabbed in too many things, that I'm slowly losing concertration. I believe sewing is still my focal point, but boy there're so many things to try and explore. Since it's still January, shall I dedicate this year to a good year of experiments and trial and error?
Till next time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekday Bits

There are an old love and a new love in the picture above. Cold water with ice, for chewing and drinking --- C's all year favorite.  Then this watercolor set is her new fave. I've been playing with watercolors here and there this school holiday, you know, just to lower my anxiety level when I'm not sewing. Of couse my daughter wanted to join me. However I found she's not quite efficient with the whole exercise of squeezing out the paint from a tube and mixing with water. After 20 "Mommy, help me."es, I got this pan. The best. Now she helps herself whenever she wants to paint something.

Since painting is all the rage now, we created a watercolor silhouette birthday card together. It seems to me that no matter how much you mess up with watercolors, they become an art of their own.
Inside the wrapping, it was a dress I made. I don't make clothes often as gifts, because going to the shop is far easier and sometimes cheaper too, depends on the fabric cost and totally ignoring my labor cost.  This year I hope to give handmade gifts, as often as I can.
C has started school today which means I've just earned sole ownership of our table for certain hours of the day. Here is to another year of sewing, and making.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weekday Bits

Are you still on school holiday like us? C's got one last week to go until she becomes a proud Grade 1 pupil. There are a lot more excitements than being in the pre-primary school. Believe it or not, a whole new set of uniform code with matching school bags, shoes and socks is a highlight. When my in-laws came to visit during the holidays, she insisted on wearing the newly purchased Grade 1 uniform to the airport. One day, a friend of C's came over to play and I found them both wearing school uniform. Clearly, the uniform had just earned the membership to the dress-up department.
This holiday has been filled with mini day trips, lots of beach evenings, and most importantly, I am a hands-on art project mom. Before the holiday started, I told myself this time to just go with the flow. It's pointless to fight the house moving and school holidays, to squeeze out five minutes here and there, to burn the night oil, just to hear the sewing machine churn, is not entirely worth it. I miss that noise, no doubt, but I shake my head to that extra stress. Instead, I proposed a daily drawing/painting/doodling idea. Everyday, C and I would do at least one art related project. Well she's drawing almost every single day, it's more of a push for me to leave the broom behind and spend 10 minutes creating something. We usually sit at two different places and only show each other what we've done once we finish. I'm loving it and we've got a good collection each so far. Have you ever noticed how interesting the pattern on a melon is? What about your cup and saucer collection? I had never paid as much attention to day-to-day objects as I do now. Sewing opened the door to this whole world of creativity for me. Now even without a sewing machine (packed away in my closet until school starts, I hope) I am inspired and constantly have an art related project on the go. I never saw this coming and I'm liking my transformation.
Speaking of transformation, even though I don't have a resolution for the year, I see a more physically active, definitely more creative self. There's no going back now.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Best of 2015, Part 2

Hello, it's me again, still dwelling in 2015.
I got addicted to all those hyperlinks in the previous post, thus writing a part 2 has become a must.

Here we go.
Chapter Sewing for Me. See what I've accomplished.

Basics --- Lane Raglan Take 2
Hemp Jacket with a Back Tie
Grey Striped Tapered Pants
Self-Drafted Tee + Double Gauze Long Skirt

Border Gathered Pants
Draped Goun with Turtleneck Tee Combo
Border Gathered Pants 2.0 Version
Spring Skinny laMinx Jacket

Double Gauze Gray Frilly Dress
Tangerine Tango Frilly Blouse
A Nautical Themed Blouse
Blue-eye Spring Jacket Dress

Old-Me-New-Me Blouse and Sarouel Pants Combo
I've sewn 16 outfits for myself last year. I wear what I've made a lot. After the recent house move, I've only kept two store-bought dresses in my closet. I have very limited outfit to rotate, but then I don't really need that much anyway.
I am counting on a serger that Santa should have delivered. Apparently he's running a little late but there's still hope. I'm not going to waste my time on a new year's revolution, which has never worked. Instead, I always set up daily/weekly/monthly goals in my head and I'd say I'm quite self-motivated. I hope to update more frequently here in my little space. This journey has helped me find my passion.
Till next time.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Best of 2015, Part 1

One Chinese saying goes like this --- You aren't worried anymore once you've got too much debt; You don't feel the itch anymore once you've got too many lice.  I have neither debt nor lice, fortunately, but it got to a point, about two weeks ago, that I felt I had neglected my little blog. But now, I've become thick skined and I just keep giving myself enough tomorrow-is-another-day excuses while I enjoy the (school) holidays. I'm hopeless.

This post is delivered late, but it's one of those compulsory ones that I have to write every year. It's a summary of what I've created over the year and it's the very reason that I started documenting in the first place. Have you ever heard "If you don't write it down, it didn't happen."? Here's what happened in the past year.

Chapter C: Sewing for my little girl.
The photo collages are created by order of time.


Snow Dawn Dress with Buttons at the Back
A Star-Light-Star-Bright Bolero
Double Gauze Purple Sherbet Dress
Sevenberry Spring Jacket

Winterland Outfit --- Poncho + Skirt Combo
Knitted Classic Jersey
A Minion Outfit
DIY Tee + Hip Hop Pants Combo

Faux Fur Jacket
Spring-into-Action Outfit Part 1
Spring-into-Action Outfit Part 2
Summer Days Pyjamas Dress

Double Spined Snow Leopard Swimsuit
Tangerine Tango Frilly Blouse Mini Version
A Mavy Wavy Hollaween Costume
Mother-Daughter Collaboration Tee Shirt

31 outfits in total. Not a bad sewing year. I do wish I had time to sew more but hey (after one-and-a-half years I'm still telling myself that) I'm still in the learning phase and that speed is coming.
2016, I'm ready for you.