Me-Made-May 2015

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I have been considering for the longest time and finally decided: I am taking part in Me-Made-May 2015! I heard of it since about 2-3 years ago when I start writing about my little projects and I told myself to participate in it one of these days, when I’ve made enough clothes. Just when my wardrobe is slowly building up, I got pregnant, can’t fit into my clothes and now I have to deal with this postpartum thingum. Anyhows, I’ve decided to give this year’s MMM a go! I will also take this opportunity to document some of the pieces that I’ve sewn but not written about yet. We will see how this goes in May!

The “Aprils in Paris” Skirt

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetFor the month of April, I was inspired by blooming cherry blossoms which are so spectacular in Japan, Korea and Paris! I wished I was there to see the cherry blossoms in person but work schedule doesn’t allow me to. I have the perfect fabric to join in the season. If I can’t enjoy the view in person, I might as well wear it! The fabric was from the Mauerpark Flea in Berlin, at 3€/m. It feels a lot like a cotton blend of some sort, smooth to the touch, lightweight but heavy enough to fall nicely, just a tad sheer but is negligible. The fabric, however, wrinkles rather easily.

It was tough deciding what to make with it. Initially I wanted to make a cheongsam for this year’s Chinese New Year but I didn’t have time. I could still make one for next year’s. I was also considering a shift dress, pleated flare skirt, pencil skirt, or a fit and flare dress with sleeves. So I scrolled through the millions of photos of cherry blossoms on my Facebook and instagram. It seems like the whole world was in Japan and Korea catching the spectacular sight. Allow me to side track a little here, among all the photos that flooded my social media, this series by Nathan Wu is my favourite! Nathan shot for my prewedding photoshoot (on film!) and I really love his works. His works focus a lot on capturing the natural lighting, to create a dreamy romantic feel. I also love the soft pastel hue in the photos. This series of cherry blossoms, however, is shot on DSLR. Nonetheless, the cherry blossoms were in its peak of the bloom and the lighting during sunset was equally perfect and magical.

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Amazingly beautiful, isn’t it?

Back to what to sew. After looking through the photos, I knew that it gotta be a flare skirt: I would love to twirl among these blooms! So a pleated flare skirt it is! I used a very simple knife pleat.
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For the finishing of the skirt, I used a biased tape instead of a waistband or interfacing.
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As for the hem, it is a baby rolled hem done with my serger. This is my favourite heming for skirts with curved hems!
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It’s about wearing cherry blossoms so why Aprils in Paris? Aprils because it is my birthday month and April is often when spring starts kicking into action. I hope that one day, while I am still young, I will get to travel in April and witness all the blossoms of Spring. And Paris? I am dying to return to Paris, this time with the husband, the city of love, city of lights. I fell in love with Paris in 2012 and I can’t wait to be back! A trip around France would be perfect too. Cherry blossoms do bloom in France and other countries in the temperate region :) Or maybe one day I will go chasing for sakuras in Japan.

Introducing Solids;

It has been an exciting journey for babystingrui and I when I started her on solids. Before you continue, I need to make a disclaimer that THIS IS NOT A PRESCRIPTION TO INTRODUCING SOLIDS TO YOUR BABY. I am sharing with you my experiences and principles that I followed. It is meant as a reference. Each baby is different so you need to adjust accordingly to your baby.

Before I started introducing this whole new world of solids to babystingrui, I know of a few pointers:
1. Introduction of solid food from 6months, as recommended by WHO
2. Feed the same food for 4 days and look out for any possible allergy reaction to the food.
3. Babies receive the majority of their nutritional intake from (breast)milk below 1yo.
4. Solids do not replace their milk feed. It is meant to introduce them to different textures, tastes and so on.

So I began this journey with these mentality:
1. I shall observe my baby and see how she takes to solid. If she wants, I will give.
2. If my baby doesn’t take to solids that well, it is okay! (Refer to #3 and #4 of the above pointers)

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Truth to be told, the only book I read about parenting was French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Drunkerman and in the book is a chapter on eating. I must say that, it framed the majority of the idea of how I would like to go about introducing solids and feeding my baby. Here are some of my takeaways:

1. Begin with fruits and vegetables
2. She eats what we eat
3. French place emphasis on taste development, and introducing colours in food
4. French are better eaters

So I went to read up a little more on French weaning, which foods are suitable and which are not for different age groups, and the different colours in food.

We started her on solids when she was 6.5 months (4.5 months corrected). Let me provide some context here: babystingrui is 8 weeks (2 months) premature. So her developmental milestones, height and weight progression are based on her adjusted age. Meaning, when she is 6 months, we count it as 4 months. Adjusted age would be not necessary when she turns 2. It does get confusing at times, but we are not very bothered by it as long as she is healthy, happy and growing well. So why did we introduce solids at 4.5 months? She expressed interest in food, especially when we are eating. She would look at us intently and follow the motion of our hands as we feed ourselves. So we started off with letting her lick and suck on apples, pears, and grapes.

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To prepare ourselves for the real deal, we bought a Beaba. Why did we get ourselves one? I must admit that it’s a vanity product. we could have settled for a cheaper brand, but I simply can’t resist it. The main reason behind getting a baby food processor is so that I don’t need to watch over the stove when I’m preparing her food. We also wanted a separate blender to blend her food. So Beaba it is.

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Babystingrui’s very first food was pear purée (I used snow pear). Why pear? Pears are high in fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. They are gentle on the stomach and helps alleviate constipation. It is also suitable for babies who have reflux (Wholesomebabyfood). She was also having a mild cough then and steamed pear (juice) is suppose to help relieve the cough. I shaved the pear, steamed and blended it in the Beaba. We then proceeded with pumpkin purée, sweet potato purée. Then I introduced two-food combination with purple sweet potato and barley purée, oats with a variety of fruits, porridge etc.

Somewhere in the process, my mum insists on feeding her with brown rice cereal because that’s was all of my brother’s and my first food. I choose not to feed her with brown rice cereal yet because it is simply empty calories with not much nutrients. It is also highly like to cause constipation. However, some opt for rice cereal as one of the first food because it is least likely to cause allergic reaction.

So I opted for oats instead. Oats are high in fiber, calcium, protein and lots of vitamin goodness. It is also less constipative and aids in digestion. However, there may be traces of gluten which some babies may be allergic too. Some may also advice against introducing gluten before 6 months to reduce the risk of developing Celiac disease.

It is important to offer water when your baby takes solid. This is to prevent constipation and to ensure sufficient water intake. It was previously unnecessary as milk consists of mostly water. Breastmilk is made up of 90% water. Babystingrui doesn’t like to take plain water in bottles so we offer her water with a spoon and is in the process of training her to drink from a sippy cup. So far, she doesn’t have any constipation issues, partly due to the oats in her diet.

At 9 months (7 months adjusted) she has tried a myriad of foods, including yam, blueberries, cranberries, apricot, peaches (her favourite), apple, banana, honeydew, papaya, sweet potato, red bean (another favourite), a variety of greens, salmon porridge, chicken porridge, pumpkin scallop porridge etc. And I must say that she is enjoying it. I am also more adventurous with the foods as the husband and I don’t have much family history of allergy. If you have medical history of asthma or any form of allergy, you might want to be more selective in your choice of foods.

We started off with 1 meal a day (lunch or tea break) – and progressed to 2 solids a day (lunch and dinner) after about 1.5 months. I try to give her a savoury and sweet meal each day. I also make an effort to introduce her to both western and asian palette. I really enjoy preparing her meals and introducing her to a variety of food. She hasn’t really tried the readymade ones which I don’t know what really goes into the food. When we do offer her those, they are most of the time organic, most of which are gifted.

There are a few websites that I refer to whenever I need ideas, most of the time just mix and match. These websites offer recipes which caters to the Western palette.

Homemade Baby Food
Wholesome Baby Food
Baby Foode

I hope this post provides some insights on introducing solids. I will be sharing with you other details such as preparation and storage, and some basic recipes. Stay tuned!

World of the Month (March): Adventure

So I’ve started this Word of the Month series this year as a means of reflection or documentation of a significant event. It allows me to pause, reflect and very often count my blessings. For the month of March, the word would be “adventure”.

Firstly, we have confirmed our next holiday in June!! This time, and for the first time, with babystingrui! It will her very first overseas adventure (unless you also count the trip we made while I was pregnant with her). It will also be quite an adventure for us traveling with a baby! We have read up and prepare ourselves as much as we can. So let’s see how things go then!

Secondly, babystingrui has been quite adventurous with her solids. She is now (was) 8 months (6 months adjusted age) and she seems to be eating every single food we offer. She is also extremely interested in food whenever we eat. And for that, I’m actually pretty thankful – that she is eating well and she loves to eat. I’ll probably be writing another post on how I started this solids journey with her, which I hope will be useful for all the mummies out there! Babystingrui has also caught up with her milestone development and she has been having her own little adventure crawling around and standing up assisted.

Thirdly and lastly (since it’s March so I’ll write about 3 adventures), the husband and I went for a date night, which is a good bonding time for both of us. It isn’t our first date night since the baby came along but it’s always very refreshing for such days whenever it comes along. Going on dates after having a baby is extremely important for a healthy relationship between husband and wife. It allows us to reconnect beyond the baby’s schedule and it is a good break from the daily affairs. Our dates come in many forms. It may not always be date nights all the time. Sometimes we take an hour off to spend time with each other before we pick up the baby if we end work or school early. Sometimes we cook together, catch a movie together while the baby is asleep etc. Be creative!

Fabric Shopping in Singapore

I have written about fabric finds during my travels, but never about what is offered back at home. I have details of my favourite stores under Fabric Finds but never shared about them in details. Moreover, I have a couple of friends who asked me about the fabric hunts in Singapore, so I thought of sharing it with you.

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There are a few places to get fabrics in Singapore: fabric market in People’s Park Market, fabric street at Arab Street and Spotlight in Plaza Singapura. My favourite place to go to is the fabric market located on the second floor of People’s Park Market, mainly for its very affordable price and variety. So how can I get there?

How to get there
The nearest MRT station is Chinatown, which is on the purple North-East Line. Take the exit C to People’s Park Market. There are MANY buses that can bring you to the area but the mrt is the most straightforward. Once you get out of the MRT station you will see the People’s Market right in front of you! The second floor of the People’s Park Market houses corridors and corridors of fabric and/or notion stores. Every time I need fabric for my new projects, I would frequent 2 of my favourite stores, see what they have to offer before I go around and hunt for the most suitable fabric if they don’t have it.

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#1 Maggie Textile
32 New Market Road
#02-1078 Peoples Park Food Centre S050032
Tel: 65353682
Opening Hours: 12pm?-6pm

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This shop is recommended to me/us when I first started dressmaking. Everyone from Kadomay goes to Maggie. It is where we purchase our first piece of fabric, for most of us, or myself at least. The owner is the very friendly Maggie, who is not pushy. She recommends the best which her shop offers. However if there is nothing suitable, she will not push for the sale to close and might even recommend over shops if she knows of any. Maggie is well stocked with a WIDE variety of fabric, from plain solids to gorgeous prints. Many of which are imported from Japan. When I first visited Maggie, she only owns one shop front. Now she has expanded to 2 adjacent shop fronts. Prices start from $8/m on the average. If you are lucky, you might even find some on sale at a lower price

#2 Malin Textile
32 New Market Road
#02-1122/1134 Peoples Park Food Centre S050032
Tel: 6535 4660
Opening Hours: 12pm?-6pm

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My next favourite is Malin Textile. Malin is the daughter of Maggie! There are 2 shop fronts but #02-1122 is the unit that I frequent the most. Unit 1134 is managed by Maggie’s other daughter, which carries a variety of Hello Kitty and other Sanrio fabrics as well. If you are a fan of Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters, that is where you should be heading. As compared to Maggie, the Malin that I go to carries a lot more printed, sometimes cuter, fabrics which appeals to the younger crowd. She also has some precut fabrics which are in limited quantities, perfect for craft work and smaller projects such as a simple blouse or baby clothes.

#3 Lye Nai Shiong
(Opposite Maggie Textile)
32 New Market Road
#02-1106 Peoples Park Food Centre S050032
Tel: 6532 6013
Opening Hours: 12pm?-6pm

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If you prefer to purchase your notions and haberdasheries all in the same building, Lye Nai Shiong is your one stop store. They are well stocked with your basics, such as zips, threads, ribbons, carbon paper, ruler scissors, pins, roller, laces, elastic bands etc. When the old Mr Lye used to mend the store, I don’t really fancy buying from him because he tends to be a little rude. You know, the kind of ‘if you want you take it, if not it’s okay’ kind of attitude. However since his son (I think. There is a younger chap working there now) took over, transactions have been smoother, and help is rendered rather amiably.

#4 Brighton
32 New Market Road
#02-1160 Peoples Park Food Centre S050032
Tel: 6532 1016
Opening Hours: 10am-8pm, daily

Brighton is another one stop store where you should be able to get all your notions and other supplies. It carries slightly trendier products than Lye Nai Shiong. I love the variety of lace trimmings and buttons that they carry. They also have been bringing in fabrics but I have yet to checked them out.

#5 Sing Mui Heng
Upper Cross Street
#01-05A, People’s Park Centre
S058357
Tel: 65332445
Business hours: Monday – Saturday
11am to 8pm

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Photos are not allowed at Sin Mui Heng and I only managed to snap this with my baby in my arms. Sin Mui Heng is located in the adjacent building to People’s Park Market, across the street. However you can get there via covered link bridge from the 3rd level at the Market. I personally prefer to shop here for my notions. It’s large, well stocked, lots of staff to help when you need and I have the member card! They used to sell just notions, supplies, crystals and other craft supplies, but have expanded over the recent years to also include fabrics and quilting materials. They carry a variety of American Fabrics such as Moda, Riley Black, Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman, RJR ETC.

#6 Golden Dragon
101 Upper Cross Street
#02-51 People’s Park Centre
Singapore 058357
Tel: 6535 8454/6535 8234
Fax: 6534 2465
Email: info@goldendragon.com.sg
Opening hours: 10am~830pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 1230pm~730pm (Sunday & Public Holidays*)
*Closed on Chinese New Year, Labor Day, National Day, New Year’s Day

When you can’t find your fabric and notions from all the above mentioned shops, there is one last place to go, Golden Dragon. I usually frequent Golden Dragon if I am desperate and can’t find what I want from my other favourite hunts in Chinatown. When I was making accessories rather actively (i.e. selling them as a pasttime), I buy some of my supplies from here as I can mix and match the Swarovski crystals/pearls of different colours rather than to buy them in fixed numbers.

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the fabric market at Chinatown and have a better idea of what you can find in Singapore!

The Peacock Cheongsam Blouse

Weeks ago, I wrote about a navy lace dress for a peacock wedding. I was clueless on what to make (let’s just blame the post partum hormones) and then I thought, why not a cheongsam. When in doubt, just wear a cheongsam. It’ll never go wrong.

I wanted to make use of the fabrics I have so I decided on the navy blue lace, which I bought from Berlin’s Babie Lato that sells very affordable organic fabric, overlaid with turquoise silk satin. Since I only have enough yardage for a top, I decided to make a 2 piece ensemble. I wanted something comfortable and flowy for the top. The skirt will be a pencil skirt, which provides some form of structure in contrast to the flowy top and is made from duchess satin.

Now, I think this combination was a little disastrous. Don’t get me wrong. The cheongsam top and the pencil skirt are great pieces individually. I love them both. What I meant was that they not to be worn together. Definitely not for a bridesmaids outfit. Major sigh! It’s too….matronly. The top didn’t turn out as flowy as I wanted it to be; it was just more roomy.

Anyhows I still love the top and the skirt but I will never pair them together. So I paired the cheongsam top with a pair of khaki brown pants for CNY this year, which is definitely a better take.

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The pencil skirt is another major love. I have no idea what took me so long to sew a pencil skirt for myself! I used to shun away from it because I thought it’s only for people with smaller and skinner frames. Oh I am so wrong! I will leave the pencil skirt for another post. Till then (hopefully soon)!

Word of the Month (Februrary): Exercise

7 months post partum and I’ve decided to do something about the all-rounded me. I’ve gained 10kg from the pregnancy: lost 4kg in the first trimester and gained another 14kg. Baby was borned pre-term so I cant imagine if I were to deliver full term. That aside, I’ve lost only a few kgs after delivery and, I’m back to my pregnancy weight. Major boohoo. So they say you’ll lose all the weight by breastfeeding or breastfeeding doesn’t make you fat. I think it’s not true! Not sure if it’s my diet or if I’m not making enough milk to off set the calories intake, but breastfeeding makes me fat. You need some extra calories for your body to produce milk and I did a little more than usual. In fact I was eating more than I was pregnant. I’m hungry all the time, especially after I nurse or I pump. We try to eat as much homecooked as possible, occasional cheat days of fast food and that’s pretty much it. Okok, maybe I’m not that fat BUT there are 2 things that I’m not quite satisfied with: the boobies that became bigger and that tummy/mummy’s pouch. Both are pretty obvious on my shorter build and torso, making me look huge.

So in the fat month of February (fat month due to all the feasting from CNY. haha), I decided to be a little more healthy by exercising. The husband and I try to swim once a week, though swimming isn’t exactly my preferred form of exercise. After 2 weeks, I ditched the idea of swimming (not that I hate swimming but I don’t fancy the whole idea of changing and getting wet. I’m a land person.)and went for Zumba! I used to Zumba for a year before I got pregnant, stopped for a year and I’m back to Zumba again. I’m so glad that I have a Zumba khaki and that forces me to be regular.

Let’s pray that I will exercise discipline in exercising!

Word of the Month (January): Routine

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With myself going back to work and the husband back to school, January was a month of getting into a routine – both for babystingrui and ourselves. Babystingrui needs a routine to help her sleep earlier, better and through the night. We needed one that help us manage and balance between baby, school, housework, couple time and basically everything else. Before I returned to work, babystingrui slept through the night, and wakes up at 5am for her morning feed. Then we go through the day with our usual routine, normally. Sometimes she fusses, sometimes she doesn’t.

Now that a whole new year began for us, we have a whole new routine. Since sometime late December last year, babystingrui wakes up between 2-3am. She would cry for no reason. We are not sure if it’s night terror or sleep regression or whatever. She seemed pretty disturbed, by a nightmare or something, so I would soothe her with the magic B. Then I would wake up at 5am, express milk and get ready for work. Sometimes babystingrui wakes up while I get ready and gives me the most pitiful face, making it so hard to leave for work. Other times she wakes up when we pick her up to go to my mum’s or in-law’s. She also takes a longer time to go to sleep. Since the beginning of the year, babystingrui seems to not want to sleep when we get home. I am not sure whether it is due to the change of her day’s schedule or she knows that we are not around and wants to spend time with us. We are in the process of teaching her to self-soothe and getting into a routine that suits both her and us. I came across this blogpost by Joy from Oh Joy on happy sleepers and self soothing, which helped a great deal. We shall see how things go in a few weeks or months time.

To all sleep deprived mummies out there, hang in there!

Me Made Holiday, Bali

I’ve attempted yet another me made holiday and this time round it was slightly more achievable. Bali and Singapore are slightly similar in climate and there was nothing that fanciful in our itinerary that requires fanciful wear. It was a just-chill-and-do-nothing holiday. This made me holiday includes everyday outfits with at least one piece of garment that is made by yours truly.

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So Day 1, Anda in Sing Out Loud from the Noteworthy collection by Sweetwater for Moda, and denim skirt to explore the village of Payogan, where our airbnb was, all the way to Campuhan Ridge and down to Ubud Centre. It was comfortable enough for an extremely hot and sunny day.

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Day 2, swimwear from Reyswimwear with my smocked tube top from last June, this time round worn as a coverup for white water rafting. It was so fun! We were so thankful that our airbnb host managed to get us a deal at 350000 IDR which is almost half of what we researched online at USD70 and above.

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Day 3, white blouse with Champs de Mars skirt to explore the (lack of) beaches in Bali. This is one of my favourite outfits of the trip! The day ended with an awesome seafood meal at Jimbaran. That, saved the day.

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Day 4, sample 2 of my wedding dress in a navy floral print to explore Semiyak. Fabric was from Hanoi. This is one of my favourite dresses to wear. I also changed into my 3-hole dress for dinner at Metis at night. It’s the second one I’ve made, with silk cotton, in the shade of emerald, colour of the year, in 2013.

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Day 5, I actually ran out of clothes to wear! So I rewore my skirt and matched it with a grey knit top for our flight back home.

Bali wasn’t as fantastic as I expected but the time spent at Ubud and relaxing at our villa in Semiyak made up for everything!