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!

Made Me Holiday, Bali

I’ve attempted yet another made me 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!

Moving on 2015;

Reflecting on 2014, it isn’t exactly a productive year in the sewing workroom. I have sewn mostly baby stuff, a couple of dresses, and a craftwork or two. I was also featured on national tv and Walking in May on my love for cheongsam. 2014 is definitely a year to be thankful for! One of the things that I am thankful for is my baby, who brings much joy (and frustration). She has taught me the simply joy in life. Motherhood is not an easy journey, especially that I have returned to work. It’s definitely a challenge to find a balance between work and home. Not to worry, I am learning every single day and I am really glad to have lots of mummy-friends around me to share with, to support, to rant to. Not forgetting the husband whom I am really thankful for. He has been a really great help with the baby, with the housework and every other thing.

Moving on to 2015, I hope to be able to sew. It was almost impossible to sew towards the end of my holidays. My baby’s nap time has shortened and she’s somehow more needy than usual. Maybe she knows that mummy will be returning work. Heh. I would also spend some time to nurse her to sleep at night, as that’s the only way to get her to sleep for now. It would be good if I can even manage to find time to sew after work, after settling my baby and a few other household chores. I hope to be able to sew a few dresses for my baby and to go back to basics for my wardrobe and sewing. Basics in terms of shapes that work for me and basic colours and prints. I also hope to improve on the quality of my workmanship. Let’s see how and where 2015 brings me.

Happy New Year!

Fabric Shopping in Bali, Indonesia

The husband and I made a trip to Bali a coupe of weeks ago before I return to work next year. It was a good break in 5 months since our baby came along. Though the plan was to do nothing just relax, I had to make time for some fabric shopping. I made plans to visit the fabric market along Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar and Alta Moda in Kuta but we were quite lazy to get out. All we want to do was to chill in our villa. Taxi fare was also not that cheap as both destinations were quite a distance from our villa. Taxi fare could probably buy me another piece of batik! Anyhows, while discussing our plans with the butler, he recommended Lucy’s Batik which is located near the Semiyak shopping street, and the driver could drop us there. I was a little apprehensive at first as it is, after all, a boutique at Semiyak.

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When I entered the shop, I was greeted with all sorts of batik products. There were home ware, garments for men, women and children, toys and sarongs, etc. Now, if you are looking to buy fabric from Lucy’s Batik, they DO NOT sell by the yard. What you can buy is pre-cut sarongs. They measure approximately 2m in length by 1m in width. If you require more yardage, you would need to check if they have more than 1 piece. I was really mesmerized by the intricacy of the artwork. Every piece and every pattern was different. Some were machine printed, some hand stamped, some hand drawn. It was definitely tough to select a few pieces to bag home.

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So here are my loots! The husband saw a baby dress that he wanted to buy for our baby. So I asked the salesperson if they have the fabric instead. We decided to buy 2 piece of those to make a family outfit! This is the red one, which is machine printed, and costs around SGD12 for 2m. The other 2 pieces are hand stamped (blue grey) at SGD47 for 2m and hand drawn with natural colours (brown-marsala) at SGD125 for 2m. It took me a day to consider and decide whether to buy the brown piece because it is very expensive.

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While at Ubud, our airbnb host brought us to the local market to experience the Balinese way of life. There were some stalls selling batik and garments and such at around 50K IDR. We also toured around Ubud centre and there were quite a number of shop that sells batik sarongs. All these are also precut at 2-2.5m by 1m. There were a couple of nice pieces, but I didn’t feel it.

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Lucy’s Batik
Jalan Raya Basangkasa No.88,
Seminyak – Kuta, Bali
Tel. +62 (361) 7951275 / 736098

On National TV!

My dearest sew-mate and I had the prviledge to be interviewed by the local TV station on our passion: sewing! The programme features people with interesting hobbies and our story was about sewing our own wedding gown. It’s my first time sharing about sewing in Mandarin so pardon me if I sound too nervous. The feature is on a Chinese channel, hence in Mandarin. For my non-Chinese speaking readers, I’m sorry that there’s no translation. But basically the feature was about my sew-mate and I making our own wedding dresses, where we got our inspiration from, and why pick up dress-making. I’m also unable to download the video so I’ve attached the links as follow:

http://www.channel8news.sg/mobile8/ca/morningexpress/episodes/20141121-me-interest/1485536.html

We were also requested to do a tutorial for the feature, hence I decided to show a toy/bottle/sippy cup leash which is extremely useful for growing kids. (I had to goolge translate velcro in Mandarin. Heh)

http://www.channel8news.sg/mobile8/ca/morningexpress/episodes/20141121-me-sewing/1485768.html

I began sewing due to pure interest. It has been almost 5 years. I’m not the best seamstress and there’s definitely much room for improvement creatively, yet I’m so thankful for the recent features which provided a platform where I can share the things I love.

Tutorial: It’s A Wrap!

While shopping for some notions in Chinatown, I chanced upon some pretty Japanese cotton gauze at my usual hunt. They are in the cutest prints and perfect for a swaddle blank. According to the shop owner (who often travels to Japan to bring in Japanese fabric), gauze is highly popular in Japan for babies during summertime. It’s lightweight and extremely breathable – cooling enough for Singapore’s hot climate too. It also turns extremely soft after washing. Cotton gauze is often referred to muslin. You can also pick up a plain solid colour muslin and decorate it as you wish, especially if you don’t fancy cute baby prints.

I bought a generous portion of 4 pieces (they make great baby shower gifts too!),did some quick search online, and decided to make a blanket version instead of a wrap, which can be doubled up as the former when the little one outgrows the swaddle. Practicality for the win!
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Version 1 (unlined)
You will need: fabric and the usual sewing supplies. My fabric is 45″ wide and pre-cut to slightly more than 1m. You may like to buy a square piece, depending on the width of the fabric.

1. Neaten the edges by trimming the fabric, so that you have nice square rectangle/square piece of fabric.

2. Overlock all 4 sides so prevent the edges from fraying. Voila, a swaddle in less than 5 minutes!
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Version 2 (lined with flannel)
You will need the same materials and flannel of the same size as the fabric. I bought the flannel from Fabrics.com as my local suppliers brings in only 38″ wide flannel.

1. Pre-shrink/Wash both fabrics. This is extremely important as different fabrics have different shrinkage. This is what happens if the fabric are not pre-shrunk before sewing – puffy edges.
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2. Pin both fabrics together and repeat Steps from Version 1 and you have a really warm (kicked off) blanket.
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Tutorial: Baby Mittens

Baby mittens are probably the cutest stuff I’ve ever sewn. Babies wear mittens for the first few months to prevent them from scratch their faces as their nails are rather sharp. I did some window-shopping online and hey, they cost a few dollars, sometimes 10 over dollars for something so small, worn for only a few months. I just wouldn’t part with that money. Since I have lots of fabric scraps, I decided to make my own. I can choose my own prints, match them with my clothes (mommy-child outfit) and that saves me a lot of money.

Most of the tutorials online includes a flannel lining but I omitted that out as it is not practical in Singapore. Simple cotton ones will do for now. I also used elastic thread instead of elastic band for easy wearing.

You will need: cardboard/hard paper (cereal boxes are excellent choices), fabric, water soluable fabric marker, elastic thread and the usual sewing supplies.

1. Draw the template on the cardboard and cut it out. I’m using 4.5″ by 4.5″. I borrowed a mitten sample from a friend, traced it out, added seam allowance and ended up with this measurement. You may use a plate to guide you through the rounded portion or simply draw it free hand.

2. Using the fabric marker, trace out the template on the fabric. You need 4 pieces for 1 pair of mittens.
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3. Cut out the shapes and overlock to neaten the edges.

4. Place the fabric right side to right side and sew around the U-edge, leaving approximately 2-3cm of allowance on the other end. This is to facilitate sewing on of elastic thread later on. I used the edge of the footer as a guide for my seam allowance.

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5. Hand-wind the elastic thread on the bobbin as you wouldn’t want to stretch it. Fit it into the bobbin case and use normal thread at the top.

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6. Adjust the stitch length to No. 4 or what you would programme for running stitch.

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7. Using the markers on my machine, I used a 2cm allowance from the straight end and sew on the elastic thread along throughout.

8. Flip over the mitten inside out and stitch up the opening that you left in Step 4.

9. Trim off excess threads and you are good to go!

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I’m really happy with how the mittens turn out because they are the only ones that can fit my baby’s tiny hands for now :)

Tutorial: Buntings

Buntings make excellent decoration especially for birthday or wedding backdrop, or anywhere that needs a signage or words. I made some for the wedding and reused 1 of them for home.

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I also made 1 for my favourite boy who turned one last month.
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You will need:
cardboard, pencil, fabric (scraps), ribbons, pinking shears/scissors, pins.

1. Cut a stencil out from the cardboard. The dimensions of my buntings are 21cm by 21cm. I used a cereal box for the stencil.

2. Using the stencil, trace out as many flags you need. If you only need one-sided bunting, cut out triangles. If you need 2 sided buntings, you need to cut out diamonds, folding at the base of the triangle.

3. Cut out the flags using pinking shears. Scissors work fine as well, if you prefer the straight edges.
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4. Align the flags on the ribbon and pin in place. The length of the ribbon depends on the size of your flags and how many flags are there. I usually leave about an arm’s length of allowance on both ends.
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5. Sew the sides of the flags.

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6. Trim off any uneven sides using pinking shears.

7. For buntings with words, I followed the tutorial on Adventures in Dressmaking