Sunday, 31 January 2016

Children's Clothing

Now how cute is that?!  And their so tiny too.  I am making some shop samples to be displayed at Yee Button.  I have been working behind the scenes on developing a course of children's clothing classes.  It's been lots of work and very exciting at the same time. Sewing bias binding around the itty-bitty armhole was rather fiddly.  But as always the end result is just a joy.

The class will cover pattern drafting and sewing the garment.  Sometimes a child is thin but tall, sometimes the little one has a tummy :)  Hence with learning how to draft your own patterns it frees you from relying on designers' patterns and make the necessary adjustments to fit the particular child's measurements.    Pattern drafting is not rocket science.  All steps will be broken into small digestible chunks.  The skills you learn in drafting and sewing will be applicable to adult garments.  The concept is the same.  You're just working on a smaller scale :) 

With the sewing of these basic dresses under your belt ... think embellishments, think variations or hacks.  So many options to mix and match. 

In the course of studying children's garments, I found that children's clothes can cost as much or higher than adults.  Can't wrap my mind around that.  Also found the workmanship wanting.  Sorry, I am a little OCD in that department.  The designs were 'crowded' ... a case of more is too much.  With the economy the way it is, taking up sewing makes a lot of sense.  Because garment sewing is still a human labour intensive process you might one to get onboard the ethics train of sewing your own garments instead of  supporting mega companies employing workers in slave like conditions.  I am sure you are aware of these global issues.

Because children grow so fast,  you can sew some everyday clothes with reasonably priced ranged cotton fabrics.  Keep a lookout for sales.  The good thing is the little garments don't need much fabric!  Save the better cotton fabrics for special occasions.

Also in my children's clothing classes pipeline are T-Shirts and dresses in knit fabrics, shorts / pants for both boys and girls and special occasion dresses for the little women in our lives.

Some of the fabrics that I will be working on for more children's clothing.  Play with contrast colours, knits ... my head is exploding with ideas!  The sewing classes will be labeled for Advanced Beginners.  If you are interested in sewing children's clothes and have not used the sewing machine before, then please consider signing up for beginner classes prior.  My confirmed classes can be found here.   Please check back for these children's clothing classes as their scheduled to start in March 2016 ... I better get sewing! :)

Monday, 25 January 2016

My Backyard

Well not literally ... but close ... 20mins walk close.  The Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia

I am staying on the main roads in FRIM for now but I want to start some tracking in the future, for an active rest option.  

With the dawn of every new year, I get into some fitness frenzy.  I traverse the net for fitness articles and sometimes they pop into my feed 'miraculously'.

Unfortunately the dedication never lasts. It does not sustain itself for long periods of time. Sometimes not even a month.  But this year I am motivated.  Like really motivated.

It especially helps when you've got a new pair of running shoes.  A gift from my sis for my very early birthday present this year.  My old pair was many years old and probably passed it's run best by date.  I don't run per se ... more like power walk. 

On my Facebook feed my fitness guru Kelly made a very motivational video.  I watched it thrice.  The reasoning she offers are good enough for me.
Last year I bought some sweatshirts ... sewing themed ones.  Thinking it'd inspire me.  That didn't work very long.  I suppose I was looking for an external trigger to get me moving.  Anything.  

I've since realised that it's all in the head.  You have to get your wants and needs in order in your head and then everything will fall in place nicely.

So here's to a healthier more active 2016!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

From my Kitchen

Couple of weeks ago my friends and I went out for dinner.  There was this interesting and crunchy dish that I knew I had to replicate. 

A two step process actually.  First by boiling the lotus roots with peanuts in anchovy broth till it's softened and the broth is reduced.  Then stir fry as per usual with carrots and french beans.  Ignore the onions, that's for the omelet.

Homemade mayonnaise!  I've been wanting to try this for ages.   I even brought out my Ball mason jar that Margaret gave me for this 'special occasion'. 

I bought a stick blender for this purpose.  It's so easy and tastes great.  You know for sure what goes into it.  I did not have any basil only garlic.  I halved the portion, so that I can finish it within a week or so.  You can find the recipe / method here.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Skirt

The skirt in my opinion is an entry level item to garment sewing.  I sewed quite a number of them in the early days.  It's pretty straight forward and the only 'difficult' component is applying the zip closure.  As always my preferred zip closure is the invisible zip.  The more you practice sewing invisible zips, the more you'll discover that it is easier to apply when compared to a centred or a lapped zipper.

Then there are other components that you might look into for eg. types of  pockets and lining.  There are no pockets for this skirt but it's fully lined.  It's a simple enough skirt with hand stitched hems and facing for a touch of couture.  You see, it's all in the details.

This skirt pattern was rubbed-off from an existing denim skirt.  Changes were made to the paper pattern accordingly as per request and then the subsequent process of cutting and sewing.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Spiced Fried Chicken

When I first saw this recipe on my Facebook feed I knew I had to try it ... and soon.  This spiced fried chicken immediately evoked a familiar fragrance at the warongs.  A chicken drumstick will easily set you back by RM5 these days.  I bought 2 whole chicken legs from the market and it cost me only RM7.  Imagine the savings.

Besides it was easy to prepare as I already have all the spices and the other wet ingredients can be easily purchased from the market.  The best thing is being able to pluck the curry leaves from my own herb garden.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Let's Akita!

The Akita top pattern by Seamwork is a one piece pattern.  Something out of the ordinary.  It's an easy sew with stable fabrics such as cotton or linen but definitely more tedious when sewing with georgette chiffon.  It's part of my practice fabrics that I'd like to conquer this year.  I'm getting the hang of it ... slowly but surely.  I really like the turquoise / teal colours of the fabric and it's semi sheer quality.

The neckline is finished with satin bias binding
Bust darts for shaping

Side slits
It has some detailing as in bust darts for some shaping at the front bodice and side slits to accommodate the hips.   The neckline is finished with satin bias binding.   Side seams were serged and pressed open, while the hem has a clean double fold finish.  These details are great for stretching the skills of a new garment sewer.

I stay stitched the neckline to prevent it from distorting.  I thought this store bought blue satin bias binding blended with the fabric colour nicely.

The important consideration with this pattern is the fabric must be non directional for eg. a floral design with the flowers growing upwards.  With the Akita top pattern the flowers will end up  growing downwards on the back side.  However that can be easily rectified by incorporating a shoulder seam if need be.

I will be conducting a sewing class on how to sew the Akita top on 23rd January 2016 (Saturday) at Yee Button.  For more info please click my Facebook Event Akita.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Pork Baby Back Ribs


Before last Christmas, I saw some pork baby back ribs being sold at the supermarket.  So I decided I'll have ribs for New Year's Eve dinner. I recalled a video I saw on YouTube where Jenny demonstrated how to roast ribs.  She made it look real easy and indeed it was.   

I did not have the complete ingredients for the rub and basting sauce.  What I didn't have I either omitted or improvised.  After 2 1/2 hours of roasting it was as promised falling-off-the-bone.  Literally finger-licking good!

For the rub

For the basting sauce

Monday, 4 January 2016

Polyester Chiffon: The fabric from hell!

Onward my sewing journey, I am challenging myself to sew with non-behaving fabrics.  Notably chiffon, silk and satin.  I will always love cotton, linen and their blends. I've conquered knits, really there's nothing to it.  It's all in the mind.  But chiffon is REALLY a pain!  You have to have the patience of Mother Theresa.

Mid way, I felt like throwing the whole top away and call it quits.  But I wanted to show the fabric who's boss.  I had visions of a breezy sleeveless top, not so sheer, a check on my modesty.  The print and colour of this fabric is perfect for my skin tone.  It has a border print and is 60" wide.  So 1M is all you need and for RM5/M (Spotlight sale) it was a no brainer.  In fact many other chiffon pieces came back with me that day.  I figured that's an excellent price point to hone my chiffon sewing skills.

This sleeveless top is a a free pattern by Colette called Sorbetto.   I've made many tops from this pattern and all in cotton and linen, never in chiffon.  After many tribulations and plenty of perseverance, I now love the flowy silhouette and it looks quite slimming too.

Iron the fabric allowance towards the bias binding

Iron again and ensure that the bias binding is  not visible,  this is called favouring
The neckline and armhole are then top stitched

French seam treatment for the side seams

The walking foot is the workhorse of sewing with chiffon and even knits.  It helps immensely in ensuring the top and bottom fabrics move in tandem.  Another important notion is to use a fine sewing needle i.e. 70/09.  An 80/11 will just make large holes into the chiffon fabric.  Most importantly you'll need to have truckloads of patience, you'll get there ... eventually.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Re-SEW-lutions 2016!

Embroidery on apron in progress

I know ... it's cliche ... :p

There's so many things that I want to do and even more things that I want to do better.  In my mind the New Year always provides this nice blank sheet, the first page of a book if you will.  What you write on this page will steer the mood and tone of the year ahead.  Sometimes they are only good intentions but what's so wrong about that?! (read my disclaimer).

First up is my grand 2016 My House Tapestry by Tilda project.  Something I've wanted to do since I got the book some years back.  How many years back exactly is not important! ;)  All my fabrics are washed and onward to construction.

The sock that I've knitted thus far.  I think I botched the joining stitches so I am starting over again, but with a shorter leg portion.  That's the beauty of knitting and crochet ... raveling is easy.  A thorough sock guide and pattern by Christine Perry can be found here.

I've agreed to SAL (Stitch-a-Long) with Lillie on an old WIP from 2008.  The Rose Sampler.  I've completed 8 pages, 4 more pages to go.

And then there's the HAL (Hex-a-Long) with JW & MW on the Dilly Bag.  I stopped some months back but it will be revived this year.  I am using the Bionic Gear bag that Jackie W gave me to stuff all my hexagons for this project.

I've laid out a piece of chiffon fabric to be cut into a simple sleeveless top.  I'm learning to work with sheer fabrics.  Let's see how it goes.  It's the famous Sorbetto pattern designed and generously provided free by Colette Patterns.

There are a few quilts I want to make this year.  I am looking for some mindless, effortless piecing. First up would be Lori's Log Cabin Variation.  Her helpful cutting instructions can be found here.

Pic from Lori's blog

And then there's just some simple squares, red and white maybe?

Pic from Pinterest

As for the teaching front their some new developments, still at the discussion stage and some new ideas that's percolating in my head.  So overall a busy and productive 2016!