Saturday, January 22, 2011

Third Sewing Project - A Cath Kidston-style Tote Bag

Bitten by the sewing bug, I bought some Cath Kidston 'oilcloth' and some bag-making accessories from blogshop. When my goods came, I was a little disappointed as I had thought the 'oilcloth' was a clear laminated cotton material. Instead, it was like a synthetic canvas with a layer of pliable plastic backing. However it served its purpose and it was hard enough to make a bag.

I wanted to make this! Photo taken from here
Since I could not find a similar bag pattern online (I mean for free), so I stared at the photo and drew my own pattern. It did turn out similar, yet different - you'll be the judge!

I had only bought 1/4 meter, so I had to arrange the template pieces as closely as possible and no extra for the side pockets.
I don't know what people usually use to reinforce the bottom of the bag, but I used cardboard from a shoe box and  covered it with some polyester ribbon strips (supposedly for flower making). I had a hard time maneuvering the incomplete bag on the sewing machine.
The lining piece completed. After finishing the lining, I discovered the error in the design I drew, i.e. I did not give allowance for the bottom panel in the lining, so I had to unpick the thread and cut another piece of cloth to add in the bottom panel - hence, the polka dot bottom! 
I know, the binding/bias tape should be of canvas material, but I only had this pink ribbon string thing (the kind that teachers would use to tie the exam papers after counting them in an exam hall at the end of the session) lying around and I had to join 2 ribbons parallel to create a band broad enough to serve as the binding. As a result, it looks and feels too weak to be a bag handle. I hope I can find a proper material to replace what I have at the moment. Although I must say, that the pink ribbon matches the flowers incredibly! :) 
So there's my first bag! What do you think? Marketable? hehe

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Second Sewing Project - Organza Flowers

I found this page on Reese Dixon's site, and decided to try it out. With the limited scrap materials lying around my home, I made my first attempt at making organza flowers! I layered the organza with lining material (green flower), some shiny synthetic material (pink flower) and stiff tulle (which was not a good choice - it smelled like 'sotong bakar' when it started melting). I still need to work on the flower template though...

P.S: I know the colour combination in the photo looks really 'kampung' but I had to make do with what I had! ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

R.I.P Friend

It's really shocking to run through your Facebook news feed and learn that one of your friend has died. Today, a friend I knew from university died of cancer. And I didn't even know she had been battling cancer for quite awhile.

Although we were never really close friends, I just want to record a little something of our history together. She was one of the first few people I knew during orientation week - mainly because both of us were 'bananas' and coincidentally we were grouped into the same Chinese Community (CC) group. 

I remember the time when the seniors made us jog around the campus and we stuck together. That was the time I discovered she was a rocker chic - so totally different from any other Chinese girl I've known! We joined the KK12 orientation choir group to collect merit points, and that was where we met many others whose friendships we maintained all through our university days. Throughout my 1-year stay in 12th College (Kolej Kediaman Raja Dr Nazrin Shah), we would contact each other when it was our CC night meeting - making a pact to either attend or skip the meeting.

The bunch of us - orientation choir girls, as well as my other faculty friends - ended up joining AIESEC in our first year. In my three years in university, I joined the organising teams of a number of projects - most of which my 'late' friend was also a part of. We attended leadership camps, both intra- and inter-campus. And then we joined the management team in our second year - all of us (the active ones) trying our best to clinch exchange realisations. In my final year, I decided to put AIESEC in the back seat to concentrate on my final year project, while she proceeded to become one of the VPs.

We'd still bump into each other from time to time (while on campus). But after graduating, occasionally I'd hear news about her from a mutual friend.

Initially I thought she was the quiet kind - still water runs deep. After knowing her a little better, yes - I still think she talked less than the average girl (gossipy gossamer), but she was one who spoke her mind. She wasn't the kind who'd bend according to where the latest trends were blowing towards. She lived her life the way she wanted to, not intimidated by what others would say/think - a trait that most of us would like to have but lack the fortitude to follow through.

Rest in peace, my young friend - who had wisdom beyond her years.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coming of Age

In Asian culture, it is common for the younger generation to address the elder generation with honorific suffixes such as (for Malaysian Chinese) "uncle", "aunty", "kong kong", "po po", "ah yee", "tai ku", "kor kor", "jie jie" and the list goes on. It is a show of respect one gives to another of a higher rank (in terms of family hierarchy).

However when one from the 'younger generation' graduates into the ranks of the 'elder generation', at what age is the cut-off point where we can judge who to address as "uncle" and "aunty" and who to address as our peers? When I was little, any friend of my parents would be automatically addressed as "uncle" and "aunty". But now, some of my parents' friends are around my age or slightly my senior by several years, so how do I address these group of people? Their affiliation with my parents would put them in the 'elders' rank (to me) but their age would classify them as my peers. And when meeting a mixed group of my parents' friends, how can I call some "aunty" and others just by name? I feel weird.

Whereas in situations beyond the domestic boundaries, sometimes I have to check myself from calling my boss "uncle", as I'm so used to calling elder people "uncle" and "aunty"! That would truly be weird, if I ever did!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Making My First Dress!

For those whom I chat with on a regular basis, this phrase would ring a familiar note - "I want to start sewing something!". Ever since I discovered, I've been craving to try sewing similar stuffs found on the site. Initially it started with bags - the printed canvas bags seemed to look pretty straight forward to make (I can't say for the actual process though...). The bags which I wanted to make had clean lines with neat pleats - which I thought was 'do-able'!

However I did not sew a bag as my first project. I sew a dress instead! And this all started when I wanted to buy a polka dot dress online but the online boutique seller had run out of stock. It wasn't a 'dress to die for', but it was something that had a feature I was looking for - a collar-like lapel at the neckline. I had no intention of sewing the dress myself until I saw bales of polka dot fabric in Kamdar, SS2 (we were looking for red fabric to decorate Ah Yee's dining chairs for CL's wedding, at that time). I talked about the fabric with mom for almost a month before impulsively asking her to buy a length while she was in Midvalley Megamall - and thankfully, the Kamdar outlet over there had it, and at a discounted price!

I really am thankful for my Ekonomi Rumahtangga subject (literally translated as House-stair Economics, but a more appropriate translation would be Home Economics or Household Economics) in high school. The little that I learned from the text book and teachers, I managed to use the knowledge in this recent project of mine! Call me obsessive or whatever, but I finished the dress in 2 days (over the 2011 new year)! It was 2 days because I didn't have the sewing machine zipper foot (let alone the zip itself) and had to SOS my mum's friend to put in the zip for me. Mom managed to weasel some lining cloth, measuring tape, thread snipper and pins from her too (well, actually she offered to give them to me... hehe).

As I was typing this post, I just realised that whenever I really want to do something but lack the equipments or something, God will always provide. Praise the Lord! :)

Anyway, lets take a look at a series of photos and commentaries.

The printed pdf design that took me so long to figure out the right printer settings to use and when I managed to print it out correctly, I had to stick about 16 pieces of A4 papers together!
I lost my fabric old scissors when someone left it in church after the December wedding. So I had to use whatever scissors I could find in my home - paper and hair scissors! (another kiddy paper scissors missing from the photo) What a tough time I had cutting the cloth pieces out...
All our pins had mysteriously gone missing, so the next best option I had was to use safety pins to pin the paper template to the cloth and cut the shapes out.
Safety pins weren't enough, so I used paper clips to keep the cloth and paper template straight
The old machine's leather strap snapped, so I had to sew using no foot paddle, only my hand (gloved, to minimise friction lacerations) manually turning the wheel!
Finish product. For the lapel, I had to recycle a discarded lace scrap from one of mom's altered sleeves, many years ago...
People have said that the dress looks nice, but I'm not too sure they're just being diplomatic and encouraging or it is the truth! Anyway whatever motive is behind their comments, I think it's not such a bad first sewing project! My mom's friend (who helped me sew in the zipper, and so happens is our tailor) said it's not bad, neat... :)

Moral of the story is... if you can't buy a dress that you want, take a photo of it and try sewing it yourself! I have many photos... but not enough time.