The 40s spring floral dresses

Spring floral mother dress

Yay! I finished sewing the 40s mother-daughter floral dresses last week and am almost done with a chiffon top to go with my lace shorts (yes, another UFO out of the way!). The patterns I used for the dresses were … Continue reading

Making up for Nautical and the Keyhole Mod Mini

Kids in Vintage

I missed the nautical theme week on The Sew Weekly as I was on vacation and decided to make up for it with a middy top and dress. They were not for me though but my kids. I showed the cover of Simplicity 2402 to my son and he immediately told me he wanted his outfit exactly like View 4. I’m not surprised since his favorite color is red. So, I bought some red and white stripe seersucker fabric from fabric.com and sewed the outfits for my kids to wear for a National Day gathering at a friend’s place. (Note: Red and white are our national colors) 
Here are my kids in their matching sibling outfits and the result of my very first attempt with kids vintage pattern.

The pattern used for my lil princess’ 1940s sailor dress is Simplicity 4246.  The collar is embellished with red and white polka dot bias tapes.  My lil prince’s middy top is from the 1958 Simplicity 2402. His collar is also embellished with bias tape but in gingham. He’s only 5 but tall for his age so I used a size 6 pattern. It was good that the 1940s pattern was unprinted while the 1950s one was so it minimized my confusion when sewing these up since I cut the pieces together. The 1950s pattern also contained both girls and boys versions so I hope to sew the girls’ version for my princess when she’s 5 or 6 years old, only if she’s still willing to wear the stuff I sew.

The princess was in one of her moods and not very willing to pose for photos, but the happy older brother was pretty enthusiastic about it so here’s his solo shot. To allow his gigantic head to go through, the vestee was designed to be attached to the neckline with buttons but instead of creating a buttonhole under his collar, I used snap buttons. I finished all seams with french seams and was happy with the technical construction of both pieces. However, I do think that the outfits look too much like uniforms.

Wished I had some of this irresistible buttons to adorn them with so that these outfits look less uniform like.

The kids, especially my lil prince, love the outfits so I’m consoled with that thought. Since I know these fit them well, I hope to find time to make another version which is more fun and less uniform looking and with cute buttons too :)

I have not sewed for the kids for sometime and just got reminded that small pieces can be harder to sew. Especially these things called sleeves :P

The Keyhole Mod Mini

This week for The Sew Weekly Challenge, we are sewing up a 70s storm. You can find my post here and more fun photos below. These were taken at the outdoor play area at Vivocity, a mega mall in Singapore.

The plaid fabric is from Ikea’s home decor department and the side front panels were cut from remnant denim. The keyhole opening created an interesting neckline to an otherwise simple design while the contrasting side panels creates the illusion of shape and slimming effect to the wearer.

The thickness of the fabrics and interfacing made it really tough to top stitch the keyhole area and I think I managed to do only an average job with this. Before top stitching I have already changed the machine needle and loosen the thread tension so I am not sure how I can improve on topstitching such thick fabrics. Any tips?

The pattern used was Simplicity 9014 from the year 1970, two years before I was born. The instructions were clear and simple and even taught me how to sew my very first dart seam. My only deviation, as with most 70s pattern, is to under stitch the facings to the interfacing instead of stitching the interfacing onto the bodice. The dress looked rather shapeless and wide on the pattern cover so I was surprised that it was actually quite fitting and yet still comfortable.
I hope you are having a great day! Have a blessed week!

Made Me Club Med

My husband and I have heard rave reviews from friends and colleagues of a Club Med holiday and decided to try one for the first time this December. Our motivations:  The kids were finally at the right age to enjoy its activities and there was a special promotion for club destinations near us (Bintan Indonesia, Cherating Malaysia, Bali Indonesia and Phuket Thailand)! After an oh too brief deliberation, we booked ourselves a family getaway for 4 days and nights at Club Med Phuket. And yes, I took the opportunity to wear at least one Made-me item a day as I realized how much I have enjoyed doing that:) So, besides wearing my brand new Love Batik tunic on the flight back on Day 4, here’s a little info on our activities during the trip and documentation of the other Made-me items I wore.

Day 1:

We were blessed with fine sunny weather as it was raining daily in Phuket just before our arrival. I wore my Cape Tara, which was perfect for the climate.

After a big buffet breakfast with the family, we sent the kids to their respective clubs. My lil prince joined the mini club for kids 4 to 7 and had fun visiting the beach, swimming and experiencing circus school while the lil princess attended the Petite Club and did some coloring, swimming, napping and playground activities. During club hours, they were fully supervised by the very qualified guests officers of Club Med.

Hubby and I happily took the opportunity to enjoy a swedish massage at the spa, followed by a stroll through the streets and shops near the resort  before returning to Club Med for a sumptuous lunch buffet. Then came glass after glass of a mocktail called Fresh Phuket (A mix of crushed lime, brown sugar, soda and grenadine syrup) at the bar.

From these shots taken by the resort’s photographer, we could see the kids at play:)

In the evening, we joined them for a special family event, a picnic session followed by the creation of tie dye t-shirts together!

I helped my son tie rubber bands tightly at various places on a white tee and he chose the colors he wanted for each section and here’s how it turned out. He was very proud of his creation:)

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and told my lil prince we could try making more of these when we got home:)

The good thing about a Club Med holiday is that all accommodation, transport, food and beverages (except XO, cognac) are included in the package. There were also entertainment and performances every night but we skipped the night events as our kids slept around 7.30pm Phuket time (8.30pm at home). As the dinner buffet starts only at 7.15pm, we had to ensure we took our dinner during the ala carte snacking session before 6pm. That might be one down side for parents with young children especially the early sleepers.

Day 2:


While the kids were back at their clubs, hubby and I went for another round of pampering at the spa and visited the beach. We wanted to check out the place before bringing the kids there the next day as we had planned it as family day. It was a cloudy and windy day so I felt myself drawn to my black knit hooded tee paired with the black & white Bella shorts. The sand was smooth and clean, the beach was rather tranquil. There were people sunbathing, parasailing and building sand castles but it was hardly noisy. In fact, I found it a rather laid back beach compared to other beaches we have visited in Phuket and Bali. Without the many locals touting services and produce, this was a much more friendly beach for families.

After the buffet lunch with white wine and more mocktails at the bar, we visited a tiny tailor shop in Club Med as I have noticed his fabrics while walking passed the previous day. The fabric addict in me couldn’t resist buying this Thai made silk/cotton blend fabric from the owner at a discount:) It is lightweight, slightly sheer and very silky. I didn’t think I would be buying any fabric on this trip so this was totally a surprise buy.

After bringing the precious fabric back to the room, hubby and I decided to spend sometime sunbathing by the pool.
And my Ebony Kaftan was put to good use:)

By mid afternoon, we were starting to miss the kids tremendously. Let’s just say, family day started earlier than expected!

Day 3:

It was family day but we had no choice but to take an extremely long breakfast with the kids as it started to rain. Thank God HBO was showing ‘Cloudy with a chance of Meatball’ which kept the kids entertained till it was sunny again. I spent a long time in my swimsuit today, but when I wasn’t in it, I wore my Peekaboo Sleeve Tara and Black & White Bella shorts.

We had fun building sun castles at the beach.

and even more splashing fun at the pool!

I can’t say for the rest of the Club Med destinations but Club Med Phuket is good for:

-Couples with babies or children in need of some quality couple and family time

-People who enjoy social activities, simple yet fun sports such as pool volleyball, basic golf, archery.

-People who enjoy relaxing and a good buffet spread and hence, don’t mind gaining some weight. LOL.

-Fast and efficient check in and out

-Performances and entertainment

My husband is still on leave so I won’t be sewing till after Christmas.  Meanwhile, I’m hoping to visit ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future’ exhibition at Resorts World in Singapore. The event is developed by the Parisian institute Les Arts Décoratifs and showcases one hundred exquisite haute couture pieces from the renowned Italian Maison. Can’t wait!

Self-Stitched-September: Day 1 to 3

Self Stitched September has been fun fun fun so far and I’ve been bringing my camera tripod around a lot more. I didn’t want SSS photos to look exactly like those I’ve listed in Made Me, where you can find my entire self stitched wardrobe. This month is really a test for me. First to see if I would really wear what I have made so far and second to see which are the item I have made but would never wear. I’m still not sure at this point which are the pieces I wouldn’t wear as I’ve taken the easy approach of donning worn before items on the first three days of SSS. I hope I won’t be relying on these few pieces I’ve grown so fond of for the entire SSS! So, without further ado, a summary and personal thoughts on the Made Me garments I wore Day 1 to 3.

Day 1

On Day 1, I wore this comfy and easy outfit. My fave pair of shorts, black & white Bella teamed with my Mr Bump tee. It was my princess’ Teachers Day holiday so we had some bubbles fun at the park. My verdict: Bella is oh so comfortable, I want to make a whole bunch of them!  Three huge buttons on the front closure made putting and taking them off a breeze. Think button front jeans easy. I love the pleats at the pockets. This design element makes the shorts so unique and chic. The pattern isn’t difficult either, it just takes time. I wore these the entire day and didn’t feel self-conscious at all. Off course not, I have used my Bella countless times :) A few more of them in autumn hues sound good to me!

Day 2

I caught a cold on Day 2 so the highlight of the day was running some errands down at the post office *yawn*. I didn’t get to swim nor sew. But the good news is I managed to complete my dress tutorial. Phew! I really admired all the sewing divas out there who produce tutorials like all the time. It is really quite a time-consuming endeavor. And, honestly, I missed being at the sewing machine when I had to work on a tutorial. So, kudos to those of you who are so committed to doing and sharing them!

My Plaid Tara was put to the test. It was the very first item I made for myself using a sewing pattern (Burdastyle’s Tara) ever. I modified the sleeves as I didn’t like the original short ruffled version.  The blouse was made a few months after my princess was born and I have not touched it for sometime. When I wore it on Day 2, it felt loose fitting with huge sleeves and bodice, not flattering at all and I was feeling self-conscious. Hated that feeling! In my sewing basket it goes so that I can work on the fit again. The blouse was not difficult to sew but using quilting cotton for this piece did make it look kind of stiff. So, if you are making Tara, I would recommend using a light weight fabric.

Day 3

It’s my son’s turn to enjoy school holiday in lieu of Teachers’ Day. We went to the neighborhood playground, visited the airport and took a short subway ride upon his request even though I drove. Boys will be boys! Transportation never fails to intrigue him.

I wore a fire engine red knit top with my Red Denim Ruby. I love this first pair of shorts I made. I love the color, the fit and it’s pretty comfortable. While the side button closure attracted me to the pattern in the first place, I do have to contest with them when making a dash for the loo. I might need to find an easier alternative should I sew this again. It’s really a design versus practicality issue. For my love of sewing, the adventures of creating new things and the many things I’ve still got to learn, I don’t think I will skip sewing items due to such practicality issues, at least not yet :) Guess that means I am not at all a practical crafter hmmm…

My prince wore a very old pair of echino scooter pants I made by combining two different prints from the ni-co collection. It’s my favorites from the pile of pants I’ve made him. There is clearly something magical in echino fabrics. The prince was so excited to see two huge dogs during our Friday morning neighborhood walk but he became very weary of this sweet mannered Golden Retriever.  I told him the dog was friendly and was only sniffing his scent but the little prince complaint that it tickled…a lot :P

So at the end of the third day while typing this post, self-realization took place:

1) The Sew Convert isn’t sew practical when it comes to what she sews though she tries to be.

2) The Sew Convert is full of contradictions and tries to justify them. She needs a few more pairs of shorts with easy closure but will rather create a few more Bellas though they have button closure too. Somehow, front buttons are easier to manipulate compared to side buttons or maybe it’s the button size that made the difference. ha!

3) The Sew Convert seems pretty fond of wearing the garments she made from burdastyle patterns. Bella, ruby and tara are all from burdastyle! Gosh!

Anyhow, I don’t usually dress up on weekdays since I am normally at home sewing or blogging or just playing chauffeur to His and Her Royal Highness so I’m really looking forward to this weekend…a Made-Me weekend!

To my sewing comrades enjoying the Labour Day holidays, have a good one!

Retro Halter Playsuit Back In Action

This morning, while I was changing my lil princess’ nappy, I realized that she has lost quite a bit of fats in her tummy as she grew taller.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that perhaps now that the watermelon has shrunk, she might be able to wear the retro halter playsuit I made her more comfortably. So, without hesitation I tried it on her.  It was kinda tight when she first tried it on in May, so I thought she wouldn’t be able to wear it for long. I am happy to say that the fit was perfect today!

Front view

Back view


She was in a jolly mood too, greeting and charming almost everyone near us at lunch, at the mall and at dinner with her ‘hello auntie/uncle’ and ‘bye bye auntie/uncle’.

I was feeling blissful just observing her…

Tiered Skirt & Crocs

I have almost forgotten about this tiered skirt I made for my princess before she was born. I made it in size 1 but she was not tall enough to wear it without tripping over. The skirt was pushed to the back of her burgeoning wardrobe. Today, while my mum was dressing her up for playgroup, she tried on the skirt and it fit!

Lil’ sweet princess, almost one and a half, wearing the tiered skirt mummy made her when she was still kicking around in mummy’s tummy. Sometimes, my prince still calls her ‘baby’. Once in a while he would cheekily stroke my tummy and say I love you baby:P How time flies…

She’s all grown up, my princess. She demands that she has the rights to choose which pair of shoes she wears. Regardless of whether they go with her outfit. As long as she’s happy wearing a long tiered skirt with *ahem* crocs?

Unforgettable Japan Part 2: Fukui

I am sure my son is not the only dino crazy three and a half-year old. It is the same with most of my friends’ sons. A few of them even had dinosaur themed birthday parties!

When my son told me he wanted to see dinosaur fossils, I honestly didn’t think I would end up in Japan. More than fifteen years ago, I saw some fossils in a Museum of Natural History in the UK but had no idea where is the best place to see them now. However, while researching the internet for his sake, I stumbled upon the Fukui Prefecture Dinosaur Museum.

Besides being the only dedicated dinosaur museum in all of Japan, this museum is one of the “World’s Three Great Dinosaur Museums” along with the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Canada and the Zigong Dinosaur Museum in China.

So if your kids want to learn more about pre-historical creatures and you are visiting Kansai. Do not miss this museum. It might be off the beaten track but it is worth the trip. Besides a TV crew filming there and a handful of other visitors, my family basically had the museum all to ourselves. I am only posting a few photos here but at the museum you get to see at least 20 to 30 fossils.

I can’t recommend this museum enough. This could very well be THE place to see that many dinosaur fossils and even those of pre-historic creatures such as the mammoth.

Most information are available in Japanese and English. Digital animation and robotic dinosaurs were extremely well presented and kept visitors amazed. My kids loved them!

Fukui city is around two and a half hours train ride from Osaka or Kyoto. It is approximately 3 hours from Kansai International Airport. Katsuyama, where the museum is located, is another hour from Fukui city.

The dinosaur museum is in the shape of a dinosaur egg at the foot of the Japanese alps. We were at Katsuyama on 13 April and the sakura trees were in full bloom! In Kansai, Sakura season had already ended but in Fukui and Katsuyama, spring had just began.

It wasn’t easy looking for accommodation in Fukui. Most of its hotels didn’t have an English site. It is still a place with few foreign tourists. I had to email one of the hotels (Hotel Riverge Akebono) which had a partial English site to enquire and fortunately I received a reply after a few days. We managed to reserve a Japanese styled room. When traveling with children it is always better to reserve the room via email as we managed to get a much better rate than offered by the internet system which only asked for the total number of people regardless of age.

While majority of the people we met in Fukui didn’t speak English, they were one of the friendliest and most helpful. We arrived too early to check into the hotel but when the manager saw us with an infant, he immediately asked the reception to contact the cleaning team so that we could have the room earlier. We arrived at 1.30pm and were handed the room keys at 2pm instead of 3pm which was great. The river just behind the hotel was lined with beautiful Sakura trees.

Being a rural town, the local train had many unmanned stations. To facilitate ticketing, there is a train ticketing lady on every train. Besides collecting payment and assisting senior citizens to their seats, these ladies are extremely warm and helpful. On discovering that we were tourists visiting the dinosaur museum, the lady not only gave us a brochure of the museum but also the train and bus schedule to and from the museum! They are the true ambassadors of tourism.

The Tojinbo, a rugged cliff formation by the sea is situated on the Echizen coast, 45 minutes on a local train from Fukui city. You can tell the ticketing office at the train station that you are going to Tojinbo and they will provide the train and bus schedule.

The scenery is nice, the waves amazing, the wind super strong and you can get a taste of Echizen crabs and seafood at the many eateries around Tojinbo. We found that the nearer the cliff, the more expensive they seem to be.  I had a delicious BBQ Squid but didn’t dare try the creature in the shell, whatever it is. My prince enjoyed a yummy seafood fried rice.

After lunch, I would recommend taking the same bus you alighted from to the Echizen Matsushima Aquarium since you are in the vicinity. It is a pretty old aquarium and not very impressive with the exception of these.

A glass tank full of tropical fish which you can walk on or even zzz on:) Remember to remove your footwear before going down the stairs.

The experience is simply tranquil and relaxing! It’s dreamland material:) Roll over and on one side you can admire the sharks, rays and hammerheads in the next tank.

The aquarium also had the friendliest dolphins that swam over and greeted my prince thrice. Off course, he was super thrilled!

And a room full of octopus, tiny sharks and fishes you can touch, if you dare…

How can I end off without mentioning the word fabric. If you are walking from the hotel to the train station (20 minutes walk), there is a fabric & craft store near Seibu (in front of JR Fukui station) but I didn’t get a chance to visit due to the rain. Nonetheless, the fabric store in Osaka had a lot more selection and there were many more items I wanted to buy on the trip back to Kansai now that the baby food have been consumed and I have more room in my luggage:)

Unforgettable Japan Part 1: Osaka

My three and a half-year old prince is totally hooked on the most enormous and fearsome creatures. He is especially nuts about dinosaurs and sharks. And to him the bigger they are, the better! With him around, even my one year old princess can recognize these creatures and utter the words dinosaur and shark. Last month, our family of four visited Japan. Not only did we meet the friendly whale sharks, had a Jaws Adventure, laid above a fish tank while admiring sharks swimming next to us, we came face to face with dinosaurs and prehistoric fossils!

Osaka

Japan is a great place to travel with kids. If you stay in a minshuku or ryokan, you get to sleep on a futon mattress on the tatami floor. This means you do not need to get a connecting room for kids (which can be costly) and absolutely no worries of them falling off the bed in the middle of the night.

Sweet Dreams

Unlike a hotel, kids usually pay a lower rate when staying in ryokans and for a kid or infant sharing a futon with a parent, there is usually no charge (though some ryokans charge a small fee). Travel on Japan Rail is also free for kids under the age of six!

We stayed at a minshuku 5 minutes away from the Osakako Station. For a big city in Japan, the Osakako area is considered a quiet area to stay. It is also convenient as the Kansai Airport Limo stops at the Tenpozan at Osakako. What’s at the Tenpozan? The enormous tanks of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, IMAX, Suntory Museum, numerous F&B outlets and the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel.

I highly recommend the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

An encounter with the whale sharks (there were two of them!) is an awesome experience and simply unforgettable!

Knowing that he was going to meet these enormous creatures, my prince happily packed his toy whale shark ‘Spot’ so that it could meet its mummy and daddy at the aquarium!  He still talks about them on a regular basis!

While  the two whale sharks are the stars of the Kaiyukan, kids will also love the other exhibits such as dolphins, rays, seals, penguins, crabs, otters, porpoises and not forgetting the magnificent jellyfishes.

Giant Crabs

Magnificent Jellyfishes…


More Jellyfishes…

Hammerhead shark

There is even an area to the front of tanks set aside for young children and people with disability to see the creatures in the enclosure easily.

Happy Feet!

Rays

Nicely tugged in a corner behind the Tenpozan food court is an area housing small but famous restaurants which used to exist in a certain district of Osaka. I highly recommend that you try the omurice (butter rice served in an omelette) with katsu (deep-fried pork) and brown sauce. It was yummy and kids would love it! Food choices at Tenpozan are nothing short of the abundant!

My princess using her toy excavator on my omurice! Oishi!

In the evening, bring the kids for a ride on the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel! The view of the harbour,  Universal Studios Japan in the bay opposite and bridges is breathtaking!

Universal Studios Japan is another fun stop for kids and the kid in us!

With my prince and princess’ interest in sharks, how could we miss the Jaws ride. Kids enjoyed the ride while parents had fun too! I am not sure if there is an age limit for this ride as my princess was only one.

Which little girl can resist the charm of Hello Kitty?

My princess was entertained by her favourite ‘Kitty’ and Sesame Street characters. She kept repeating ‘Elmo! Elmo!’ that I chased after the bus till it entered a private zone! Which bus? Here it is:)

My husband and prince enjoyed the Spiderman amusement ride and my son loved the shop in Jurassic Park! Here’s his treat of the day, a Spinosaurus- the biggest land predator ever!

The famous covered shopping street in Osaka Namba area is a popular tourist hunt.

For any crafter, I reckon that this is the most convenient place to visit for fabric shopping. Afterall, it combines sightseeing and fabric shopping hence less room for husbands to nag:) It is also a stone’s throw from Den Den Town where you get to check out the latest electronic gadgets. Best of all, it is a covered shopping street so your shopping experience is less likely to be affected by weather conditions.

Even though there is only one fabric store at Ebisibashi, The Sew Convert is certain that you will find something you’d love especially if you are a Japanese fabric fan. I did and I only managed to browse through level one of Toraya. If you see any item you like, tell the helpful store attendants how many meters you’d like to buy. They will send instructions upstairs through some air pipe system for your fabric to be cut and give you a receipt. Wait for around 5 minutes and your fabric should be at the cashier.

Don’t miss the remnants section at the side of the store. Most of these are in one meter rolls. Lots of lovely fabric selling at a fraction of the price! Oh..and remember to bring cash as I didn’t see any credit card service at the cashier!

Next Sat: Unforgettable Japan Part 2: Fukui