The incidental tourists

Hello my sewing comrades! I’m finally home!

To say I love to travel is an understatement. I live to travel. I live to sew.  But, it never occurred to me that I could enjoy being a tourist in my own lil isle when hubby was on leave in June.

Instead of visiting the usual malls or going for a movie, we ended up visiting chinatown and kampong glam, marveling at the sights and enjoying the distinct cultures at these tourist hunts. We took our new camera out and snapped lots of photos. I’m posting more images here so you too get to play virtual tourist in Singapore while I finally got to document my last few days of Made Me June (in August *sign*).  I hope you enjoy what you see and will visit our lil island some day! And for Singaporeans overseas, I hope you have a Happy National Day next Tuesday :)

We started one of the days with some traditional food from my maternal granny’s hometown of Hubei, China at the People’s Park Complex hawker centre (Market Street). Dumplings with vinegar/ ginger slices and handmade dumping skin soup with dried shrimps, minced pork and cabbage. Tien Jin is the name of the stall and the only place I know that sells this dumpling skin soup and it’s simply delicious!

Then, upstairs to my fave favourite stall, Thye Guan Textile (02-1006) to check out new stocks. The owner liked my Au Revoir dress which was made with fabric bought from her store :) Lots of knits and wovens to choose from as usual! I am still waiting for her new border print order to arrive.

At Kampong Glam, we visited Haji Lane (small shops selling home decor, second hand jeans, cafes), Arab Street (Fabrics!!!) and Muscat Street (Sultan Mosque, cafes and vintage toy shop/ musuem).

Graffiti wall at Haji Lane

The Sultan Mosque, oldest mosque in Singapore (1854)

Check out the Roti Prata store opposite the road from Sultan Mosque! Here’s the chef at work.

And if you are a fabric fanatic like me, you have got to visit Arab Street. I found this fabulous chiffon border print at S$8 (US$5.60) per metre. Can’t wait to make a simple dress out of it!

As we still had sometime to spare before picking up the kids from school, we took a stroll along Muscat Street and chanced upon a vintage toy museum/ shop and they still have vintage toy robots/ planes/ vehicles for sale in original boxes.  Too cute!

The following day, hubby and I enjoyed a breakfast of barbecue pork rice rolls  at chinatown hawker centre and a traditional cup of tea/ milo from this stall called the 50s where they sold traditional Hainanese coffee, drinks and bread. There was a perpetual queue at the stall while we were there.

After breakfast, we explored the streets of chinatown.

It was a humid and sunny day so my cape tara and red denim ruby shorts were weather perfect for our ‘excursion’.At the end of temple street was the Sri Mariamman Temple, founded in 1827 it is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and a national monument.

Another landmark in chinatown in the recent years is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.

While playing tourists, hubby and I also ended up with some goodies from the road side stalls. A Chairman Mao bag for him and two Vietnamese handmade dresses for my daughter (below) which I love. The smocking and embroidery details are simply fabulous and I love how they looked so vintage too!

TGIF and I hope you enjoyed this brief virtual tour of Singapore :)

I will be sharing some of my fave shots from the Sydney/ Cairns vacation soon. I didn’t wear made me outfits everyday but a good mix of rtw and self made:) On the sewing front, I’m in the midst of rushing out some vintage nautical outfits for my lil prince and princess and will share shots of them soon too! My first vintage kids patterns, woo hoo!

Japanese Sewing Books

My family went downtown today to run some errands and while at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City), I picked up two Japanese sewing books I couldn’t resist.  This is my first time buying Japanese sewing books though I have been checking them out on etsy.

The first book entitled ‘Les couleurs francaises’ is  a japanese sewing book for mum/daughter outfits (ISBN  9784579112791) which I mentioned here. It is by Yoshiko Tsukiori, who also authored ‘Retrospective is Stylish’, a sewing book I have been trying to get a copy of only to discover that it is out of print. The second book ‘Feminine  Wardrobe’ (ISBN 9784579112906) by Jinko Matsumoto is themed around town, party and resort wear for ladies. I didn’t expect the bookshop here to carry  so many of these books and even the very recent ones! When I realized that they were actually cheaper than on etsy, I went straight to the cashier. I saved around US$7 per book from shipping! Yay! More importantly, I get to browse through the books before buying.

These were the photos that induced me to decide on these two books. The outfits I am so tempted to sew from ‘Les couleurs francaises’ include these dresses featured on the book’s cover,

this blouse and pants ensemble,

these matching blouses for mum & daughter,

Oh! Did I also mention that there are a total of 26 outfits you can create from the full scale patterns and instructions? Though all the text are in Japanese, the illustrations are pretty detailed. Similarly, there are 19 outfits to create in ‘Feminine Wardrobe’, including, this sweet blouse,

this winged sleeve dress,

this one-sided ribbon camisole,

and this ribbon collar blouse (the ribbon can be tied front or back).

Great outfits for summer, don’t you think? Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday Etsy Faves: Vintage (Inspired) Accessories

Hair clips, rings, earrings, necklaces and bags are just a few of my favorite things. Maybe they are yours too. I love them even more when they have a certain look. A vintage inspired look.

The Great Singapore Sale just started last week and while browsing through etsy today, I was curious what crafters from Singapore were selling and off course I wondered if they were participating in the Great Singapore Sale. While I didn’t see any sale in their shops, I’m glad to have checked them out.  Otherwise, I would not have chanced upon these lovely creations. All vintage inspired and all from Singapore based talents!

The Mushroombrella Wristclutch by LittleOddForest

Lucky Pink Owl Necklace by PrincipessaTwinz

Spring Awakens by Marolsha

Royal Purple Nagorie by theMIX

Almond & Ice Flower Headband/Hair clip by forestflame

Tangerine mist set by beadpod8

Yellow roses earrings by ChiliCrab

Dreams by FleurAvenue

Always in your heart by shopjmp

This could be my longest Etsy Faves list yet!

Strangely, I can imagine myself wearing the Spring Awakens necklace with the Dreams ring OR the Lucky Pink Owl Necklace, the Almond & Ice Flower hair clip and Always in your heart bracelet OR the Tangerine mist set with the Mushroombrella Wristclutch…

Grosgrain’s A Flock by Friday

Hey, do you enjoy sewing and always wanted to make yourself a dress but didn’t know where to start? Join Grosgrain’s A Flock by Friday, a dress sewalong. This time it’s a shirtdress and it’s starting next Monday!  So get your fabric and notions ready! I wanted to make the coffee date dress in the last sewalong but decided not to because after reading through the instructions, I realised that it’s for a petite form. And The Sew Convert is anything but petite. If you really can’t afford the time to sew a new dress, why not do a refashion? Check out this fantastic Grosgrain tutorial to refashion a blouse into a dress! Checkout that dress! Mama, I wanna try that soon!

I’m quite a home person but today I went downtown for my six-monthly dental checkup in my Modcloth dress (above). It’s a perfect fit but kinda short for my 5 feet 7 frame so I wore tights with it.  Going down to Orchard Road only meant one thing to The Sew Convert- a detour to Spotlight at Plaza Singapura. I bought some zips, buttons and bias tapes for some projects I’m working on and bought these fabric for the shirtdress sewalong. Since I have not tried the pattern, I thought I better try it out with cheaper fabrics. They will be going into the washer later tonight. Check them out here. The floral for the main fabric and the blue plain one for contrast. What do you think?

There is also a Daiso (Japanese $2 shop) at Plaza Singapura with a craft corner. I bought a pattern tracer, erasable fabric pen and sewing chalk. They have a very good felt collection there too. It’s The Sew Convert’s second “gotta visit” store at the Plaza. I heart Daiso!

Retro Halter Playsuit 2

Here’s another retro halter playsuit I made today. I love the print on this Japanese fabric. Not sure what’s its name but I think it’s under a collection called Pop Candy. I bought the fabric about a year ago in Chinatown and when going through my fabric stash about two months back, I saw it and decided it’s time to make a playsuit. I cut the fabric after washing and drying it but got distracted by other projects. I sure hope I’m not the only one who gets distracted by new sewing patterns or fabric all the time. Today, I had so much fun making it but realized after sewing that my princess has grown so much over the past month that she might only be able to wear it for a day! Guess it is meant for another princess then.   More photos here

Like my last retro playsuit, it had a sweetheart neckline but this time I created a front facing instead of using a bias. This halter is also different. In place of two side ties, I attached one side of the halter to the neckline while creating a buttonhole on the otherside. I skipped the retro belt detail as this is a busier fabric.

Two evenings ago when I was going through my favorite blogs, I saw Sew Mama Sew’s post on their annual May giveaway and decided that I should participate as a ‘giver’ this year. After renaming and shifting my blog, it will be a great opportunity to network and communicate with more crafters out there. I went through my fabric stash yesterday and did some reorganizing (finally!)

These are three fabric (above, a yard or slightly more each) I have chosen. Two of them (Pigs and Apples) are Japanese fabrics. They are lovely but I have no idea what to do with them. So, I will be giving these away together with a handful of buttons. Who will ever have enough of fabric and buttons??? More details on how to win these will be posted 16 May in time for the 17 May giveaway.  I still need some time to think about the mechanics for the contest. Why not mark the date, get to know more crafters and win some goodies? Trust me, there will be a LOT of blogs/ giveaways to go through (I went through part of the list last year) so set aside at least the entire evening for fun:)

Trips for 4

My husband and I love to travel. This passion now continues with two kids (boy almost four and girl one and a half) in tow. My husband posted our travel photos on facebook recently and told me how his colleagues with kids of similar age couldn’t believe how we could travel with kids and still have a good time.

I thought about it and decided that I would document our recent adventures on a blog and hopefully provide some useful tips or even itinerary suggestions to other parents who might wish to travel with kids.   I wondered if I should start a new blog but decided to expand on this blog instead. After all,these are all what I am passionate about. I will be covering the locations below and also update after future trips. Information will be consolidated under the Trips for 4 tab (on the top of the blog).  Give me sometime to post them in between my sewing sessions:) Too many projects, too little time!

Gold Coast  October 2009
Hong Kong SAR December 2009
Kansai/ Fukui Japan April 2010 (with happy fabric shopping:), you can not miss that while in Japan!)

On a separate note, I have moved and consolidated my old blogs into one here on the Sew Convert. I just thought the blog name is, well, so appropriate for me. I’m so sorry for people who have commented but now your comments are missing. I’m not sure what happened but they went missing after I moved the blog address.  Same reason the tabs on top are not linking properly. I’ll work on them, I promise.

I hope to meet more people and make more new friends here on The Sew Convert. So, hi and a warm welcome!

Weekend Toy Bag

I just completed this toy bag for my son. He is always bringing toys (cars, trains, dinosaurs, sharks etc) out and always forgetting them so I told him I will make him a bag for toys. When we went fabric shopping in Osaka, he excitedly chose the quilted Disney’s cars fabric for the flap. I attached a bright yellow bias to the flap, made the rest of the bag out of a red home decor fabric from Ikea and used velcro for attachment. The tutorial which is a dream to follow is from the mmmcrafts blog. This bag can be completed in a couple of hours. Have fun!

Thank God for this toy bag, now my handbag is liberated from toys!

The First Project

The day has come! This is the first dress I have ever made. It was my project while learning how to sew just before my princess was born. At 15 months, she is finally able to fit into the dress and I can’t describe how proud and delighted I was when she wore it for a day of fun at the Botanic Gardens with the grandparents.  The fit was good and I love the ruffle sleeves. I will probably make another for her in a bigger size later.

It’s Raining Cats!!! Ribbon Dress

My princess adores cats. Whether it’s hello kitty or the neighborhood cat, they never fail to amuse her or  light up her twinkling eyes. She also can’t stop meowing when she sees them and that always brings a smile to my face.

This Michael Miller Kitten fabric is just ‘purr’fect for a new project and I followed the tutorial for ribbon sundress at Creature of Habit. It is probably one of the easiest dress I have made and I also learnt how to sew the french hem which adds comfort by eliminating any loose thread inside the dress. The tutorial is easy to follow and you can make a dress from size 6 months all the way to 8 years!

Here are more shots of the meow meow kitty kitty ribbon dress. My only adaptation is the use of scraps for the ribbon, simply because I thought it will look more interesting with more vibrant colors.

I believe this ribbon dress is a variation of the pillowcase dress. The pillowcase dress has its history in mothers making dresses out of used or vintage pillowcases for their daughters in an age of frugality. This is also a dress that will evolve into a top when the child grows and can be worn for years to come.