Jenna Cardi and the Indie Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch

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The Monthly Stitch is a lovely sewing community that has gone global from its origins in New Zealand. It runs theme-based sewing challenges every month, and members share their creations on The Monthly Stitch ‘s blog. Every June each year, is Indie Pattern Month (IPM) which you can read all about here.

I opted for the PDF pattern swap, and got the Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns. I confess, my first reaction was “meh” but purely on the basis that handmade cardigans are usually crocheted or knitted, rather than sewn. But what’s a pattern swap without an unexpected suprise? Also, the pattern instructions helpfully suggested fabric options such as lace which I had never worked with before.

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There are two length variations (waist and hip length), two front variations (a gathered yoke or one piece) and three sleeve lengths (short, three quarter and long).  I went with hip length, one piece and three quarter length sleeves. I had initially planned to make the cardigan in lace, and use cotton knit for the cuffs, neckline, hem and button bands. But sewing lace panels together proved beyond my skill and I had to throw the shell out after my bodice was wildly mismatched at the seams.

 

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So I decided to swop the material around and keep the lace to the sleeves.

Voila!

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I managed to put everything together on an overlocker, and only needed to use my sewing machine for top stitching the button band and neckline. I opted for poppers rather than buttons, as I wanted to wear the cardigan pronto. I also opted out of sewing on the cuff bands to show off the scalloped edges of the lace.

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I’m very pleased with the fit. Especially the lace sleeves. It’s my first time sewing with lace and I was worried my seam allowance would go haywire and I’d end up with over-sized sleeves (and personally, I think there’s nothing worse than lace which is too loose!)

Despite my initial misgivings, the Jenna cardi is now my favourite cardigan! The lace sleeves have added that touch of handmade uniqueness, and is nice and light for those sunny Summer days. I’m looking forward to making this again, and will perhaps muster up courage to make it with a lace bodice like I had originally planned!

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Summary:

Pattern: Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns

Fabric: Stretch lace and cotton knit from Croft Mill Fabrics

Notions: matching thread, Prym poppers

Pattern alterations: Modified sleeves with no cuffs

Of sewing challenges and photo shoots

Summer is around the corner, and with all things bright and beautiful come a deluge of sewing challenges.

indie pattern

I’ve been a long time lurker on The Monthly Stitch. No better reason to fully embrace this wonderful sewing group by participating in #indiepatternmonth! I chose to enter the PDF sewing pattern swop, and in the round robin swop, got sent the lovely Jenna cardi from Muse Patterns while picking the Bonnell dress from Dixie DIY Patterns. I am super excited about this challenge. It never crossed my mind to sew a cardigan before, even though i’m in one practically every day. At first I thought it would be too warm to sew for June, but then the fabric suggestions included stretch lace. And why not!?

The great thing about choosing the PDF swop instead of hard-copy swop, is that it gives you access not only to the one you got sent, but also the one you buy for your swop partner. So once I’m done with the Jenna cardi, I’ll be getting down to the Bonnell dress.

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And then there’s the annual #Simplicity sewing challenge! I soooo wanted to do tihis challenge last year but got caught up in packing and packing more boxes for our big move. As a measure of how excited I am about this, I’ve applied for TWO patterns. The vintage make and the childrenswear.

It’s been a busy month for me, meeting and speaking to the lovely Sara from Rocking Horse Photography. My Etsy shop is up and running, but has rather slapdash photos courtesy of yours truly. When Elaine from Celebrate With Love got in touch with me about stocking some of my clothes on her website, I knew I had to have much better photos or risk my stuff look like rag wear. So I’m off tomorrow to do the still shots at a park in Canary Wharf. The sun promises to be up and shining tomorrow, and hopefully the photos will capture the heart and soul of what baby clothes are all about. God help us trying to get G (and others) to pose nicely next month for the model shots.

The #SewingBee is back on our TV screens! This week was children’s week and I got such a kick out of seeing this Liberty fabric in the studio haberdashery!

Liberty Hearts

Just to say that it can make a beautiful romper, but perhaps in this bodysuit pattern style rather than the #sewingbee’s babygro pattern which has a fiddly gusset. Now imagine pattern matching that!!

 

A reflection : 10 months in London

It’s exactly 10 months to the date we arrived in London and began our new life as a family.

Both W and I have lived in the UK before this. W, well, has always been here since finishing uni. I’ve been here for a year before to do my postgrad. It is, however, always different when you have a family. There are all these posts and pieces circulated on facebook …from ‘why i left Singapore and found my pot of gold elsewhere’ to ‘why I came back to Singapore and kissed my first plate of chicken rice’.

My personal experience is a little different. I’m not sure if this is to do with my Eurasian – Malaysian Chinese background where migration is only a generation before, and not 3 or 4 generations away like the majority of Singaporeans. Both my parents were born in Malaysia, with my dad moving between Malaysia and Singapore like a migratory bird in his teens. My parents moved to Singapore in the early 80s when I was a toddler and a fair number of relatives from both sides of my family have migrated to the UK, Australia and elsewhere.  This is why I’ve never been the least bit interested in the ‘stayers vs quitters’ debate. Its a false dichotomy. End of. The movement of people over history has been and will always be a far more complex discourse than that.

But people still label choices when you move, and I find this perturbing coming from a country where politicians never fail to remind the populace that we were once “a small fishing village”.  No wonder immigrant integration has been a tricky path to navigate. One would have thought that with the constant drumming of “our forefathers and grandfathers who left their shores to seek better fortunes yada yada yada”, Singaporeans would have had a much easier time accepting new immigrants into the country, no? Or for that matter, being less critical and more supportive when their fellow countrymen choose to move away. After all, the same who criticize would probably be harvesting rice in the China and India countryside right now rather than grumbling about work on Facebook in air-conditioned offices.

Everyone’s choices and experiences are different. The first thing I had said to me was ‘no maid. you have to do everything yourself’. Well, I’ve had to run a household for over 10 years all by myself as my dad died early and my mum was too depressed to get out of bed. There was no maid growing up and I only got one in later years because I needed someone around while I was away in London. Further on, for childcare reasons. I have cooked, cleaned and done the groceries by myself for years and years, so what’s the problem now? I suppose it helps that I come from a family of sturdy women, some of whom, like my aunt, have held full-time jobs with 3 children *and* done all the cooking, cleaning and groceries. Dare I complain, especially when my 73 year old aunt is STILL working part-time but yet comes home to put pork chops on the table for dinner and iron the clothes!?  My own mother would bollock me for an untidy house, toddler or no toddler (“What do you MEAN your tired, I had 2 small kids no help whatsoever yet I hand washed your nappies now get off your arse!”).

Other comments mainly revolved around being apart from of close family. Of course it hurts to be apart from your loved ones and I think of my mum everyday. But skype and whatsapp go far these days. It also helps that I have family here, although they are not exactly around the corner and live further away from London. It is not, however, a situation that impinges on our everyday lives. Having your parents around the corner and available for emergency childcare is perhaps an experience that’s unique to city-states or in some cases, when children or parents mutually choose to move closer to each other. In the vast majority of countries, family is a 4 hour drive (or longer) away and you just have to get on with it.

Childcare and education are obviously different. My number 1 pet peeve when reading articles by overseas Singaporeans is when they extol the overseas childcare/education experience to the exclusion of Singapore. Even worse is when they compare how their kids were ‘force fed’ in Singapore schools. FFS no one in Singapore is force feeding your kid. Your kid can choose to switch off, period. Gone are the days of being caned, publicly shamed etc. You really mean that 90% of Singapore schools are structured and it is this structure that *some* kids find stifling (Because of a lot of kids thrive on structure!!. This is vastly different from being force fed. And on that note, it’s wrong to say that the overseas education experience is all Montessori – i -learn-what-i-want-today. Or like that ridiculous, pretentious Little Forest Folk playschool in Chiswick running mackeral pate cookery lessons for preschoolers. Like jeez, look, there is still structure, there are still standard assessments and exams. Structure and discipline is not uniquely Singaporean. There is homework too!! There are still last minute requests for some special day at school and parents still find themselves dashing out at 8pm trying to find appropriate materials to help their kids. There are still schools that insist kids learn English and French *and* an additional language. And parents still worry when their child can’t read at 4-5. Some things are universal no matter the education system.

What I will say for now is that childcare here tends to teach toddlers to be independent and there are more opportunities for interaction to build emotional development in a child. G started nursery at 16  months, and his fellow playmates were all able to eat with proper metal cutlery, drink from an open cup and hold a crayon and paintbrush decently. He was barely able to spoon his yoghurt out of the container back then. Thankfully he has caught up and brings home bits and bobs of art work every now and then.

There are also endless playgroups to go to. Either free or for a small fee. G does sing and sign, as well as Mandarin playgroup. We enjoyed swimming but it got too cold. There are also free stay and play sessions at our local children’s centre, story-time at the library, and soft play at the museum. There is always something to do everyday and thus I’ve not found it necessary to increase the number of days G is at nursery as there are many opportunities for him to interact, pick up social skills, and learn important emotional development lessons as sharing. There is no other way of saying it like it is – it starts from young. I’m completely and really really happy with G’s emotional development. No real tantrums with sharing his toys, apart from his beloved bus (because, you know, wheels on the BUS!!!). Only the other day his nursery emailed us a pic of him cuddling his mate at nursery.

It’s not my place to discuss one other key factor ie W’s career path. Suffice to say it’s a brighter path for him than Singapore. So 10 months it has been, we’re all still alive and well and it’s moving into summer now. Our new flat is due for completion soon, and we will move in a few weeks. All has been, and is well. The future is bright, full of hope, with lots of love and faith.

The Agnes Top by Tilly and the Buttons!

Agnes Top

I sew a lot of jersey for my toddler but was still worried about embarking on the Agnes top by Tilly and the Buttons. Not least because of handling a lot more notoriously stretchy (and sometimes slippery) Jersey fabric, but also because I decided to splurge on an adorably beautiful jersey fabric from Liberty!

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It all began when I decided to head out to central London on a whim. It was a beautifully sunny morning and perfect for catching the clipper to enjoy the sights from the river. Bonus points for entertaining a toddler too when you can sing “London Bridge” while pointing out the actual bridge. It drizzled at one point and I decided to nip into  Liberty for some cover.

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It’s easy enough to find jersey fabric, but the range tends to be either plain, or in stripes or polka dots design. So when I chanced upon this vibrant Marble Hearts dufour jersey, I had to have it and the Agnes Top immediately came to mind espeicially as it’s become such an indie cult classic in the sewing world.

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The great thing about indie patterns is that instructions are just so straightforward and easy to follow. It was also such a delight to have a little booklet pop out instead of an A3 instruction sheet to open out and find the space to read and absorb.

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I decided to do the long sleeved version without the ruching. I wanted something quick and easy, as I was rather nervous about ruining more than 30 GBP worth of fabric!

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I had a little accident during the cutting, but oh well, no pain no gain.

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The pattern calls for a stabilizer for the back shoulder seams, which was easily done with a ribbon.

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And then it’s straightforward stitching back shoulder seams to front seams.

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A little tricky inserting the neckline, but nothing too complex.

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Once done, it’s down to serging the side seams and sleeve seams, hemming, and then trying it on.

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I am extremely pleased with my top. It fit perfectly and is so very, very comfortable. I did this top in a day, as I was a bundle of excited nerves and there is nothing like that sort of sewing Adrenalin to keep you going.

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I will definitely be making this top again. The pattern is drafted to end at the hips, and this is perfect for a mum on the run who needs to sit on the floor at playgroups and doesn’t want her bits and pieces poking out. It also allows unrestricted movement of your arms, and this is crucial for running about and picking up an energetic toddler. A fabulous pattern from Tilly and the Buttons!

You can also read about a sewing hack from Lauren Guthrie of Guthrie and Ghani.  In this tutorial, Lauren shows how to adapt the pattern into a maternity top.

Agnes Top

I look forward to sewing the ruched sleeve version next to welcome summer. Perhaps with another fun print!

Sables aux frommage et tomatoes

Sables et Frommage Tomatoes

Sables aux frommage et tomatoes. Or cheese and tomato buttery biscuit. I was looking for something quick to do while G had his afternoon nap and was enthused by the ’20 mins to make’ headline on Rachel Khoo’s recipe page. It’s my first time baking this savoury ‘sable’ french buttery biscuit. It’s a straightforward recipe although I should have sliced the biscuits thinner. I also didn’t have any strongly flavored hard cheese so just used grated mature cheddar. Good recipe! Smells heavenly in oven and gets the tummy rumbling 🙂 Very delish, very easy to put together and definitely a staple for tea.

From Rachel Khoo- Mix together 150g plain white flour with 125g grated mature hard cheese (eg Tomme), with 125g cold butter (cubed). Rub together till a sandy texture and then roll into a sausage and chill in fridge for at least 30 mins. Cut into 3mm rounds and then place half a cherry tomato on top of each biscuit. Garnish with oregano (I used rosemary as I used a softer cheese so it resonated well together ).

GBSB 3 Hour Slouchy Cardigan, Done and Dusted!

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It is finished! As we move into Spring in London, I thought I’d better get down to finishing the 3 hour slouchy cardi from the GBSB Fashion with Fabric book.

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I used Jersey to sew this up with a stretch needle. The longest part of this project, so to speak, was tracing the pattern out from the pattern pack.

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I’ve always found tracing patterns really tedious and almost gave up as a result. But I had blogged about doing this earlier and so got down to it.

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Once done, everything came together quite easily. It’s a ‘forgiving’ pattern so even if the cutting was’nt perfect at some points, it didn’t really make a difference when sewing it together.

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I used a zig zag stitch with black thread for the shoulders and side seams.

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The shoulder pleats were done with a straight stitch. I know the pattern calls for a twin needle to be used for this on aesthetic grounds but I thought a single stretch needle would be equally effective.

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And there we are!

The only changes I made to the pattern was to use bias binding for the back neckline. The pattern called for interfacing to stabilise this but I thought bias binding would work better as I had some polyester pink binding on hand. As polyester is lighter than cotten it helps stabilise the jersey while not dragging it down as cotton bias binding would.

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Final thoughts on this pattern? It’s very easy to sew but I’m just not really convinced jersey fabric is the way to go for this one as it seems ‘over-drapey” (if there is such a word!). Something done with fleece, for example, provides a little bit more shape to this but yet maintains the integrity of the original pattern. Still, I look forward to using this when out on our terrace playing with my son this Spring.

Making the 3 Hour Slouchy Cardi

Where has the time gone!?

I’ve still been sewing but just never found the time to write about it, reason being that my baby suddenly exploded into a boisterous toddler all of a sudden. These days I can’t even sit and type on my laptop as he’ll run over and want to sit on my lap and play with the mouse. He is having his nap now so I thought I’d better get round to my blog.

I’ve been sewing mostly children’s clothes over the last few months for the simply reason that it’s easier to trace the patterns (only one sheet usually required) and much faster too. I’ve mostly made jersey t-shirts for G with fun prints like the one below.


G in shirt

I also do some personalisation on onesies in the odd moment or two when my hands feel itchy but not itchy enough to put something together 🙂

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And to get me off to a good sewing start in 2016 I’ve picked the 3 hour slouchy cardigan from the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric book.I’m quite excited about this one as spring is around the corner (although the papers say snow is too!).

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I’m sufficiently confident these days about sewing with jersey so I’m quite excited to be making this project! Now to trace the pattern out 🙂