Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 2014 Giveaway

Giveaway closed. Winner announced here.

Hello dear readers,

I'm doing 12 giveaways this year and this is my second one.

Over the weekend, I had a rush of adrenaline (some time after midnight) and made a little pouch for my February 2014 giveaway. I hope you like it!

So this is what I'm giving away - one wristlet zip pouch. Bear is not included!!! I used an interesting fabric I received from Momshoo. It is a Jolii Pomme from Cosmo Textile. When I look at the characters on the fabric, I immediately think Alice in Wonderland. But I don't think this is a Alice in Wonderland print.

The design of my wristlet zip pouch is based on my Easy iPhone Zip Pouch Pattern. I made it wider, taller and added a handle to the side. And I used a round plate to get the rounded corners. You're probably lusting over my panther iPhone zip pouch, rite? Well, I plan to be buried with it. So...

Whatcha looking at?

I made this pouch large enough for a regular size wallet (that's hub's wallet), handphone, keys, tissue paper and lipstick. Sorry, it can't accomodate an umbrella.

Bear thought it would be helpful to demonstrate the other uses of this very versatile zip pouch. Yes, you can sit on it.

If your head is small enough, you can even wear it as a hat.

 Bear thinks hanging out with the zip pouch is the best.

 So you like it? You want it? Here's how you can enter my giveaway for a chance to win it.

How to enter?

♥ Leave a comment on this blog post. Tell me:
What is your favourite fruit?

You probably know what my current favourite fruit is - grapefruit! But it's no ordinary grapefruit. I had been googling this specific fruit and it's called Mandelo Grapefruit - a cocktail grapefruit which is a hybrid of a mandarin and pommelo. I just bought a few more from the supermarket and these are actually sweet. I also read that these fruits are available during the winter months. You know I'm going to be pining for these fruits very soon.

♥ One entry per person. Duplicates will be deleted.

♥ Leave your email address if your blogger profile is not tied to your email. If you use Anonymous, please leave your name and email.

♥ Open to anyone from anywhere who has ever eaten a fruit.

♥ Ends 10th March 2014 Singapore time.

♥ One winner will be picked by random.org and the winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or I will pick another winner.

In case you don't know, I'm also at

Friday, February 21, 2014



I know. February's almost coming to an end and I still haven't put up my February Giveaway. It's coming, it's coming.

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Well, it's been nearly two months since school term started. Our Singapore school calendar starts on the first working day of January and ends in October. One thing I've always hated about school term is waking up at 6am. Really, nothing can compare to being wrenched out of bed when the alarm goes off at 6am. For me, it's very important that I get out of bed the minute the alarm goes off. Otherwise, I'll very easily go back to sleep and wake up hours later and we don't want the kids to miss school. I have one main alarm that goes off at 6am. It's very loud. Then I have 10 other alarms on my iPhone. Less loud and I really could sleep through Bruce Springsteen's Hungry Hearts. (that's my alarm ringtone)

I have 2 kids, a boy and a girl to wake every morning. The girl, 15 this year is easier to wake. My boy, 17 this year is an absolute nightmare to wake. I had thought that junior college would start school later. Nope, it's still 7 freaking 30 in the morning. It takes at least 5 rounds of poking, shaking, calling just to get son's eyes open and his legs off the bed. That's about 10 minutes. Next, after washing up, it's very possible he goes back to sleep while putting on his uniform. I have to be as alert as a ninja every morning. If he falls asleep half dressed, I have to call out his name - in a tone not too high-pitched but firm enough to show I mean business. Once he's dressed the battle is not over yet. He has to put on his shoes. Again, he could fall asleep on the chair. A few more gentle waking calls. I feel I've accomplished something great every morning once I get my son on his way to school. And these "battles" are pretty much what happens from Mondays to Fridays.
I find it very hard to sleep early so I get 8 hours of sleep. Somehow, as the night gets quieter, my desire to work gets stronger. Because I don't get enough sleep, I end up napping in the morning. If I don't nap in the morning, I'll fall asleep in the late evening. Yes, I have become an old person. Incapable of staying awake. It's quite pitiful.

I long for Sunday when I can have my "revenge sleep".

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This year I'm committed to cooking dinner from Mondays to Fridays. I'm a terrible cook and in the past I've relied on buying cooked food from food courts. But this year I've reached the point where I'd rather eat a home made sandwich than buy from food courts. I am only able to cook a few items - grilled chicken, curry chicken, chilli prawns, fried rice and ham/cheese sandwich. See, that's only good for 5 days. I've considered going to the community centers to pick up cooking skills but my lack of commitment is preventing me. Yes, we eat vegetables too. Mostly boiled in water or stir fried.

Oh speaking of sandwiches which I like to eat for lunch when I'm sick of the food courts, lately I've turned to my best friend - canned food. I stir fry onions, mushrooms with sardines/tuna and I use these as a filling for sandwiches. I've discovered using olive oil makes a huge difference!

This is what I made for hubs today. He declared it bland. Hainanese men need their chilli.

I'm currently going through a grapefruit phase. From time to time, I would loooove a particular food and eat it every day until I get sick of it. When I was in my 20's up till the birth of my son, I had to have freshly squeezed orange juice. I would have continued drinking it if my MIL hadn't spoilt it for me. (long story) I substituted orange juice with grapefruit juice but that too lasted only a few years. One day I started eating the grapefruit instead of drinking the juice. That was when my kids were still in kindy. It was really hard to find grapefruits in my neighbourhood and one desperate day I found myself taking the train for one hour to get to Isetan at Orchard just to buy 7 grapefruits to last me one week. It was so pathetic I soon gave it up. Much to my delight, recently I found grapefruits at my neighbourhood supermarket and they don't taste bitter like the regular grapefruits I'm used to. They taste like, like... heaven!!! I tell hubs I eat one a day but some days I secretly eat two. They cost $2.95 for 3 so I won't exactly go into debt.

Then there was the time I ate chicken rice from a specific stall. Lasted about a month and then one day I couldn't eat it no more.

I went through a mee siam phase too wanting to try every mee siam I came across. I don't have a photo of mee siam but it's a spicy noodles. Just google it. Tastes good only if it's cooked right. I stopped looking for mee siam to try when I realised most sellers sell very bad mee siam.

Oh, I almost forgot about my curry chicken phase. I was living with my MIL and she discovered my love for curry chicken. Sadly, one time she went abroad and before she left, she cooked enough curry chicken to last me a whole week. Stupidly, I ate the curry chicken every day until it was all finished. Then I could not eat curry chicken for a long, long time. Years.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Since last year I have been thinking about learning to bake bread. I've tried to bake bread on my own before from books. But I failed miserably. I don't want to keep saying I suck at baking and I really love to eat bread so if I am able to make my own bread, win-win. There is a course coming up soon and I was thinking of forking out the course fee. Yet I feel so afraid. I imagine going for the course and still end up not being able to bake bread.

I just want to know from those of you who bake your own bread.

How hard is it to learn to bake bread and have the bread turn out edible?

And remember that I suck at baking.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I haven't been sewing much lately but I've been busy drawing - on paper and on Illustrator (a vector graphics editor).

This tablet is what I use when I draw on Illustrator. It is the most basic tablet (and the cheapest) you can find in the market but for my current needs, it's enough. It's like a drawing pad and you use the pen to draw on the surface exactly like how you would use a regular pen. Except, it's not as easy as it sounds. I have this tablet since last year? Or even earlier? I forget. Anyway, I started out using Photoshop Elements with the tablet and that was so much easier. But Photoshop Elements has many limitations to what I want to achieve. I've also used Coreldraw and I'm more familiar with Coreldraw which is a pretty hardcore vector graphics editor. But last year I switched to Indesign for my patterns and since Illustrator comes with the package, I might as well learn to use it. I want to say Illustrator is pretty awesome but very steep learning curve for someone with zero experience with vector graphics.

Anyway, I have created a few applique designs for sale sometime in the future and a few will be for free.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Lastly, I should mention something about my bag patterns. Yes, I do want to start work on new patterns. I have started on the drafting, etc but all on paper. The thing is I am so obsessed with drawing right now...

Have a great weekend. We'll be busy doing these:
- haircut for kids
- watch Dead Poets Society for son's class
- sleeping in (me)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Raw edge applique

Raw edge applique is my favourite form of applique because it is easy and fuss-free. Raw edge applique requires fusible web which is a iron-on adhesive. This adhesive permanently glues your applique patterns to the background fabric.

Fusible web usually comes with a paper side and a grainy side which contains the adhesive. There are a few brands of fusible web in the market. I use Heat n Bond. It doesn’t matter which brand you use. The important thing to note is to get the right kind - for sewing or no-sew.

Heat n Bond Lite is for applique which requires sewing.
Heat n Bond Ultrahold is for no-sew applique.

How to transfer the applique design to the fusible web?
There are 2 ways in which I do the transfer.

The cutout way
If I need to trace the applique design over and over again, I prefer to print the applique design on a thicker paper like at least 200gsm.

Then I cut out the shape exactly on the lines.

Next I draw the outline of the applique cutout on the paper side of the fusible web. Remember to place the mirror image facing up.

The trace from template way

This method is straight forward. Just trace the mirror image of the applique design on the paper side of the fusible web.

At this point you might be asking yourself this question - When do you use the actual applique pattern and when do you use the mirror image of the pattern?

The simple answer is: If your design is transferred to the wrong side of the fabric, you must use the mirror image of the applique pattern.


Cutting the fusible web
Never cut exactly on the lines. As long as you cut outside the line, you need not be so precise or consistent.

On a side note, some people do not like the stiffness of bonded fabric. I find it true that Heat n Bond does have a stiffness but I like the stiffness. If you don't, here's what you can do about it. Below is a heart traced on a fusible web and I have cut out the center of the heart leaving roughly 1/4" border on the inside. You should only do this if your motif is large enough.


Fusing to the wrong side of the fabric

Iron your fabric to remove creases.

Place the grainy side of the fusible web on the wrong side of the fabric. At this point, I probably should advise you to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. But it’s pretty much the same technique:
♥ Set iron to medium heat or for my iron, cotton. Do not use steam function.
♥ Place hot iron over the paper backing and press down for 2 to 3 seconds.
♥ Lift iron and keep going until entire paper is bonded to the fabric.
♥ Let it cool.

Now cut out the applique exactly on the drawn lines.
What you have created is a iron-on applique. And now, do you see why you needed to trace the mirror image on the fusible web?

Fusing iron-on applique to a background fabric
Okay, you're not done yet. Your iron-on applique needs to be fused onto your background fabric which could be a T-shirt, apron, bag or just a piece of fabric. First iron the background fabric to remove the creases.

Next, remove the paper backing and place the applique on the background fabric.
Place iron over the applique and press down for 6 to 8 seconds. (The thicker the fabric, the longer you press down) Take a look to see if the applique is securely fused. If it's not, do another round of pressing with the hot iron.

As you can see, my applique "G" is pretty easy to place. What happens if your applique design requires several pieces of layered shapes and it’s impossible to eyeball it?

One very easy way is to pin your background fabric (right side up) to your template (of the actual image and not mirror image because we are working on the right side of the fabric). Hold them up against a light source such as a window.  Use a frixion pen to trace the placement of the pieces on the fabric. Remember frixion ink is removed with heat so don’t put your iron over it until you have placed all the applique shapes correctly. And don't forget to remove the paper backing from the applique pieces!

Another method is to trace the design onto a clear transparent plastic sheet with a marker pen. I use a water colour pen and it's removable by water so I can reuse the plastic sheet. Actually my hands get pretty smudged as well. Use a permanent marker pen if you want to save the placement. Tape the top of the plastic sheet to the right side of the background fabric. Flip the plastic sheet down to guide your placement. And again, don't forget to remove the paper backing from the applique pieces!

Once your applique is fused to the background fabric, it's complete if you are going for a no-sew applique. If you are opting to sew, stitch around the outline of the applique using any of the following stitches:
- straight stitch
- zigzag stitch
- blanket stitch
- satin stitch

My favourite way of finishing an applique is to sew blanket stitch by hand. What's your preferred stitch?

Hope this post is useful to raw edge applique beginners.

Bag Patterns at my Etsy shop

Applique Patterns at my Etsy shop

For more Applique Resources
For more Tutorials

Friday, February 14, 2014

Whatcha doin today?

Hello friends,

Happy Valentine's Day! Whatcha doin today?

This morning I woke up at 6am which is a regular wake-up time for school term to discover 4 roses in a glass bottle on the computer table. Well, one of the roses is wilted but it's okay. Yay, as much as hubs doesn't believe in the Valentine's Day thingy, he decides it's better to give than not to give.

As for me, I gave him nothing because he doesn't need a gift from me to feel loved. That's the difference between him and me. I need the stuff, the gestures.

Since today is a day to indulge, I gave myself a little present as well. It's a piece of embroidered art. The embroidery is done by someone from China and these pieces of art are being sold in Singapore over the Chinese New Year period so it's kinda once a year thing. I really love the embroidery. It's so cheerful and gorgeous.

Here's a closer look.

Later, I'm eating a lot of chocolates. Are you joining me? I hope you have a nice day today, whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

10 songs to avoid on Valentine's Day


This year, Valentine's Day falls on the exact same day as the Chinese Valentine's Day. It is one of those things that happen once in a while. More than 240 couples have chosen to get married this 14th Feb in Singapore. Yes, it's sweet. But it'll also be very crowded at the Registry of Marriages. I heard there will be free ice-cream and pop-corn... When hubs and I got married 19 years ago (wah, so long), we deliberately chose a date that most people did not want. We do not like crowds. As such, there wasn't any free ice-cream and of course no pop-corn. The ice-cream would have been nice because as I recall, the day we got married was the hottest day in decades. (I almost want to say centuries but I know it's not possible)

Whether you buy into Valentine's Day or not, it's a day when many people choose to show quite visibly their love for their partners. The big bouquets of flowers, the nicely wrapped chocolates, the nice meals at a restaurant... Gosh, I'm feeling faint even as I type these words. So if you're not quite so happy in the love department, it's best you AVOID listening to certain songs on Valentine's Day. I've done the work for you and picked out the 10 songs I feel strongly you should avoid as these are guaranteed to make you weep. As for me, I won't be weeping because hubs has promised to get me a present. He said I told him to do it. Wow, somewhere in my previous timeline, a clever "past Jane" had the foresight to tell "future Jane" what to do to avoid a Valentine's Day catastrophe. I hope hubs has a clever "past hubs" who had the foresight to tell "future hubs" not to get his wife kitchenware, CD, DVD, stationery or books. These are stuff she can get herself, hello!

Well, without further hinting to hubs, let's look at the 10 songs to avoid on Valentine's Day.

1. 25 mins by Michael Learns to rock (Listen here)
Michael learns to rock was big in Singapore. I actually had a friend whose life mimicked 25mins, sort of. In the song, a guy took too long to realise the girl he had was THE ONE. He tried searching for her but was 25 mins too late as she had gotten married. I guess she really wanted the slow guy as well!
She looked so happy in her wedding dress
But she cried while she was saying this

Boy I missed your kisses all the time but
This is twenty five minutes too late

Now back to my friend. (I hope he doesn't read my blog) Anyhoos, a girl he knew had let him know one day before her wedding that she was into him and the implication is that if he was into her as well, he had the power to stop the wedding. And that was the dilemma. What should he do? Yes, he had feelings for her as well but is that enough reason to stop a wedding? My friend did the worst thing possible. He asked me for advice. I am the worst person to go to for relationships advice. I would never encourage a friend to break up someone's wedding. I know it's not all on me. My friend didn't have the courage to stop the wedding. The following day, while the wedding was taking place a short distance away from our office (yes, the Registry of Marriages was close to where we worked), and my friend was going through some terrible heartbreak, someone at the office played the song, 25 mins.

2. Don't fall in love with a dreamer by Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes. (Listen here)
I included this song not so much because it's a tear jerker but what the song says.
Don't fall in love with a dreamer
Because he'll always take you in
Just when you think
You've really changed him
He'll leave you again
Don't fall in love with a dreamer
Because he'll break you every time

So put out the light and just hold on
Before we say goodbye

Just when you think you've changed him, off he goes again. This is the kind of guy you want to avoid.

p.s. Don't you love it when Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes hemorrhage vocally together?

3. Chasing Pavements by Adele (Listen here)
Originally I had chosen Make you feel my love by Adele but between the two, I thought Chasing Pavements painted a woman far, far more pathetic in a relationship that was going nowhere.

Or should I give up
Or should I just keep chasin' pavements
Even if it leads nowhere
Or would it be a waste
Even if I knew my place
Should I leave it there
I think at one point or other in our lives, we've all chased pavements that led nowhere. The trick is to know when to stop chasing them. And the day you know you have to stop is going to be a really painful day.

4.  Sometimes love just ain't enough by Patty Smyth and Don Henley. (Listen here)

And there's a danger in loving somebody too much,
and it's sad when you know it's your heart they can't touch.
There's a reason why people don't stay who they are.
Baby, sometimes, love just ain't enough

It's true. Love isn't always enough. The Universe has to want you both together.

5. Down on my knees by Tricia Yearwood. (Listen here)

In this song, the woman hasn't lost her love yet. It's still good, I think. But she knows how much she loves her guy. So much that if she starts to lose her guy, she's willing to go down on her knees to beg him to stay.

Now this is a question my bff and I played when we were still single. Like if your guy wants to leave, what would you do? Would you keep your pride or would you beg?

No one matters more in my life
Or makes me feel like you make me feel inside
And I've come far enough to know
Love's worth never letting go of
And love is not a matter of pride

I'd be down on my knees
Ready to pray, darlin'
Down on my knees
Whatever it takes
I'd be begging you please
Don't take your love from me
I'd be down on my knees
 I think if a love is worth saving, I will beg.

6. Is it over yet by Wynonna (Listen here)

What's worse than a break-up is to watch your love leave the home you shared?

A taxi's waiting in the driveway for you
You call my name, I guess you're ready to leave
I'd like to help you with a suitcase or two
But I'm afraid I'm gonna wind up down on my knees

I should tell you that I want you to go
I really need to spend some time on my own
Smile and say goodbye
So you don't see me dying inside
Is it over yet, is it over yet?
 I'm tearing up as I listen to the song while I type. Is it over yet?

7. Let me let go by Faith Hill. (Listen here)

You know what isn't right? When the relationship is over, the guy has moved on and you are still holding on. Still pining. Still hooked.

I talked to you the other day
Looks like you made your escape
You put us behind, no matter how I try
I can't do the same
Let me let go, baby
Let me let go
It just isn't right
I've been two thousand miles
Down a dead-end road
8. I will always love you by Whitney Houston. (Listen here)

It's the way she sang it.

9. What's she doing now by Garth Brooks. (Listen here)

Ever wonder what your old love is doing, years later? Ever google an old boyfriend's name? Ever facebook stalk him?

Well, this song was written before the internet became mainstream and facebook was still not invented. Back in the days, you could only wonder wistfully and wonder and maybe dial his phone number and not say anything.

'Cause what she's doin' now is tearin' me apart
Fillin' up my mind and emptyin' my heart
I can hear her call each time the cold wind blows
And I wonder if she knows...what she's doin' now
10. Angel by Sarah McLachlan (Listen here)

Don't listen to this song. Ever. You will end up crying not just the regular amount of crying but ugly, ugly crying. Snot flying, nose blocked up, face puffy. And you don't even have to suffer from heartbreak to be affected. Even if you feel just a little down, it'll get you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

January 2014 giveaway winner

Hey guys,

My January 2014 giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated. I noticed that most people who took part - you want fabric purchasing a legit part of your job!

Without further ado, the winner of my little pouch is:

It's Maria! And she thinks my drawstring pouch is adorable. (thank you) Congratulations Maria. I hope you like the pouch and I shall post it to you as soon as I get your shipping address.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to resize templates in a PDF for printing using Adobe Reader XI

Sometimes I want to print templates from a PDF and I want it to be of a different size. Adobe Reader XI does a decent job of reducing/enlarging templates. It can't give you a very precise reduction/enlargement but the result is quite close. Note that in previous versions of Adobe Reader, the print options may be different.

Here's a little how-to on how I enlarge/reduce templates from a PDF using Adobe Reader XI.

First, you need to know the % to enlarge or reduce.
To figure that out, you need 2 numbers - the width/height of the original template and the new width/height.
You can use either the width or the height but you must be consistent.

My formula is (a ÷ b) X 100%

a) To Enlarge - In the example below, I want to enlarge a 2" heart to a 5" heart.

Here is a 2" heart and a 5" star you can download. After downloading, open it in Adobe Reader XI so you can use it to try out the exercises below.

The Print options defaults to the last option you used. If you use a PDF created by me, to print at 100%, Select "Size" tab and click on "Actual Size".

To print at a custom scale which is kept to one page, click on Custom Scale, type in the percentage you want to enlarge/reduce and press "Tab" on your keyboard. Below, I have entered 250% (which I have calculated before) and that has enlarged my heart to roughly 5" wide.

b) To Reduce - In the example below, I want to reduce a 5" star to a 2" star.

In the example below, to reduce my star by 40%, I have clicked on Custom Scale, typed in 40 and tabbed away.

c) What happens when your new image goes beyond one page? In the example below, you can see this happening.

The solution is to use Poster option.

The Poster option is not very smart and you'll end up printing empty pages. Plus you need to assemble the image together using the "cut marks" and "labels". (Labels aren't important if your image is simple and easy to figure out)

Lastly, a word on previous versions of Adobe Reader.
Adobe Reader X does not have a "Custom Scale" in the Size option. You can enlarge or reduce using the Poster option.

In Adobe Reader 9 and before, the print options are totally different and I honestly can't remember what they are but you might be able to scale using the tiling options. Look for "%" - that's usually where you get to input your sizing.

Adobe Reader is a free software and you can download it here.
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