Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Say Hello to my new pattern - Jane's Basic Clutch

It's been a long time since my last pattern. I'm very excited to introduce to you Jane's Basic Clutch PDF sewing pattern.

I started work on Jane's Basic Clutch a long time ago but only managed to push myself to complete it in Feb 2015. My confession: I have many, many WIP patterns in my desktop. Some of them, I'll probably never complete.

Anyway, Jane's Basic Cutch is another pattern I made catering to beginners. I feel for beginners because I still remember when I first started making bags in 2007, I spent so much time trying this and that and no doubt the experimentations helped shape my bag making skills; still I felt it took up a lot of time. And with everyone leading busy lives, time is a limited commodity.

For Jane's Basic Clutch, I chose a simple shape but there's enough challenge in this little clutch for beginners to learn a thing or two.

I have cut the pattern such that sewers can use different fabric for the flap, front and back. For my version, I have made the back the same fabric as the flap. When I showed the clutch to my son, he said, "Oh, the back is a surprise!"

I've kept the inside simple as well - just one patch pocket and this pattern comes in ONE SIZE only.

You can buy this pattern from my Etsy shop.

Maria from Mia's Creation tested this pattern for me. Here's her version. Notice she made the back and front out of the same fabric while the flap is a fabulous bird print. This is a more "conventional" approach. Thanks Maria!

Suzee of Applehead Threads also tested the pattern for me. Here's her version. She followed my version of the clutch and used the same fabric for the flap and the back. She used a hidden magnetic snap if you're wondering about that.

I think both Maria's and Suzee's versions are lovely. Thank you ladies. I hope sewists/sewers wanting to try bag making will like Jane's Basic Clutch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Cat And Its Moiré

After years of trying to improve my drawing skills, I have come to enjoy my childish drawings. Yes, it is indeed I who drew the cat, not my kids.

The cat applique is done using needle turn technique. Needle turning is such a pain, isn't it? I ironed freezer paper of the cat outline on top of the fabric as a guide.

I tried to add an interesting embroidery detail except I'm not sure if anyone can see what it is. (It's a fish bone.) This collage is a 6" block. I have no idea what I'll do with it. I have this idea in my head where I'll make lots of 6" blocks and when I have enough I'll put them together. The idea sounds good in my head but the lazy part of me is screaming, "don't do it!"

Also, photographing fabric is hellish with my camera. The fabric gives off a wavy thingy. It's called moiré.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The 3 hour 10 Min Queue


One thing about me and hubs. We don't queue. Okay, maybe 20 minutes tops but it can't be for something frivilous like food or toy or free newspaper. Second thing about us. We don't queue in the sun for hours. Especially for me. Being prone to migraine and headaches, standing under the sun is a no-no.

We had read in news reports that the public could pay their respect to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whose body is lying in state in the Parliament House from Wednesday to Saturday. There was a overwhelming response on Wednesday and there were reports that some people waited for 8 hours. I told myself 8 hours was not something I could do. I mean I'm no spring chicken anymore. I do 1 hour of cardiomix and I need to sleep for 3 hours to regain my energy.

Thursday noon hubs announced he wanted to go and queue. He had read some updates that the waiting time had been greatly reduced. I thought he had gone completely mad because hubs literally never queues. Then I heard myself saying, "I'll go with you." And that was that. No turning back. Well, actually, there were many opportunities for turning back.

We took the train to city hall and saw a sign that indicated where we should go. There were loads of people. You pretty much get pushed along. We exit the train station right in front of Capitol building, next to the church and the first thing we saw was this little girl holding a sign, "Queue starts here". Hubs immediately jumped right in and I joined him.

Queuing with us was a group of navy boys and the little girl who had the most difficult job of controlling the queue was asking if the navy boys were sent to help her manage the crowd. As she was speaking to the boys, people continued to join the queue and honestly there wasn't much floor space for her to play with. There was construction and a bus-stop in the way and at most she could form two loops of queue. Pretty soon, I expected the people in the station would not be able to exit the station anymore. The boys told her they were in the queue to pay their respects to Lee Kuan Yew and the girl sadly walked to the end of the queue to carry on with her heavy responsibility. Poor thing. I really felt sorry for her.

I had read in the updates that the queue starts in The Padang. (field) That the queue starts at city hall meant only one thing. There was a massive queue in front of us. We were not even close to the padang.

Here we are still looking fresh. It's been 5 mins in the queue. Then I noticed one couple left the queue. Already? I started to feel afraid.

I looked at the people we were standing closest to. I thought it was important to recognise them. The navy boys were easy to spot.

These ladies as well. There was an old guy with a killer umbrella and I mean capable of inflicting injury. (he left after 1.5 hours) There was a bunch of young guys in front and I grew to like them because they have a kick ass huge umbrella which I benefited from.  Plus a female execute in her office jacket. It took a lot of willpower not to tell her to "take off your jacket lady."

At this point, I want to show you the map of where we are heading. See the blue dotted line? That's my queue. But as I experienced it, this is a very simplified map. See, we started at City Hall and made a huge loop before we even entered the padang where the start of the blue dotted line is.

Swissotel, The Stamford.

Close to Recreation Club

Once we went past the war memorial, we used the Esplanade underpass to cross the road. At some point, we went past some toilets but neither of us needed to go. The queue was very orderly. Everyone tried to keep up and somehow we always stayed with the people I recognised. Along the route, there were many, many officers standing by, to direct or to answer queries. So far our goal was to reach The Padang.

It took us exactly 45min to enter The Padang. Volunteers were handing out cakes, sweets, water and umbrellas.
I took the cake from this volunteer just in case. Hubs and I kind of came not so prepared. We brought our own water but that was it. No wet ones, no large hats, no sun block, no food.

The cake turned out to be from BreadTalk which had pulled a tribute bun to Lee Kuan Yew from sale after negative feedback. It was a bun with a bad pun. I read that the bad pun bun contained coconut so eating it would give me a 5 day migraine.

This is The Padang. It's a huge field with a magnificent view of the central business district. It is also not sheltered. Well, there were small tents erected throughout but take a look at the heat. Take a good look. I took this photo at 3pm. The sun was blistering hot. It was dazzling bright. Occasionally I thought I lost my vision. Hubs was drenched. I was slowly dying.

And I wore black. Well, a lot of people wore black. Waiting in The Padang was the hardest part. Mainly because of the heat. The queue barely moved. Also we had no idea how long the queue was and where our queue was heading. We noticed that in the padang, there were two queues. Our queue and another one very close to ours but separated by the barricades. Hubs and I started talking crazy. Hubs speculated that we would leave the padang, loop somewhere and come back to the padang to join the other queue. That got me really depressed because the other queue was massive and seemed ever larger than my queue. Still, I was determined to carry on queuing. I was committed.

Then hubs told me he needed to go to the toilet bad. Usually that meant explosive diarrhea. I asked him specifically what he needed to do at the toilet. When he said he needed to pee on account of all the water we had been drinking, I told him to hang on because I was confident there would be another toilet along the way. Anyway, we were deep in the queue and leaving would be logistically hard. Plus I wasn't going to give up for a pee. Maybe if he had fainted.

And someone did faint attended to by hub's navy friend. When the woman was carried out in the stretcher, I immediately heard the people around me speculating that the woman hadn't taken enough water. I was careful to sip water constantly.

At 4:10pm, we left the padang. We had been in the padang for 1hour 10 min. Much to hub's relief, there were toilets along the way. We walked along quite fast, all the while wondering if we were going to loop back to the padang.

Once we hit the Singapore river, we knew we would not go back to the padang. I was so relieved and at the same time very confused. Clearly the people in the other queue had been in the padang for a much longer time than us. I wondered if they were in the priority queue which would make no sense.

Finally we reached the white tent. There were many air coolers so it wasn't hot anymore. Also there were television sets along the way to keep us entertained.

An officer handed out cards for us to write something and there were boxes for us to put the cards in. Some people in the queue brought flowers and the soldiers standing guard asked to take the flowers away. I'm guessing you can't bring flowers into Parliament House.

A lady tried to return her "loaned" umbrella to an officer but he told her to keep it. Then I noticed that there were places for you to return the umbrellas.

We walked past some scanners which I assume scan for body temperature. The organisers really thought of everything! I guess Singapore will never forget SARS. But the scanners weren't in use.

See the numbers on the fixtures? These are to scan our bags. We had to put our phones and bags on a basket like in the airport. I was also asked if I had a laptop or ipad. I didn't and I wondered what would happen if I had one.

Once we were cleared to leave the white tent, the queue moved really fast. Here we were right outside the Parliament House. Suddenly everyone started taking photos.

Once we entered Parliament House, we had to stop taking photos. I noticed there were two queues. My queue was the main queue. There was another entrance where officers let in a few people from the priority queue.

This photo (cna) is a good indication of what we saw. You get a few seconds to do your thing - say your prayer, bow and then you have to move along. There were a few people who were quite stubborn and stayed a bit longer. Honestly with the massive crowd still waiting in the queue, it was the right thing to do to make everyone hurry along. 

It took us 3 hours 10 minutes in total. I'm really glad I went. I guess only Lee Kuan Yew could motivate me to stand under the hot sun for 3 hours 10 minutes.

Generally the mood of the people we queued with was upbeat. Everyone had one purpose. Well, two purposes. First to reach the padang. Second to reach Parliament House. No one scuffled. No one complained. Everyone just tried to bear with the heat and passed the time with conversations. The queuing was surprisingly not impossible.

After we left Parliament House, we saw the extremely long priority queue which was barely moving. I felt really sorry for the people especially the handicapped and moms with babies. I think the priority queue has far too many people. (This evening I read that a new express queue has been created for the handicapped and people with prams.)

Today even more people have joined the queue. I read that the waiting time was 10 hours. People are advised not to join the queue. I think hubs and I were very lucky we went yesterday. I mean compared to 10 hours, 3 hours 10 minutes is nothing. Oh, I never got sick yesterday. No migraine, no headache. How about that?

You can read hub's version here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew


Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 91, the first Prime Minister of Singapore died on Monday 23rd March 2015, 3:18am. He had been warded at the Singapore General Hospital for severe pneumonia since Feb 5. There will be a 7 day mourning from Monday to Sunday.

Mr Lee was the prime minister of independent Singapore from 1965 to 1990. His eldest son is now the current prime minister.

If you've never heard of Lee Kuan Yew, what I can tell you are these: He was a great man. Much feared, but respected. He helped make Singapore what it is today. He also loved his wife very much.

I first heard of Lee Kuan Yew in 1972. We were living in a kampong (village) and my mother told me she had to make a decision about who to vote for - PAP or Barisan Socialis. Lee Kuan Yew headed the PAP while Barisan Socialis was formed by left-wing ex-members of PAP. Back then, politicians had to go in their pick-ups/lorries with their loudspeaker to get to the voters. My mother went to have a look when the politicians arrived. I was too young to understand what was going on. But I could see how excited my mother was. I don't remember who my mother voted for. She probably followed whatever my aunt did. Anyway, PAP won the 1972 election. In fact, PAP has been the ruling party of Singapore since 1959.

Lee Kuan Yew favoured English as the working language in Singapore and that is why Singapore schools use English as the medium of instruction. He also made bilingualism compulsory in schools which made people like me suffer. I had very hard feelings towards bilingualism policy for a long time due to my inadequate command of Chinese. But over the years, the bilingualism policy has been tweaked to be kinder especially in tertiary education entry criteria so I am over it.

Rest in peace, Mr Lee. May you meet your wife in the afterlife.

Friday, March 20, 2015

DIY - Zipper pull decoration #1

Sometimes I like to put a decoration on my zipper pull. When I was making zip pouches regularly for sale at craft markets, I rarely put any decorations on zipper pulls. This was because it's hard to predict what turns people off. I still remember my early days of selling at craft market. One lady asked me to cut off the zipper pull decoration because SHE HATED IT. Well, since she paid for it, she's entitled to do whatever she wants. (But couldn't she quietly cut it off herself at home?) There were other occasions when customers would say things like, "oh, I would buy the zip pouch except for the THING on the zipper." At this point of the story, you probably think I must be pretty bad at zipper pull decorations and should stop making them. Well, I actually never thought that at all. But it did occur to me that I did not have a clue what kind of zipper pull decorations people like. And that's why I stopped putting decorations on zipper pulls of items I make for sale.

And I still don't have a clue. But if the item is for myself, then of course I get the privilege of deciding what kind of decoration goes with my zip pouch. I think that's the best benefit of being a MAKER.

For this simple blue and white polka dot zipper pouch, I added an orange tassel for a pop of colour.

Here's how you make a tassel for a zipper pull.

jump ring or split ring
thread for the tassel
thread to bind tassel
small amount of stock card

Step 1: To get a tassel around 2.25" long, cut a piece of stock card 2.5" tall.

Step 2: Wind your tassel thread round the stock card. Count each round as going from the top round the back, up the front to the top again. For my tassel, I made 20 rounds. You can make more rounds if you like.

Step 3: Cut the threads at the bottom of the stock card.

Step 4: Carefully place thread through split ring/jump ring.

Step 5: We want the ring to sit right in the middle.

Step 6: You need around 18" of thread for securing the tassel. Here I'm showing how to place the tail and the loop because this is going to help hide your threads later on. The working thread is the part of the thread you use to wind round the tassel.

Step 7: Now you need to wind the working thread over the loop and tassel. You need to keep the tail and loop out of the way. Try not to wind the thread over the same position over and over or you will get a bulky mess.

Step 8: When you're satisfied with how the tassel looks, put your working thread through the loop.

Step 9: Pull on the tail and it will bury the loop inside the thread. I would also pull on the tail and working thread at the same time just to make sure everything is secure. Snip off the tail and working thread as close to the binding as possible. Trim the ends of tassel until you are happy with it.

And you have a zipper pull decoration. What do you think? Is this something you will make for your zippers?
Partaying with Sew Many Ways

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DIY - How to get away with never having to feed your goldfish

We live in a pet-free home. Over the years we have tried keeping pets like fish and terrapins but we never succeeded in keeping them alive for long. Recently, my son became interested in a cat which roams his school and talks about him sometimes. But when I asked if we should get a cat, both my kids screamed out, "No!". I think they know what kind of horrible pet owners we are. We can barely keep our newspaper recycling thing sorted out. It's a wise decision.

Last Christmas I visited momshoo at public garden market and I saw my chance to finally have a pet. They were selling these knitted goldfish kit and I asked myself what's the worse that can happen?

The kit comes with lots of coloured pebbles.

And of course a goldfish.

Unfortunately I didn't have a jar. At first I waited to finish my pasta sauce. But I kept forgetting and throwing the jars away. Or maybe I was too disgusted with the idea of washing the jars... A few days ago, I saw clean, empty jars for sale at typo. I literally screamed. I never knew you could buy such jars from a shop. Somehow I thought you have to buy at least a crate's worth.

I got an insane amount of delight just putting the pebbles in the jar.

The goldfish is in the jar! The goldfish is in the jar!

The goldfish seems to be adjusting well.

I only wish I have a blue or turquoise or teal pom pom.

Momshoo sells the knitted goldfish in her Etsy shop but it doesn't come with the pebbles or jar. Here.

As expected, Bear threw a fit.

Followed by a long spell of staring.

More staring.

OMG. You know, one of these days...

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