Thursday, May 31, 2018

What May Made

Hi guys,

It's unbelievable but here we are on the last day of May. Times flies when you're not paying attention.  How was May for you? May in Singapore was full of heat and rain and then more rain. It felt like I didn't do much but I was busy every single day. A friend asked me recently if I feel bored staying home most of the time but I can honestly say I'm rarely bored. I guess I always have a To Do list that seems endless so I'm frequently in a crossing another item off the list mode. I think having so many hobbies help.

I did a ton of sewing. In fact I sew every day. But they're not like finished products. Mostly playing around with bag designs. I haven't been active on Instagram for #yearofmaking2018. I kinda forget to take pics of what I do. Also #wip pics just don't appeal to me. Hopefully in June, I'll get cracking again.

So these were made in May...
The Cleo skirt.

And Girl's Sling Bag pattern now available in my Etsy and Craftsy shop. Hey, thanks to the reader who pointed out my spelling error: It's sling, not sing.

Yep. That's it. Does bread count? I started baking bread again. And looking to bake other stuff too. This time I'll be more disciplined and try not to eat too much of my own bakes. I have slimmed down a little bit - the shoulders, wrist, boobs, some parts of my legs and my hips. The tummy is still hanging on for dear life. Do you remember the Ikea Curtain blouse I made last year? I can wear it but it feels like certain part of my upper body has broadened from all the exercising I've been doing.

The exercise bit - I think I did very well in May. The swimming and fitness session at Fitness Bravo still going strong. But the running might have come to an end. I did a Star Wars run and that was it. When I tried to go for a run later, my left leg gave out. It's very weird. I'm taking a break from running to let it recover. It's really frustrating. Age is slowly shutting down different bits of my organs.

With our personal trainer, Mindy who's also my niece
By the way, I cut my hair shorter and my hair stylist said covering my white hair is a losing battle so instead she used a ammonia based lotion to strip my hair of previous hair dye so I can go au naturale. The first time I saw all my white hair uncovered, I ran screaming from the mirror. After a few weeks, I've now grown accustomed to it. I don't know about other people though. I think I look at least 5 years older. You probably can't see my white hair in the photo thanks to the lightning but trust me, they're all over. On the bright side, I get offered seats on the train. And of course I can stop covering up the dem white hair every month. What a pain, right? Do you think this au naturale phase will last or will I cave in the minute someone says: Wah, you look so old. I wonder which relative will be the first to say it to me?

I look like a boy from the back! Hubs loves my short hair.

In case you're wondering what in the world I'm doing holding a ball, me and hubs went to attend a Fitness Bravo anniversary party. Of course we're such country bumpkins expecting to sit around, eat and drink. A gym party involves physical activity.

Such as this.

And this.

It was fun. Very different kind of fun for us.  See you in June.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Girl's Sling Bag Pattern

When my daughter was in kindy (a long time ago), I made a version of this sling bag for her. It is an easy beginner friendly bag pattern. Someone new to bag making would be able to make this bag, I believe. My daughter is too big to model this bag now so poor Bear has to do it.

The pattern is fairly easy. You can choose a flat bottom or one with rounded corners. Also, make it with a contrast fabric for the flap or use the same fabric throughout.

And in case you're wondering, for the flaps, I used Zig fabric pens to colour the houses and trees. It was fun! To read the nitty gritty details check out my listing in my shop.

Pattern available in my Craftsy and Etsy shop now. Or buy off my blog by clicking on the Buy Now button below. First time buyer from my blog please read my faq. Ecommerce provided by payhip.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Kopitiam Bread

I haven't baked much this year mostly because I gained a lot of weight last year and I believe eating all my bakes contributed a fair bit. So I was quite scared of baking. Recently my love for baking bread was rekindled. Just like getting back with an old boyfriend, the first bake (date) was a bit nerve wracking. You never know how it'll turn out.

For my first bake, I chose to make a Kopitiam Bread (coffeeshop bread). I'm in this fb group (Bake the Talk - it's a closed group) and I noticed many people baking it. It was started by a guy named Barry Apek and according to him, it was a Hylam (Hainanese) bread recipe. That sparked my interest because hubs is a Hylam nang (Hainanese person) and I'll bet he has never eaten a Hylam bread before.

So I can't post a link to the bread recipe because it's a closed group. But it's quite similar to this recipe except for the recipe I used, it called for 325g of bread flour. Which is a very odd number to use if you think about it...

I used Japanese bread flour only because it was expiring. I believe any bread flour will work. I also substituted butter for shortening. I used my Kenwood machine to knead the dough for exactly 10min. The dough came together very cleanly - nothing left on the mixer bowl.

Here's the dough right after kneading and ready for bulk fermentation. It looked so well!

Here's the dough after 1 hour bulk fermentation. I think the photo does not show the size well. The dough got bigger. I felt it was ready.

For curiosity, I weighed the dough - 576g.

I used my 8" X 4.5" X 4" pullman tin. Here's where I made a mistake. I covered the tin with the lid even though I intended to bake the dough without the lid. Thing is, I was also making dinner for my son at the same time and I lost track of time. By the time I remembered to remove the lid from the pullman tin, it was too late. The dough had reached the top of the lid and no matter how much I pulled, it wouldn't come loose. So I decided to bake with the lid on after all but guess what? Now I can't close the lid properly because some dough had escaped. So I baked with the lid 99% closed at 190 deg C for 50min. The last 10 min, I forced the lid open and baked the loaf without the tin because I like my bread brown. When I took the bread out of the oven, I knew it was a winner because of two things - one, the smell was so lovely, two, the bread was light.

I left the bread to cool and did not cut it until the following day. Usually for sandwich bread, the recipe would ask you to punch out the bubbles but I don't do that. At most I would pat it down like searching for weapons. As a result you can see some air pockets here and there. I do pinch out the big bubbles because those are nasty. I managed to get 12 slices out of the loaf. The bread isn't as yellow as in the images - more like very pale yellow.

Despite my tug of war with the dough, the loaf came out quite nice.

Here you can see some damage. But dough is so forgiving!

Yesterday we had the entire loaf for lunch.
This is my son's luncheon meat sandwiches.

This is my daughter's bacon sandwich.

This is my sandwich. I've stayed away from luncheon meat for quite a while.

This one's hub's. Don't worry. He was wearing shorts.

I'm very pleased with this bread. I'll probably use this recipe again when I need a loaf of bread for the family. I was still curious about the Hainanese role in this recipe. So I did some research but came up with nothing. Then I converted the recipe to percentage and that's when it hit me. Based on the percentages, this Kopitiam Bread recipe is a classic textbook sandwich bread recipe. Like if you were to go to a baking school in Singapore to learn to bake bread, the basic sandwich bread you learn would be this Kopitiam bread. Mystery solved!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Star Wars Run 2018

I remember I swore not to do any more organised runs this year. Through some mysterious force (pun, geddit?), I found myself signed up for Star Wars Run 2018 on 5th May. It's a night run so no waking up early in the morning which I hate so much. It's a night run so it's dark which is not so pleasant. Hubs did the 10km run and I did the 5.4km run. As you know, I no longer do 10km run because it's really bad for my neck and spine. So we went separately because his run started at 5pm while mine was 7:30pm. You know what that means? Hub's isn't a night run because it started so early.

This year my daughter joined us. It's her second organised run! She dragged her friend along. Guess which one is my daughter.

Last year's Star Wars Run had all the bells and whistles - stuffed toy and a fabulous fireworks. This year's run was more stingy - a useless plastic mat and a free cushion if you are early birds for the run pack collection. We got our free cushions.

We also got our fireworks. Not as spectacular as last years but a fireworks is a fireworks. Not for the 10km runners though because as their run was at 5pm, so there were no fireworks. So basically, the 10km run is pretty much a normal run. Nothing Star Warsy.

This year, the organiser was a little creative - there were two separate routes. One for Light Side and one for Dark Side. Oh yah, it's a thing for Star Wars fans. Choosing sides. I always get dumped with the Light Side. Hubs and my daughter chose the Dark Side. My running tee is blue while theirs is maroon.

Crazy hubs finished his run and accompanied me on my 5.4km run. My daughter and her friend somehow ended up in the 8:30pm wave.

The Light Side had a tent which had some psychedelic thingy going on.

It was a scenic route - if you could see. The usual Marina Bay, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore Flyer route. We ran past a eating place and the smell of satay being grilled was so incredible. I was starving.

When I saw the finish line, I sprinted for it. Unnecessarily. I mean, my pace throughout was so slow it didn't matter.


Nowadays, I'm grateful to be able to finish a run without walking.

This year I made sure I was given the correct medal.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cleo Skirt

So yesterday I was looking at this skirt in my hideous yellow bed sheet and decided it's time to make the skirt in the fabric I had chosen.

My selected fabric is Hoodie's Collection "Alien Friends" for Timeless Treasures Fabrics. If you know me in real life, you'll know I wear a lot of dark colours. Black and white, not so much though. The print is a little kindy which is how I like it... Also, I have 2 meters worth of it. I didn't use all 2 meters. There's quite a fair amount left.

Anyway, I was committed to finishing it last night so I worked on the skirt on and off in between doing the laundry, watching Korean drama and cooking dinner.

Before I talked about sewing the skirt let me tell you why I don't like to make clothes. It's the patterns. If it's a pdf, you have to print and tape together a nightmarish number of pages. If it's a paper pattern, I hate the tissue paper it comes in. Never stays flat.

For the Cleo Skirt, by Made By Rae by the way, the pdf had 42 pages. I only printed the patterns which came to 32 pages. The page number on the pdf does not correspond to the page number on the pattern. So if you're printing by the page number, watch out. For pattern page 9 to 29, after trying to tape the pieces together, I realised my patterns couldn't match up. So I reprinted a few pieces. Still not matching up. In the end, I took out all the tape and taped backwards, i.e. starting from right to left instead of left to right. Guess what? It matched except for the very first piece which could never match due to dunno what. By then I was exhausted. It took me 2 nights to tape all the pieces together. Later when I looked at the patterns carefully, I realised they were mostly rectangles except for the pocket area. I kinda wished the dimensions of the rectangles were provided for people like me. Then I wouldn't have to waste so much paper and ink.

I made the muslin in March and I chose size M. I thought that was the correct size for moi based on the measurements provided but when I tried it on, it was too large. Anyway, the correct size for me is XS. Believe me, I've never won anything sized XS before so I was not taking any chances. I modified my muslin waistband to XS and it fitted me. I guess American XS is not the same as Singapore XS.

Cleo Skirt is not difficult to sew. It's quite basic. In fact, when I attended sewing school millions of years ago, the very first skirt I had to draft and sew was a Cleo Skirt - sew two rectangular pieces of fabric together and install elastic to cinch the waist. But of course, Cleo Skirt has 2 very nice pockets which were the reasons I wanted to make the skirt. When I buy skirts, I always look for pockets but they usually don't come with pockets or with very bad pockets.

I have been practicing on my serger and by some fluke, I accidentally turned some knob and my serger cuts 1/8" off when I serge which is exactly how I want it. Sometimes the Universe is on my side...

This photo doesn't do the serging justice. I serged everything. Honestly, sewing with a serger is such a luxury. Hubs said the inside of the skirt looks very professional.

I sewed view A minus the contrast hem. I think I may have lengthened the hemline. My final skirt length is about 19".

I used Birch shirring elastic which worked but they were a bitch to remove. Of course I could leave them behind but...

The pattern calls for a 1.25" wide elastic. I went to Spotlight to get some and there were 3 kinds of elastic - loom, braided and knitted. Loom cost an arm and a leg. Knitted was the cheapest so I bought some. When I installed the elastic in the skirt, it kept twisting up no matter what I did. It was so frustrating. Finally, I used the very cheap 1" wide elastic I already have in my stash. Worked perfectly. Sometimes...

Other than the hemline, the only other alteration I made was to widen and deepen the pocket. Otherwise, I followed the pattern.

Just now before hubs went to work, he took some pics of me in the skirt. Want to see?

Is it over?
It's over!

Overall, the skirt is all right. Beginner skills, easy to sew. Design wise, due to all the gathers in front plus it sits at the waist, I feel (imho) it's not suitable for women with big tummy. I don't exactly have a huge tummy but I already feel quite conscious I'll look pregnant. The back for me is the opposite - a bit too flat. Remember when I made the muslin I made it for size M and when I corrected the waistband to XS, I did not modify the muslin body to XS because I was lazy. Actually if I had made this skirt using XS Waistband but M Back, it might have turned out more balanced. I also like my skirts to have a bit of curve swooping down from the side. But sewing two rectangles together isn't going to get you any curves. Will I make another Cleo skirt? Nah, one is enough. But I will make another skirt with pockets, that's for sure.

p.s. I'm tanned because I had just been to the pool to swim and it was hot, hot, hot.
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