Thursday, 1 October 2015

Hanging: Some Shanghai Bloggers Events

September has been beautiful and busy here in Shanghai. Lots of events, people in town visiting and it felt like Design Week, Photography Week, Art Week, Fashion Week (and so on) was all at once! My evenings were so full up and it was really great meeting people outside of my usual social circles. I love hearing people's stories! As always, people with different cultures & nationalities are in Shanghai, so over the space of a week, I was hanging with Mexicans (my girls!), eavesdropping on two Danish women from different backgrounds (one Chinese Danish!) and giggling with Chinese Australians while talking about kite surfing with a New Zealander! And that was just one day.

This year, I joined the Shanghai Blogging Society with their newly launched App (now with about 50 bloggers, but we started with 20) and I feel instantly connected to a bunch of new people and great ideas. If not for blogging, I’d not have met Line, nor Marta, nor Sandra this year or been involved in these different (and new to me) events.

Shanghai has SO much potential: for networking, for ideas, for entrepreneurial things, it’s actually dazzling how much is on offer here. I knew it’d be a bustling city (with 24 million people living in the city, you’d expect so!) but I am surprised how generous, friendly and warm people are… from local Chinese through to international business people. And I can’t honestly imagine a place where I’d be talking with people from all walks of life, from all levels of society, and from so many different parts of the world. As a sewing blogger, I do tend to read mostly sewing blogs… but when I need particular things I go on the hunt for new blog genres… from food and cooking, to fashion, to travel ideas. And being in a new city, I spend a bit of time googling & bing-ing (when the VPN doesn’t work as well) Shanghai and ‘Where to buy/find’ type topics.

So when there are blogging events on, I try to get to them! So great chatting about life in Shanghai with other people face to face!

The first event pictured above was A Fashionista Dinner, held through the new ‘MEET’ function of the very awesome Bon App! app (a generously planned out - great for taxi hopping around Shanghai - restaurant/foodie app) where anyone can join public dinners and meet new people. It’s a must for anyone new to Shanghai! Line from Shanghai Bloggers (pictured with me in my maxi dress) hosted the event with Sandra from Style by Asia and I was a co-host representing the bloggers of Shanghai… it was easily the best co-host event for me because I love talking with people and it was a popular event, a full house! The event was at a very gorgeous place just back from the bund called Light & Salt, and it was a fantastic vegetarian meal especially mapped out us veggie types!

Shanghai Bloggers & Style By Asia next organised a panel discussion on creativity, and a bunch of the Shanghai Bloggers came along to the Hay Concept Store in Shanghai… it was pretty interesting to hear about creativity in China but also how designers have adapted to the Chinese demands… Danish furniture is very popular, but changes the textiles from wool to linen for the Shanghai climate & to suit consumers. Lots more to learn about Chinese culture, but seeing how many people are in China, and how they love buying and being consumers… it’s no wonder lots of brands and businesses are hoping to come here. I was talking to someone working in New Zealand trade department (I see a lot of NZ butter, milk, and cheese here) and she’s just showczased a bunch of different coffee blends, not really expecting much, but younger Chinese groups were totally into it. Coffee (Starbucks is EVERYwhere) is getting to be more popular here, especially in Shanghai. Lucky for me! I can now find a great latte or flat white in several spots around the city! And that’s NOT including Starbucks. YAY!

OK, so I took few photos at the Hay event, but I loved my blogger gift bag! Especially the Lanehouse Apparel gift… I got to meet them too, so will hopefully get a ‘Made in China’ blog post about them soon because their gear is CUTE and very street and I would like to show you a different side of Shanghai… urban and hip hop wear is VERY popular here! Would you believe it! Hearing some awesome MCs rap in Chinese is AMAZING! If you're interested, Style by Asia has write up here and Line at Shanghai Bloggers wrote this up about the week.

Have you got a blogging network in your town? I’ve never really hung out with other bloggers before being in Shanghai in mass… so it’s kinda fun hearing how other people write their blogs… at the Hay event I talked a lot to Marta (Marta Lives in China) and Gosia (Shanghai City Girl) and it can be such a personal thing… writing a blog… and an eye opening & social experience for others! BLERGS HEY?!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Voila: Summery Kim Dress

Hi! Welcome to my fabulously printed Kim Dress blog post! It’s full of brightness and clever camera angles thanks to my clever clogs Husband and his new camera attachment on his iPhone! I’ll tell you about that at the end, but sewing this dress was fun! Pity I didn’t get the fit right!


I bought lots of light fabric this summer as I visited the markets here in Shanghai. It’s been very hot and I wanted to be prepared but I actually couldn’t sew much. I got too hot even inside with the AC on. Of course I did sew up a few things, but it’s only these last few weeks that I’ve felt like sewing again. Luckily, in Shanghai it’s mid 20s for a while and it doesn’t seem to get cold at nighttime till November (I remember really balmy November nights) so I might be ok with making these lighter dresses … as I have a purple one on the go this week.

But ALSO, we’ll be visiting Australia for a bit, so I’m hoping it’s not freezing cold there when we’ll be there!

So, this is the Kim Dress of the By Hand London pattern collection… I have no idea when it came out, maybe this time last year? Anyways, it officially is a party dress… and perhaps (now I’m 37 years old) a younger person’s party dress as I just don’t feel comfortable wearing it.


Size wise I went for 8/12 but shortened the shoulders by 1cm and shortened the bodice by 1cm.. the other BHL patterns are larger for me in both places and I’d seen Heather say she’d shortened the shoulder seams (I mean shoulder to bust measurement when I say that… is that right?)… and sometimes I feel her changes are similar to mine there.

So I traced it out, and decided to do the gathered skirt (AKA large rectangle with gathers how you like it) to save some tracing time and so felt the pieces looked ok after the small shortening. For patterns like this, I definitely want to avoid large flowers on the boobs, so I tried a few options for the front pieces (it’s the princess seamed) and was happy with how it looked together. I absolutely love the fabric and the painted look of the flowers in the pattern, but as it was around 6 bucks Australian per metre I also didn’t mind using it as a wearable muslin. Might be someone else's dress though... I have to have a think if I'll wear it again.


The lining is completely unknown grey cotton, probably a lawn but as I’m in the markets going on feel - who knows… it feels light but I don’t think I cut the bodice pieces on the grain (or maybe something else explains the pulling of the back pieces). Gah. I’ve been going too quickly at sewing lately… rushing to get it done rather than paying full attention.

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The invisible zipper is good, I can do better... I just read about Jenny sewing the zipper and the facing together at once, which sounds do-able but I'm not sure my invisible zipper would be so invisible after that... will have to try that one time! So this little dress was lovely and quick to make up, but I can see that I DO need a small FBA for it and should probably just do the Size 6/10 (like I always do for BHL previously) with that adjustment. The bodice sits too high now because I took off the length and I actually think it feels too WIDE. The straps slip off even though they're shorter and while the fabric is lovely and light on, it's just not right for a fitted bodice like this one.


But I feel like a little girl or extremely matronly (what a contrast) in this style. I also look a bit pregnant - which I'm not - in some shots because the dress hangs from a higher than the waist waistline. I’m trying to find a fit and flare dress that I can make oodles and oodles of versions, and this isn’t it. I’m also wanting to be really quick and not have to fiddle with a FBA, so perhaps I’m dreaming there. But the other thing is that depending on the time of the month, my body measurements are fluctuating! What a woman hey?! Plus I ate a bunch of chocolate and drank all the wine when my Australian friends came to visit! Tim Tams, Mint Slices! All the Australian treats!

My sewing classes with Couture Nomad come back next month so I could ask for help in blocking one up for my size… as I’ll just be adding different skirts, I just need a bodice front & back. Unless you know of a great pattern for larger busts & curvy petites bodice pattern for me!?!

Did you have luck with the Kim Dress? Should I try it again or just keep searching!?


Now, about the photos! Husbie met a guy here in Shanghai who is developing a new attachment for your iPhone… it helps you take photos just like a Digital SLR and while these photos have amazing contrast with the shadows and the dappled light of the trees on this gorgeous Shanghai Former French Concession Street… the ordinary iPhone camera wouldn’t be getting the images as sharp. (He is actually telling me now that the 'latitude in the exposure allows you to have a really large contrast ratio without you losing information' and the lens is really sharp compared to the iphone camera... it's 20 megapixels so that helps too. Here ends the photography chat! Latitude, haha!

He’s testing it out for another week, so we might get some more photos to show you, but we’re pretty impressed with it so far! I’ll have to sew like the wind to get a few more street photos with it!

Friday, 25 September 2015

What! It’s Autumn!? 

August & September are busy months now in our family & world… it’s taken me a little while to find a rhythm to our days and weeks! Birthdays and parties and then visiting friends and relatives have made me soooooooo happy! I’ve pretty much eaten and drunk all the dumplings and wine and as I catch a moment to myself this morning, I’m like: IT’S now autumn/fall. It’s almost OCTOBER!

We’ve been in Shanghai for one whole year so I know how to handle the season changes… but it still feels like it should be gearing up to summer holidays as Australia tends to have a season change around now and then it’s all GO til Christmas. But in China, we’re all busy with school days for Felix and crazy work hours for my husband, and then it’s the Chinese Golden Week holidays and we’ll be travelling back to Australia for a short time. The year’s broken up so different in China to Australia, not to mention the northern/southern hemisphere thing!

This week, I’ve also been workshopping a workshop (!) for the Shanghai Literary Festival… which will be in November! My fellow Shanghai Blogger & good friend Olivia and I hope to run through some ideas for new & potential writers and how they can use blogs and social media to help them develop their voice and content. While I write this blog, I also sometimes update my own personal journal… and tend to write & journalise my day and life in Evernote… not for anything but to document my thoughts. Over the years with my job in Australia, I’ve gained so many storytelling skills across so many different platforms and mediums, it feels like I have the experience to share this now… At the time with daily deadlines on a radio show you just plough through and be the best you can be… and having the space and time here in Shanghai to reflect on that now has been really weird. I have a career full of radio, writing & storytelling experience… so when we were asked to get together a workshop for the festival, at first I thought… "Oh No What Do I Know"? But storytelling and leading teams and helping people be the best they can be as storytellers is kinda what I do. And people tell me I do this well. Gah! I’ve spun around this idea that I’m a creative strategist… and I actually feel creative for the first time this year. Gah x 2! So weird to get self aware but being away from usual, everyday Australian life, has really spun the questions for me, Who Am I and What’s My Identity!?


So, I wanted to show you my finished Kim Dress this week, but now it’s Friday and it’s still not hemmed! So here’s my birthday party photo from the start of the month wearing my other By Hand London dress! I love my hair style! Melinda my Chinese hairdresser nailed it! Vintage style in Shanghai!

Over the next month, I have some ‘Made in China’ type posts to show you, some ‘What Have I Been Up To in the Blogging World of Shanghai’ type posts and a few ‘Scenes from Shanghai’ posts… and I’ll hem that Kim Dress now before picking up Felix from school so we can take some photos this afternoon to show you next week instead!

Hope you’re well! Thank you SO much for all your lovely birthday wishes to Felix! He's had a great time turning three! We're off to the park now! And Happy Friday to you xoxo!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Happy Birthday Little Darling

My little baby is 3 years old today! Here he is as he was in 2012! SO squishy! I'd made a wrap skirt that I wore only a few times and felt didn't suit me, but these photos show that it wasn't too bad. I just don't think I got into this 1970s style while I was maternity leave, like I thought I would! But this is a birthday blog post today! For Happy Birthday Darling Boy!

When I was going through my blog post drafts a few months ago (a blog tidy up) I found these photos of little Baby Darling in his vintage pram that I never published. He was maybe 2 months old... he always looked big after 1 month, so I can't really remember! I'd had a few vintage baby suits for him that I'd collected up from the op shops of Queensland's Redcliffe and he just grew so fast, I think this was the only one that fitted him for a bit. But while I love the vintage suits they're just not very practical for modern parents and babies... buttons! Even zippers were annoying for me. But it's so weird to think all that regular baby dressing (several times a day!) and all the baby stuff is such a short time of our lives with Felix. We found the vintage pram on ebay, and had some fun pushing him around town while we waited for the modern one to arrive.

These days, he definitely knows he's not a baby anymore, but he's not too sure on being a big boy!

Three years old definitely feels like a huge shift in him - yesterday when I told him it was his last day of being 2, he started to talk clearly and continually all through the day... his sentences getting stronger and more exact after every word... like he was talking himself into being a little older... maybe becoming that big boy. Three years of this gorgeous human!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Scenes from Shanghai: One Year Here

Well, today is our one year anniversary of being in Shanghai!

I am absolutely shocked with how fast the days and weeks fly by here. I know that naturally time speeds up as we grow, or it feels like for me. Some times with motherhood, I feel the time really slows down again though... some days last forever. I feel very lucky that we've had the space to learn about our new lives here in this city... and in turn I've had so many funny days with Felix. He'll be three years old next week!

For me, there's so much to say about living here... personally I feel challenged without my regular day job in radio (14 years long & fun career)... I have felt in flux; inbetween times. I do think about the Cure a bit with the Inbetween Days phrase... I'm often just floating around trying to find who I am and what I do (outside of the parenthood thing)... I like it but it feels very unlike me. Of course, having my blog, my writing and sewing has kept my even keel and that balance in my life has now helped me find other people, other projects and hopefully a lot more events in this city ... I love connecting with people to hear about their world. Last year, I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in sewing as much, or blogging, but I feel passionate still about both and proud to put this 37 year old face and body on the Internets... and contribute my thing, my world... for I do think our western and mainstream global media has a lot missing... and places like China is seen as mysterious and foreign. I am the foreigner, while living here, and I love learning a new culture and a new perspective on things.

When a new business opens in Shanghai there are these amazing flower arrangements out on the street... dozens of them all around the opening doors... and I feel this week (as I've ordered Veronica Darling business cards and will head to my first market stall on Saturday) like I've opened for business! Happy new beginnings! One Year Here!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Making: All the Fabric Wrapped Buckets Ever

It's Market Day this weekend! Also see my Birthday present!!! David Lynch floating above the world print! Squee!

Have you made anything for a market before? I know lots of lovely creative types who attend the regular handmade markets in Australia... lots of lovely friends with great handmade wares! But I've never really sold my things beyond my etsy shop - now closed - or to friends directly! Until now! I'm involved in this:


The lovely Shanghai Bloggers Society are just the best for networking and Line, the co-founder, has been checking in on me... and we're hosting a dinner together tonight for Bon.App and she mentioned that the Spotlight Festival is looking for vendors, and as I've been making lots of rope bowls lately, I just kept going this last week! A little more hardcore and thanks to She Sews A Lot from Perth/Instagram who suggested trying with fabric wrapped around the rope... I've sewn up most of these with my fabric scraps from this year's creations. I feel very light and free sewing up stashed scraps!

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The children who visit all try the bowls on as hats... and call them buckets! I also love Chooktopia's buckets for succulents, and maybe some of my taller ones will be plant holders too?

I am excited to set up a stall, but more excited because my good friends will join me... and one of the reasons I'm going to the festival... to share the stall and use the day as a bit of an experiment. I love handmade things but do Shanghai regular shopping punters? I want to write up about my friend Rosa's Karobi designs soon... but here's her red sweater that I wore to death in springtime.

So YAY, a little bit of sewing for selling! And now... I've added some pinky scraps (I've sewn about 4 more since these photos) but what other colours would work? More plain yellow ones? I'm not sure.


Here's my original post about the Rope Bowls - and links to tutorials on the web on how to DIY. It's rope and a steady zig zag stitch on your machine! Very relaxing!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Giveaway: Winner!

Congratulations to Kathryn! Who is the winner of my Giveaway from last week! YAY! It was my birthday, and I want to thank you for ALL the lovely messages you sent from all corners of the world! So much love and gush! We're having a party this weekend and I'm planning on wearing my Sophia Holiday Vay Cay Dress (AKA the one with the planes) because my friend and I wanted to play dress ups, so we chose a red theme!

A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment, and some of you who didn't get to - grrrr Disqus, it's 2015, you should work on all platforms! (I also included Rachel/House of Pinheiro and Ali/Daisy Crumpet as well as they left me a note on twitter and instagram) And yay to Kathryn, who can now choose a Megan Nielson Pattern for herself (and don't forget you can choose one for me too! I have the nursing top in a storage box at home - so no need to choose that one!) and I'll send you an email so we can chat notions and fabrics as I'm heading to the Fabric Market (of course) this Saturday!

And thank you to Meg, so appreciate your generous sharing for my giveaway, you're a sweetie! And happy sewing to you all!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Voila: Bettine Dress by Tilly & the Buttons

This week is my BIRTHDAY week and I wanted a bright and cheery dress to wear out and about in Shanghai… but especially to wear a nice new dress on my birthday day. It’s my first time having a birthday in Shanghai, so I was looking forward to sitting on a rooftop sipping some bubbly and generally being amazing in the summertime… compared to wintertime birthdays in Melbourne. BUT, no one saw more TYPHOON weather coming! It rained all day Saturday & Sunday and even most of my birthday on Monday. Husbie was glowingly positive saying “Shanghai smells so beautiful and fresh thanks to all the rain!”. He was right, despite the wetness, the town was smelling amazing! So before we picked the little one up from kindergarten, we popped out for some photos but without a lot of covered areas near our apartment, we found a little corner near the cafe that was sheltered from the blustering wind and rain for some photographs!

And can you see my birthday present from little Felix? A phone case shaped like a camera - Oh China, where you can find everything fun!


The dress pattern is Tilly & the Buttons Bettine, and this is the FIRST time I’ve sewn one of Tilly’s patterns. Moving to Shanghai last year, I only brought a few patterns with me… and now that I’m back enjoying sewing so much AND blogging so much again… I started to pick and choose a few new patterns to try! While I thoroughly welcome all the independent pattern designers, I am usually consistently thrifty & mindful of just buying secondhand. BUT, this recycling way of life is WAY different & trickier in Shanghai… there aren’t ANY op shops here and definitely no sewing patterns for sale! LOL! Anyways, new patterns can be EXPENSIVE, right?! This dress & the little underwear set pattern Fifi were on sale together, so thought I’d take that as a sign to get thrifty AND sewing. I was curious to try a different dress shape too… and I think it’s a lovely casual day dress.

OK, so I actually loved how simple this pattern was to sew… there are not many pieces, and the skirt front and back is the same piece. I don’t have much of a toosh sadly, but it might be something to consider if you’re more rounded at the back than the front. But it's a simple beginner project, this version, and while I’m probably an intermediate seamstress, it’s nice to have some simple projects once in a while.

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I size between a 4 (at the bust) and a 3 at the moment, so because the shape of the bodice pieces (a big fat T!) so I traced the 3 size everywhere but around the bust/underarm area where I tapered to the 4. Also while tracing the skirt, I shortened it by 2cm, which made it all perfect in length for these short legs but also made the shape of the skirt tricky to know the right side up… which is why I attached it upside down. Oops.

The fabric is some very light cotton from the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market, and the same market stall I got the fabric for my Anna/Circle Skirt dress. The seller said it was cotton, but due to it’s drape it could be viscose or a rayon, I just don’t know my fabrics well enough to guess. But it’s very comfortable to wear and irons ok but there are a few creases that come with it while wearing. The floppy nature of the Bettine bodice is perfect for the amount of drape in this fabric.

I also have become a bit of a french seam lover when it comes to this fabric, it’s lovely to sew up… with the 5/8 seams the Bettine suggests, I just did 5mm wrong sides together and then 1 cm right sides together. Have no idea if this is the right measurements… it comes up lovely on the insides though… I just wish I’d folded and stitched the overlocked facing edges and hem now as the overlocked finish with the grey threads looks a bit ghastly with the nice neat french seams. Oh well!


As I made this up over several days, sneaking a few minutes here and there around my Mama Life Responsibilities… I somehow lost track of the top of the skirt, and until I tried it on finished & sewn up, I realised the skirt piece with the blue pattern was upside down… looking in the mirror I was like, hey that blue key looks different on the skirt piece. URGH. Maybe I’m more of a beginner seamstress after all. What a dickhead! Of course a print like this can hide it well… but there’s a slightly different drape shape in the skirt (haha drape shape) so I will have to make it again to get it done well.

It’s a very quick dress to make up, and Tilly’s instructions are VERY easy and fun to follow. I don’t mind a bit of handholding sometimes and I took the advice of actually measuring the neckline facing topstitch and drawing a fabric pen line… it makes it incredibly neat. Thanks to all you Instagram friends who suggested the black threads (instead of yellow or white) sometimes it’s hard to know what to do!


Thinking back to my old vintage pattern stash, this dress would probably have been similar to a late 1970s or early 1980s elastic waisted dress… the built in sleeves making the T shape… I wonder why the dress couldn’t have been just one long T shape instead having a separate T or skirt piece. I also wonder if trying the pocket version will hide a cute as a button tummy bulge or will it accentuate it?

Anyways, I’m looking forward to trying the Fifi pattern now! I think I’m going to team it with a Sew This Pattern Venus Kimono! Just gotta work out how to mix and match the fabrics!

Hope you’re having a lovely week and remember that my giveaway is still open till Monday. A great prize, your own personal Shanghai shopper (me!) and a gorgeous Megan Nielson Pattern of your choice!


And because this is my first Tilly & the Buttons pattern, here are some Tilly-esque photos! Il est une petite femme mignonne! Just like you Tilly!

Notes & Summary:  
Pattern: Bettine by Tilly & the Buttons
Fabric: Cotton with a floaty light drape. Purchased from 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, 东门路168号,近中山东二路  
Size: Size 3 but a Size 4 at the bust  
While Sewing: All fine, and lovely! Just got to label the top of the skirt a little better next time!  
Will I Wear It? Yes, the weather is a little cooler so it’s not annoying to have elastic around your middle. This could be my autumnal staple!