Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Dongmen Lu Fabric Market

Happy Wednesday! Time to get some fabric inspiration from the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market here in Shanghai!

Can't believe how quickly 2016 is flying by! Hope things are good with you... we're good, healthy and enjoying the summertime so far! It's been rainy season, so a bit hot and humid and just now a huge thunderstorm and rain making our house so dark at 10am!

Today I wanted to share with you a gorgeous fabric market tour I shared with Stacy a wonderful blogger & seamstress who contacted me a month or so back as she was in town for a work... and didn't want to be swept on the tourist tailoring trail ... which is the common 'fabric market' shopping tour here... where you can get your clothes tailor made with a small selection of fabric, and arguably a smaller selection of design finesse!

My favourite fabric market in Shanghai is on Dongmen Lu, the corner of Zhongshan Dong Er Lu in the Old Town (kind of - it's all kind of renovated now) of Shanghai... and I love it because it's eclectic, never the same and has a great range of different fabrics. Some cheap, varying quality and reasonable price... but you can still bargain for a better price if you buy a lot of fabric!

It's called Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market and can be your one stop shop if you're short of time in Shanghai! Stacy & I spent about 2 hours browsing the 4 floors, and on this last visit, I noticed the 'tunnel of fabric' has been extended wayyyyy back to the south side of the level 2... so there's even more fabric if you peep around the corner... but! You might get lost finding the right corner, for it feels a little endless inside! Neverending fabric shopping! Be wary if you shop alone!

Here's a few pieces I photographed along the way as we walked and talked and shared some sewing ideas! Looking at the photos again, I now wish I bought these pieces, but oh well! I can go back, and hope they're still in stock! The vendors seem to change stock every season!

What GORGEOUS flamingos!

Thanks for the lovely morning of fabric shopping Stacy! Here she is wearing all handmade, a beautiful jacket from another fabric market in China! And my not as exquisite handmade blouse (a Plantain Pattern) and my DIY gathered skirt!

And my new stash! Floaty cottons, some black and white scuba for cowl scarves to sell, and pinks and blue pears that I've started sewing a shift style dress with... but that was before we moved house and now everything is all over the place!

The address, with Chinese: 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu 东门路168号, 近中山东二路

Talk soon, but maybe not with any new sewn up pieces, unfortunately I have NO idea where the sewing machines will fit in our new (tiny) apartment... EEP. Any short of space solutions, please send my way! We have a lovely table for cutting, but NO sewing desk... I love sewing when the feeling calls, so don't want to set up the machines each time I have a project to sew. I'll take some photos of the house, and maybe you can help!

Bye for now!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Voila: Pusan Wrap Dress by Couture Nomad

Hello! Today I have another Couture Nomad dress, sewn up over several weeks at my lovely Teacher Catherine's Couture Nomad Sewing School here in Shanghai!

This is called the Pusan dress, and part of Catherine's Urban Jungle collection. She uses a business shirt style fabric for her version, and when I saw how easily she pops on her pushbike with it, I thought I've got to sew it up for Spring... well spring kind of came and went here in Shanghai, there were some nice warmer days, but it's RAINED so much. At least once a week, and today... it actually was quite cold. Humid AND cold. Not fun!

So I started this to wear in Spring, and only just wore it yesterday on a lovely humid & sunny day... AND in our NEW HOUSE! I have so much to tell you about... I definitely need a pause button for our life right now!

Pusan Dress was Couture Nomad's Pattern of the Month a few months back, and is a light and loose wrap dress with optional collar and different ways to tie/clasp. Catherine has a lovely light mustard one that I've seen her wear, and I wanted something green for me... and this polka-dotted light linen cotton was the first thing I spotted across the road from the Renmin Lu Haberdashery Spot... but a funny thing, half the store was a fabric shop along the left wall.... and the other side of the shop was a camouflage sport gear shop... Strange Combo, but CHINA! And so I asked how much the fabric was on the roll, and the shopkeeper didn't know... she was the camouflage shopkeeper! Not the fabric shopkeeper. So I waited a while, no one came back... more waiting... I thought I'd go buy some stationary (Yu Garden Markets have SO many things you can buy for cheaps!) and then come back to get the green fabric.

So probably half an hour later, after buying my pens and envelopes, I came back ... and NO shopkeeper! Ridiculous! I waited another 15 minutes... and in the end haggled with the Camo Shopkeeper to sell me the fabric for 38RMB a metre (it's usually that at the other market for this kind of think...) and she was sooooo reluctant selling her fellow shopkeepers wares... but I couldn't stick around, I had sewing class and a three year old to pick up from kindergarten!

So funny, and so China!

As for the pattern, it was a great trace, cut & sew over 3-4 sewing nights... love the shape with this light fabric. I did felled seams for the back yoke, and they came up quite nicely... I had a wrong machine bobbin problem on one side of the dress (also felled sleeves) so there's some wobbly stitching, but it's under my arm... so who will know! It's a well covered wrap dress too, in that it doesn't gape and reveal my undergarments. And the coverage around the legs is also great!

I shortened the sleeves a bit, and then made the bands half the width, for I decided I would fold them up anyways... and last minute decided not to do a button/snap close and then attached the ties. It's the same material as my Bettine Dress from last year, actually... so having the ties reminds me of that. I loved wearing it yesterday!

It's a great wrap dress pattern, and very quick to make! For all up my sewing hours wasn't too long, but just spread out between all the other things going on! I'll share another update soon on the busy-times here... but at least you get to see my lovely balcony, on the 5th floor of a normal building, no elevator, but in a Chinese compound. So we're stretching all our conversations, and practicing Chinese all the time now! In our old house, lots of people spoke English... but not here! We're still around downtown/Former French Concession, but more in the thick of it... brilliant green Plane Trees are all along the street and heaps of local places to check out. And walking distance to kindergarten!

Thank you to Teacher Catherine for sharing her pattern & her skills with me! If you're interested in sewing in Shanghai, I highly recommend getting in touch! Send me an email and I'll connect you with Cathy! If you're in Singapore, or other parts of the world... do go and visit Couture Nomad for there's lots of e-learning spots but also there might be a Nomadette teacher in your hometown!

Speak soon, and hope you're well wherever you are in the world!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Voila: Springtime Gathered Skirt

Last week the girls at Craft’d Shanghai asked me to host a “Next Step” type sewing a class… they’ve been organising the 'learning to sew' classes for a while, making aprons, pillowcases and totebags… they’ve added zippers to bags and made infinity scarves like absolute legends. But they hadn’t made any other clothing… So, hence the “Next Step”… I was more than happy to host the class, but haven't really taught sewing before, so I emphasized the DIY heavily to all my sewing skills and we talked about lazyseamstressing a bit too!

The day was 4 hours of 3 students, and definitely using the blogs of the sewing community world, I came up with the few steps below:

- Measure your waist

- Measure the length from your waist to where you like the hem to be

- Really puffy & full: at least THREE times your waist measurement

- Only a little puffy: at least TWO times your waist measurement

- The skirt has 2 rectangles: one piece is your waist measurement plus 2.5 cm for ease & 2cm for seam allowance. second piece is the skirt with the width being your preferred measurement, and the length being your length with added at least 4-10 cm for the hem allowance & seam allowance.

- SEW it all up following these tutorials: Gertie's Gathered Skirt and By Hand London

Before the class, I made this skirt as a test to check it all worked… and 100% it’s a skirt, so I think the method worked! And by the end of the Craft’d class there were at least 3 skirts close to finishing so YAY! I was going to make it fuller, but opted for a longer swishy skirt and used the actual width of the fabric as my measurment - so it was *just* two times my waist. LAZY seamstressing but less fiddling around. The 2.5 ease also might be a little toooooo much ease for this doesn’t sit on my waist properly, so I’ll try a little less next time.

It looks so SHORT on the windowbench like this... I must be quite petite, for it feels so long when it's on me! For the first set of photos I paired it with the Lilith & Eve top I made in wintertime, it's a little wonky on the hem because I sew-ed it up terribly but still lovely and light for the spring humidity.

But yes, pretty much, the fabric is from Dongmen Lu Fabric Market here in Shanghai, it’s light cotton rayon or something and I cannot walk past a print like this without purchasing! I love it. It was probably 35RMB a metre so maybe $6 Australian… lovely for springtime!

WOW, it's been a busy year for me so far... I've loved being part of our women's society and all the other busy bee things... AND we're just about to move house! I'm keeping my Instagram updated on the day to day things, and fingers crossed we won't be without internet again - my modem/router died a few weeks back CANNOT EVEN - while we shift. Hoping the China Telecom peeps will be connecting it tomorrow!

Hope you're well! Miss you and hope to see what you're sewing for spring/autumn when I get to read my Bloglovin' tonight!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Voila: Long Silk Scarf for Springtime

Hi! How are you?! I'm sitting in my 'blogging' cafe today, catching up on a bunch of emails and different work projects... for the Internet is broken at my place. SO SAD! The router died and we're all waiting for the next option. Fingers crossed!

I have kept this scarf in my blog drafts section for a little while, and would love your thoughts... it's SUPER long right? Maybe a little too long for people under 5 foot, but I LOVE this floaty silk fabric! I'd sewn it up a little while ago, and haven't decided if it's for me or for a customer... so it's in the Little Studio with my girlfriends right now

The fabric is from my favourite Dongmen Lu Fabric Market, and the last two metres from the roll, so it was cheaper than other fabrics, maybe 100RMB, around 18 dollars? So while not super cheap compared to other scarf fabric, it's so luxurious! I love it!

As usual, it's my loopy scarf pattern... you sew the ends together and then hem the edges, very simple. The underside of the leopard print silk isn't too ugly... but I don't think this style is for everyone. I love loop scarves for looser looks or wrapped up warmer looks. And you'll never loose it while on the scooter! For some reason riding bikes with a scarf flying off has become a fear of mine... strange! Having a forever loopy scarf prevents losing it!

Guess what? Tomorrow, I've been asked by the lovely girls at Craft'd Shanghai to host a sewing workshop... to teach a simple gathered skirt with a zip. So excited to meet the blossoming seamstresses of Shanghai!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Talking: Sharpening My Skills

As a sewing blogger, the hardest thing for me is when you don't sew things, what do you blog about?

I have some projects I'll show you this next week, that aren't garment sewing exactly... fun relaxing kind of sewing! Like my millions of rope bowls last year, I have started some new ways to sew and make things. Art. Dare I say it! But, actually I feel throughout March, I spent a lot of time *sharpening* my skills... and rather like my son's lovely collection of pencils above... the more I'm sharpening, the more colours and pointy pieces of my career & personality are coming through. It's been a funny month career-wise, and full of more personal/professional development instead of getting paid, but I guess that's where I'm at right now here in Shanghai!

Here's a hilarious (to me) list of things I've been up to in March:

  • Started being a filmmaker - documenting aspects of Chinese Weddings, recording audio & video for the first time, seriously. (Not just for youtube at work!)
  • Blogging Workshopwise - with M Glam and Shanghai Bloggers, I launched M Blog Club as part of the Shanghai International Literary Festival... very happy! And made a blog about blog tips in Shanghai!
  • Hosted a 10 minute presentation at a corporate conference, on the subject of Wechat: Social Media at Work
  • Moderated a Q&A session with author Joshua Scher, as part of the LitFest! Channeling my radio interview skills, dream inspo being Zan Rowe!
  • Made a website for my organisation IPWS where I'm a Board Member in sponsorship, but now a Web Admin Guru (!)
  • I've been a Guest Judge for the China International Comedy Festival at the very funny Kung Fu Komedy club here in Shanghai
  • Ran a Speed Networking Event through my group last night
  • And was almost going to run a Sewing Skirts for Beginners class, but with Easter Weekend they had to postponse! 


I'm a bit pooped on this last day of March, but I'll head out for more judging laughs at the Suzhou leg of the comedy festival... should be fun, plus I've never been to Suzhou before!

What have you been doing in March? Keeping busy? Hiding until springtime/autumn? I hope you've been keeping well and happy whatever you're up to!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Voila: Briar Top with Tiny Spots

Briar Top Pattern

Yay! So happy to show you my sewing today! Last week I had a little window for sewing (I’d traced the Briar Top Pattern - size S - the week before) and so I jumped quickly into cutting & sewing this Megan Neilsen Pattern...

If you look through any of my sewing creations from 2009, you’ll see how much I love sewing with knits! Peak Knit Sewing Year for me, 2009 when I sew-ed and sew-ed all the stretchy things. They are SO quick! And while I’ve never sewn this Briar Top pattern before… I just knew an hour of cutting and sewing would be enough and I was spot on with the estimate! LOVE a quick project.

So the Briar Top is definitely a popular pattern and I've seen SO many great results with it, but I only bought it last year after thinking about sewing with knits again … I’m a little stranded without my sewing books here in Shanghai (however maybe I gave the Sew U Stretch away? Can’t remember what’s in storage anymore!), so bought this pattern to try out for winter… and as always, the season passed quickly… so now it’s a springtime top.

Briar Top Pattern Briar Top Pattern

The fabric is a Taobao purchase, and feels lovely and healthy cotton… the cotton I used to sew my Venus Bay Kimono has a synthetic mix and I get a bit hot while wearing it! This black cotton was a punt (ordering fabric on Chinese websites can absolutely be a gamble!) but it’s lovely!

Great to sew with, great width, so I got most of this top in under a metre of fabric… it was quick to cut and then SUPER quick to sew up. Thank you Meg for the best tip: IRON a lot… because the clean finish on knit tops (especially the neckline) is all in the pressing… I pressed every seam after overlocking. The hems were finished with my twin needle, and while aren’t exactly perfect (so many missed stitches on the right needle.. have no idea why?), it’s not that noticable. I didn’t stitch the neckline down just the armholes and hem.

I love the curves of the hemline! I definitely need to wear a top underneath, for it is short... but might be nice over a tight dress? I’m on a Megan Neilsen Pattern kick (my last sewn up skirt was the Brumby Skirt) at the moment, and will probably make another Briar Top … maybe even try a dress version next?

BUT, before I dash off, I’m so happy I finally found a friendly photography spot near my house. The sun came out yesterday and I was wearing the top for the second time - just in case the weather turned! I packed my tripod just in case, and turned around the corner behind my house into another apartment block’s garden… and voila! A lovely little spot where the sun came through at a lovely direction. AND amazingly, no one was around! In Shanghai there’s ALWAYS people around! SO happy!

But MAN! Now I have to find a remote control clicker for my camera, because it looks like I’m completely phone obsessed, but actually I’m trying to see the ‘shoot’ button on the screen! So daggy, but I’m happy to find a nice outfit spot in a nearby garden in case Husbie’s not around.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Talking: Update on Spring Blogging Workshops

Hi there! Happy Monday!

Just quickly wanted to update you on the Springtime Blogging Workshops, here in Shanghai! So if you're not local, skip over today's post and I'll bring you my Megan Nielsen T Shirt later this week!

In January, I was knuckling down the details for a Springtime Session of Blogging Workshops... that I wrote about here... and just wanted to announce that my workshop is now included in the Mini March LitFest (along with a bunch of other actual authors & interesting talks!)... ! So happy! Our first workshop will be about Food Blogs (there are AMAZING foodie bloggers in Shanghai! The restaurant scene is - as you can imagine - diverse & plentiful!) and my first guest will be the delightful Nancy of Plus Ate Six. We'll host a little Q&A with Nancy and run over some ideas that make a good food blog!

Thank you again for your comments about Blog Ads last week! I'm firmly on the fence about them, however with some time, we'll see. Food Blogs are a great genre to start our 2016 workshops, because M on the Bund is a very beautiful setting - the view from its balcony above - and the menu changes with the season... but it's also a very photography focussed blog genre... while recipes & foodie talk is great for sharing information... photography in food blogs can be critical to a successful following & professionalism... what do you think? Do you follow food bloggers as well as sewing bloggers? Personally, I google up my most of my recipes... so find a lot of new bloggers this way. Would love your thoughts!

But! Have a great week, and I'll catch you soon!

Monday, 7 March 2016

Making: A Giant Crochet Toy Bag

So here’s another funny thing I’ve made recently! I noticed a lot of ‘dress ups’ floating around our apartment recently… a pirate costume from Halloween, a ‘Backson’ outfit I made for our Winnie the Pooh loving child and lots of accessories like dinosaur tails and binoculars always on the floor.

Time for a dress up basket!

Without ever wanting to spend money on anything, I decided to try some large scale crocheting with my rope that was too thick for my normal sewing machine… and using a small rope as the main crochet or weaver material… it was a long process but it’s a fun and easy accessible basket for the small boy.

I used the large crochet hook, and used the thinner rope as the main crochet thread... and crocheted around the big rope, I didn't really know where I was going, so just went around in circles for ages and then adjusted it for the sides as I went around and around...

After lots of sewn (zig zag machine stitched) rope bowls, my domestic machine isn’t keen on sewing this thick rope… I think an industrial one would do a better job… but I can’t really justify getting one … especially since I’m not really bringing in stacks of dosh (just a few voice over jobs here and there isn’t really a regular pay day!)… anyways!

When we get more dress ups, I think I’ll unravel it… but Felix likes it for now and his favourite dress ups are the Tiger costume (a cheapie Chinese made synthetic mess) and the Backson costume (that I made last year and never blogged about) and his pirate hat.