Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Making: DIY Christmas Tree


Before it gets too New Years-y around the internet, I thought I’d quickly post my DIY Christmas Tree, made from cardboard boxes, and perfectly petite for our small apartment living.

Being in Shanghai, Christmas is a little Christmassy, but considering that the day is a normal work day some traditions around town are just WESTERN traditions, so while there are Christmas Trees for sale here, they’re the plastic kind or they’re some strange kind of tree that aren’t pine trees, they just look like Christmas Trees do. I’m not sure, but they’re SUPER expensive. SO, throwing my thriftiness around isn’t hard… especially when there’s oodles of cardboard around.

Last year, I made the tree with these same strips of cardboard (groceries can arrive in very stable awesome cardboard boxes that you can return, use or recycle) but don’t think I posted it, and it was strung up with rope from a coat hanger, each piece was tied by threads and it looked like a large mobile … and I tried to do the same thing this year, but obviously you can’t replicate genius - ha - and it wouldn’t hang the same way!

Through the Craft’d Shanghai peeps, we had a DIY stamp kit, and it was so fun drawing up these little pine leaves on the tracing paper and etching out the stamp. I haven’t done lino cutting (as our art teacher called it) for years, so while Felix enjoyed a Mickey Mouse Christmas Movie I cut it out and then he did the stamping …


I used extra green washi tape for securing and while it’s not the greenest, realest, or prettiest tree, it’s certainly unique and was kitschy and quirky for our family for the month. Felix chose where it would go, right in a corridor to the bedrooms from the dining room, and luckily near the powerpoint. Clever cutie, and a good lesson for him about electricity and we probably spent every day together plugging it in and unplugging those lights. 3 years olds are sponges!


Hoping you’re having a relaxing week between the big festival days, again, being in Shanghai it’s so weird to see everything carry on as normal… but equally as strange seeing people’s beach photos on social media while it’s coffee & rugged up in jackets season here!

xoxo Happy New Years Eve to you tomorrow!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Happy Festivus & Merry Chrimbo!

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you a happy holiday & merry festivus time, from us Darlings in Shanghai! We're zonked out - Husbie has worked nonstop for 6 weeks - and so we've quickly partied ourselves out... enjoying the luxuries of gorgeous friends in this city & the wonderful Internet this weekend. We shared a French family Christmas Eve dinner, exchanging presents with the children... then woke up to any other Friday! In China, this time of year isn't really significant for locals, apart from all the decorations and markets and ironic Santa clad couriers all around town ... (or maybe I'm the only one who think it's ironic) ... but my Husband's company is UK owned, so all the deadlines finished on Christmas Eve like in the western world. YAY

But, as Husbie finally getting a rest and with no family with us in China... it's a bit lonely. Thank goodness for our lovely friends here in Shanghai, it's made being so far away from Mum & Dad that bit better.

So instead of BBQs & salads (like we would be enjoying in Australia), we've eaten Pizza! Japanese! Mashed Potatoes! Instead of family hugs, we've hung out on Skype for hours on end and played with friends at an indoor park (the pollution has been yuck this week too). And instead of Boxing Day Cricket Matches (my Grandma's favourite, Vale Marie) we watched Making a Murderer (Felix watched endless Octonauts) and crashed out on the couch with our sparkling... water. I did drink bubbly on Christmas, cheers to you Mama!

Christmas in China is different, but still a time to find the warmth in my heart and I feel so thankful for the people I have and have known in my life. I'm so happy the pollution cleared and we saw the full moon. Ahhh the world is big and chaotic, and we're so tiny. I love seeing the moon, for we all do and can check in there, no matter where we are.

Thank you as always for reading my lil blog, and I'll leave you with another photo of this Christmas Baby in the Manchurian Restaurant near my house, who always get into the festivals, however creepy and fun, they do a good job:

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Making: How to Add Larger Kimono Sleeves to the Bettine Dress

Today I thought I’d show you how I exaggerated the Bettine Dress sleeve and bodice to put a summery twist on this Tilly & the Buttons Pattern! You might remember this dress I made for wearing to the ever gorgeous & lovely October wedding… it was a cool light (maybe pretend) linen fabric and super soft for the warm sunny weather back in Australia. When I posted the sleeves on Instagram, Abigail asked to see the pattern pieces, so here we go with my behind the scenes photo series!

I loved sewing my first Tilly & the Buttons Bettine Dress over summer, it was very light in some rayon cotton fabric and comfortable on those hot days here in Shanghai. (I miss them so, it’s freezing right now!) And after picking up this very light linen (for the above dress) at the local fabric market, I just wanted something that wouldn’t be a full on kaftan but kinda like a kaftan. These gigantic purple & red flowers are just the best, and I didn’t want to cut them up!

So, onto some 'How To' DIY ideas... please let me know if you need more information anywhere... typing this at the hair salon, so don't have the pattern pieces in front of me! Here's the two pieces loosely placed over each other... the bottom piece is the new kimono-sleeved piece and you can see where I just wiggled the 'around about here' length, but I think I made it a little longer just in case.

Firstly, I got my existing front bodice piece of the Bettine Dress pattern (I traced all my pieces for this one)… and traced the shoulder, the existing neckline and the centre fold. In my mind, I wanted to sleeves to be around my elbow, and so I then continued that shoulder seam line out further and on the same angle… you can see all the measurements and shapes in the photos…

I should point out that my Bettine Dress bodice has a little shape as I graded up at the bust... so you can see the original side seam in pencil, but my changes is my actual cut out curve of the underarm...

My ruler is in centimetres btw! So you can see the exaggerated sleeve, the dropped underarm curve that's closer to the waistseam (which in the original Bettine is then elasticised so isn't the true waistseam)... and it was the underarm curve that made it a bit trickier… but it came up ok for me. So the ’T’ shape is more a thick horizontal rectangle… Mushroom shape instead of a T shape? More mushroom and less stem?

I added waist ties into the side seams a few inches lower than the original waistseam too... meaning that when I tied the ties around my middle it came up a more and created the floatier loose overhang (what can we call that?) upper gathers/paper bag scrunched look... (please don't send me to fashion school, terminology is not my strong point! HA!)

So I just made sure in my changes that the back and front pieces match up at the shoulder seams, but considering that the only difference between the front and back pieces in the Bettine dress is the neckline (it's a loose fitting top) it wasn't that tricky. But play around (with cheap drapey fabric) and see what you get!

I tested out tying the ties wrapped around my front first or my back first... it looks way smoother on my bottom/waist tying across the front first. I would tie the ties, and then pull little pieces of the dress out around the waist to see how it hangs best.

Anyways, let me know if you try it, and yay for a little exaggeration on a straightforward pattern!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Wearing: A Winter Grace Kelly in Sneakers AKA Personal Style a-Changing

As a non-style blogger, I came about thinking of personal style this past month … as like a lot of sewing bloggers, I really enjoyed Bimble & Pimble’s Sewing Themed Photo a Day Instagram Posts… called ‘bpsewvember’ … and after posting a day on the subject of ‘Style’, I just started thinking and thinking of this self expression and where I sat with it right now.

In my wardrobe these days I’ve built up loads of colour on top of my usual black base… and last week (especially these photos) I’ve started to feel a little Grace Kelly in Sneakers. SHOCK. Would she EVEN wear sneakers, she’d deffo do shorts and slacks… but Skechers? No. Yellow Skechers? Definitely not!

But I love the stripes and capes and flick of the hair. I even wore stud earrings pretending they were pearls. I felt great with this everyday style.

I know this is not consistent though, Grace Kelly in Sneakers is just a quick and satisfying look for a couple of days. I’ll start to feel too Mummy (not with these Skechers though) soon, and wear a mini skirt. I’m just so moody with dressing up, I can’t find a consistent style for me.

Is that my current style? Inconsistent, but colourful modern vintage? Being in a city with so many modern feels and vintage throwback (Shanghai has a huge deco influence in places) can adjust style. I don’t really embrace my vintage pin curls as much here in Shanghai… it’s so easy & cheap to get a blow dry at my local hairdressers… but when I do pin curl, I feel most myself and individual. But it feels ridiculous wearing sneakers with pin curls!

How do you feel about changing your style… ? Personal style is so… personal. Right? I know I’m lacking in winter boots, so when I get those, things will just go right out the window! (And as I post this, I *did* get some boots. Gold Boots. G.O.L.D! So we’ll totally see where my personal style is headed soon… so yes, I’m a-changing again!)


Friday, 4 December 2015

Made in China: Lanehouse Apparel

Today, I’m so happy to show you this Shanghai design group: Lanehouse Apparel! When I was mucking around on instagram late last year I did heaps of Shanghai based searching, and found the Lanehouse Apparel insta feed! Early this year, I saw some people wearing the ‘HAI’ hats around town and I was like: SO GOOD. And it wasn’t until the Spotlight Market I went to in September that I got to meet Jussara & Shauna and pretty much jumped up and down with happiness because they’re awesome people with a great strong look brand. Before I leave Shanghai, I plan to fill my suitcases, because the street style is very Shanghai, the simplicity of their design is classic but modern and frankly, I need to get a little more street. I do wear yellow Skechers after all. And gold laced Nikes occasionally. I could wear a cap too right?!

HAHA, so in following along my Made in China blog post series, where I have a little question & answer back and forth about great design, made in China, without the stereotypical plastic vibe (Have you noticed your Christmas Decorations at the shops this year at all?)… it’s all about original, new and Made in China, and (hopefully) something that YOU may not have seen before. Today you’ll hear from Jussara Bierman (below, left) who runs Lanehouse Apparel along with Shauna Upton:

How did Lanehouse Apparel begin?

Lanehouse Apparel began out of frustration of not being able to find any quality Shanghai clothing and accessories to gift to friends back home. I wanted to created a range of clothing that mapped out Shanghai’s former French Concession, and from there our initial range was designed. Adrian provided the backing to get the range started, and Shauna and I have driven the vision and style of the brand, and created our online and physical presence.

What was your first piece of clothing or hat?

Our first piece of clothing was a t-shirt. I had designed a (former) French Concession crest that we placed on the t-shirt, and from there the other items grew.

Where do you get your inspiration? Materials? Fashion trends?

As a Kiwi, New Zealand is in opposite seasons to China so I watch trends there closely to see what might be popular for Shanghai’s coming season. Some items haven’t been as popular here as they are in NZ (e.g. 5-panel hats) but I believe this is largely due to a gap in local the streetwear/urban-wear market in Shanghai and lack of uptake of trends in these clothing styles.

How do you settle on style, or vibe, of your collection, it’s such a true look, in my opinion!

As a small brand, money is always a key issue. Because we are self funding, we need to be fairly sure that the items we end up producing are items that will sell. Initially I will create a theme (e.g. The French Concession, The Hai’Life) and design a full range of items, then ask friends and online fans to give us feedback on the mock-ups. This gives us a good guide to the styles of clothing and hats, and which designs will (hopefully) sell. Usually, the most simple of designs are the most popular - we have a lot of cool designs that will never see the light of day!

I love your photos, especially on instagram! They're very fun! How do you style them and put them together?

We are keen to have as much user generated contented as possible on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Our brand is about building the story of life in Shanghai, and much of this is about the people you meet during your time here. We have recently launched our online magazine, “The Hai Flyer” to further tell these stories and give other expats a platform in which to launch their experiences, style, and loves (or frustrations) of living in Shanghai.

(I especially love Shauna's piece in the Hai Flyer '10 Things You Realise After Moving to Shanghai'.)

Jussara, I have a passion to learn where creativity comes from... Do you feel creative? Where does creativity come from? HELP ME (ha ha)

I’d like to think I have always been creative. I started my own graphic design business (now branding agency) whilst studying Architecture at University. I love to draw (not that I get much time to do that living in Shanghai) and now design clothing - not something I ever thought I’d get the chance to do!

Where are you selling your gear? And outside of China?

We sell mainly online or via WeChat, to customers mostly within China. We have learnt the hard way that it is very expensive to ship individual packages outside of China, often losing money to do so. We’d like to build our presence here and open a store on Taobao & WeChat, trying to keep the brand as “foreign” as possible. Our next step is to find retail stockists to continue to build our footprint.

THIS WEEK, Lanehouse Apparel have just started selling on Asos as well, congrats guys!

What are the popular items?

We sell a lot of hats - we sold out of our “Originals” beanie, and have limited numbers left on our Shanghai and Hai’Life snapbacks left. The grey “Originals” sweatshirt has also been extremely popular.

What are your day jobs, how do you spend your time and make a buck?

Shauna and I both work for an independent PR agency, so we have learnt a lot about building a brand in Shanghai!

The term 'Made in China' has got a bad wrap in the western world, mostly showing bad quality, but what's something Made in China that you're amazed by? That you love?

I definitely think China’s quality of production has improved tenfolds (this is somewhat reflected in the higher costs we face). There are a lot of young Chinese entrepreneurs and designers sprouting up who are creating innovative and beautifully designed products - they just need the platforms to promote and be seen/heard on.

What did you think of Shanghai in your first week here?

I’m from Auckland, New Zealand and have been living in Shanghai for almost 4-years. My initial arrival in Shanghai was not a fond memory as I felt overwhelmingly lonely and isolated - I had travelled to China numerous times before I moved here, but nothing could prepare me for being in a non-English speaking city on my own.

What can you do or find in Shanghai that you can't do or find anywhere else?

I believe the pace of life in Shanghai is unmatched. Nowhere have I been yet that has the same vibrancy and life, nor the same feeling of safety (being a younger female). I’m not enjoying the current cold and gloomy weather right now however! From a business perspective, it would be very hard to produce and sell clothing like we can here anywhere else in the world.

Shanghai is a vibrant and safe place to be, and so many inspiring people! Thank you Jussara for sharing the Lanehouse Apparel story with us! I’m always excited to see you in my Instagram feed, and wish you guys a happy winter! BRRRR!

If you’re in Shanghai or China, and have a small business involving art, design, fashion and anything about (my beloved) DIY… please get in touch… and let me know!


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Talking: Self Publishing Basics in Shanghai

Lately, I've been doing a lot of talking (not uncommon!) but in particular ... about self promotion, personal online presence, blogging, social media. And I've been invited to do some group talks and workshops around Shanghai. If you've been reading my blog for a long while, I've often just left my writing here to be about some personal stuff but always sewing and creating stuff. I don't see myself being a 'ALL IN' or 'MY WHOLE LIFE' kind of blogger, but rather someone who loves the digital space, and appreciating the slow craft of sewing and how it's helped me find my true writing voice.

Reflecting on writing here and self publishing somewhat regularly for 8 years, or so, is a hard task for me... I am very outgoing and have flashes of shyness so sometimes being truly person here on the blog doesn't come as easily as saying how much I love floral fabrics or shopping at the market for supplies. But, of course, when I'm not sewing much and doing other things, it's hard to write about sewing and I have SO many things to tell you about right now, about our lives in Shanghai... so for a while maybe I am turning to personal passions and stories from my life here.

So, that's what I've been doing, helping people gather up their toolkits and their writing skills and get online to capture their world here... I've been talking about HOW you can self publish: write a blog, get on instagram... write & share thoughts on twitter... all that stuff. We've had lots of discussions here and there about basic social media and blogging that I look at my blog here and I'm doing ALL the things I say not to do. I AM currently typing this in the CMS and not in Evernote... I have suggested to some new bloggers to write outside of the content management system, as it helps the writing flow rather than "I have to write this quickly and press Publish right away!!!!".

Anyways, just letting you know that I'm still here! And YES I will update my 'About Me' page soon, and YES I'd like to publish about 3 of those blog posts I have saved in the drafts folder. YES, I have stuff to say about Sewing School recently! YES I love reading your comments, and YES, I have read your blog post, but haven't left a comment. Building, engaging a community, sharing stories... etc etc etc... so much of the basics lends itself to marketing... but from my personal career (which has its strong base in storytelling instead of 'selling stories') I just don't know the buzzwords or the marketing terms.

So, if you want to see what I'm doing day-to-day, follow on Instagram! I'm keeping very busy there, so if you prefer slow paced blog posts, stay here, but if you're missing my little face, follow over there AND here! Hee hee!

Hope you're keeping well anyways! Love from Shanghai!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Voila: Couture Nomad Taipei Skirt

Hey! It's my David Lynch print & I in matching blue!

So happy to show you this skirt I started & finished at Sewing School this last month! Yes, my sewing classes with Couture Nomad Shanghai have started again for the year and I’m again surprised at how talking ideas over with my teacher and her hands on approach helps me so much… the work I do there has been SO neat, and I feel like punching the air at the end of every step.

At home however, I whizz through and muck up the hem a little (luckily just the lining) as I wrapped the whole thing up… but well-rounded is a good way to consider my sewing approach… fast & slow, neat & messy… I balance myself out.


So, the pattern is part of the Couture Nomad sewing school collection, called Taipei and shows you a simple A shape, with a wide waistband and pockets. I traced it in a size M, using my lower waist just above the hips instead of that high waist part… I do like highwaist on my hourglass, but this would hang a little lower for shirts to be tucked in… but in the month after I finished it, I have lost a bit of weight so it hangs very low on my hips and with slinky tights might just slip off!

Next time, I’ll make a S, and because this is on the fold, it’ll be easy to change the traced pattern pieces … slice off 1 cm on the fold and change the pleat/darts.

My FAVOURITE part this time was the cutting… I REALLY wanted to match up the wallpaper pieces (I don’t know what this pattern is called, I just call it wallpaper pattern… anyone know?) on this fabric. It’s a second hand/thrifted cotton from my Mother in Law (there’s several of great op shops in her part of West End Brisbane, if you know the area!) and she sent it to me recently. It’s a bit light for autumn, so Teacher Catherine suggested I line it, and that’s just some cheap cotton I had from the fabric market here in Shanghai.

So for the yoke, skirt pieces and pockets… I just HAD to pattern match and it was so easy to do using the tracing paper … when I settled on the skirt pieces on the fabric… I overlapped the yoke pieces by 1cm each side (the Couture Nomad seam allowance) and traced the wallpaper pattern on the tracing paper… then found the same piece on the fold further along the fabric. As I traced & cut at Sewing School for this one, the bench was lovely and long and at standing height… if this was at home, I’d have hunched over the floor and wouldn’t have the space to see it all properly… I love having a good work bench for cutting!

couture_nomad_skirt_taipei couture_nomad_skirt_taipei

I did the same with the pocket pieces… lined up the sides, the seam allowances and traced the fabric pattern… I’m sure it’s not that surprising to some of you legends of sewing, but I usually just do it by eye, and sometimes stuff up the underside piece. What was interested with this fabric though, the middle of the fabric (with selvages together, wasn’t the middle of the pattern… I had to find the lovely little flower/wallpaper bit that looked like a central piece and fold along that. Thankfully all on grain.

And YAY, it’s all perfectly matched. I could *cry* with happiness!

couture_nomad_skirt_taipei couture_nomad_skirt_taipei

A bit sad it doesn’t fit but it’s a lovely shape, and something different for me, so I’ll make it again sometime. The back is lovely too through the middle… and I also am VERY happy with my seam matching at the yoke around the zipper area… it’s invisible and took a little time, pinning and hand basting REALLY close to the teeth. I’ve got some work in progress photos that I’ll post in my Sewing School update soon too… so proud of this one!

It’s raining a lot this week, but if I was a woman of the world, and went to the office or something other than running errands, on my pushbike often with a 3 year old on back… I would style it like this… but with tights!


Next up at Sewing School will be a top, but (always contrary) I might make it a dress because it could look cute as a dress, and I really want to try different textured sleeves. Off to the fabric market this week to have a look for actual WOVEN fabric for a top … I’m never that keen on woven tops, so why not make one!? I love trying new things at the moment. My fit & flare dress isn’t finished yet and as it’s too bright and light, I don’t think my usual favourite shape IS my favourite shape right now… so weird… I still think the season & the city are playing with my moods with what to wear & sew. Maybe it’ll settle down soon!? I feel a little crazy!


Have a lovely week, and thanks for reading as always darling!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Where to Buy Sewing Supplies in Shanghai: Online!

This post has been writing itself since I arrived over a year ago, and I bet it'll continue to grow! Firstly, it was hard to find sewing supplies when I first got to China, mostly because the brand name sewing stores (in Australia it's the Spotlight and Lincraft usually are the go to places if you're new to town etc) just don't exist in Shanghai. Home sewing isn't a thing yet, and as you can imagine with the cultural revolution, a city like Shanghai has so many new 'western world luxuries' (IKEA is very popular here) but not the DIY culture yet. So where do you buy sewing supplies in China? Online of course: TAOBAO!

The joke here is when asking friends where you buy stuff, any stuff, the answer is always Taobao or IKEA (and there's certainly some sewing stuff and fabric there too), so for this post, I thought I'd gather up all the Taobao shops I've used, with reasonable quality. My sewing school has also recommended some good Taobao shops, so here goes!

A whole bunch of smaller items for your machine and stacks of cutting tools - AKA A crazy mini market of sewing!

Do you want:

Rulers? Here's a metric ruler.

Maybe you need thread? I bought here and didn't get tacky plasticy stuff.

Pens for Fabric Marking, these work and disappear ok!

Maybe you need a rolled hem sewing foot, works on on thin fabric.

A French Curve ruler.

A sewing twin needle, I accidentally bought too many! Maybe this is bulk?

Tracing paper, I've tried this ok!

The pink mat for cutting, I got the A4 size and it's very good.

An invisible zipper foot, it's plastic and works fine.

The little tools for making bias tape.

These bobbins & case are good value.

Little brushes for cleaning the sewing machine.

More pins, the plastic ones on the ends.

Very light interfacing: white & black... it's very light though... not thick for collars, more for airy fabric and putting along the button section of a blouse or something.

Another ruler.

Fusible tape, good for everything.

Fabric shops on Taobao - tested by Teacher Cathy at Couture Nomad *Updated!*:

Phew! If you have used any online shops in China, please send the links my way! I'll build them all into this post! Happy sewing!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Voila: A Quick Scarf for Late Autumn

Hi there! This week I've started wearing my winter-y scarves again... it's dropped a whole 10 degrees (celcius!) during the day in the last fortnight... and I'm so not ready for winter yet! Three of our holidays this year has been back to the homeland hemisphere, and the most recent one in October really threw out my weather gauge. Ha Ha. *sigh*

So I pulled out this scarf loop I made for one of our little pop up markets in September, and now it's officially mine!

Untitled DIY scarf loop DIY scarf loop

It's almost a metre wide, and the width of the fabric long... sewn in the long edge, but I leave space each side to turn it... then right sides together - stitch - pull through your hole and then slipstitch closed with the little Veronica Darling tag sandwiched in. My friend Michell suggests everything I make needs a tag, as people prefer it... making it all a little more polished I suppose!

DIY scarf loop DIY scarf loop DIY scarf loop

What are you making for winter? I'm super stuck, but have a few things to finish off ... I think with some of my stretch woolies I can do a Nettie dress. I just feel like 'where is the time' to plan, because it's super cold already! Last year the real cold chill didn't come to Shanghai 'til December, so I wasn't prepared for an early onslaught of it!

Gotta get my thinking cap on quickly, or I'll end up at Uniqlo!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Voila: Gingham Oliver + S Art Museum Trousers

A few months ago, I shared some little boy shorts that I made from the spare tropical holiday red cotton fabric … from my Sophia Dress. They were the little Oliver + S Art Museum Trousers, but these gingham ones are my first pair!

Felix wore them a few times over summer when the weather wasn’t too hot, but he has officially gone off them… and that happens, so looking at them again here, it might be cause they’re a little small already. Kids grow! That happens too.


I just L.O.V.E.D making this pattern, it is spot on in shape, design and has just gorgeous little details! I adore little children in sharp trousers, so I will definitely make them again… but will try a bigger size… this one is a 3 and maybe if I try a winter pair in the size 4 it will be just right for the next 6 months.

Perhaps the trousers are a little on the slim shape of sizing, if you’re noticing your child has the bigger bones and the bigger tum… Felix is kind of inbetween that kind of sizing… but considering he was two in these photos, the size three was just right. He’s still got his baby shape, and often wears a 4 or a 120 size here in China around the waist/shoulders.


But overall, for a child’s trouser pattern, it’s quick to put together, but the welted pockets, the pretend fly and the pockets at the front make it a really stylish pattern! So lovely!

This week, I'm SO excited: on Thursday I'm hosting my first workshop about writing & blogging and connecting with your crowd online... here in Shanghai as part of the Literature Festival. Over the moon, and I send you all a big THANK YOU for reading my blog over the years, for it's a super successful (in my book) endeavor and has kept me learning not only about sewing but keeping across my love of media ... consumption and production of it! Thank you a million times over!


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Seasons Change: Happy Autumn!

Thank goodness Future Islands wrote Seasons (Waiting On You) because now when I feel like the shift in temperature, the wind a little chillier, and the sun a little less strong... I have this song in my head.

And so we're feeling the autumnal vibes around Shanghai this week, especially after a sunny holiday in Australia. The weather here makes us cough a little more, as our lungs and noses adjust to the pollution level... because that air in Australia is just so clear. And through this season and climate change (and that red moon last night), I am again confronted with all the millions of possibilities and choice of this fantastically great city!

Last night I went to the comedy festival, the FIRST Shanghai International Comedy Festival, and will represent an Australian colleague today at a comedy discussion forum. I'm overjoyed to be meeting new people and sharing some stories about Australia's comedy industry. Also my friend and I are constantly working over new projects and we'll be at the Shanghai Literary Festival next week (!) talking about using social media & blogging as ways to kickstart your writing and finding your voice. Lots of things happening here!

But, sewing friends, the biggest 'Sewing in Shanghai' news for me is that I started back at SEWING SCHOOL on Monday nights with Teacher Catherine at Couture Nomad! WOO! I'm halfway through a skirt already, so I'm buzzing along with the sewing machine! Yay! The TRICKIEST thing for me has been finding the right transition outfits for this weather, and if I could find the time I'd go through my wardrobe to get some actual plans happening but for some reason I still have jumpsuits on the brain! Can we still sew jumpsuits in winter? LONG trouser jumpsuits and more woven short shorts versions with thick winter tights? I don't mind shorts in wintertime!

Hope you're having a great week! I'll be back soon with my Oliver + S Art Museum Trousers I made for my boy (who doesn't want to wear them now unfortunately!)... talk soon!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Made in China: Craft'd Shanghai & Espadrilles

There’s something rewarding about learning a new skill or completing a new project, and while it’s fun to gather up the knowledge & materials yourself and wing it (I do this plenty of times), it’s also great doing it with others face to face. Until I started sewing classes earlier this year… I rarely did face to face classes or workshops. I'd spent years problem solving sewing myself with my vintage patterns, and in sewing the biggest mystery for me was solved when I realised clothing was sewing right sides together! Or inside out! DUR. So here's Mae from Craft'd Shanghai and I grinning about making shoes!

Making espadrilles was something I’d wanted to do, to solve the shoe making mystery… I guess! Plus, the classes were with Craft’d Shanghai and I wanted to hear about another group here in Shanghai helping people be creative. And so, here’s another of my ‘Made in China’ series for you today… where I look at the offbeat & creative side of life in China. Handmaking outside of production line with photos from throughout my class!


So while I took the class with Mae (who came to Shanghai from the Philippines), she works closely with Natalie (a UK export)… who I hope to meet soon… but for now, here’s my questions with them!

How did you guys meet?

Natalie: I had been running crafty events through Meetup for a few months and Mae came along to a decoupage event at Chirps and Mews in Jingan. Mae apparently can’t remember me being at that event, but she came back to every Meetup after that so we got to know each other pretty well!

How did you come around creating the workshops?

Mae: The Meetups were originally started in January 2014 as a way of meeting creative people outside of work and to make time for learning new skills and crafts. Craft’d came about as a business when these events started becoming more popular and we were asked to run creative activities for different events in Shanghai. All of our Meetups were held in very understanding restaurants (we got odd looks when we brought out craft knives, crochet hooks and even saws sometimes!), but we were limited in the type of event we could offer - hence the opening of the Craft’d Studio! This means we can now use the sewing machines, make candles, paint and so much more!

Untitled Untitled

Have you guys always been creative?

Mae: Yes. I grew up with my aunt preparing so many crafty things to do after school and on weekends so being creative was encouraged at home since I was really young.

Natalie: I’ve always loved making things, especially with fabrics, and my mum is a seamstress so I learn a lot from her. But I think it all really took off since discovering Pinterest!!

How easy was it to set up a workshop here in town?

Natalie: I think for us we were lucky to have the Meetup community already built up, as we knew that group of people would be interested in the activities we offered. Plus, nowhere else really offered creative workshops outside of painting and art (which is not at all my strength!), so we got a lot of interest from magazines and events.

What was in the lanehouse before you held workshops there?

Natalie: It was an apartment, but the space seemed perfect for what we wanted, plus the kitchen has been especially helpful!


What are your day jobs in Shanghai?

Mae: We are both kindergarten teachers, I work full time and Natalie works in the morning.

Mae told me there are so many charities and community events your guys are into, can you share some links or point me where I can find out more?

Mae: We have tried to work with charities as much as possible. We ran arts and crafts classes for a migrant school via Stepping Stones last year, which we hope to start again soon. We are also working with the Shanghai based charity The Giving Tree - for every class booked and every kit we sell, we donate a ‘teachers kit’ to be added into their teacher bags, containing things that we as teachers have always found helpful in our own classes (praise stickers, chalk, pens and so on). We also run a monthly class making pillowcase dresses for the charity Dress a Girl Around the World, which has the mission of giving every girl in the world their own dress.

Untitled Untitled Untitled

The term 'Made in China' has got a bad wrap in the western world, mostly showing bad quality, but what's something Made in China that you're amazed by? That you love?

Natalie: I love the paper cuttings that are popular here. I would love to find someone here who could teach us how to do that. Also xiaolongbao, am I allowed to mention that?! I looooove them!

What did you think of Shanghai in your first week here?

Mae: I thought it was very bright, very modern and fast-paced. I lived in an island most of my life so it was all very different and very new to me.

What can you do or find in Shanghai that you can't do or find anywhere else?

Natalie: I love that Shanghai has so much potential. Craft’d is really a dream come true that would take a huge amount of time and investment to start up in the UK. The expat community is also very supportive which makes a big difference. It really is a city that gets under your skin - we are in the majority of those who planned on ‘only staying 2 years’!


Thank you Mae & Natalie! I agree, Shanghai has so much potential for everyone and thanks for sharing a little about Craft’d Shanghai with us! There are lots of workshops for adults and children… and as Mae & Natalie have backgrounds in schools, they’ve got a great understanding what children want to make! You can visit their website, or look at their wechat (craftd_sh) or Instagram!

Also, FYI the xiaolongbao Natalie mentions are Shanghai's famous dumplings... and are actually handcrafted little pieces of perfection! So yum!

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 201...