Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Voila: Maxi STRETCH Anna Dress

Ha! I have a great summer frock for you today! AND some fun nighttime photos! Sewing in Shanghai in Summer is getting *very* hot! Wearing clothes, sewing clothes, all exhausting! I have lots of projects on my wishlist, but I also have lots of water, swimming plans and cocktails on there too. Fingers crossed the humidity here in Shanghai doesn't melt us all away!

OK, so firstly, the photos are very rough, but cute... Husbie and I took them very quickly after Pizza Friday (just made that up) and we did try to get some daytime photos on another day, but our darling boy wasn't interested, and then we bumped into friends and we drank and laughed the day away while the children ran around in the afternoon shade. A lovely afternoon, but yes, that's why we have some fun and spontaneous photos for you... but it's kinda funny to show you a totally random Shanghai street! That white shop bag! Felix showing off his many facial expressions!

Onto the dress. Yes, this is my THIRD By Hand London, and that maybe shows you how little variety I have in my pattern stash, I also didn't realise I was sewing up so many BHL so last week I bought a couple of pre-birthday present patterns so you'll see some different shapes soon. PROMISE! But hey, this Anna is STRETCHY *and* a MAXI (breaking my petite rule - did I ever have a rule? Not sure/Can't remember/Who Cares)... so voila! Here are some photos for you to study, take note and let's discuss after:

Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand LondonVeronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London

When I was sewing the Colour Pop Anna Dress, I started wanting a stretch fabric project and googled up Anna Stretch Fabric (original) and found Dixie DIY's version, I think she made as a pattern test (I have no idea, I was having a baby & on maternity leave for 2012-2013 so missed a lot of 'sewing blog news') for the BHL... and thought, GREAT I'll use my newly traced pattern pieces! The fabric comes from the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market (details at the bottom of this post) and has great stretch, drape but a slightly rough feel instead of that sheen/smooth feel a knit has. I've never sewn with it before, and it wasn't too bad, however my overlocker wasn't the greatest at cutting it, so I had to go slowly or the offcuts would get sucked into the serged pieces and MESS AND CHAOS would be inside the seams. Yuck.

For the skirt piece, I traced the three BHL Anna skirt pieces together and used the same for front and back, but making the back slightly wider around the hips. The stripes weren't too hard to match up, but I took a long time with pinning and for cutting I did cut on the fold so to match the stripes either side. I spent the most time looking at where to place the racer stripes (with the yellow in it) ... above the bust, below, just below, whatever... so I jumped in and I'm not sure this is the best stripe placement, I like the shape it has from front to back at the waist though:

Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London

I folded over the neckline, ironed fusible tape to hold it and topstitched it slowly, and it is ok (it's lifted a little in the photo above, after I wore it)... I folded the sleeves like the pattern suggests too and they went ok as well. Everything went fine until the side seams, where the overlocker serged a bit unevenly, so the stripes aren't fully matched up... I will baste properly next time... my hasty mistake. THEN, the overlocker did that thing where it kind of 'gathers' slightly instead of serging... does anyone know this or experienced it? It may have been the fabric, but I un-gathered it ok and ironed flat, but not sure if it's a me problem or a machine problem or a fabric problem.

Anyways, after lots of shirring testing (I had sewn a little dress earlier this year at Sewing School but not at home) I ran around the middle twice... but because I didn't secure the ends properly, it unravelled/unstitched a bit, and you can see that on the waistline:

Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London

But I'd run out of shirring elastic in my bobbin and I just wanted to wear the dress by that stage. I have a Brother sewing machine, so the shirring option involves taking the whole bobbin case out, turning the tension screw by hand, and threading it up by hand to make sure it's secure under that little tiny leg thing. Anyways, I'd already changed it all back to hem, and then it unravelled! Gah! I'll be aware of it next time, as I will probably make this again, I like the shape and it's cool to wear! I usually don't like elastic around my waist but maybe I'm changing! So because of this shape, I've bought the Closet Case Files jumpsuit AND the Tilly & the Buttons newest dress... so we'll see if they go as well for my measurements.

Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand LondonVeronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London

So, the Anna dress can be stretchy! AND I'm actually liking this higher neckline for me! Oh, I totally used the same size 6/10 as I did for the normal woven Anna from the other week... but instead of French Seaming I did the normal 5/8 seams... I know with shirring it can bring the whole dress in too tight, somewhere online I saw the ratio for fabric to waist size... so I thought keeping the normal woven size would be good for bringing the elastic waistband in... the fabric is so drapey and light, I don't think it looks too big across the shoulders/back.

Lastly, I think this is my Sundress for Heather's Sewalong as well... even though I drank all the rose wine instead of photograph this in the sunny afternoon... the Sewalong runs til August, so I might get another one in before then too!

Pattern: By Hand London's Anna
Fabric: A light drapey stretch. Purchased from 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, 东门路168号,近中山东二路
Size: BHL 6/10 with 1.5inches FBA  
While Sewing: I contemplated buying some new patterns, especially some to beat the heat of Shanghai.  
Will I Wear It? Yes, I like it a lot, and it'll probably fall apart, but job well done in the short term.

Hope you're having a great week! xoxo

Veronica Darling Anna Dress Stretch By Hand London

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Breakfast Blogging in Shanghai

I never really thought I’d be sitting in a cafe in Shanghai, having soup noodles for breakfast and a very delicious latte, while Mariah Carey sings ‘I can’t live (if living is without you)’ on the stereo…. and a song I sang at the Eisteddfod (the performance contest/festival in our area, growing up) …. we just don’t know the funny places we’ll be in life, and what memories will pop up with particular songs or music.

When I started singing with my teacher Faye, I was probably 14 or 15 years old and sometimes I didn’t really think I could sing well, but after a lot of performances (Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were was the first song I ever sang alone in public) and theatre shows… I finally felt very good about my voice. I didn’t think I would be just a ‘singer’ or a performer… I loved doing it, and I loved being in plays, but my theatre group was a special group that you only find once in a while and you know I started my radio career and somewhere in your twenties you sort of focus on just one or two things instead of being kinda good at lots of things. I certainly pursued my radio career once I earned proper money, plus it was incredibly challenging and a performance to learn in itself. Radio is hard.

But as I find myself floating around this new city, I have a full time job as the parent of a two year old… and as we go along we’re all feeling really confident about being here. My little child is settling in really well, so maybe he can go to his school a few more mornings? And as it’s summertime, I don’t have my Chinese class or sewing class, so I’m here blogging in the cafe.

So I especially feel this week, I’m taking stock of who I am, what I want to do, what I can do and how I love to be in this world. I feel so lucky to still, in my 30s to have as many choices as I did in my early twenties. I know I’m not going to be a stage performer again or sing Mariah Carey ballads on stage ever again (maybe that’s a good thing, for my little lungs could never belt it out as much as her) but I feel so open to all the great things I could be doing.

Blogging is a great connection to ‘you’, how you feel and how you present yourself to the world… but it’s a great way to explore your world and yourself in it. Of course, being a sewing blogger means you can create something and write about it… but I like writing in this space about myself occasionally and little things in my world. I write so much outside of blogging these days, being in a new city can do that to you.

Now the radio is playing ‘Time After Time’ by Cindi Lauper, which is the song I sang at my brother’s wedding… so it’s probably time to wrap up today! It was his birthday on Monday, so Happy Birthday from Shanghai to Wagga little brother - Xiao Didi (in Chinese!).

Talk soon,


P.S as I’m formatting & about to publish, the cafe radio is playing ‘Close to You’ by the Carpenters… ANOTHER song I sang at the Eisteddfod when I was a teenager. I sang it frequently to little Baby Darling when he was born too. Isn’t it funny when a cafe radio plays out songs from your life! WEIRD! xoxo

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Voila: Pink & Green Anna Party Dress

Oh yay! I started writing this post (I like using Evernote for my writing) feeling a bit lost but then I found this draft I’d started last week, while I was sewing this, how organised! Oh hooray, so now I can fill in the gush and happiness now I have such lovely photos of this Anna Dress!

For the last week I’ve been thinking about what makes By Hand London’s Anna Dress pattern so popular… for a group of sewing friends (all online and friends through instagram - love it! Here's Pip's post that covers the girls party idea) threw each other a birthday party of the virtual kind and as a celebration lots of sewing people made new Anna dresses and swished around a lot over the weekend! Well, that’s how I’d like to imagine it, a lot of swishing of frocks around the world and online! It’s kind of funny to think of it all, and certainly a lovely thing that passions like sewing can make a large group of people feel so happy by wearing all different versions of the same dress!

anna dress veronica darling by hand london anna dress veronica darling by hand london

So I made this dress for the International Anna Party and was very happy wearing it this weekend in the very hot weather on Saturday! I’ve sewn several Anna bodices before (after the first dress, I have tried different skirts… the panel skirt on the original panel doesn’t interest me that much) and a few different sizes, but this time I decided to do a proper Full Bust Adjustment (my first Anna Dress was an FBA but I cannot remember how I did it… the pattern pieces don’t match though and it wasn’t really my size in the end) because I wanted to have a floatier bodice than a rigid form fitting one. My last one was the V Neck and it is fine, but I tend to have to stand extremely straight all the time, and that’s what made me think I need a different fit. And this fabric TOTALLY needed something floaty, it’s heavens knows what kind of cotton (the selvedges are written in Chinese and it looks to me like a digital print), but what a print and colour scheme right!? So different for me!

Anyways, I also wanted to try the higher neckline because all my other versions have been the v neck! For the FBA I followed this one mostly and then this one helped as well! Thank you ladies! To begin with I also double checked my measuring with Tasia’s Pendrell Size Choosing Blog Post, because I found she talked on highbust and if you need a FBA... Tasia recommends if you're over 2.5 inches in difference you need to do a FBA. So I took lots of notes and because of my lovely new roll of tracing paper and my rulers, I took my time with it.

anna dress veronica darling by hand london anna dress veronica darling by hand london

But, even though I had lovely space and time to trace, then draw then cut then spread then all the rest of the FBA stuff, I don’t think the bodice is the best fit… while the dress is totally fine to wear and flip around in… I’m not 100 per cent on the bodice bust and under bust area… I didn’t shorten it either, and it does need some shortening… But I didn’t move the darts over enough to the sides, they’re kinda closer to the middle. AND there is still excess fabric in the vertical at the neckline, so even though I cut on the fold and didn’t move around any of that part of the pattern… I made the FBA 1.5 inches from my high bust measurements using the 6/10 size.

So not sure! Maybe I’ll start again… I don’t know how I thought 1.5 inches would be right for the adjustments, in the first FBA tutorial I used, it was really clear but by about half way through I misunderstood about 'measure the difference'… it was harder to fit with the paper pattern piece so maybe that's where I went out. Anyways, I’ll give it another go! The back bodice sits ok with my shoulders up, but if I flop around a bit it’s really loose as well. But it is floaty, so that’s what I had wanted with this really light fabric!

anna dress veronica darling by hand london

But the circle skirt was lovely and YAY to having enough fabric for that! I used the app on the By Hand London website and cut it a bit wrong but oh well… I evened out the lopsided bit and I think it’s ok.

My main Anna/Circle Skirt combination inspiration was Lynne's... I will always admire Lynne/OzzyBlackbeard’s shape because we’re very similar in size! I also liked Anita's bodice with the high neck! The green is also a beautiful colour! You can see below the fabric under bust stretching, I let out some of the dart seam but I just think they're in the wrong place to begin with. Next time!

anna dress veronica darling by hand london

So why is the pattern so popular? I don’t always sew up popular patterns; I’m not rolling in spare sewing cash and I am not the perfect shape for a whole bunch of the new - last few years new - patterns. I do like the independent pattern makers, and glad they’re around, but they’re not all my style either. Personally, the Anna Bodice is very lovely and a quick sew… and that you can do any skirt you fancy really. It reminds me a bit of some vintage patterns (a 1940s one in particular) that I used to sew. But I don’t know… what do you think makes it popular? And if you’re not sewing it up, what stops you sewing this one? I definitely like it, but I really wanna make it fit better and now that I’ve sewn so many, it really should fit better… right? Is that just me or the pattern? I think me!

I’ve already made a knit fabric Anna too, in my research for this one I found this Dixie DIY one so I’ll hopefully get that to you soon on the blog!

Pattern: By Hand London's Anna
Fabric: A light cotton, that could be rayon but I don't know how to find out. I irons well, creases only a little and floats around lovelily. Purchased from 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, 东门路168号,近中山东二路
Size: BHL 6/10 with 1.5inches FBA  
While Sewing: Listened to Tom Ballard's Podcast 'Like I'm a Size Year Old' with my friend Clementine, so I thought a lot about my old self in Australia!  
Will I Wear It? Yes, it's lovely for Shanghai summer!

***Oh and I'm a Top 9 Finalist now for this dress! YAY! Thank you Ute, Pips and Elle!***

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Scenes from Shanghai: More Street Patterns

For my Scenes from Shanghai, I like to collect up similar photos from my time here and group them together to show you a different take on China. The city is full of contrasts, full to the brim but quiet as all hell... glamourous and charming on one corner and then really gross and stinky down the next street. I take my good camera everywhere (the GX7 Lumix one) and just snap away at whatever really, sometimes bikes loaded up with chairs, sometimes buildings that could be straight outta France, or sometimes food drying on the street. We don't know how long or short our time here will be... so I'm just soaking it up. I have noticed a few times in the last month things have kind of felt normal... and I'm keeping busy with my life and my son's life all while our darling one works long hours for us to save for a holiday and pay the bills. My last street patterns blog post featured some more gates and motifs and lovely things like this one if you're into patterns! It's not really what you'd expect to see in a Chinese town, there's such a great mix of styles! xoxo

Monday, 13 July 2015

Voila: Cheeky Stewardess Sophia - By Hand London

Totally excited! I’ve been thinking of this dress for a while, having bought the fabric a few months back at a fabric market trip! And THEN we’ve been held up with the weather here in Shanghai because this is NOT a dress that could just be photographed indoors. It rained for about 2 weeks nonstop and then we had a typhoon! ARGH.

So! I’ve named the dress Cheeky Stewardess Sophia because I have a friend called Cheeky who I was thinking of a lot during the making of this dress, I can’t remember why but I like to think about people, particularly awesome women in my life, while I sew… maybe Cheeky came to mind as I miss her, but also because when I lived in Sydney I would take photos of planes a lot and I love planes and being inner west to have the low flying planes overhead. And she and other friends would quite like to talk about my fascination with planes and all the plane photos I collected up on Facebook. Yes it was amazing! So, red retro looking fabric AND planes are a total win for me! But ALSO since I’ve been back on Instagram this year as Veronica Darling, I started following a bunch of different people (sewing and non) from all around the world and found Stewardess Tiffany! So when I started making this, I just knew she’d be into it just as much as I am! Plus she seems cheeky too!

Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling

Anyways, the dress! It’s a Sophia pattern of the By Hand London 2015 collection and I made my test bodice with the pencil skirt earlier in the year but I’m not fond of the fabric and how tight it feels on. I don’t really like the pencil skirt either, I might chop it. I made a size 6/10 again but as the fabric has only a little more give than my original Sophia I decide to test out 1cm seams instead of the 5/8 suggestioned. I don’t know if that’s a big no no in the sewing world, but I found the skirt width was only out (when attaching to the bodice) by 1cm, so I actually thought that wasn’t too bad.

The only other change was that I kept the 5/8 at the waistband seam to shorten it, and now I wish I’d shortened a bit more… my torso above the waist is a little short… a bit annoying considering my larger bust… because some patterns balance out ok. I also used some basic white cotton stuff for the lining and it's ok, a little heavy in texture but what can you do? Run across town and hunt around for an alternative? Not in Shanghai!

My tracing paper hadn’t arrived when I cut the fabric, so I kind of fuddled around the corners of this bodice, snipping here and there. Not the best. But I paid SO much attention to that little love aeroplane on my right shoulder in laying the pattern pieces that I totally didn’t anticipate the left shoulder having a plane too. I did consider recutting it, but thought it’s so large and fun that it doesn’t really matter having two planes on my bewbs. But I tried to get a plane on each of the godet pieces too! GOTTA LOVE PLANES! (also a name of one of my many Facebook photo albums!)

Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling

The godets take up SO much fabric, but luckily I had bought 5 metres knowing I’d be making something for the whole family… matchy-matchy style is VERY Chinese! And I followed the By Hand London’s notes on sewing them, as there have not been than many Sophia Dresses made up yet that talk about them. I have never sewn a godet before, and have no idea how to pronounce it… so of course in a recent radio chat with my friends at ABC Melbourne, I mentioned them… and stumbled… is the ’t’ silent? Will I be waiting for Godet (BAD pun) and it’s proper pronunciation!?

After I put them in, I realised I was just so determined to get them in that I’d forgotten then how to finish the seams… many suggestions on instagram were to pink them, and I did bring a pair of shears with me to Shanghai, but Oona suggested serging SLOWLY and I actually DID it! I slowly served and it freaking worked! Everyone (including Ruggie) virtually fist bumped and it will never be seen but it looks quite neat for a first go. My invisible zipper is close to invisible too!

Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling

So! I finished it all, and my Housekeeper bossed me again and did the hand stitching you can see … but it hung on the coat hanger waiting for the weather to clear! Muggy and rainy, for at least 2 weeks, and then a typhoon, and then yesterday! SUNSHINE and we left the house, to pick up some of Husbie’s framed photos (printing AND framing is super cheap here in Shanghai compared to Australia)... and down a backstreet found a not so quiet street for photos!

Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling

We took these photos just by this random scooter, #BecauseVintage, right? And it’s a swishy fun dress all round!

To wear it to dinner however, I should not have had waffles after all that Mexican food and drinks… my oh my it was a relief to peel the dress off at home! I saw Rachel mention (or was it you Marie?) that you have to wear a strapless bra with the Sophia dress (which I didn’t consider as I will not wear one with my sized bewbs) as those underarms are a little inward than usual… but one of my bras is a little narrower there, so it pops out a bit, but not that much for me to worry. I could wear without, as the bodice is very fitted, but again, I just couldn’t. Although, I’m SUPER happy the skirt length also passed the riding the bike test… no chain grease! YAY.

But, some things for next time (I now write down little notes and summaries because I have actually started liking sewing the same patterns - SHOCK - so want proper notes for next time):

I think it does need shorter shoulder seams too, and at least 2cm shorter at the waist in the bodice. I had to cut 20cm off the hem, so I wonder how you’d fold godet pattern pieces to make them shorter? Or would I just cut a bit off the pattern instead? AND lastly, I think *maybe* I should cut a size 8/12 next time but make sure the shoulders and torso are shortened properly!

Sophia Dress By Hand London Veronica Darling

Passes the swishy test (is that something?) too! WOO! I'll be back with this dress again soon to show you my little boy in his short matchy-matchy shorts too!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Voila: Pattern Testing the Daisy Chain Top

Being in Shanghai, on one income, our family has a modest budget. So I’m welcoming the time to sew & be a pattern tester on the odd occasion for the independent pattern designers around the world. Plus, I’ve always been thrifty! This week, the Daisy Chain Top 06 was launched by Debbie for her Lily Sage & Co pattern collection and last week I finished it up for a play date in the park!

It is just WONDERFUL and completely quick to sew up. When sewing kids things, I want a pattern than is super quick but is really good looking and this Daisy Chain top is that kind of style for me. I love the shape and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember I tried this kind of hemline (with great wearability as I wear it ALL the time) a few years ago. Love it!

Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling

Debbie describes it as "a loose fitting, swingy, baby doll top that is perfect for Summer days. It has a fully covered, button up back, little sleeve ruffles, a flattering hi-lo bodice, and a gathered midriff skirt section.” I love the coverage it gives, for sun reasons and just aesthetically, I don’t really like spaghetti straps and halters on small children… covered up shoulders and back is great for everyday wear, and the breezy fit of this style means you can still keep cool.

The top comes in sizes 3-10 and for Elvy I tested the 4, but - oops - serged the wrong seam allowances and Debbie has since made it quite clear in the instruction it’s 13mm or 1/2 inch (and also includes both imperial and metric in her pattern notes which I find a great help because I tend to use both in my sewing for some reason). But I’m pleased with the fit.

I chose this cheapie Panda quilters cotton for my test because PANDAS are totally cute, but also Elvy looks good in charcoals and greys… she’s also a No Frills kinda child, so I made the version without the frill sleeves.

Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling

It was a dream to trace and sew, I love the shapes of all the pieces and I made the bias with my Chinese Taobao bias makers (all the colours here are super cheap, so I got them all) no trouble and I tried hard to stretch the bias tape around the curves because often I have problems with my bias… I should have used grey thread to topstitch but it still looks neat enough.

Everything went SUPER well including my BUTTONHOLES. I have not sewn buttonholes since maybe… this dress? It feels like five years, so I’m pleased my machine still can make them smoothly… I recall if you have the speed on fast they mess up more… and if you have thicker seams it has to go over behind the foot, it’ll get stuck as well. All of them were fine, and the only 4 matching buttons I had were these big ones, so they’re a little larger than the top perhaps calls for, but I like them.

Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling

So I have no idea how long it took to sew, but it was great in short little bursts of sewing (like the time I have these days around children and admin/life stuff) because it’s an easy project to pick up and put down. I hope to make more for other children, and can probably add a bit to the length of the skirt to make it a proper dress. I'd like to try some different fabrics too, I have some sort of rayon cotton (I think it is) that I'm sewing with today, and if there's leftovers I'll make up a Daisy Chain Top ... I reckon you could squeeze this into leftovers. I have 3 metres for an Anna dress, so probably won't need that much (I'm going to make a circle or half circle skirt for the International Anna Party!)... maybe!

Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling

Elvy is two years old and good friends now with my Felix (he’s 3 in September), and they’re a good match for personality and energy. Now they’re in little school together (a French run, English & Mandarin speaking kinder-type centre) they’re very fond of each other, and I’m happy because I quite adore Olivia, Elvy’s mum! Olivia is a photographer, and you can see her Shanghai blog (and she's part of the Shanghai Bloggers group too!) but find her photo collections here.

Daisy Chain Top Veronica Darling

So cute!

The fabric came from the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market, but since I returned there last week, the whole shop is different. Plus the woman sold me some fabric with lots of imperfections - luckily this panda one is ok - so I don't really want to link to her shop! For testing this pattern, I am not under any obligation to blog by Lily Sage & Co and opinions here are entirely my own. Debbie gave me the pattern to test for free, and has sent through the updated version that you can now find in her shop. Happy Weekend to you guys! xoxo

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Made in China: Shibori Workshop at Make in China!

shibori workshop veronica darling

Be prepared for a whole lotta indigo in your face today, for my ‘Made in China’ blog series is about the wonderful women behind ‘Make in China’ and we all made Shibori! My MIC series aims to show you that things made in China are not just plasticy or low quality things… and I am seeking out the high skills of crafts people in Shanghai! This time getting to experience it myself.

shibori workshop veronica darling

Véronique & Amandine together are Make in China, and brought us all together on a sunny Sunday morning in a lane house in Xuhui (AKA the Former French Concession district of Shanghai) for their second workshop. They all learnt macrame for their first official workshop and have lots of other techniques planned for the next term… as with summer holidays starting, everyone has travelled homewards. My friend Liv told me about Make in China & their shibori class… and I wanted to try it out, knowing it would be a messy process and it’s just something to do at home quickly. I loved it, and as usually with learning new skills, I was super excited. I feel so lucky to have the time at the moment here in Shanghai to gather up some new ideas, meet wonderfully creative people and have fun!

Véronique is from Quebec city, Canada and Amandine hails from France and while there were other French students in our workshop, we were also joined by Japanese, Chinese, American and Brazillian students (a lovely way to work with French & English & Japanese being spoken around you!), and our Brazillian friend spoke English with an Australian accent because her partner was from Tasmania! Oh so funny hearing an Aussie accented Brazilian, so gorgeous!

shibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darlingshibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darling

Here’s my Q&A with V&A (awwww, look at how cute their initials are…) below, and all photos are from our morning together:

How did you guys meet?

We have been working together in the communication department of an international school since 2012.

Make in China is only pretty new, how did you come around creating the workshops?

Well, we couldn't find any interesting DIY workshops for adults in Shanghai. Most of what is offered in the city is either for children or for people who are not working during the week. We had also attended one-time workshops in the past but didn't like the fact that most of the time you end up with something unfinished or that you won't use.

With our DIY workshops we wanted to create more like a "creative experience" where you can meet and mingle with other-minded people in a relaxed and fun environment with some nice food and drinks. Because we know that nowadays people don't always have the time and the materials to be crafty at home, all our projects can be completed in 3 hours guaranteed ;) so you are sure to go back home with something beautiful.

Have you guys always been creative?

Véronique: I think so but in different ways through my life. When I was a teenager I was very much into fashion (still am!) and was very creative in the way I dressed. When I arrived in China in 2007, I started a blog and got pretty creative with words. But now I feel the need to spend less time in front of the computer and make something with my hands.

Amandine: To be honest, not really. I would love to but I don't always take the time to do things by myself. I am attracted to creative things, ideas and people though... Make in China allows me to work on my creativity and I enjoy so much seeing the results!

I'm so curious about people's passions and where creativity comes from... do you have any ideas?

Véronique: I believe everybody can be creative if they are inspired. And you simply get inspired by being curious, opening you eyes and looking around you.

Amandine: I think everybody can be creative if they take the time, have inspiration and all the material available. I believe it is easier if you are not alone but surrounded with friends, like what we do in our workshops.

shibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darling

How easy was it to set up a workshop here in town? The building & location was lovely! What is townhouse usually used for?

Finding the right location for launching Make in China was our biggest obstacle. It took a lot of searching! It is not easy to find a place that can be rented by the hour, once a month. The townhouse we have used for our 3 workshops is my friend's English school. Lucky for us, kids don't go to school on Sundays ;) In the future we would love to organize our workshops in different spaces, in order to surprise our regular participants and offer them a completely different experience.

What kind of workshops would you like to run in Shanghai?

Most of art schools in Shanghai focus on common practices like painting and drawing. We want to differentiate ourselves by offering techniques that are trendy right now and that are not usually taught in the city. In March we did a macramé plant hanger workshop and in May and June we worked on a shibori cotton scarf. We announce all our workshops on our Facebook page ( and our WeChat account (MakeinChina).

shibori workshop veronica darling shibori workshop veronica darlingshibori workshop veronica darling

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

We both work in a international school... until Make in China becomes our day job!

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?

Véronique: Old traditional techniques like lacquerware, Nankeen dyeing and Miao embroidery, especially when they are revisited with a modern twist.

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

An energy and a general enthusiasm to make things happen. Fast.

One more thing from the Make in China team...

We would be thrilled to collaborate with partners in the future. You make the best cupcakes in town? You have a big (and cosy) space available? You are an expert in modern calligraphy? You want to promote your flower shop? You do something cool or you know somebody who knows somebody who does something cool? Let's meet and help each other out! Drop us a line at:

shibori workshop veronica darling

Thank you Véronique and Amandine! I loved learning Shibori, and wish you well with Make in China! If you're super into Shibori, I've made a gallery on flickr so you can see all the indigo glory photos!

And I hope you guys also enjoyed reading about these gorgeous woman… who are taking a plunge to try something new in Shanghai! As always, I like to let you know what’s going on here and I paid my own way for the workshop… but afterwards I asked Véronique & Amandine if I could talk about them on my blog. It feels a bit funny writing a disclaimer, but I want you to know when I’m genuinely interested in something, compared to when I’ve been asked my opinion & or when I’ve been invited to something. I’ll be upfront, as I tend to be… and thanks for reading as you tend to do!

Happy week to you xoxo

shibori workshop veronica darling

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