Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Shanghai Fabric Market Tour #4


Time for another tour of Shanghai's Fabric Markets! As you can probably tell, Shanghai has LOTS of markets, for all kinds of things! While home sewing and DIY culture hasn't really taken off in China as much as the western world, sewing unique pieces of clothing is very popular and this market is the second offshoot/location of the famous 'South Bund Fabric Market' ... as far as I can tell... and more modern and brightly lit as you'll see!

So let's go have a look at the outside first, helps when you know what you're looking for when you see a gigantic sewing machine statue!

”Fabric ”Fabric

This market is on the southside of the large Lujiabang Lu and covers the entire block opposite the original 399 Lujiabang Lu Fabric Market that you can read about here and confirm the original address here... but I'm yet to buy fabric from there yet... I did get my cashmere purple jacket made there last year but for fabric shopping or fabric browsing, I find it dark and busy (with tourists) but I will get there to photograph a tour there for you one day!

But if you have a look southside, you'll find this quiet & well lit fabric market and it's a good introduction to seeing what's on offer. Usually the same businesses have shop fronts here, across the road and at Dongmen Lu (my favourite fabric market in Shanghai), so there are some similarities in fabrics & garments - if you're looking to get tailormade clothing!


So, you can see all the tailor made clothing first, and vendors will try their English but it's not pushy here. It's a quiet space for you to look around, and take it all in. I find that I need some quiet to have a poke around first in places, and it's tricky if everyone is after your attention. Of course, if you're looking for something made, I'm pretty sure the sewing people here are pretty good... however I would suggest knowing exactly what you want and checking out other things they've made to see the overall quality.

There is fabric for sale though and it's not too pricey, mostly the same as the other markets... you can ask 'EE MEE?' for 'one metre' and they'll give you a price and you can haggle a bit I'm sure. I've bought fabric here - can't remember what kind now - and I've had some stretchy dresses made - a few months ago - when I was deciding whether to start selling some self designed dressed. And the quality was good, both in workmanship and fabric!

I do really like this strange plasticy fabric shop! I've been thinking of getting my bike apron made up here to see what it could look like as well! In case I can sell some at the markets here. Do you remember that neon blur I made in 2011? Never not thinking of projects!

And see the funny photos below! I told you it was quiet here! However people nap in Shanghai anytime of day whether it's quiet or noisy! So there's also a few shops with embellishments and haberdashery, not as many to choose as the Embellishment Market on Renmin Lu but still things to look at.

So there you have it! Another Fabric Market, but probably the cleanest and brightest one in Shanghai for fabric browsing or choosing tailor made clothes!

I've been looking for the address, and found it's 378 Lujiabang Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China - the SOUTH side of the overpass. It's close to the Nanpu Bridge Metro, and of course look for that giant sewing machine statue. But the only Chinese address I can find is the northside market of:

399 Lujiabang Lu,

near Nancang Jie

南外滩轻纺面料市场, 陆家浜路399号, 近南仓街

Have a great week, maybe dreaming of Shanghai!?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Scenes from Shanghai: Winter Streets


Happy Saturday! This week we've sunk into the Shanghai winter... a few extremely chilly days, with bad pollution and my son home with hairlice from his kindergarten! Urgh! We'll get through, lots of shampooing here at our house!

Today I'm sharing some photos of our winter streets here in Shanghai, some ordinary corners as we've been walking around. Slowly, it's starting to be too familiar here, the shops, the bikes and the people... I went to a new area for a voice over job and was quickly reminded to talk more photos because of the different decorations and perspectives again. Maybe it takes about a year to get settled into new surrounds and not find meat hanging outside on a coathanger to be strange. It still is strange, but I'm less likely to stop for a photo perhaps?

Wishing you a relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Making: Toy Bag & Play Mat for Duplo


A few days before Christmas I had a quick idea, my son was getting a few Duplo boxes for Christmas (we found a special deal on Taobao on the famous 11.11 sales) and as I suddenly realised he’ll need some extra storage for the colourful blocks, I remembered the lovely playmat I’d seen on pinterest five years ago (or around then) that you could easily build and sift through the blocks, but then once finished you can draw it all up and hang it on the back of the door or somewhere out of the way for next time.

I googled up a few photos and tutorials, but for these first attempts, I followed the very straightforward Fabric Mill idea. It was great and used up some fabric I had in the stash leftover from birthdays through the year and other bunting adventures… the smaller ones are for smaller children who also got their first batch of Duplo this Christmas, so a useful bag for them for the next year.

”fabric ”fabric

The one I made Felix is bigger, around a metre wide at least… and now that I’ve sewn it up, next time I’ll put the drawstrings on both sides… kinda like the Swoop Storage bags I later found… (you can sew your own, or just buy them from this small business!) as that distributes the drawstring gathers a little better and less likely for the bag to be too heavy. As right now, with the amount of Duplo Felix has (about 4 boxes of the stuff over the last 2 years) is just ok, but it’ll get too heavy if we have more.

What storage ideas do you have for Duplo or Lego? I love something that can serve two purposes, like a playmat and a bag. I’m really happy with how neat this was to sew, it was a bit of time getting the circle flat and neat and matching the two fabrics up… but the stitching part was super quick and very easy to put together.

The Vera Bradley fabric I’d got from my very small fabric shop (it usually doesn’t have much on offer, it’s like the bargain cotton bin at Spotlight - if you’re Australian you’ll know) but the green and pink colour combo was intersting to me, but I had no idea how to sew with it… my sewing teacher declared it for quilting and not good for garment sewing… so I’m happy I’ve used it here… I love the khaki green with it.

Duplo is our preferred building block right now, as Felix is 3 years old and very happy using this size block, but I know eventually it’ll be Lego and that stuff is small.

What are you sewing at the moment? I tried a green velvet dress last week, that just went so wonky everywhere... Wrong pattern I think! Will try a skirt next!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Talking: Spring Blogging Workshops

Hey! Happy Thursday! I'm keeping busy this week and have been really *happy* for I've got lots of personal stuff going on and I'm loving Shanghai to bits. Not being in full time work is still very different for me (especially this week as everyone here and online returns to work), and now that I've got a few extra curricular activities happening, it's even weirder. I think I've become a freelancer. And a board member. And a voice over artist. (!)

I'll get to it all, but firstly I wanted to let you know about the Blogging Workshops I'm hosting!

Late last year, my friend Liv & I co-hosted a workshop for the Shanghai International Literary Festival... we only expected 10 or so people, but when more than 20 peeps confirmed their attendance, we were so happy! I've been working alongside the Shanghai Bloggers Society (my friends Line & Nando who started the app last year) to bring a springtime series of monthly blogging workshops to Shanghai from February..... AND our home will be again the lovely M Glam Bar at the famous Shanghai insitution M on the Bund.

I wrote up plenty more information on the workshops, and we'll have dates confirmed soon... but leave me a note if you need more info now... it's going to really fun!

This week I've also been confirmed a spot on the Expatriate Professional Women's Society (the EPWS) as the Commercial Sponsorship Chair! It's very exciting because I've never sat on a board before, but really love the organisation's commitment to personal growth and support of women of all ages in their career. They helped set up the Mentor Walks program (that I was a mentee last year for) here in Shanghai and they are an amazing group. So excited to be involved. If you're an expat woman in China, it'd be great to get connected with them.

AND, I also did my first voice over in Shanghai! Working in radio for many years, I've had some experience with studios & production ... so it was great wearing the headphones again and working with producers here. I love it! I totally forgot I did these kind of things in Australia all the time, we recorded promos and didn't even think twice...! And then this morning, I had coffee with the comedy club guy in Shanghai, so have rekindled my passion for comedy again... he invited me to be a judge for the upcoming festival. SO! I'm reconnecting with my passions, my skills and it's funny to remember how varied my interests were and are... so to replicate my Melbourne life, I just need to start working at a radio station with musicians again and it'll be complete!

OK, so that's all my news this week! A big week for little old me! What about you!? What did you get up to? Did you return to work from holidays? Extending your time away until late January like Australians tend to do!?

Talk soon and do get in touch if you're in Shanghai and keen to know about the blogging workshops!


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Voila: Pattern Testing Lilith & Eve LE201

My first sewn up thing to show you this year! And very unlike me, it’s a top... that’s woven! It’s also not my best effort but oh well, it’s wearable!

I saw online that Lilith & Eve needed pattern testers for their second pattern, released last month, and thought I’d volunteer… mainly because it’s a woven top, and I wanted to sew something like this for something different. I always sew stretch fabrics when I wear tops and t-shirts, I'm so boring! The Lilith & Eve patterns are pretty new, I don’t know much about them, but I like the idea that they offer two versions (a Lilith and an Eve one) of their patterns and had some time in November so volunteered to sew their second release LE201, a long maxi dress or a casual top, both with the raglan sleeve/neckline.

The positives for this top is all the Lilith & Eve design, it’s cute and relaxed. The pattern is really clear, and I didn’t have any major concerns with the pattern pieces, or the instructions. (The girls had sent me a paper pattern version, it’s lovely and large packaging, A4)

BUT, you’ll see it’s different than Eve’s version because I choose ridiculous cotton silk and anything with a curve was stretched out in the wrong way because of my cutting. The top version has a loose peplum (a petal skirt) and should be lovely instead of wonky like my hem. I dove into the project but a little gungho without really checking what I should be doing. The fabric market here is very vague with any silks, and I wanted more cotton so I wouldn’t stuff up but wanted it to be drapey as well… but oh well… next time I’ll definitely cut with one layer (instead of folding it) if I do use this kind of fabric.

Anyways, I like the rest of it, of course I didn’t iron it to wear out though as our iron broke before Christmas! Luckily Santa brought me a new one which hopefully will last a bit longer, hey!?

Notes & Summary:  
Pattern: LE201 by Lilith & Eve
Fabric: Completely unknown silk cotton with a floaty light drape. Purchased from 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, 东门路168号,近中山东二路  
Size: Size 4  
While Sewing: Complete noob with this fabric, but you gotta try it sometime!  
Will I Wear It? Yes, I like it! I should probably have sewn the buttons on, but who's got the time to sit still over the festive season!?

It was FREEZING as you can see from the face expressions but really wanted to show you something I’ve sewn because I’ve gone a bit crafty lately and not really making any clothes… I have some patterns to print up (as usual with me now) so really wanna get some things for winter and springtime sewn before it’s summer!

Happy first week of January! And thanks so much for all your lovely comments on my last blog post! You’ll start to see some changes on my name here and there.. for did you know Veronica Darling is my sewing superhero nom de plume?!

Talk soon, xoxo

Friday, 1 January 2016

About Me: Hello!

The first day of the year, and I’ve got a little news for you. I’ve been putting off updating my ‘About Me’ section of the blog because since moving to Shanghai, I’ve felt so many changes, and I was waiting to see where those changes shifted in real life and online. And you know what? I’ve outgrown myself as Veronica Darling here… and (yay!) for the first time online, from now on I’m going to update my blog as Amelia… my real name in real life!. Because there’s no real difference these days between online and real life, but there was when I started writing online in 2001.

And so HEY, my name is Amelia and it's lovely to meet you again here! I know it might be a bit of a surprise to some of you and might take a little while to get used to seeing the change, but for as I’ve grown so much in the 8 years of writing in this space, I’m sure you have to. A lot of you are real life friends, and a lot of you I’ve met through this blog! So it’ll make real life catch ups & emails a little less confusing from now on!

So why have I had a super hero sewing blogger name all this time? (hee hee)

When I first started writing online (in 2001 - ahem!), it was while I went to university and I wrote all the time with different pen names, mostly for academic writing & research. We loved our weblogs and one that I contributed to was recognised as a successful collaborative project in academic circles. An award winning digital writing project. Haha! But my electronic writing and academia work created a little fear of putting my real self out there. My Writing Voice was (and still is!) a bit weird and self aware, so starting blogs with different names did help me write more freely.

So why Veronica Darling? When I started writing this blog in 2007, as a crafty adventures diary, I'd been working for the ABC for a while as a radio producer. And if you’re not Australian… the ABC is a government funded media organisation and is best known for being a valuable & trusted news body… and mostly because it’s completely unbiased in it’s approach to content. In my first job in radio, any perceived conflict of interests had to be noted in my yearly assessment…it was all a bit serious! I had to declare my community theatre involvement and that was sometimes discussed as a conflict. So in my first job with the ABC I didn’t want to have any external conflict of interests as I worked on building my career, myself, my radio world and at the same time writing about sewing & being crafty here, it felt better to write as Veronica Darling instead of my own name. Nowadays, things are a bit different online, but I also don’t work for the government anymore! I’m not even in Australia! So I can’t see any conflict of interest anymore! HA!

2016, the year of Amelia @ Veronica Darling? Where to from here?

Of course, I’ve been thinking about how I’ll be ‘called’ online here… mostly because more and more I’m meeting people in real life and on the email and social media chit chat, and it’s become a little confusing getting called Veronica here in Shanghai when it is a pseudonym and not my real name. "Amelia @ Veronica Darling"… maybe "Amelia / Veronica Darling"? Whatever, it’s a personal change… but I won’t change all my usernames or anything too drastic, this will still be Veronica Darling’s blog space.

Little big news I guess, but not really! My life here in Shanghai has become really interesting and lots more new people are reading my blog, and as I’m meeting so many people now through the blog too, I thought it’s probably the right time to update myself and to reflect myself a little clearly… and so, HELLO! I feel shiny & new!

Wishing you a happy new year festival and all the best for your 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 201...