Sew Happy- Long Weekends

Public holidays means I get a little breather from my usual commitments to do what I like doing. So during the recent Easter weekend, I eked out a little time to make new bags for Mr kwek and myself.

Mr Kwek got a faux leather messenger bag lined with a black and white spotty cotton and dark blue satin binding around the edges. I found sewing such a thick and stiff material really difficult especially when I got to the corners. Probably didn't help that the pattern was just dreamed up by yours truly who has zero experience sewing with such materials. It turned out decent, though kinda rough around the edges. I'm so gonna try sewing with real leather next. But maybe with a more manageable project. *excited*
For myself, I made myself a little stripey cross-body sling bag by modifying a 5-minute-sew idea I saw on Pinterest. I'm clearly a terrible sewer as it took me a whole hour to complete. But I'm still mighty pleased. It is made to fit my Bible, a notebook, my wallet and phone. All the essentials I need. :)
I love long weekends. Raise your hands if you do too!

Making Pants from a Dress- Upcycling!

I have never made pants before. Mainly because I hardly wear pants so I have never had the inclination to learn, and also because my sewing teacher a long time ago said pants were difficult to sew and that totally turned me off.

On my way home from teaching little kids to read the other night, I chanced upon a you-tube tutorial on making pants the easy way and as you may have noticed, I love sewing shortcuts, so I was inspired to try the technique.

But being a bag of lazy bones, I made a sewing shortcut even shorter! I dug out a dress that I haven't worn for awhile (because many people asked if I was pregnant when I wore it...) And upcycled it!

That saved me from having to hem up the pants and doing a waistband or any closures. So here's my very first sewing tutorial: upcycling a dress into a pair of pants :) *beams*

Step 1: Pick out a dress. It should have a skirt portion at least the length that you want your pants to be. Maxi dresses work well for long pants. My dress was an empire-cut, just below the knee length which was just right. It was a cotton halter with elastic smocking at the back, but any jersey material should work as well.
Step 2: Lay the dress on your workspace as shown in the pic below.
Step 3: Fold it in half length-wise. Like the picture below.
Step 4: Take a pair of pants that currently fits you and align the waistband to where you would like the new waistband to be on your dress. The crotch of your pants should be aligned with the open side of your dress and the legs aligned with the folded edge.
Step 5: Cut the dress based on how wide you want your pants legs to be, leaving about a 1.5cm seam allowance. I wanted loose pants so I cut roughly along the line shown below.
Step 6: Open up the dress. It should look something like the pic below. Then with your dress inside-out, pin the edges together starting from the crotch.
Step 7: Sew the edges together!
Step 8: Try on the pants and see if it fits. Then fold down the top part of the dress which is no longer needed.

Step 9: Cut off the extra portion and sew it down so the top of your pants looks neat. If you are using jersey material, use a zig-zaged stitch.
Step 10: Admire your new pair of pants! Hope you liked my first tutorial and my first pair of pants. Let me know if you try it out. 0 comments

Channels of Joy this Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is one of the biggest festivals for all ethnic Chinese around the world. At the top of the agenda is returning home for the reunion dinner and feasting with family and loved ones. 

However we know that not everyone gets to enjoy that privillege. Our office cleaners are two ladies from China who will not be celebrating this festive season with their friends and family back home. Instead, they will be working through the holidays to keep our environment clean. 

Knowing this, my colleagues and I wanted to bring them some festive cheer so we pooled together contributions and gave both our cleaners a little red packet each. 

Last week, when I was in Geneva, I received an email from my colleague saying that the cleaners had bought us some new year goodies! That brought a special sense of warmth to my heart despite the freezing temperatures and yet humbled me at the same time. 

The simple act of our cleaners taught me that no matter our situation in life, we can always give and bring joy to others. It also caused me to reflect on how much I have been blessed with and how my response must be to give praise to God for whom all blessing flow and how I should seek to be a blessing to others as well.

So happy lunar new year everyone. May we all experience love and joy this festive season no matter where we are, and may we also seek to be a channel of love and joy to others :)


An Accident

Rushing to a meeting at 8.30 this morning, I jumped into a taxi and as it turned out of my office building driveway, it slammed directly into another car. While no one was hurt, emotions ran high.

Like many of those around whose commute was disrupted, I was pretty bummed.

But taking  different lenses, in my almost 30 years of life, this was my first ever traffic accident. I shall choose to thank God for His protection instead. 


Sew Happy

About a year ago, I tried making a Mad Men inspired dress. But since I was working from my own imagination, estimation, and way too many shortcuts, I ended up with the top part of the dress being too loose, while the waist too tight, and the zip struggling its way up. I ended up only wearing it once and it languished in my wardrobe for a year. 

 Last week, I finally beat procrastination and unpicked the many hasty seams. This time I diligently sewed up my skirt without the shortcuts. The final result: the perfect knee-length pleated skirt in summery golden kiwi. Coupled with my black knit top and olive green pumps, I achieved my Mad Men inspired outfit! 

 I am sew happy with the result :)

Flunky's Taxi Ride in the Ghanaian Twilight

I still remember that taxi ride in Ghana clearly. It was around 8-9pm at night. We had dismissed our driver for the day when my boss got a call from a business contact to meet for drinks at a hip new club across town. So we hopped into a local taxi that looked like it had seen better days in the last century. 

It was my first time stepping out of the safe confines of my hotel at night, and I was amazed at how the taxi navigated around the multiple potholes (some bigger than the length of the car) of the quiet unlit roads. 

I noticed our taxi slow down and through the darkness, I could make out a small shack among the tress by the side of the road. And a man with a large gun strapped across his body walked out towards our taxi as we came to a stop. 

I had watched enough movies and TV shows to have my blood turn cold with fear in that instant. Keenly aware that as a small young Chinese girl, I would be the weakest, easiest prey if anything went awry. 

Saying a prayer, I looked anxiously over at my boss, who was seated calmly as if we were just going through a car wash. 

The taxi driver wound his window down and exchanged some quick words which I did not understand with the man with the gun. The man with the gun then proceeded to peer through the rear windows at my boss and I. I wasn't sure where to look- keep looking ahead, or turn to him and smile? How could I hide my fear and not look suspicious? I was pretty sure he could hear my pounding heart.

After too many seconds of his eyes piercing through my soul, he stood up and waved my driver off. 

I heaved a sigh of relief as my heart rate began to stabilize. And my boss turned to me to say something about this being a police roadblock which was routine in this part of the world. 

I was glad that was the first and last such "routine" roadblock I had to experience. My little flunky heart wouldn't have been able to bear it. 

Flunky Ponders Contrasts

After a bewildering few days in Angola which you can read about here and hereI sat at the airport lounge in exhaustion, thinking about my Angolan adventure. 

My little flunky brain could not comprehend how the 2nd largest oil producer in the continent, had multiple power cuts in their capital city everyday; how public roads with massive potholes led to sprawling mansions; how 40% of the population could live below the poverty line when it was consistently one of the top 10 diamond producers in the world; how public infrastructure in the city floundered while Chinese construction companies could be undertaking massive projects in the outskirts; how people still washed their clothes in the brown river, while a little way down the river, expats and top businessmen crowded into expensive waterfront modern restaurants. 

Expensive waterfront dining
Doing laundry in the brown river water

Beautiful buildings in the city
Homes of the locals just outside the capital
Traditional markets
Floundering public infrastructure

My thoughts didn't venture far before I noticed that the buses that were bringing people to board the plane were turning back and we were told to stay in the lounge. 

In uncertain Africa, a range of scenarios ran through my mind- terrorists, fire, riot, coup.

Thankfully, it was none of the above. Someone had pulled open the emergency door latch during boarding and the emergency slide had inflated. 

Over an hour later, we were on the plane, all hoping that the clown who opened the emergency door was offloaded. So we ventured onward to South Africa for our next adventure.