Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Are we having fun yet?

I sure am!  There is a lot going on at the moment and all of it is fun!  I have eleven new sewers going through my classes at the YWCA with the majority being very keen to learn more and continue on.  Tomorrow is the final session of Basics I where the ladies will get to make their first project which is a simple shoulder bag.   Basics II starts later in October and I think nearly everyone has already signed up for those classes.

I’m getting ready for the Helena May Bazaar on Thursday, 14 October which is held from 9am to 6pm.  This is a photo I took of a few pieces that I’ll have available.   I’m showcasing my pearl jewellery this year.At the bazaar, I will be launching my Pearl Party concept.   A Pearl Party is perfect for anyone who is looking for a fun activity to do with friends or a theme for a gathering (bridal shower, going away party, birthday).  I will bring in a selection of pearls and have all the supplies.  After preparing the difficult or fiddly aspects of making a pearl necklace, I’ll instruct and lead the group.  At the end of a leisurely 3 hours, everyone will have a completed necklace to show.  The Pearl Parties I have done in the past have been a huge success and provide wonderful memories for all who attended.

A few weeks ago, I had a photo of this embroidery which I completed for a book.  Well, here is the finished book!   I had so much fun doing this book that it has inspired me to do more.  Unfortunately, the beginning bookmaking course runs for 5 consecutive Mondays and I do not have 5 consecutive Mondays available for the remainder of this year!  I will have to book this into my schedule come the new year.  I really am pleased with the brass butterfly hardware catch that I used as a closure on the book.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is remotely interested in picking up a new hobby.  Go to www.bookworks.com.hk for more information.

Later this week I am going to be leading a sewers tour of Sham Shui Po.  I have put together a map of my favorite places for fabrics, buttons, ribbons, zippers, buckles, … ; all those things you need for sewing.  I am always on the lookout for amazing fabric so while wandering through the Hawkers Bazaar I spotted this cotton face/satin back hunter green and black jacquard fabric.  It is absolutely beautiful and will make a great jacket.  I asked the cost and it was HK$40/yd.  I started looking at it and noticed that about every yard there was a scorch mark across the full width (you can see them in this photo) which probably happened in the factory during finishing.  I pointed this out to the vendor and asked for a lower cost.  After a frown and huge sigh, she grabbed her calculator and typed in HK$30/yd.  “Hmmm” I said, “Lots of damage, see, here and here…”.  I spent a bit more time looking at the fabric like I was really interested and then picked up her calculator and tapped in HK$25/yd.  “Ay ya”, she said which translates roughtly to “Are you serious?”.  After a bit more to’ing and fro’ing, we finally agreed on my last price for 4 yards.  I come from a long line of bargainers and I could feel my Dad smiling down upon me for getting this fabric for this low of a cost.  I thanked her profusely and walked away feeling very, very pleased.  I’ll have to do some creative cutting and pick a jacket style that has a lot of cut and sew lines to ensure that the pattern pieces are small enough to fit between the damage, but to get this type of fabric for HK$25/yard where it would easily cost that much in US$  in a fabric store in the States, I can handle doing a bit of extra work.

Here is another find from this past week.  This headband is made using Chinese knots in a very creative way.  The hard plastic band is covered with a flat knot (or square knot for your macrame’ers) where the band is used instead of a base cord.  As an asymetrical accent, two pan chang knots are joined with what looks like a brocade knot on top that is shaped to look like a butterfly.  Very ingenious. 

And finally for today’s post, if anyone is interested in a holiday to the Top of the South Island in New Zealand, some friends of mine have a wonderful boutique apartment accommodation.  Ron & Fiona Oliver are very lovely people and will no doubt treat any guests like family.  Their house is built on the Kina Peninsula very near to the town of Motueka.  Their website is definitely worth a look, www.almyra.co.nz

This week I’ll be teaching 3 classes on Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.   Mixed in there will be  some pearl knotting and jewellery making, some sewing and, hopefully, a bit of stitching.  Unfortunately, stitching has taken a back seat at the moment primarily because Nikki is out of town and I do not have my regular Thursday afternoon sessions to go to. 

Have a great week everyone and those of you in Hong Kong, enjoy this beautiful Autumn weather we are having!

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A New Hobby

With so many wonderful art and crafts out there to do, how can anyone avoid them…particularly me!  This spring, I started taking classes with a friend who teaches stitching (embroidery) here in Hong Kong.  Nikki’s website, with her mother, is www.les-designs.com    I learned to embroider when I was very young being taught by my Mother and Grandmother (they also tried crochet but that did not stick).   What I am re-learning now with Nikki is light years away from what I learned then.  All of the stitches are 3-dimensional and literally jump off the fabric.  I just love the unique and wonderful ways to use thread, yarn and even silk ribbon to create beautiful designs.  These are my first two pieces so don’t look too close!  They are a series of 4 that I am going to complete and then patchwork them into a pillow cover. 

And this new hobby has lead me to another form of stitching called “Sashiko” which means “little stabs” in Japanese.  I have had this jacket for years and have always wanted to learn how to do this.  By chance, a friend showed me a book that she picked up and there it was!  Although it looks simple, the designs are complex, geometric patterns which need to be stitched in a very strict directional manner.  This past week I made up a very simple linen slip dress and intend on putting a Sashiko design at the hem and around the neckline.  

One can never have too many hobbies…it’s the time thing that gets in the way!

In April this year, I lead a group of women who are learning to sew with me in making their own dressmaking body forms.  A friend in the USA had made one of these and told me about the process.  The forms are made with paper packing tape and are wrapped right onto the body.  These forms are an exact duplication of your size and shape.  I use mine all the time now.  Even though I have a very willing husband who will pin me into a fit garment at any time, it did slow down my sewing because I had to wait for him to be available to help me.  One woman saw my form and instantly wanted to make one, not for sewing, but to have as a sculpture.  These forms can easily be covered with a thin layer of plaster and smoothed.  I am going to build a stand for mine because it is hard to fit full length dresses with the form having to sit on the table.  I’ll be teaching this class again later in the year.

Could not resist putting this photo into the blog this week.  We grow oats for the cats to graze on.  This is a new crop that was put out a few days ago.  The boys from NZ, being originally outside cats, absolutely love grazing.  Porsche is a city gal so she just stands back and looks at the boys like they are crazy.  For her, if it does not come out of a can or a package, it can’t possibly be good for you; and, it’s green!  And Felix, well, he likes to sleep on the grass. 

Have a look at the Gallery page.  I’ve put a few new things at the bottom under the What’s New heading.

All for this week.  Take care everyone and will be back soon!

Some things must move farther down the list

And that has been my blog for the first half of this year.   Other things have been in the spotlight.  Let me briefly catch you up on what I have been spending my time on.  I have been teaching 3-4 days a week for the better part of the past 6 months.  And to keep up with all of these classes, I have been spending a fair bit of time creating and coming up with new ideas.  Shortly after the first of the year, David decided to open his own office here and I stepped in as designer/architect/contract manager/decorator.  He has no end of clients commenting on the beautiful, calming environment.  I have been concentrating on growing the jewelry part of my business (more on this later).  And I have been in discussions to consult on developing a training curriculum for factory sewers overseas. 

But first…  We have another new member of the family.  Let me introduce you to Felix.  He is an orphaned Hong Kong street kitty who came to us shortly after Chinese New Year.   He was very malnourished and had a bad case of cat flu.  We nursed him back to health and he has made a very welcome addition to our family.  His adorable factor is off the charts.  He never ceases to amuse with his antics. 

You will notice a couple new pages on my blog.  I am going to start teaching jewelry lessons in September 2010 and will work with others on home shows and parties.  I have been getting a lot of positive comments from what I make and decided this was a natural fit with the other arts that I do. So have a look at the Jewelry Lessons page to see what will be upcoming.  Also browse the Gallery page.

I have updated the Knot Lessons and Sewing Lessons page with upcoming classes for the second half of the year.   Dates are yet to be determined for the private classses and will be posted by early September.

A wee thanks to all of you for your continued support.  Since there is a lot to look at, I won’t make this post too long. 

Everyone take care and enjoy the remainder of the summer!

Angels for the New Year

I am well and truly back into the swing now.  My classes have all started and, as usual, I am having a blast sharing what I know with others who are interested in learning.

Last Thursday, I had a group of 7 women at the YWCA for the Chinese Knot Basics class.  We went through the first 5 introductory knots, did our take-home project, had time for a tea break (which is a huge giggle for all my students because I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, I forget to let everyone up to stretch their legs!), and finished on time!  Every one of the women receive a huge “atta girl!” for catching on to the knots so quickly.  I always give an extra-credit knot to try at home and I am fully expecting to have everyone tell me on Thursday that they did it with no trouble.

I made this gaggle of wee Chinese Knot angels as New Years gifts for family and friends.  Now that they are all made, they will be winging their way around the world very soon to bring best wishes and, no doubt, a smile to the face. 

This will most likely be the Christmas project class that I teach at the YWCA this Autumn.  Everyone who sees these precious creatures wants to make them.

My last term sewing students and I started up our sewing group.  We met Tuesday morning this past week to start on our next project.  Everyone is making a dress.  Last week, we all got our muslin fabric cut out for a fit garment and this week will be doing fit trials and pattern modifications.  We also took a quick trip to Sham Shui Po last week so I could point out a few fabric shops.  Talk about the addictive nature of fabric…I think everyone got back on the train with at least one piece of fabric for our current and future projects.  Yes, that includes me.  What can I say, there are worse things to be addicted to!

Sewing Basics at the YWCA also starts up this week for a new group of people interested in learning all about sewing machines, seams and basic construction techniques. 

I had made this design up in white rice shaped pearls for myself ages ago with the metal beads and leather braided cord.  I was playing around before Christmas with my pearls and found these huge green/blue rice pearls; they are about 13mm long.  I started thinking, “Why do pearls have to be just for girls?”.  So, I strung these up for David as a Christmas gift.  He absolutely loves them.  He had this necklace on one day and a couple of our male friends saw it and asked for me to make them a necklace too.  I think it is great that men get to enjoy the specialness of pearls.  So when I go pearl shopping, I keep my eyes open for others that would be suitable for the men in my life.

All from me for this week.  Enjoy your week everyone and may it be filled with fun!

Happy New Year!

I’m rested, recharged and ready to get back at it!  As you can tell, I’ve taken a bit of time off and have really enjoyed allowing my creativity to flow freely again without the full diary of appointments and lessons.  There is a bit to catch you up on so I’ll start where I left off.

The fair in New Zealand was fantastic.  We could not have asked for a nicer day.  The event was held at a local winery which has a beautiful yard around the house.  We were positioned on the tennis courts with other craft type stalls.  This fair features all local artisans and crafts.  The rough headcount for the day was upwards of 3000 people; I think nearly all of them stopped by our table!  Kiwi’s are very inquisitive and friendly people.  Nearly everyone approached the table wanting to know all about our wares.  I was very happy with our sales for the day.  And I was even more pleased with my sales the following week!  As our friends came around the house to visit and catch up, everyone wanted to know what I was doing to keep myself busy.  What better way than to do a bit of show-and-tell.  I generated more sales by just talking about what I was doing without even trying to sell anything.  So many women said that they knew people who would love what I do so when we are back in New Zealand for Chinese New Year, I am going to have a few friends organize “home” parties with their friends and family. 

I made a lot of Christmas presents again this year.  Seems like table runners were the theme.  I went to Shenzhen and picked up a lot of beautiful Chinese brocade fabric to use in my table runner and pillow cover class at the YWCA in December and a bit extra for gifts.  The green runner was a gift for a good friend, the red one was on my table over the holidays and the white/gold runner will be sent to a friend for her birthday.

I also made a scarf for another friend (which, I understand, can double as a table runner).  I found some beautiful crinkle silk and had fun piecing it together, adding fabric and bead fringe and other decoration.

A wee moment of silence for the closing of our local Spotlight store.  It was truly a one-stop shop for all sewing related items.  The final weeks were chaotic as the sales got better and better.  One weekend two friends make a trip out there (I think I’m glad I did not go) and relayed that all packaged items were HK$1 each and the queues were over an hour long to get to the cashier.  I tried to keep my visit to mid-week.  I did not get the selection; however, I found enough good things to keep me going for quite a long time.  I am now the local Hong Kong dressmaking pattern outlet.  I was fortunate enough to get to go through the pattern drawers and pick out the patterns I wanted before they went on the sale table for the masses at $1 each.   I won’t divulge exactly how many patterns I walked away with; let it suffice to say that I could use one of those large, 4 drawer pattern file cabinets! 

A bit of house keeping items for you all…I’ve updated the Knot and Sewing pages with dates for upcoming classes.  Private Knotting classes will be advised after my first YWCA class concludes at the end of this month.  My Y sewing students from last term are getting back together and we are having a weekly sewing group meeting here at the flat to continue building our skills and techniques.  Anyone with basic sewing knowledge and your own sewing machine is welcome to join.  Future meeting of Baubles & Knots will be determined shortly and will be posted. 

And with that, I’m going to venture out in the rain to do a few errands.  It’s good to be back to my blog and back to work.  And my wish to all for the new year is that happy surprises and pleasant adventures come your way.

Until next week…

Looking forward to some sewing…

The Helena May Bazaar is over and I’ve put my knotting cord away for a wee bit.  Mostly  to give my hands a break and also to go onto some other projects that I’ve been wanting to do.  The Bazaar was actually really good and I am very glad that I did it.  Unfortunately, I do not think that my product is well received in Hong Kong because there is so much Chinese knotted items available in the markets here and in Shenzhen.   That “specialness” factor just is not present.  That said, Whole TableI think our table looked good, I think we had a great mix of product and colors and who could be two more personable and approachable women!  We had a great spot in the Blue Room right in front of this huge window with great light.  One thing  I did take away from the bazaar is that my passion lies in creating and teaching and this is where I am going to concentrate my efforts.

The next event of this type that I will be attending will be the end of November in New Zealand.  The winery just down the road a ways from our house holds a yearly charity fair called A Country Occasion at Neudorf.  In NZ, the Chinese Knot items will be new and different.   In addition to the sales part of the fair, I am going to generate interest in holding classes there on a regular basis.  What better excuse to make a trip!

Remember my “humbling” skirt from a couple weeks back…?  Well, it has been deconstructed and reconstructed and now fits me like a dream.  What a giggle I have had over that one.  I smiled to myself the entire time I was ripping seams.  Lessons I’ve learned from that experience….too many to list.  However, the most impactful is to always remember that you are never too good at something to make a huge mistake!

The project I have cut out and on the table now is a pair of wide leg linen pants where I am going to clean finish the side seams from knee down to hem and use self-fabric Chinese Button Knots as closures.  I’ll post a picture as soon as they are complete.

People have been asking me about Feng Shui lately and I thought it would be a good topic for these pages.  I am by no means a Feng Shui Master.  What I know of Feng Shui comes to me primarily intuitively and through reading that I have done.  I have used Feng Shui principles in all the homes I have lived in since my initial move to Asia and all offices that I have worked in.  The one comment that I get from most is that the spaces I create are always comfortable and inviting.

I am sure that most people are aware of Feng Shui and its principles; however, for those of you who are not…  Feng Shui is simply how chi (or energy) flows between the levels of heaven, earth and humans.  It is this chi that makes something feel “good” or “bad”.  Negative energy (or chi that is blocked or stagnant) is called sha chi.  What keeps the energy moving between the three levels is the constant movement between two opposing forces – yin and yang.  Earth chi also has five elements of earth, wood, fire, metal and water.

Have you ever walked into a room and absolutely loved it or felt incredibly comfortable?  How about the opposite when you felt very uncomfortable, agitated or even anxious about being in a room?    If you have, then you have experienced Feng Shui.  This is where I always start with a room – the feeling.  Is it warm and inviting, cold and off-putting, kind of okay but needs something?  What is the view from the windows and is the light coming in good?  From this point, you can make decisions about what needs to be done.  If the room is not inviting, look at the colors and furnishings.  Maybe some warmer, softer colors or some softer furniture with pillows.   Even the position of the furniture has an impact on the overall feel.  Your furniture should always “welcome” you into a room meaning that you should be able to walk right up to it and sit down.  Maybe the decorations in the room are not right.  Remember, that too much of a good thing can have a bad effect as well.  If you have an already inviting room, you can make it too much so where it turns into a space where no one wants to leave (when you really want to end the evening) or it is so relaxing that you always fall asleep. 

So start with assessing a room, determine what the “feeling” is in the room.  Identify items in the room that either enhance or detract from the overall feeling.  Also, know what the room is intended for (i.e. socializing, sleeping, relaxing, etc.).  The furnishings should be appropriate for the function.  For example, it can create  negative energy to have a piece of exercise equipment (that keeps you moving) in a bedroom where you are trying to rest. 

Next week, I’ll talk about color and Feng Shui.

I’m going to go and do some sewing!  Take care everyone…

I’ll be back next week…

Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m taking a week off from the blog due to a whole pile of work needing to be done.  I have the Helena May Bazaar next week and, of courese, have not done as much as I had hoped by this time.  I finally realized how much still needs doing and how much time it actually takes…Yikes!!!  I’m spending all spare minutes knotting up items for the bazaar.  Spending so much time on knotting makes me want to do some sewing as well.  I would like to make a few of my Chinese brocade bags to see if there is interest in these; however, this is at the end of the list.

Here is a preview of some of the things I will have on sale…

Sale Item Examples for Blog

…and hopefully a lot more!

And just to refresh your memory about the bag…

Red Bag on Spirit House

The Baubles & Knots gathering on Monday was wonderful.  Everyone had great projects that they worked on.  Good company, good food, good conversation…what more could you ask for!

I’ve been hearing from a lot of women as of late saying they are incredibly busy at the moment.  Is it the time of year, alignment of the planets or just life?  Whatever it may be, I hope everyone is finding  joy and fulfillment in their “busy-ness”. 

Have a great week everyone…