#SewingSanta International Style

20141208-IMG_6233

The last 2 weeks have been kind of dull as I’ve been cramming for exams (4 days to freedom!) and haven’t had any chance to do any sort of making. It doesn’t help that my family hasn’t gotten round to Christmas decorating or shopping, so the atmosphere at home has been decidedly un-Christmassy. All this changed today when the arrival of a very special package hit me with a sudden wave of the holiday spirit and I felt I had to share this with you guys right away!

As you may be aware, home-sewing isn’t a big thing in Singapore (yet), and as I have lamented (one too many times) before, I don’t know too many people within the sewing community based locally either. The direct result of this is that I hardly (in fact, never) get any sewing-related gifts which is well, kind of depressing.

Enter the #SewingSanta Blog Link-up run by Stitched Up from the Start which is essentially a secret santa exchange for people who love sewing. Though the main #SewingSanta link-up is being run only in the UK, I managed to link up with Natalie of Thread and Bobbins who I found through a fortuitous comment on Making & Marking!

Since Natalie is based in the US, and I’ve only heard amazing tales of the vintage sewing paraphernalia that one can find at their magical thrift shops, I was beyond excited to receive my package – and boy oh boy, it did not disappoint.

20141208-IMG_6242

20141208-IMG_6239

20141208-IMG_6245

20141208-IMG_6247

Vintage buttons (love the wings!), craft and crochet ribbon, floral fabric and the most adorable monkey fabric (I think it might be flannel? I’m not quite sure!) – how Natalie managed to get all that with our budget of GBP10, I will never know! Plus she wrote me a really sweet Christmas card (cue collective aww-ing).

I have plans for the monkey flannel to become a really comfy pair of Love at First Stitch Margot pyjama shorts and will most definitely be saving the floral fabric and buttons for a special project. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this international #SewingSanta exchange with me, Natalie, I hope you like your package as much as I love mine!

[Update: So Natalie got my package and she loves it! Hurray! Take a sneak peek at what I sent her here.]

In other news, I’ve decided to link my blog up to Bloglovin’ (since I use it on a daily hourly basis myself), so be sure to look me up and follow me for more updates! (I’ve got a whole series of Christmas making and sewing posts lined up *hint hint*)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sewing // Skirt-Making Lessons at The Workroom

20141021-IMG_5364

20141022-IMG_5400

Picking up sewing on your own is far from easy. I could make pyjama pants (thanks Grandma!), but when it came to things like attaching bias tape and inserting invisible zippers, I was lost. Add to that terminology like “stitching in the ditch”, “interfacing” and “french seams” and it can truly be a mind-boggling affair.

After a disastrous experience trying to pick up drafting from an old school tailoring shop (with a tutor that conversed mostly in mandarin, what was I thinking??), I decided to get myself to a basic sewing class that would familiarise myself with the sewing machine and simple dress-making terminology.  A couple of weeks later, I signed myself up for a 5 week skirt making class at The Workroom and included a field trip to Singapore’s fabric market in Chinatown.

Credits to bukurama.wordpress.com
Credits to ronald-tan.com

I’ll let you in on a secret… the main attraction of the class for me was the field trip. There is nothing in sewing (and I really mean nothing) that terrifies me more than a trip to the fabric shops at Chinatown where the shopkeepers all seem to view me as a youngster who knows nothing about fabrics (which is kind of true actually…). Here’s what a regular exchange with a shopkeeper auntie sounds like:

“What are you looking for?”

“Cotton twill”

“What do you want it for?”

“I’m sewing a skirt” (shows the shopkeeper a picture)

“Cotton twill make this type of skirt not nice one, you must use this kind.”

“But my pattern says cotton twill….”

“I tell you not nice one la, this one better” (At this point my ego has just shrunk 10 sizes and slinked away)

(In a small voice) “Ok… I take that one then”

Credits to bukurama.wordpress.com

You can see why the prospect of following someone with lots of experience to the fabric shops and learning how they choose their fabrics and interact with the shopkeepers would be IMMENSELY attractive to me. And our field trip was everything I expected and more. There’s nothing quite like having someone show you the difference between a light and medium weight fabric, how to identify a denim from a chambray, what cotton gauze vs a lawn or a voile feel like, and what considerations to take into account when buying a border print fabric. I can safely say I learnt a whole lot of things on that one Saturday afternoon that I could not have picked up myself from the world wide web.

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 31, 2014

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 17, 2014

So began my journey in dress-making. The classes (and field trip) were conducted by seamstress Fiona Lee (she blogs about her makes here!) and were a joy to attend. We sewed two skirts, the Wiksten Skirt and Libby A-line skirt. I was mostly behind because I missed a couple of lessons due to an overseas trip and a bout of flu, but Ruth from The Workroom very graciously opened up her studio for my use in her free time and helped me catch up with the rest of the class! Fiona’s instructions and demonstrations were also clear and very helpful, plus she spent quite a bit of time helping me out with fitting (I had cut out the wrong size of the Libby skirt whoops).

After just over 5 weeks, this was the result: two very wearable self-made skirts and one very much more confident sewist!

Photo credits: The Workroom
Photo credits: The Workroom

20141022-IMG_5404

20141022-IMG_5371

20141021-IMG_5364

If you’re interested in learning dress-making and are based in Singapore, I would highly recommend taking one (or more!) sewing classes at The Workroom. They also run other craft lessons like book binding and calligraphy so look out for those too!

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 31, 2014