drizzle, ripple, wave

your words, your acts, however small, affect others. first they may feel like a drizzle to the skin: light, barely there. as time goes by, they slowly create ripples, reverberating in the minds, until finally they become big waves of reactions, whether they be directed to you or not. have you ever thought of that?

i’m not trying to preach, though. that’s just how i feel in general, and that was what i saw embodied in this dress i just made. drizzle, ripple, wave.

self-made dress, Casio watch, Moody Monday earrings, ASOS cage shoes.

the drizzle is on the print. this was one of those fabrics i couldn’t say no to, because the print reminds me so much of Marimekko. it is 100% viscose and i got a bit over 2 meters of it, thinking i would make a maxi dress out of it.

old pic borrowed from (X)S.M.L’s website.

but then i remembered this dress i once saw in Indonesia in 2011 from the brand (X)S.M.L. the part that i really liked was the flap on the top & hidden underneath it some small pleats. and i realized how in all these years i had adored it, i never had gotten the chance to really think of how to do it myself (carbon copy is my middle name). i mean, it seemed pretty easy. until i realized that it’s not that easy. 😀

rather than spending too much time–longer than 2011-2017, that is–pondering about how to make the pattern for the dress, i decided to just drape the fabric straight onto my dummy. i mean, that’s what dummies are for, right? duh.

within an hour or so, i finally got it. so i put pins here and there, and started sewing. just like that!

the ripples are the small pleats under the ‘flap’. this was the first thing i sewed before anything else on this dress. after putting the pins to know exactly where the pleats should end, i moved the fabric from my dummy to the sewing machine.

the waves are the flap on the top of the dress and the drapes at the bottom part, creating the asymmetrical hem. the drapes at the bottom actually came accidentally, meaning i didn’t even think of doing them, but made them up as i went along.

the back side is just an A-shaped piece with just enough width so that i could still walk freely while wearing the dress.

just for the record, i am extremely pleased at myself for making this dress! i can’t remember the last time i did something like this, working straight on top of the dummy without any pattern and actually succeeding to make what i had in mind! i even joked to my husband that i guess this means i’m ready to join the next Finnish Project Runway, if ever there is going to be one! 😀

that original dress i saw in Indonesia was my drizzle. the picture of the original dress & the fabric were my ripples. and this dress? this is my wave. ❤

be like bambo (shoot)

Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.” — Ping Fu

have you tried being a bamboo? i’d like to think i have, at least tried to. and to further plant it into my brain (pun intended), i even made a bamboo shoot dress!

vintage karakul fur coat (c. 1960-1970) gift from Grandmother-in-law, self-made dress and necklace, Topshop tights, COS shoes.

so this was my most ambitious sewing project so far in 2017. the story began years ago when i made this dim sum dress and much to my dismay i found out a few years ago that i had grown out of the size of that dress…. i can’t wear it anymore unless i lose like 10 kg. such is the life!

i decided that i had to make a new one. that first one was made of silk, but i haven’t found as nice-looking & affordable silk as that one, plus i wasn’t even sure if i still had it in me to make something as complicated as that dress; so i got a linen fabric instead.

i’m sure you know by now how i feel about green? come on, it’s the colour of 2017! i personally don’t like linen, because it wrinkles too quickly & too much for my taste, but since this linen had the best green colour, it would just have to do. the good thing about linen is that it’s a lot more down-to-earth so that i don’t need a special occasion to wear this dress. perfect for my new year resolution!

for this project, i used Burda patterns 8347 for the top part and 7660 for the skirt part. by using the Pattern Magic book vol. 1, i modified the top part to have the bamboo shoots pattern. that’s the name for the pleat pattern, Bamboo Shoot. and that’s why i call this dress my bamboo dress.

back then i sewed the bamboo shoots part by machine and it made them look too flat. i decided to try sewing them by hand this time.

i still have to figure out how best to iron that part with bamboo shoots, but at least i believe i made the right decision to do it by hand.

believe it or not, i just ironed the whole dress before taking these pictures. and look how wrinkled it was again already! *rolls eyes*

anyway, just a quick intermission: my accordion necklace has also now evolved into something better than the previous version, yay! this one needed about 8 meters of 2 cm wide ribbon, and don’t be fooled by the colour in the pictures. in reality, it’s neon green!

okay, back to the dress now. as with my other projects this year, i put extra attention & carefulness to sew it. for the armholes, i used black satin bias tape for a neater finishing. the neckline also has lining & i did edgestitch to make the lining stay put. for the zipper, i again sewed it to be exposed, just to add another small detail. i am still learning to love solid coloured clothes, so to compensate that i needed something to jazz it up. the hemline was done by machine, the hidden seam.

there’s just something about the colour & the shape of the dress that made me think of vintage. which was why i just had to wear my fur coat for the first picture!

before you criticize the fur coat, let me tell you that i am against real fur myself. except for the fact that this was already done back in the 60s or 70s, and i think it would even be more sinful to waste it when it was once already done. so when my husband’s aunt said no one in the family could wear it (because the women are all much taller than me) and i was the only one whose size is like my husband’s grandmum, i agreed to take it & put it to use. it turned out to fit me so well, i think! 😀

as for the dress itself, i am so happy with the result! i know there are many more successful bamboo shooters out there (i mean seamstresses/tailors who have done this pattern much better than me), but i love mine for being small, barely there, but it is there. i think this small version suits me better. 🙂

being flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, taking everything in stride with grace…. yes, i am trying to do it all with this bamboo dress. i am trying to be like bamboo. ❤

the long awaited spring

it’s just what it is. winter equals laziness, though i can assure you what i had was far from being lazy. on the contrary, i was far too productive at work, that when i stayed home all i wanted to do was anything but think. writing on my blog, reading (including reading people’s blogs), sewing, and baking requires thinking. so for months now i stopped all activities at home and just enjoyed a well-deserved break.

but spring is finally here! and with it, came my will to sew! yay!

this organza fabric reminded me of Kenzo from the very first sight. i can’t explain why, maybe it’s all the flowers. anyway, at first i was thinking of making a buttoned up shirt out of it, but then i thought i was too lazy for that. something simpler, please. and then i got it! a sweater! an organza sweater, whoopee!

self-made organza sweater, New Yorker t-shirt, Monki jeans.

as usual, i didn’t use any pattern for this kind of simple sweater, just cut squares etc.. except i suddenly had the brightest idea to copy a COS sweater/dress and decided to have a bow at the back of the sweater.

so i added triangular ‘flaps’ on each side, left & right, front & back side of the sweater. i gathered them at the back and sewed them together to create the bow.

the bow is completely loose (not attached to the sweater itself) and if i want to, i could even put it to the front side. but considering the size of my tummy, i don’t think i will, ever. 😀

just like when sewing chiffon, i found out from someone’s blog/article that organza is to be sewn with a sharp needle (so i even bought a new pack of needles) and long stitches. it worked like a charm!

i had also read somewhere that the best & neatest way to sew transparent fabrics are by doing French seams. i had always been tempted by doing things in a shortcut, like instead of French seams, i would just serge the edges and sew normally, but this time since i hadn’t sewn for 2 months (yep) i thought i had to try the correct way.

it turned out to be quite easy! and the result really is neat. just see the right detail picture up there if you don’t believe me! i used the French seam on almost all seams except when combining the organza with the ribbing.

… which was actually the hardest part of this whole project. the ribbing i got is not that stretchy at all, so the collar looks kind of weird, standing up instead of flat like they normally are.

but do i look like i care?

that’s right, i don’t! mwahaha! because i have pretty flowers on my transparent sweater, ladeedah! and this sweater can be worn with t-shirt & jeans or even a dress underneath. now that i succeeded in making this sweater, i kind of feel like sewing organza all the time! 😉 we’ll see what’s next for my sewing project, eh?

have a great Easter and start of spring, everyone! ❤

a study in stripes

i guess i have decided that this year i will be studying stripes and how to best sew them. this is my third sewing project this year, and already my second time using stripey fabric.

crisscrossdress1

self-made dress, H&M tights, COS shoes.

for this dress, i took the idea from my co-worker’s New Yorker dress which is made of rib knit/jersey. the rib knit was sewn so that the lines are diagonal on the front, and the bottom part is vertical.

crisscrossdressdetail1for my dress, i decided that horizontal stripes would be better for the bottom part. and as for the pattern, surprisingly, i again used the one from Ottobre design woman magazine 5/2016. this is now the 4th time i used it, because it’s just such a basic pattern that is so easy for me to modify.

the fabric is thin viscose jersey where the black stripes are knitted (so from the wrong side you can also still see the black stripes) and the silver dots are printed. thankfully, unlike the green-blue stripes fabric, this one actually stretches both ways! phew.

crisscrossdress4i think i did a pretty good job in aligning the stripes for this one! the only mishap that happened was when i was sewing the collar/neckline and some of the dress fabric got crinkled too much.

crisscrossdress2

also for some strange reason my super cheap overlocker has now been acting weird: the left most thread (that goes through the left needle) always snaps off when i sew, no matter how tight or loose the setting is. i finally gave up and started sewing with only 1 needle and 3 threads.

crisscrossdress3

but then again, there you go. i finally figured out how to sew with an overlocker using only 1 needle & 3 threads. i still learned something in the end! 😀

my co-worker predicted that my super cheap overlocker will break down on the second year (which is some time during this year), simply because nothing cheap can last longer than that. so maybe she’s right. but until then, i will still make use of what it can still do. and i’m thankful enough for it to still be able to make this lovely dress!

i’m super proud of this dress. everything went smoothly from modifying the pattern to the aligning of the stripes on all sides, which is a quite rare thing to happen to me! i guess it’s because these days i no longer put pressure on myself to finish everything quickly just for the sake of doing the next sewing project, and instead really enjoy all the process of making a garment.

this dress, along with the other two i’ve done this year, are already my new fave items in my wardrobe so there’s no doubt i will use them repeatedly. all is well with my 2017 sewing resolution indeed!

go green (tea)

now that we still had the mini amount of green tea powder left, there was this one more recipe i had been dying to try out.

i was actually looking for a green tea brownie recipe some time ago when i came across this recipe instead: Green Tea Chocolate (or Truffles) by Just One Cookbook. after seeing the options of white baking chocolate available here, i decided to try it using Fazer white baking chocolate.

trufflea1with the incident of the bitter soufflé still fresh in my mind, i tried making the first batch of these truffles with only 1 tablespoon of matcha powder. and the result was too sweet!

trufflea2it was more of a white chocolate with a tiny hint of matcha than matcha truffles. which is of course not a problem for white chocolate lover, but… i want my matcha! 😀

another mistake i made was to only let the batch cool down in the fridge for 4 hours. it was way too soft & sticky to cut into nice looking blocks, hence the terrible looking shapes.

so of course i had to make a second try. this time i used all what’s left of our precious matcha powder… two tablespoons for the mixture + last sprinkles for the topping.

truffleb1this time around, i left the batch cool down in the fridge overnight and a few more hours (about 19 hours in total). by the time i took it out, it was harder than my first batch, but still quite sticky & hard to cut. maybe i just don’t have good enough knife, i don’t know. but these blocks are okay. and look how much one batch made! (that is: all that you see in the above picture plus 11 more blocks already on our plates since they couldn’t fit to these boxes anymore.)

truffleb2the colour certainly looked more promising than my first batch, and when we ate them, they were more bitter (in a very good way) than the first. we could definitely taste more matcha now. but, i still have to say it’s more white chocolate-y than matcha. i’m guessing the problem lies in the white chocolate i used, but it’s really hard to tell since there isn’t any other comparison (so far) and i doubt i can find better options here.

truffleb3the good thing is that since they’re quite sweet, it’s enough to eat 5-6 blocks whenever i crave for it.

i brought some of the first batch to my work place, and at least my co-workers liked them (because they like white chocolate, LOL). maybe one day, if i get another craving and can find better white chocolates AND have enough matcha powder, i can try this recipe again. for now, i’m gonna indulge in these truffles for a few days! ❤

and while we’re still on the green (tea) topic, let me say for the record that i have also tried the soufflé recipe for the second time… with less matcha powder!

souffleb1i also put the butter inside the bowls more generously than the first time, and look how my soufflé grew in the oven!

souffleb2next time, i need to remember to put them on the lowest shelf in the oven, because when i put them in the middle shelf, they always got a bit burned on the top. but that is not something the sprinkles of icing sugar cannot fix!

souffleb3and after the first bite… i was in heaven. it was truly perfect this time, and just super delicious! i love, love, LOVE it! ❤

thank heavens for matcha & matcha recipes around the internet! 😉

see what you want to see

just a little test: what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this print?

fridadressdetail3

when i saw this fabric, what came to my mind was Frida Kahlo. i don’t know why, maybe it’s the bold colours and the flowers. and maybe because i like her works a lot.

fridadress1

self-made dress, earrings from Tekka Centre, Little India-Singapore, second hand belt from UFF, unbranded tights, Casio watch.

but when i showed it to my co-worker, she said, “ooh, what a nice Slavic print!”. it made me think afterwards that i guess it does look kind of similar to some print you might see on a matryoshka doll.

isn’t it funny though that we always first see what we want to see, and people’s perspective about one same thing can be completely different than the others? the same goes for a lot of other things, like we only read (and understand) what we want to read, we hear what we want to hear, etc. what our brains perceive often depends on our moods, personal preference, and i guess it also has a lot to do with our own knowledge.

in this case, since i’m more familiar with Frida Kahlo, i decided that to me this dress is a Frida dress no matter what other people say about the print. 😀

fridadressdetail1

the pattern is something i’ve used multiple times before, called Drop-Waist Gather Drape Dress from Drape Drape book vol. 1. the last dress i made from the same pattern was a success because of its ease (both to sew and to wear), and since i had been using that one a lot of times, it was time to make another one.

after taking the pictures, i just realized that the seams on the sleeves were off (leftmost picture), but rest assured that they were corrected afterwards! 😀

fridadress2

just like the previous dress, i made the hem 15 cm longer so i can wear this dress for work. the material of this fabric is also the same as the last one, viscose jersey.

fridadress3

now that i see this picture from the back side, the silhouette & print of the dress actually kind of remind me of a Chinese cheongsam. see, even my own perspective changes easily!

fridadress4other than the sleeves’ seams, there’s really nothing new to say about this dress, which is exactly the reason why i made this: it’s a tried & true pattern, made with a tried & true type of material, guaranteed to be worn many times throughout the year. and may i just say that i had fun dressing up as Frida? ❤

second sewing project of the year is done and i’m still keeping my resolution so far! 😉

soufflé, s’il vous plaît

being a matcha lover in Finland is hard. not because you can’t get matcha products, but they’re still quite rare here as there is no big matcha trend like in Asia. this means that while there are stores here that sells matcha products, the prices are almost always quite expensive. one store sells a matcha mini kit kat pack of 12 for about 7.50€, another sells the regular matcha pocky for 4€. well, you get the idea.

and the matcha powder that i usually use for baking? it costs about 18-22€ for a 30 grams pack. that’s a lot of money for a small amount of powder, in my opinion. and in my dictionary, that means every recipe made out of it has to be successful, there’s no margin for error! so we passed 2016 without baking any matcha things (thankfully last year we went to Indonesia and Singapore. oooh, the matcha galore!).

but now when i saw this recipe from The Tummy Train, i couldn’t help it anymore. we decided to go and get the matcha powder, and even the soufflé bowls since we didn’t have any. and let me remind you before we go forward that i am a true novice in baking, and have never in my life made anything even near a soufflé!

the pressure was now on, but as i usually am in sewing, in baking i’m also so determined to not let anything go to waste. i did everything by the recipe, and things were going great until i had to make the meringue. it refused to be stiff and i was almost ready to give up until my husband found out from the internet that the problem could have been when i was separating the yolk and the egg whites. that’s what it clicked that i did accidentally let some of the yolks into the egg whites, thinking it wouldn’t really matter! well what do you know, little things DO matter in this recipe! thankfully i had extra eggs so i started making the meringue from the beginning again, this time really making sure that none of the yolk went into the egg whites. it worked like a charm! i had no idea making a meringue can be so fun! 😀

so then it was time to put the mixture into the bowls… and found out that our bowls are probably a lot bigger than the ones used in the recipe. i used 11 cm (in diameter) wide & 6 cm deep bowl, and guess how many bowls this recipe filled? T W O. all those work for 2 bowls of soufflé!

ah well, the show must go on. this was after all only my first time of making a soufflé, so i kept my cool and put them into the oven anyway.

souffle1

fresh from the oven!

when they came out… they looked pretty! okay, maybe the right one was slightly burned, but whatever! (fyi, it was about 10 pm when i finished making this, so anything goes!)

souffle2

a sprinkle of icing sugar to make them look prettier

soon it was time for the truth: the texture & taste!

souffle3

the texture looked correct (yay!), so i dove straight in. it was good! but, of course i found another mistake. since there was no telling what kind of matcha powder used in the original recipe, and no telling how strong or faint the powder i’m using for this recipe, i ended up using 2 tablespoons of the powder (which is like the maximum in the recipe). it turned out to be too much! next time i’m going to only put 1 tablespoon, because otherwise the soufflé is going to be too bitter. and for the record, i always use Kabuse matcha powder no. 1 for baking.

souffle4but nonetheless, since the texture of the soufflé itself is so airy and light, we finished them in no time, bittersweet and all.

the end verdict is that this was a nice change from our usual green tea muffins, but considering all the work, it’s best to be ‘saved’ for more special occasions. but hey… i made my very first soufflé! yippie!