my 2018 in sewing (late post)

first off, happy new year to everyone!

well, 2018 ended in quite a hectic way for me so i couldn’t write this post earlier. but anyways, as i had done for the past few years, here’s a recap of my 2018 in sewing.

honestly, i wasn’t expecting to sew as much as i did. with the depression, moving, and back pains etc., i had little hope that i would have enough will and energy to sew. but 14 sewing projects in a year, that was quite an achievement! 😉 (the coordinated set was put twice up there because there are 2 items, the pants and the top.)

out of these 14 items, 8 were done without pattern. the french bulldog top was done by putting an old top over the fabric and cutting the fabric straight out. the knot dress’s idea was taken from Named’s Kielo dress. the twist knot tops’ idea was taken from a Zara top.

last year i have fallen out of love and fallen back in love with sewing and clothes. who knows what will happen next in my journey of sewing, but at least having invested in a better sewing machine helped, too, in getting myself re-inspired.

with my new sewing machine, i’ve also been more inclined to learn new techniques. since my new sewing machine makes it a lot easier for me to sew things like button holes and decorative stitches, i can concentrate more on making my garment more neat and polished instead.

other than these 14 items, i actually also made 2 small pouches that i never posted. one is made for my mum by her request, and was the very first time i made a pouch with zipper. i still used my old sewing machine for that, just before i wrapped it up and sold it.

the other one was my very first project with my new sewing machine, a test run, so to speak. it wasn’t that neat, but i needed to test the zipper presser foot and overcasting presser foot (something i never had before!). the pouch works perfectly well, so i’ve been using it to keep my keys.

these 2 pouches were unfortunately the only ones i made using old fabrics that i had… all 14 sewing projects were otherwise done using *gasp* new fabrics! the knot skirt and polka dot twist knot top fabrics were given to me for free, though, so… at least i don’t feel too guilty for getting so much new fabrics, haha. 😅

i don’t have any new sewing resolution for this year, it stays the same as last year and the year before: to sew only the things i need or will definitely wear until it breaks. those 14 up there i have been wearing daily, except for the last dress, LBD, which i have yet to wear due to lack of formal party invitation, LOL.

and with that, 2018 is officially closed and i warmly welcome the new year! what will you have in store for me, dear 2019? 💕

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if i were crazy rich…

warning: this is just me rambling about nothing. proceed to read only if you have nothing better to do. 😝

it has been quite a hard last few weeks for me as i have been on a sick leave due to severe back pain. my age is starting to catch up with me, it seems.

it’s quite bad that i can’t even sew, so yeah… i’m in a situation where it’s so easy to go down and be depressed about things. or everything.

so in order to cheer myself up, i started to daydream. what if i were to be a crazy rich Asian? not that i have seen the movie (or read the book, though it has been on my shelf for quite a while now), but my inspiration came from blog-walking.

a looong long time ago, i followed a bunch of fashion bloggers. you know, when blogging was still a thing, before twitter and instagram existed. i’m not gonna name names, but those days were awesome. these bloggers that i followed were so cool, because their sense of style was like way out there (just the way i like them!) and they were so… for lack of better word, ’pure’.

there was no endorsements from any brands or stores, they didn’t have much money (just like the rest of us), and yet with what they had they created the most fun fashion they could, and they were so incredibly creative that way.

for a long time, i still followed them. even after the numerous brands and stores gifted them with free expensive stuffs, i still peeked at their blogs, once in a while.

however, in my opinion, one by one they started to lose the touch. some of them became walking advertisements (if there is even such a thing), always posting whatever their endorser wanted them to post, even when they claim they are being honest about it. some of them only wore branded stuffs, things that—let’s face it—most of us would never be able to afford in a million years, unless we buy it all with credit cards and bring the huge debt of that damned Chanel purse to our graves.

i’m not here to judge, though, and people are free to do what they want in their own personal space aka blog. but i am quite sad to see the creativity that was once over-flowing from them faded away because of money.

that was when i started daydreaming, or actually more like reflecting… if i were rich, whether the money came from endorsements or my offline career, what would i do with all those money, in relations with my passion, which is fashion?

would i start splurging on designers clothes or accessories, one after another? i wonder what it would feel like to buy my first Chanel purse. would it give me such pleasure that i would want to spend more on a second one, and keep buying more and more? i have often wished i had the money to buy Vivienne Westwood shoes; if one day i were rich enough to buy my first pair, and still had more money, would i buy more than just one pair?

of course it’s hard to say when i’m not actually in those shoes (pun intended), but i would like to imagine that i wouldn’t go that way.

i wouldn’t mind buying good quality products that will last through this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean thousands of euros for just one purse, let alone buying many purses of the same price range.

i think i would still want to leave a biiiiiig empty space for my creativity (read: sewing), which probably means i would spend some money on designers brands’ fabrics, bahahaha…. i don’t know, i guess the difference of buying the ‘raw material’ than the ‘finished product’ of a designer brand is that (this will sound quite strange) i would feel more involved in the creative process of the whole designing thing. this would also mean i would get to make the material to be more uniquely me, i guess.

maybe that sounds too snobbish or proud to some, but well, this is my daydream on my own blog anyway!

i would like to think that i would pretty much stay the same even if i had lots of money. i would still stubbornly try to sew things on my own, and maybe buy some items that i cannot make on my own like—yep—that Chanel purse or Vivienne Westwood shoes. but i think i would rather stay productive and creative by sewing my own clothes than hunt for those limited edition dresses or whatever.

let’s see if i do become crazy rich one day, and i would go back reading this blog post to remind myself not to be a crazy, rich Asian. 😁

acceptance

there are many times in my life when i feel like giving up. in any thing.

giving up school. giving up working. giving up trying to get better after a nasty flu. but even through all those times, i never gave up my passion for fashion. after being able to sew, this included never giving up sewing.

until about a year ago. i didn’t know what was happening, i didn’t even know it was happening. i kept telling myself that it was a good thing i don’t sew as much anymore, because who needed all those clothes anyway? i hid behind my own resolution to not sew useless things, and in the end i hardly sewed at all.

but somewhere along the way i realized that i did not even feel good among fabrics anymore. they didn’t call me the way they used to. when i looked at my fabric collection, i got exhausted already, thinking of all the work i got to do to process them into a wearable item. that was when i realized something must be wrong with myself.

i was tired at that time, physically and mentally. there were many things going on at work, and no matter how hard i tried not to bring them back to home with me, i still did. i lost count on how many nights i lost sleep. and even when i did sleep, i woke up a lot earlier than my alarm and couldn’t get back to sleep. this lasted for more than a year, and regardless of how many times my husband encouraged me to go to the doctor for my insomnia, i never did.

funnily enough, at the same time, my work mates were relying on me to get things done. not that they didn’t do it themselves, but it seemed like their favourite person to turn to for help when there was some problem at work was me. and i was/am not even in any official managerial position. i didn’t mind this, of course, but i wondered why i came off to them like i was holding everything together just fine, when i was actually also ready to tumble down.

i wanted to give up everything at that time. including this blog, which i had abandoned for months.

and then earlier this year, i came across this article. reading the first way of its manifest in real life rang alarm bells in my head already.

sewing, and fashion, used to be my rock, my safe haven. it was what i identified myself with. seeing clothes or fabrics used to bring me joy, even to just be among them, not having to own them. when it stopped doing that, then what had i become? who was i?

luckily for me, i didn’t have to go to any doctor to get myself diagnosed for any depression, because the help came almost right away.

some time after reading that article, there came a shocking change at my workplace, something i didn’t think would happen. as with any big changes in my life, i was pessimistic about it at first. but regardless, i stayed, and saw through the change, day by day.

and days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. suddenly, i could see myself sewing again. i could hear the fabrics calling me again, and i started getting ideas and energy to sew things again. i tried sewing one skirt, and then another top, and another…. before i knew it, i got myself back. 😊

so what was the help that i got? it was first and foremost: acceptance. first, after reading that article and slowly tried to make sense of it, i accepted the fact that i might be experiencing some sort of depression. and the change that happened at work was, in short, a change of superior position. and lucky for me, and all of us, this change turned out to be the best. because she had that in her, too. acceptance.

we are not perfect. and we were all extremely tired at that time. but she listened to all of us and accepted us as who we are. by doing this, she made us feel worthy, and also feel at home, even when we are at work. she stood by us when the one before her didn’t.

it may sound small to some people, but to me, at that moment, it meant the whole world. if the change hadn’t come at that time, i probably would have had to go to a doctor, get some prescribed medication, and who knows whether i would be okay enough right now to sew, and blog, and live happily.

this acceptance, both from myself and outside of me, made me feel like the burden on my shoulders were lifted up. now i can finally turn off my ’work’-mind when i go home from work, not because my superior ordered me to, but because i know things will be taken care of. for the first time after about 1,5 years, i could finally sleep peacefully at night.

i’m writing this down here so that if i ever have the same problem again, i can read this post and know that i had once gotten through this. that i had learned to accept myself, and someone else also had given that to me. next time, if there ever will be, there may not be an understanding person such as my superior, but i hope by then i would’ve learned that self-acceptance is the key to finding myself back and being happy. ♥️

checking out Czech

well, okay, Prague to be exact.

neither my husband nor i have ever been there, so this was our first time ever. and my verdict is: love the city, hate the tourists! 😀 (i guess that includes us, LOL!)

i’m too tired to put descriptions in the pics, so here’s the short(er) story of the whole trip.

upon arriving, i immediately noticed something in the air that was quite familiar. it was very hot and damp that night, so that already brought me back to Indonesia, but the air was filled with incense scent. and i mean like everywhere! this of course brought my mind back to Bali, where they have incense-scented offerings everywhere on the street. i had no idea why there was an abundant smell of incense in the whole city, but when i heard church bells near our hotel, then i thought maybe the reason was that there is plenty of these churches in Prague, and perhaps they use incense in there? i didn’t hang around in churches to find out, so i guess i’ll never know.

if you are an honest and naive tourist like me, you might want to be extra careful where you buy your groceries. :p i learned it the hard way there when on our first night, since it was hot and we were tired, we only managed to go to a nearby mini-mart to get some water bottles. we had a small idea of how tourist stores ( = any store in a tourist-y area) mark up their prices, but it wasn’t until we got back to our hotel that we found out how badly ripped off we were. 11€ for 2 big bottles and 1 small bottle of water is NOT normal, i can tell u that. 😀 the next day we found a bigger mini-mart and paid 1,50€ for 2 small bottles of water. go figure.

if you’re an anti-tourist like me, avoid Charles bridge at all cost! LOL. i put a picture i took from there just to show you how many people there were at that time… and remember, this was not even a peak season yet, and the temperature was somewhere between 30-32C degrees. it was blazing hot, and tourists with their selfie sticks were just taking pictures upon pictures with every effin’ step they made, people walking behind them would just have to wait patiently because, well, the crowds were everywhere…. unbelievable.

there are soooo many castles in Prague, and soooooooo many beautiful gardens to come with those castles. so they said. we tried to see just the gardens (because, well, the castles would be filled with tourists… again), and since we’re so used to free gardens in Finland, we were taken aback with the fact that we had to pay tickets to view the gardens of the castles in Prague. 😀 and since apparently they really don’t want to let people view it for free, they had to make walls around the gardens as well. no castles and no gardens, then! 😀

we did go to the Alphonse Mucha museum, for my sake. it was small and non air-conditioned, but whatever. i’m glad it wasn’t as famous and hence full of tourists, so that was nice! no pictures are allowed in there, that’s why i don’t have any.

i got this tip from a colleague of mine, and apparently it’s true: you can only buy stamps in Prague in the post office. 😀 in Finland (and i think even in Indonesia) you can buy stamps from kiosks and mini-marts, but when i asked a souvenir store in Prague if they sell stamps… their answer is: no, but the post office is right there on the main street. so off i went there, took a queue number from the machine (in case you’re wondering, it’s “other services>selling stamps and other products”!) and went to the cashier just to get 1 stamp for a postcard! wow. and then there’s the matter of figuring out how to work out the mailbox. there are plenty of them around the city, but the instructions (or whatever they are) are all in Czech. hmm. i hope my postcard arrives to where i’m sending it to! 😀

you will find many places offering Trdelnik aka chimney cake, for various prices. however, after the water bottle incident, i was quite careful about spending money there. i remember seeing a place selling traditional Trdelnik for as cheap as 20 Kr, but since it was far away and i was too tired to go back there, i decided to go to the one nearest to our hotel that offered it for 50 Kr. i tried the cinnamon one, and boy, was it good! i wish i had tried the one filled with ice cream, but maybe i’ll do it some other time!

another thing worth mentioning is the dogs of Prague. i can’t tell for sure if they are local or tourist dogs, but i found many dogs were let loose in Prague (as in, not bound on a leash) and yet they didn’t run away! ❤ the first one i saw was a cute dachshund on the loose and i had to fight back the urge not to pick it up and bring it home! 😀 another one i saw was inside a small souvenir shop, with no leash of course, just looking out of the store as if it’s the owner of the store, looking for new customers. i managed to take a candid picture of 1 dog i saw that was just sooooo sooooo sweet, i couldn’t resist it…. if you’re the owner of that dog, i’m sorry i had to steal a picture of your doggy! good thing you put a leash on it! 😀

lastly, just a few pics of the hotel we stayed at, called Blue Oak.

it was such a lovely place! we were looking for a place with air conditioning (not all hotels in Prague have them, we knew there would be this heatwave coming when we were looking for the place) and possibly a microwave. and wow, we didn’t even expect the room to be so big, but it was! on the last day of our trip, there was a big thunderstorm with lots of hail and we got to view it from our bedroom window. just like in a tropical place, it only lasted for a short time, and made the weather much more bearable afterwards.

and there you have it, Prague from my very small & short point of view! 😀 i highly recommend it if you appreciate architecture… and beer, obviously, LOL. but if the larger-than-life tourist thing bothers you, you might want to go there when it’s really a very low peak season instead. 😉

SSS

… stands for a Surprise Short-trip to Singapore!

just like the name, it was a surprise trip–not something we planned for from a long time–and it was short. the main idea was just to meet my parents and spend quality time together.

and that we did!

and because that was the main idea, i don’t really have much to tell about the trip itself, nor that much pictures. we mainly stayed in, going out only to get lunch and dinner, talked & played cards. might be boring for you to see, but it was so much fun for us. 🙂 most of the pics we got was from our last full day together, when we visited the Botanic Gardens, the only place we went to other than restaurants/grocery stores. 😀 (okay, we also went to Mustafa Centre, of course, but that doesn’t count.)

though the jetlag left us tired but it was at the same time so refreshing and came at just the right moment when i was so fed up with work. i miss my parents again already now, but hopefully our next gathering isn’t too far away from now. 🙂

happy summer & mid-year (and soon midsummer), everyone! ❤

PS. the pictures were taken by 4 different people and 5 different cameras, hence the quality differences.

the real price of ‘cheap’

when i think about it, i’ve been selling things almost all my life. starting from when i was in elementary school, i used to sell name labels/stickers to my classmates, the kind that i ordered by mail with pre-set images & sizes. and then i as i grew older i moved on to selling Avon, Triumph lingerie and eventually Oriflame. these are of course the kinds that i did as a side job thing, but the real kind of ‘hard’ selling happened when i had a small boutique in Jakarta along with my 2 friends.

it was during this time that i learned the real price of ‘cheap’. or to be completely honest, i learned how annoying it is to hear customers bargaining for a cheaper price. i mean, i’m not gonna lie: i also bargain sometimes. but when i knew it firsthand how much work went into our own work (our boutique sold one of a kind clothings, specifically designed by yours truly, the fabrics all chosen by us three co-owners straight from the fabric shops, and all clothes sewn by one single tailor) and someone dared to bargain the prices that we carefully counted so that we got back our work’s expenses & effort, i found it quite insulting. i felt like saying, if you want to bargain, go shop at a market place.

but then i realized something disturbing. why did i feel like saying that, as if a market place is a good place to bargain when usually those markets (at least in Indonesia) are run by people who don’t even have much money. what makes it okay for people, including me, to bargain from an already ‘poor’ person? don’t we appreciate their effort? and instead, most people don’t even blink an eye when they buy overpriced designers clothings. ever heard of anyone bargaining at a Louis Vuitton store? of course not, don’t be ridiculous.

but why? what makes it okay to accept some high price for something that was created with the exact same effort & work, and for other things you just feel the need to bargain until the salesperson finally gave up their original prices and lets you have it for a lot cheaper price?

now let’s imagine how the process goes for almost every thing in this world, excluding fresh produce. somebody, somewhere, had the idea to create something. whether it be a piece of hairclip, a mobile phone, a computer game, or even a logo, after the idea came the work process. this could involve only 1 person or many people, time, effort (sometimes many efforts as there are no guarantees that someone succeeds after only the first try), the final production, and shipping/how to get the thing(s) to the sellers/straight to customers. in some cases, this whole process last hours, but in most cases they could last for months or even years. and all that process are in the end reduced as one specific product, what you actually see & purchase, of which you try to estimate the real value before bargaining and paying. how many of us can honestly say that we think about all the processes as opposed to just the end product before determining how much we are willing to pay for it?

another form of bargaining actually happens without us knowing it. it’s the kind that happens within the work process instead. big companies bargaining sweatshop’s workers’ wages, sometimes even bargaining their lives. and that’s not all. a dear friend told me once that she used to do dozens of creative designs (let’s say clothing designs) per week to then be shown to a big clothing store company who will then decide which one(s) they could ‘buy’. usually out of 12 or 20, there would be only 1 or 2 that was accepted, and the payment for those creative designs were only bearing 2 or 3 digits at the very max. and then those big clothing store companies would mass-produce the designs and sell them for 5-10€ each. she told me this: “so remember, behind every cheap thing you see in stores, there is always someone suffering for it.” either the designer, the tailor, the shoemaker, the seller, or even the ones who prepare the raw materials, ‘cheap’ means ‘suffering’.

i mean, would YOU want to work your a** off and be paid for 2€ a month? no? then why would you bargain at someone else’s cost?

after all this pondering, i can tell you that i very rarely bargain for anything. if i go to a market place, i look for those who sell stuffs for a fixed price, just to avoid bargaining. i feel sorry for paying 3€ for a pair of nice looking earrings, but then again i don’t do it every month or even every year. and i suppose it’s still better for someone out there that gets paid for each sold goods, so as long as i don’t add to the bargaining part, i have to believe that i’m not making things worse.

sometimes, very rarely, i do still bargain. for example when going to Bali, and i knew that when my husband wasn’t with me, the sellers offer me cheaper prices (local prices) and when my husband was there the prices doubled up. well… excuse me for knowing the real price, then. but still, mostly i don’t have the heart to do it. not after realizing all of this.

our work and effort should mean something more than cheap prices. i hope in the future we can all start seeing more of the work & effort that goes to one product instead of just the end product. then maybe bargaining in all shapes will cease to exist. 😉