Wander Responsibly in Singapore

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Wander Responsibly in Singapore
Fashion Revolution is happening very soon but it's difficult to know what your sustainable fashion options are when we are known as a shopping paradise (did you know that we had more than 150 malls on this tiny island of ours?). At the beginning of the year, I was invited by ProjectJUST to share Singapore's sustainable options in a city guide. I had some doubts about how much Singapore has to offer as last year's research had only revealed a handful of businesses in this niche area. But this year I was pleasantly surprised by how much the market has grown. Let's hope that sustainable goes mainstream!

Read the city guide and wander responsibly! I hope you enjoy this beautiful city as much as I do.

City Guide Singapore Sustainable Options

Who are ProjectJUST?
ProjectJUST an online platform that reviews fashion brands for their supply chain ethics and sustainability. Extensive research is conducted, covering four approaches - self-reported information by the brand, 3rd party reports (e.g. NGOs), media reports and coverage, and finally seeking direct input from the brand. The work is transparent and available on their site for the public to review.  If you don't see a brand on the site, you can make a request. Hop over to ProjectJUST now and see how it can empower you not only to make conscious consumer decisions but influence the industry towards positive practices.

Kintsugi Inspired Trousers - Another Upcycle

Kintsugi Inspired Trousers - Another Upcycle
The first time I went to Japan I witnessed how disciplined everyone was in disposing of their rubbish, in separating and then recycling their waste.  My brother's Japanese mother-in-law was very meticulous in this and made sure that she did not buy more than what was necessary and even ensured things did not go to waste. I remember witnessing her carefully save 1 uneaten cooked potato for the next day. I think most of us would have thrown it away but the Japanese have "mottainaiもったいない ingrained in their DNA. Their "don't waste" approach to life is something we could learn from.

What makes the "mottainai" approach work? 
The Japanese culture finds beauty in broken or old things or "wabi-sabi", and this philosophy goes back many years.  The story goes that a Japanese shogun sent his damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China to be repaired only for it to come back with unsightly staples. This spurred the Japanese to look for a repair technique that would make the ceramic look as good as new.  And so kintsugi was born - broken pieces of ceramic are assembled back together with gold dust and resin or lacquer.

Image: Haragayato

Kintsugi and Sewing
I don't think I have ever thought of repairing broken china with gold but artists such as Zoe Hillyard and Charlotte Bailey have put a twist on it by combining embroidery with kintsugi. So instead of gold dust, they have used gold thread.

Viktor + Rolf have also incorporated kintsugi into their Spring / Summer 2017 collection. I love how their textile remnants are combined together with repair techniques to create beautiful pieces. 

Viktor&Rolf Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2017 - Boulevard of Broken Dreams from Viktor&Rolf on Vimeo.

My Kintsugi Inspired Piece

I don't have gold dust or gold thread. Actually, I was looking at the gold thread and couldn't bring myself to buy it. So although this is kintsugi inspired, there isn't any gold thread. I have taken fabric scraps and remnants from my stash and sewn them onto my husband's old denim shirt. My husband has had this since college days (yes, that old) and it was starting to thin so a bit of patching with scraps was perfect for this project.

[Update: scraps were from my Restyle Your Wardrobe workshops and there are some pieces from Matter which were handed out during an art exhibition at TedX Singapore]

Using kintsugi to upcycle a top

The shirt was transformed into a pair of trousers and this took a long time as I was stitching each piece of scrap one at a time.  If you have been following me on Instagram, you will know what I mean. I think started it in November.

Yes, you can use a soldering iron in textile projects!

Some free motion embroidery
For the kintsugi effect I used satin stitches and free motion embroidery over a sandwich of chiffon and scraps. I even used a soldering iron to burn some of the chiffon, creating a bit of kintsugi.


The most difficult part (apart from the patches) was actually making the trousers, but I got there in the end! I added some bias tape at the bottom for a better finish and I was going to include dark blue tubing along the seams as well but decided against it in this upcycle. 

Kintsugi upcycle

I wasn't too sure about the yellow but after sewing the waistband everything fell into place!

kintsugi upcycle

upcycling a shirt into trousers

How would you use kintsugi in your creations?

You might like this:

This is linked up to:
Threading My Way
Sum of the Their Stories

Cut Out + Keep Fashion Superstar

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Fashion Superstar

Cat at the DIY and craft tutorial website, Cut Out + Keep emailed me about being featured on the Fashion Superstar series. I was super excited. You might remember the tutorial that I had posted on their DIY Fashionista series. Well, Cut Out + Keep has a wide range of DIY tutorials ranging from cooking to woodwork, not just sewing!

DIY Fashionista upcycle

Do check out the tutorials that will be posted daily in this series until the end of the week! Let me know what you think :)

Fix it Friday - Mending with a Blanket Stitch

Fix it Friday - Mending with a Blanket Stitch
I'm continuing with the make do and mend spirit, and I have received emails from readers saying how they have been encouraged by me to do the same.  Thank you so much for the support; it really means a lot to me when I know that there are people who read my blog.

When you mend you should never leave it until the last minute. Nip it in the bud because if you don't the tear will be aggravated by everything physical that can happen to it and you will end up doing more repair work than was originally necessary.

Mending with a blanket stitch
Can you spot the bit that is fraying?

Such was the case with my blue cotton top. For some strange reason the seam at the botton hole burst and started to fray. It was the last place I thought that would tear. Anyhow, I got caught up in work and family that I forgot about it and the little tuft of fraying started to get bigger.  So just a few days before Chinese New Year it was time to bring out the needle and thread.

Embroidery thread
Any ideas on how to keep embroidery thread in order once it's unpacked?

FACT - did you know that it is bad luck to use a pair of scissors or do any sewing on the first few days of Chinese New Year as it will supposedly bring bad luck?

I decided to make my mend a visible one although I had originally thought of using navy blue thread to match the top. And the perfect thread was sashiko thread, but you can use any type of embroidery thread.

This must have been the quickest mend ever! I wasn't racing against the clock but I think it was done in under 15 minutes.  Mind you, it was a very small button hole and I was going slowly to ensure that my stitches locked in the fray. On second thoughts, perhaps I should have used fray check first - oh well, too late.

Blanket stitch embroidery

Here's a video on the blanket stitch by Plush by Tammy

It's the Year of the Rooster!

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A new year, a new start and although we have already started 2017 today is the last day of the lunar year of the monkey. Tomorrow we will be ushering in the year of the rooster and boy, I am excited. I have decided to start this off with a bang and do some free motion embroidery.

Using free motion embroidery

I sketched out a rooster, added some colour and tried to replicate it with the limited coloured threads I had in my stash.
Even my cat wanted to get into the action, but to be honest I think he really wanted to remind me that I needed a break, or perhaps it was because he was hungry. Well, I fed him and he ended up satisfied.
Using free motion embroidery

I am very happy with how it turned out. I'm hoping to make it into a patch. Wishing everyone a great start to the new lunar new year!

Using free motion embroidery

Fix It Friday - Repairing a Silk Dress

Fix It Friday - Repairing a Silk Dress
How to Repair a Silk Dress
It gets very exciting when my friends want to repair or at least have their garments repaired for them. At last Saturday's talk and upcycling workshop, many of the participants were already keen menders and hungry for more techniques to make repairs look cool!
I'm always on the look out too; it's all part of the #slowclothing mantra that I had discovered last year, and a silk dress was what got me curious about free motion embroidery as a repair technique. I have never used or sewn silk textiles before. They seem too delicate to handle and even putting a needle through it makes me think I'm damaging it. That is until my friend asked me to repair her black dress. It's a Chloe dress mind you and has lovely embroidered flowers running along the bottom half of it.  The torn areas were under the arms and I really couldn't get my head around this one.

Was I going to use visible mending or invisible mending? And even if I wanted to make it invisible, how was it even possible with a fabric like silk?

Embroidered silk dress

Chloe Silk Dress
How to mend a silk dress

I decided to go for quasi-visible/invisible mending - is there even such a term? The plan was to make the mend complement the beautiful embroidery, either through hand embroidery or using free motion embroidery. In the end the latter won the day and I used black DMC machine embroidery thread. Tear away embroidery stabiliser was used to ensure the silk would not get crumpled up and sucked into the sewing machine. To make things a tad easier to handle (because I do want to be in control of my sewing) I used an embroidery hoop as well. It might seem over the top but this is S-I-L-K!!!

Free motion emobroidery

Free Motion Embroidery

You will need a darning foot and to lower the dog feeds (please read the instructions to your sewing machine as it may differ between machines). If you don't have the darning foot or have never tried free motion embroidery then it is better to use the normal foot, keep the dog feeds up and sew as you would normally.  The whole idea is to cover up the torn areas with as many stitches as possible to reinforce the torn area.

I decided that the stitches would look like the original embroidered patterns on the dress - I did my best and ended up with some leaves on covering up the tears. The tear away stabiliser helped a lot because it kept the stitching in place and I didn't have to worry about causing further damage to the silk.

Almost Invisible!

Can you see the mend? The exposure of the second picture has been increased slightly so that you can see the black leaves.

How to repair a silk dress using free motion embroidery

How to repair a dress using free motion embroidery