Monday, June 20, 2016

SewAlong piping hot hobo - Week2 + Week3 progress

Tasks for Week2 were pretty easy and straight forward.. 
except for the preparing the piping part.. 
Luckily I found a ready made cording piping at my local fabric store (it would have actually cost more to make them from scratch)
  • Cut all the pieces__________checked
  • Prep the piping______________checked
  • Iron the interface and fleece___________checked

Week3 started with adding central gusset seam, both exterior and interior. Since I have never done this before, I was quite curious to learn the effect of the central seam.
  • For the exterior, fold the gusset in half - right side together
  • For the interior, fold the gusset in half - wrong side together
  • Sew straight line all the way (3mm seam)

Before attaching the piping to the body, go ahead and make the handle loops, attach D-ring on each of the handle loops and stitch the handle loops to the exterior back piece (follow the placement on the pattern piece)

Attaching the piping to the exterior back and front pieces. 
Mark the piping beginning and end on the right side of each piece (follow the placement on the pattern pieces)
 Secure with clips before sewing, 
I used zipper foot as I don't have a piping foot, and it worked fine. 
Start sewing slowly and remember to follow the curves and never to pull and stretch the piping while sewing.  
Once completed, you'll have attached piping to:
  • Exterior back around the bottom
  • Exterior front around the bottom
  • Exterior front on the top

The remainder piping will be used for the flap

Next, is attaching the gusset to the exterior body
The book suggests sewing on the gusset side, but I am more comfortable sewing on the exterior body side (I can follow the curve of the exterior body when sewing) 
Please note that the gusset is not of the exact length, you will have excess at the end
Once the gusset is attached to both the front and back body, I notice how easily and neatly it collapse. 
A good technique to apply especially when working with wide gusset and you want it to naturally collapse.  

Previous posts: 

Pin It

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

My teaching anecdotes

I enjoy teaching
I thought my passion was teaching English (background: I am a trained language teacher) 
But over the years, I realized it doesn't matter what I teach.. I love seeing a person's eyes brightens when they get it, or when they are able to apply the knowledge, or when they share a story with me about something that they learnt from me. 
So, I decided to pursue that passion, which comes effortlessly and brings me so much joy. 

This post is about few anecdotes I shared on IG and my facebook page of my experience teaching sewing at a center that hires and trains people with special needs. 

I teach there on a voluntary basis once a week-in-Japanese (I had very basic formal training in the language, only introduction to the Japanese letters and basic grammar, I picked up the language mostly from my years of teaching English at schools and kindergarten and my time conversing with the older ladies at my gym; at one point my Japanese vocabulary was like that of a child or of a grandma's..LOL). It is a new center but it has grown from about 5 staffs when I first started (about 10 months ago) to triple the number. The turnover rate is very high (due to illness requiring medical care to other problems), I feel like I am constantly training new recruits, only to find them gone in few weeks time..

 OCT 29th 2015
 First day, it is just me and the supervisor today, one to one coaching. We are making masks for children. As I have not made one in a long time (the last time I made a mask was for Sofea when she was 7, I think), I made one to refresh my memory before guiding her through the process. By the end of the day, she completed about 8 masks. 
I recommended the center invest in a rotary cutter, self healing mat and a good pair of scissors. 
The supervisor is my age and has one young boy, we talked about work and life while we were working. 

NOV 17th 2015
Sewing class today...
These past 2 sessions, I have been assigned to teach the basics of sewing to the male staffs - 4 of them (background story: I have started teaching on a part time volunteer basis at an organization that train and employ special needs people)

3 of them have never touched a sewing machine before this but they have such positive attitudes and interest to learn that I find very inspiring..

At the end of today's session, they were able to sew straight and curves stitches on the high speed machine (which I secretly wished could be mine)... 
(Note: I have come up with my own curriculum for beginners, sewing 101; 1. introduction to sewing machines and parts 2. how to operate and industrial high speed machine 3. straight stitch 4. curves 5. fold and stitch 6. attaching elastic bands)

There is also a lady staff there and we sew baby booties together..

 Jan 25th 2016
 Today's class was mainly one to one coaching. The staff (in the green jumper) was taught how to fold the seam on the sides of a new born lace baby dress (about 1cm), stitch and add label.
The interesting part is she has hearing impairment in both ears and communicate via sign language, lip reading, body gestures and writing on a tablet (pen and paper? What's that..hihihi)

Well.. so there I was, trying my best to gesture and enunciate the words with hope she understood me.. and struggling with few sign language (in Japanese) phrases I picked up and I'm pretty sure I might have signed some bad

At the end of the session, despite some hiccups and raised eyebrows moments... she graciously bowed and thanked me profusely for the lesson... (^v^)v 

(Note: she has improved a lot and is now one of permanent staff on the sewing machine. The center gets quite a lot of simple sewing projects outsourced by factories) 

FEB 22nd 2016
Monday is work at the center day (I teach sewing at a center that hires and trains special need people). Today, I was requested to guide a staff to sew girls' underpants suitable for kids with skin problem/sensitive skin/eczema/irritation/etc.
I was given a store bought sample and pattern pieces (the moment I arrived), and I have to figure out the stitching steps and sewing techniques and impart the information to the student, guide her and complete at least 1 piece all within a couple of hours... yikes!!! ^^ The interesting part about sewing this underpants is the inside seams will all be on the outside - so as to have minimum frictions with the skin, and they'll be using organic cotton.

All was well in the end.. mission accomplished! We completed 2 underpants (show off..hehehe)

I guess since I work for myself at my own pace, some pressure is good to keep me motivated and alert... and I love that about this job..

May 23rd 2016
Work today, like any other day was amusing and fun (for me) and surely stressful and awful (for my poor students, I assume). 
From the station I walk about 10-15 minutes, depending on how many flowers or insects (and shop windows) I stop to observe (and photograph) along the way. The moment I walk in, the supervisor would pounce and start discussing that day's plan. Today they wanted me to suggest ways the staff could increase production..
OK so apparently I do not only teach, but I consult on matters under the sun (I was just asked if I could get my hands on some sea cucumber cream (jelly gamat) and if it was indeed good for the skin, I told them I'd look into the matter) *grin
Back to the story, increase production - I set the time to 30 minutes and I stood there observing the 2 staffs (imagine being them...*cringe). The lady staff excelled in the first 30 minutes, she was on a roll.. it was not good for the male staff, anything that could go wrong went wrong, he ran out of bobbin thread, needle wouldn't thread, needle need changing, unpicking.. when the alarm went off, I told them to continue sewing but secretly I was still observing them ;P
after the hour was up, I prepared an oral report and presented them to the supervisor and bosses (husband and wife who runs the center); the problem and ways to overcome the problem and suggestions on steps they can take to increase production.

Pin It

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sew Along - The Piping Hot hobo

Week 1 tasks for the piping hot hobo sew along was to gather the materials needed to make the bag. 
Here's a list of items needed to make this bag:
1. Exterior fabric: 50x112cm (medium weight)
2. Lining fabric: 50x112cm
3. Woven fusible interface 50cm
4. Fleece 50cm
5. Piping cord 2.5m - matches the exterior
6. Bias fabric 45x3cm - for the flap trim band 
7. Bag strap 125x1.5cm
8. Magnetic snap button 18mm
9. 2 D-rings
10. 2 Popper snaps 1.5cm 
11. Tassel 2.5cm wide

I have narrowed it down to 3 choices but haven't really decided from these fabrics for my exterior, I also got a ready made piping cord (yeay!!) 

Main task of Week 2 is to cut the fabrics (exterior and lining), interface and fleece. The good news is there are only 4 pattern pieces and the best news is you repeat to cut each pattern 4 times (ones for each material type; exterior and lining fabrics, interface and fleece). 

Preparation List
Pattern 1/4 - Body front 
Pattern 2/4 - Body back
Pattern 3/4 - Gusset 
Pattern 4/4 - Flap    

Also cut
From lining fabric - 25x16cm (inner slip pocket) 
From exterior fabric - 14x5cm (handle loops) 

Pin It

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Next sew along project

It has been way too long since our last sew along
So, I decided we should have one..

I am thinking of the piping-hot hobo pattern from Lisa Lam's The Bag Making Bible
The last bag I made from this book (which was also a sew along I put together) was a Reversible Bucket Bag (FREE pdf). We had so much fun and learn a lot along the way. 

What do you think? Any of you interested to join in the fun?
You can follow us here and on IG 

Here's the tentative plan
The piping-hot Hobo (by Lisa Lam)
Level: Advance
Special features: Round shape, piping, collapsible gusset
Time length: 23rd MAY - 30th JUNE 2016
Time Plan:
Week 1 (23/5 - 31/5)
1. Study Pattern and instructions
(pages 148 - 154)
2. Copy and cut out pattern pieces
(4 pattern pieces only. yippee!!!)
3. Collect Materials/Fabrics
(Edited: What you need list)
4. Decide on fabric combo
5. Showcase fabric combo
Week 2 (1/6 - 8/6)
1. Cut fabrics, interfacing and fleece
(Edited: Preparation list)
2. Make the piping
(how to on pages 144-145)
3. Iron interfacing and fleece
4. Showcase progress
Week 3 (8/6 - 15/6)
  • Central gusset seam
  • Attaching piping to bag exterior
  •  Attaching gusset to bag exterior

Week 4 (15/6 - 22/6)
  • Bag lining
  • Bag flap 
Week 5 (22/6 - 29/6)
  • Assembling the bag
   Showcase Final Product : 30/6 
stay tuned for more updates soon!!
Pin It

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Alter the length of your jeans but keep the original hem - a tutorial

I have had this pair of boot cut jeans that never fitted me right, it's too long and because of the cut, it will go under my shoes when I walk but I have kept it nonetheless. I have worn it on and off, at times folding/tucking/stepping on the hem.
After like 'forever' of doing that, today I decided to do something about it *roll eyes*

Here's a few simple steps on how to shorten your jeans length while keeping the original hem (and not breaking any needles in the process)
step 1: Wear your jeans and measure the length you want, it is best to measure with your shoes on (I didn't bother as I am always wearing flats)
step 2: Divide the measurement you took in half and pin all around (3"/2= 1.5")  
step 3: I used walking foot and size 14 needle and sew as close to the original hem. It makes sewing easy if you use the free arm on your sewing machine to insert the jeans leg 
step 4: Try it on, if it seems fine move to step 5, if you are not happy with the length (repeat step 1-3) 
*note: I would rather throw the jeans away than repeat step1-3, so better do it right the first time around.. 
but hey.. that's just me..
 step 5: Cut excess, zigzag or serge to avoid fraying
step 6: Press original seam down, you can topstitch all around above the new seam or leave it be as I done
And you are done.. 
The best part of this is, you can do it in a very short time, on your portable machine and the end result does not make it obvious like you have shortened it 

Further reading on shortening jeans while keeping the original hem: here, here and a video tutorial here 
Add lengths to children jeans   Pin It

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Begin again

It has been way too long since I last posted anything here..
the best way I suppose is to begin again, fresh start..
So here I go..
This is me.. Sohana Sabir a.k.a MyBotanG
and this here is my family..
a hubby, a daughter and myself
this is Iman Sofea, she'll be 14 in May. She is in her 2nd year of Junior High school
people say she looks a lot like me, but I feel she resembles hubby both in looks and personality (which drives me crazy at times, to have 2 of them and non on my team..)
and this is us trying to murder a cardboard storm trooper with our churos..
Hubby is the main reason we are here in Japan.. he originally came to Japan as an undergraduate student, he then brought me here, and we brought Sofea.. long story short, we never left.. we tried to once.. but Allah has better plan for us..
So 15 years ++, 5 cities and 9 apartments later.. we are now residing in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
I am still sewing, been doing it full time for the last 6 years ++
Sofea and myself in my handmade dresses
I have added clothes making to my resume (in addition to making bags and quilts)
I also teach sewing at a centre that hires and trains people with special needs

So, stick around..

Pin It

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Doodling our way into 2013

New Year is a big thing in Japan.. well for the Japanese at least, for me, it is rather nerve wrecking.. Having Sofea (my 10yo) home for 2 weeks and Imran (my 36yo errr..hubby) for a week whining I'm bored and rummaging the pantry, fridge and under the sofa for food every 30 minutes is no fun.. so while the Japanese are cleaning and writing their nengajo (New Year cards) and preparing their Osechi-ryouri (Japanese traditional new year foods), I was planning how we'll spend the holidays with minimum hair pulling and hopefully no increase to (my) waistline..   

We did enjoy mochi tsuki and eating mochi on the final days of 2012 and some other outings, but the thing that kept Sofea and myself occupied most of the time was DOODLING..

We got this book (ball pen doodling) from our local book store. 
It is 127 pages and instructs how to illustrate using colour ball pens. 
It is RM57 (inclusive shipping from Japan to Malaysia)

The book is divided to 4 main categories (with many sub categories):
1. Lines and shapes, emoticons
2. Human and animals
3. Plants and everyday items
4. Greeting cards for various occasions

We enjoyed drawing and combining different shapes and designs and playing around with different colour pens (Sofea's personal stash). 

The book contains step by step instructions on illustrating an image, for an example - drawing different facial expressions using the same basic design, or how by adding a line you'll be able to change a young human face to that of an older face.  

I also loved how the author used different coloured pens to illustrate - a rose was illustrated with red pen and the stem and leaves were drawn using green pen.

My 10yo girl had great fun trying out the illustrations and it kept her occupied for hours.. I would say the book is suitable for school going kids and adults who enjoy doodling and are looking to improve and learn new illustrating techniques.    
Our doodling and Sofea's colour pens

MyBotanG's one of a kind hand drawn Thank You cards by Sofea

MyBotanG thank you mini tags

Happy New Year!!! 

Email if you are interested to get a copy of the book. 
Pin It

Saturday, November 24, 2012

No cut, no hassle Pool Towel

My 10yo girl prefers to use her pool towel than the usual wrap ones after bath. Especially now that it is colder, it is easier to just get into one of these than the hassle of wrapping yourself.. 

*It is surprising that when I Google pool towel, none of the links were anywhere close to resembling the pic above.. apparently it's only in Japan (most likely) kids pool towel looks like the one I'm talking about. More pics on

It is a quick and easy project, something that you can get done in under half an hour. 
Things you'll need: 
Towel - I got mine from the AS IS bin in IKEA many years back. It is SOMMAR (75cm x 150cm)
Wide elastic band - Mine was about 75cm
Of course the usual notions of thread, scissors and sewing machine 

1. Remove the tag 
2. Fold the towel in half
3. Sew straight down

4. Press the seam open and sew straight or zig zag stitches so that it will lay flat and not irritate your child's skin   

5. Wrap your elastic band (sew the ends to create a loop) around the top opening and slowly sew 
*It will start to gather half way through, with the presser foot and needle down, pull and adjust the towel and sew till the end.  

And you are done. 
These towels are sold in shops here in Japan, you can find a lot of them in summer, and not so much in the other seasons. Price ranges from RM40 - RM120 depending on size and brand

Pin It

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It has been way too long....

and I don't know how to start again... *sob*

I apologize for my lack of posting here.. I am still around and sewing and updating over at my page on FB..

I promise to write soon..

*Wild Cosmos snapped in Oct*

Pin It

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ABC Quilt II with LOVE

The Alphabet Quilt II (posted here) is already on its way to the owner when this post is written. I'm missing it terribly and can't stop thinking about it.. My only consolation is that it is going to a good home, to people who will appreciate and love it *sob*  

Few pictures snapped indoor of the quilt. 

The view of the back - You can clearly see the outline of hand quilted alphabets *heart* 

For more pictures and details, do visit my FB page.

Read about my first ABC Quilt:
1. Alphabet Quilt
2. Sayonara Alphabet Quilt Pin It


Related Posts with Thumbnails