Design


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I love sending postcards on my travels and I never leave home without some friends’ addresses in my notebook. Sometimes it is hard to find original and fun cards to send, but Miin Design here in Taiwan has been making my life a whole lot easier.

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They’ve come up with a whole range of fun and funky cards to send home that really grasps the feel of Taiwan. Mixing traditional culture, some tacky elements and style into truly witty works of art to drop in the mailbox. The top three up here have phrases like ‘Pray for Good Luck’ and ‘Go Shopping in Taipei’ while the other two asks you ‘Have you tried these?’ These are just a few of the cards, there are loads more and I feel like I want to collect them all for myself!

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My favorites however are the pop-up cards. They look fairly plain and almost cheap viewed from on side, but turn them around and…

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There are pictures that you can pop out to make a 3D postcard! And they are totally Taiwanese. People doing tai-chi in parks, night market stands, guards at CKS Memorial Hall, scooter drivers in the city, and tourists in Taroko. It’s more like a card, with the message written on the inside and the address on the outside. It even comes with a small sticker with the characters for Taiwan on them to enclose the card with. My favorites, of course, are the ones of Taiwan’s ubiquitous betel nut girls or bin-lang girls.

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 So there has been no reason for me not to write postcards, and to top it all of there is this really cute postbox downtown to drop them into!

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When Alexander first arrived in Bangkok, just over a year ago now, I took him for lunch at Rakk on Pha Arthit. On the previously unused stairs going to the upper level was a big bag filled in which we could just make out the small stuffed toys that it contained. We were curious to know about the contents, but thought it polite not to enquire.

Some days later, while walking down the street, our questions were answered when we saw an old lady sitting at a sidewalk table, the contents of the bag now neatly displayed. She had a collection of small mammals, all handmade from rejected pieces of old cloth. I fell in love with them and since we’ve made a point of always stopping by whenever we’re in the neighborhood and she’s out. Whenever she is not there I feel deeply disappointed and and when she is I have to pick something up.

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In this way we have collected a giraffe and frog, squirrel and kangaroo (a gift from my friend Nicole), a snake and a cute monkey, one of her first bigger designs, that Alexander bought for me. My friend Nicole also bought me a rhino, but the poor thing has decided to slip into my sister’s luggage and move to Pretoria.

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She always has something new, lately she’s been working on a lot of larger toys including a kangaroo with joey in the pouch. Although I really like them too I think the small ones are more appealing, and considering that we are building a collection of these soft toys more manageable in our small apartment.

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The one stuffed toy we did not buy from her is this monkey I picked up in Hanoi. He’s made from cut-off Hmong fabric and with his nose missing was just calling out to me to be taken to Bangkok. I think him and the other monkey get along very well.

This one is easy.

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When we moved to Bangkok last August after months of traveling, our closet was depressingly barren and we most certainly did not have anything to wear to work. I’ve never worked anywhere that required me to wear dress pants or ties, the last time I wore anything like that was at church in high school.

Fortunately Bangkok is a haven for all kinds of consumerists and I quickly managed to build up a collection of ties, shirts and pants. When we decided to quit school I was wondering what to do with all those work clothes now hanging in my closet and the answer was simple, re-appropriate them, of course!

This was my first project. I shortened a pair of work pants into knee-length shorts with a broad hem. I was going to use some of the cut-off fabric to insert a decorative pocket, but it did not look right, so instead I just created a fold in the side seams just below the pockets to give them some shape.

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After the summer/winter/ monsoon (pick you season) I’ll work on some other projects, but right now I am preparing for the next big move. More about that to follow soon.

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Before my sister’s last birthday (early December) I promised her a bag made by me. I questioned her on what she was looking for in a bag, made some notes, bought fabric, and started working on some sketches.

And then a lot of bags for other people happened and we were away a lot and the sewing machine ended up gathering a lot of dust and what did not happen was a bag for my sister. When she came visiting us in late April she inquired about the promised bag and I had to sheepishly admit that I still did not make it. Luckily I bought her a shoulder bag from a Red Dzau lady in Sapa, so there was something for her. But she was clearly not impressed by my slowness.

Not long after she left I sat down and cut out all the pieces for her bag, the same design as this one. I was interrupted again for a couple of days in late May and was beginning to wonder if I’d ever finish her bag. But last week, the day before we left for Ko Samet, I sat down in front of my sewing machine and finished the bag in one go. Ready to take with to the island for some pictures

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The bag has a side pocket on the outside, a bigger one inside, shoulder straps, and a reinforced base, just as she requested.

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Now it remains to be seen if I’ll ever get to mailing it. When it comes to my recored with sending anything other than email, she may be lucky to receive it just in time for her next birthday.

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These are two other items I have sewed earlier this here, but only recently came round to sending and now posting.

The bag on the left is another diaper tube with the same features, but different contrasting fabric. I love the pink and brown bulbs and it makes a nice contrast on the inside of the bag for the side pockets.

The other item is not exactly a bag, but tube to store plastic bags in. The first time I encountered these convenient bags was when my mom made one for the kitchen. It hung behind the door and I could keep myself busy for some time pulling out bags at the bottom and stuffing them back at the top again. The fabric for this bag I also picked up ages ago at a little clothing store in Chatuchak market.

I still have lots of fabric waiting to be used, but at the moment I don’t know when that’s going to be. We’ve been very busy with this and that and we’ll be getting even busier this month. My sister is arriving on Sunday and we are going to Cambodia for a week and then later this month Alexander’s parents will come visiting. It’s most certainly an exciting and busy time for us, just sorry my poor sewing machine cannot exactly be part of the fun right now.

It’s been quite some time since I last blogged about my sewing endeavors. Actually, it’s been quite some time since I’ve last done any sewing. Although there was a period of some prolific sewing earlier this year, I never got round to writing about it.

During this time I sewed a beach bag for Alexander’s sister, Genevieve.

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It’s big enough to carry a sarong or medium beach towel and some reading matter along to the beach, plus two smaller inside pockets and one on the outside.

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I never came round to mailing it, so I gave it to her when she came visiting in March. It seemed to come in handy for our beach trip to the Andaman Coast.

A little while ago I mailed a parcel to my friends Gabi and Kevin in Taiwan. I can now reveal to you the contents of the parcel…

It was a diaper tube. They just had a baby and I wanted to give them something to carry all his baby-undergarments in. The bag is tube-shaped and has some inner pockets of the same fun fabric as the lining. I’m not sure if it is at all practical as I have never even looked at a diaper bag before, but I suggested that if that is not the case I am sure they can let little Aidan crawl around in it!

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