The Cat Pack – A Tribute to Starscream 2011-2019

We have been fans of Olan Rogers, the creator of the animated series “Final Space” and have enjoyed watching his sketches and stories over on his YouTube channel, many of which featured his beloved furry sidekick, Starscream. Unfortunately, Starscream passed on to the happy hunting grounds not long ago, which prompted Olan Rogers to release a final printing of Starscream-inspired apparel on Star Cadet.

We were lucky enough to snag one of the Cat Packs before they all sold out, and we so inspired by the majesty of the contents within, that we decided to make our own majestic tribute video featuring the Starscream teeshirts and majestic music recorded by J’s high school string ensemble. MAJESTIC!

Mr Olan Rogers, sir, we stand with you. We paw a Kraft Single. We’re in this together.

P.S. Here’s a picture of own Thundercats pawing a Kraft Single in honour of Starscream, the most majestic of felines.

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Nothing’s slick as Gaston Luga – A Backpack Review (And exclusive discount code!)

We’d been on the lookout for a new bag for the Barn Owl that would be suitable not only for work and everyday use, but for travelling, and we were so pleased to have been contacted by the fine folk from Swedish retailer, Gaston Luga!

I have always associated haversacks with children and school, which is why I don’t carry them myself for fear of looking like a student. However, I have to say that after looking through the beautifully designed bags available on the Gaston Luga website, I am now convinced that these are an elegant grown-up version of the backpack!

With all the colours and styles available to choose from, it was difficult to pick our favourite but in the end, we picked out this gorgeous bag in olive and brown that combines style with practicality.

The bag arrived within a few days of ordering via DHL express, and it was much more beautiful than I expected! The bag is constructed from a thick and durable canvas, with faux leather straps and beautiful stitching. We were pleased to find that the buckles on the bag are purely for decoration as the straps are affixed with magnetic closures for convenience. I particularly like the four metal feet under the bag that not only help it stand upright when you put it down, but stops the bottom of the bag from scraping the ground.

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We love pockets

The main compartment of the bag closes with a sturdy drawstring and has a nice padded laptop sleeve, as well as pockets to fit the Barn Owl’s spectacles case and phone – and when we’re on the go, he likes to tuck his phone in the unique Gaston Luga ‘passport pocket’. There’s also a little zippered outer pocket which comfortably fits all his odds and ends.

The Barn Owl has been using this bag everyday for the last four months and we recently took the backpack along with us on our last trip abroad. It really travels well and is super-comfortable to wear, even when there’s a two year old sitting on your shoulders!

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Gaston Luga was here

A Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Gaston Luga is offering a 15% discount on all Gaston Luga merchandise! Just enter the code owlswell15 at checkout to have the discount applied to your order.

Buyer’s Note: We received the Clässic backpack from Gaston Luga for the purposes of this interview. If you would like to buy your own backpack, check out the Gaston Luga website here. Gaston Luga quite often throws in some seasonal freebies (usually a cardholder or luggage tag) with every backpack order, so keep an eye out for them! Additionally, if you are ordering from outside the EU, you automatically get a 20% off tax rebate. With free DHL international shipping thrown in and 15% with the Owls Well discount code, that’s more than SGD$100 in savings – a real bargain!

Upcycling for Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 3: No-Sew Multilayered Necklace

Here’s a super quick and very simple no-sew tutorial to turn an old teeshirt into a pretty cute multilayered necklace or infinity scarf – and it’s an easy one to do with the kids too!

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirt (a seamless tee is best)
  2. Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Lay Teeshirt flat
  2. Cut off the bottom hem of the teeshirt and put it aside.
  3. Cut your teeshirt into 1-2 inch strips across the width of the tee. I used 2 inch strips because it was easier for Little E to manage, but I think the necklace will probably look nicer with thinner 1 inch strips. You should end up with a bunch of loops.
  4. Stretch out each loop as far as they will go until the fabric rolls inward.teeshirt-necklace-kids-craft-upcycle-recycle
  5. Join all the the loops together, doubling them up if necessary to create that multilayered effect. Make sure that you can still pull the loops over your head easily. I used three loops doubled up to make a necklace for Little E but you can use more to make more complex-looking necklace.
  6. Cut the bottom hem of shirt that you saved in half to make a long flat ribbon at least 10 inches long.
  7. Using this ribbon, tie a knot around the necklace loops to hold them in place.
  8. Wrap the rest of the ribbon tightly around the loops a few times. I made the wrapped portion a few inches wide.
  9. Tie off the ends of the ribbon with a knot.
  10. Trim the ends to look like a little bow or tuck them under the rest of the ribbon to hide it.
  11. Enjoy your new necklace!

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If you are particularly handy, you can experiment with braiding or knotting the teeshirt strands together, or mixing loops of different colours and textures!

P.S. Check out our other Teeshirt Upcycling posts here.

Upcycling For Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 2: No-Sew Tasselled Tunic

As I said in my previous Upcycling For Kids post, Singapore generates an embarrassing amount of textile waste, which is why I am trying to think of ways to give old clothes a new lease of life instead of discarding them.

Whilst clearing out my wardrobe, I found a few teeshirts that have pretty cute designs on them but really do not suit me anymore. These shirts, although beloved, weren’t really fancy enough to be worth putting aside for Little E for the future. So I decided to repurpose them into cute outfits for Little E to wear right now!

Due to the fact I have the Midas Touch when it comes to sewing machines (i.e. I turn them into blocks of inert metal), this will be a no-sew tutorial.

How to Upcycle Old Teeshirts into a No-Sew Tasselled Tunic (2 versions)

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirt
  2. Tunic Top That Already Fits
  3. Scissors
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Cutting around the teeshirt to make it the correct size

Instructions:

  1. Lay Old Teeshirt flat
  2. Place Tunic Top That Already Fits on top of teeshirt to act as a guide
  3. Cut the teeshirt into 1 inch strips all around the sides, bottom and sleeves), leaving a 1 – 2 inch border around the Tunic Top That Already Fits (depending on how tight you want the final result to be)
  4. Trim off the tassels on the sleeves, leaving just one pair of tassels in the centre, which you can tie off with a knot. This makes cute, new fluttery sleeves for your new garment!

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    Knotting the sleeves, sides and bottom of the teeshirt

  5. Cut the side seams of the teeshirt, then stretch the tassels as long as they will go, until the fabric rolls in on itself. If you don’t use a seamless teeshirt, cut off the seams entirely for a nicer look
  6. On the sides of the teeshirt, tie each pair of tassels (one front and one back) tightly together with a knot, to make a row of knots and tassels down each side of the tunic top.
  7. For the bottom of the teeshirt, stretch the tassels until the fabric rolls in on itself, then knot each pair of tassels (side by side) tightly together. When you are done, you should have created a hem of knots around the bottom of your tunic.
  8. Then, create a second row of knots by tying pairs of knots together. Don’t worry about the tassels looking uneven – you can trim them to equal lengths once you are done. I left our uneven because I thought it looked nicer that way.
  9. Your new and improved tunic is ready to wear!

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    Little E wearing the No-Sew Tasseled Tunic (With Sleeves)

  10. If you think that the neckline and sleeves of the Tasseled Tunic are too big (especially if you’re trying to make it fit a tiny tot), you can turn the whole thing into a sassy sleeveless number. Cut the sleeves off at the seams and at the tops of the shoulders, then tie them off with a knot.
  11. Wear your new Tasseled Tunic with pride!
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Little E wearing the No-Sew Tasseled Tunic (Without Sleeves)

P.S. Check out my No-Sew Hobo Bag Tutorial here.

Upcycling For Kids (using Teeshirts) Part 1: No-Sew Hobo Bag

In the last 6 months, whilst I’ve been ruthlessly downsizing my wardrobe, I’ve become ever more aware of the amount of waste there is just from the amount of clothes I’ve had to remove from my house (more on this in another post).

I was appalled to find out that in Singapore, we generate over 156,700 tonnes of textile and leather waste in a single year. This means that in Singapore, we generate THREE tonnes of textile waste every 5 minutes! And less than 8% of that is recycled. Yikes!!!

Upcycling is a great way to breathe new life into old clothes, and if you are anything like me and cause all sewing machines within a 100m to malfunction, here is a great No-Sew tutorial that is so simple, even a kid could do it!

How to Upcycle Old Teeshirts into a Cute No-Sew Hobo Bag

Materials:

  1. Old Tee-shirt
  2. Scissors

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Instructions:

  1. Using the scissors, cut off the sleeves of the teeshirt.
  2. Then, holding the shirt together, cut off the collar of the teeshirt to make the opening of the bag. A nice oval shape will do.
  3. Decide how deep you want the bag to be. I used a large square book as a guide.
  4. Cut the bottom of the teeshirt into strips about 1 inch wide to make a row of tassels. (Pro-tip: I left the book on the teeshirt and just cut the teeshirt up to the bottom of the book.)
  5. Make sure you also cut the side seam of the teeshirt. tee-shirt-hobo-bag-upcycle-recycle
  6. Turn the shirt inside out.
  7. Stretch the tassels as far as they will go. This will make them long and thin and easier to work with.
  8. Knot each pair of tassels (one tassel from the front and one from the back of the tee-shirt) tightly together. The shirt will begin to bunch up at the bottom, and you’ll have a row of knots with two strands hanging out of each knot.
  9. (Optional Step) Take any strand from the first knot and tie it tightly to any strand from the second knot in the row. Then from the second knot, take the remaining strand and tie it to any strand from the third knot in the row. Continue down the row, tying all the knots together. This will close up the gaps between the knots and make the base of your bag more secure.hobo-bag-tee-shirt-tshirt-recycle-kid
  10. Now turn the bag inside out so that the shirt logo and patterns are showing and all the knots and tassels are on the inside. You should have two straps at the top of your bag.
  11. Cut the two straps in half where the shoulder seam is, knotting them at the top to create the shoulder strap for the hobo bag.
  12. Enjoy!

Optional ideas:

  1. If you like the look of the tassels, leave them outside the bag for a cute boho look.
  2. You can leave the two straps at the top alone if you prefer a simple tote bag.
  3. You can cut each strap at the top into three strips and braid them together to make a braided shoulder strap.

Maternity and Nursingwear – My Top 6 Favourite Online Retailers

So last week, I talked about some tips for choosing maternity and nursing wear that you won’t hate to wear after one year (as well as some hacks for making non-specialty store clothes work for you).

Winter walking on the Elkmont trail

Nothing covers up a pregnant belly better than a large coat.

Well, here are my Top 5 favourite online stores (both local and abroad) where I got some of my most-loved outfits that I wore throughout my pregnancy and breastfeeding journey, as well as a few buyers tips!

The Owls Well Shopping Guide: Top 6 Best Online Maternity and Nursingwear Retailers

Local Retailers

1. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is a Japanese brand and their clothes are generally affordable, well-designed, and their online store has impeccable customer service. In Singapore, Uniqlo offers free delivery for orders above SGD60.

I love the Uniqlo Airism Bratop range (both the tanks and camisoles). They’re also super-smooth and designed to wick sweat away from the body, which makes them ideal to wear during pregnancy and breastfeeding days. The material stretches well and doesn’t lose its shape even after being used as nursing tanks – wore them underneath everything and just pulled down the neckline for easy access to the milk bar.

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Picture credit: Uniqlo

I also liked their Relaco 3/4 shorts for lounging around the house. These are wide leg, super soft cotton trousers with an elasticated waist which are very stretchy and comfortable. I wore these as pyjama bottoms for the duration of my pregnancy, and they never lost their elasticity!

Buyers note: Look out for the frequent sales and online exclusive offers – the Airism range frequently goes on sale for at least 20% off!

2. Mummy’s Secret

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Picture Credit: Mummy’s Secret

If you like cutesy and girly Korean and Japanese fashions, and you want to stock up your wardrobe with a few basics that won’t break the bank, Mummy’s Secret is a great little online store with fast and efficient service.

I got some really cheap and cheerful cotton basics from here – leggings, shorts as well as tunic tops and casual dresses which are all a steal between SGD6-25.

Buyer’s Note: Make sure you pay attention to the sizes and the dimensions of the clothes on each page before buying because the sizes do vary. It is also worth opting for courier delivery for a flat fee of SGD$6.

3. Dote

Dote is a homegrown maternity and nursingwear label by a local fashion designer mom and is my go-to online store when I’m looking for something pretty and special.

Some of my favourite tops and dresses are from Dote, and they still come out to play even though I am no longer breastfeeding, just because they are so lovely and flattering to the figure!

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Picture Credit: Dote Studio

What I particularly like about Dote is that all their maternitywear converts into nursingwear so that they can be worn post-pregnancy – and that their nursing access openings are extremely cleverly hidden in a variety of different ways.

Buyer’s Note: The clothes from Dote are a little more pricey but they are beautifully made and wash well, so keep an eye out for their frequent end of season sales and discount codes!

4. Mothers En Vogue

I do believe that Mothers En Vogue is one of the first homegrown maternity labels in Singapore and for a long time, they did corner the market with their range of fashionable maternity officewear.

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Picture Credit: Mothers En Vogue

I find their designs in jersey fabric a little too clingy for my taste in general but I do like their cold weather range. If you need one or two items for travel, the Mothers En Vogue knit sweaters, tunics and long-sleeved tops are great value, especially if you pick the designs that will allow you to breastfeed discreetly. Their shorts and jeans are pretty comfortable too!

Buyer’s Note: Although the cotton jersey fabric used on most of their designs is very soft and comfortable, they do fit snugly to show off your figure and baby bump. If you prefer something less clingy, pick their ‘slouchy’ styles are more airy. The clothes are also quite pricey, but sale section also gets updated very often, so check back often!

Overseas Retailers

5. J Crew

With flat fee shipping from the US for a mere SGD14, you can really get some great bargains from the J Crew sale section, where everything is 75% off or more.

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Picture Credit: J Crew

Their maternity pull-on shorts are super comfortable, wash well, and won’t hurt you with zips and buttons. I have also heard good things about their jeans (although I don’t own any myself).

Buyer’s Note: Don’t bother looking at the regular-priced clothes section unless you are prepared to splurge. The prices will make you gag.

6. Next

If you like trendy and reasonably priced European fashion, Next is where you gotta go for simple, clean designs in beautiful fabrics. They also have a very nice selection of very flattering maternity swimwear and they also stock the popular and stylish maternity brand, Mamalicious.

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Picture Credit: Next Direct

Buyer’s Note: Delivery to Singapore is free for orders about SGD50. Not all the maternity clothes are suitable for breastfeeding, so do check the description carefully.

Check out my top tips for choosing a wardrobe that will see you throughout your pregnancy to your breastfeeding days!

Maternity and Nursingwear – Top tips for choosing a new wardrobe

When I was expecting J, my first child, I ruined quite a few of my clothes, stretching them out beyond belief in my refusal to buy maternity wear.

Reasons why I did not want to buy maternity wear:

  1. Maternity wear is expensive
  2. Maternity wear is ugly
  3. I’d only be wearing them for 9 months so why bother

I had resorted to sneaking teeshirts from the Barn Owl’s drawers when he decided that Enough Was Enough and insisted that I get some new clothes.

Unfortunately, I was also suffering from terrible all-day-long sickness, and even walking around the house was making me dizzy. I could not bear to bring myself to go down to the high street to buy circus tents to wear.

Which is when I discovered the big bad world of online shopping!

I also discovered that maternity and nursing wear has changed drastically in the last decade or so, and most things are comfortable, chic and reasonably priced. I have since changed my attitude towards buying clothes during pregnancy and I highly recommend that expectant ladies invest in good quality maternity wear.

Now, this is not to say that you have to necessarily go to a specialist shop to purchase purpose-built maternity wear. You just have to know what to look out for when choosing clothes for this stage of your life. I didn’t figure this one out until I was well into my second pregnancy and had a better idea of what sort of clothes would work well in the transition from pregnancy to the postpartum state.

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At the beginning of my third trimester expecting Thumper

Reasons why I recommend expectant ladies to purchase maternity and nursing wear:

  1. Pre-pregnancy clothes will stay nice and not turn into shapeless bags
  2. Husband will stop complaining about missing shirts (and shorts)
  3. The clothes will actually be worn for much, MUCH longer than 9 months, especially if one is breastfeeding and takes a longer time to regain pre-pregnancy shape
  4. The clothes are usually super comfortable and flattering to the figure which makes a big difference to your outlook on life when you’re approaching the size of a whale, hurting all over and feeling miserable about stretch marks
  5. Most maternity clothes also double up as nursing wear which makes life very easy if you decide to breastfeed or use a breast pump.

So here are my top tips to keep in mind when looking for maternity or nursing wear (as well as some hacks for making regular clothes work for you)!

Owls Well Guide to choosing Maternity and Nursingwear

1. For bottoms, look for styles with a fully elasticated panel that extends over the top of your bump. This panel can then be worn over the top of your bump, folded down midway or even scrunched up under the bump, and will stretch and shrink to accommodate the changes in size during and after your pregnancy.

I have found this style to be the most comfortable as it doesn’t slip down when you walk (or run) around or lose elasticity, so it lasts the longest. Additionally, I think looks great for after pregnancy because the elasticated panel smooths over all your wobbly bits!

Regular clothes hack #1: Yoga pants with a high waistband and soft, stretchy and breathable material would work well too – size up if you’re worried about it getting too tight and uncomfortable towards the end of your pregnancy! Look for maxi or midi-length skirts with elasticated waists, plenty of pleats and gathers for loads of room and to make sure that hemlines stay decent in the front as your belly burgeons.

2. For tops and tees, try to find styles that will last you through those nursing days. This can either be combination maternity-to-nursingwear tops or have any of the following features:

  • Buttons that go all the way up the front (at at least mid way)
  • Wrap tops
  • Loose fitting or flowing tops, or oversized, boxed-shaped tees
  • Trapeze or swing tops that are narrow on top and loose at the hips
  • Styles with pleats, ruching, gathers, shirring and smocking (basically anything that has extra hidden fabric with a little ‘give’) are your friends

Regular clothes hack #2: Look for longer length tops or tunics – these won’t turn into crop tops and will cover your bump neatly well into the last trimester. Long cardigans,  cute serapes or ponchos, as well as loosely draped wrapped tops are great cool weather gear and can also double-up as great nursing covers!

3. Although in general I prefer separates for maternity and nursing wear, it is probably a good idea to get one or two really nice dresses for special occasions. You never know you might have to go to a party, a wedding, or just dress up for date night (I suggest a movie and a fancy restaurant). Take your time and choose something really nice that you might even deign to wear after your pregnancy – you can always cinch in the waist with a belt!

Regular clothes hack #3: Maxi dresses are your friend – especially high waisted or empire line styles!

4. Many nursing tops and dresses now have very cleverly hidden openings for easy access to the milk bar. However, do avoid nursing access openings that have a zip or velcro closure. Who wants little zip teethmarks all along the side of your boob? Or start a breastfeeding session with a loud ripping sound that will frighten the birds? Nobody, that’s who.

Regular clothes hack #4: Look for tops and dresses that have a hidden bra shelf and stretchy open neckline – quick and easy pull-down access!

5. For lingerie, stick with your usual bikini style panties (boy shorts if you want more coverage at the back) and wear them under your belly, just be prepared to buy new pants as these will surely be stretched all out of shape. Stick with breathable cotton and seamless styles as keeping cool and comfortable is key to preventing nasty infections.

6. As for bras, your breasts are likely to get tender during pregnancy and will definitely change in shape and size. Ditch all your underwire bras, and find some good quality maternity and nursing bras that are not only soft, breathable, stretchy and easily adjustable to accommodate fluctuations in size (which can be +/- a whole cup or two every few hours), but provide good support so that you don’t get backache. Most nursing bras will come with drop-down cups, so find ones that you can clip and unclip easily with one hand.

Regular clothes hack #5: If you don’t fluctuate in size much, a good sports bra or sports tank, crop top or camisole with an inbuilt bra shelf are a good option. They’ll be comfortable, give good support and wick sweat away from the body to boot. Layer them under your other clothes to use them as nursing bras.

Check out my Top 6 Favourite Online Maternity and Nursingwear Retailers here