Friday, July 29, 2011

Malaysia crafts: Peranakan Beaded Slippers

One of our books this month is The Beaded Slippers, by Adeline Foo, a local author. It offers insight into Peranakan culture, something we've slowly been learning about since moving to Singapore. It is basically a "mixed" culture, most commonly from the marriages of Chinese immigrants and Malay women centuries ago. It is especially strong in on the west coast of Malaysia (especially the cities of Malacca and Penang), Singapore, and parts of Indonesia.

There is a long tradition of handicrafts, especially beading and embroidary. Beaded slippers were commonly handmade by women and worn for weddings and festive occasions.

photo from this site

So we decided to take a crack at making our own - much simpler - slippers. Because The Whirl Girl loves shoes.

It was The Whirl Girl's first sewing project and I took a cue from the Skip To My Lou blog post on making sewing cards for young kids. Only instead of paper, we used felt. There's a fair amount of prep work, before it's time for the kiddo to start "sewing."

  • a hole puncher
  • felt (I used two small square sheets, one red and one purple)
  • beads (bigger than the hole the hole puncher makes, we used some from a Melissa & Doug bead kit that were perfect for little fingers)
  • scissors
  • yarn and scotch tape (or shoelaces)
  • needle and thread (for the adult)

Step One: Cut out the base of the shoes. I used one of The Whirl Girl's shoes as a template.

Step Two: Cut out the top of the shoes, about 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the base.

Step Three: Punch holes in the top of the shoe. Hopefully your hole puncher is sharper than mine! This will be the design for sewing. I tried to make a butterfly and a flower, to mixed results. Can you tell which is which?

Step Four: Prepare the thread. Wrap scotch tape tightly around the end of a piece of yarn. This allows the child to sew without a needle. (Or alternatively, you can use shoelaces, which already have a hard end).

Step Five: Now, finally, time for The Whirl Girl to join in. Sew the beads on, using the holes to go up and down through the felt.

putting the thread through
pulling the thread
threading and attaching a bead
finished beading

Step Six: I used a regular needle and thread to hand sew the top to the base. The Whirl Girl enjoyed watching "grown-up sewing."

patiently waiting for her slippers to be completed

the final product

They quickly joined her other "dress-up" shoes, a collection from various travels, and some of her very favorite toys.

sandwiched between shoes from India and Malaysia

Do your kids have a shoe fetish? Any fun ones you've collected from your travels?

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