SEWING // RTW Challenge – Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic and Tessuti Libby Skirt

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If there’s one thing I’m really thankful for this IPM, it’s this RTW Challenge and the huge kick in the butt it gave me to finally sew up these 2 garments that have been on my “to-make” list since forever! I’ve written before about how most of my makes are based off RTW clothing and how it’s my main source of inspiration – these 2 makes are no different.

Psst: If you liked reading about this make, I would love if you’d consider voting for me in the Indie Pattern Month RTW Challenge – just click here and drop me a vote in the poll! Thank you!

First up, my RTW inspiration for this entry – the ever popular suede button down skirt and oversized white shirt:

 Suede Skirt Collage Top L-R: Blonde Collective; Vanessa Bruno Athé ; Harper's Bazaar. Bottom L-R: Express; Fashion Jackson; Fashion Jackson

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a big follower of fashion blogs in addition to sewing and DIY blogs. While I’ve made an effort to avoid fast fashion and to cut down on buying RTW clothing, I still find fashion blogs a great way to learn about my own sense of style and to gather inspiration for my sewing plans. It’s also a great way to encourage yourself to pattern hack – particularly if you can’t find exactly the pattern you want on the market! (I find fashion magazines a tad too avant garde and impractical for everyday wear though, am I the only one who thinks this way?)

If you’re into fashion blogs too, you’d know that the 70s’ suede skirt came back into fashion in a BIG way a couple of months ago and it seems like one of the most trendy ways to wear it is paired with an oversized white button shirt. This is a style that I fell in love with the moment I saw it – oversized shirts that hide my flabby arms and high waisted skirts to hide my wide hips? Yes please!

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Pattern & Fabric Choice

Whenever I decide to copy a RTW garment, I start off with trying to find an existing pattern with as many similarities as possible or one that would be a good base from which to start hacking. In the case of the suede skirt, I opted for the free Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt pattern, removed the zipper and added a button placket. The fabric was a faux suede I picked up from Toko Liman while on holiday in Yogyakarta and was a fantastic find for its price! The buttons were up cycled from a much loved Zara sweater – for more details you can refer to my last post. For the oversized top, I decided to try out the Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic which I’ve had in my stash for some time and is a near perfect replica of an existing RTW Uniqlo mandarin collared shirt that I own and absolutely adore. To maintain the blousey-ness of the top, I made it up in a plain white rayon that I bought from Spotlight in Singapore and used lightweight fusible interfacing for the facing and mandarin collar.

 

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Sizing & Pattern Review 

Given the looseness of the fit, I decided to sew up a straight size 2 (although my bust falls in between a size 0 and 2 and my waist and hips fall between a size 4 and 6) – from the looks of it, I should have gone with a size 0 instead. There is an incredible amount of ease in this pattern, people! Even so, I’m happy with my tunic as it is (strangely, my boyfriend thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever worn) and so I will probably wear it a ton. On my next attempt at the Gallery tunic I will probably size down to a 0 and see how that works out for me. There will also be a number of Gallery dresses in my near future I should think!

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As for the pattern instructions, they were clear and straightforward. The only thing I didn’t like was that the pattern has you refer to the template printed on the pattern tissue (for printed patterns) in order to find the markings for the facing and sleeve cuffs. I rather wish that these markings had been reflected on the pattern piece itself as it is rather a bother to have to trace things out twice! (Plus if you forget to trace the template as I did, you’d have to get out the fiddly tissue paper again which is such a pain.)

I do like the pattern’s method for hemming – it has you sew a basting stitch of a certain allowance and use that as a guide to do all the necessary ironing before sewing the hem. Very handy, especially at the curved bits!

As for the suede skirt, I shan’t repeat myself as I’ve blogged about it here previously.

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I’m in love with this outfit – can you tell? It’s rare that I feel so put together, I’m always sort of a ramshackle, comfort first kind of person – it’s so nice to think that if I were better at posing I might give them fashion bloggers a run for their money! 😉 (or not, posing in public is awkward!)

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Thanks for reading! If you liked this post and would like to vote for me in the Indie Pattern Month RTW Challenge, do click here and drop me a vote in the poll! There’s also many other talented makers featured in the challenge so do check their posts out too!

Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 3)

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… And I’m back with Part 2 of my post on the Axel Pattern! (For Part 1 of this post relating to version 2, refer here.)

Now, remember I said yesterday that I had a severe lack of me-made workwear because everything I made was too casual? If version 2 is a reflection of my current wardrobe, version 3 is the projection of what I wish my me-made collection looked like. Daring, stylish, classic and able to be sewn in less than 2 hours. That’s right folks, va-va voom version 3 took me all of half an hour of cutting and 1.5 hours of sewing on an overlocker and a sewing machine for the twin needle top stitching – that’s a winner in my books!

… Which is not to say that I didn’t have my problems with this make. This black version you see here is actually my THIRD attempt at version 3. The first try was a brown double knit (with very little stretch) which never saw the light of day as it was unbearably tight. I believe some other testers had the same feedback and Megan has since informed us that an additional 2cm of ease has been added to the final version of the pattern.

 

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I had grand plans for my second attempt using the leftover fabric from my Lisbon cardigan – a double-sided sweater knit with about 50% stretch. The idea was to make an Axel that was completely reversible, front and back, inside and out – AND I SUCCEEDED, only to find once I tried it on that the slit was scandalously high on me (like Jessica Rabbit high) and I didn’t quite savour the thought of accidentally blinding the world with my bum crack.

For those curious on how I did it: I used flat felled seams on the side and centre seams and used black bias binding (and exact match for my underside) for the hems. I also ironed in the seam allowances of the waistband before topstitching it on – very effective on a loose weaved knit that hides your stitches completely. This article from Colette was very helpful in pointing me towards techniques I could consider! Unfortunately this reversible dream had to go in the sin bin as I couldn’t figure out how to fix the slit issue without forgoing the reversible aspect of it completely.

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Thank goodness third time’s the charm or I really would have thrown in the towel by then. Given that I’ve already given you a lengthy run down of the problems I encountered in the first 2 tries, let me give you the concise edit of what exactly I did for attempt number 3.

Fabric – Mid weight black jersey knit with 70% width wise stretch and 50% stretch along the grain. This was a much better choice than the other 2 versions – the double knit was too stiff and didn’t have enough stretch (minimum 30% recommended) and the sweater knit was too loose and had dismal recoverability.

Alterations – (1) I cut the back piece (without the slit) on fold, eliminating the seam allowance of 1.5cm. (2) I lowered the starting point of the slit by 9cm (I now realise that I could have been more daring and lowered it only by 5-7cm) and connected that point to the original hemline as shown on the pattern, resulting in a wider V-shaped slit. (3) I took 5.3cm off the bottom of the skirt to make it between knee and true midi length. (4) I narrowed the height of the waistband by half.

Fit – Most of my fit problems were alleviated by making the alterations above and taking into account the additional 2cm ease included. I’m still not quite comfortable with the length of the skirt at present so I may take a little more off the bottom in time to come!

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What I loved – How fast it easy it is, how clear the instructions are, that it’s reversible and that it’s easily customisable (with the sashes from v2 / lengthening and shortening).

All in all, I think this is a fantastic pattern and I will definitely use it again, perhaps with a higher slit this time? In the right fabric it’ll be a great workwear and casual wear staple and I can’t get over how quick and easy it is to make – perfect for a first knit / serger project! I’m already dreaming of a maxi / true midi version like this. What do you guys think of this new pattern? Do knit skirts work for you?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Megan Nielsen’s Axel Pattern for free in exchange for helping to pattern test this pattern prior to its release. Be that as it may, my opinions, views and terrible posing above are completely my own. 

Pattern Testing // Itch to Stich Lisbon Cardigan

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When I was younger, my vision of the ideal preppy-chic outfit was a cardigan thrown casually over a tank top and skirt, a la Cher in Clueless or Britney Spears (when parents still approved of her). In fact, the cardigan and jeans look is still my go-to outfit when I don’t want to think about what to wear but need to look put together, like on Casual Fridays for example. Naturally, a me-made cardigan has been on my to-make list for simply ages and up till recently, I thought it would be a Seamwork Oslo Cardigan that would eventually enter my wardrobe rotation… until Kennis put out a tester call for her brand new pattern, the Lisbon Cardigan that is.

I’ve tested for Kennis of Itch to Stitch several times now, and each time is always a great experience. She expects faster turn around times than other testers (usually a week from the time the tester pattern is sent till the photographs of the finished product and comments are due), but is always sure to give you ample notice of the necessary deadlines and is always on standby to answer any fit questions you may have during the process. This round, I was working on a very tight timeline given my trip to Yogyakarta over the May Day weekend – but when I saw her initial test photos for the Lisbon cardigan I couldn’t say no!

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The Lisbon Cardigan is a classic round-neck cardigan pattern that comes in cropped or regular length and 3/4 or full length sleeves. The neckline, hem and sleeves are finished with hem bands / cuffs and stable knits with a minimum of 50% stretch are recommend for this pattern.

The version I made was the regular length with full length sleeves, made in a stable sweater knit with about 50% stretch which I bought from a favourite local online knit shop of mine – SewManyKnits. It’s a wonderful double sided knit with grey and black stripes on one side and solid black on the other. After doing some research into ready to wear options herehere and here, I decided to go with the stripes for the main body and black for the cuffs – I think it’s a nice contrast and classy enough for both work and casual wear, don’t you?

This make was completely constructed on my serger (my new beloved Juki which I have yet to blog about!) except for the buttonholes (by machine) and  the buttons and tails of the serged placket (both of which were sewn by hand). All in, it was such a quick make – 4 hours in all from the cutting to the sewing on of the buttons! Putting together the pdf pattern was also a breeze as Kennis (as is her practice) has included a layered option which allows you to select your size prior to printing.

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Whilst I love the option of having a fitted cardigan, my preference is to leave all my cardigan unbuttoned – the only practical choice when living in a tropical country. I’ve had a sneaky peek at several of the other testers’ makes, however, and am pleased to report that almost all of them had a perfect fit right out of the envelope! There was some feedback in the tester group about needing to shorten the length of the 3/4 sleeves, but I believe that has been fixed in the final version of the pattern. If you happen to have regular problems with pattern sleeve lengths, I would recommend that you check the sleeve length before attaching the cuffs.

If you’ve been looking for a cardigan pattern of this style (or any fitted cardigan pattern at all really), I would highly highly recommend the Lisbon cardigan. I’m planning to make several more iterations of it myself, possibly in the cropped length with a V-neck and another in a boyfriend cardigan length – after all, when one finds a TNT pattern, one must exploit it for all it’s worth, right? P.S. Kennis will be offering a 20% discount on the Lisbon cardigan pattern for the first week, so make sure you snap it up soon while it’s still on offer!

Disclaimer: I was provided this pattern free of charge to assist in the testing process. My opinions above however (as always) are completely my own. I am also part of an affiliate program run by Itch to Stitch for any purchases made by clicking through from my site. 

Zebras at the Zoo // Seamwork Adelaide Dress

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One of my favourite things about being able to make my own clothing is themed apparel – which is a thinly-veiled euphemism for ‘dressing according to a theme even though it isn’t halloween whilst pretending you have no inclinations towards cosplay’. Case in point: this zebra dress that I made specifically for a day out at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari. So intense was my need to wear an animal-themed outfit to the zoo that I safety pinned myself into this dress because I had run out of snaps and I just couldn’t deal with the idea that I might have to go in *shudder* normal non-zoo-related clothing.

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I really enjoyed the River Safari but the zoo got a little boring after a couple of hours. Funny how the place seems HUGE when you visit as a child, but once you’re grown, everything looks like it shrunk and the exhibits seem dated. Snapping some cheesy photos in my Zoo dress was vastly amusing though (albeit embarrassing). I took photos with a zebra striped-tram, a zebra crossing, a zebra sign and the zebras themselves (the real ones) – I must have taken a picture with every zebra-themed item in the place!

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This dress was a relatively quick make that I now see could use some fitting adjustments (as always, I was way too lazy to make a toile…).  If you look closely, you’ll see that the shoulder seam tends to run over my shoulder and down to the collarbone because of the weight of the snaps and placket. I contemplated fixing this by pinching out the excess from he shoulders, but this tended to make the armhole too tight for comfort. On my next make of this – trust me, there will be one – I’ll probably do either a small bust adjustment or pinch out some width from the front neckline to raise the neckline a little and to prevent gaping.

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The pattern used is the Seamwork Adelaide Dress which from what I’ve seen is the most prolific Seamwork pattern todate! (I especially love Rachel ‘s made up in funky vintage sunbathing ladies fabric and this one with pockets on La Petite Josette.) The fabric is a zebra print rayon from Spotlight that I got on sale, and the neckline and armholes are bound with store bought black bias binding. I did french seams on all the interiors which means it’s actually really neat on the inside (for once!).

I cut a size 0 in the bust (woe betide small busted ladies who try to sew Colette’s C-cup patterns…) and graded it out to a size 4 at the waist and hips. I cut a size 6 length at first because I was concerned it would be too short, but later took 2″ off the bottom again and hemmed it by folding in by 1/2″ and later by another 1″. There were a couple of issues with the placket – mostly my fault, as I used the bias binding method from the Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank pattern which didn’t make sense when paired together with the placket directions on the Adeleide dress! Apart from that, I ran out of snaps and later found that my snap pliers were the wrong size causing my snaps to turn out wonky… But all’s well that ends well! I’ve since replaced all the old snaps with new ones that are a lot more secure.

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I’ve already got big plans for my next one out of a chambray shirting from the stash, I just need to figure out the fitting issues and find myself some nice wooden buttons (buttonholes I WILL conquer you grr)!

Eat Pray Love Pants : A Named Alexandria Pants Review

Hello again! I know, I know it’s been a while, and so much has happened since I last blogged! I haven’t been completely idle in the sewing department though! As always, I’ve been posting sneaks of WIPs and UFOs and just life in general over on my instagram (and trust me, I update much  more regularly over there so if you’re a fellow ‘grammer come by my handle at @jessiehuen and say hi! You might have noticed me tagging #huenmade on all my makes recently 😉 that’s an exciting new update coming to the blog at the year end, so look forward to it!

In another news, I was so stoked to get the chance to do a guest round-up of free tutorials over on Sew Mama Sew featuring gifts for HIPSTERS. You heard me right – hipsters! Love ’em or hate ’em, I’m sure everyone has someone on their gifting list that falls within that category. Sew Mama Sew also has a whole bunch of giveaways happening every day as part of their “Handmade Holidays” series, so be sure to check it out!

And lastly (phew, I told you there was a lot of catching up to do!), I’m really excited to be starting a pattern-drafting and sewing course tomorrow with Fashion Makerspace. It will be my first real experience with drafting patterns and I can’t wait to explore this whole new area of garment-making!

Right, I know you’re all here for the real sewing stuff, so let’s get right to it!

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I’ll be honest – the track pants style never appealed to me. It always seemed to me to be more of a European / American style that just wouldn’t fit in over here in Singapore. To be honest, before the track pants trend really took off this year the only people I ever saw wearing them were backpackers who had just come from Cambodia or Thailand (or one of those other Eat-Pray-Love type South-East Asian countries that are considered exotic). So naturally, when I signed up for a missions trip to Cambodia this year and was told that I’d have to wear long pants the whole time I was there… I concluded that maybe this trend was worth a try after all (it took a LOT bit of self-convincing to get there, but I did in the end).

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I had a couple of choices – the True Bias Hudson Pant , the Named Alexandria Peg Trousers and the Papercut Guise Pants were my front runners. I was leaning very heavily in favour of the Hudson pants, but was conscious of the fact that it was a knit pattern when I really wanted to make it up in a woven nstead. Then on a particularly tough day at work,  Named decided to run a sale and magically I found the Alexandria Trousers in my basket. Do I regret not going with the Hudsons? Maybe. But I do think that with a few adjustments, the Alexandria has the potential to be a very tasteful addition to my wardrobe – maybe even work appropriate if made up in a black cotton sateen!

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Now, on to the goods. I made this up in a drapey rayon from Spotlight that I got on sale – since these were Eat Pray Love pants, naturally they had to be made up in the most obnoxious, psychedelic, rainbow-coloured fabric I could find. The pocket pieces were made cotton lawn left over from my beloved purple paisley Flora dress.

As it was made over 2 months ago, I don’t recall the exact changes I made. I do know that I took at least 5″ off the length to account for  the fact that Named patterns are drafted for a height of 170cm. I found the fit true to my measurements, although on hindsight, I would go a half size up as I tended to get a very slight wedgie every time I bent over (too much info?).

I did mess up on one of the side pockets though, as I didn’t read the instructions for the pleating (which covers the pockets) right. By the time I realised, I had snipped off the excess and it was too late to redo it – thank God for busy prints!

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All in all, this was a well-drafted pattern, though I don’t really like this particular make on me. Maybe it was the botched-up pocket that bothered me, or the fact that long pants make me look even more vertically-challenged that I already am, but I just don’t think these pants will be on constant rotation in my wardrobe. It did serve me really well whilst I was in Cambodia – the rayon did a great job of keeping me cool even in the sweltering Russian Market that you see in the photos above! (P.S. sorry for the quality of the photos – it’s really hard to ask for time to snap decent photos when you’re on a mission trip x) you’re there for the people after all, not to be narcissistic!)

What do you guys think about the track pants trend? Love it hate it? Should I try it again with a heavier fabric – a chambray or maybe a work version in cotton sateen?

Love at first whirl : A Sewaholic Hollyburn Pattern Review

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First up, thank you to all of you who have been voting for me in the various Indie Pattern Month 2015 and Sew Sweetness competitions this past month! I’ve been so pleasantly surprised to have snagged a bunch of goodies and I can’t wait to sew them up to show all of you. As of now, I’m just waiting to see how I do in the Imagine Gnats Shorts on the Line competition in conjunction with Kollabora where I’ve entered my Emily Culottes from earlier this year. If you fancy helping me out with one more competition, then pop over here and cast a vote!

Okay, I know y’all are really just here for the clothes, so on to business now!

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This is an old make (well, 2 months old at least) which those of you following my instagram would have seen during Me Made May, but it’s by no means an unexciting one. You know how there are certain garments that you’re really excited about at first but after a while get a little bit boring or too troublesome to wear? This isn’t one of them.

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I snagged this gorgeous bright orchid coloured panama stretch suiting at Spotlight when it was on sale for 50% off with the express intention of making up a Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt with it. I had been drooling over this orchard circle skirt made from polyester suiting by Merrick’s Art for almost a year now, and I decided to blatantly copy it. Hurray for originality!

I hadn’t made up the pattern before but was sufficiently convinced by the gazillion rave reviews about it and how easy it was to make up that I didn’t bother with a muslin (oh who am I kidding, I never do up toiles anyway!) In any case, my instincts were right on this occasion because straight off the bat this skirt fit beautifully. I made it up based on my waist measurements alone, and it sits at the perfect spot on the high waist for a midi skirt! #winning If you’re looking for an impressive beginner entry-level skirt with pockets (!!) and is easy to fit, then this pattern is a great place to start.

This is the Sewaholic Hollyburn in View B, with absolutely no pattern alterations. The skirt hits right below the knee, which is just slightly manageable on my 5′ 3″ frame if I wear a pair of kitten heels. So far I’ve worn this skirt to the theatre, to work, to church, and I shot these photos of it on the beach – there basically isn’t ANYWHERE that I can’t wear this beauty to.

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Okay, confession time: when I was cutting out and sewing up this make, I was really pumped up about making this the nicest me-made garment I would own. I would hand stitch the waistband! (which I did) I would try out hong kong bias binding on the centre seams and all other seams possible! (which I did too, with some gorgeous floral bias tape from Daiso) I would french seam everything and anything in sight! (which again, I did) But then I got tired after a long day of sewing, and then the little sewing devil on my shoulder seized the opportunity to whisper in my ear “Didn’t you buy some iron-on hem tape the other day? Come on, give yourself a break, you can always rip it out and hem it properly later…” So I did. What can I say? The mind was willing but the body was oh, so so weak. Also, I was hungry and I’m slightly guilty to admit this, but food > hemming any day. This picture that I snapped for Fashion Revolution day says it all – a real pity because it would have been so gorgeous otherwise! Someday I’m going to rip out that hem tape and finish off this skirt properly (yeah right)… until then, I can deal with the contrasting nude hemming tape and the fact that it can be seen peeking out from half the photos I’ve taken in this set… *deep calming breaths*

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… Someday I will also finally sew on the tabs and fabric-covered buttons I’ve already prepared for this make but until then… I’ll live.

I’ve already got a navy one in the same fabric cut out and waiting to go – I just have to find time to sew it all together! Should I make one in an even brighter shade, a la Novita’s BRIGHT NEON ORANGE AWESOMENESS? Let me know what you think below!

All Wrapped Up : Papercut Patterns Coppelia Cardigan review

I’ve been a lean mean garment churning machine this past month! In honour of the 3rd week of Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch, I’m back with another new make from a new-to-me pattern designer – Papercut Patterns!

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I first noticed Papercut Patterns a while ago (I mean, who could miss them, they’ve had quite a few blogger crazes running for their patterns over the last few years – Soma Swimsuit, Ooh La Leggings, Rigel Bomber and who can forget? The ever-popular Clover Dress) but never got round to buying one of their patterns because they seemed a tad out of my budget, even with the free shipping. So when Papercut Patterns offered a storewide discount in honour of the Queen’s birthday this year, I simply couldn’t say no. I snagged myself copies of the Coppelia cardy and the Clover dress straightaway, though I wish I had gotten myself more of their patterns now!

After seeing all the gorgeous iterations of Coppelia cardigans out there, I was dying to get one of my own. I loved Elizabeth’s merino ones  (the frequency with which she wore these things during me-made-may had me having serious cardigan envy!) and Amanda’s purple version, but it was really Lauren of Lladybird’s four (yes, FOUR) coppelia cardys that really convinced me that it could have a place in my wardrobe. Look at her in that bright red merino coppelia with her hair up and looking all classy and shit – I could totally use some extra glam over here!

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The only thing that bothered me was that the Coppelia is really meant to be worn done up (or else it would just be a very strangely shaped shrug with too long waist ties) and I almost never wear cardigans worn up – it’s just way too hot over here on the equator! I really wanted my version of this pattern to be wearable as a top and to be short sleeved so that I could wear it as an everyday office staple – this meant that there could be no gaping, it had to be secure (wardrobe malfunctions in the office are a big no-no) and it had to be comfy.

The result? This beauty. I paired it with my Lindy Petal Skirt to show you what a classy little number it could be – this pairing also makes me look much more shapely than I actually am, aren’t wraps amazing?

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Fabric

I am incredibly pleased with this make, though it does seem a little too formal for the office and due to the print can basically only be worn with plain dark neutrals. As this was very much a test garment, and because reviews seemed to indicate that the stretchier a fabric was the less gaping was likely to occur, I opted to make it up in a stash polyester jersey that I had gotten from the bargain bin of a shop in Hong Kong.

Pattern

This pattern ticks all my boxes and it was a quick and easy make to boot! Even though my measurements put me at an XXS for the bust and XS for the waist and hip, I made a straight XXS after reading a bunch of reviews that said that the pattern ran large.

The only difficulty I had was a bit of confusion relating to how to finish the neckline binding. In the pattern instructions, it says that excess of the neckline binding is to be snipped off if it’s too long for the front wrap bodices. My confusion was how the neckline binding was to be finished – was it meant to be attached to the waist ties (i.e. cut at an angle such that the bottom edge of the front bodice is in a continuous line with the neckline binding) or finished separately? In the end, I went with the former method and I think I got it right, it was tricky though figuring out how much excess to snip off and at what angle the excess needed to be removed.

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Alterations

As for the sleeves, this was a simple alteration of taking 9 5/8″ off the sleeve, folding up the raw edge by 1cm and hemming it. I opted not to use cuffs on this version.

Well, that’s all from me this week – but I do have a backlog of new makes to show you all, a real first for me! So how about it, do you like wraps or hate them? Is it actually possible to wear the Coppelia undone? Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below!