Lady Skater Two Ways : A Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress Pattern Review

19241652241_a162db60d6_k_Fotor_Collage

IPM 2015 is drawing to a close, what a ride it’s been! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the constant stream of indie pattern inspiration from The Monthly Stitch this past few weeks and will definitely miss it when it’s over!

My last entry for Indie Pattern Month 2015 is the lady skater pattern done two ways – one as a boatneck peplum top and the other as a drapey lady skater dress. I’ve been eyeing this pattern from Kitschy Coo for over 6 months now, and IPM gave me the push I needed to finally make it up! It’s such a customisable design and so similar to some of my favourite RTW dresses, I knew that I could definitely stand to benefit from making a ton of these (plus it’s an easy and quick make too!)

20150628-IMG_9267

20150628-IMG_9279

20150628-IMG_9296

The peplum top was very much intended to be a wearable muslin. I raised the neckline by 15cm and narrowed the shoulders to 4 cm based on the recommendations in this post, but clearly I’m of a different shape from the original writer because the neckline was much much too high on me! (It may have something to do with my lack of boobage…) I ended up cutting off the finished collar altogether and rebinding it with a neckline binding that was half the width of the original pattern piece. It’s wearable as it is right now, but I think I will go back and cut the neckline a little lower again – it does feel a bit like I’m getting strangled sometimes… I will also definitely rebind the neckline again, there’s a little bit of puckering going on there, though not enough to stop me wearing it out!

20150628-IMG_9234

20150628-IMG_9242

20150628-IMG_9243

I’ve always had a problem with peplums on my pear shape. I feel that they only serve to accentuate my big hips as they flare right at the largest point of my lower body! This version, however, I can definitely get behind. For some reason, I feel that this top actually does work for me. It may be a combination of the shortened waist (by 2″) and the reduced flare in the half circle skirt (I used the skirt pattern as is, just shortening it to a length of 9″), but no matter the reason I’m quite loving it! I’ve worn it out (in public, imagine that!) twice already, once with shorts to a dinner date and another time to work with jeans and heels on casual Friday. I can definitely envisage myself wearing this a whole lot more once I fix the neckline issues.

20150628-IMG_9251

TLDR;

Pattern: Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater Dress (Cap sleeve version)

Size made: Size 2 at bust grading out to size 4 at waist

Fabric used: Black ITY jersey from Spotlight

Alterations made:

– Shortened bodice length by 2″

– Raised neckline

– Narrowed shoulders to 4″

– Shortened skirt to 9″ to make a peplum top

20150628-IMG_9143

20150628-IMG_9132

20150628-IMG_9123

To me, this lovely drapey dress was the main attraction. It was my first time working with rayon jersey, and I did face a lot of difficulty during the sewing process because of how light and slightly slippery it was!

The advantage of using such a light fabric was that I didn’t need to insert clear elastic into the waist seam in order to the support the skirt. I did attempt to at first, but as I didn’t have clear elastic (or at least not the flat kind) and regular braided elastic caused the fabric to warp at the waistline, I just decided to leave it out altogether.

20150628-IMG_9086

20150628-IMG_9106

20150628-IMG_9107

20150628-IMG_9116

This dress is wonderfully swishy and just the right length for me after shortening the bodice by 2″. The neckline on this version is raised as well, but only by 2″, and the shoulders have been left the same width as the pattern piece. The sleeves have also been lengthened by about 1.5″ to make a short sleeve rather than cap sleeve. On hindsight, I should have left the sleeve a little shorter as the print of this dress tends to be a little overwhelming in large doses, but I’m glad I tested out this sleeve length for future reference. Plus it’s a dream to wear, and a perfect length for church and for work #winning

TLDR;

Pattern: Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater Dress (Cap sleeve version lengthened)

Size made: Size 2 at bust grading out to size 4 at waist

Fabric: Rayon Jersey from Sew Many Knits

Alterations made:

– Shortened bodice length by 2″

– Raised scoop neckline by 2″

– Lengthened sleeves by 1.5″

20150628-IMG_9074

20150628-IMG_9127

All in all, I really like what I’ve ended up with! A peplum top that I actually think I look good in (though I will probably love it loads more once I nail down that elusive boatneck neckline) and a wonderfully draped skater dress perfect for summer and big-eating days!

I have a lovely length of Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery knit and I’m wondering whether to make that up as a Lady Skater dress (with a round neck / boat neck)  or as a Christine Haynes Marianne dress. I would love to hear what you guys think!

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!

20150614-IMG_9010

20150614-IMG_9046

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!

20150614-IMG_8997

20150614-IMG_9018

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?

20150614-IMG_9002

20150614-IMG_9006

20150614-IMG_8993

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.

20150614-IMG_8995

20150614-IMG_9036

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!

Casual Co-ordinates : Eucalypt Tank and Angelia Shorts

20150614-IMG_8924

20150614-IMG_8927

Hey y’all! I’m so pleased to have had the chance to take part in the first challenge of Indie Pattern Month 2015 over on The Monthly Stitch, and by some miracle I actually won 2nd place! Thanks to all who voted, and I’m so glad that you liked my wild and whimsical Flora dress.

This week I’m back again (and just in the nick of time!) for the Separates competition with a cropped Eucalypt Tank, and a little sneak peek of a not-yet-released pattern from Itch to Stitch – the Angelia shorts! Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Eucalypt Tank pattern by Megan Nielsen

If you’ve been following my sewing journey for a while you’d have remembered my first Eucalypt Tank made out of some cheap Aztec print cotton that I scored from the bargain bin in Chinatown (in Singapore). If you know me in real life, you’d probably have seen me wearing it, oh, just about every other weekend or so. It is by far the best and closest fitting woven tank top or shell top I own, even if the material is kind of stiff and does feel a little too tight around the arm holes. So when I decided to whip up a cropped tank, it was a no brainer that the Eucalypt pattern was the one for me. (It also helped that Holly made this adorable crop top and midi skirt set using the Eucalypt pattern last year and I’ve been dying for one of my own ever since.)

20150614-IMG_8951-2

20150614-IMG_8920

This is an incredibly simple pattern with great results – only 2 pattern pieces,front and back! Plus bias binding strips if you aren’t using store-bought ones. The instructions are very simple to follow. This was one of my very first makes that I attempted before knowing very much about sewing – I remember reading about french seams months later and realising that I had already done them before just by following the instructions in this pattern! If that’s not a sign of clear directions, I don’t know what is.

20150614-IMG_8945-2

I wish I could give you a bit more details on how I hacked the pattern, but in all honesty, I just winged it. I put on my first Eucalypt and measured how much I wanted to take off from the hemline – this length is about 3 fingers above my navel. I also had a little problem because my eyelet fabric was scalloped, and I wanted to keep the beautiful selvedge as my hem. This meant that I had to even out the curved hem of the Eucalypt and make it straight all the way around instead. If I remember correctly, what I ended up doing was measuring 10cm up from the hem of the side seam, and drawing a perpendicular line from that point, straight across both the front and back pattern pieces. I left the top unlined in spite of the eyelets because they were too small and sparse to be revealing.  I also raised the neckline and armsyces, but ended up wearing the top back to front as I liked the high neckline in the front and the scooped neck at the back instead. I can’t tell the difference – can you?

20150614-IMG_8965-2

Tldr;

Pattern: Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank 

Size made: XS at the shoulders and bust, grading to a S at the waist

Alterations made: Raised the neckline and armscyes, cropped length, evened out the hemline

Fabric and Notions: Less than a metre of black cotton eyelet fabric with a scalloped hem and store-bought black bias binding 

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts 

This pair of nautical shorts was a tester version I made as part of Kennis’ testing process for her upcoming release – the Angelia Shorts Pattern. I was provided the tester version of this pattern free from Kennis for testing purposes, and she’s kindly agreed to let me use them for the Separates challenge! (Thanks Kennis! On a side note, all opinions on this pattern are completely my own.) This is the view A version of the shorts, ie. the simplest version sans pockets or belt loops. There are two other version of the Angelia that include all the bells and whistles – coin pouches, tabs, cuffs, patch pockets and welt pockets – you name it, it’s probably somewhere in the pattern. If you would like to be kept posted on when this pattern is being released, be sure to sign up to the Itch to Stitch group on Facebook for updates.

20150614-IMG_8976-2

20150614-IMG_8975-2

I won’t go into too much detail about the pattern as yet, as I’m planning to save that for a later post after the pattern has launched. But I WILL say that this pattern is completely manageable for a beginner or a beginner+, it’s my first ever pair of shorts myself! You may notice that my fly zip is kind of messy – that’s completely my fault as I misunderstood the instructions. I did raise this up to Kennis and she was very quick in taking in my feedback – from what I understand that step will be clarified in the final version of the pattern. If you’ve ever made up an Itch to Stitch pattern, you’ll be familiar with how comprehensive the instructions are. If you haven’t, I would strongly strongly encourage you to get the free Lindy Petal Skirt pattern and see for yourself!

20150614-IMG_8939

20150614-IMG_8936

Pattern: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts pattern, view A (not yet released) 

Size made: Size 4

Fabric and notions: Some kind of cornflower blue printed cotton with a waffle-like texture, a 7″ regular zip and a hook and eye

I can’t wait to get some wear out of both these pieces – either separately or together! I would have liked to make the crop top a little shorter to suit the high waist of the shorts, but I wanted a versatile piece that could be worn with my mid to low rise jeans and shorts as well.

What summer sewing are you guys embarking on? All the shorts, sundresses, maxi skirts and bikinis popping up on the blogosphere have me dying to ditch my work clothes plans and make holiday outfits galore!

Flora in the Wild

17689412504_7788f8225e_o_Fotor

So with the outfit-of-the-day frenzy that is Me-Made-May done and dusted, we’ve officially (as of yesterday) moved into Indie Pattern Month and all the competitions that come with it! Indie  Pattern Month is an annual month of competitions centred on, you guessed it, indie patterns and is organised by The Monthly Stitch. To enter, you sew up a garment in line with the rules and post about it over on The Monthly Stitch blog – click here to see my entry!

20150531-IMG_8720

20150531-IMG_8612

20150531-IMG_8694

20150531-IMG_8579

20150531-IMG_8825

20150531-IMG_8603-2_Fotor_Collage

The By Hand London Flora dress has been on my to-sew list since I first started sewing – that’s almost a whole year ago! So when I decided to enter in the dresses competition, it HAD to be the Flora. This is by far my most involved garment to date and is definitely my current favourite – it’s got weird and wonderful Alice in Wonderland-ish paisley flowers, who can resist that?? To match the whimsical nature of the print, I decided that the futuristic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore would be the best place to photograph it, amidst the strange and exotic plants of the Cloud Forest dome. But enough of the chattering from me, keep on reading to find out all the juicy sewing-related details!

20150531-IMG_8707

20150531-IMG_8755

20150531-IMG_8697

20150531-IMG_8653

The Pattern

By Hand London’s Flora Dress (Tank bodice with hi-lo circle skirt)

I found the pattern instructions very easy to follow, and coupled with the sew-along, is extremely manageable for a beginner sewist! The only pain was finishing the hem of the voluminous circle skirt – I used my rolled hem foot and even then it took ages (not to mention it got a little tricky at the side seams and centre back seams). Other than that, the construction went very quickly, even having to make slight fit adjustments to fix neckline gaping issues.

20150531-IMG_8801

20150531-IMG_8742-2

20150531-IMG_8729

I also loved the gentle shaping given by the knife pleats in the front and the box pleats in the back – I didn’t realise it at first, but a friend asked if the “wavy” effect of the skirt hem was intentional, and it dawned on me that it was due to the shaping from the pleats! (Rather an unimpressive revelation to have, but there it is)

20150531-IMG_8732

Adjustments made

– Small Bust Adjustment – I found BHL’s tutorial in their sew-along really helpful!

– Shortened the centre back of the skirt by 3 1/4″ and smoothed out the curve gradient. I still found the skirt a bit too long in the back and the curve gradient a tad too severe for casual wear, I would probably shorten the skirt a further 2″ the next time or try out the other skirt option.

– Removed 2″ total from the back neckline where there was gaping. On my next make of this pattern I’ll be sure to remove a total of 1″ from the front neckline as well.

20150531-IMG_8723

20150531-IMG_8731

Fabric & Notions

Purple paisley lightweight cotton (only slightly heavier than voile), bought from Hong Kong for a mere S$5 (US$3.70) a metre! #winning

White voile for the bodice and a 22″ cream invisible zipper

I had actually bought a similar liberty-esque purple paisley print from Goldhawk Road (and was told that it was a William Morris – I still don’t know if the shopkeeper was telling the truth as the selvedge doesn’t mention it) with the intention to use that for a Flora instead. But lo and behold when I saw this alternative in a dingy Hong Kong roadside fabric store, I decided I liked vibrancy of this print a little more and snapped up 3m of this right away.

20150531-IMG_8803

20150531-IMG_8710

20150531-IMG_8629

I got such a humongous kick out of finally making up this dress – thank you Indie Pattern Month for the huge shove up my behind I needed to do it! Am really looking forward to showing a few more of my entries this coming month and fingers crossed I’ll have time to finish them all! Wish me luck!

SEWN // The Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt Pattern Review

20150503-IMG_8368_Fotor

Disclaimer: I was given the Lindy Petal Skirt free of charge for pattern testing purposes…. which is actually irrelevant in this case because all you lot can get it for free too! Anyway, my point is that all views and opinions in this post are my purely my own – I just love it this pattern that much! 

I know I seem to be excited about pretty much everything on this blog (I promise I am a lot calmer in real life), but this new pattern release by Itch to Stitch is just something else. If you’ve been following my Me-Made-May exploits over on my instagram (@jessiehuen), you’d have seen that I’ve been surprisingly successful with keeping up with my pledge this week. What you haven’t seen is the daily struggle to pick out a me-made garment to wear that ISN’T this new skirt because I’ve been dying to wear it all week! I finally caved this (yesterday) morning and wore it to work, but didn’t post a picture since the pattern hadn’t launched yet. Well… it has now, so I can gush about it to my heart’s content and post a gazillion unnecessary photos of me in it now!

20150503-IMG_8345

20150503-IMG_8368

20150503-IMG_8371

The Lindy Petal Skirt is a knit skirt with an elasticated waistband and a beautiful petal shape. It is super easy to sew up (took me less than 2 hours from cutting to hemming), it feels like I’m wearing a t-shirt on my bum and it’s so forgiving on my bootylicious behind and overabundant muffin top. Plus, Kennis drafted it bearing in mind that it could be a work wardrobe staple, which means that it’s a completely office-appropriate length! You guys, it was absolute love at first sight – THIS PATTERN AND I WERE MEANT TO BE. (Kennis can vouch for this – I sent her an overenthusiastic e-mail expressing my eagerness to be a pattern tester). And that’s not all people, as if this pattern wasn’t already sounding amazing enough… it’s free. Oh yes, it’s completely F.O.C., so really, you guys have no reason not to try this miracle of a pattern.

I sewed up a straight size XS, although my measurements put me at an S for the waist and an XS at the hips. It’s very comfortable even though the waist is supposed to be a size too small, I suspect this is because the pattern has you cut the elastic to your ACTUAL waist measurement, instead of a fixed “XS” waist circumference. I also shortened the skirt by 2.5cm (I’m 5′ 3″ for reference) and it hits quite a bit above the knee, and is just about borderline acceptable for work. I will definitely be sewing up my next version in the original length as I think I could benefit from a tad more coverage in the front.

20150503-IMG_8381

20150503-IMG_8403

20150503-IMG_8398

As for fabric and notions, I used a black double knit for this version and 2″ (5cm) wide elastic. The pattern actually has you use 1.5″ elastic, but my local haberdashery only stocks 1″ or 2″ elastic so I didn’t have a choice in the matter. A word of caution though, I used 1″ elastic at first and it was much too narrow – so much so that half the waistband was unsupported and tended to fold in on itself. On Kennis’ advice I switched out the 1″ elastic for 2″ elastic and I must say that it’s a lot more comfortable. As a result of my wider elastic the waistband is significantly narrower than it is supposed to be (based on other testers’ photos), but it works fine so I’m happy to leave it as is. Just be aware that if you can’t find 1.5″ elastic then generally it’s better to go with a wider elastic than a thinner one!

I can’t speak for the finalised pattern, but based on the tester version, the pattern instructions are extremely clear with illustrations, as is typical of Itch to Stitch patterns. The only problem I had was with hemming the ‘petals’ of the skirt – but that was more my misunderstanding than a problem with the actual pattern itself. Also, I believe that Kennis may have put in a little clarification to ensure that you guys don’t make the same mistake as me (oops!).

20150503-IMG_8390

20150503-IMG_8400

All in all, I would say this pattern is highly manageable and suitable for beginners. It’s also super versatile – I’m already planning up a couple more in black ITY for work, as well as a couple in chevron and polka dot prints. If you can’t wait to sew it up either then drop by Itch to Stitch’s website and get it asap!

Oh, and as an update for what to expect for Me-Made-May, I’ll be posting a round up of my outfits every Sunday here on the blog, but to see what I’m wearing on a daily basis be sure to follow me on instagram! Trust me when I say I’ve had an incredibly productive (sewing-wise) week and I can’t wait to show you guys all the new things I’ve made 😀

 

The Working Girl’s Wardrobe (& Plans for The Wardrobe Contest)

It’s one of my big goals for this year to take part in Me-Made-May… the only problem is that most of my me-made clothes are casual garments, and I will inevitably be spending a large part of the month of May sitting around an office. This means that as of late I have been focussing my sewing efforts on creating a me-made work wardrobe that I would feel proud to let my colleagues (& bosses) see me in.

Since the #WAChallenge2015 assignment for the month of March is to identify holes in your wardrobe and make plans to fill them in, I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to sketch out a rough plan of the work outfits I want to have made by the time May rolls around. It also helps that the folks over at PatternReview.com are clairvoyants of some sort and have very obligingly assigned The Wardrobe Contest as the competition of choice for the month of April!

2015 Wardrobe Contest

This means that in the next 6 weeks or so, I will be sewing a grand total of 9 garments: 4 tops, 3 bottoms and 2 garments of choice. I’m part terrified, but also really excited (though I do have this niggling doubt at the back of my mind that I’ll be able to get all of that done in such a short amount of time).  Nevertheless, as good ol’ Churchill said “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”, so plan I shall, and plan I have. If you’d like to see what I’ll be sewing up in the next couple of weeks, then keep on reading!

In addition to the difficulty of the make, my main consideration was practicality and whether I would get actual wear out of my me-made garments. I thought about the kind of clothing I currently wear to work, and the various factors that may impact whether a certain item of clothing gets more heavily rotated than others. These were my choices:

Tops 

THE PLAN: 2 x Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse, Colette Laurel Top and Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Though I love me a nice shirt, I’ve never made one before and so I thought it would be too much of a challenge to produce a good quality one in the limited time I have. Also, given Singapore’s sweltering heat, I tend to stick with short or sleeveless tops most of the time which is why I’ve opted to make 2 Pendrell tops. I might change my mind though, if I figure out how to take the sleeves off the Oakridge… a sleeveless pussy-bow blouse sounds right up my alley!
Bottoms
If you’ve been around here a while, you may have noticed that I’ve been on a pencil skirt kick recently, beginning with this denim number and more recently, the poinsettia pleated skirt. As much as I like Delia’s pattern, I just feel that the proportions aren’t spot on for me. I’m still on the hunt for a great pencil skirt pattern and I’m grabbing this chance to make up two highly raved about patterns – BHL’s Charlotte and Sew Over It’s Pencil Skirt patterns.
I also can’t wait to sew up the Hollyburn which I’ve been putting off FOREVER. I already have the perfect fuchsia poly suiting for it – CAN’T WAIT.
Sewist’s Choice
One of the requirements of the Wardrobe Contest is that all items sewn have to match each other. This is where the versatility of the Oslo Cardigan comes in. Plus, with the estimated total production time being a mere 2 hours, it will go a long way to helping me meet my target 9 garments.
As for the dresses… quite frankly it’s a toss-up between the two. I haven’t muslined either of the dresses, so I feel slightly inclined towards the Laurel since I would have fitted it as a top already. However, I will be attending a cousin’s wedding in May that I’m dying to wear the Emery dress to… talk about first world sewing problems.
So that’s it! My very brief sewing plans for the upcoming weeks. Wish me luck – I’m so excited to get started!
PS. Can you believe that ALL of these patterns are from my pattern stash?! If all else fails at least I’d have conquered some of my “to-sew” list.

Culottes Conundrum // Styling the Emily Culottes

Up till recently, I would not have been caught dead wearing a pair of culottes. It’s not that I hated them – in fact, I loved everything about them… except when they were on me. The thing about culottes is that they have the very real potential to be the most unflattering garment ever. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve put on a pair of wide-legged culottes only to take them right off again because (a) it made my child-bearing hips look bigger than they already were and (b) the below-knee length made my legs look shorter than ever before! It wasn’t long before I wrote this trend off as a “model-only” look… but I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

20150308-IMG_7425-2_Fotor_Collage

Some of you may have been following along with my wardrobe architect journey (soon to be continued – I’m sorry it’s been a while!), and it’s been really helpful for identifying the kind of silhouettes and shapes that work for me. When trying to decide how to style my Itch to Stitch Emily Culottes, I applied some of the concepts I learnt through the WA Challenge and realised it makes a HUGE difference when I follow a few simple styling rules that I’ll be sharing with you guys today.

Now I’m not claiming to be a style expert and I’m not saying that all these tips will work for everyone – the aim of this post today is to share a little about the styling rules I’ve employed to make the culottes trend work on my 5′ 3″ pear-shaped frame. I’m hoping that these tips will help encourage some of you to give this trend a shot and will be useful in helping you to figure out what works on your body and what doesn’t! Alright, ready? Here we go!

Rule #1. Dark colours on the bottom, light on the top.

Let’s start with basics, shall we? Everyone knows that dark colours have a slimming effect and light colours have a broadening effect, but sometimes we forget that this applies to loose clothing as well.

As you can see from my first version of the Emily Culottes, I was too romanced by the idea of white culottes that I forgot my own rule and made one up in a oyster-toned cream. Below you can see what a huge difference a dark top and light pants make to my appearance as compared to a lighter coloured top and dark pants.

20150308-IMG_7578-2

20150308-IMG_7410-2

Rule #2. Always mind your proportions. 

This is something that a lot of you may have heard of or already apply in your styling. Personally, it took me 23 years to even begin to understand this concept and I’m still learning more about it every day! Your proportions play a huge role in determining how you appear – we can look shorter or taller, bigger or leaner, more bootylicious or less, all based on how we allow our clothing to dictate our proportions.

Credit to Style Makeover HQ.com

For instance, if you know you have a long torso, wear your culottes higher waisted to balance out your proportions. This should also have the added advantage of letting the culottes sit at the smallest point of your waist, thereby accentuating the fit and flare silhouette. Conversely, if you have a short torso, wear them at your natural waist or lower to make it seem like you have a lower waistline and to balance out your longer legs (lucky you!).

3dd86ec1e2b40c90b233131ef0e8c4c9_Fotor_Collage

I included two pictures of Posh (aka VB aka Queen of Not-Smiling) so that you could see how wearing a pair of culottes higher waist or lower waist makes a difference to a person’s proportions. Note how Posh looks like she has a slightly longer torso in the middle picture, and a slightly stunted torso in the right hand side one. (I can’t believe she looks great in both photos, what IS she?!)

Rule #3. Fit & Flare

Fit and flare is one way I manage my proportions and balance out my figure. Since culottes are usually flared or loose fitting, I pair them with a fitted top to balance out my figure. The interesting about culottes for pears, is that if your culottes are structured and voluminous enough, they can actually hide the size of your hips! Paired with a fitted top, this means that you will overall look slimmer.

30248165_009_b_Fotor_Collage w

My favourite look is to pair my Emily Culottes with a crop top (though this houndstooth one reveals a little too much of my belly for my liking), as it doesn’t need to be tucked in and therefore eliminates bulk at the waistline. This creates an illusion of a slimmer waistline (when measurements-wise, I don’t have a clearly defined waist!) which is always a good idea.

20150308-IMG_7492-2

If you’re uncomfortable with fitted tops or crop tops, then by all means pick a longer top with a looser fit! Just make sure your top is fitted at the shoulders or the sleeves, like this boxy top below…

20150308-IMG_7412-2

Or sleeveless, to balance out the overwhelming amount of coverage you’re getting below the waist.

20150314-IMG_7821

I’ve seen quite a few pictures on pinterest where culottes are styled with an oversized top and sweater – and those people look great! But from what I’ve experimented on myself, that style doesn’t work for me, as it only seems to add bulk on my frame. Nevertheless, if you think that style works for you, go for it! It’s all about what you feel good in.

Rule #4. The longer the pants, the higher the heel.

This is a rule that I live by and apply universally across ALL my outfits. As I mentioned in one of my Wardrobe Architect posts, long bottoms (i.e. below the knee) create the appearance of shorter legs. By wearing heels, you restore your proportions and create the illusion of a longer leg. (Plus, if you’ve got thunder thighs like me, heels also help to create the appearance of a longer, leaner leg.)

20150314-IMG_7820_Fotor_Collage

Compare how I look wearing heeled loafers vs flat loafers in the picture above. It doesn’t look bad, but my legs look longer and overall, I look more proportionate in the left picture than on the right. (These pictures were taken within an hour of each other… I have no idea why I look so different??)

Also, is it just me but does wearing culottes with flats automatically make one seem like they’re either channelling the boho vibe or the japanese look?

Hedvig-Opshaug-10_Fotor_Collage

There’s nothing wrong with the boho or japanese styles, but they just aren’t for me. If you love them, then more power to you! You get to wear your culottes with comfy flats while my toes get pinched and blistered for the sake of vanity (cue crying emoji).

Note: Conversely, the shorter the hemline, the lower the heel. When a skirt or shorts hits more than 2 or 3 inches above the knee, I opt to wear flats – this helps to tone down the skankiness of the outfit and is also a LOT more comfortable! This may be why I am able to get away with wearing kitten heels in these pictures – because my culottes are only knee length!

Rule #5. Experiment on yourself!

And last, but certainly not least, if there is only one rule you should remember… it’s that there are no rules! I know this is extremely lame and cliched, but it IS true. Nobody should dictate how you dress, or what you feel comfortable in – what’s important is that YOU feel good about how you look.

Some of the places you can look to for help are fashion websites or pinterest for inspiration on how to style your clothing – just remember that what works for fashion bloggers and models may not look or feel right on you or me, which is fine! With a little time and experimentation you’ll be able to identify what shapes and styles look good on you, even when it’s someone else wearing it (psst, this also helps with online shopping!). I’ve put together a pinterest board of culotte styles that I really love and will be trying out here – check it out if you’re interested!

20150314-IMG_7866

Plus… if you’re loving my culottes, the pattern is still on sale over on Itch to Stitch’s website! To read my review on the pattern, click here

If you’ve got a pinterest board of your own or recommendations to style or fashion blogs, feel free to share them with me in the comments below, I would love to see them! Also, if you would like to see more of these posts or recommendations on articles for proportions and styling that I’ve found useful, shout out and let me know!

Note: All photos used in this post that do not belong to me have been sourced from my pinterest board here.

Culottes Convert // The Itch to Stitch Emily Culottes Pattern

20150308-IMG_7492-2

20150308-IMG_7410-2

20150308-IMG_7446

I’ve always straddled the line somewhere between tomboy and girly girl, so it’s little surprise that growing up culottes were my favourite thing ever – a skirt that allows me to climb over railings and won’t expose my granny underpants whenever a gust of wind comes my way? YES, PLEASE. Sadly, culottes went strictly out of fashion in my teen years and eventually were eliminated from my wardrobe… UNTIL NOW.

I’ve been watching the culottes trend with great interest since they first started emerging in high street fashion last Spring, and while I was convinced that wide-legged, midi length trousers were going to be a fashion disaster on my short pear frame, I really wanted one. Needless to say, when Itch to Stitch Patterns put out a call for pattern testers for the Emily Culottes, I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, Kennis decided to allow this rookie (me) into her team of experienced pattern testers and the rest is history. You guys, I love these culottes SO MUCH and I hope you’ll give the pattern a try so you can love it as much as I do!!

20150308-IMG_7414-2

20150308-IMG_7432

This was my first time using an Itch to Stitch pattern, and straight off the bat I found a whole lot of things I like about it. For one, the pdf pattern allows you to print in layers – this means that you can print a single size to piece together; or you can print as many sizes as you like to grade between! Another plus are the great instructions included – I had no problems at all following the instructions (and trust me, I followed them for every step, because I wouldn’t have known what to do without them). I especially like the invisible zipper insertion technique which I had never employed before – it got me my first perfectly aligned waistband across a zipper!

I opted to make the simplest version of the Emily Culottes possible ie. no pockets, waist tabs or waist tie, no lining and shortened by only 1.5cm, as it offered a classic, clean, almost tailored look that I was looking for. If I make this up again (and I’m sure I will) I’d probably attempt the welt pockets – seeing all the beautiful welt pockets by the other pattern testers have really whetted my welt pocket appetite!

20150308-IMG_7578-2

20150308-IMG_7573-2

20150308-IMG_7564

I made up 2 versions of the culottes – first the white in shot cotton, then the navy in broadcloth. As you can see from the white version (above), the shot cotton ended up wrinkling really easily and you guys, these wrinkles WILL NOT COME OUT. I have tried to press the life out of this thing, but the wrinkles will not budge… so I suppose this make is destined for the refashioning bin.

As for the navy broadcloth version – is it an exaggeration to say that it has made me a complete culottes convert? (Alliteration, yeah!) It does wrinkle when I sit, but it irons out easily and is a lot less wrinkle-prone (and cheaper) than the shot cotton I used in the earlier make.

For the navy version, I cut and sewed a straight size 2. This resulted in the culottes sitting at the natural waist, but due to my long torso and short legs, I wanted it to sit at my high waist instead. To do this, I took out about 3/4″ from the centre back seam and redrew the curve back into the original crotch curve.

A word of caution: the waistband is cut on the bias, which means it can stretch out a LOT if you’re not careful. This happened to my white pair, which caused it to sit on my hips rather than my waist! Kennis has helpfully written up a couple of posts with some helpful tips on handling the waistband here.

20150308-IMG_7554

20150308-IMG_7560

I think this is a really versatile pattern which is easily customisable according to your personal style. I tend towards a more classic silhouette and due to my height, prefer a shorter length (knee-length). Despite this, I can easily imagine this pattern being lengthened to make true midi culottes, or shortened with an added pleat to make a pair of mid-thigh skorts. If you’re worried about whether or how these culottes will / can work for you, then remember to swing by here next Monday for a post on the different ways I’ve styled these culottes for my petite pear-shape!

In the meantime, Kennis is having a sale on this pattern for US$9.60 (U.P. US$12) here! She’s also giving away a copy of the pattern for free so if you’re a giveaway lover (I know I am) then be sure to enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

20150308-IMG_7538

And now I leave you with this wannabe-Vogue accidental-mohawk shot for your viewing pleasure. Come on now, any garment that lets you get THAT much movement in whilst still looking somewhat classy is a keeper amirite?

Poinsettia Pleated Pencil // Another Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt

20150308-IMG_7653_Fotor

20150308-IMG_7620

20150308-IMG_7602

This was one of the many fabric finds I brought back from my holiday in Hong Kong and Shenzhen last year. When I spied this in the maze that is the fabric market at the 5th floor of Luohu Commercial City, I was immediately reminded of Delia’s original rose patterned pencil skirt and HAD to have it. My sister expressed serious doubts about my fashion sense in picking it though… is it social suicide to admit that I absolutely love it?

Given the poinsettia-like print, my plan was to make up a holiday version of the Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt up in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get round to it until after the full festive period of Christmas and the Lunar New Year had passed… no matter though, as I fully intend to whip out this skirt every time some kind of festive event rolls round.

20150308-IMG_7652

20150308-IMG_7593

20150308-IMG_7582

I was under the impression that this fabric was some kind of twill, but later found out that it is a lot stretchier than I expected with pretty bad recovery. In fact the waistband had stretched out so much by the time I was done that I had some serious gaping problems (see above). On hindsight, I would have done well to have gone down a size… though I did realise that if I flip the waistband into the skirt (like facing) it fits perfectly. I might end up removing the waistband altogether and using a facing instead, like so:

20150308-IMG_7637

20150308-IMG_7632

Some changes that I made from the last time I used this pattern:

– Drawing on the lovely advice of some commenters on my last post, I shortened the pattern from the lengthen line and smoothed out the curve back into the pattern. As far as I can tell it’s worked!

– Shifted the zip to the centre back seam instead of the side. One of my issues with my previous skirt was that the side zipper made one side of the waistband look stiffer / straighter than the other. As a result the side with the zipper didn’t hug my body like I wanted it to. I opted this time to sew up the right side instead of inserting a zipper, and cut the back waistband in 4 separate pieces instead of 2 on the fold. I inserted the zipper above the kick pleat by seam ripping / cutting the kick pleat fold from the waistband down, stopping a few inches before the kick pleat started, then I inserted the invisible zipper as per usual. This way, the kick pleat wasn’t affected at all by the zipper insertion.

20150308-IMG_7581

20150308-IMG_7650

– I was in a rush to wear this for an event so I simply folded the hemline up by 1cm and then by 1cm again and topstitched it in place.

What do you guys think? Too loud? Too festive? Any chance I can get away with THIS skirt in the office? (… no, probably not.) Let me know in the comments below! And if any of you wonderful people happen to be Indiesew account holders and think this bright red, in-your-face, christmas-screaming poinsettia skirt is a good idea, I’ve entered this make in the Spring 2015 Selfish Sewing Week Challenge so do vote for me! (Or for others too, because there are some pretty smashing makes up there.)

20150308-IMG_7598

Got my Tyra smizing on – I’ve now either convinced you into voting for me or completely turned you off. (I don’t blame you if it’s the latter… I gross myself out sometimes)

Pineapple Party // A Lucky Pineapple Ruby Top

20150222-IMG_7281_Fotor

20150222-IMG_7285

20150222-IMG_7327

Yes I know, I’ve gone and neglected my blog again for almost the whole month of February. I have a good reason this time though! The last 4 weeks have been a solid month of celebrations – beginning with my birthday and Valentine’s day, and peaking with the Chinese New Year. The Lunar New Year is the main annual celebration in the Chinese culture, with whole host of traditions that can seem equal parts amusing and confusing. My family in particular loves to “lo hei”, which involves tossing the yusheng (a salad) for good luck – the higher you toss, the better your luck that year! … Except my relatives seem to have made it a matter of family pride to turn every lo hei into a legitimate food fight – if you follow me on instagram you would have seen the carnage (warning: turn down your volume – there is a lot of screaming involved):

It so happens that today marks “Chap Goh Mei” or 元宵节  ( the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations), so what better time than the present to share with you guys my favourite (and luckiest) new year outfit this year!

Chinese New Year is a time for new beginnings, and more importantly, new clothing, so I wanted to make it a point to sew up a new outfit befitting of the occasion. Enter this pineapple-print cotton polyester from Spotlight:

20150222-IMG_7307

Pineapples are considered by the Chinese to be an auspicious icon to have around the house during the new year as the hokkien name for pineapple is “ong lai” which sounds similar to the hokkien phrase for “luck” and “coming”. The opportunity to usher in the new year with an ultra-lucky handmade pineapple top? YES PLEASE!

The moment I saw this fabric, I knew that Tessuti Pattern’s Ruby Top would be a perfect match for it. Simple and classy, yet casual and a perfect complement to denim shorts, I thought the pattern would help to downplay the ridiculous-ness of wearing a gazillion pineapples on one’s chest… AND IT DID. I even wore it to work and only got one snide “wow you’re lucky today”-esque comment.

20150222-IMG_7299

20150222-IMG_7305

20150222-IMG_7293

You guys, I LOVE this make, especially for the new year festivities! In fact, my boyfriend had to ban me from wearing it too many times as I wore it to 3 different gatherings over a 4 day period… a bit obsessive, I will admit.

I really like the high neckline and cut in armholes of the pattern, I think it just makes it that much more current and formal than a regular tank top. In a solid coloured voile or chiffon I could easily imagine wearing this to work on a regular basis! I also love the way the pattern is designed to fit in the bust and swing down past any unsightly bulging bits – perfect for wearing to a buffet or a big dinner.

20150222-IMG_7308
Look at the amount of room I have to hide a muffin top under there! 

Did I mention how neat the insides of my top are for once? I have the pattern instructions to thank for this.

20150222-IMG_7345

20150222-IMG_7351

I sewed up the Ruby pattern exactly as prescribed in the instructions, and it took me about 4 hours from cutting to hemming. It would probably be a lot faster if not for some unpicking I had to do! I did deviate from the pattern instructions slightly though:

– Tessuti’s instructions have you use vilene shields which are meant to prevent the neckline and armholes from stretching out. As I haven’t been able to find them anywhere in Singapore, Fiona advised me to omit the vilene shields and just stay stitch instead.

– The instructions provide for the keyhole back to be closed with a button and thread loop. Tessuti has helpfully produced a tutorial on how to create the thread button loop, but I decided against it and opted for a hook and eye closure instead (easy way out as usual, whoops!)

20150222-IMG_7371

– The pattern has you cut out bias tape using your main fabric to finish the neckline and armholes, which I did. However, I didn’t like how the print on the bias tape clashed with the direction of the print on my main fabric, so I opted to turn the bias binding under and top-stitch it down (kind of like the method employed in Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank).

I can’t wait to make this up in the dress version – I’ve already got the perfect leopard print chiffon for it! I’ve also got a hack planned for this beauty of a pattern, well done Tessuti!

OH and did I mention my brand new and very first pair of Swedish Hasbeens, bought through the Amazon sale that had the sewing community gushing for days (I have Heather Lou to thank for the tip-off). I’m still in the midst of breaking them in, but goodness, they are SO COMFY despite their height. To the wonderful swedish hasbeens-obsessive sewing community and instagram, THANK YOU, you guys just keep on giving and giving.

20150222-IMG_7273

20150222-IMG_7317