Me-Made-May 2015 : Days 18 – 24

The last 7 days of Me Made May have been rather slow moving – I was down with food poisoning (curse you, half-off supermarket sushi!!) for a good 2 days and was in full-on black and white for a court day before that, so effectively I only have a 4 day wardrobe to share with you guys today.

Day 18, Monday

On Monday I bust out my beloved Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt again, paired with a sleeveless RTW button down top. I’m amazed how fast this skirt is becoming a staple in my wardrobe – I definitely need to make more up in a greater variety of fabric soon.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m posing so enthusiastically with a Vogue Patterns magazine, that’s because I went to check out the new (relatively) Orchard Library on Orchard Road in Singapore last Monday and discovered that they stock copies of Vogue Patterns Magazine and Thread Magazine! Hurray! Perfect for us in Singapore where delivery from anywhere else in the world costs a bomb.

The magazines are kept in these adorable pull out cubby holes in the wall, with the latest issues displayed in the front glass panel, which doubles as a decor feature! This is one idea I am definitely pinning as future home inspiration.

As it turns out, the library also stocks Japanese sewing books and some fitting books. I even managed to find copies of Gertie’s two books! Amazing. Be warned though, if you ever plan on borrowing books with patterns, you’ll have to check the patterns themselves out separately. Be sure to go down to the shelf on the third floor, under the staircase and find the corresponding patterns to the books – I didn’t know about this until someone pointed this out to me on instagram (thank you @oppknits!)

Day 9, Tuesday

Another day, another knit skirt – this is another new favourite that has entered my weekly rotation because of Me Made May. Another great thing about #MMMay15 ? Forcing me to rethink my outfit pairings – this chevron knit skirt was originally destined to be paired with a black top to play down the too-casual print, but in the spirit of Me Made May I decided to take a risk and wear it with this electric blue shell top instead. Judging by all the comments from the good people of instagram, it seems that I made the right choice.

Day 13, Saturday

Day 10 was a court day and days 11 and 12 were sick days, so you can guess how relieved I was to finally be out and about and getting back on track with my MMMay pledge on Saturday! Here I am in my Ray of Sunshine tulip skirt and a brand new mint-coloured pair of Nike Frees that I had just bought that day – I LOVE this combination, and they’re SO light! (… and so is my wallet after buying these shoes) It’s not my usual style, but hey, this month is all about pushing boundaries right?

Day 14, Sunday

Back into something more within my comfort zone for church yesterday in this cream RTW top and my soon-to-be-blogged bright orchid Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. I kid you not when I say that I have been finding every opportunity to wear this skirt – to the theatre, to church, to the beach, I’ve pretty much done it all.

Anybody who said that they didn’t need a bright purple, borderline luminous hollyburn skirt clearly didn’t know what they were missing. Now, can I get away with one in vermillion orange…?

PS. As most of you can probably tell, I failed at getting enough garments in time to make the Wardrobe Challenge ): But no fear, because that just means that I’ve got a lot of delicious makes in the works and possibly a few entries in the upcoming Indie Pattern Month over at the Monthly Stitch! I am really excited, I just hope I can find the time to finish them all!

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!

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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.

Wardrobe Architect 2015 : Weeks 3 & 4 – Shapes, Proportions and Silhouettes

If you’ve been following along on my WA Challenge 2015 journey (here and here), you’d have heard me rant on about loving styles that don’t fit my body shape or proportions. Growing up, I had a lot of problems figuring out what looked good on my body and what kind of shapes I ought to be looking out for. I’m kind of short (162cm, which is 5′ 4″ for those of you who count in imperial units), which is inconvenient, but I also happen to be a pear-shape, and my legs (to me at least) seem disproportionately stumpy. I also love heels, but hate wearing them. The end result of this is that I often feel short and squat because the styles I love tend to work better on leggy, straight-figured people. You can imagine I was really excited to find out that today’s worksheets address my problem exactly by helping me determine what I feel the most comfortable in and what sort of proportions or silhouettes work best on my body! If you’ve ever had this problem, then keep on reading to find out more.

Week 3: Exploring Shapes 

This weeks’ worksheet was a short and relatively painless affair that had me rank different shapes according to what I feel the most comfortable in. Though I thought I already had a good idea or what I liked and disliked, this exercise really helped me pin down the kind of shapes I ought to be looking for in clothing (particularly helpful in online shopping!) Here is what I discovered I love:

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Knee-Length, Somewhat Full Skirts that start from the High or Natural Waist

Knee-Length, Somewhat Fitted Dresses with Full Skirts that begin from the Natural Waist

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Somewhat Fitted, Mid-Thigh Length, Natural-Waisted Shorts
(apparently I don’t like pants very much at all… which is true)

Somewhat Fitted or Somewhat Loose Tops that hit above the hip 

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Boatneck Necklines and Major love for Sleeveless tops and All Types of Sleeves (except Capped ones) 

ALL types of cardigans (except very fitted ones) 

All pictures were taken from ASOS which to me, is basically pinterest, without the pinning.

Week 4: Proportions and Silhouettes 

This next exercise takes what we discussed one step further – from identifying the shapes we feel comfortable wearing, to matching the silhouette they produce with the types of outfits we can put together. Like Sarai, I’ve opted to use Polyvore to create these sample looks to show you a little of the silhouettes I love (or what they would look like if I had access to the unlimited clothing on Polyvore).

Fitted Top and Loose Skirts (the classic Fit and Flare)

I suspect this has more to do with my pear shape than anything else. I love that this silhouette can be made formal for the office, dressed down for date night, or shortened to create a fun casual day outfit.

(Fun fact: That work outfit above is almost exactly what I wore to work today! Plus the Ann Taylor Signature Tote pictured above? Totally worth it. It fits my laptop with no problem and always looks professional, I love it! )

Sleeveless, Loose Tops and High-Waisted Pencil Skirts 

To balance out all the coverage (till my knees!), I prefer to keep my top simple, loose and sleeveless. This is more of an office-look and one that I would avoid if I knew I’d be having a big lunch that day! Of course, this look necessitates heels, so it helps that I’d be spending most of the day sitting behind a desk.

Structured top and high-waisted shorts 

I always feel like tailored shorts need a structured top to even it out. This is a style that I’ve been dying to try but haven’t yet figured out – it’s on my list this year!

Shift or Swing Dresses

I love shift dresses. They strike the perfect balance between fitted and loose and usually manage to camouflage my pear-ness. Since shift and swing dresses are relatively shapeless, I prefer to wear ones of a shorter length with flats or sandals. As a general rule, I like to pair shorter length clothing with flat shoes and longer lengths (ie. below knee-length) with heels. I’ve seen quite a lot of girls about who are able to pull off midi skirts with flats, but I suspect that has something to do with their taller height and longer legs – woe are the short-legged!

Loose top and Skinny Jeans or Jeggings 

This is a look that I wear to the office quite often on casual Fridays. Though I love pairing this outfit with heels (so classy!) I usually keep it comfortable and casual with flats.

When I was prepping this post I suddenly realised that I tend to apply these 3 golden rules in choosing my outfit silhouettes:

1. Fitted on top, flared at the bottom (to hide dat booty!)

2. When hemlines are short, the heels get shorter.

3. Balance out tight bottoms with loose tops (after all, when you compare China with Russia it doesn’t seem that big anymore doesn’t it?)

So there you have it! The 5 main silhouettes I apply to my dressing; I hope you guys (especially fellow pears) have found it helpful! What cardinal rules do you have for styling? I would love to hear them!

Wardrobe Architect 2015 : Week 2 – Defining a Core Style

I know I know, I said I would post ages and I didn’t… to make up for it, you guys get 4 posts in quick succession – hurray! (Or sorry, depending on whether you like hearing me babble on or not.) Just an update in case you guys are worrying that my sewing mojo (sew-jo?) has gone – I’ve recently gone back to work after a break to study for the Bar Exams last year, so I’m still getting used to juggling a full time job, family time and a rather time-consuming hobby (as you can tell, it isn’t going well). This means I haven’t sewed anything at all this year (cue horrified emoji), but I have been doing a lot of planning and thinking about my next makes in between churning out affidavits and writing letters…

…which bodes well for this post because today’s task is to define my core style! The premise of this week’s activity is that everyone has a certain preference for an aesthetic or a quality in clothing that reflects their own personality, taste or lifestyle. This quality can be interpreted in various ways depending on the season or current trends – this is known as one’s core style. Once we are able to define our core styles, we will be able to adapt the trend of day to create a look that is uniquely us. To help us along, Sarai has prepared a worksheet to help us gather our thoughts – keep reading to see my answers below!

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy, poised, powerful, etc)?

My favourite clothing are almost always comfortable and convenient. This means they fit well, the skirts don’t ride up, the necklines don’t sag down and the straps stay where they ought to – on my shoulders. Mostly they make me feel confident, well put-together, poised, polished and generally allow me to pretend that nobody will notice if I say anything bimbotic or trip over a rock because I look so legit – ie. like I know exactly what I want and how to get there. #girlpower

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When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?

Some clothing make me feel like I look really good, you know, the ones where you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and give yourself a mental high-five. At the same time, these types of clothing come with the constant insecurity that I’m flashing someone, or that my love handles are showing, or that my behind looks like the size of Texas, which doesn’t make for a pleasant experience at all. These clothing are basically the garment equivalent of 6-inch heels that you can stand around in… but would have you turning back for flats not more than 5 steps out your front door.

There are also clothing that don’t fit right – they’re too big around the waist, you’re constantly checking to see if your bra is showing or you feel like it makes you look like a walking lemon. This category of clothing just makes me feel really inadequate, downright dowdy and you tend to imagine that everyone who looks your way is sizing you up and judging your attire. You want people to be impressed by how polished you are, not how unflattering your clothes look on you!

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?

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When I first read this question I thought of the usual ‘classy’ icons, like Audrey Hepburn, Alexa Chung, Emma Watson and (my favourite) Taylor Swift. But though I think they look amazing and I love their style profiles, I don’t necessarily think the clothes they wear would work on me. So I flipped through my pinterest and realised that I’ve pinned an awful lot of style inspiration from Kate Middleton – I always knew I was royal material! Kate’s style is on point, timeless, elegant and appropriately modest.

What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?

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Elegant, tailored, leggy – Think cigarette pants, blazers and high waisted shorts a la Taylor Swift

Heels – I have so many but get such bad blisters from wearing them

50’s – I basically love everything that Brittany Snow / Amber wears in the Hairspray movie

Colourful, quirky – think Stylenanda (a Korean fashion brand if you aren’t familiar with them) or Roisin’s Home Sewing is Easy Flora dress (or anything that Roisin has made, really) , I love kooky styles but don’t have the guts to go too bold or whimsical

Cute – Peter Pan collars – I love them, just not on me

Look over your answers from last week on history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body. List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers. Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things:

Basics, Comfortable, Practical, Neutral, Modest, Classic, Fit, Understated, Timeless, Simple, Cool (temperature-wise), Safe, Elegant, Lady-like, Matching

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Look over the answers to all of the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?

Timeless, Modest, Practical and Understated

I realise this may well translate into “boring” but my style is what it is I suppose! What do you guys think – boring or classic? If any of you are following along the WA Challenge as well I would love to hear about it!

The Great Closet Detox (& a Mini Room Tour!)

My boyfriend will tell you that I’m a hoarder. He’s probably right. And that doesn’t just apply to mementoes or childhood clothes, I will hoard anything that has sentimental value to me – primary school uniforms, broken childhood toys, letters from friends I’ve lost contact with – you name it, I probably kept it.

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I also have a distinct aversion to throwing away things that are in perfectly good condition, especially impulse buys which have never been worn and will probably never be worn like, ever. The end result is a closet that is bursting at its seams, and nowhere to put the clothes that I do wear. Which in turn, affects the tidiness of my room as the clothes in current rotation end up on any available surface other than in the closet – my chair, my bed, and I hate to admit it but… the floor. It got so bad in December last year that I decided some drastic action was needed, so I called the most ruthless closet purger I knew… my boyfriend (AKA The Master Purger).

I don’t have many photos of my room before “Operation Closet Purge” began (truth be told I considered it but was way too embarrassed to even take any), but some of you may have seen the process in action over on my instagram.

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Using Into Mind’s brilliant Closet Detox Cheat Sheet, we went through every item of clothing in my closet and ended up reducing the total garment count by a whopping 75% (estimated). This means that for every 4 items of clothing in my closet, I only kept 1! Are you guys as shocked as I was? I had no idea my wardrobe was harbouring that many pieces that did not fit my style / were not a good fit / or were in an unwearable condition.

The end result was 2 garbage bags full of trash, another 2 garbage bags worth of wearable (albeit slightly out of fashion) garments bound for The Salvation Army, and a large suitcase full of clothes (mostly new and unworn) to be sold on Carousell or at flea markets. The Master Purger also made me promise that any unsold clothes left at the end of the year would be bundled up and shipped off to the good people at The Salvation Army so if you guys are the shopping sort, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pop by my account on Carousell (@jessiehhm) and help me cover some of my shopping losses! Or if you’re not located locally, I’m open to shipping internationally so drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you (I have yet to photograph and upload about 90% of the clothes to be sold, so do bear with me if my account looks a little bare at the moment.)

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I also took the chance to reorganise my room and introduce some new furniture – a bedside table and a bookshelf (I don’t know how I survived without them before!) Other new organisational features which I love are this hanging jewellery organiser and these cubes from Ikea which are perfectly sized to hold my hair styling tools and tech equipment. Before this, they were just sprawled out across my floor, wires in a tangle and so on.

Instead of splurging on an polaroid-sized album (those things are expensive!) for the random instax photos I have lying around, I parked them behind the frosted glass of my wardrobe drawers instead. There you go – an instant design feature that conveniently hides my unsightly underwear and showcases all the people I hold near and dear.

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Despite the emotional and psychological trauma of having my clothing collection drastically reduced in the space of 2 days, I must say that my room is a less claustrophobic, more relaxing place to be in now. It’s also helped to define my personal style which has made it a lot easier to choose my outfits and to see all my clothing at a glance. I would definitely recommend this closet detox process to anyone who feels that they have too many clothes, or to someone who constantly feels that they have nothing to wear despite having an extremely extensive clothing collection!

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I’m loving this new change so much that one of my plans for the next year is to learn more about starting a capsule wardrobe in order to create a streamlined closet of good quality pieces that I love that are in constant rotation!

Do you guys have recommendations for reading materials on capsule wardrobes and personal style? If so, leave a comment – I’d love to hear them!