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.

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:

image1xxl-2_Fotor_Collage

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

image1xxl-8_Fotor_Collage3

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 

image1xxl-5_Fotor_Collage2

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 Challenge : Week 1

wardrobe-architect-2015

Last week I spoke a little about wanting to define my personal style and to collate a capsule wardrobe this year – a project on”closet control” if you will. The problem was that I had no idea where to start or how I would implement it. So imagine my excitement when I saw this post by Kristen issuing an open invitation to work through the Wardrobe Architect series with her this year – lucky me!

Kristen has undertaken the very brave challenge of not buying any RTW clothing this year – I don’t quite feel that I have the necessary skills (or time) to rely wholly on me-made clothing as yet so I’m just hoping to be able to keep up with this series and to use what I’ve learnt to focus on making clothes I will actually wear, as opposed to clothes that are simply fun to make!

My plan is to post every Monday about my progress on this series, starting today. Since there are only 3 weeks of January left, I’ll be covering week 1 today, and week 2 on Thursday.  If you guys are interested in joining in, please do! I would love to hear all of your input – often my sister is my only fashion critic, so any other feedback on how I could further define my style, or what would work on my body type would be amazing. Now, are you ready? Here we go!

Week 1 – Making Style More Personal

I found this week’s activity rather difficult – we were asked to reflect on how each of these 7 factors (your personal history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location and body) affect your fashion choices. I had some problems tackling some categories of the worksheet, but was really surprised by how a few of these factors have really shaped my personal style and what I choose to wear on a daily basis!

For one, I had always thought that my activities for the day and the need to dress comfortably played a major role in determining what I was to wear that day. As it turns out, a more significant factor is how I perceive my body and whether I feel that a certain outfit looks and feels good on me. Fit and my body image are probably the main reason why the styles I like on others (and most of the things I pin) are not looks I actually wear in real life.

(Source: Song of Style/A Little Dash Of Darling)

For example, I’ve been loving the midi skirt trend over the last year or so and have actually amassed a number of midi pieces of my own. In my mind it was the perfect piece for a pear shaped person – slim on the top, cinching the waist and flaring at the bottom to hide our child-bearing hips. In reality, I’ve worn a midi skirt maybe twice in the whole of last year, mostly because I thought it looked strange on me. My waist isn’t as small as a model’s and my legs aren’t long enough to even out the longer skirt length without the added height of heels – the end result is that I feel stumpy in them so it never makes it out past my bedroom.

This picture is here because… THAT YELLOW DRESS. Am I the only one who wants to steal the entirety of Taylor’s wardrobe?!

Another interesting discovery is how my culture and religion have impacted my preference for clothing. I’m ethnically Chinese and a Christian from birth – this means that both my culture and religion value modesty and purity. This doesn’t mean I dress like a nun (my bow-back Sabrina crop top is evidence of that), but it does mean that I’ve grown up being lectured by my mom about my “too-short skirts” and “too-low tops”. I’m guessing the nagging actually worked, because some time in University I decided that (1) I didn’t like figure-hugging clothing, (2) I didn’t like short skirts and (3) tube tops and plunging necklines fit me badly and made me feel uncomfortable due to my distinct lack of bewbage.

Like this modern rendition of the cheongsam by Lark & Peony which I wish I could afford

Being Chinese also means that I grew up admiring the classic silhouette of the cheongsam (or qi pao, as some call it), and still do! I think this has influenced my love for clean lines and classic, elegant styles that are both sexy but modest at the same time. I’m talking illusion backs, sheer mesh panels, and sheath dresses that skim your curves instead of hugging them. As Emma Watson once said “The less you reveal, the more people can wonder” – dang, girl!

Are any of you guys joining in #WAChallenge2015? If so, link me down below, I would love to see how you guys are getting on! For anyone else, what do you think of this week’s challenge? How has your background or location (or any of the other factors) impacted your fashion style?

If you would like to follow along with my Wardrobe Architect Challenge journey, here’s a list of all my posts so far:

January

Week 1

Week 2: Defining a Core Style

Weeks 3 & 4: Shapes, Proportions and Silhouettes

Sew Many Sales, Sew Little Time // Black Friday Pattern Sales 2014 Part II

Following on from the my post earlier this week, here’s a quick update on some NEW Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales that have just popped up yesterday and today!

Colette Patterns 

30% off ALL patterns, ending TONIGHT, Friday Midnight PST!

Colette Patterns needs no introduction in the indie sewing sphere; from the Myrtle to the Laurel and their new Dahlia pattern, they’ve had sewists across the blogosphere raving about their easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly patterns and instructions.

Despite the great reviews, I only own one Colette pattern, the Dahlia, which I bought on impulse during their 15% off introductory sale. The thing is… Colette patterns are really quite expensive (U.P. US$14 or $12 for a PDF pattern), and that’s put me off buying any more of their patterns so far. If you’re budget-conscious like me (it sounds so much better than “cheapskate” doesn’t it), THIS IS YOUR MOMENT! CARPE DIEM!

As for me, I’ll be taking this chance to snap up copies of the Laurel and Iris (pictured above) patterns, both of which have been on my wishlist for a long, long time.

Megan Nielsen

20% off all PDF Patterns throughout this weekend!

 

Now to my knowledge Megan doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (her being in Australia and all that) so I was thrilled to find out she was throwing a Black Friday sale anyway! Megan’s patterns were the very first few patterns I bought when I was just starting out, and I would highly recommend them to anyone who likes her style. (She’s also incredibly responsive on instagram, which is so encouraging for anyone who is just starting to discover the wonder that is the online sewing community! Thanks Megan!)

I currently own her Breakwater Collection pattern pack (pictured directly above) which is a set of 4 patterns sold for the price of 3. A great bargain, if you ask me! I’ve sewed up the Eucalypt Tank and Dress and found them incredibly easy to grade between sizes and a quick make (instant gratification ftw). I also have plans to sew up the popular Tania Culottes (two circle skirts that make up a single pair of shorts how ingenious is that?!) and the Cascade skirt before Christmas, so be sure to pop back by this space if you’d like to see how those turn out! I also happen to think her Darling Ranges dress (first picture above) is adorable and have seen many cute versions on instagram so be sure to check that out too.

True Bias

20% off patterns from Friday through to Monday midnight (EST) using the code THANKS20!

Now strangely enough, this offer hasn’t been advertised on True Bias’ official blog / website (as far as I can tell), but it was posted on Kelli’s instagram page, which is official enough for me!

I haven’t made up either the Hudson pants or Sutton blouse as they don’t really fit into my style profile, but I’ve seen numerous makes across the blogosphere and they look awesome! For one, I’m really loving Heather Lou of Closet Case File‘s rendition of the Hudson pants (below) – how on earth these bloggers manage to make a pair of lounge pants look like acceptable daywear, I will never know.

If you’ve been looking for a comfy pyjama pants pattern, or if you want to get into the track pants trend, then you might want to check the Hudson pants out.

Sew Caroline

Sew Caroline has sales from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, with a different sale category on offer for each day!

Friday: 50% off PDF patterns
Saturday: 30% off apparel and accessories
Sunday: 40% off printed patterns
Monday: 25% off EVERYTHING!

I’ve been eyeing the Out and About Dress for a while now, simply because I have a RTW dress that looks almost identical to the pattern and is a dream to wear! I may or may not be adding this to my shopping cart today…

If you follow Sew Caroline on instagram, you would have seen this gorgeous tote (below) posted earlier this week. You guys, if shipping from US / Canada was not insane I would be snapping this baby up in a heartbeat. If you like sewing and a good pun, THIS TOTE IS FOR YOU. (Bonus points if you like Iggy Azalea!)

See Kate Sew

All kids patterns $5, all women’s patterns $10, all paper patterns $15 and all tees and totes going for $15 each!

 

They’ve also got special bundles / packages going for a real steal, so if you’ve been eyeing anything from their store be sure to get over there and check it out!

I personally won’t be picking up anything from the store (student budget woes), but if I had the spare cash, or a kid, I would definitely be grabbing a hold of the children’s patterns or a tote (or two!)

Indie Sew

20% off ALL patterns on Monday, 1 December 2014 from 6am to 10pm MST!

I’ve never shopped from Indie Sew before but have spent many an afternoon poking around their site admiring the collection of pretty patterns for sale. In case you’re not familiar with the site, Indie Sew is a platform that aims to bring together the sewing community and promote the work of independent designers. So if your favourite indie designer isn’t hosting a Black Friday sale this year, fret not! Pop by Indie Sew and fingers crossed, they may have your desired pattern in stock.

I’ve been wanting to pick up Delia CreatesPleated Pencil Skirt pattern for a long time now, so I was really excited to find it available in the Indie Sew shop at a really good price. Time to get cracking on that work-appropriate wardrobe for next year!

McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick & Kwik Sew

And last but certainly not least, the McCall’s company is having a sale on ALL lines through Monday, 1 December 2014! Butterick & McCall’s patterns are going for $3.99 apiece, Vogue patterns are selling at $5.99 each and all Kwik Sew patterns are priced at $6.99 each.

I know shops in the US run sales on Big 4 patterns all the time, but as an international customer it simply isn’t worth the money to ship patterns from a single line (eg. Butterick) as and when these sales come out. Having all these lines on sale at once means that I can bulk purchase and ship them back at a lower cost!

I may or may not have already put in an order for 7 patterns this morning… which may or may not be the following:

Vogue V8784 – a wrap dress for woven fabric

Butterick 6129 – an off-shoulder dress

Butterick 6090 (above) – a pleated button-down dress

McCall’s 6696 – a shirt dress that EVERYBODY seems to be making at the moment

McCall’s 6505 – a lace shift dress

McCall’s 6028 – a sheath dress with raglan sleeves and contrast panel

Kwik Sew 3614 – a structure shorts pattern with fly front (I opted for this instead of B6061 as I heard Kwik Sew has a better crotch curve than Butterick. I’m not too sure how accurate this information is as I’ve never sewed pants… EVER, but I sure am excited to find out!)

And that’s all I have for now! I may update if new sales pop up over the weekend, but in the meantime, GO FORTH AND SPEND YOUR MONEY! MAY THE BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING LUCK BE WITH YOU.