LEARN // Shirtdress-Making with Fashion Makerspace

 

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Hello hello! It seems that every time I start a blog post I seem to be apologising for an absence… things have been slightly crazy in this neck of the woods – I had my wisdom teeth removed, the family has been in a frenzy over my sister’s upcoming nuptials and work was a beast – in other words, LIFE has been happening as per usual. Some really exciting stuff is in the works though! I’m currently putting the finishing touches (which means hand-stitching an enormous circle skirt *cries*) on my evening gown for my sister’s wedding and I’m JUST beginning work on my own wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses *squee*! Since I’ve obviously got wedding on the brain (and on my instagram), I’ve been toying with the idea of a series following the progress of my handmade wedding (#Stitch&GetHitched maybe?) – how ’bout it folks! Would that be something you’d be interested in? Drop me a comment / message and let me know!

Okay okay, enough of my babbling – we all know you’re really here for the sewing stuff. Way back in March this year, I reviewed Fashion Makerspace’s basic pattern making class and mentioned that I had signed on for the intermediate series of classes focussed on the drafting and sewing of a shirtdress. This is the result – a labour of love, this baby is double layered shirtdress with a fancy 2 piece collar and tower sleeve plackets that has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe. It’s perfect for those “dressy-casual” days where you have to look presentable but don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard – usually church or casual Fridays at work – and the best part? You can put in any amount of ease that you like whilst drafting which means this beauty is BUFFET-OPTIMISED. Oh yes, I could eat a cow in this thing and still look respectable. That, my friends, is the mark of a good dress.

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Like the basics course, this intermediate course lasted 10 weeks of 2.5 hours each. I took the classes with 2 other ladies and had both Dan Lin and Hailey teaching us at the same time. As before, Dan Lin taught the drafting segment and Hailey the construction portion, but both of them were well equipped to give us pointers on any parts of the course that we needed help with. I cannot stress enough how brilliant this teacher to student ratio is – essentially, this meant that even though I had a little more drafting and sewing experience than my fellow classmates, I didn’t feel hampered by the pace of the class since I could get advice from one instructor whilst the other was helping another student out! This is particularly wonderful if you have lots of random (and usually irrelevant) questions like moi (#sorrynotsorry).

What this also means, is that even though the class is pitched at an intermediate level, you could probably get by even as a confident beginner sewist with only a little drafting experience under your belt. You may have to work a little harder at the drafting stages to catch up with the basics of drafting a bodice block, but the luxury of having a small group lesson will go a long way to helping you to truly understand the drafting and construction process – as opposed to simply following instructions.

 

 

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Personally, I found the construction segment to be a lot more challenging than the drafting bit – possibly because I had never attempted shirt-making before. That being said, the ladies at FMS really do make an effort to walk you through every step of the process from the interfacing to the top stitching and they will do whatever it takes to ensure your shirtdress comes out looking like a success. Trust me on this! My chosen fabric – a Robert Kaufman Lightweight Chambray Shirting – was so sheer that I had to do a fully lined version of the shirtdress that required some serious thinking on Hailey’s part to figure out (whoops paiseh). The only boo-boo that they couldn’t undo was the exceptionally large space between the 7th and 8th buttonholes of my shirtdress – not very smart of me, I know. (Immediately after screwing up I went out and got me one of these – they are a dream to pleat with let me tell you)

In my previous review, I wrote a little about how it was a pity that the course couldn’t factor in some time for a muslin fitting. It’s understandable, of course, that a toile-fitting process just isn’t practical given the limited amount of time that the students have to draft and sew up such an involved garment. However, having garnered a little more sewing experience, I’m really starting to appreciate the importance of doing a toile to work out all your fitting issues before producing the final product – I also tend to learn a LOT about my body quirks and fitting techniques whenever I do. In this case, I was lucky and got a near perfect fit on my first try – but if you do decide to attend one of FMS’ classes (and if you have the time and sewing experience), I would highly recommend doing up a toile of your draft in your own free time before cutting into your fashion fabric. I’m sure the ladies would be more than happy to help you address any fitting issues you encounter!

 

 

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All in all, I would definitely recommend this class (like duh, given how in love I am with my new shirtdress *insert a bajillion heart eyes emoticons here*). The great part is that I now have a ready draft so that I can produce this over and over again, in various iterations – sleeveless, tunic, maxi etc etc. Just be sure to write down the drafting and construction steps after every lesson – one of my classmates did this and I wish I had had the foresight to do the same! The construction process has so many steps that I wouldn’t be able to replicate it exactly without guidance the next time around – looks like I’ll be looking to the Grainline Archer shirt or Sewaholic Granville pattern for help with that!

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Class title: Sewing & Pattern-making INT: Work-Shirtdress  – The next round of lessons is actually slated to start in just over a week – go and check it out if you’re interested!

Class duration: 10 lessons of 2.5 hours each

Class size: I believe it varies, but for my class it was 2 instructors to 3 students.

What do I get out of it?: A ready drafted shirt-dress pattern with lots of pattern-hacking potential! We’re talking mandarin collars, sleeveless shirtdresses, blouses, maxi… AND a first-hand demonstration of all those fiddly shirt-making construction techniques (like the age-old Burrito method).

Would I recommend it?: Judging by how much I’ve been wearing my shirtdress, of course! Good things must share, you know!

Disclosure: FMS offered me a discount to try the class and if I liked it, to write a review on the course – as always, however, all the opinions expressed on this site remain 100% my own.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pattern & Fabric Choice

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

 

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Sizing & Pattern Review 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEWING // 70s’ Faux Suede Mini Skirt – A Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt Hack

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As any one who follows the fashion bloggersphere would have noticed, the 70s’ button-down suede skirt trend came back into fashion in a BIG way late last year / early this year. Maxi, midi, mini, you name it – as long as it was brown suede and had buttons down the middle some fashionista out there was wearing it. I’ve been loving and lusting over all those gorgeous suede skirts for ages now but never got down to scoring one for myself – so when I heard that the theme for this year’s Indie Pattern Month included a Pattern Hack week, I knew I had to give it a go!

Pattern Choice & Alterations

I wanted to start with a simple A-line skirt pattern as a base and alter it accordingly. Having tried out the Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt Pattern once before (which is free!!), I knew that it had a silhouette that was similar to the RTW versions I had seen and that it would be easy enough to pattern hack.

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The Libby Skirt originally has a side zip closure on the left and has a waistband facing all around. My plan was to eliminate the zipper and add a functional button placket down the centre front instead. I made no changes to the skirt back (cut 1 on the fold) or to the facings apart from cutting the front facing as 2 pieces rather than on the fold. As for the front skirt piece, I created a 3cm wide button placket and cut 2 pieces instead of 1 on the fold. I did this by shifting the centre front outwards by 5.5 cm – an additional 1.5cm for the left half of the button placket, then another 3cm for the placket facing and a last 1cm as the seam allowance for the placket to be folded over and top stitched down. The pattern piece looked like this (below) when I was through – pretty neat if I do say so myself! I also had lots of guidance using this very helpful tutorial.

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My only mistake was trusting the pattern measurements instead of making a muslin and test fitting the garment during construction. I knew from my previous experience with the pattern that the pattern ran big – so when my measurements placed me in the middle of a size 8 and 10, I went with a straight size 8. BAD MOVE – had I tried on the skirt I would have found out that I should have cut a size 6 instead! I ended up taking out about 1/2″ from either side seam as it was way too big.

Fabric & Notions

Of course for a true 70s’ mini skirt I had to go with faux suede! This doe coloured faux suede was picked up for a steal from a furnishing fabric shop called Toko Liman along Jalan Malioboro in Yogyakarta. It’s wonderfully soft and the sheen is mesmerisingly multi-dimensional. It’s also easy to sew with although it doesn’t iron well and tends to crease a whole lot while wearing!

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As for the lovely buttons down the centre front – they were repurposed from a favourite Zara sweater of mine which is still in active duty but is simply impractical to wear regularly because of the tropical heat over here. Even with the pattern hacking, button hole making and button sewing, this was a really fast make and amazingly satisfying to sew. My only word of caution would be that the Tessuti Libby pattern runs big, and to be sure to try on the skirt before finishing to avoid having to do the massive amounts of unpicking I had to resort to to take the waist in! Other than that, this is a great skirt base from which to create lots of hacks – especially as there are only 2 darts in the back!

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It’s been so great to seeing all the pattern hacks over on The Monthly Stitch this IPM – head over to check it out if you haven’t already done so!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 2)

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Hello again! Me-made-may is back again and I’m taking part for the 2nd year running with my pledge to wear or use at least 1 handmade item a day. Last year I did weekly round-ups but as I was sick in bed for a good part of the last week, I figured I would do one big summary at the end of the entire month. Feel free to play along with me on instagram at @jessiehuen if you like! How about you guys, anyone taking part? Drop me a message below if you are and I’ll be sure to check you out (“how YOU doin’?”) on instagram or flickr!

As per usual, me-made-may is making me incredibly conscious of holes in my me-made wardrobe  – most conspicuous of which is my lack of appropriate office wear. I know I lament this EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. but it’s a sad fact of life that vast majority of patterns I have are very casual in style and anything of a more formal nature takes ages to whip up (my go to Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt excluded of course).

ENTER THIS SPANKIN’ NEW PATTERN FROM MEGAN NIELSEN: THE AXEL SKIRT.

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I had the wonderful opportunity to help pattern test Megan’s latest pattern, the Axel Skirt, earlier this year and loved the results! If Megan’s posts are anything to go by, she’s made a ton of these skirts – and now, so have I! At the current count, I’ve made up 4 of these skirts – 1 version 2 and 3 version 3s, although rightfully, 2 of these turned out to be unwearable/unintentional toiles that had to be sent to the recycling stash. I would love to talk about all 4 of them in a single post but I’ve just typed it out and realised that (as usual) I have too much to say – so look out for part 2 of this post featuring version 3 tomorrow!

My first test of the pattern was version 2 – the knee length option with the hip sashes. I thought it was really cute and on trend (check out this anthropologie beauty here) plus the shape was very similar to an existing knit skirt I have so I knew it would work for me. And… I was right! The fit for this view of the skirt was spot on for me, even with the addition of lining, and the length was appropriate for work and church – the 2 measures by which I decide if a garment is considered ‘decent’ and fit for polite company.

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Fabric – I spent quite a while trying to figure out the best fabric to use for this pattern as I wanted something versatile (for maximum mix-and-matching) but not boring, and suited to the pattern design. I ended up picking this extremely lightweight mid-grey cotton jersey with a faded effect and colourful flecks sewn into the weave. The only problem was that it was wayyyy too sheer! Eventually I decided to line the entire skirt (except the sashes) using a cream poly jersey crepe to give the main fabric a bit more heft.

Alterations – None, apart from lining the skirt. I cut a size S and cut 2 of every pattern piece – 1 of the main fabric and 1 of the lining, apart from the hip sashes. I didn’t baste the main pieces and linings together as I was wary of causing any pulling in the main fabric, but I treated both lining as main fabric as a single piece and constructed the skirt as set out in the instructions. I even lined the waistband as I was sure that the main fabric without any elastic wouldn’t be sufficient to hold up the weight of the skirt. If I had to remake this skirt using the same fabric, I would probably have inserted wide elastic into the waistband to provide more support.

Fit – As I mentioned the fit was spot on, although it gets just a tad too tight after too much snacking. My only peeve was that the sashes if attached at the hip (as indicated in the pattern) and tied in front, eventually end up too low as the fabric stretches as the day goes on. I would probably try to attach them to the waistband or across the waistband and hip the next time. One other change I would make would be to narrow the waistband as my short and thick waist means that wide waistbands can end up looking stumpy on me.

What I loved: That it’s reversible, what a quick and easy make this was and how easy it is to wear. My preference is to wear it with tops tucked in – in fact I paired it with this self drafted peter pan collared top (below) to give you an idea of how it might look with Megan’s recently released Sudley top! Elegant, non? MOST IMPORTANTLY, how effective the hip sashes are at hiding my 12 week old food baby!

Now, if you’re still up for it, head on over to Part 2 to read more about my thoughts on version 3 of the Axel pattern!

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

Pattern Testing // Itch to Stich Lisbon Cardigan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Moved! Still Sew Fabulous but now at Huenmade.com!

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Hello from Yogyakarta (& Mount Merapi)! I’ve got a big announcement today which has been a good 6 months in the making… that’s right, JessSewFabulous is now Huenmade.com!

Why “Huenmade” you might ask? Apart from the fact that it was somewhat embarrassing whenever I disclosed my blog URL to strangers (it’s equal parts punny and humiliating…) and my surname when mispronounced (the only persons who pronounce it correctly are my relatives and boyfriend) sounds somewhat like “hand” – I wanted a more generic blog title to represent all the different forms of creating / making that I enjoy!

Half a year ago, I took stock of where I intend to go with this blog and my sewing career. One of the things I decided was that I wanted to be more intentional with my blogging (writing and reading were my first hobbies after all!) and to create a home for documenting all the different forms of creating / making that I’ve picked up over the years – writing, sewing, crafting, calligraphy and photography. I’m conscious that the bulk of you – friends and readers – have been here to follow my sewing journey and that you’d prefer to keep this space exclusively for posts about sewing. If that’s the case, fret not! I have no aspirations to turn this into a lifestyle blog – my focus will still be on sewing, but I plan to throw in posts about my other making hobbies on a monthly basis, which hopefully will be a good balance!

On an aside, I’ve also made the move from wordpress to squarespace, so unfortunately I will no longer be able to access the wonderful wordpress community or have my posts seen on it – I will miss you guys! If you like my posts and want to follow along, do follow me on Bloglovin’ (search Huenmade.com!), on instagram (@jessiehuen) or sign up for email updates! I would love to keep in touch so fee free to drop me a comment or like a post anytime!

That’s all I have for you guys for today, it’s been a good run as JessSewFabulous but here’s to bigger and better things on Huenmade.com! See you on the flip side!

New Year, New Skills: Sewing and Pattern-making Basics at Fashion Makerspace

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Has it been 4 months since my last post?! (Bad, bad blog owner!). When I last wrote in November, I had grand plans for a Christmas outfit (didn’t happen), a New Year outfit (also, didn’t happen), a Chinese New Year outfit (miracle of miracles, this one actually materialised) and Christmas presents for family and friends (all of which, did not happen… lol). The truth is, towards the end of last year and the start of 2016, I completely lost my sew-jo. It happens to the best of us, I suppose.  At first, I was overloaded with work commitments, then I went on a couple of overseas trips and more recently, my family has had to deal with the loss of a very beloved grandfather. Though no one was pressuring me to post or sew anything, I spent the entire period being weighed down by self-imposed sewist and blogger’s guilt. That made my time away from the machine even more stressful! So this year, I’ve made a resolution to slow down, enjoy my hobbies to the fullest and not to stress out over them. If I get home late from a long day of work and cutting out pattern pieces feels like a chore – I’ll leave it off till another day. If I feel really crummy about having to set my alarm for 6 in the morning just to photograph my latest make before work – it can wait till the weekend. Hobbies are for leisure and enjoyment and I sure want to keep them that way! ^^

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That being said, I haven’t been completely out of action these last 4 months. Last year, I visited the lovely ladies from Fashion Makerspace (FMS) for the first time and spent an extensive part of our meet-up bemoaning the lack of pattern-making classes in Singapore outside of the formal design schools (who charge an arm and a leg by the way). Imagine my glee when a little while later I got an invite from FMS to try out their new Sewing and Pattern-making Basics class (!!) which was targeted at beginners. This meant that I would be drafting a full outfit from scratch based on my own measurements and then sewing it up over the course of 10 lessons – I found this astounding. As a complete beginner I had previously taken a pattern-making class (conducted in Mandarin no less… who was I kidding?!) which took me no less than 5 weeks to complete the drafting and sewing of a simple A-line skirt. That FMS’ plan was to finish a full outfit in 10 weeks seemed a little ambitious to me. I was wrong, of course; all of us in the class finished the entire syllabus within the 10 weeks with time to spare. If you’re interested to hear more about my experience with FMS, then read on below!

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I attended a total of 10 lessons (2.5 hours each) from November 2015 to January 2016 which covered the drafting of a bodice sloper, skirt sloper, reverse peter pan collared blouse and A-line skirt, as well as the construction of both the blouse and the skirt. The drafting and construction ran concurrently throughout the course – this meant that we began with the skirt sloper and the skirt draft, and then tackled the skirt construction whilst simultaneously learning to draft our bodice slopers and blouse drafts. I thought this lesson structure was really helpful – one week we were learning about drafting concepts and the next we were seeing them in action being translated from our paper drafts into 3-d garments. Nothing like seeing theory in practice to drive home a point!

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Would I recommend this class to anyone else? Definitely! I was in a class with 2-3 other ladies who had very little experience with garment sewing and they did superb. Even as a fairly confident sewist, I took away a lot of new information on things I thought I knew well – like setting in sleeves and sewing darts! All 3 of the ladies who run FMS are professionally trained and have experience working in the fashion industry which means that they have a wealth of knowledge both in pattern-making and sewing that I shamelessly took every chance to tap on (and which they were totally nice about!) >< Some of the completely random out of syllabus tips I got from them included – their favourite fabric shops, serger troubleshooting, small bust adjustments, the best places to buy certain elusive notions, feedback on one of my unrelated drafts… the list goes on! (A big thank you to  Danlin and Hailey for being so patient and tolerating my gazillion irrelevant questions!)

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My only complaint (if you can even call it one, given that it’s mostly my own fault) is that I don’t care much for the eventual blouse I ended up with. For one, I made a poor fabric choice in picking a cotton lawn that was both too lightweight to hold the weight of the collar and wrinkled like crazy (all that wrinkling you see up there was from putting on the garment sheesh). Second, the reverse peter pan collar isn’t really my style. I did have the option of leaving off the collar but I wanted to get in some practice inserting the collar and then was wayyyy too lazy to unpick it. Lastly, as the course didn’t build in time for toiles/muslins, we had very little time for fitting.  This meant that the top I ended up with is a little too tight around the armholes – which you can see from the pulling around my bust and shoulders.My draft has since been adjusted based on my feedback, so I’ll definitely give it another shot! As it is, I’ve already put my bodice block to good use in self-drafting a new dress for Chinese New Year – watch out for a post on that coming next week! As for the skirt, it’s perfect for the office (roomy enough to hide my lunch belly and tight enough to look business-formal) which makes it a winner in my books!

Tldr; 

Class title: Sewing & Pattern-making Basics: Womenswear

Class duration: 10 lessons of 2.5 hours each

Class size: I believe it varies, but for my class it was 2 instructors to 3-4 students.

What do I get out of it?: A bodice sloper, a skirt sloper, a peter pan top with keyhole neckline, an A-line skirt and patterns for both these garments made to your measurements. Oh and a skill upgrade and new friends, of course!

Would I recommend it?: But of course! I’m already in the midst of taking classes in the next instalment – the intermediate pattern-making and sewing class for a shirt dress. I learnt a ton and I’m sure you would too!

 

Disclosure: FMS offered me a discount to try the class and if I liked it, to write a review on the course – as always, however, all the opinions expressed on this site remain 100% my own.

Zebras at the Zoo // Seamwork Adelaide Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unintentional Sleepwear – Seamwork Savannah Camisole

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Hello all you lovely people of the inter web! This is a fairly short post today, partly because I’ve blogged photos of this top before, together with my orchid-coloured Hollyburn skirt, but mostly because this was a dud make and I’ve long since forgotten the specifics of the pattern size I used and whatnot.

When I was sewing up this camisole, I envisioned it as a trendy pinstriped type top that could be paired with pencil skirts for work and culottes or a circle skirt for a casual day out. I rummaged through the stash and came across this super silky, luxe looking pin-striped poly satin that I got from a remnants bin in Hong Kong – for some reason (I blame it on work-related fatigue), I thought it would be perfect for my purposes.

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I rushed through sticking up the pattern – the Seamwork Savannah Camisole – and breezed through the sewing with minimal issues, finishing the top just a mere 2 hours before I was due to catch the ferry to Bintan for a weekend away. Naturally, I was feeling pretty baller about my fantastic new make and mighty pleased for pulling it off in time.

Imagine my horror when my ever-supportive boyfriend informed me with his usual tact that it looked rather like sleepwear and was I sure that I wanted to wear that out in public…? Unfortunately, he was right (for once) – the shiny-ness of the fabric did make it look rather like lingerie even if the pinstripes were oh-so-trendy. Woe betide my pinstriped blogger camisole dreams; this was one make I would not be wearing out on a regular basis.

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This make has since been retired to the home wardrobe and I do wear it from time to time – especially when I feel like being fancy on a night in! Well you win some and you lose some, I think it’s important to document your failures as well as your successes – everybody has their off-days and as a beginner sewist, I often need reminders that practice (whether with fabric selection or sewing skills) always makes perfect.

The pattern itself was a very simple, functional pattern that is great for basic woven camisoles. I may need to pinch out about half an inch in the front neckline, but I really appreciated the Seamwork instructions for fitting the length of the straps – RTW camisoles always hang too low on my body!  I’ve already got some new (a lot less shiny) cotton to make up a second version in for my upcoming trip to Aussie this December and will definitely take note of any alterations I make this time. In the meantime if anyone has any white/cream and black pinstriped fabric to recommend, PLEASE send your suggestions my way via the comments below! You will have my undying gratitude and the satisfaction of helping me fulfil my handmade fashion blogger dream 😉