Flora in the Wild

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

Me-Made-May 2015: Days 25 – 31

… And just like that, all 31 days of May have gone by, and with it a whole month of celebrating me-made clothing! This week saw me keeping to my pledge (well, for the most part) and wearing at least one me-made garment a day for 6 out of the 7 days of the week.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A repeat of my Lindy petal skirt on Monday, I didn’t manage to get a picture of it as I was running late and… I had worn the exact same outfit pairing a couple of days before so I wasn’t too fussed about documenting it.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

I whipped out my denim pleated pencil skirt for one more last hurrah before the end of the month and paired it with a black RTW shell top. (I really need to start making more of these generic tops)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Way back in September last year, I sewed up a wearable muslin of By Hand London’s Sabrina dress, and due to all the fitting problems I had with it, I ended up hacking a lot of it up. (I was also a little too intimidated to attempt to remake the full dress pattern again – if you’ve been a regular reader, you’d have seen my hack of the Sabrina dress into a crop top here and here.)

The result is this dress I wore on Thursday, it’s got princess seams that are part of the pattern(still a bit too big in the bust) and a waistline seam that isn’t (from when I removed length from the bodice). It’s wearable, but it’s not my favourite because of the fit and the crummy $2/m fabric I used to make it. I can’t wait to get round to making a proper version of this dress so I can upcycle / bin this one!

That being said, if anyone has any tips from removing bodice length from a princess-seamed dress with no waist seam, PLEASE share them!! I would love to find out how best I should go about doing this!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Fridays at my office are casual business wear, and since I was already in a holiday mood for the long Vesak day weekend, I decided it was time to bring out the party workwear – the Itch to Stitch Emily Culottes. I mostly resisted wearing my pair earlier on in the month because I had gotten it into my head that the broadcloth I had used tended to crumple very easily (and crisply) and would leave lots of butt creases on my behind – a big no-no for client meetings!

As with the Sabrina muslin I wore on Thursday, it seems that it was all in my head (I tend to do that a lot). By the time evening rolled around I had realised that the fabric wasn’t creasing as crisply as I remembered and that any wrinkles that set in were quite soft and looked just like they were worn in from a day of wear. These culottes will definitely be joining my work wardrobe rotation!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Back to the good ol’ chevron skirt for the 2nd last day of MMM, plus a bright hot pink blouse for good measure. I guess my dog got sick of me wearing the chevron skirt because she’s clearly not impressed with it…

Sunday, 31 May 2015

This By Hand London Flora dress has been one of those projects that I started 3 weeks ago but has been left sitting on my sewing table while life caught up with me. But in view of the impending Indie Pattern Month and the indie dress pattern competition running in the first week, I took some time out to finish it off yesterday and this morning, and promptly wore it to church not more than 15 minutes after I had finished pressing it.

I’ll have a post with more information on the Flora dress coming up tomorrow (plus an entry to the Dresses category of Indie Pattern Month) so be sure to come by tomorrow if you’ll like to read about that!

As a bonus, I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in my brand new Flora taking in one of Singapore’s best attractions like a tourist – the two conservatories at Gardens by the Bay. Here are some iPhone snaps to entice you guys to come visit my sunny (and very, very humid) island!

All in all, I’m really glad I took the time to participate in Me Made May this year! (Thanks Zo!) I’ve gotten to meet some really lovely people both here and on instagram through MMM and have learnt a lot about my style and preferences. Here are my biggest take-aways that I will definitely be keeping in mind when I choose my next sewing projects:

1. I NEED more white button-up shirts and generic black A-line or pencil skirts for work. I have only one court-appropriate me-made garment (a black skirt)!

2. More tops! Some shell tops would be great and suitable for both work and casual wear – I’m thinking the Sewaholic Pendrell pattern view C? Also I could benefit from a smart looking cardigan / blazer that is comfortable for long hours in the office – the Grainline Morris blazer in black ponte knit anyone?

3. More dresses! I have way too many skirts, it’s time to make some dresses!

4. Sew all the knits – this month I fell in love with knit garments and how easy they are to whip up! There are a couple of Kitchy Coo Lady Skaters in my future, you can count on it!

PS. Am I the only one who has been buying patterns left right and centre? With all the discounts going on for Indie Pattern Month, new release sales and Memorial Day / Queen’s Birthday sales, I’ve found myself buying and researching new patterns every other hour! I’m currently deciding between True Bias’ Hudsons and Named’s Alexandria Peg Leg Trousers for a pair of woven slimline trousers for casual wear – if anyone has any input / recommendations for that do drop me a comment below!

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!

Me-Made-May 2015 : Days 11-17

Phew, time sure flew by quick! We’ve now just passed the halfway mark of Me-Made-May 2015 and I must say that it’s going a lot better than I expected. MMMay was a bit of a challenge this week as I had a prescribed uniform of black and white (court attire – kind of boring) for several days this week, and over the weekend had a wedding to attend in Kuala Lumpur (i.e. out of the country), all of which I didn’t have any me-made outfits appropriate for the occasion.

Well, less talk, more pictures, I’ll get a move on with showing you what me-made garments I wore this week!

Day 11, Monday

Once again, I started off the work week with my yellow coco banana top – I’m starting to feel that I should make another one of this with a bit less flare in the waist to hip portion. I really like the fit in the shoulders and the bust, but it’s a little too flared to be suitable for tucking into skirts and pants.

Day 12, Tuesday

On day 12 I took my brand new, freshly hemmed chevron knit pencil skirt out for a road test and found it hugely satisfying! If the number of comments and likes on instagram are indication it would seem that a lot of people liked it too! The best part? It cost all of S$7 (US$5.30). The pattern is the skirt back of the free Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt (minus the waistband) which was used in cutting out both the skirt front and back of the chevron skirt without any fitting changes. I got the idea from this Delia Creates tutorial, but decided against using the pleated pencil skirt for it because the pattern is made for woven and I didn’t want to have to fiddle about with picking and tracing a new size (the Lindy Petal Skirt is made for knit materials).

Day 13, Wednesday

Wednesday was a court day (for which I don’t have much appropriate me-made clothing), so I “cheated” by wearing me-made pyjamas instead! Here I am in my Seamwork Magazine Savannah camisole made from bargain bin pinstriped poly cutting out my first ever BHL flora dress in the hopes that I could get it ready before the weekend. (I couldn’t.)

Day 14, Thursday

A court day yet again, but this time I managed to sneak in a me-made self-drafted skirt. I made this skirt right when I started sewing, but completely learnt nothing from the process as I was literally just doing whatever my teacher told me to do without understanding what interfacing, understitching, facing, darts etc were. It was my mistake as well I suppose, as the teacher I had signed up with dealt mostly with experienced sewers and was a lot better at drafting than dealing with beginner sewists. She was lovely though, so I may go back to take some drafting lessons eventually!

That being said this skirt seems to sit far too low – it hangs at the hip rather than the waist or high waist. I’ll need to see if I can rectify that…

Day 16, Saturday

That’s right, I missed Day 15 ): this was because it was another court day without me-made garments, and because I was knocking off work and hopping right into a car to drive into Malaysia, I wasn’t able to wear any me-made items or take any pictures.

On Saturday though, we woke up early, bright eyed and busy tailed, to get some time in playing the Escape Rooms at Berjaya Times Square and getting our hair done in time for the wedding that night. My me-made garment of the day was this Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank in cheap aztec cotton. 

Day 17, Sunday

And last but certainly not least, my Tessuti Pattern’s Ruby Top in pineapple print for the last of the weekend trip and the long 5 hour drive home! These pictures were taken at the National Monument for Malaysia’s fallen soldiers in KL. The place was so serene and beautiful, I highly recommend coming in the morning so you get the light hitting the monument from the side – gorgeous!

(Also, check out those waves in my ponytail – I got a blow-out the day before and my curls lasted all of 2 hours ): still, those waves are pretty nice imo)

And that’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

I also posted a little caption on last Monday’s instagram picture on what me-made-may means to me and how I feel about it! Read it below and let me know if you agree!

 

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

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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!

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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.

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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!).

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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 😀

 

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.

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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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.)

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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?

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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!

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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

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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!!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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– 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.)

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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– 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.

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Denim Never Dies : Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt Pattern Review

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Two makes posted in a week! This must be some kind of new record… I had originally planned to post this earlier, as it was made for the January Challenge over on The Monthly Stitch (my first monthly stitch challenge, hurray!) but it took me ages to get round to photographing it, oh well.

I bought the Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt pattern during IndieSew‘s Black Friday sale last year, as part of my quest to find THE perfect pencil skirt pattern. I hadn’t seen too many reviews of this pattern online, but those who had tried it seemed to love it, so I figured it would give it a shot. It also definitely helped that I couldn’t get Delia’s rose-print version out of my mind (watch out for my own Lunar New Year-appropriate version of it coming up really soon!).

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So I bought the pattern on discount, and I used some of the leftover denim from an earlier A-line skirt to make up a wearable muslin… and you guys, I really liked it. I hesitate to claim I LOVE it just yet because I feel like I haven’t perfected the fit, but I must say this is a pretty darned good pattern. The pdf version also happens to be only 8 pages long, which is a major plus. EIGHT. My taping-paper-hating soul was singing the hallelujah chorus as I printed this out. The only thing that is’t too convenient is that the pattern lines are drawn in colour, which is kind of a hassle if you only have a black and white printer at home, like I do.

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This pattern didn’t fit me right out of the envelope, but that’s mostly my own fault. I overestimated the enormity of my hips and graded out a size 4 at the waist to a size 6 at the hips when I really should just have stuck with a  straight size 4. I ended up using a 0.5″ seam allowance instead of the recommended 0.3″ AND taking a good 0.75″ or so off the sides.

Given my height (or lack thereof), I shortened the pattern by 2″ before tracing it out, but later had to take another 2.5″ off in order for it to hit right above my knees. This made the shape of the skirt kind of weird, so I tapered in the bottom sides to preserve the curve. I still think the sides don’t quite curve right (if you can tell from the sides of the skirt), which is probably due to the extensive fit adjustments I made. I’m not really sure how to fix it though – any suggestions? The pattern actually includes instructions for removing length from the middle of the pattern instead of from the hemline, so I will definitely try that on my next attempt.

This also happened to be my first time lining a garment – it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, though I did end up sewing the lining around the zipper the first time due to a moment of daftness. I used a cheap black polyester that I had bought ages ago and followed the instructions to insert the lining. My only deviation was to hem the bottom edge of lining first, and then hem the skirt over the edge of the lining, enclosing it. I thought it would give it a more professional finish, and it did! Of course, all this professionalism was ruined by my completely insensible fuchsia coloured zip that I was forced to use because I was too lazy to go out and buy a navy one I decided it would make my skirt extra special.

All in all, I think this is a really good pencil skirt pattern, though I haven’t tried very many so do take my words with a pinch of salt! It seems to be drafted more for pear-shaped ladies, so if you’re a member of the pear-gang definitely consider this. And as for working with denim, it was a lot easier and turned out a lot more wearable than I thought it would be. Thank you The Monthly Stitch for being the inspiration for my fabric choice – I probably wouldn’t have picked it otherwise!

P.S. Do you think this skirt could qualify as business casual? My office is fairly formal so I haven’t tried wearing it to work just yet… Oh if you have any suggestions on how to make the fit a little better, please do share them below!

P.P.S. If you’re here from The Monthly Stitch, HELLO and welcome! Please feel free to say hi in the comments (: