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!

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. 

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!

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 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?

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 (:

Aztec Australian : Megan Neilsen Eucalypt Tank Pattern Review

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I posted any makes up on the blog – partly because I hardly got any sewing in last month, but mostly because I’ve been so preoccupied with the Wardrobe Architect series. Actually, I’d like to hear what you guys think: are you enjoying the Wardrobe Architect Challenge posts or would you like to see more sewing and less chattering about my personal style (which I can’t imagine too many people would be interested in…)? Let me know in the comments below!

Anyhow, this make was made a good 6 months ago and is actually my second ever handmade garment! I only got around to photographing it proper a couple of weeks ago, but this tank top has become a firm favourite in my closet and is on constant rotation.

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This pattern is the Eucalypt Tank and Dress pattern from Megan Nielsen, a brilliant Australian designer and an all-around awesome person (I’m talking about her like I know her, but I really don’t. I wish I did though! If this recent blog post of hers is anything to go by, she sounds like a wonderful person with really a big heart.)

I discovered her patterns when I spied the Tania Culottes and Cascade Skirt floating about on the blogosphere, so it was a no-brainer that I opted for her Breakwater Collection pattern pack that got me 4 patterns for the price of 3. #WIN

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The Fabric

Did I mention how cheap this make was? The fabric cost me S$2 per metre – that’s US$0.80! Granted, I did get it from the clearance rack of a random shop in Chinatown so it’s not the most comfortable fabric, but that aztec print! How could I not love it? Plus when I posted it on instagram and wore it out I got a ton of compliments so… it’s a winner already.

The Pattern 

This pattern was a quick and easy make. I had no trouble at all grading from an XS in the bust to a S in the waist as per my measurements (woe is the small busted pear) and found the instructions clear and simple to follow, which is a serious understatement. These instructions are so good that a complete sewing noob like myself managed to execute french seams without even knowing what a french seam was. Are you mindblown? I am (on hindsight).

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The main thing I would have done differently is to cut a straight S as the XS was a little too tight across the chest for a casual woven tank top. I did like how the close fit across the bust and almost A line shape toward the waist gave me a little more shape than I would normally get from a tank top though – I probably wouldn’t have gotten that effect had I sewn up a straight size S. Alternatively, I think this problem may have been managed by making the arm holes a little bigger as they did cut a bit too high.

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Subsequently I made up the dress version of the Eucalypt pattern, but didn’t love it. I felt that it was too shapeless and overwhelming on my short frame – it looks great on the model though, so maybe it would work better on a taller person… or with heels. It doesn’t really matter to me anyhow, this pattern is already a favourite for the tank top version alone.

By the way if you thought I snuck my way onto a movie set, I didn’t! I visited Universal Studios Singapore (for like the 7th time) last month, so I took the chance to coerce my boyfriend into snapping a few photos for me. I’ve got a ton of photos from my visit, so watch out for a short post on it soon!

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The fake jersey boys are countin’ on you