Love at first whirl : A Sewaholic Hollyburn Pattern Review

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First up, thank you to all of you who have been voting for me in the various Indie Pattern Month 2015 and Sew Sweetness competitions this past month! I’ve been so pleasantly surprised to have snagged a bunch of goodies and I can’t wait to sew them up to show all of you. As of now, I’m just waiting to see how I do in the Imagine Gnats Shorts on the Line competition in conjunction with Kollabora where I’ve entered my Emily Culottes from earlier this year. If you fancy helping me out with one more competition, then pop over here and cast a vote!

Okay, I know y’all are really just here for the clothes, so on to business now!

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This is an old make (well, 2 months old at least) which those of you following my instagram would have seen during Me Made May, but it’s by no means an unexciting one. You know how there are certain garments that you’re really excited about at first but after a while get a little bit boring or too troublesome to wear? This isn’t one of them.

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I snagged this gorgeous bright orchid coloured panama stretch suiting at Spotlight when it was on sale for 50% off with the express intention of making up a Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt with it. I had been drooling over this orchard circle skirt made from polyester suiting by Merrick’s Art for almost a year now, and I decided to blatantly copy it. Hurray for originality!

I hadn’t made up the pattern before but was sufficiently convinced by the gazillion rave reviews about it and how easy it was to make up that I didn’t bother with a muslin (oh who am I kidding, I never do up toiles anyway!) In any case, my instincts were right on this occasion because straight off the bat this skirt fit beautifully. I made it up based on my waist measurements alone, and it sits at the perfect spot on the high waist for a midi skirt! #winning If you’re looking for an impressive beginner entry-level skirt with pockets (!!) and is easy to fit, then this pattern is a great place to start.

This is the Sewaholic Hollyburn in View B, with absolutely no pattern alterations. The skirt hits right below the knee, which is just slightly manageable on my 5′ 3″ frame if I wear a pair of kitten heels. So far I’ve worn this skirt to the theatre, to work, to church, and I shot these photos of it on the beach – there basically isn’t ANYWHERE that I can’t wear this beauty to.

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Okay, confession time: when I was cutting out and sewing up this make, I was really pumped up about making this the nicest me-made garment I would own. I would hand stitch the waistband! (which I did) I would try out hong kong bias binding on the centre seams and all other seams possible! (which I did too, with some gorgeous floral bias tape from Daiso) I would french seam everything and anything in sight! (which again, I did) But then I got tired after a long day of sewing, and then the little sewing devil on my shoulder seized the opportunity to whisper in my ear “Didn’t you buy some iron-on hem tape the other day? Come on, give yourself a break, you can always rip it out and hem it properly later…” So I did. What can I say? The mind was willing but the body was oh, so so weak. Also, I was hungry and I’m slightly guilty to admit this, but food > hemming any day. This picture that I snapped for Fashion Revolution day says it all – a real pity because it would have been so gorgeous otherwise! Someday I’m going to rip out that hem tape and finish off this skirt properly (yeah right)… until then, I can deal with the contrasting nude hemming tape and the fact that it can be seen peeking out from half the photos I’ve taken in this set… *deep calming breaths*

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… Someday I will also finally sew on the tabs and fabric-covered buttons I’ve already prepared for this make but until then… I’ll live.

I’ve already got a navy one in the same fabric cut out and waiting to go – I just have to find time to sew it all together! Should I make one in an even brighter shade, a la Novita’s BRIGHT NEON ORANGE AWESOMENESS? Let me know what you think below!

All Wrapped Up : Papercut Patterns Coppelia Cardigan review

I’ve been a lean mean garment churning machine this past month! In honour of the 3rd week of Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch, I’m back with another new make from a new-to-me pattern designer – Papercut Patterns!

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I first noticed Papercut Patterns a while ago (I mean, who could miss them, they’ve had quite a few blogger crazes running for their patterns over the last few years – Soma Swimsuit, Ooh La Leggings, Rigel Bomber and who can forget? The ever-popular Clover Dress) but never got round to buying one of their patterns because they seemed a tad out of my budget, even with the free shipping. So when Papercut Patterns offered a storewide discount in honour of the Queen’s birthday this year, I simply couldn’t say no. I snagged myself copies of the Coppelia cardy and the Clover dress straightaway, though I wish I had gotten myself more of their patterns now!

After seeing all the gorgeous iterations of Coppelia cardigans out there, I was dying to get one of my own. I loved Elizabeth’s merino ones  (the frequency with which she wore these things during me-made-may had me having serious cardigan envy!) and Amanda’s purple version, but it was really Lauren of Lladybird’s four (yes, FOUR) coppelia cardys that really convinced me that it could have a place in my wardrobe. Look at her in that bright red merino coppelia with her hair up and looking all classy and shit – I could totally use some extra glam over here!

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The only thing that bothered me was that the Coppelia is really meant to be worn done up (or else it would just be a very strangely shaped shrug with too long waist ties) and I almost never wear cardigans worn up – it’s just way too hot over here on the equator! I really wanted my version of this pattern to be wearable as a top and to be short sleeved so that I could wear it as an everyday office staple – this meant that there could be no gaping, it had to be secure (wardrobe malfunctions in the office are a big no-no) and it had to be comfy.

The result? This beauty. I paired it with my Lindy Petal Skirt to show you what a classy little number it could be – this pairing also makes me look much more shapely than I actually am, aren’t wraps amazing?

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Fabric

I am incredibly pleased with this make, though it does seem a little too formal for the office and due to the print can basically only be worn with plain dark neutrals. As this was very much a test garment, and because reviews seemed to indicate that the stretchier a fabric was the less gaping was likely to occur, I opted to make it up in a stash polyester jersey that I had gotten from the bargain bin of a shop in Hong Kong.

Pattern

This pattern ticks all my boxes and it was a quick and easy make to boot! Even though my measurements put me at an XXS for the bust and XS for the waist and hip, I made a straight XXS after reading a bunch of reviews that said that the pattern ran large.

The only difficulty I had was a bit of confusion relating to how to finish the neckline binding. In the pattern instructions, it says that excess of the neckline binding is to be snipped off if it’s too long for the front wrap bodices. My confusion was how the neckline binding was to be finished – was it meant to be attached to the waist ties (i.e. cut at an angle such that the bottom edge of the front bodice is in a continuous line with the neckline binding) or finished separately? In the end, I went with the former method and I think I got it right, it was tricky though figuring out how much excess to snip off and at what angle the excess needed to be removed.

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Alterations

As for the sleeves, this was a simple alteration of taking 9 5/8″ off the sleeve, folding up the raw edge by 1cm and hemming it. I opted not to use cuffs on this version.

Well, that’s all from me this week – but I do have a backlog of new makes to show you all, a real first for me! So how about it, do you like wraps or hate them? Is it actually possible to wear the Coppelia undone? Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below!

Casual Co-ordinates : Eucalypt Tank and Angelia Shorts

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Hey y’all! I’m so pleased to have had the chance to take part in the first challenge of Indie Pattern Month 2015 over on The Monthly Stitch, and by some miracle I actually won 2nd place! Thanks to all who voted, and I’m so glad that you liked my wild and whimsical Flora dress.

This week I’m back again (and just in the nick of time!) for the Separates competition with a cropped Eucalypt Tank, and a little sneak peek of a not-yet-released pattern from Itch to Stitch – the Angelia shorts! Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Eucalypt Tank pattern by Megan Nielsen

If you’ve been following my sewing journey for a while you’d have remembered my first Eucalypt Tank made out of some cheap Aztec print cotton that I scored from the bargain bin in Chinatown (in Singapore). If you know me in real life, you’d probably have seen me wearing it, oh, just about every other weekend or so. It is by far the best and closest fitting woven tank top or shell top I own, even if the material is kind of stiff and does feel a little too tight around the arm holes. So when I decided to whip up a cropped tank, it was a no brainer that the Eucalypt pattern was the one for me. (It also helped that Holly made this adorable crop top and midi skirt set using the Eucalypt pattern last year and I’ve been dying for one of my own ever since.)

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This is an incredibly simple pattern with great results – only 2 pattern pieces,front and back! Plus bias binding strips if you aren’t using store-bought ones. The instructions are very simple to follow. This was one of my very first makes that I attempted before knowing very much about sewing – I remember reading about french seams months later and realising that I had already done them before just by following the instructions in this pattern! If that’s not a sign of clear directions, I don’t know what is.

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I wish I could give you a bit more details on how I hacked the pattern, but in all honesty, I just winged it. I put on my first Eucalypt and measured how much I wanted to take off from the hemline – this length is about 3 fingers above my navel. I also had a little problem because my eyelet fabric was scalloped, and I wanted to keep the beautiful selvedge as my hem. This meant that I had to even out the curved hem of the Eucalypt and make it straight all the way around instead. If I remember correctly, what I ended up doing was measuring 10cm up from the hem of the side seam, and drawing a perpendicular line from that point, straight across both the front and back pattern pieces. I left the top unlined in spite of the eyelets because they were too small and sparse to be revealing.  I also raised the neckline and armsyces, but ended up wearing the top back to front as I liked the high neckline in the front and the scooped neck at the back instead. I can’t tell the difference – can you?

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Tldr;

Pattern: Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank 

Size made: XS at the shoulders and bust, grading to a S at the waist

Alterations made: Raised the neckline and armscyes, cropped length, evened out the hemline

Fabric and Notions: Less than a metre of black cotton eyelet fabric with a scalloped hem and store-bought black bias binding 

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts 

This pair of nautical shorts was a tester version I made as part of Kennis’ testing process for her upcoming release – the Angelia Shorts Pattern. I was provided the tester version of this pattern free from Kennis for testing purposes, and she’s kindly agreed to let me use them for the Separates challenge! (Thanks Kennis! On a side note, all opinions on this pattern are completely my own.) This is the view A version of the shorts, ie. the simplest version sans pockets or belt loops. There are two other version of the Angelia that include all the bells and whistles – coin pouches, tabs, cuffs, patch pockets and welt pockets – you name it, it’s probably somewhere in the pattern. If you would like to be kept posted on when this pattern is being released, be sure to sign up to the Itch to Stitch group on Facebook for updates.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the pattern as yet, as I’m planning to save that for a later post after the pattern has launched. But I WILL say that this pattern is completely manageable for a beginner or a beginner+, it’s my first ever pair of shorts myself! You may notice that my fly zip is kind of messy – that’s completely my fault as I misunderstood the instructions. I did raise this up to Kennis and she was very quick in taking in my feedback – from what I understand that step will be clarified in the final version of the pattern. If you’ve ever made up an Itch to Stitch pattern, you’ll be familiar with how comprehensive the instructions are. If you haven’t, I would strongly strongly encourage you to get the free Lindy Petal Skirt pattern and see for yourself!

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Pattern: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts pattern, view A (not yet released) 

Size made: Size 4

Fabric and notions: Some kind of cornflower blue printed cotton with a waffle-like texture, a 7″ regular zip and a hook and eye

I can’t wait to get some wear out of both these pieces – either separately or together! I would have liked to make the crop top a little shorter to suit the high waist of the shorts, but I wanted a versatile piece that could be worn with my mid to low rise jeans and shorts as well.

What summer sewing are you guys embarking on? All the shorts, sundresses, maxi skirts and bikinis popping up on the blogosphere have me dying to ditch my work clothes plans and make holiday outfits galore!

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: Week 1 Round-up

What an eventful 10 days it’s been! If you’ve been following my blog or my instagram, you’d undoubtedly have noticed me hashtag #MMMay15 , heard about my Me-Made-May pledge or seen me wearing my me-made outfits over the last 10 days.

Before MMM I didn’t use to wear my handmade garments a whole lot, even though many of them were wardrobe staples or could easily be worn on a daily basis – I seem to be more of a “cake” than “icing” person in that sense. Maybe it was a lack of confidence in my workmanship, or perhaps I felt that certain makes didn’t fit me right, I’m not quite sure anymore. All I know now is that since the 1st of May I’ve been wearing at least one me-made garment a day and have been loving it! If the last 10 days have been any indication, I think MMM is going to be a roaring success in helping me to get over my me-made clothing insecurities and in proving to myself that a handmade wardrobe is most definitely achievable!

Day 1

I spent the labour day weekend on a beach holiday in Bintan with a group of friends so what could be more appropriate for the occasion than my beloved Tessuti Patterns Pineapple Ruby Top! This is one favourite that I always reach for on casual days.

Day 2

Still in Bintan, Indonesia, and this time spending the day lounging by the pool and on the beach. My garment of choice was a self-drafted kimono throwover made of some kind of polyester that I picked up in Walthamstow last summer.

Day 3

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The beach bumming continues in my as-yet unblogged Seamwork Savannah Camisole made from some kind of shiny slippery (I think poly?) fabric that I got from some bargain bin in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. Also featured today is Mr Fabulous (LOL he’s going to kill me for that one) because it happened to be his birthday that day.

Day 4

Back to the daily grind in my yellow Coco Banana Top (Tilly & the Button’s Coco Top in a yellow double knit) to the amusement of my colleagues. For context, I hardly ever wear colours at work – I mostly stick to a neutral palette of black, grey and navy – I guess this is another positive consequence of MMM!

Day 5

Throughout the last 10 days I’ve become acutely aware of the lack of work-appropriate tops amongst my handmade collection – this is the latest addition which has yet to be blogged. For Tuesday I opted to wear my new Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse in view A made from a cobalt blue and purple bird print chiffon, underlined with navy cotton lawn. I made this originally for the April The Monthly Stitch challenge, but have put off blogging about it because it doesn’t feel right. This is one make that I’m not loving – for one I put in one of the sleeves wrong, and for another I feel like the sleeves overwhelm my frame. I’m more used to clean cut sleeves or normal sleeved tops and generally tend to avoid frilly or ruffly sleeves… I’ll have to think about this one, but I’m quite convinced that I’m going to end up taking the sleeves off and changing it to a View C instead – what a pity!

Day 6

Hump day in my denim Delia Creates’ Pleated Pencil Skirt! This was one make that I did up but never wore to work (although that was the intention of making it in the first place!) because I felt that it didn’t fit right. I don’t know what gave me that impression because when I put it on again this time it fit like a glove and is by far the most comfy pencil skirt that I own! I suspect it has something to do with the pictures I took – lesson learned: don’t just rely on pictures to assess fit, and if you do, for goodness sakes stand still and stop twisting about!

Day 7 and 8

Confession time: I wore this skirt two days in a row because it was JUST SO COMFY. Also, because I had a client meeting on Friday and the outfit I had had in mind for casual Friday was just too casual for it. This is the new Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt which I just blogged about earlier this week! I’ve had a ton of really nice comments about it already so if you like it too then be sure to head on over to Itch to Stitch and download the pattern – it’s free!

Day 9

Saturday is by far my favourite day of the week – no work and Monday is a whole day away, what could be better?! Plus I usually spend some part of my Saturday with either of 2 cell groups I attend and it’s always great to spend meaningful time in fellowship with friends and God. For Day 9 I wore my Tulip Skirt made from some unidentified navy cotton fabric that feels of a similar weight to broadcloth. It’s also embellished with adorable double yellow buttons that I scored at Portobello Market last summer, and yellow topstitching (both of which were suggestions by Fiona over at Fiona Makes, thank you!). The general feel of the skirt is just a little too twee for my taste, so I’ve hardly worn it since making it. Again, I’m so glad for MMM because wearing it for a full day yesterday revealed just how comfy it is!! You can definitely count on seeing more of this skirt pattern on the blog in the future.

Day 10

Happy Mother’s Day to my momma and all other yummy mummies out there! For church and Mother’s Day lunch today I wore my refashioned / altered crop top and a teal midi skirt I bought in Hong Kong. I ended up regretting not wearing something with an elasticated waistband after being faced with this mountain of food:

Doing Mother’s Day brunch right – GO BIG OR GO HOME #hokkienmeecoma #orhluahmadness #thehuens

A photo posted by jessiehuen (@jessiehuen) on May 10, 2015 at 12:35am PDT

And that’s the round-up of week 1! If you’d like to see what I’m wearing for the rest of Me Made May then be sure to follow me on instagram (@jessiehuen) or to check back here every Sunday! Fingers crossed I’d have come up with a better photo taking routine so that I can stop awkwardly begging friends to take them for me (I’m not going to have many friends left at the end of this…)

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)

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

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

Week 3: Exploring Shapes 

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

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

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

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

Somewhat Fitted or Somewhat Loose Tops that hit above the hip 

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

ALL types of cardigans (except very fitted ones) 

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

Week 4: Proportions and Silhouettes 

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

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

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

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

Sleeveless, Loose Tops and High-Waisted Pencil Skirts 

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

Structured top and high-waisted shorts 

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

Shift or Swing Dresses

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

Loose top and Skinny Jeans or Jeggings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wardrobe Architect 2015 : Week 2 – Defining a Core Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timeless, Modest, Practical and Understated

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

Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge : Week 1

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

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

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

Week 1 – Making Style More Personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January

Week 1

Week 2: Defining a Core Style

Weeks 3 & 4: Shapes, Proportions and Silhouettes