Pattern Hacking // Bow V-backed Sabrina Crop Top

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In case you haven’t realised, I may be slightly obsessed with the By Hand London Sabrina dress pattern. I also seem to be riding a severe crop top kick (though I have neither the figure nor desire to be bearing my un-toned midriff in them).

Enter this new franken-garment and my second entry for the By Hand London #Patternhackathon competition: a bow V-backed Sabrina crop top, also affectionately known as the “Sabine top” because it makes me feel like a leggy Eastern European model who walks for Chanel. (Of course I look the exact opposite, but the gorgeous sunset in the background is meant to distract you from my awkward posing.)

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This top was made from a white bamboo knit that I snagged at Chinatown, and is a mash-up of the Sabrina dress bodice, a large V-shaped hole and the Tilly & the Buttons Brigitte Scarf attached as a sash for the tie back bow! On hindsight, I should have taken in the princess seams a little or gone down half a size, given that the back was to be left open and I was using knit fabric this time round… I still think it looks fab though and I’m mighty pleased with the result!

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Hurray for the Pattern Hackathon and I can’t wait to see all the lovely entries by other talented sewists out there!

Sewing // Skirt-Making Lessons at The Workroom

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Picking up sewing on your own is far from easy. I could make pyjama pants (thanks Grandma!), but when it came to things like attaching bias tape and inserting invisible zippers, I was lost. Add to that terminology like “stitching in the ditch”, “interfacing” and “french seams” and it can truly be a mind-boggling affair.

After a disastrous experience trying to pick up drafting from an old school tailoring shop (with a tutor that conversed mostly in mandarin, what was I thinking??), I decided to get myself to a basic sewing class that would familiarise myself with the sewing machine and simple dress-making terminology.  A couple of weeks later, I signed myself up for a 5 week skirt making class at The Workroom and included a field trip to Singapore’s fabric market in Chinatown.

Credits to bukurama.wordpress.com
Credits to ronald-tan.com

I’ll let you in on a secret… the main attraction of the class for me was the field trip. There is nothing in sewing (and I really mean nothing) that terrifies me more than a trip to the fabric shops at Chinatown where the shopkeepers all seem to view me as a youngster who knows nothing about fabrics (which is kind of true actually…). Here’s what a regular exchange with a shopkeeper auntie sounds like:

“What are you looking for?”

“Cotton twill”

“What do you want it for?”

“I’m sewing a skirt” (shows the shopkeeper a picture)

“Cotton twill make this type of skirt not nice one, you must use this kind.”

“But my pattern says cotton twill….”

“I tell you not nice one la, this one better” (At this point my ego has just shrunk 10 sizes and slinked away)

(In a small voice) “Ok… I take that one then”

Credits to bukurama.wordpress.com

You can see why the prospect of following someone with lots of experience to the fabric shops and learning how they choose their fabrics and interact with the shopkeepers would be IMMENSELY attractive to me. And our field trip was everything I expected and more. There’s nothing quite like having someone show you the difference between a light and medium weight fabric, how to identify a denim from a chambray, what cotton gauze vs a lawn or a voile feel like, and what considerations to take into account when buying a border print fabric. I can safely say I learnt a whole lot of things on that one Saturday afternoon that I could not have picked up myself from the world wide web.

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 31, 2014

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 17, 2014

So began my journey in dress-making. The classes (and field trip) were conducted by seamstress Fiona Lee (she blogs about her makes here!) and were a joy to attend. We sewed two skirts, the Wiksten Skirt and Libby A-line skirt. I was mostly behind because I missed a couple of lessons due to an overseas trip and a bout of flu, but Ruth from The Workroom very graciously opened up her studio for my use in her free time and helped me catch up with the rest of the class! Fiona’s instructions and demonstrations were also clear and very helpful, plus she spent quite a bit of time helping me out with fitting (I had cut out the wrong size of the Libby skirt whoops).

After just over 5 weeks, this was the result: two very wearable self-made skirts and one very much more confident sewist!

Photo credits: The Workroom
Photo credits: The Workroom

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If you’re interested in learning dress-making and are based in Singapore, I would highly recommend taking one (or more!) sewing classes at The Workroom. They also run other craft lessons like book binding and calligraphy so look out for those too!

Skirt-making with Fiona LeeEnquiries: info@theworkroom.sg

Posted by The Workroom on Sunday, August 31, 2014

DIY // Adding Side Panels and Width to a Crop Top

The one bad (and pretty major) thing about buying clothes that you haven’t tried on is that all too often the fit is a little off. As a result, I have a whole cupboard full of clothing that I’ve been meaning to refashion or resize. In particular is this ADORABLE little gold and white striped crop top from A for Arcade which I scored on sale. The only problem: it was way too small around the waist – I couldn’t even button it up! (Sadly it had no problems going round my bust but waist was another story #workouttime #smallbustwoes )

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I’m an incredibly lazy shopper. I don’t like loitering around pointlessly in malls looking at clothes I can’t afford, I hate queuing for the changing room, and I feel stressed when making others wait for me when I shop in a group. (Yet I feel stressed making decisions without a second opinion!!! Anyone else have this infuriating problem?) It’s not surprising that I do most of my shopping online instead – ASOS, Zalora, blogshops – my own virtual shopping heaven from the comfort of my bed.

The one bad (and pretty major) thing about buying clothes that you haven’t tried on is that all too often the fit is a little off. As a result of this I have a whole cupboard full of clothing that I’ve been meaning to refashion or resize. In particular is this ADORABLE little gold and white striped crop top from A for Arcade which I scored on sale:

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I envisioned it paired with pencil skirts and denim high waisted skinnies, but was disappointed when I received my order and found it way too small around the waist – I couldn’t even button it up! (it’s telling that it fit round my bust but not my waist #workouttime #smallbustwoes )

I looked around for an online tutorial on how to add width to crop tops but came up empty, so I did a bit of freestyle fiddling and this was the result:

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Pretty good for a beginner attempt I think! Keep on reading to see how I did it-

TUTORIAL: ADDING SIDE PANELS / WIDTH TO A CROP TOP

Materials and tools needed:

A crop top to resize

Unpicker & Scissors

Fabric for the side panels and matching thread (I used white bamboo knit, it’s slightly lighter than double knit but a whole lot more stable than jersey)

Sewing machine

Pinking shears (or an overlocker if you have one!)

Steps:

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1. Pick apart the side seams of the crop top.

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2. Cut a piece of fabric as tall as the height of your crop top plus seam allowances (I used 1 inch) and as wide as you estimate you will need to extend one side by. (I estimated the width needed and just snipped off the excess after!)

3. With right sides together, sew the fabric to your crop top along the side seam. Because I was using a knit, I used a tight zig-zag stitch.

4. Hem the top of your fabric to match the height of your crop top.

5. Put on the crop top and facing a mirror (or enlisting the help of a significant other / sewing buddy) pin out the excess fabric along the side seam. Do the same on the other side.

Because my crop top had darts in the front already, this was a matter of just pinching out the excess along the contour of my body and pinning it.

At this point, take off the crop top and check that it looks like this:

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Also check that the side panels on either side are roughly equal (mine are off by about a cm but it’s not very noticeable!)

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6. Stitch up the side seams right sides together, using a zig-zag stitch if you’re using a stretchy fabric.

7. Hem the bottom of the side panel to match the rest of the bottom hem of the crop top.

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8. Finish the seams any way you like – I pinked mine because I figured the knit wouldn’t fray much.

9. And don’t forget to press your seams! Mine looked awful till I did.

Voila! You’re done! Your formerly too-small-to-breathe-in crop top now fits perfectly.

And you guys I’m so in love with mine. I’m already planning all the outfits I can wear it with! (Sadly there is a dearth of high-waisted fitted skirts in my closet – I will have to rectify that ASAP!)

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Anybody else have suggestions on how to resize too-tight tops? (ooh checkout my alliteration)

Pattern Hacking // By Hand London Sabrina Dress Crop Top

I love the boat neck collar and that it’s not overly tight (though it does pull a little, I haven’t figured that bit out yet) and major love for it being completely work appropriate with a high-waisted pencil skirt! I also put in a slightly curved hemline to mimic the (inverse?) dip hem that’s been so popular on crop tops recently. Plus I totally intended to put in that peek-a-boo slit at the back… or maybe the only zipper I had on hand was a couple too inches too short… you will never know 😉

Sabrina Crop Top wide

Given my choice of career that has me spending 9 hours a day behind a desk in a (rather formal) office, you would think that my closet included more business-friendly attire – it doesn’t. My dress rack is full of prints and lace, skirts that toe the line between casual and business and t-shirts. Lots and lots of t-shirts.

Enter the Sabrina Dress. By Hand London’s new offering is a modest, princess seam dress targeted at beginners that (hallelujah!) is of a completely work appropriate length and style. My wearable muslin is also mighty comfortable but I have yet to experience what an actual make will be like.

I did make up a muslin of this dress but sadly it was too long in the bodice and wide on the sides (I lopped it all off but am now wondering if I should have done an SBA instead…) so I made the necessary alterations to it and sadly, it looks nothing like the dress is supposed to look anymore. It is wearable though! And I absolutely love it. Still, I think I’ll wait for the Sabrina sew-along to start proper before I give the dress another go…

In the meantime, spurred on by the ongoing #PatternHackathon, I hacked myself a nifty Sabrina crop top instead!

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I love the boat neck collar and that it’s not overly tight (though it does pull a little, I haven’t figured that bit out yet) plus this top gets major love for being completely work appropriate with a high-waisted pencil skirt! I also put in a slightly curved hemline to mimic the (inverse?) dip hem that’s been so popular on crop tops recently. Oh and I totally intended to put in that peek-a-boo slit at the back… or maybe the only zipper I had on hand was a couple of inches too short… you will never know 😉

I was so enamoured by the top when I first made it that I put it to the ultimate comfort test – taking my crazed dog for a walk. If I could walk my dog in that top and it didn’t fall apart, then I could do anything! Pigs could fly, spiders could tap dance!

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I’m glad to say it passed the test. Naturally, we celebrated with cake and coffee.

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I’m looking forward to making more of these beauties, maybe the next one in double knit? I’m pretty sure it will be a closet staple for quite some time to come. Have any of you guys tried the Sabrina dress pattern? Any tips on getting it to fit right?

DIY // Disneyland Outfit – Minnie Mouse Costume

An easy and functional DIY Minnie Mouse outfit for a day out at the Disney Parks that is guaranteed to get you a ton of compliments.

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Halloween is here again, so what better time to put out this DIY costume tutorial? We don’t have the practice of trick-or-treating on this side of the globe, but luckily I had this baby in my arsenal from my recent trip to Disneyland Paris! (Clearly being over the age of 12 has never stopped me from exploiting any excuse to whip up an embarrassing costume.)

Some of you guys MAY have seen this tutorial on an old blog of mine, but I thought I would take the chance to repost it with new photos for my inaugural post on JessSewFabulous.

Read on for my outfit details and more photos after the jump!

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When brainstorming for my Disneyland Paris outfit, my concerns were: level of difficulty, suitability for running after characters and taking rides and not looking like an overzealous adult who refuses to acknowledge that a ballgown at the park just isn’t tasteful when you’re above the age of 5. I ended up with this:

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A black crop top with a short elastic waistband circle skirt (using Dana’s tutorial) in a Minnie-esque polka dot print. I realise that the polka dots are a little too small to be considered “true Minnie” style, but I was hoping to make something that could be re-worn under more normal circumstances. I topped it off a pair of clip-on Mickey Mouse ears that I bought on a previous visit to Disneyland Tokyo and I was all set! Or so I thought…

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What I didn’t plan for, was rain. And we had a LOT of it… 3 whole days of non-stop rain, to be precise. It was also cold – so cold that I actually bought an emergency pair of black leggings at Carrefour to tide me over the next 3 days. This was the result:

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Black leggings, Minnie skirt and a trusty waterproof jacket. In a bid to amp up the Minnie-ness of my outfit, I included a Brigitte headscarf made using the same fabric as my circle skirt and the Tilly and the Buttons tutorial. I snapped the ears onto the headband and voila! A one of a kind Minnie headscarf that was functional and fashionable – it didn’t fall off even on the more violent rides.

And you guys, this get up may have been my best outfit choice of the YEAR.

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I got SO MANY compliments from park staff and from actual characters themselves, including Minnie (via hand signals of course) and both Wendy and Peter Pan *squeals*. (Peter also opined that it looked rather like Smee’s and naturally, wanted to stab me in case I was a pirate. Luckily Wendy managed to disavow him of that notion)

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I also added in a couple of tiny details, like this Disney Princess charm bracelet that I bought from Etsy and this portrait bracelet that E picked up at St George’s Market in Belfast.

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If you’re a fellow disney fan and you’re visiting one of their parks soon, I highly highly recommend you take the time put together your own unique outfit. If you’re lucky you could get extended interaction time with the characters, plus the satisfaction of being called “Minnie” all day is pretty hard to beat.