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…)

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 😀

 

Me-Made-May 2015: I’M GOING FOR IT!

I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post… but have been hemming and hawing over the exact conditions I want to place over myself for this challenge. I’ve been following the fabulousity that is Me Made May for a year or two now, but have only recently felt ready to tackle the challenge of curating and actually wearing a me-made wardrobe for an entire month!

Oh well, here goes nothing:

“I , Jessie of jesssewfabulous.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear one me-made garment or use a me-made accessory each day for the duration of May 2015.”

I’m beyond excited to really be challenged this coming month and to see what I can come up with over the next couple of weeks! I’ve got lots of outfit ideas and posts on new makes coming up so I hope you guys are looking forward to that 😉

But for now, a lot of my stitching is going to be “boring” sewing (eg. hemming UFOs, fixing zippers, sewing buttons) in preparation for MMM, so I suppose I should be glad for the push that this challenge is giving me! Wish me luck 😀

The Working Girl’s Wardrobe (& Plans for The Wardrobe Contest)

It’s one of my big goals for this year to take part in Me-Made-May… the only problem is that most of my me-made clothes are casual garments, and I will inevitably be spending a large part of the month of May sitting around an office. This means that as of late I have been focussing my sewing efforts on creating a me-made work wardrobe that I would feel proud to let my colleagues (& bosses) see me in.

Since the #WAChallenge2015 assignment for the month of March is to identify holes in your wardrobe and make plans to fill them in, I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to sketch out a rough plan of the work outfits I want to have made by the time May rolls around. It also helps that the folks over at PatternReview.com are clairvoyants of some sort and have very obligingly assigned The Wardrobe Contest as the competition of choice for the month of April!

2015 Wardrobe Contest

This means that in the next 6 weeks or so, I will be sewing a grand total of 9 garments: 4 tops, 3 bottoms and 2 garments of choice. I’m part terrified, but also really excited (though I do have this niggling doubt at the back of my mind that I’ll be able to get all of that done in such a short amount of time).  Nevertheless, as good ol’ Churchill said “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”, so plan I shall, and plan I have. If you’d like to see what I’ll be sewing up in the next couple of weeks, then keep on reading!

In addition to the difficulty of the make, my main consideration was practicality and whether I would get actual wear out of my me-made garments. I thought about the kind of clothing I currently wear to work, and the various factors that may impact whether a certain item of clothing gets more heavily rotated than others. These were my choices:

Tops 

THE PLAN: 2 x Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse, Colette Laurel Top and Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Though I love me a nice shirt, I’ve never made one before and so I thought it would be too much of a challenge to produce a good quality one in the limited time I have. Also, given Singapore’s sweltering heat, I tend to stick with short or sleeveless tops most of the time which is why I’ve opted to make 2 Pendrell tops. I might change my mind though, if I figure out how to take the sleeves off the Oakridge… a sleeveless pussy-bow blouse sounds right up my alley!
Bottoms
If you’ve been around here a while, you may have noticed that I’ve been on a pencil skirt kick recently, beginning with this denim number and more recently, the poinsettia pleated skirt. As much as I like Delia’s pattern, I just feel that the proportions aren’t spot on for me. I’m still on the hunt for a great pencil skirt pattern and I’m grabbing this chance to make up two highly raved about patterns – BHL’s Charlotte and Sew Over It’s Pencil Skirt patterns.
I also can’t wait to sew up the Hollyburn which I’ve been putting off FOREVER. I already have the perfect fuchsia poly suiting for it – CAN’T WAIT.
Sewist’s Choice
One of the requirements of the Wardrobe Contest is that all items sewn have to match each other. This is where the versatility of the Oslo Cardigan comes in. Plus, with the estimated total production time being a mere 2 hours, it will go a long way to helping me meet my target 9 garments.
As for the dresses… quite frankly it’s a toss-up between the two. I haven’t muslined either of the dresses, so I feel slightly inclined towards the Laurel since I would have fitted it as a top already. However, I will be attending a cousin’s wedding in May that I’m dying to wear the Emery dress to… talk about first world sewing problems.
So that’s it! My very brief sewing plans for the upcoming weeks. Wish me luck – I’m so excited to get started!
PS. Can you believe that ALL of these patterns are from my pattern stash?! If all else fails at least I’d have conquered some of my “to-sew” list.

Culottes Conundrum // Styling the Emily Culottes

Up till recently, I would not have been caught dead wearing a pair of culottes. It’s not that I hated them – in fact, I loved everything about them… except when they were on me. The thing about culottes is that they have the very real potential to be the most unflattering garment ever. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve put on a pair of wide-legged culottes only to take them right off again because (a) it made my child-bearing hips look bigger than they already were and (b) the below-knee length made my legs look shorter than ever before! It wasn’t long before I wrote this trend off as a “model-only” look… but I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

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Some of you may have been following along with my wardrobe architect journey (soon to be continued – I’m sorry it’s been a while!), and it’s been really helpful for identifying the kind of silhouettes and shapes that work for me. When trying to decide how to style my Itch to Stitch Emily Culottes, I applied some of the concepts I learnt through the WA Challenge and realised it makes a HUGE difference when I follow a few simple styling rules that I’ll be sharing with you guys today.

Now I’m not claiming to be a style expert and I’m not saying that all these tips will work for everyone – the aim of this post today is to share a little about the styling rules I’ve employed to make the culottes trend work on my 5′ 3″ pear-shaped frame. I’m hoping that these tips will help encourage some of you to give this trend a shot and will be useful in helping you to figure out what works on your body and what doesn’t! Alright, ready? Here we go!

Rule #1. Dark colours on the bottom, light on the top.

Let’s start with basics, shall we? Everyone knows that dark colours have a slimming effect and light colours have a broadening effect, but sometimes we forget that this applies to loose clothing as well.

As you can see from my first version of the Emily Culottes, I was too romanced by the idea of white culottes that I forgot my own rule and made one up in a oyster-toned cream. Below you can see what a huge difference a dark top and light pants make to my appearance as compared to a lighter coloured top and dark pants.

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Rule #2. Always mind your proportions. 

This is something that a lot of you may have heard of or already apply in your styling. Personally, it took me 23 years to even begin to understand this concept and I’m still learning more about it every day! Your proportions play a huge role in determining how you appear – we can look shorter or taller, bigger or leaner, more bootylicious or less, all based on how we allow our clothing to dictate our proportions.

Credit to Style Makeover HQ.com

For instance, if you know you have a long torso, wear your culottes higher waisted to balance out your proportions. This should also have the added advantage of letting the culottes sit at the smallest point of your waist, thereby accentuating the fit and flare silhouette. Conversely, if you have a short torso, wear them at your natural waist or lower to make it seem like you have a lower waistline and to balance out your longer legs (lucky you!).

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I included two pictures of Posh (aka VB aka Queen of Not-Smiling) so that you could see how wearing a pair of culottes higher waist or lower waist makes a difference to a person’s proportions. Note how Posh looks like she has a slightly longer torso in the middle picture, and a slightly stunted torso in the right hand side one. (I can’t believe she looks great in both photos, what IS she?!)

Rule #3. Fit & Flare

Fit and flare is one way I manage my proportions and balance out my figure. Since culottes are usually flared or loose fitting, I pair them with a fitted top to balance out my figure. The interesting about culottes for pears, is that if your culottes are structured and voluminous enough, they can actually hide the size of your hips! Paired with a fitted top, this means that you will overall look slimmer.

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My favourite look is to pair my Emily Culottes with a crop top (though this houndstooth one reveals a little too much of my belly for my liking), as it doesn’t need to be tucked in and therefore eliminates bulk at the waistline. This creates an illusion of a slimmer waistline (when measurements-wise, I don’t have a clearly defined waist!) which is always a good idea.

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If you’re uncomfortable with fitted tops or crop tops, then by all means pick a longer top with a looser fit! Just make sure your top is fitted at the shoulders or the sleeves, like this boxy top below…

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

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I’ve seen quite a few pictures on pinterest where culottes are styled with an oversized top and sweater – and those people look great! But from what I’ve experimented on myself, that style doesn’t work for me, as it only seems to add bulk on my frame. Nevertheless, if you think that style works for you, go for it! It’s all about what you feel good in.

Rule #4. The longer the pants, the higher the heel.

This is a rule that I live by and apply universally across ALL my outfits. As I mentioned in one of my Wardrobe Architect posts, long bottoms (i.e. below the knee) create the appearance of shorter legs. By wearing heels, you restore your proportions and create the illusion of a longer leg. (Plus, if you’ve got thunder thighs like me, heels also help to create the appearance of a longer, leaner leg.)

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Compare how I look wearing heeled loafers vs flat loafers in the picture above. It doesn’t look bad, but my legs look longer and overall, I look more proportionate in the left picture than on the right. (These pictures were taken within an hour of each other… I have no idea why I look so different??)

Also, is it just me but does wearing culottes with flats automatically make one seem like they’re either channelling the boho vibe or the japanese look?

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There’s nothing wrong with the boho or japanese styles, but they just aren’t for me. If you love them, then more power to you! You get to wear your culottes with comfy flats while my toes get pinched and blistered for the sake of vanity (cue crying emoji).

Note: Conversely, the shorter the hemline, the lower the heel. When a skirt or shorts hits more than 2 or 3 inches above the knee, I opt to wear flats – this helps to tone down the skankiness of the outfit and is also a LOT more comfortable! This may be why I am able to get away with wearing kitten heels in these pictures – because my culottes are only knee length!

Rule #5. Experiment on yourself!

And last, but certainly not least, if there is only one rule you should remember… it’s that there are no rules! I know this is extremely lame and cliched, but it IS true. Nobody should dictate how you dress, or what you feel comfortable in – what’s important is that YOU feel good about how you look.

Some of the places you can look to for help are fashion websites or pinterest for inspiration on how to style your clothing – just remember that what works for fashion bloggers and models may not look or feel right on you or me, which is fine! With a little time and experimentation you’ll be able to identify what shapes and styles look good on you, even when it’s someone else wearing it (psst, this also helps with online shopping!). I’ve put together a pinterest board of culotte styles that I really love and will be trying out here – check it out if you’re interested!

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Plus… if you’re loving my culottes, the pattern is still on sale over on Itch to Stitch’s website! To read my review on the pattern, click here

If you’ve got a pinterest board of your own or recommendations to style or fashion blogs, feel free to share them with me in the comments below, I would love to see them! Also, if you would like to see more of these posts or recommendations on articles for proportions and styling that I’ve found useful, shout out and let me know!

Note: All photos used in this post that do not belong to me have been sourced from my pinterest board here.

Culottes Convert // The Itch to Stitch Emily Culottes Pattern

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I’ve always straddled the line somewhere between tomboy and girly girl, so it’s little surprise that growing up culottes were my favourite thing ever – a skirt that allows me to climb over railings and won’t expose my granny underpants whenever a gust of wind comes my way? YES, PLEASE. Sadly, culottes went strictly out of fashion in my teen years and eventually were eliminated from my wardrobe… UNTIL NOW.

I’ve been watching the culottes trend with great interest since they first started emerging in high street fashion last Spring, and while I was convinced that wide-legged, midi length trousers were going to be a fashion disaster on my short pear frame, I really wanted one. Needless to say, when Itch to Stitch Patterns put out a call for pattern testers for the Emily Culottes, I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, Kennis decided to allow this rookie (me) into her team of experienced pattern testers and the rest is history. You guys, I love these culottes SO MUCH and I hope you’ll give the pattern a try so you can love it as much as I do!!

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This was my first time using an Itch to Stitch pattern, and straight off the bat I found a whole lot of things I like about it. For one, the pdf pattern allows you to print in layers – this means that you can print a single size to piece together; or you can print as many sizes as you like to grade between! Another plus are the great instructions included – I had no problems at all following the instructions (and trust me, I followed them for every step, because I wouldn’t have known what to do without them). I especially like the invisible zipper insertion technique which I had never employed before – it got me my first perfectly aligned waistband across a zipper!

I opted to make the simplest version of the Emily Culottes possible ie. no pockets, waist tabs or waist tie, no lining and shortened by only 1.5cm, as it offered a classic, clean, almost tailored look that I was looking for. If I make this up again (and I’m sure I will) I’d probably attempt the welt pockets – seeing all the beautiful welt pockets by the other pattern testers have really whetted my welt pocket appetite!

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I made up 2 versions of the culottes – first the white in shot cotton, then the navy in broadcloth. As you can see from the white version (above), the shot cotton ended up wrinkling really easily and you guys, these wrinkles WILL NOT COME OUT. I have tried to press the life out of this thing, but the wrinkles will not budge… so I suppose this make is destined for the refashioning bin.

As for the navy broadcloth version – is it an exaggeration to say that it has made me a complete culottes convert? (Alliteration, yeah!) It does wrinkle when I sit, but it irons out easily and is a lot less wrinkle-prone (and cheaper) than the shot cotton I used in the earlier make.

For the navy version, I cut and sewed a straight size 2. This resulted in the culottes sitting at the natural waist, but due to my long torso and short legs, I wanted it to sit at my high waist instead. To do this, I took out about 3/4″ from the centre back seam and redrew the curve back into the original crotch curve.

A word of caution: the waistband is cut on the bias, which means it can stretch out a LOT if you’re not careful. This happened to my white pair, which caused it to sit on my hips rather than my waist! Kennis has helpfully written up a couple of posts with some helpful tips on handling the waistband here.

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I think this is a really versatile pattern which is easily customisable according to your personal style. I tend towards a more classic silhouette and due to my height, prefer a shorter length (knee-length). Despite this, I can easily imagine this pattern being lengthened to make true midi culottes, or shortened with an added pleat to make a pair of mid-thigh skorts. If you’re worried about whether or how these culottes will / can work for you, then remember to swing by here next Monday for a post on the different ways I’ve styled these culottes for my petite pear-shape!

In the meantime, Kennis is having a sale on this pattern for US$9.60 (U.P. US$12) here! She’s also giving away a copy of the pattern for free so if you’re a giveaway lover (I know I am) then be sure to enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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And now I leave you with this wannabe-Vogue accidental-mohawk shot for your viewing pleasure. Come on now, any garment that lets you get THAT much movement in whilst still looking somewhat classy is a keeper amirite?

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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Coco Banana // Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top Review

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When I was about 8, I had a friend who had a “Copabanana” phase. This means she sang that one line from Barry Manilow’s Copacabana – “At the Copa, Copacabana” over and over again, but as “Copabanana” instead of “Copacabana”. Clearly it was annoying enough to scar me for life, because I still accidentally sing the wrong lyrics today. So when I sewed up a yellow Coco Top last December, the natural choice of name was “Cocobanana”. #sorrynotsorry

I’ve briefly mentioned in an earlier post how fast and easy the Coco pattern is to sew up, but I never in a million years dreamed that I would be able to sew it from cutting to pressing in 4 hours and still find that I had done a decent job on finishing the hems. As some of you would have seen on my instagram, I rushed out this baby in a single afternoon between sitting for an exam paper and hightailing it to the airport to catch a flight to Hong Kong.

 

 

But let’s start from the very beginning shall we? I first saw the Coco when I became interested in sewing early last year and discovered the existence of sewing patterns (you’d be surprised how many people think all homemade garments are drafted by the sewists themselves!). Being very much a pear-shaped lady I didn’t think the A-line shape of the top would work for me as I felt it would accentuate my already ginormous hips, much in the way peplum tops do. Even after sewing it up in my size and trying it on (with the jeggings above), I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a good match for my body shape. It was only after getting a second (and third!) opinion that I decided to leave it as it was and test it out on my Hong Kong trip.

And how I loved it on that trip. I loved how fitted the top is – the armholes are a good fit and the sleeves are slim and makes my very un-toned arms look thinner than they actually are. Even the bust area needed no SBA! The only thing that I might change is to take a wedge out of the neckline as it tends to gape a bit (would that be a narrow shoulder adjustment? I’m not sure of the terminology).

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In terms of outfit combinations, I knew it was a keeper when I tucked it into a pleated skirt I had and it looked like a great basic fitted/ structured tee that wasn’t too boxy for my liking. While I do still have misgivings about pairing my Cocobanana with jeans, after reviewing the photos above I feel it just about passes the shorts-matching test. I’m pretty sure this pattern is going be one of those that keeps on giving – and I haven’t even made up the dress version yet!

On to construction – like I mentioned above, the top came together in no time at all. The instructions were clear, helped along with Tilly’s sew-along on her blog, and I loved that the sleeves were sewed in flat, it’s SO much easier for beginners. Since the recommended fabrics are low-stretch knit fabrics, like ponte knit, that means it sews up more or less like woven fabric – none of the pesky problems that come with lighter weight jerseys, hurray!

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As for alterations, I sewed a size 2, grading out to size 3 at the waist and hips. It was the first time I tried any sort of alteration on paper before sewing up my muslin and I found this pattern really easy to grade and to blend between sizes. In addition, I referred to Tilly’s tutorial to create this summery short sleeved version of the top.

Like I said before, I would most definitely recommend this pattern to anyone, even a complete beginner! I really don’t think it matters that this pattern is for knit fabrics, the instructions are so clear that it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

The Emergency Christmas Dress

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Belated Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone!

It’s been absolute chaos this festive season, with my boyfriend’s cousins coming to visit and a whole whirlwind of family, friend and church events. Christmas is always a rather hectic period, though I thought I could escape it this year by planning early… I was wrong. In fact I shouldn’t have been surprised that one morning last week I found myself without anything to wear to a dinner party that evening and with no time to go out and buy one (I was busy prepping the decorations and so on).

I may or may not have been particularly anxious to procure a new outfit due to the photobooth that was to be was at the party that evening. I know social media makes it seem like photo booths are a dime a dozen nowadays, but unless you’re a celebrity, they really aren’t!  You guys understand, right? It’s about carpe diem! Seizing the day! Vanity and narcissism didn’t even factor in my desperation (and if anyone says otherwise, ignore them).

Frantic with nothing-to-wear-induced-exasperation, I ran to my closet and pulled out these two pieces which I’ve had for well over a year but never wore.

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I love the accordion skirt of this piece from Love, Bonito, but kind of hate the cowl neck of the bodice. I suspect this has something to do with my lack of boobage and the lifeless way this dress hangs on my body – kind of like someone decided to drape a dead fox around my neck. I have no idea when I got this piece, but I must have been delirious to have bought something so unsuitable for my style or body shape.

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This romper on the other hand, I had high hopes for when I bought it in Bangkok. I loved the print of the fabric and was shopping for rompers at the time (I have since given up hope of finding one that is flattering on me), plus it was marked at wholesale price, so I snapped this up straight away. If you know anything about shopping in Bangkok, you’d know that trying on of clothes at places like Platinum Mall aren’t allowed, so there was no way I could have seen this coming. It turns out this romper was much too short on me – leaving half of my behind exposed for the general public to ogle at! It had to go.

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I wasn’t too sure if what I had planned would work, but I was hopeful as both the pieces are elasticated round the waist (no zips yay!) and are of similar fabric weight. The skirt was also fully lined which helped a lot. I also hated the pieces in their original form so it wasn’t too heartbreaking to have to cut it up.

After half an hour of pinning, sewing and pressing, this was the result! And I have to say, I’m really pleased with it.

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The back view even has a really sexy slit down the middle, which I love! It can be pinned closed if I feel like wearing regular undergarments or left open if I’m can be bothered to put in the extra effort to dress properly.

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I wore it to my party that night and again to the Midnight Eucharist service at church so all in all, I’ve already gotten a ton of utility out of this make. Plus I think it’s the perfect casual party length and style, just look at these pictures! It really holds its own against other RTW outfits I think (of course it’s the franken-child of two RTW garments but let’s just pretend I made it, shall we?)

Did any of you have to do some last minute sewing this Christmas?

 

 

Casual Christmas // DIY Poolside Party Kimono

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Christmas around the equator (and I suppose the Southern Hemisphere) is always a slightly strange affair. Instead of a white Christmas with warm fires, I’ve watched enough episodes of Bondi Rescue to know that Australian Christmases often come with white sandy beaches and copious amounts of sunscreen. In Singapore, this also means that end-of-year parties are a somewhat more casual affair, with barbecues, shorts and flip flops, as opposed to heels, party dresses and faux-fur coats – it’s just too hot and humid to bother  with nice dresses and make up!

Honestly, this makes me more than a little jealous of you people with sub-27 deg C temperatures. (All you people who say you would love to have summer temperatures year round clearly don’t know what you’re talking about!!!)

So this year, I decided to amp up the glam factor with a simple kimono throwover that is both functional and goes a long way to making a blouse and shorts combo look more presentable than it actually is. As I found out at a recent family stay-cation at the Hard Rock Hotel, it also doubles up as a cover-up for the beach or the pool – don’t you love multifunctional clothing??

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I made the kimono using this easy tutorial by Leanne Barlow. If I remade this pattern, I would definitely shorten the length as I found it much too long on my 1.62m (5′ 4″) frame. Other than that, this make was really quick and simple, made even easier using my new rolled hem foot that really helped with the finishing of the sleeves, collar and hem!

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I’m seriously thinking of making a couple more of these in lieu of cardigans using knit fabrics, maybe? A kimono jacket like this would also make a great handmade Christmas gift for a stylish friend or family member if you don’t have enough time to sew up something more detailed.

Have you made or are you planning to make one of these? Oh and how are you guys down under planning to spend the holidays? I’d love to find out!

Special thanks goes to my photographers for the day – my sister and cousin Joelynn!