SEWING // RTW Challenge – Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic and Tessuti Libby Skirt

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If there’s one thing I’m really thankful for this IPM, it’s this RTW Challenge and the huge kick in the butt it gave me to finally sew up these 2 garments that have been on my “to-make” list since forever! I’ve written before about how most of my makes are based off RTW clothing and how it’s my main source of inspiration – these 2 makes are no different.

Psst: If you liked reading about this make, I would love if you’d consider voting for me in the Indie Pattern Month RTW Challenge – just click here and drop me a vote in the poll! Thank you!

First up, my RTW inspiration for this entry – the ever popular suede button down skirt and oversized white shirt:

 Suede Skirt Collage Top L-R: Blonde Collective; Vanessa Bruno Athé ; Harper's Bazaar. Bottom L-R: Express; Fashion Jackson; Fashion Jackson

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a big follower of fashion blogs in addition to sewing and DIY blogs. While I’ve made an effort to avoid fast fashion and to cut down on buying RTW clothing, I still find fashion blogs a great way to learn about my own sense of style and to gather inspiration for my sewing plans. It’s also a great way to encourage yourself to pattern hack – particularly if you can’t find exactly the pattern you want on the market! (I find fashion magazines a tad too avant garde and impractical for everyday wear though, am I the only one who thinks this way?)

If you’re into fashion blogs too, you’d know that the 70s’ suede skirt came back into fashion in a BIG way a couple of months ago and it seems like one of the most trendy ways to wear it is paired with an oversized white button shirt. This is a style that I fell in love with the moment I saw it – oversized shirts that hide my flabby arms and high waisted skirts to hide my wide hips? Yes please!

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Pattern & Fabric Choice

Whenever I decide to copy a RTW garment, I start off with trying to find an existing pattern with as many similarities as possible or one that would be a good base from which to start hacking. In the case of the suede skirt, I opted for the free Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt pattern, removed the zipper and added a button placket. The fabric was a faux suede I picked up from Toko Liman while on holiday in Yogyakarta and was a fantastic find for its price! The buttons were up cycled from a much loved Zara sweater – for more details you can refer to my last post. For the oversized top, I decided to try out the Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic which I’ve had in my stash for some time and is a near perfect replica of an existing RTW Uniqlo mandarin collared shirt that I own and absolutely adore. To maintain the blousey-ness of the top, I made it up in a plain white rayon that I bought from Spotlight in Singapore and used lightweight fusible interfacing for the facing and mandarin collar.

 

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Sizing & Pattern Review 

Given the looseness of the fit, I decided to sew up a straight size 2 (although my bust falls in between a size 0 and 2 and my waist and hips fall between a size 4 and 6) – from the looks of it, I should have gone with a size 0 instead. There is an incredible amount of ease in this pattern, people! Even so, I’m happy with my tunic as it is (strangely, my boyfriend thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever worn) and so I will probably wear it a ton. On my next attempt at the Gallery tunic I will probably size down to a 0 and see how that works out for me. There will also be a number of Gallery dresses in my near future I should think!

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As for the pattern instructions, they were clear and straightforward. The only thing I didn’t like was that the pattern has you refer to the template printed on the pattern tissue (for printed patterns) in order to find the markings for the facing and sleeve cuffs. I rather wish that these markings had been reflected on the pattern piece itself as it is rather a bother to have to trace things out twice! (Plus if you forget to trace the template as I did, you’d have to get out the fiddly tissue paper again which is such a pain.)

I do like the pattern’s method for hemming – it has you sew a basting stitch of a certain allowance and use that as a guide to do all the necessary ironing before sewing the hem. Very handy, especially at the curved bits!

As for the suede skirt, I shan’t repeat myself as I’ve blogged about it here previously.

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I’m in love with this outfit – can you tell? It’s rare that I feel so put together, I’m always sort of a ramshackle, comfort first kind of person – it’s so nice to think that if I were better at posing I might give them fashion bloggers a run for their money! 😉 (or not, posing in public is awkward!)

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Thanks for reading! If you liked this post and would like to vote for me in the Indie Pattern Month RTW Challenge, do click here and drop me a vote in the poll! There’s also many other talented makers featured in the challenge so do check their posts out too!

SEWING // 70s’ Faux Suede Mini Skirt – A Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt Hack

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As any one who follows the fashion bloggersphere would have noticed, the 70s’ button-down suede skirt trend came back into fashion in a BIG way late last year / early this year. Maxi, midi, mini, you name it – as long as it was brown suede and had buttons down the middle some fashionista out there was wearing it. I’ve been loving and lusting over all those gorgeous suede skirts for ages now but never got down to scoring one for myself – so when I heard that the theme for this year’s Indie Pattern Month included a Pattern Hack week, I knew I had to give it a go!

Pattern Choice & Alterations

I wanted to start with a simple A-line skirt pattern as a base and alter it accordingly. Having tried out the Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt Pattern once before (which is free!!), I knew that it had a silhouette that was similar to the RTW versions I had seen and that it would be easy enough to pattern hack.

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The Libby Skirt originally has a side zip closure on the left and has a waistband facing all around. My plan was to eliminate the zipper and add a functional button placket down the centre front instead. I made no changes to the skirt back (cut 1 on the fold) or to the facings apart from cutting the front facing as 2 pieces rather than on the fold. As for the front skirt piece, I created a 3cm wide button placket and cut 2 pieces instead of 1 on the fold. I did this by shifting the centre front outwards by 5.5 cm – an additional 1.5cm for the left half of the button placket, then another 3cm for the placket facing and a last 1cm as the seam allowance for the placket to be folded over and top stitched down. The pattern piece looked like this (below) when I was through – pretty neat if I do say so myself! I also had lots of guidance using this very helpful tutorial.

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My only mistake was trusting the pattern measurements instead of making a muslin and test fitting the garment during construction. I knew from my previous experience with the pattern that the pattern ran big – so when my measurements placed me in the middle of a size 8 and 10, I went with a straight size 8. BAD MOVE – had I tried on the skirt I would have found out that I should have cut a size 6 instead! I ended up taking out about 1/2″ from either side seam as it was way too big.

Fabric & Notions

Of course for a true 70s’ mini skirt I had to go with faux suede! This doe coloured faux suede was picked up for a steal from a furnishing fabric shop called Toko Liman along Jalan Malioboro in Yogyakarta. It’s wonderfully soft and the sheen is mesmerisingly multi-dimensional. It’s also easy to sew with although it doesn’t iron well and tends to crease a whole lot while wearing!

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As for the lovely buttons down the centre front – they were repurposed from a favourite Zara sweater of mine which is still in active duty but is simply impractical to wear regularly because of the tropical heat over here. Even with the pattern hacking, button hole making and button sewing, this was a really fast make and amazingly satisfying to sew. My only word of caution would be that the Tessuti Libby pattern runs big, and to be sure to try on the skirt before finishing to avoid having to do the massive amounts of unpicking I had to resort to to take the waist in! Other than that, this is a great skirt base from which to create lots of hacks – especially as there are only 2 darts in the back!

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It’s been so great to seeing all the pattern hacks over on The Monthly Stitch this IPM – head over to check it out if you haven’t already done so!

Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 3)

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… And I’m back with Part 2 of my post on the Axel Pattern! (For Part 1 of this post relating to version 2, refer here.)

Now, remember I said yesterday that I had a severe lack of me-made workwear because everything I made was too casual? If version 2 is a reflection of my current wardrobe, version 3 is the projection of what I wish my me-made collection looked like. Daring, stylish, classic and able to be sewn in less than 2 hours. That’s right folks, va-va voom version 3 took me all of half an hour of cutting and 1.5 hours of sewing on an overlocker and a sewing machine for the twin needle top stitching – that’s a winner in my books!

… Which is not to say that I didn’t have my problems with this make. This black version you see here is actually my THIRD attempt at version 3. The first try was a brown double knit (with very little stretch) which never saw the light of day as it was unbearably tight. I believe some other testers had the same feedback and Megan has since informed us that an additional 2cm of ease has been added to the final version of the pattern.

 

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I had grand plans for my second attempt using the leftover fabric from my Lisbon cardigan – a double-sided sweater knit with about 50% stretch. The idea was to make an Axel that was completely reversible, front and back, inside and out – AND I SUCCEEDED, only to find once I tried it on that the slit was scandalously high on me (like Jessica Rabbit high) and I didn’t quite savour the thought of accidentally blinding the world with my bum crack.

For those curious on how I did it: I used flat felled seams on the side and centre seams and used black bias binding (and exact match for my underside) for the hems. I also ironed in the seam allowances of the waistband before topstitching it on – very effective on a loose weaved knit that hides your stitches completely. This article from Colette was very helpful in pointing me towards techniques I could consider! Unfortunately this reversible dream had to go in the sin bin as I couldn’t figure out how to fix the slit issue without forgoing the reversible aspect of it completely.

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Thank goodness third time’s the charm or I really would have thrown in the towel by then. Given that I’ve already given you a lengthy run down of the problems I encountered in the first 2 tries, let me give you the concise edit of what exactly I did for attempt number 3.

Fabric – Mid weight black jersey knit with 70% width wise stretch and 50% stretch along the grain. This was a much better choice than the other 2 versions – the double knit was too stiff and didn’t have enough stretch (minimum 30% recommended) and the sweater knit was too loose and had dismal recoverability.

Alterations – (1) I cut the back piece (without the slit) on fold, eliminating the seam allowance of 1.5cm. (2) I lowered the starting point of the slit by 9cm (I now realise that I could have been more daring and lowered it only by 5-7cm) and connected that point to the original hemline as shown on the pattern, resulting in a wider V-shaped slit. (3) I took 5.3cm off the bottom of the skirt to make it between knee and true midi length. (4) I narrowed the height of the waistband by half.

Fit – Most of my fit problems were alleviated by making the alterations above and taking into account the additional 2cm ease included. I’m still not quite comfortable with the length of the skirt at present so I may take a little more off the bottom in time to come!

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What I loved – How fast it easy it is, how clear the instructions are, that it’s reversible and that it’s easily customisable (with the sashes from v2 / lengthening and shortening).

All in all, I think this is a fantastic pattern and I will definitely use it again, perhaps with a higher slit this time? In the right fabric it’ll be a great workwear and casual wear staple and I can’t get over how quick and easy it is to make – perfect for a first knit / serger project! I’m already dreaming of a maxi / true midi version like this. What do you guys think of this new pattern? Do knit skirts work for you?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Megan Nielsen’s Axel Pattern for free in exchange for helping to pattern test this pattern prior to its release. Be that as it may, my opinions, views and terrible posing above are completely my own. 

Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 2)

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Hello again! Me-made-may is back again and I’m taking part for the 2nd year running with my pledge to wear or use at least 1 handmade item a day. Last year I did weekly round-ups but as I was sick in bed for a good part of the last week, I figured I would do one big summary at the end of the entire month. Feel free to play along with me on instagram at @jessiehuen if you like! How about you guys, anyone taking part? Drop me a message below if you are and I’ll be sure to check you out (“how YOU doin’?”) on instagram or flickr!

As per usual, me-made-may is making me incredibly conscious of holes in my me-made wardrobe  – most conspicuous of which is my lack of appropriate office wear. I know I lament this EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. but it’s a sad fact of life that vast majority of patterns I have are very casual in style and anything of a more formal nature takes ages to whip up (my go to Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt excluded of course).

ENTER THIS SPANKIN’ NEW PATTERN FROM MEGAN NIELSEN: THE AXEL SKIRT.

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I had the wonderful opportunity to help pattern test Megan’s latest pattern, the Axel Skirt, earlier this year and loved the results! If Megan’s posts are anything to go by, she’s made a ton of these skirts – and now, so have I! At the current count, I’ve made up 4 of these skirts – 1 version 2 and 3 version 3s, although rightfully, 2 of these turned out to be unwearable/unintentional toiles that had to be sent to the recycling stash. I would love to talk about all 4 of them in a single post but I’ve just typed it out and realised that (as usual) I have too much to say – so look out for part 2 of this post featuring version 3 tomorrow!

My first test of the pattern was version 2 – the knee length option with the hip sashes. I thought it was really cute and on trend (check out this anthropologie beauty here) plus the shape was very similar to an existing knit skirt I have so I knew it would work for me. And… I was right! The fit for this view of the skirt was spot on for me, even with the addition of lining, and the length was appropriate for work and church – the 2 measures by which I decide if a garment is considered ‘decent’ and fit for polite company.

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Fabric – I spent quite a while trying to figure out the best fabric to use for this pattern as I wanted something versatile (for maximum mix-and-matching) but not boring, and suited to the pattern design. I ended up picking this extremely lightweight mid-grey cotton jersey with a faded effect and colourful flecks sewn into the weave. The only problem was that it was wayyyy too sheer! Eventually I decided to line the entire skirt (except the sashes) using a cream poly jersey crepe to give the main fabric a bit more heft.

Alterations – None, apart from lining the skirt. I cut a size S and cut 2 of every pattern piece – 1 of the main fabric and 1 of the lining, apart from the hip sashes. I didn’t baste the main pieces and linings together as I was wary of causing any pulling in the main fabric, but I treated both lining as main fabric as a single piece and constructed the skirt as set out in the instructions. I even lined the waistband as I was sure that the main fabric without any elastic wouldn’t be sufficient to hold up the weight of the skirt. If I had to remake this skirt using the same fabric, I would probably have inserted wide elastic into the waistband to provide more support.

Fit – As I mentioned the fit was spot on, although it gets just a tad too tight after too much snacking. My only peeve was that the sashes if attached at the hip (as indicated in the pattern) and tied in front, eventually end up too low as the fabric stretches as the day goes on. I would probably try to attach them to the waistband or across the waistband and hip the next time. One other change I would make would be to narrow the waistband as my short and thick waist means that wide waistbands can end up looking stumpy on me.

What I loved: That it’s reversible, what a quick and easy make this was and how easy it is to wear. My preference is to wear it with tops tucked in – in fact I paired it with this self drafted peter pan collared top (below) to give you an idea of how it might look with Megan’s recently released Sudley top! Elegant, non? MOST IMPORTANTLY, how effective the hip sashes are at hiding my 12 week old food baby!

Now, if you’re still up for it, head on over to Part 2 to read more about my thoughts on version 3 of the Axel pattern!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Megan Nielsen’s Axel Pattern for free in exchange for helping to pattern test this pattern prior to its release. Be that as it may, my opinions, views and terrible posing above are completely my own. 

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!

Me-Made-May 2015 : Days 18 – 24

The last 7 days of Me Made May have been rather slow moving – I was down with food poisoning (curse you, half-off supermarket sushi!!) for a good 2 days and was in full-on black and white for a court day before that, so effectively I only have a 4 day wardrobe to share with you guys today.

Day 18, Monday

On Monday I bust out my beloved Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt again, paired with a sleeveless RTW button down top. I’m amazed how fast this skirt is becoming a staple in my wardrobe – I definitely need to make more up in a greater variety of fabric soon.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m posing so enthusiastically with a Vogue Patterns magazine, that’s because I went to check out the new (relatively) Orchard Library on Orchard Road in Singapore last Monday and discovered that they stock copies of Vogue Patterns Magazine and Thread Magazine! Hurray! Perfect for us in Singapore where delivery from anywhere else in the world costs a bomb.

The magazines are kept in these adorable pull out cubby holes in the wall, with the latest issues displayed in the front glass panel, which doubles as a decor feature! This is one idea I am definitely pinning as future home inspiration.

As it turns out, the library also stocks Japanese sewing books and some fitting books. I even managed to find copies of Gertie’s two books! Amazing. Be warned though, if you ever plan on borrowing books with patterns, you’ll have to check the patterns themselves out separately. Be sure to go down to the shelf on the third floor, under the staircase and find the corresponding patterns to the books – I didn’t know about this until someone pointed this out to me on instagram (thank you @oppknits!)

Day 9, Tuesday

Another day, another knit skirt – this is another new favourite that has entered my weekly rotation because of Me Made May. Another great thing about #MMMay15 ? Forcing me to rethink my outfit pairings – this chevron knit skirt was originally destined to be paired with a black top to play down the too-casual print, but in the spirit of Me Made May I decided to take a risk and wear it with this electric blue shell top instead. Judging by all the comments from the good people of instagram, it seems that I made the right choice.

Day 13, Saturday

Day 10 was a court day and days 11 and 12 were sick days, so you can guess how relieved I was to finally be out and about and getting back on track with my MMMay pledge on Saturday! Here I am in my Ray of Sunshine tulip skirt and a brand new mint-coloured pair of Nike Frees that I had just bought that day – I LOVE this combination, and they’re SO light! (… and so is my wallet after buying these shoes) It’s not my usual style, but hey, this month is all about pushing boundaries right?

Day 14, Sunday

Back into something more within my comfort zone for church yesterday in this cream RTW top and my soon-to-be-blogged bright orchid Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. I kid you not when I say that I have been finding every opportunity to wear this skirt – to the theatre, to church, to the beach, I’ve pretty much done it all.

Anybody who said that they didn’t need a bright purple, borderline luminous hollyburn skirt clearly didn’t know what they were missing. Now, can I get away with one in vermillion orange…?

PS. As most of you can probably tell, I failed at getting enough garments in time to make the Wardrobe Challenge ): But no fear, because that just means that I’ve got a lot of delicious makes in the works and possibly a few entries in the upcoming Indie Pattern Month over at the Monthly Stitch! I am really excited, I just hope I can find the time to finish them all!

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