Welcome to this week’s BTS!
The Theme & Inspiration
TSW challenge theme this week is unrequited love in movies and I knew I would be doing one of Wong Kar Wai’s films. Not only is Wong one of my favorite film directors of all time, most of his films are about unrequited love. ‘As Tears Go By‘(1988), ‘Day of Being Wild‘(1990), ‘ChungKing Express‘ (1994), ‘In the Mood for Love’ (2000) and ‘2046’ (2004) all dealt with the theme of unrequited love. Have you watched any of these films? My favorite is definitely ‘ChungKing Express’.
Nonetheless, my eventual choice was very much influenced by my current needs- the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations. As such, I decided to sew a cheongsam inspired by ‘In the Mood for Love’.
This film used the actress’ change in cheongsam to signify the passage of time and she wore 23 gorgeous ones in total. These cheongsams are atypical as they had higher than usual stand collars, more defined shoulders and the fabric used reminded me of modern art pieces.
You can find my Sew Weekly blog post here.
Finally, some photos without my white bathroom wall…
But I find that the white wall is still best for seeing details…
Adapting the sloper
Sewing this cheongsam was surprising fast and easy. I did however spent time to adapt the slopers to use as sewing pattern. I used the slopers from Built By Wendy Dresse (BBWD) book to make this cheongsam. The projects (here, here, here and here) I’ve done from the book definitely helped a great deal in making the drafting for this project possible and I will just highlight some important changes in modifying the slopers for a cheongsam here.
I joined the sheath and shift dress slopers at the armhole so that I have four waist darts from the sheath dress, the bust darts and armholes from the shift dress.
I also had to move the neckline higher (both front and back) and drafted my own stand collar and front facings.
Using the front facing, it helped me to identify the area to cut away from the right front shoulder as indicated by the line across.
This is how it looked after I’ve cut off the right shoulder area.
All BBWD slopers do not come with seam allowance so it makes merging pieces to form a new outfit easier. I usually add the seam allowances on the pre-cut fabric with fabric chalk before cutting.
Cheongsam and Me
Prior to the film ‘In the Mood for Love’, I stayed away from the cheongsam completely as it was often associated with the uniforms of Chinese restaurant waitresses or bar hostesses. Soon after the movie, the traditional costume made its comeback and my friend, Audrey (in pink) even had a Shanghai Tang theme wedding shortly after.
My husband and I registered for marriage in Brisbane Australia when we were studying for our masters degrees and a few years later we had our traditional ceremonial wedding back in Singapore. This time, very much influenced by the film, I included two cheongsams (besides my wedding and evening gowns) in my clothes lineup. I wore a green cheongsam made of Thai silk for the tea ceremony while my mum wore a pretty red version with scallop hem.
And for the wedding dinner that same evening, I wore a blue cheongsam, also made of Thai silk with crystal embellished stand collar and armhole.
I opted for Thai silk for both my wedding cheongsams as I preferred the more subtle fabric sheen compared to Chinese silk brocade.
It took me years to find my love for sewing and a little more time to find a fabric with an artistic print I love enough to sew this cheongsam with. Which was why I was so touched by what my husband said last Thursday when he saw the cheongsam hanging in our room. He told me it looked like an art piece and I thought that is exactly it, exactly how I felt looking at the 23 cheongsams from ‘In the Mood of Love’. That got me feeling happy all night!
I hope you like this cheongsam. I’m definitely wearing it out for visiting relatives and friends during the Lunar New Year!