My first meet up and two halloween outfits

It’s so difficult to keep a secret! Especially one that I’ve been so excited about!

Fellow Sew Weekly contributor Veronica Darling and I met up two weeks ago during her stopover in Singapore! After a few exchanges via email, we decided to sew outfits for the Halloween theme and have photos taken for Veronica’s Sew Weekly post. We wanted to keep this top secret and a surprise for all so I decided sew another outfit for my own TSW post. I stumbled upon Spanish designer Agatha Ruiz De La Prada’s quirky 2009 runway creations while researching the Spanish Harlem theme and shared the inspiration with Veronica. Here are the quirky, ‘alice in wonderland-ish’ inspirations behind both my Halloween outfits.

We decided to sew tablecloth dresses. Veronica’s dress was made from a real vintage tablecloth and came in vivid green, blue and read. You can read more about it from her TSW post here. My dress was made from Simplicity 4288, a pattern which was not dated but I am guessing it was either 1940s or 50s. I chose this pattern as it was labelled simple to make and I had only a few hours to sew before Veronica’s stopover. I found the most tablecloth looking wavy blue and red gingham print from my stash and started sewing. Turned out it was a breeze to sew and what took the most time were the button holes at the back of the dress. I used some pink heart-shaped buttons from my stash to add Alice in wonderland cuteness to the dress.

The sunny side up splashed on my sleeve was made from an old onesie and some yellow felt at the last-minute. It was hand stitched onto the dress and  has since been removed as the egg or what my mum thought was a huge flower, was drawing too much attention. I have worn the dress twice since our meet up sans sunny side up off course 🙂

We managed to spend four hours together taking photos, enjoyed a local seafood lunch and visited my favorite notions and fabric stores in Chinatown. She is truly a darling girl, absolutely sweet and adorable and I totally enjoyed our time together. Hubby was skeptical at first since we were ‘strangers’ (the exact word he used!). But, having read each other’s blog posts for almost a year, I felt like we knew each other and couldn’t stop chatting 🙂 I certainly hope Veronica will visit Singapore again soon with her hubby!

The second Halloween dress I sewed was totally different, it’s meant to be more costume than dress. And it’s the one eye thick lip monster dress. The LBD is made from a modern-day knit pattern, McCall’s 6243 and the lips section was self drafted.

The good thing about this dress, I can also unpick the lips which was hand stitched onto the LBD to ‘reclaim’ the dress for normal wear 😛 You can read more about the dress on my TSW post this week.

Happy Deepavali and halloween to everyone celebrating!


Heads up and the “fighting back” red lace dress

Hi everyone, remember my 40s Sweetheart dress for Valentines?

40s sweetheart dress

Some of you asked me about the pattern then and my copy was the only one I had seen. But while browsing through ebay recently, I actually saw another copy of it. The 1942 Du Barry 5357 is up for bidding from bluehearse if you are keen.

This week for the Sew Weekly Challenge, I made another red dress for the Hitchcock inspired theme. Can you guess the source of my inspiration? It’s pretty easy 🙂

Did you guess right? I was inspired by this red lace dress worn by Grace Kelly in ‘Dial M for Murder’.

But, my dress looks so different? Find out more about my thought process and the ‘struggles’ I went through to get this dress done on my TSW post here. I can only say red lace is tricky and not everyone can look as elegant as Princess Grace in this outfit.

Or you can also laugh at my reenactment of the ‘fight back with the murderer’ scene with various ‘weapons’ out of which one is the right choice.
My pattern of choice in the attempt to make the impossible- a casual as possible, demure, sexy in a subtle way red lace dress- was Project 6 from Japanese sewing book ‘Retrospective is Stylish’. My conclusion is red lace can never really be casual though I do think my dress turned out rather demure and not too sexy 🙂

I modified the sleeves, skirt length and shape for the final dress but I wanted to put on record this: Beware of the collar piece. The collar worked great at the sides and back but didn’t sit properly in front until I shortened it but that in turned caused another problem, this time, the collars didn’t meet in the centre. What I did was to draft two smaller arcs, additional collar pieces to create something like a petal collar. Other than that the pattern was not difficult to sew.

The petal collar in my opinion actually made the dress more demure which was what I wanted in the first place. What joy a fluke incident brings!

Have a blessed week everyone, I am flying off tomorrow night so see you in August!

Behind the seams: The Mystery Solved dress

In conjunction with Mothers’ Day celebrations, we are drawing on an old photo of our mothers’ or grandmothers’ for inspiration. Yes, this is the week we are honoring our mother’s style and fashion influence. To find out why I named my project this week The Mystery Solved dress, please read my TSW post here.

The Photo Inspiration

My hubby and I were browsing through old photo albums at my mum’s during the lunar new year celebrations in February when we saw this photograph of my parents and hubby said I should make a dress like mum’s since I love the vintage look. There were surprisingly quite a number of copies of this particular photo and so I kept a one for myself.  So, when this theme came up, I knew this would be the photo to inspire my creation. This was a welcomed change after those weeks of having too many choices to consider.

The Gallery

I absolutely do not have the guts to wear a narrow horizontal stripes dress like mum did in the photo. Instead, I used my favorite home decor fabric- Alexander Henry’s Sofia in Gold , which in my opinion adds a 70s vintage vibe to the outfit with its yellow/orange/brown floral print.

I even wore a hairband and backcombed my hair, a little addition to the 70s flavor.

The Pattern Review

I’ve raved about the Japanese Sewing Book, Retrospective is Stylish many times and never thought I would be sewing this 70s pattern as my first project from the book. I mean, this is a great pattern but it was the 1950s dresses that really made me covet the book in the first place.

I used the pattern from Project 7 of the book. (The green dress pictured below)

I’ve sewed quite a number of garments from Japanese sewing books and usually it’s pretty intuitive and the illustration helps a lot. This time, I was stuck because I couldn’t find what I thought were two missing skirt pattern pieces. Googling didn’t help either as no one seem to have attempted this particular dress from the book. So, I’ve documented how it is done, after spending hours pondering about it and going through the overlapping pattern sheet countless times. I’ll illustrate using the back skirt pieces, the same technique applies to the front.

As you can see, the back of the skirt is formed by what seemed to be 3 pattern pieces.

Trace the back (and front) skirt piece (you will only find one pattern piece each for front and back) and identify a line running down the piece with the wordings below (something with 14cm). Trace the line onto the pattern piece of the skirt you have traced.

Cut the pattern piece at the line so one pattern piece becomes two.

Between the two pattern pieces, measure 14cm between them and add seam allowance of 0.5cm (Please note that you are cutting on the fold).

That is your back (or front) skirt pattern piece.

I hope this will be helpful to someone attempting this pattern.

The other thing I wanted to mention is sizing. Typically, I find that there is quite a lot of ease in Japanese sewing patterns and this was the case with this dress. The pattern came in size 7, 9, 11 and 13.  I’m in between sizes for this book (I’m size 12) so after measuring myself I opted to go with size 13. As a result, it did looked one size too big on all areas except the shoulders and bust area so I took in the sides from below the arm downwards.

Other than these, the dress is very easy to put together and a delight to wear. It has a true vintage feel to it and mum even gave her approval saying that the style is very authentic 70s. Yay!

Have you tried sewing garment with home decor fabrics? I am currently very intrigued with sewing with different fabrics and am in the process of experimenting with new ones whenever I can.

My thoughts on using home decor fabrics on garments:

They are great for circle skirts, love the extra sway that comes with it. See Casey’s lovely version in Ikea fabric. I think they can look pretty neat on a pencil skirt too. See the cupcake goddess’ version in Anna Maria Horner’s home decor fabric

They are a good alternative for a spring coat. I made my Lady Grey in an Ikea fabric.

They are not suitable for garments that requires gathering or shirring or smocking. You need light weight fabric for those.

They are as easy to sew, like cotton, but you will need to use a thicker needle.

That’s all folks and I’ll be coming back soon with the next giveaway and announcement of the winners. Have a great week my sewing comrades!

Behind the Seams: “A new lease of life” easter dress

On The Sew Weekly, our challenge is all about creating a dress to go with a particularly charming hat. For me I chose to sew a dress for easter. We don’t have an easter parade here so as a christian, we celebrated the day in church. Read more about the inspiration behind this dress on my TSW post here.

Using easter and my savior’s love as its basis, I chose a vintage fabric (yes, my first made me garment in vintage!) and gave it new life in the form of this dress and likewise I chose to have my photo shoot this week at CHIJMES, the location of my junior high school which have been conserved and redeveloped as a lifestyle venue. Hence, the name for the dress.

Given the hot and humid climate in Singapore, I started wearing hats for sun protection and that slowly but surely grew my hat collection. I chose a knitted brown hat and decorated it with brooches for this challenge and used a US$10 for 5 yard cotton fabric to sew the matching dress (I used 3 yards and still have 2 for another project!). The vintage fabric is from an estate sale and re-sold to me from an etsy seller. It was a really blessed find as looking for vintage fabric on etsy and ebay is very much like searching for needles in a haystack.

The gallery

The Danielle free pattern

The pattern I used is the Danielle free pdf pattern from burdastyle. I drafted the additional neckline pieces, modified the original neckline and went sleeveless for my version which was inspired by Chie (Vivat Veritas’) version. I kept mine a little more modest at the neckline and with a longer pleated skirt. I decided not to put a how to for the neckline here since the dress is from Chie new collection.

Back to my review of the Danielle. I was skeptical of the high midriff band but it actually worked out pretty nicely. I did however add a few inches to it. The fit of the dress came as a quite a surprise, it was both flattering and comfortable to move around in.
The pattern provided me with very well drafted and thought out facings pieces so it is very easy to create a sleeveless version. Given the many versions of Danielle I have seen, this pattern is a great basic piece to start with, to make just like the original design or with modifications.  The pattern is part of the older burdastyle downloads with better instructions than the burda magazine downloads and comes with seam allowance. The best part is it is free so I’ll recommend giving it a try if you like dresses.

I am gonna keep this post short and quickly finish up my next project before another long weekend here.

Have a blessed week and if you haven’t, do check out my guest post on Grosgrain with a free blouse tutorial.

Behind the Seams: The Hallyu Dress

This week on Sew Weekly, we are tackling an outfit inspiration from a television character. Initially, I was thinking of doing a character from an American TV series which most readers would be more familiar with. But, in the end I went with my heart. I watch a LOT of Korean TV series and it’s natural for me to be inspired by a series I’m currently watching. Check out my TSW post here.

Just for the fun of it, if I had chosen an American series, it could have been one of these characters:

The Nanny (Fran Drescher), which I grew up watching on television during my pre-teen years. Oh, that infectious laughter, unforgettable voice and flamboyant outfits!

Bree (Marcia Cross), my fave character from Desperate Housewives. I followed the series’ first few seasons and loved her seemingly demure and simple style.

Blair (Leighton Meester) from Gossip Girl. I have never watched the series but she has been mentioned on so many fashion/ sewing blogs that I had to check out her style and I was impressed.

Alrighty, back to my series of choice…

The TV series

Bad Boy is a 17-episode television series aired on the Seoul Broadcasting System from May to August last year and the drama I was watching two weeks ago on DVD. While I was hooked to the story, I was equally smittened with the jersey dresses worn by the female character Hong Tae Rae, heiress (right on the drama poster below) to the Haeshin Group.

I love the cowl necklines, drapes as well as the sometimes origami like folds on her dresses which made them simple yet eye catching. It was the two dresses Tae Ra wore below that inspired my creation this week. The cowl neckline (first photo) and the unique folds on the skirt (second photo).

Pattern Review

I love the designs in Japanese Sewing Book Drape Drape Volume 1 but knew I had to make some changes to make them more wearable. For the dress bodice, I used the front pattern piece from Project 1.  The cowl neckline on front and back are fabulous but the neckline was too low cut. The fabric used is a Patty Young interlock knit from Michael Miller.

These are the modifications I made:

1) Use the front pattern piece (the back had an even lower neckline) for front and back.

2) Extended the sleeves to create cap sleeves on the same pattern piece (so there is no need to sew on the sleeves, save a step here)

3) I took away approximately 5 to 6 inches from the centre of the pattern. To do this, I traced the pattern ( I used S size and without adding seam allowance) and folded it in the middle (that’s where I took those inches off) before pinning to the fabric.

Putting the pieces together is so straight forward that I didn’t need to refer to the instructions. But, based on past experience sewing from the book, I’m sure they are easy to understand and follow, even without knowing Japanese.

For the skirt piece, I used the sewing pattern from Burda Magazine 11/2010/113. The pattern was meant for a fabric with more body such as wool but I thought it could potentially create folds similar to the second dress Tae Ra wore above. I wanted the folds to be on the opposite side of the body and as such, cut every piece on reverse.

The instructions were a little brief so I did  spend a little time figuring them out. As I used an eggplant colored matte jersey instead of the recommended woven fabric, I didn’t add the seam allowance. Even without them, the sides still had to be taken in and with my body double around, it made the job easier. Other than getting the sides to work, it was quite easy to put together. Having said that, I was glad I made a dress as I was completely lost reading the instructions for the skirt band.

The Gallery

I named the dress Hallyu which refers to the craze for all things Korean- K-drama, music (K-pop), food and fashion just to name a few. I happened to love their dramas and food!

After a lunch date at a Korean restaurant with hubby (He chose to eat there, I didn’t so it was purely coincidental), I ventured to the rooftop of Vivocity while dear hubby had to rush back for a meeting. It was a hot and sunny day so luckily for me, there weren’t many people outdoors. Good thing there was the occasional wind as I was perspiring through the photoshoot. I wore the dress with the red belt I made for the Valentine’s week and red jelly wedges.

Love that cowl front and back and the drapes in the skirt.

Sewing the ‘Pockets’

For those interested in making the folds Burda Magazine called ‘Pockets’, I hope you will find these visual aids useful as I took sometime to figure the instructions out.

1) On the wrong side of the fabric, fold the ‘pockets as indicated by the lines and stitch across the top of the skirt. Repeat for both ‘pockets in opposite directions.

2) Cut diagonally at the corner to allow it to be completely turned.

3) On the right side of the fabric, push out the ‘pockets’ and fold in the tips. On this side, stitch down the longer vertical line for both pockets. We’re done!

I have not sewed from a sewing book for sometime and totally enjoyed the variation. As always, I feel like I’ve learnt tons from using them. Yay! One more contribution to the Craft Book Challenge!

On a separate note, I’m so terribly sorry but the Drape Wrap skirt tutorial is still in the works. I’m delayed  as I’m SO excited working on a secret project which I can only reveal next week *wink*. With the Good Friday weekend coming up and hubby on leave, I’ll need to get a few things done before that so please bear with me.

And I really want to extend a BIG thank you to those of you who commented on Sew Weekly blog as well as on my blog. It means so much to me and truly encourages me! Thank you!

Meanwhile, have a blessed week and happy sewing!

Cheongsams with a twist

Every Friday our daily newspaper comes with a fashion supplement called ‘Urban’ and many a times, it gives an inspirational boost to my Friday mornings.

Today is one of those days! Check out these cheongsams with a twist featured in the supplement. I’m truly inspired to sew one with echino fabric like this one! Such an adorable Mod look!

And I adore the red polka dots and retro feel of this one though I would have prefer it with a stand collar. It didn’t look cheongsam without one.

And this color block version from Louis Vuitton (a smaller keyhole will up its wearability at my household) is kinda of refreshing!

My other fave source of inspiration is definitely etsy and today I chanced upon a super-duper talented tailor of ‘cheongsams with a twist’ there! OMG, check these out and more at the shop FlowerAge! I can only aspire to create something close to her level! I’m so excited to share these favorites of mine with you!

Black and white vertical print cheongsam with bell-shaped sleeves.

The perfect ensemble of print mixing plaid cheongsam with a houndstooth bolero!

How irresistible is this leopard print cheongsam with flare skirt!

Cheongsam chic is back!

TGIF! Have a fabulous weekend everyone!