An Amazing Start to 2014!

It was an AmaZing Sunday afternoon at the start of 2014 and the weather was just perfect. On the sunny island of Singapore, this was one of those unusually cool and windy days.  Our family visited one of our favorite … Continue reading

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: “Candy Stripes and Scallop skirt”

Oops! I’m a day late with this post. Actually, it might have been even later as I’m struggling to finish up next week’s project before I start packing for the family trip. We take off mid week for two weeks! Oh Gosh! I have so much left to do! It also didn’t help that I keep changing my mind on 1) the source of inspiration and 2) what I want to do with the fabric ie. switching from this pattern to that and even changing the lining choice. Big major ‘sigh’. It has been quite a journey and I have to complete the dress today as it’s errand day tomorrow. I’m typing this out while waiting for my lil princess to finish breakfast before ferrying her to school.

The Sew Weekly Challenge

For The Sew Weekly Challenge, we are taking inspiration from a music album cover. You can find my TSW post here.

As usual, I had to make a choice from these three Korean girl groups. They are also some of my fave music videos on YouTube. I’ve linked them to the videos so if you have time, take a look and I hope you get inspired as well!

Hoot by Girls Generation (SNSD)

These girls have churned out hits after hits with catchy music and wonderful dance moves. Genie and Run Devil Run are also on my fave playlists. They are also big in Japan and hence many of their songs also come with Japanese versions. Even my kids love watching their MVs!

Nobody by The Wonder Girls

The song Nobody is not only a hit in Korea but worldwide. This is the only song I know which also has English, Japanese and Mandarin versions all sang by The Wonder Girls. They made their US debut in 2009 with the song reaching 76 on Billboard 100, making them the first Korean group to be on the charts.

Shy Boy by Secret

This is truly a stumbled upon while I was searching for inspiration and my album cover choice for this week’s sewing theme.


The patterns

The blouse pattern is very straight forward and probably one of the easiest I have done for a Japanese sewing pattern and for a blouse, mainly because instead of having to attach the collar, you simply flip it over after attaching the facings. The sleeves are also part of the main blouse pattern and finished with bias tape. So, the result – a very gratifying and quick to finish piece of sewing.

From sewing the Mystery Solved Dress , I realized that there was quite a lot of ease in the patterns from Japanese Sewing book, ‘Retrospective is Stylish’ so this time I went one size down and chose a size 11 to cut before adding the seam allowance and I am totally in love with the fit of the blouse. With the waist darts (front and back) and bust darts, the blouse can also be wore untucked and with good shaping too.


The skirt pattern comes absolutely free. I first saw the awesome Scallop waist pattern from Chie of Vivat Veritas from Grosgrain’s Free Pattern Month and that was one of the two patterns I downloaded immediately. I even bought the blue poly fabric (yes, no crinkling) just for that so I am happy to finally sew it up. I am in between size 10 and 12 so I took a little off the waist and seam from a 12. The skirt is so easy to sew and you can follow Chie clear step by step guide here and the best part is how flattering it is!

I lengthened mine by approximately 5 inches. What I did was to measure 5 inches all along the arc of the pattern and cutting from there. I definitely picked up a few sewing tips from Chie just by sewing this skirt!

The Gallery

Here are just some additional photos taken around the back streets of Joo Chiat in Singapore where some semblance of good ole days in Singapore remains. I love the spiral stairs and letter boxes!


The blouse fabric is vintage rayon from etsy. I love the mix of stripe colors and couldn’t resist getting it sometime back.


Veronica, also a contributor to The Sew Weekly and such a darling, asked “Oh Adey, did you scream when that chevron/button matched up so well!”  I didn’t scream on the outside but inside I was going “Oh Yeah!”. Now I can’t imagine the blouse without those flattering diagonal stripes!

Happy sewing everyone! Have a blessed week!

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!

Sewing Blogging Anniversary Giveaway: Japanese Edition

I sewed the first dress for myself on 29 April 2010. Two weeks later, I renamed and moved my blog to wordpress. How time flies cos that was exactly a year ago!

I’m celebrating my Made-Me sewing/ blogging anniversary with two giveaways – one starting today and the other on 12 May! Here are the goodies up for grabs and I mail worldwide.

The Japanese Box contains:

- An issue of Japanese sewing magazine “Cotton On” (seen below)

A Japanese sewing magazine with patterns (never used) and easy to understand diagrams. Lovely patterns for hats, bags, garments (adults and kids) such as those in the images below.

- Japanese fabric

A yard each of these cute Japanese fabrics. Great for craft and kid’s clothing.

And in conjunction with this anniversary, I would like you ask you dear readers, what improvement would you like to see on the blog.

So, to participate in this giveaway, please leave me a feedback in comments or if you are already happy with what you have been reading, please give me a link to a beautiful dress you have seen on blogsphere recently as inspiration. If you are subscribed to my blog, you get a second chance and if you link to this post, a third.

This Japanese box giveaway will end 12 May and I will use the random.org number generator to select a winner.

Blessings and let the fun begin!

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!

Behind the Seams: The ‘Mademoiselle’ Dress

What is Behind the Seams?

To complement the posts I’ll be contributing to The Sew Weekly (TSW) Challenge, I’m starting the ‘Behind the Seams’ (BTS) series to share more information on my thought processes during preparation and/or the actual construction process and sometimes tutorials on how things are done. More images of the completed garment will also be posted here. Through this series, I hope to share with you the ‘why’ ‘what’ and ‘how’ information and off course the photography sessions, hiccups and stories where relevant. So, if you like to, you can treat my post on TSW as Part 1 and BTS as Part 2 :)

Week 1 Theme: Coco Chanel

As some of you already know, the inaugural theme is Coco Chanel and you can find my TSW post here.

The ‘Mademoiselle’ Dress:

Photo Gallery


How Coco ‘shaped’ my outfit?

I do not think I have ever done this much research before making a dress and it had nothing to do  with actual sewing but in getting to know more about a woman. The legendary Coco Chanel.

I loved her ideal of the LBD  and how versatile it should be. “A dress that was minimalist, sophisticated, elegant, to be worn at any time of day.” The Telegraph elaborated on this ideal perfectly. “Her revolutionary approach to design meant that the dress could be worn as day, cocktail and evening wear.”  And while I couldn’t sew my dress in black as it was for the Lunar New Year, I held this ideal close while selecting the sewing pattern. A dress that could be worn anytime.

Chanel was credited for making jersey a popular fashion fabric. And that definitely gave me a push towards using matte jersey for the dress. Nonetheless, her original jersey garments were mostly in black, grey and blue so I think the red color I chose is more Chanel (the brand) than Coco Chanel. Pure red garments can be found in almost all of its recent collections and numerous ad campaigns. A signature Coco Chanel design element is fraying at the hems or fringe trims, which I was most happy to add to the neckline.

How can I leave out the bright red lipstick and costume jewelry pearls. We owe these all to Coco Chanel and I had to adorn myself with them during the photo shoot :)

Pattern Review

The sewing pattern I used was No. 3 ‘Gather drape dress’ from the Japanese Sewing Book, ‘Drape drape’ Volume 1.

This is the first Japanese sewing pattern I used which didn’t require the addition of seam allowance.  I don’t read Japanese but as usual, the diagrams made the steps crystal clear. It was also the first time I sewed a dress from a one piece pattern. I was amazed just looking at it!  Little did I expect this dress to take up so much of my time.

The pattern is rather big so they divided it into two on the pattern sheet so you need to join them while tracing at the round circle indicated in the diagram below.  Look for the two No. 3 patterns on the overlapping pattern sheet and match the semi circles.

I followed the book diagram closely for the bodice and front of the dress. However,  during fitting I realized that a zip was not necessary for this dress as opposed to the notions recommended by the book. Also, I had to change the back of the dress rather drastically. Yes, I used the seam ripper a lot for this project.

You see, the book only shown a photo of the front of the dress but not the back (now we know why) and when I saw the technical drawing below, I thought it would only make my hip look bigger, which was fine by me. However, imagine my horror when all those gathers ended up at the narrowest part of my waist! I think it might be because the pattern was designed for Japanese women who are usually more petite than I am. I’m 5 feet 7 so for any brave soul attempting this project in future, try to lengthen the bodice if you see fit. I also lengthened the hem by 3 inches.

I removed most of the gathers at the back of the skirt so it ended up much cleaner. It is times like these that I wished I had a dressform as I had to repeatedly put the dress on, make markings with a fabric chalk or pin, take it off and baste.  It still isn’t perfect but now, I dare wear the dress out of the house :)

So, there you have it, my version of ‘Drape drape’ dress No. 3 with no zipper and overwhelming back gathers. The top of the back bodice is held together by huge snap buttons. I did quite a bit of hand stitching with the rose trim at the neckline too as it would be ugly to have a machine stitch running through it. A red dress is fabulous for the Lunar New Year as red is the color of prosperity. I hope you think it looks somewhat inspired by Chanel too :)



I had been enjoying the utopia of total control last year and now, the challenge is pushing me beyond my comfort zone. Instead of sewing along themes I am comfortable with. I now get to complete projects based on themes discussed and decided by the TSW team. Both exciting and definitely a whole lot more challenging. Perhaps for that reason, I also find myself more exposed, more vulnerable to self-doubt. I hope as the weeks and months progress that I will get more accustomed to the process and get to enjoy it  even more. It is also likely I am just feeling a little overwhelmed with all my family projects for Lunar New Year.
I hope you will enjoy this new series I am adding and if you find it beneficial, a simple comment is most appreciated :) That way, I’ll know whether I should continue doing BTS.
It has been raining (sometime pouring) here for the past one and a half weeks. I hope for some sunshine so I can do some outdoor photography. That’ll be fun!
Have an amazing week everyone! A bientôt!