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 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!

Ahoy! Cape Vest

Here’s a photo of Project 2: Gathered drape cape vest from the Japanese sewing book, ‘Drape drape’. When I saw the photo, I loved the design and thought it shouldn’t be too difficult to sew. Well, now that I’ve done it, I’ll have to say this is the most challenging project I have done from a Japanese sewing book. Having said that, this is only the third Japanese sewing book I’ve worked on 🙂 I’ll consider this an intermediate level project and pins were my best friend. The cape, the sides with a draped bottom portion and armholes have to be sandwiched and sewn between the centre front/back and their facings.  So patience and lots of checking are essential. Thank goodness the diagrams were super clear so there was no issues there. After all that hard work, I am truly happy with the results. I love the drape of the cape and the sides.

I chose to do a L size as I wanted to use this for layering. The Ahoy! Cape Vest was made using a combination of navy blue and navy/white stripe cotton jersey fabric from my stash and big red buttons to add some nautical charm. It turned out to be a pretty interesting piece of garment. I’m impressed with the designer as this pattern though it looks simple, is very well thought out. I just love how the bottom drape hugs my hips and how the front centre portion curves with the body. It’s amazing!

Here’s a peek at the back. There are four centre back pieces joined by a fifth piece across them (I used navy blue for the piece across as I thought it would be more interesting and flattering). The back facing is identical. I tried my best to match the stripes on the piece and is happy with how it turned out.
Just a word of caution. There are two Projects 2 in the book so look for its Japanese name when tracing the pattern pieces. The first piece I traced look funny cos’ it was for drape pants!

Ahoy! I’m happy! It’s perfect for my holiday next month!

First Jeans: Retro Dots Bella

I am so excited to have completed my first pair of made-me jeans! I named it Retro Dots Bella but I would most probably be the only one to see those dots when I am wearing this pair of jeans. Made from burdastyle’s bella sewing pattern, I used an indigo denim for the jeans and a retro dots fabric from my princess’ stash for the lining at the waist and front pockets. Here are some photos of the Retro Dots for your eyes only 🙂

I also did some stitching on the back pockets to make them more interesting before top stitching onto the back of the jeans.

Perhaps denim is thicker so I had to go over the lines twice for them to be this obvious. I love the fit and I must say it looks really flattering from the side and back. I usually wear low waisted bootcut jeans so when I told my husband I was making a high-waisted jeans, he laughed  as he thought that it would look nerdy. But, nerdy the bella wasn’t. I think if anything, it is a little flirty. I showed it to my husband last evening after sewing on the buttons and he gave his nod of approval, which made me a happy gal 🙂

The jeans wasn’t difficult to make as I have already done a pair of shorts based on the same pattern but this time I used the size 34 patterns instead of 38 and it fitted really well. I think I have lost a little weight and also I realised and was also informed by some of you (thank you so much!) that the bella loosen at the waist with wear. Here’s a closer view of the buttons and stitching (sorry about the blue glare from my camera!) The toughest part for me was the buttonholes as this denim was rather difficult to cut/ rip so they took longer than normal to finish. At certain point, I was pulling my hair to get it done.

I finished the hem at floor level as I read in a fashion article that high-waisted pants which finishes there gives the illusion of longer legs. Sure hope that’s true!

This pair of jeans was part of my holiday wardrobe project and after this I have two more tops to create before my trip to Shanghai from 15 to 23 October.

For the two tops I have identified previously, I have a little change of mind. I will still sew a piece from the Twinkle Sews book but for the second piece I will be sewing this top from a new Japanese sewing book I acquired called ‘Drape drape’ by Hisako Sato. It has a cape like structure and I think it is great for layering. Definitely something I will wear on normal days too 🙂

Have an amazing week my sewing comrades!

Retrospective is Stylish!

This vintage style dress which was posted on burdastyle’s project page in May this year got me started on a four-month search for the Japanese sewing book ‘Retrospective is Stylish’.

‘Retrospective is Stylish’ by Yoshiko Tsukiori showcases beautiful dresses, blouses, skirts and suits from the 1950s to the 1970s. I love Japanese sewing books and retro designs so it must be a PERFECT sewing book for me! I guess many people loved it too as the book was sold out and I couldn’t get a copy anywhere. I was also informed by kinokuniya that the book is out of print and no longer available.  After months of searching and waiting, I was told by an etsy seller in July that she had a second-hand copy of the book for sale but after I responded with some questions, I didn’t hear from her again. I guessed the book has been snapped up by another buyer. A week ago, I did another search on etsy and this time a positive search result came up! Lilymeru had a new copy of the book for sale! I bought it immediately and thanked the seller profusely for listing it. She replied to say that I am very lucky as the book was all sold out in Japan and she managed to get this last copy from the publisher! I am TRULY SUPERNATURALLY BLESSED! The shipping cost from Japan is also very reasonable 🙂  I received the book yesterday, couldn’t put it down and wanted to immediately make all the dresses in it! Just a few images here to share my excitement!

You can also check out the lovely garments others have made from this book at Japan Couture Addict. This beautiful yellow dress is my favorite. It’s named Birdy and there is more info and images of it on the La poupee qui fait non blog by its very talented creator.

Have a fabulous week everyone!

Mystery Cardigan Completed!

This lovely yellow cardigan stood out in the Japanese Sewing Book  “Les couleurs francaises” but the sewing pattern for it didn’t come with the book. I used to call it the Mystery Cardigan. When I really needed to make it as part of my Holiday Wardrobe Project, I made modifications to the sewing pattern of project m (below) to create a long green cardigan.

Instead of woven fabric which I believe the book suggested or cotton jersey (I couldn’t read the rest of the Japanese words but I recognized ‘cotton’), I used a very stretchy knit fabric which felt and looked like what you would usually find in RTW cardigans. I needed this to keep me warm and am happy I finally used this fabric. When my mum saw the fabric, she told me “That’s gonna be difficult to sew.” At the end of the project, I gave mum an update “It wasn’t that difficult to sew, it was horrifying to cut!’. Compared to what I now think is a lycra blend knit fabric used for my Melissa dress, this knit fabric was not difficult to sew. However, cutting it was a nightmare because the ends kept rolling, making it almost impossible to match the selvages. I just hoped I got the grain lines right!

The ruffles at the bottom of the cardigan worked well and looked lovely but those attached to the sleeves didn’t. Somehow, they turned out too short after I gathered them for the sleeves. I think it might be due to the direction of the stretch of the fabric so this might not be an issue if you use woven fabric. Unfortunately for me I used up all the green fabric and did not have any extras to redo them. Do you think a thin elastic sewn just above the gathered fabric would ruffle them up or should I just leave them alone? I am happy to hear any suggestion on how to improve the lack of ruffles situation.

I made a very long belt, as you can see and that turned out to be really interesting to  play around with. I got to tie my cardigan in so many ways! I didn’t plan for that to happen and only realized its potential when putting the belt on for the photographs. When I wore it this way, it created a cross knot at the back. I love it!

To create the Mystery Cardigan, I cut the paper pieces of project m and put them against myself, I then used the measuring tape to determine how much I needed to lengthen the front and back pieces.  Mine was lengthened by approximately 17″.  I only lengthened the sleeves by 3″ but the very stretchy knit and the weight of the ruffles pulled it down, making it look even longer. I created my belt from my leftover fabric but if you want one exactly like the photo, you can follow the one from project x, 185cm by 5cm before adding on the seam allowances. Oh! I also drafted  smaller pattern pieces for the shorter ruffles at the sleeves. There is supposed to two layers of ruffles at the bottom of the cardigan but I left that out, opting for only one row of ruffles.

Have a fruitful sewing week everyone!

Holiday Wardrobe Project

I am planning a simple holiday wardrobe for my trip to Shanghai in October. Yes! Shanghai!  Can you imagine me going crazy at the fabric markets!!! I am going nuts just thinking about it LOL! If you have shopped there, I welcome tips, recommendations and any information 🙂

From now till end September, I wanna sew a few essential pieces to squeeze into a luggage I am sharing with my hubby and kids. With kids around, we always try to travel as light as possible.

I figured layering is the way to go. The weather has become temperamental. It was just 40 degrees Celsius (typically, it should be 30) in Shanghai a few days ago and by past years’ records, typical weather in October should be 15 to 22 degrees Celsius. My plan is to sew my first fall coat, first cardigan, first pair of jeans and to create a few coordinating knit pieces to bring along. At the same time, I am hoping that all these pieces will be versatile enough to be wore back home.

1) My first coat

I am gonna tackle the coat first. I have the Butterick 5295 sewing pattern but I am constrained by my stash busting effort to sew this-Insufficient yardage. Major major bummer! So, this pattern has got to wait.

I considered some coat sewing patterns on burdastyle where I chanced upon my dream coat named Alden.

This looks so retro. I love the back details! But alas, I still have a fabric constrain issue. I relooked at my stash and reluctantly let this go. It shall be made for my next fall holiday. It has been raining so much in Singapore, I just might get to wear this here if I use a waterproof material.  I convinced myself that Alden has got to wait. Stash busting is my priority at this point. That’s when I met Esther and got totally inspired by this lovely cosy version made of woven and knit fabric by Kitzler. I checked the yardage required and am a happy woman! By mixing knit and woven, i have enough to get this going! What an ingenious idea! Thank you Kitzler!

2) My first cardigan

I fell in love with this long cardi from Japanese sewing book ‘Les couleurs francaises’ but never thought I would actually make it.

The good news-I have the fabric for this in green! The bad news- the pattern is not provided. But, they did provide pattern for a shorter similar version (image below) and the sew gutsy in me said I’m not gonna let the lack of pattern get the better of me. I shall modify this to create a slightly longer cardi.

3) My first jeans

I am still tossed between making jeans from Wendy Mullin’s Sew U pants pattern and a high-waisted pair from burdastyle’s bella pattern. Afterall, the shorts version is so comfortable. The only certainty is I’m making this pair of jeans out of the only denim fabric in my stash, in Indigo.

Here’s what bella jeans look like. I love this pair by the Cupcake Goddess.

But, I am equally smitten with this Sew U pair by Le Printemps Jolie

What do you think? Bella or Sew U jeans?

4) Twinkle Sew Tops

These two tops from Wenlan Chia’s Twinkle Sew caught my eyes when I was going through my sewing patterns and I hope to create them in cotton jersey fabric from my stash. I have heard issues with printing out the CD Rom patterns but would still love to give them a try.

This project is going to be challenging. I have only sewn knit fabric twice.  Knit fabric. First Jeans. First Coat, First Cardigan. I’m ready.

Echino Grassy Plain Dress

The dress that got me interested in Japanese Sewing Books is this purple scarf dress featured on the cover of ‘Les couleurs francaises’. It is also my reward dress for completing the target I set for myself in my Japanese Sewing Book challenge. I used my precious Echino Grassy Plain fabric which I thought was so appropriate for the design. The fabric was in my untouchable stash but I am glad it has turned into this dress!

The dress is Project C from ‘Les couleurs francaises’. It is relatively easy to make with many detailed diagrams. I used the pattern for size M, the shoulders fitted well but it was huge on the sides so I took them in quite a bit. The original design had a tie scarf collar. To make the most of this outfit, I decided to make some modifications and made the collar and scarf separately.  Here you see the dress with a collar I drafted myself. I wanted a collar that would look hidden when I wanted to wear it with the scarf.

Here’s the version with scarf which looks similar to the photo in the book.

And here I wear it slightly differently. I love the idea of a separate scarf, it is so versatile and you can wear it in so many ways, even with other outfits!

The scarf could also be used to drape a crowl neckline.

Or as a head scarf 🙂 I actually like this boho look quite a lot.

I love this Echino fabric! I tried my best to match the print on the side seams but it was not possible given that the print was wavy.

I hope you like my reward dress 🙂 I love it and can’t stop looking at it! I can’t wait for my princess to grow to be 100cm, that way we can wear matching dresses like the ones in the book! TGIF, have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Nani Iro Tunic

While I was away from my sewing machine, my husband and I managed to catch three movies (Inception, Salt and Eclipse), get our hair trimmed at the salon and enjoy a couple massage. We even brought the kids to the beach, the park and went swimming together. Couple and family time have been great but it has been almost a week since I last had my sewing machine plugged in. I was very much looking forward to creating again. However, I must admit that when this day came, it was not easy getting my sewing groove back.

It took some effort to pull myself away from my Macbook and to get into the fabric cutting mode this morning. And after I changed the machine needle, the machine threader was not working properly so I’ve been relying on my eyes to do the threading the entire day which became rather exhausting.  I never knew how much I have taken the threader for granted. *sigh*.

Anyways, I am happy that at the end of the session, I completed my first project of the week and my final project from the Japanese Sewing Book ‘Feminine wardrobe’. That means, I get to make my Echino dress! Yipee!

Here’s me sporting a new tan and my Nani Iro Tunic. I love this Double Gauze fabric I got from Fabric Tales Japan. It is too gorgeous! I was crazy enough to leave the collection and designer names on one of the sleeves!

I knew I wanted to make a tunic with this fabric when I bought it but I have not tried Japanese sewing books then. The fabric print is very serene and reminded me of watercolor paintings. I wanted to use a pattern that is different yet simple. I’m very glad I waited and finally used this Japanese pattern and adapted it for a tunic.

This is the original photo from the book and the dress pattern which I adapted.

The pattern is C3 from the book and I used the bodice pieces from C2 as they were essentially the same pieces, only shorter. I didn’t use elastic for the sleeves as I thought that would be too puffy for my liking. I used french seams for the inside of sleeves so they looked neat even from outside. I love the front yoke and the pleats on the front bodice, back bodice and sleeves.

I love this tunic. It is super comfy and perfect for summer! Think I am getting the groove back.