Behind the Seams: ‘In the Mood for Love’ Cheongsam

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.

Photo Gallery

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!



The ‘Love’ Batik Tunic

Meet the final installment of my resort style sewing, the ‘Love’ Batik Tunic.

This beautiful batik print quilting fabric is from Amy Butler’s Love Collection and I bought the lace neckline from Brighton Accessories in Chinatown. The shift pattern I used was originally meant for a dress, the Tunic dress from the book ‘Built By Wendy Dresses’ which I have previously employed for the Tablecloth Tunic Dress but for this version I shortened the pattern and redrafted the neckline to accommodate the lace piece. I then used an off white bias tape to finish the front and back necklines before stitching on the lace.

I love this tunic! In fact, when I first received this fabric many moons ago, I knew I wanted to sew it into a tunic and wear it with my ruffles ruby shorts. So, my dream has finally become a reality.

And when you read this post, I’m most probably wearing this outfit in the island of Phuket, Thailand. We are there for a short family getaway and back Sunday. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Are you all ready for Christmas my sewing comrades?

WIP and Self Stitched September: Day 4 to 6

When I saw this Alexander Blouse variation on burdastyle, I fell in love with it straight away. So, I was super thrilled when Grosgrain suggested making a dress version for ‘A Frock By Friday’. I’m using a buttery citrus cotton voile from Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks Collection as I adored how soft and flowy this blouse looked.

I’m a week late though as I only started on my frock today! Nonetheless, progress has been good. I printed the sewing pattern this morning and managed to finish the skirt portion and even lined it. I had to line the bottom of the dress as the fabric is rather sheer but the bodice will be unlined. Tomorrow I will work on the rest of the dress and hopefully have enough time to finish up the belt, invisible zipper and sew on the buttons.

Are you working on a project too? I’d love to hear more about it!

Now, back to my SSS updates.  The weekend gave me the opportunity to put on something else other than my shorts and tee ensemble so you get to see more variety.

Day 4

I wore my Scalloped hem floral mini dress over skinny jeans and wore a cute pair of purple and yellow wedges. This is my second time wearing the dress which I made by modifying the sheath dress pattern from Wendy Mullin’s book Built By Wendy Dresses.  The mini dress comes with cute pockets embellished with thin orange bias tape and huge white buttons.

The dress is pretty fitting and flattering so I was happy in it. I adore the scallop hem which makes it unique. Even though the fabric is 100% cotton, it didn’t crinkle much at the end of a long day, which was lovely and an added bonus. Definitely a dress I will wear again!

Day 5

I don’t usually wear a jacket given the climate here but it was a rainy Sunday and the air-condition at the mall was freezing. I teamed my Bambi Tara with a denim jacket, dark green pants, gladiator sandals and an orange bag. The Bambi Tara is my favorite of the four Tara blouses I have made. It is sleeveless with lace details in place of the ruffled sleeves and I added front flaps to create a retro look. It is very comfortable and the Japanese fabric print with hundreds of bambis is just too cute! It is my first time wearing this Tara and I have no complains when it comes to it but my husband thinks the Taras in general are too low-cut and had protested a number of times. Do you care what your man say about the way you dress? I try to compromise or I will have to face Mr Grouchy the entire day, not a very nice experience.

Day 6

It’s Monday and I went resort style. I am wearing my ruffles ruby shorts with a semi sheer blue floral tunic and turquoise cuff. I love this look on a weekday and think I shall dress like this more often. The ruby shorts is super comfortable and very flattering too. I heart the ruffles as they made the shorts so much more interesting an unusual. My issue with the side buttons are still there though. It takes a bit of time to put on and remove. I guess if it looks good, it is worth it after all 🙂

At the end of six days, I realized I have not put my many made-me dresses to good use. So, I will try to wear more dresses. And I must say I have put in a little extra effort in deciding what to wear and in accessorizing these few days. Something I have not done since I became a mum.  That little difference can make me feel a lot better about myself and improve my self-esteem. I am feeling great! Thank you SSS!

Hoot Hoot Blouse

I love many of the fabrics from Saffron Craig but they are rather costly. I bought three of their prints recently including a yard of this owl print in aqua.

However, a yard is not enough to make a top for me. I normally require at least one and a half to two yards for a simple top so I decided to use the owl print with some brown fabric to create a blouse adapted from this Mod Dress suggestion in Wendy Mullin’s book Built By Wendy Dresses.

Instead of zipper which was required for the dress, the blouse is secured with one button on the back. I used two front darts instead of four on the sewing pattern as I wanted to retain the owls in their original form.

At first, I used a normal width bias tape for the neckline which holds together the back, sleeves and front sections of the blouse but it looked rather flimsy so I called upon my good friend the seam ripper and replaced it with an extra wide bias tape. I think it made a difference and the top looked better put together.
Meet the cute owls. Hoot Hoot!

Retro Inspired Dresses

I managed to sew two retro inspired dresses this week and am totally delighted with them. I have no one to snap the photos for me today so I tried my best by standing on a stool and snapping my reflection in the mirror. Think it would have been hilarious if anyone was watching. Anyway, I used this vintage simplicity pattern I got from etsy for the first time. I chose the one with V-neck but shorten the dress length and the sleeves.

Dress Number 1: The Hummingbird dress

Full length view

Close up

The Sew Convert chose to make this dress in Patty Young’s hummingbird fabric (Flora & Fauna collection). The vintage pattern came with a 1.5cm seam allowance so it was ideal. It was my first attempt with vintage pattern so I was a little skeptical but the instructions were surprisingly easy to follow. It was also my first experience sewing a zipper and as The Sew Convert does not have a zipper foot, she chose a normal white zipper instead of an invisible zipper. Thank goodness it turned out all right, phew!

Dress Number 2: Scallop Hem Floral Mini Dress

Full length view

Front view

Side view

My second zipper

Off course, I was inspired by the vintage blouse I posted here. I adapted the sheath dress pattern from Wendy Mullin’s book Built By Wendy Dresses and used the vain and vapid tutorial for the scallop edge. I had to add seam allowance to the pattern and drew my own pockets.  Instead of sewing the hem area as suggested by the tutorial, I used bias tape to finish it so that it does not show on the right side of the dress. To ensure that the hem stays I stitched it to the sides of the dress,  the bottom seams of the pockets and the back centre seam. I used a thin orange bias tape for the pockets as I didn’t have piping but am happy with the end result.

For both dresses I adjusted the fit at the waist and hip area a little at the end. Two dresses in a week. That makes it a good week doesn’t it?

To make it an even better week ahead. Have you heard about the 30% sale at colette patterns? Don’t miss it, I know I won’t! I have been wanting to make the Rooibos and the Macaron dresses from colette. Drool!!!!

Tablecloth Tunic Dress

I am in love with this tunic dress. Made out of one of the dress patterns from Built By Wendy Dresses (You get three basic sewing patterns with the book for three dress types), this is my version of the tunic dress. I love how comfortable the fit is and how well it fits my body type. And off course I love the Anna Maria Horner fabric named tablecloth. I chose a bright orange for the ‘border’ of the tunic but wasn’t sure if it was too loud at first but when I was trying on the unfinished dress I fell in love with the vibrant colour. I also took extra care to place the orange design of the main fabric in the centre of the dress and love how it turned out. Sides of the dress were finished with french hem.

Wendy Mullin’s book provided some tips on how to design the tunic but all other pattern drawing besides the basic shift pattern really depended on ME!!!!! It was kinda intimidating at first but I think the effort was worthwhile and a pretty good experience.  I can now make a few more of these dresses with variations on my own. How liberating is that!

However, I found the sewing instructions from the book rather vague for this dress and often had to figure out what the next step should be. I also had to unpick the bottom ‘border’ as the front and back didn’t match in terms of width and looked funny. I’m happy with it after re-measurement and re-sewing it. In fact I’m so happy with it that I shall be wearing the dress out this weekend.