Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit!

Happy Year of the Rabbit! I didn’t expect to but I have a couple of hours of free time today and decided to upload some photos of the festivity.

Day 1

As per our family’s yearly tradition, everyone gathered at my uncle’s (mum’s eldest brother) place for a potluck lunch feast. Hubby and I couldn’t resist posing in front of my uncle’s neighbor sparkling silver ferrari for a pic. My lil princess ran in and held my hand at the last minute which is why the photo turned out this way.

I wore the Mademoiselle dress but had a really hard time getting my relatives to believe that I made that dress or my lil princess’ reversible retro dress or my son’s robot shirt or my dad’s Peacock Jakob shirt. It was actually rather funny but that became quite an ice breaker and I had to convince them that it was my new found hobby. One that I grew really fond of.

I didn’t have a chance to snap photos of the robot shirt and the Peacock Jakob beforehand so I took the opportunity to document them yesterday. Here are the kids with their cousin. The boys kept making cheeky faces! Boys will be boys…

My lil prince is wearing the Robot shirt which I made last week using burda magazine’s 5/2010 Boy’s shirt with Mandarin collar downloaded from the burdastyle website. I gotta let you know that I am so glad I just completed the JJ Blouse and shirts because the steps given in the boy’s shirt instructions didn’t help at all. There was also no information on sizing either. This is probably the last time I will be downloading a burda magazine pattern online. In the end, I ditched the instruction sheet and relied totally on what I’ve learnt making the shirts to sew this garment. When I finished sewing it, my son asked me to add some buttons for him just because he liked them. I agreed though I knew he wouldn’t be able to button up so instead of a traditional buttonhole, I sewed two buttons, one on each side of the shirt and looped them together with a knotted elastic band. A fun buttons and knot combo!   As for dad, he was *ahem* too preoccupied to pose for any photos as you can see below.

But I managed to snap a closer view of the shirt he was wearing without disturbing his social activity. The fabric is Alexander Henry’s cotton lawn in Regent Peacock and the sewing pattern is burdastyle’s Jakob. Just like hubby’s shirt, all seams are finished with french seams and rolled hems.

Day 2

Today’s lunch was Henghua mee suan which my aunt (dad’s older sister) cooked for the lot of us at her place. It has to be the most delicious noodles on earth and something my hubby looks forward to every year:) My kids are wearing fusion traditional today. Actually, they were supposed to be wearing traditional costumes but my son preferred wearing the traditional top with jeans. He spent half an hour lamenting that the blue top is ugly and he wanted to wear only red tops as red is his favorite color. Hubby and I finally convinced him by pronouncing a mandarin collar day in which all four of us would be wearing clothes with mandarin collars today.

My lil princess wasn’t easy to handle either. She would only wear skirts so I had no choice but to layer her traditional outfit with a tutu, much to her delight.

And here’s hubby and I with our mandarin collar outfits. The Alexander Henry Jakob and “In the Mood for Love” cheongsam.I’ve learnt a few lessons from sewing some of our own new year outfits this year and thought I need to put them down just for next year’s reference sake

1. Dad has requested for pockets on his shirts as he has a habit of placing his pen and some notes in there.

2. Red shirts for lil prince but best to have him select the fabrics himself. Save ourselves from all that whining.

3. Hubby has suggested that I sew lil prince and him some dad and son shirts so they could wear the same print out. That sounds like fun and I would really wanna try creating them.

4. Mum is still really fussy as I have yet to see her wearing the Liberty JJ blouse. The Lunar new year celebrations is for 15 days so let see if she does.

5. More skirts and dresses for lil princess. No pants. Tutus make her smile.

6. Dad and hubby loved the cotton lawns and commented on how comfy these are.

7. For some weird reason, lil prince is into family fashion themes. Figure something to minimize potential issues.

Looks like I’ll need to start planning and sewing for the year of the dragon a little earlier:)

Jakob Shirt with stand collar

I finally managed to take a photograph of mum trying on the Liberty JJ Blouse I made her. Here’s the snapshot. I am so glad she gave her nod of approval! The fit is definitely better on her than on me.

For dear hubby’s shirt, I used the tried and tested burdastyle’s Jakob sewing pattern once again and here’s the mister modeling his brand new shirt for me. They said every girl would marry someone like her dad. Well, my husband and dad wear the same size shirts!

At my husband’s request, I made his version with a stand collar which came out surprisingly well.

I even managed to find matching buttons for the fabric at a vintage button shop in Chinatown.

When he tried the shirt on for the first time, I was pleased with the fit but the sleeves were a little too long and the garment also needed an additional buttonhole. These were quick and easy changes to make. I am very pleased with this shirt and it is so true that practice does make perfect as this is already version 3. All seams including sleeves are finished with french seams in this one which is a great thing with cotton lawn. Dear hubby said after trying on the shirt that he doesn’t mind having a few more cotton lawn shirts in different colors and I took that as a compliment 🙂

Having just completed the shirt using Alexander Henry’s cotton lawn, I couldn’t help comparing the Liberty tana lawn with Alexander Henry’s version. Here’s my verdict:

Post wash: There seemed to be less crinkle on the AH fabric after washing and drying.

Ironing: Both were equally easy to iron and crease.

Sewing: Equally easy.

Color and vibrancy: Liberty colors are way more vibrant compared to the AH collection. Somehow, AH’s cotton lawn is slightly on the dull side in terms of color but I think that makes them rather perfect for men’s shirts.

Skin test: I didn’t perspire the entire time when trying on the Liberty blouse which is unusual for our climate. It feels amazing on the skin. The AH collection feels good but not as good as Liberty when touched.

Drape: I do not feel there is much difference in terms of the drape of both fabrics.

Price difference: Very significant!

Conclusion: Liberty is THE choice for vibrant color/ print as well as top comfort, something to pamper yourself with. AH is great for projects requiring less vibrant prints and definitely a superb quality fabric for its price.

On a separate note, this week’s TSW Challenge theme is “Something floral, something blue”, do check out the creations for this week or join us for this challenge. The garment I sewed is scheduled for showcase Friday PST and as usual I’ll be doing a Behind The Seams on this blog.

It’s the middle of the week. I hope you have had a great week so far. I am looking forward to more sewing and more completed projects! Are you looking forward to Spring yet?

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!

Self-Stitched-September: Day 1 to 3

Self Stitched September has been fun fun fun so far and I’ve been bringing my camera tripod around a lot more. I didn’t want SSS photos to look exactly like those I’ve listed in Made Me, where you can find my entire self stitched wardrobe. This month is really a test for me. First to see if I would really wear what I have made so far and second to see which are the item I have made but would never wear. I’m still not sure at this point which are the pieces I wouldn’t wear as I’ve taken the easy approach of donning worn before items on the first three days of SSS. I hope I won’t be relying on these few pieces I’ve grown so fond of for the entire SSS! So, without further ado, a summary and personal thoughts on the Made Me garments I wore Day 1 to 3.

Day 1

On Day 1, I wore this comfy and easy outfit. My fave pair of shorts, black & white Bella teamed with my Mr Bump tee. It was my princess’ Teachers Day holiday so we had some bubbles fun at the park. My verdict: Bella is oh so comfortable, I want to make a whole bunch of them!  Three huge buttons on the front closure made putting and taking them off a breeze. Think button front jeans easy. I love the pleats at the pockets. This design element makes the shorts so unique and chic. The pattern isn’t difficult either, it just takes time. I wore these the entire day and didn’t feel self-conscious at all. Off course not, I have used my Bella countless times 🙂 A few more of them in autumn hues sound good to me!

Day 2

I caught a cold on Day 2 so the highlight of the day was running some errands down at the post office *yawn*. I didn’t get to swim nor sew. But the good news is I managed to complete my dress tutorial. Phew! I really admired all the sewing divas out there who produce tutorials like all the time. It is really quite a time-consuming endeavor. And, honestly, I missed being at the sewing machine when I had to work on a tutorial. So, kudos to those of you who are so committed to doing and sharing them!

My Plaid Tara was put to the test. It was the very first item I made for myself using a sewing pattern (Burdastyle’s Tara) ever. I modified the sleeves as I didn’t like the original short ruffled version.  The blouse was made a few months after my princess was born and I have not touched it for sometime. When I wore it on Day 2, it felt loose fitting with huge sleeves and bodice, not flattering at all and I was feeling self-conscious. Hated that feeling! In my sewing basket it goes so that I can work on the fit again. The blouse was not difficult to sew but using quilting cotton for this piece did make it look kind of stiff. So, if you are making Tara, I would recommend using a light weight fabric.

Day 3

It’s my son’s turn to enjoy school holiday in lieu of Teachers’ Day. We went to the neighborhood playground, visited the airport and took a short subway ride upon his request even though I drove. Boys will be boys! Transportation never fails to intrigue him.

I wore a fire engine red knit top with my Red Denim Ruby. I love this first pair of shorts I made. I love the color, the fit and it’s pretty comfortable. While the side button closure attracted me to the pattern in the first place, I do have to contest with them when making a dash for the loo. I might need to find an easier alternative should I sew this again. It’s really a design versus practicality issue. For my love of sewing, the adventures of creating new things and the many things I’ve still got to learn, I don’t think I will skip sewing items due to such practicality issues, at least not yet 🙂 Guess that means I am not at all a practical crafter hmmm…

My prince wore a very old pair of echino scooter pants I made by combining two different prints from the ni-co collection. It’s my favorites from the pile of pants I’ve made him. There is clearly something magical in echino fabrics. The prince was so excited to see two huge dogs during our Friday morning neighborhood walk but he became very weary of this sweet mannered Golden Retriever.  I told him the dog was friendly and was only sniffing his scent but the little prince complaint that it tickled…a lot 😛

So at the end of the third day while typing this post, self-realization took place:

1) The Sew Convert isn’t sew practical when it comes to what she sews though she tries to be.

2) The Sew Convert is full of contradictions and tries to justify them. She needs a few more pairs of shorts with easy closure but will rather create a few more Bellas though they have button closure too. Somehow, front buttons are easier to manipulate compared to side buttons or maybe it’s the button size that made the difference. ha!

3) The Sew Convert seems pretty fond of wearing the garments she made from burdastyle patterns. Bella, ruby and tara are all from burdastyle! Gosh!

Anyhow, I don’t usually dress up on weekdays since I am normally at home sewing or blogging or just playing chauffeur to His and Her Royal Highness so I’m really looking forward to this weekend…a Made-Me weekend!

To my sewing comrades enjoying the Labour Day holidays, have a good one!

Two looks in one Esther coat

Silly silly me…I thought I was mixing woven with knit when I was planning to sew the Esther Coat but as I felt the corduroy, I realized there was some stretch in it. This is my first time sewing with this fabric and I was glad to have read this informative post on working with nap and pile on Colette Pattern’s blog just in time. After reading it, I ensured that I cut the fabric in one direction.

I needed this coat to go with anything and everything I would be wearing for my trip to Shanghai in October so I chose to make it in black cord and black jersey. Why the mixture of fabrics?  This is part of my stash busting effort and they were the only combination that I could get together to formulate a coat of sorts.

Leopard prints are everywhere, I think it’s wild and like it quite a lot. But, it does age the wearer if its overwhelming so I added a leopard print trim on the sleeve facings instead just to up the meow factor. I love it!

Nonetheless, I felt that leopard print only goes with black stuff and  jeans and nothing else. So, it might not be that practical for a holiday coat. Not to worry,  the Esther works in such a way that if I were to fold the sleeves higher, the leopard trim could be completely covered and the coat goes with everything and anything in the world!

See what I mean, I am wearing the same tee and shorts I have been wearing the entire day and just threw on the coat and a scarf.

Now let me reveal the source of the leopard print trim. No, I did not buy any new fabric and no it wasn’t originally a trim. One day while browsing through Daiso (US$1.50 store), I was immediately drawn to this cute little leopard print pouch and thought I could sew a thick elastic around it and make a waist pouch.

But, my husband thinks waist pouches are the most unflattering accessory a woman can wear. I dropped the idea and the pouch has been on my sewing table for months until yesterday morning anyways. I am happy with how it looks on the coat. At least it has been put to use.  I love the texture, the furry feel and the contrast against black cord.

I thought I would need at least a week to complete a coat but this pattern was so easy and fun to sew! It only had 4 pieces! I took my time and finished this in a day including cutting and sewing.  For my version, I made 3 pieces out of the black cord and piece number 2, which covers the upper sleeves and upper back area in black jersey. For a burdastyle sewing pattern, this one has reasonably clear instructions. This coat is designed to keep you warm, with the exception of pattern piece number 2, all the rest had the fabric folded in half. This means there are two layers of comfy cord shielding me from the cold!

P/S: I have to thank dbsewer from Pattern Review who told me the coat looks hunter green on her monitor. I had to compare a black and white shot to realize the difference and did a color correction. Thanks so much. This updated version is closer to the actual color.


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.

50s Inspired Sabrina Cape Dress Part 1

When I read this post by the Selfish Seamstress, I knew I wanted to make one of the 1950s outfits she posted. I love the idea that the cape is attached to the buttons on the dress like this one I found a day later on etsy.

I already have a vintage cape pattern, butterick B5032 pattern, so I didn’t want to purchase another one. Instead, I made the dress out of burdastyle’s Sabrina sewing pattern which I’ve always wanted to try but am arm shy. But with a cape, the outfit is ideal! I would never have thought of this outfit on my own so I am thankful to have seen these vintage patterns. They are my inspiration. I have just completed the dress portion so here it is. I hope you see some similarities 🙂

I used a medium weight ikea fabric in navy blue plaid for the dress, white fabric for what was called the ‘neckline’ on the sewing pattern and added some navy blue piping on top. I love the egg colored buttons which were attached to the front and back of the dress to hold the straps in place.

Expect lots of sewing for this dress. I have never used this much thread on a dress before LOL and I only realized it when I counted the number of used bobbins. There are princess seams running on the skirt on both front, back and pleat pieces in between. This is my first time sewing a box pleat skirt and I really enjoyed learning something new. I lengthen the skirt quite a bit as the original version was rather short.

Sad to say, the sewing instruction was a total letdown. It was overly brief and confusing for a dress that had quite a number of steps to complete.

If you bought this pattern, I hope you will find the steps I took below helpful. You can follow burdastyle’s instructions till the end of interfacing and then:

1) Sew the front neckline piece to the front yoke piece (this was not named on the pattern but you can identify it by the bust measurements printed on it), right side facing. Repeat the same for the other front neckline and yoke pieces. Please note that the bodice is very fitting so measure yourself before selecting the size.

2) Sew the back neckline piece to the back yoke piece, right side facing. Repeat the same for the other back neckline and yoke pieces.

3) Sew the front and back pieces together at the side seams for both sets.

4) Sew the two sets together by joining the two necklines, right side facing. You can insert piping here if you wish. Turn right side out, fold in one set of the neckline/yoke set and top stitch the neckline. Fit.

5) Sew the centre front piece and the pleat pieces together, right side facing, matching the numbers. Sew the pleat pieces to the side front pieces, right side facing, matching the numbers. Sew the top of the side front to the centre front, right side facing, matching the numbers until your waistline.

6) Sew the back front, pleat and side pieces in a similar fashion.

7) Sew the  side seams on the right. For the left side, sew until the zipper mark.

8 ) Baste top of skirt to one of the bottom seams of the front yoke, matching the side seams. Fit and stitch.

9) Fold in the seam allowance of the internal bodice and iron. Top stitch at the seam.

10) Fold the strap in half and stitch, right side facing, leaving a gap, trim allowance, turn inside out and top stitch. Repeat for the other strap. Pin on marked button spots and do a fitting.

11) Insert zipper and make button holes. Sew buttons.

12) Finish hems and we are done!

I have been procrastinating on the Sabrina for a long long time. There is another reason that gave me a push. The weather here has been anything but predictable recently. I have never witnessed this much rain in June and July! They were supposed to be the hottest months. Can you imagine,  these couple of months we actually had a number of flooding incidents! So, I thought this dress with cape would be sort of weather proof- warm or cool. Also, it is perfect for my Sundays. First watching my prince swim at the sunny pool, followed by church service in an incredibly cold auditorium.

One thing though, I find the dress a little bit difficult to remove due to the tight fit at the bust area. But, it’s only a small issue given how comfortable this is when worn! If you use knit, this issue can be easily resolved and you will not need a zipper.

Now, I just have to get the cape done!

Painter’s Block Melissa

With the vintage jumpsuit completed, it’s officially the start of my two weeks of ‘dressmaking’. I started with the knit fabric I bought from one of my countless trips to Spotlight. It was love at first sight with this fabric and I didn’t even know if I was able to handle such a silky, stretchy fabric. Having completed this dress, I have to say it was quite an experience.  As I do not have a serger, I used a jersey needle with my very ordinary sewing machine, a normal foot, zig-zag stitches and a load full of blind guts and went ahead. I can’t recall what fabric this is specifically but cotton jersey it was not. It had a mind of its own and loved to sway from side to side when I tried my best to get it as straight as possible. The seam reaper definitely played a huge role in this project and I’m glad I baste whenever I was in doubt. I guess I will have to practice sewing knits more. So, here it is, my second knit project and what I am calling the Painter’s Block Melissa.

I have been eyeing Burdastyle’s Jenny dress for a long time but knew I had absolutely no occasion to wear it. Melissa, its evil twin, however, was another story. Somehow, knit just seemed more relax, more casual. I planned the fabric placement, hoping that the horizontal stripes and vertical stripes at different locations will help hide excesses where they should not exist and accentuate whatever I lacked.

Before starting on the project, I read reviews by talented seamstresses who had tried the Melissa sewing pattern. Most of them mentioned that it ran large so I cut a size 36 for top and skirt and size 38 for the high waist (I’m a size 38). It seemed to  have worked well for me and is now something I will definitely wear.

As a sewing pattern, I’ll consider the Melissa pretty easy to put together with the right fabric. I managed to finish it in a day despite using a less than easy fabric so this is a dress you can create within a short time frame and easy enough to figure out without much instructions. When I was trying to print the instructions, I realized it was meant for the skirt so I thought they didn’t include instructions for the dress which they actually did under the dress variation (here) but alas I had already completed most of the project. Sometimes, I just wished they could be put together in one place.

Black & White Bella

My Black & White Bella is done! This is based on burdastyle’s Bella sewing pattern which is originally meant for pants. The only changes I made was to shorten the length and skipped the interfacing.  I used black cotton twill for the shorts and selected black and white buttons to go with it.  This black & white Bella is now my favorite pair of shorts for many reasons.

1) The high waist with princess seams is very flattering to the waistline

2) The wide legs makes this pair of shorts super-duper comfy

3) It is a superb sewing pattern which is well thought out. Imagine back pockets that are so strategically positioned under the seamline. Go beyond the 1.5cm seam allowance and they could be gone…haha. You can imagine how the princess seams, side seams, pocket seams etc matched perfectly.

4) I learnt how to create my first pouch pocket and it was fun! I love the pleats on top of the pocket. They are rather flattering too as they accentuate the hip area from the side.

5) Compared to the Ruby pattern, the instructions for Bella must be commended for its clarity. If anyone is making shorts for the first time, I’ll recommend Bella for sure!

6) Black and white not only makes the outfit look more classic, it can go with many different tops. 

7) I am happy I do not have to alter the waistline fit. Size 38 is perfect for me. Yay! For a person who has been having problems finding shorts with a waistline that fits, it’s a double YAY!!!

UPDATE: Oops, thought I should also show a clearer photo of the back as I really like the details. I could not take a clear one wearing it though so I will live with this. Color of the actual pair shorts is very similar to the photos above. The one below had exposure and definition blasted up so the details can be seen in the shot 🙂