Personal

I’ve Moved! Still Sew Fabulous but now at Huenmade.com!

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Hello from Yogyakarta (& Mount Merapi)! I’ve got a big announcement today which has been a good 6 months in the making… that’s right, JessSewFabulous is now Huenmade.com!

Why “Huenmade” you might ask? Apart from the fact that it was somewhat embarrassing whenever I disclosed my blog URL to strangers (it’s equal parts punny and humiliating…) and my surname when mispronounced (the only persons who pronounce it correctly are my relatives and boyfriend) sounds somewhat like “hand” – I wanted a more generic blog title to represent all the different forms of creating / making that I enjoy!

Half a year ago, I took stock of where I intend to go with this blog and my sewing career. One of the things I decided was that I wanted to be more intentional with my blogging (writing and reading were my first hobbies after all!) and to create a home for documenting all the different forms of creating / making that I’ve picked up over the years – writing, sewing, crafting, calligraphy and photography. I’m conscious that the bulk of you – friends and readers – have been here to follow my sewing journey and that you’d prefer to keep this space exclusively for posts about sewing. If that’s the case, fret not! I have no aspirations to turn this into a lifestyle blog – my focus will still be on sewing, but I plan to throw in posts about my other making hobbies on a monthly basis, which hopefully will be a good balance!

On an aside, I’ve also made the move from wordpress to squarespace, so unfortunately I will no longer be able to access the wonderful wordpress community or have my posts seen on it – I will miss you guys! If you like my posts and want to follow along, do follow me on Bloglovin’ (search Huenmade.com!), on instagram (@jessiehuen) or sign up for email updates! I would love to keep in touch so fee free to drop me a comment or like a post anytime!

That’s all I have for you guys for today, it’s been a good run as JessSewFabulous but here’s to bigger and better things on Huenmade.com! See you on the flip side!

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Review, Sewing

New Year, New Skills: Sewing and Pattern-making Basics at Fashion Makerspace

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Has it been 4 months since my last post?! (Bad, bad blog owner!). When I last wrote in November, I had grand plans for a Christmas outfit (didn’t happen), a New Year outfit (also, didn’t happen), a Chinese New Year outfit (miracle of miracles, this one actually materialised) and Christmas presents for family and friends (all of which, did not happen… lol). The truth is, towards the end of last year and the start of 2016, I completely lost my sew-jo. It happens to the best of us, I suppose.  At first, I was overloaded with work commitments, then I went on a couple of overseas trips and more recently, my family has had to deal with the loss of a very beloved grandfather. Though no one was pressuring me to post or sew anything, I spent the entire period being weighed down by self-imposed sewist and blogger’s guilt. That made my time away from the machine even more stressful! So this year, I’ve made a resolution to slow down, enjoy my hobbies to the fullest and not to stress out over them. If I get home late from a long day of work and cutting out pattern pieces feels like a chore – I’ll leave it off till another day. If I feel really crummy about having to set my alarm for 6 in the morning just to photograph my latest make before work – it can wait till the weekend. Hobbies are for leisure and enjoyment and I sure want to keep them that way! ^^

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That being said, I haven’t been completely out of action these last 4 months. Last year, I visited the lovely ladies from Fashion Makerspace (FMS) for the first time and spent an extensive part of our meet-up bemoaning the lack of pattern-making classes in Singapore outside of the formal design schools (who charge an arm and a leg by the way). Imagine my glee when a little while later I got an invite from FMS to try out their new Sewing and Pattern-making Basics class (!!) which was targeted at beginners. This meant that I would be drafting a full outfit from scratch based on my own measurements and then sewing it up over the course of 10 lessons – I found this astounding. As a complete beginner I had previously taken a pattern-making class (conducted in Mandarin no less… who was I kidding?!) which took me no less than 5 weeks to complete the drafting and sewing of a simple A-line skirt. That FMS’ plan was to finish a full outfit in 10 weeks seemed a little ambitious to me. I was wrong, of course; all of us in the class finished the entire syllabus within the 10 weeks with time to spare. If you’re interested to hear more about my experience with FMS, then read on below!

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I attended a total of 10 lessons (2.5 hours each) from November 2015 to January 2016 which covered the drafting of a bodice sloper, skirt sloper, reverse peter pan collared blouse and A-line skirt, as well as the construction of both the blouse and the skirt. The drafting and construction ran concurrently throughout the course – this meant that we began with the skirt sloper and the skirt draft, and then tackled the skirt construction whilst simultaneously learning to draft our bodice slopers and blouse drafts. I thought this lesson structure was really helpful – one week we were learning about drafting concepts and the next we were seeing them in action being translated from our paper drafts into 3-d garments. Nothing like seeing theory in practice to drive home a point!

Would I recommend this class to anyone else? Definitely! I was in a class with 2-3 other ladies who had very little experience with garment sewing and they did superb. Even as a fairly confident sewist, I took away a lot of new information on things I thought I knew well – like setting in sleeves and sewing darts! All 3 of the ladies who run FMS are professionally trained and have experience working in the fashion industry which means that they have a wealth of knowledge both in pattern-making and sewing that I shamelessly took every chance to tap on (and which they were totally nice about!) >< Some of the completely random out of syllabus tips I got from them included – their favourite fabric shops, serger troubleshooting, small bust adjustments, the best places to buy certain elusive notions, feedback on one of my unrelated drafts… the list goes on! (A big thank you to  Danlin and Hailey for being so patient and tolerating my gazillion irrelevant questions!)

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My only complaint (if you can even call it one, given that it’s mostly my own fault) is that I don’t care much for the eventual blouse I ended up with. For one, I made a poor fabric choice in picking a cotton lawn that was both too lightweight to hold the weight of the collar and wrinkled like crazy (all that wrinkling you see up there was from putting on the garment sheesh). Second, the reverse peter pan collar isn’t really my style. I did have the option of leaving off the collar but I wanted to get in some practice inserting the collar and then was wayyyy too lazy to unpick it. Lastly, as the course didn’t build in time for toiles/muslins, we had very little time for fitting.  This meant that the top I ended up with is a little too tight around the armholes – which you can see from the pulling around my bust and shoulders.My draft has since been adjusted based on my feedback, so I’ll definitely give it another shot! As it is, I’ve already put my bodice block to good use in self-drafting a new dress for Chinese New Year – watch out for a post on that coming next week! As for the skirt, it’s perfect for the office (roomy enough to hide my lunch belly and tight enough to look business-formal) which makes it a winner in my books!

Tldr; 

Class title: Sewing & Pattern-making Basics: Womenswear

Class duration: 10 lessons of 2.5 hours each

Class size: I believe it varies, but for my class it was 2 instructors to 3-4 students.

What do I get out of it?: A bodice sloper, a skirt sloper, a peter pan top with keyhole neckline, an A-line skirt and patterns for both these garments made to your measurements. Oh and a skill upgrade and new friends, of course!

Would I recommend it?: But of course! I’m already in the midst of taking classes in the next instalment – the intermediate pattern-making and sewing class for a shirt dress. I learnt a ton and I’m sure you would too!

 

Disclosure: FMS offered me a discount to try the class and if I liked it, to write a review on the course – as always, however, all the opinions expressed on this site remain 100% my own.

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Pattern Review, Sewing

Zebras at the Zoo // Seamwork Adelaide Dress

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One of my favourite things about being able to make my own clothing is themed apparel – which is a thinly-veiled euphemism for ‘dressing according to a theme even though it isn’t halloween whilst pretending you have no inclinations towards cosplay’. Case in point: this zebra dress that I made specifically for a day out at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari. So intense was my need to wear an animal-themed outfit to the zoo that I safety pinned myself into this dress because I had run out of snaps and I just couldn’t deal with the idea that I might have to go in *shudder* normal non-zoo-related clothing.

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I really enjoyed the River Safari but the zoo got a little boring after a couple of hours. Funny how the place seems HUGE when you visit as a child, but once you’re grown, everything looks like it shrunk and the exhibits seem dated. Snapping some cheesy photos in my Zoo dress was vastly amusing though (albeit embarrassing). I took photos with a zebra striped-tram, a zebra crossing, a zebra sign and the zebras themselves (the real ones) – I must have taken a picture with every zebra-themed item in the place!

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This dress was a relatively quick make that I now see could use some fitting adjustments (as always, I was way too lazy to make a toile…).  If you look closely, you’ll see that the shoulder seam tends to run over my shoulder and down to the collarbone because of the weight of the snaps and placket. I contemplated fixing this by pinching out the excess from he shoulders, but this tended to make the armhole too tight for comfort. On my next make of this – trust me, there will be one – I’ll probably do either a small bust adjustment or pinch out some width from the front neckline to raise the neckline a little and to prevent gaping.

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The pattern used is the Seamwork Adelaide Dress which from what I’ve seen is the most prolific Seamwork pattern todate! (I especially love Rachel ‘s made up in funky vintage sunbathing ladies fabric and this one with pockets on La Petite Josette.) The fabric is a zebra print rayon from Spotlight that I got on sale, and the neckline and armholes are bound with store bought black bias binding. I did french seams on all the interiors which means it’s actually really neat on the inside (for once!).

I cut a size 0 in the bust (woe betide small busted ladies who try to sew Colette’s C-cup patterns…) and graded it out to a size 4 at the waist and hips. I cut a size 6 length at first because I was concerned it would be too short, but later took 2″ off the bottom again and hemmed it by folding in by 1/2″ and later by another 1″. There were a couple of issues with the placket – mostly my fault, as I used the bias binding method from the Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank pattern which didn’t make sense when paired together with the placket directions on the Adeleide dress! Apart from that, I ran out of snaps and later found that my snap pliers were the wrong size causing my snaps to turn out wonky… But all’s well that ends well! I’ve since replaced all the old snaps with new ones that are a lot more secure.

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I’ve already got big plans for my next one out of a chambray shirting from the stash, I just need to figure out the fitting issues and find myself some nice wooden buttons (buttonholes I WILL conquer you grr)!

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Sewing

Unintentional Sleepwear – Seamwork Savannah Camisole

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Hello all you lovely people of the inter web! This is a fairly short post today, partly because I’ve blogged photos of this top before, together with my orchid-coloured Hollyburn skirt, but mostly because this was a dud make and I’ve long since forgotten the specifics of the pattern size I used and whatnot.

When I was sewing up this camisole, I envisioned it as a trendy pinstriped type top that could be paired with pencil skirts for work and culottes or a circle skirt for a casual day out. I rummaged through the stash and came across this super silky, luxe looking pin-striped poly satin that I got from a remnants bin in Hong Kong – for some reason (I blame it on work-related fatigue), I thought it would be perfect for my purposes.

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I rushed through sticking up the pattern – the Seamwork Savannah Camisole – and breezed through the sewing with minimal issues, finishing the top just a mere 2 hours before I was due to catch the ferry to Bintan for a weekend away. Naturally, I was feeling pretty baller about my fantastic new make and mighty pleased for pulling it off in time.

Imagine my horror when my ever-supportive boyfriend informed me with his usual tact that it looked rather like sleepwear and was I sure that I wanted to wear that out in public…? Unfortunately, he was right (for once) – the shiny-ness of the fabric did make it look rather like lingerie even if the pinstripes were oh-so-trendy. Woe betide my pinstriped blogger camisole dreams; this was one make I would not be wearing out on a regular basis.

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This make has since been retired to the home wardrobe and I do wear it from time to time – especially when I feel like being fancy on a night in! Well you win some and you lose some, I think it’s important to document your failures as well as your successes – everybody has their off-days and as a beginner sewist, I often need reminders that practice (whether with fabric selection or sewing skills) always makes perfect.

The pattern itself was a very simple, functional pattern that is great for basic woven camisoles. I may need to pinch out about half an inch in the front neckline, but I really appreciated the Seamwork instructions for fitting the length of the straps – RTW camisoles always hang too low on my body!  I’ve already got some new (a lot less shiny) cotton to make up a second version in for my upcoming trip to Aussie this December and will definitely take note of any alterations I make this time. In the meantime if anyone has any white/cream and black pinstriped fabric to recommend, PLEASE send your suggestions my way via the comments below! You will have my undying gratitude and the satisfaction of helping me fulfil my handmade fashion blogger dream 😉

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Pattern Review, Sewing, Uncategorized

Eat Pray Love Pants : A Named Alexandria Pants Review

Hello again! I know, I know it’s been a while, and so much has happened since I last blogged! I haven’t been completely idle in the sewing department though! As always, I’ve been posting sneaks of WIPs and UFOs and just life in general over on my instagram (and trust me, I update much  more regularly over there so if you’re a fellow ‘grammer come by my handle at @jessiehuen and say hi! You might have noticed me tagging #huenmade on all my makes recently 😉 that’s an exciting new update coming to the blog at the year end, so look forward to it!

In another news, I was so stoked to get the chance to do a guest round-up of free tutorials over on Sew Mama Sew featuring gifts for HIPSTERS. You heard me right – hipsters! Love ’em or hate ’em, I’m sure everyone has someone on their gifting list that falls within that category. Sew Mama Sew also has a whole bunch of giveaways happening every day as part of their “Handmade Holidays” series, so be sure to check it out!

And lastly (phew, I told you there was a lot of catching up to do!), I’m really excited to be starting a pattern-drafting and sewing course tomorrow with Fashion Makerspace. It will be my first real experience with drafting patterns and I can’t wait to explore this whole new area of garment-making!

Right, I know you’re all here for the real sewing stuff, so let’s get right to it!

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I’ll be honest – the track pants style never appealed to me. It always seemed to me to be more of a European / American style that just wouldn’t fit in over here in Singapore. To be honest, before the track pants trend really took off this year the only people I ever saw wearing them were backpackers who had just come from Cambodia or Thailand (or one of those other Eat-Pray-Love type South-East Asian countries that are considered exotic). So naturally, when I signed up for a missions trip to Cambodia this year and was told that I’d have to wear long pants the whole time I was there… I concluded that maybe this trend was worth a try after all (it took a LOT bit of self-convincing to get there, but I did in the end).

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I had a couple of choices – the True Bias Hudson Pant , the Named Alexandria Peg Trousers and the Papercut Guise Pants were my front runners. I was leaning very heavily in favour of the Hudson pants, but was conscious of the fact that it was a knit pattern when I really wanted to make it up in a woven nstead. Then on a particularly tough day at work,  Named decided to run a sale and magically I found the Alexandria Trousers in my basket. Do I regret not going with the Hudsons? Maybe. But I do think that with a few adjustments, the Alexandria has the potential to be a very tasteful addition to my wardrobe – maybe even work appropriate if made up in a black cotton sateen!

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Now, on to the goods. I made this up in a drapey rayon from Spotlight that I got on sale – since these were Eat Pray Love pants, naturally they had to be made up in the most obnoxious, psychedelic, rainbow-coloured fabric I could find. The pocket pieces were made cotton lawn left over from my beloved purple paisley Flora dress.

As it was made over 2 months ago, I don’t recall the exact changes I made. I do know that I took at least 5″ off the length to account for  the fact that Named patterns are drafted for a height of 170cm. I found the fit true to my measurements, although on hindsight, I would go a half size up as I tended to get a very slight wedgie every time I bent over (too much info?).

I did mess up on one of the side pockets though, as I didn’t read the instructions for the pleating (which covers the pockets) right. By the time I realised, I had snipped off the excess and it was too late to redo it – thank God for busy prints!

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All in all, this was a well-drafted pattern, though I don’t really like this particular make on me. Maybe it was the botched-up pocket that bothered me, or the fact that long pants make me look even more vertically-challenged that I already am, but I just don’t think these pants will be on constant rotation in my wardrobe. It did serve me really well whilst I was in Cambodia – the rayon did a great job of keeping me cool even in the sweltering Russian Market that you see in the photos above! (P.S. sorry for the quality of the photos – it’s really hard to ask for time to snap decent photos when you’re on a mission trip x) you’re there for the people after all, not to be narcissistic!)

What do you guys think about the track pants trend? Love it hate it? Should I try it again with a heavier fabric – a chambray or maybe a work version in cotton sateen?

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Uncategorized

Patriotic Pants : Angelia Shorts x Fictive Fingers Fabric Bundle Challenge

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If you live in Singapore (heck, if you live NEAR Singapore or have Singaporean friends) you’d probably know that Singapore is celebrating its 50th year of independence today, locally known as “Sg50”. That’s right, our little red dot turns 50 today and from the scale of the celebrations you’d have thought we were turning a 1000! Sg50 car decals, flags, fashion shows, lighters – you name it, there’s a merchandise or event being hawked in Singapore with a Sg50 label on it.

Lots of people my age have poked fun at all this hype (which was probably exacerbated by Lee Kuan Yew’s passing earlier this year) but I have to admit… I kind of like it. Singaporeans don’t often come together to do things (except when it involves free stuff then everybody loves helping others to game the system) so it’s sort of nice how the general population is so excited about this affair. So when local print artists and sister duo Fictive Fingers announced a fabric bundle challenge to coincide with National Day, I knew I had to get in on the fun. How it works, is you buy a mystery fabric bundle from Fictive Fingers consisting of cloth pieces of various sizes. You then make something using materials from the fabric bundle and enter the competition! Simple? I thought so!

Taken from Fictive Finger’s website.

As it turns out, things weren’t as simple as all that. Before my fabric bundle arrived, I thought about possible patterns using the fabric pieces as features – a yoked tessuti ruby top maybe, or the roza pattern from kate and rose? Neither of these worked out as the fabric pieces turned out much too tiny for a yoke, even with cut in arm-holes. So it was back to the drawing board again.

This time, I tried to look at what I had to work with before picking a pattern. The biggest two pieces was a white and grey hourglass print, and a green leaf print. Long story short, the hourglass print really reminded me of old-world colonial architecture, which in the spirit of Sg50 (lol) I thought would be a very fitting source of inspiration. It was, and this is the end result: white denim mid to high-waisted shorts with feature slash pockets, cuffs and belt loops.

This pair of shorts is made using the Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts pattern which I helped to pattern test.  Previously, I made up a straight size 4 in view A which was way too big. I ended up having to take a lot off the centre back and sides until it fit. This time, I made up a straight size 2 with view B length cuffs which was an almost perfect fit as is. The only alteration was to lengthen the behind butt dart (weirdos be damned, there isn’t a way to avoid saying the word!) by a good 3cm. It improved the fit, but didn’t eliminate pointy-ass syndrome altogether – do any of you have suggestions? Perhaps I should be doing a full butt adjustment on a size 0 or something instead…

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In any case, this pattern was really quick to sew up and as usual, Kennis’ instructions were spot on. I especially like the instructions for the fly zip! I got it wrong the first time, but after giving my feedback to Kennis I think the instructions were made a little clearer in the final pattern.

To add the slash pockets (the pattern only comes with patch pockets), I followed this tutorial from By Hand London which was really useful. It’s a fairly simple job – I’d probably have shied away from this alteration if I didn’t know how easy it really is!

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I really like the end result of this make – it’s practical and stylish and really meaningful (to me at least)! Besides, every girl needs a pair of white denim bottoms in her wardrobe. This pair isn’t too tight which with white denim would make me look even more bottom heavy, and it doesn’t ride down in the back when I sit – it goes a long way towards class factor! I shied away from white denim before because I thought it would amplify my booty size, but I think the way the angelia shorts skim rather than hug your behind is sufficiently clever to defeat the colour choice! White bottoms – yay or nay? Let me know what you think below!

P.S. the fabric bundle challenge is ongoing today, hop on over there and root for your favourites!

P.P.S  Happy 50th birthday Singapore!

P.P.S. I was given a copy of this pattern to pattern test and the final copy to keep. But as always, all opinions mentioned above reflect what I really do believe about the pattern!

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Pattern Review, Sewing

Love at first whirl : A Sewaholic Hollyburn Pattern Review

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First up, thank you to all of you who have been voting for me in the various Indie Pattern Month 2015 and Sew Sweetness competitions this past month! I’ve been so pleasantly surprised to have snagged a bunch of goodies and I can’t wait to sew them up to show all of you. As of now, I’m just waiting to see how I do in the Imagine Gnats Shorts on the Line competition in conjunction with Kollabora where I’ve entered my Emily Culottes from earlier this year. If you fancy helping me out with one more competition, then pop over here and cast a vote!

Okay, I know y’all are really just here for the clothes, so on to business now!

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This is an old make (well, 2 months old at least) which those of you following my instagram would have seen during Me Made May, but it’s by no means an unexciting one. You know how there are certain garments that you’re really excited about at first but after a while get a little bit boring or too troublesome to wear? This isn’t one of them.

I snagged this gorgeous bright orchid coloured panama stretch suiting at Spotlight when it was on sale for 50% off with the express intention of making up a Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt with it. I had been drooling over this orchard circle skirt made from polyester suiting by Merrick’s Art for almost a year now, and I decided to blatantly copy it. Hurray for originality!

I hadn’t made up the pattern before but was sufficiently convinced by the gazillion rave reviews about it and how easy it was to make up that I didn’t bother with a muslin (oh who am I kidding, I never do up toiles anyway!) In any case, my instincts were right on this occasion because straight off the bat this skirt fit beautifully. I made it up based on my waist measurements alone, and it sits at the perfect spot on the high waist for a midi skirt! #winning If you’re looking for an impressive beginner entry-level skirt with pockets (!!) and is easy to fit, then this pattern is a great place to start.

This is the Sewaholic Hollyburn in View B, with absolutely no pattern alterations. The skirt hits right below the knee, which is just slightly manageable on my 5′ 3″ frame if I wear a pair of kitten heels. So far I’ve worn this skirt to the theatre, to work, to church, and I shot these photos of it on the beach – there basically isn’t ANYWHERE that I can’t wear this beauty to.

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Okay, confession time: when I was cutting out and sewing up this make, I was really pumped up about making this the nicest me-made garment I would own. I would hand stitch the waistband! (which I did) I would try out hong kong bias binding on the centre seams and all other seams possible! (which I did too, with some gorgeous floral bias tape from Daiso) I would french seam everything and anything in sight! (which again, I did) But then I got tired after a long day of sewing, and then the little sewing devil on my shoulder seized the opportunity to whisper in my ear “Didn’t you buy some iron-on hem tape the other day? Come on, give yourself a break, you can always rip it out and hem it properly later…” So I did. What can I say? The mind was willing but the body was oh, so so weak. Also, I was hungry and I’m slightly guilty to admit this, but food > hemming any day. This picture that I snapped for Fashion Revolution day says it all – a real pity because it would have been so gorgeous otherwise! Someday I’m going to rip out that hem tape and finish off this skirt properly (yeah right)… until then, I can deal with the contrasting nude hemming tape and the fact that it can be seen peeking out from half the photos I’ve taken in this set… *deep calming breaths*

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… Someday I will also finally sew on the tabs and fabric-covered buttons I’ve already prepared for this make but until then… I’ll live.

I’ve already got a navy one in the same fabric cut out and waiting to go – I just have to find time to sew it all together! Should I make one in an even brighter shade, a la Novita’s BRIGHT NEON ORANGE AWESOMENESS? Let me know what you think below!

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