DIY, Refashion, Sewing

The Emergency Christmas Dress

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Belated Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone!

It’s been absolute chaos this festive season, with my boyfriend’s cousins coming to visit and a whole whirlwind of family, friend and church events. Christmas is always a rather hectic period, though I thought I could escape it this year by planning early… I was wrong. In fact I shouldn’t have been surprised that one morning last week I found myself without anything to wear to a dinner party that evening and with no time to go out and buy one (I was busy prepping the decorations and so on).

I may or may not have been particularly anxious to procure a new outfit due to the photobooth that was to be was at the party that evening. I know social media makes it seem like photo booths are a dime a dozen nowadays, but unless you’re a celebrity, they really aren’t!  You guys understand, right? It’s about carpe diem! Seizing the day! Vanity and narcissism didn’t even factor in my desperation (and if anyone says otherwise, ignore them).

Frantic with nothing-to-wear-induced-exasperation, I ran to my closet and pulled out these two pieces which I’ve had for well over a year but never wore.

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I love the accordion skirt of this piece from Love, Bonito, but kind of hate the cowl neck of the bodice. I suspect this has something to do with my lack of boobage and the lifeless way this dress hangs on my body – kind of like someone decided to drape a dead fox around my neck. I have no idea when I got this piece, but I must have been delirious to have bought something so unsuitable for my style or body shape.

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This romper on the other hand, I had high hopes for when I bought it in Bangkok. I loved the print of the fabric and was shopping for rompers at the time (I have since given up hope of finding one that is flattering on me), plus it was marked at wholesale price, so I snapped this up straight away. If you know anything about shopping in Bangkok, you’d know that trying on of clothes at places like Platinum Mall aren’t allowed, so there was no way I could have seen this coming. It turns out this romper was much too short on me – leaving half of my behind exposed for the general public to ogle at! It had to go.

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I wasn’t too sure if what I had planned would work, but I was hopeful as both the pieces are elasticated round the waist (no zips yay!) and are of similar fabric weight. The skirt was also fully lined which helped a lot. I also hated the pieces in their original form so it wasn’t too heartbreaking to have to cut it up.

After half an hour of pinning, sewing and pressing, this was the result! And I have to say, I’m really pleased with it.

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The back view even has a really sexy slit down the middle, which I love! It can be pinned closed if I feel like wearing regular undergarments or left open if I’m can be bothered to put in the extra effort to dress properly.

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I wore it to my party that night and again to the Midnight Eucharist service at church so all in all, I’ve already gotten a ton of utility out of this make. Plus I think it’s the perfect casual party length and style, just look at these pictures! It really holds its own against other RTW outfits I think (of course it’s the franken-child of two RTW garments but let’s just pretend I made it, shall we?)

Did any of you have to do some last minute sewing this Christmas?

 

 

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DIY, Merry Making 2014

Bend-tastic // DIY Bendable Wire Headband Tutorial

Alright, you’ve caught me. I thought I could beat the festive season this year and successfully churn out a post a day, but it seems in just 4 days the holidays have gotten the better of me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been making every chance I get, and to prove it here’s the next post of Merry Making 2014, a DIY bendable wire headband tutorial!

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This accessory was all the rage last year (especially amongst twee-loving Asians and Blonde tumblr babes) but it seems to have died down in recent months. That doesn’t mean it’s old news though! In anticipation of all the photo booths (and photobombs) at the parties I’m going to attend this year, I made up a couple of these really fun headbands. In case you haven’t encountered them before, they’re essentially a fabric headband with a wire down the middle that lets it be bent into any shape you desire – think Rosie the Riveter but better!. It also facilitates dorky Teletubbies impersonations (between those things and Furbies, I had a very traumatic childhood indeed).

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These headbands are great as simple DIY Christmas gifts for groups of girlfriends (or boyfriends if they’re up for it) and are fantastic stash busters! The red polka dot fabric you see in the pictures below are from my Minnie Mouse costume that I blogged about here, and the blue fabric is from this kimono make. Each required only 2.5″ by 42″ of fabric and even then I lobbed off about an inch off the length because it was a little too long. If you want to get in on the action and make one of these beauties then read on below!

DIY Bendable Wire Headband Tutorial 

Materials needed:

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Scrap fabric – if you don’t have a single piece of fabric measuring 2.5″ by 42″, simply sew together a few lengths of your scrap fabric, right sides together, to meet the required dimensions (I did this on the red headband which can be seen in the pictures below)

Matching thread

Bendable wire (I got mine from a florist supplies shop)

Directions:

1. Cut your fabric to the required dimensions (2.5″ by 42″). Do cut a longer length if that is your preference.

2. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and press.  Cut to taper the ends as shown below.

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3. Pin together the raw edges and sew up the sides of the headband using a 5/8″ seam allowance and leaving a gap of about 2″ in the middle of the headband. You can do this by starting at either end of the headband and working towards the middle. This is to facilitate turning the headband right side out later on.

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4. Snip horizontally across the tip of the tapered point and trim down the seam allowances to reduce bulk.

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5. Turn the headband inside out, using a chopstick or a point turner to get the tapered ends nice and pointy.

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6. Press.

7. Insert the wire into the headband through the gap you left in the stitching at the middle of the headband, as shown below.

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8. Close up the gap by stitching on the top of the headband.

And tadaaaaa! Your headband is ready to go. What do you guys think? Love it, hate it? I’d love to know!

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P.S. Well done if you could match the Teletubbies to the impersonations! Clearly, like me, you are still suffering the lingering effects of Post-Teletubbies Stress Disorder.

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DIY, Merry Making 2014, Sewing

Casual Christmas // DIY Poolside Party Kimono

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Christmas around the equator (and I suppose the Southern Hemisphere) is always a slightly strange affair. Instead of a white Christmas with warm fires, I’ve watched enough episodes of Bondi Rescue to know that Australian Christmases often come with white sandy beaches and copious amounts of sunscreen. In Singapore, this also means that end-of-year parties are a somewhat more casual affair, with barbecues, shorts and flip flops, as opposed to heels, party dresses and faux-fur coats – it’s just too hot and humid to bother  with nice dresses and make up!

Honestly, this makes me more than a little jealous of you people with sub-27 deg C temperatures. (All you people who say you would love to have summer temperatures year round clearly don’t know what you’re talking about!!!)

So this year, I decided to amp up the glam factor with a simple kimono throwover that is both functional and goes a long way to making a blouse and shorts combo look more presentable than it actually is. As I found out at a recent family stay-cation at the Hard Rock Hotel, it also doubles up as a cover-up for the beach or the pool – don’t you love multifunctional clothing??

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I made the kimono using this easy tutorial by Leanne Barlow. If I remade this pattern, I would definitely shorten the length as I found it much too long on my 1.62m (5′ 4″) frame. Other than that, this make was really quick and simple, made even easier using my new rolled hem foot that really helped with the finishing of the sleeves, collar and hem!

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I’m seriously thinking of making a couple more of these in lieu of cardigans using knit fabrics, maybe? A kimono jacket like this would also make a great handmade Christmas gift for a stylish friend or family member if you don’t have enough time to sew up something more detailed.

Have you made or are you planning to make one of these? Oh and how are you guys down under planning to spend the holidays? I’d love to find out!

Special thanks goes to my photographers for the day – my sister and cousin Joelynn! 

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Merry Making 2014, Sewing

Christmas Pyjamas for the Tropics // Margot Pyjamas Pattern Review

Continuing with Merry Making 2014, today’s post is a brief pattern review and hack of Tilly and the Button’s Margot Pyjamas from her book, “Love at First Stitch“.

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If the multitude of blog posts on Christmas pyjamas (or pajamas in this context) that have sprung up over the last few weeks are any indication, it would seem that Christmas pyjamas are a big thing in the States.  Though we don’t have that practice over here, I can totally see the appeal of it – if presentable sleepwear means more time bumming around in my jammies, then I’m down for implementing this new tradition in my household!

With this in mind, I whipped up this pair of Margot pyjama shorts in anticipation of an upcoming family stay-cation at the Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa, Singapore. … I may or may not also have been motivated by the prospect of getting to photograph my brand new shorts in a luxurious hotel room and bed, as opposed to my orange bedroom walls and comically colourful $10 cartoon sheets. (Also a big thank you to my sister and cousin Joelynn for helping with the photos!)

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My pattern of choice was Tilly’s Margot pyjamas from her book, Love at First Stitch, but in shorts rather than trouser form. If there’s one thing warm humid nights in the tropics don’t need, it’s long pyjama pants! It was a quick and easy make, especially as they weren’t meant to be fitted and I omitted pockets; it must have taken me at most an hour from cutting to hemming.

Margot Pyjamas as pictured in Love at First Stitch

If I could remake this pattern again, I would definitely go with a different fabric – I found that this one creased terribly once it was sat on. I would also shorten the pattern a tad bit more as I found this make a little too long! I ended up cuffing the shorts at the hem, if you can tell from the mismatching vertical stripes (I couldn’t be fussed to match the print properly… it’s meant to be pyjamas after all).

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All in all I love this pattern, and will definitely be making it up again soon. I would highly recommend using the Margot pattern if you’re thinking of making matching Christmas PJs for the entire family – imagine how cute that would be!! If you’re leaning towards a full pyjama top and bottom set, I would suggest pairing it with Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank pattern – I’ve actually got a tank dress made from the same fabric as these Margot pyjama shorts and they look adorable paired together.

Do you have a tradition of getting new pyjamas on Christmas day? If anyone knows the history behind it, do let me know in the comments below!

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Merry Making 2014, Sewing

Merry Making 2014: 10 gifts below $10 for People who Love Sewing

It’s a necessary evil of the quintessential Christmas party, the one that everyone loves to hate but hates to love, which can pay off spectacularly or end up with yet another addition to your growing office mug collection. That’s right, today on Merry Making, we’re talking about the Secret Santa gift exchange.

We’ve all been there – the last-minute scramble to buy secret santa gifts on a budget of $10 for a co-worker or friend that we know nothing about apart from the fact that she sews in her free time, seems to like buying fabric and posts an awful lot of pictures of clothing seams on her instagram. Well, never fear because the 10 gifts below $10 for Sewing People guide is here!

1. Water Soluble Marker US$2.99

2. Glass Head Pins US$3.49

3. Bias Tape Maker US$8.99

4. Hem Facing US$2.99

The thing about these sewing tools and notions, is that you can never have too many of them. I always find myself losing pins or running out of bias tape, so I imagine that anyone who sews regularly would be more than happy to get one of these in a gift exchange.

For a longer list of tools that a beginner sewer might need, hop on over to Sunday’s post here.

5. Ribbon & Trimming 

Jacquard Trim from Sticker Club on Etsy US$4.87 for 2 metres

Magyar Cross Jacquard Cotton Trim from Sticker Club US$3.58 for 2 metres

6. Sewing Charms 

Singer Sewing Machine Charm from wholesaleretail US$0.20

Thread Spool Sewing Charm from Bohemian Findings US$2.50

Great for anyone who has a charm bracelet, or even to attach to a wallet or bag zip. Given how cheap they are you can even pick a whole collection and make a full bracelet as a gift!

7. Sewing Labels 

Sewaholic ‘Handmade with Love’ labels CAD 4.98

Sewaholic ‘One of a Kind’ Labels CAD 4.98

Printed Ribbon Label by CrabTreeLaneShop US$2.75 /m

Vintage Style Linen Labels by SugarBSupplies US$6.25/yard

Any dressmaker or quilter deserves to be proud of their makes! These sewing labels are sure to be a hit with anyone sewing for themselves or as gifts for others.

8. Sewing-Related Posters 

Sewing Love Poster by Nook and Pine starting from US$4

Sewing Typography Poster from Nook and Pine from US$6

Pin It Pin It Real Good Poster by Boo in Stitches from US$10

You can’t go wrong with these fun sewing-related posters, these would look great in anyone’s sewing studio!

9. Club BMV Membership US$9.99

A membership at Club BMV will let your giftee buy patterns and other goodies from Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue and Kwik Sew at a standard discount 20% off (even with sales). Be sure to do some snooping to check that they don’t already have a membership though!

10. Gift Certificates

Who doesn’t like gift certificates?? I certainly do! If you’re really at your wit’s end, or you want to make sure the your giftee likes what they get, then a gift card or gift certificate from their favourite fabric store or indie pattern designer is definitely the way to go.

If you’re feeling REAL generous (like US$36 and above generous), consider gifting someone who loves dressmaking a 6-month subscription to Seamwork Magazine. This subscription will get him/her 2 free patterns a month at a cost of US$6 a month and guarantee you a lifetime of eternal gratitude and free cookies (your giftee might even be so grateful that they’ll make up a pattern or two in your size!) Unfortunately, Seamwork isn’t offering 1 month gift certificate options at the moment or this would definitely have been number 1 on my list.

Any of you have any other recommendations for great secret santa (or sewing santa) gifts? I’d love to hear them!

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Merry Making 2014, Sewing

Merry Making 2014: A Christmas Gift Guide for the Beginner Sewist

It’s just around that time of the year now when people start getting REALLY excited for Christmas, so what better time than to kickstart a Christmas-themed series here on the blog – Merry Making 2014! For the next 12 days (ie. the 12 days before Christmas), I’ll be posting all about Christmas-related projects, ideas for gifts, decorations and recipes and updates on how I’m prepping for Christmas this year. I’m really excited about it and I hope you guys are too (fingers crossed I can keep up with posting everyday!)

To start things off, today’s post is a Christmas gift guide for beginner and “pre-beginner” sewists. A lot of my friends have told me that they would love to learn garment sewing but don’t know where or how to begin – if you know someone like that and would like to encourage them to begin sewing this Christmas, then read on for a list of gifts that might help them get started!

BOOKS

I don’t own a great deal of sewing books, though from what I’ve seen, a large majority of sewing books out there cater to the beginner sewist. I do own the following two books though, which I would recommend to anyone learning sewing for the first time.

Tilly & the Button’s Love at First Stitch

You’ll hear me enthuse a lot about Tilly’s great beginner patterns later, but honestly, Tilly writes great beginner instructions and I’m so glad I had this book when I first started out! This book eases the reader into the scary world of dressmaking, beginning with setting up your sewing machine, shopping for fabric (a personal phobia of mine), and sewing straight stitches, all the way through to installing invisible zippers and sewing buttonholes! It also comes with 5 patterns in 8 sizes, as well as instructions for drafting a skirt – a great deal at only GBP20 if you ask me.

Mend & Make Fabulous by Denise Wild

This book is targeted more at people wanting to get into refashioning and mending clothes rather than dressmaking itself. It includes full illustrations of creative ways to mend things (think: darning, stains and frayed hems) and also ways to freshen up an old garment that needs a new lease of life! Though I haven’t used this book extensively yet, i can see myself referring to it a whole lot when I finally get round to tackling the huge pile of clothes in my closet waiting to be mended!

PATTERNS

When I first took an interest in sewing, I had no idea that sewing patterns existed. To my mind, drafting was the only way to make a garment and the thought of having to learn something that complex before I could make my own outfits was a HUGE mental barrier to learning how to sew! I would have loved to receive an easy beginner-friendly pattern (or even a kit!) as a gift for Christmas, and it probably would have played a big part in encouraging me to tackle my first sewing project.

Here are a couple of great beginner patterns that I would recommend to anyone sewing their first garment:

Tilly & the Button’s Miette Skirt 

Specifically designed as a first dress-making project, this flared wraparound skirt from Tilly is simple to sew and doesn’t have zippers or buttonholes (or anything else that would discourage someone from sewing!) It even comes with pockets, how great is that?!

Sewaholic’s Rae Skirt

If wraparound skirts aren’t your thing, this offering from Tasia of Sewaholic is a great alternative! Also designed as as a very first sewing project (in collaboration with a sewing instructor no less!), this elastic skirt is quick to sew and is a great way to show off printed fabrics. It also looks totally wearable and not at all like a beginner’s first garment (which is more than I can say for some of my first few makes!).

Tilly & the Button’s Coco Dress and Top

The Coco pattern happens to be designed for knit fabric, which many beginners shy away from. In this case, Tilly has produced a great pattern for double knit (a stable knit fabric) that is both suitable for beginners and looks a lot more complicated than it actually is! This was the third garment I ever sewed (and for someone else, no less!) and can vouch for how easy this was to make. As a bonus, Tilly ran a step-by-step sew-along on her blog earlier this year with extra tips on how to sew up the Coco dress as well as ideas on how to customise it, take a look at it here!

Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank Top and Dress 

This is was actually the first real pattern I attempted solo! Not only was it a breeze to sew up (no darts, zippers or buttonholes!), it fit like a dream and graded easily between sizes. If you’re feeling a little more generous, you could also consider Megan Nielsen’s Beginner Pack, which include 4 patterns targeted at beginners for the price of 3!

Colette Pattern’s Ginger Skirt 

I haven’t sewn up this pattern personally, but I’ve seen many gorgeous versions of it floating around the internet. Plus, with Colette’s reputation for great, easy-to-follow instructions I’m pretty sure a new beginner will be able to tackle this with ease!

SEWING LESSONS 

Of course, one always learns best with one on one coaching. Consider checking out your local sewing shops or sewing schools for any classes they may be running and sponsor a friend to attend a sewing lesson there, or gift him/her a gift card or voucher so that they can sign up for their class of choice!

There aren’t too many options in sunny Singapore, but for those of you who live locally, try checking out this list of places offering sewing classes.

TOOLS & NOTIONS

Another gift option would be to assemble a kit of tools that a beginner sewist might need. If so, the following are some great gifts that would supplement any standard sewing kit:

Clover Chaco Pen 

Chalk in a pen form! Great for marking fabric and brushes away easily.

Air Erasable or Water Erasable Pens 

Pinking Shears and Embroidery Scissors 

Tracing Wheel and Tracing Paper 

    

Seam Gauge

For those of us who have already dived headfirst into the wonderful world of sewing, I’ve seen some Christmas gift guides out there with some really great ideas. I want pretty much all the books in Heather’s sewing book gift guide and am loving the “How Much Fabric?” Reference Cards suggested by Dixie, they’re so useful!

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? I know I would love me some Spotlight gift vouchers or if anyone out there is feeling really generous, maybe a new overlocker… *hint hint*

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Merry Making 2014, Sewing, Uncategorized

#SewingSanta International Style

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The last 2 weeks have been kind of dull as I’ve been cramming for exams (4 days to freedom!) and haven’t had any chance to do any sort of making. It doesn’t help that my family hasn’t gotten round to Christmas decorating or shopping, so the atmosphere at home has been decidedly un-Christmassy. All this changed today when the arrival of a very special package hit me with a sudden wave of the holiday spirit and I felt I had to share this with you guys right away!

As you may be aware, home-sewing isn’t a big thing in Singapore (yet), and as I have lamented (one too many times) before, I don’t know too many people within the sewing community based locally either. The direct result of this is that I hardly (in fact, never) get any sewing-related gifts which is well, kind of depressing.

Enter the #SewingSanta Blog Link-up run by Stitched Up from the Start which is essentially a secret santa exchange for people who love sewing. Though the main #SewingSanta link-up is being run only in the UK, I managed to link up with Natalie of Thread and Bobbins who I found through a fortuitous comment on Making & Marking!

Since Natalie is based in the US, and I’ve only heard amazing tales of the vintage sewing paraphernalia that one can find at their magical thrift shops, I was beyond excited to receive my package – and boy oh boy, it did not disappoint.

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Vintage buttons (love the wings!), craft and crochet ribbon, floral fabric and the most adorable monkey fabric (I think it might be flannel? I’m not quite sure!) – how Natalie managed to get all that with our budget of GBP10, I will never know! Plus she wrote me a really sweet Christmas card (cue collective aww-ing).

I have plans for the monkey flannel to become a really comfy pair of Love at First Stitch Margot pyjama shorts and will most definitely be saving the floral fabric and buttons for a special project. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this international #SewingSanta exchange with me, Natalie, I hope you like your package as much as I love mine!

[Update: So Natalie got my package and she loves it! Hurray! Take a sneak peek at what I sent her here.]

In other news, I’ve decided to link my blog up to Bloglovin’ (since I use it on a daily hourly basis myself), so be sure to look me up and follow me for more updates! (I’ve got a whole series of Christmas making and sewing posts lined up *hint hint*)
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