DIY, Sewing

Poinsettia Pleated Pencil // Another Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt

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This was one of the many fabric finds I brought back from my holiday in Hong Kong and Shenzhen last year. When I spied this in the maze that is the fabric market at the 5th floor of Luohu Commercial City, I was immediately reminded of Delia’s original rose patterned pencil skirt and HAD to have it. My sister expressed serious doubts about my fashion sense in picking it though… is it social suicide to admit that I absolutely love it?

Given the poinsettia-like print, my plan was to make up a holiday version of the Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt up in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get round to it until after the full festive period of Christmas and the Lunar New Year had passed… no matter though, as I fully intend to whip out this skirt every time some kind of festive event rolls round.

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I was under the impression that this fabric was some kind of twill, but later found out that it is a lot stretchier than I expected with pretty bad recovery. In fact the waistband had stretched out so much by the time I was done that I had some serious gaping problems (see above). On hindsight, I would have done well to have gone down a size… though I did realise that if I flip the waistband into the skirt (like facing) it fits perfectly. I might end up removing the waistband altogether and using a facing instead, like so:

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Some changes that I made from the last time I used this pattern:

– Drawing on the lovely advice of some commenters on my last post, I shortened the pattern from the lengthen line and smoothed out the curve back into the pattern. As far as I can tell it’s worked!

– Shifted the zip to the centre back seam instead of the side. One of my issues with my previous skirt was that the side zipper made one side of the waistband look stiffer / straighter than the other. As a result the side with the zipper didn’t hug my body like I wanted it to. I opted this time to sew up the right side instead of inserting a zipper, and cut the back waistband in 4 separate pieces instead of 2 on the fold. I inserted the zipper above the kick pleat by seam ripping / cutting the kick pleat fold from the waistband down, stopping a few inches before the kick pleat started, then I inserted the invisible zipper as per usual. This way, the kick pleat wasn’t affected at all by the zipper insertion.

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– I was in a rush to wear this for an event so I simply folded the hemline up by 1cm and then by 1cm again and topstitched it in place.

What do you guys think? Too loud? Too festive? Any chance I can get away with THIS skirt in the office? (… no, probably not.) Let me know in the comments below! And if any of you wonderful people happen to be Indiesew account holders and think this bright red, in-your-face, christmas-screaming poinsettia skirt is a good idea, I’ve entered this make in the Spring 2015 Selfish Sewing Week Challenge so do vote for me! (Or for others too, because there are some pretty smashing makes up there.)

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Got my Tyra smizing on – I’ve now either convinced you into voting for me or completely turned you off. (I don’t blame you if it’s the latter… I gross myself out sometimes)

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DIY, Sewing

Denim Never Dies : Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt Pattern Review

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Two makes posted in a week! This must be some kind of new record… I had originally planned to post this earlier, as it was made for the January Challenge over on The Monthly Stitch (my first monthly stitch challenge, hurray!) but it took me ages to get round to photographing it, oh well.

I bought the Delia Creates Pleated Pencil Skirt pattern during IndieSew‘s Black Friday sale last year, as part of my quest to find THE perfect pencil skirt pattern. I hadn’t seen too many reviews of this pattern online, but those who had tried it seemed to love it, so I figured it would give it a shot. It also definitely helped that I couldn’t get Delia’s rose-print version out of my mind (watch out for my own Lunar New Year-appropriate version of it coming up really soon!).

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So I bought the pattern on discount, and I used some of the leftover denim from an earlier A-line skirt to make up a wearable muslin… and you guys, I really liked it. I hesitate to claim I LOVE it just yet because I feel like I haven’t perfected the fit, but I must say this is a pretty darned good pattern. The pdf version also happens to be only 8 pages long, which is a major plus. EIGHT. My taping-paper-hating soul was singing the hallelujah chorus as I printed this out. The only thing that is’t too convenient is that the pattern lines are drawn in colour, which is kind of a hassle if you only have a black and white printer at home, like I do.

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This pattern didn’t fit me right out of the envelope, but that’s mostly my own fault. I overestimated the enormity of my hips and graded out a size 4 at the waist to a size 6 at the hips when I really should just have stuck with a  straight size 4. I ended up using a 0.5″ seam allowance instead of the recommended 0.3″ AND taking a good 0.75″ or so off the sides.

Given my height (or lack thereof), I shortened the pattern by 2″ before tracing it out, but later had to take another 2.5″ off in order for it to hit right above my knees. This made the shape of the skirt kind of weird, so I tapered in the bottom sides to preserve the curve. I still think the sides don’t quite curve right (if you can tell from the sides of the skirt), which is probably due to the extensive fit adjustments I made. I’m not really sure how to fix it though – any suggestions? The pattern actually includes instructions for removing length from the middle of the pattern instead of from the hemline, so I will definitely try that on my next attempt.

This also happened to be my first time lining a garment – it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, though I did end up sewing the lining around the zipper the first time due to a moment of daftness. I used a cheap black polyester that I had bought ages ago and followed the instructions to insert the lining. My only deviation was to hem the bottom edge of lining first, and then hem the skirt over the edge of the lining, enclosing it. I thought it would give it a more professional finish, and it did! Of course, all this professionalism was ruined by my completely insensible fuchsia coloured zip that I was forced to use because I was too lazy to go out and buy a navy one I decided it would make my skirt extra special.

All in all, I think this is a really good pencil skirt pattern, though I haven’t tried very many so do take my words with a pinch of salt! It seems to be drafted more for pear-shaped ladies, so if you’re a member of the pear-gang definitely consider this. And as for working with denim, it was a lot easier and turned out a lot more wearable than I thought it would be. Thank you The Monthly Stitch for being the inspiration for my fabric choice – I probably wouldn’t have picked it otherwise!

P.S. Do you think this skirt could qualify as business casual? My office is fairly formal so I haven’t tried wearing it to work just yet… Oh if you have any suggestions on how to make the fit a little better, please do share them below!

P.P.S. If you’re here from The Monthly Stitch, HELLO and welcome! Please feel free to say hi in the comments (:

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DIY, Sewing

Aztec Australian : Megan Neilsen Eucalypt Tank Pattern Review

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I posted any makes up on the blog – partly because I hardly got any sewing in last month, but mostly because I’ve been so preoccupied with the Wardrobe Architect series. Actually, I’d like to hear what you guys think: are you enjoying the Wardrobe Architect Challenge posts or would you like to see more sewing and less chattering about my personal style (which I can’t imagine too many people would be interested in…)? Let me know in the comments below!

Anyhow, this make was made a good 6 months ago and is actually my second ever handmade garment! I only got around to photographing it proper a couple of weeks ago, but this tank top has become a firm favourite in my closet and is on constant rotation.

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This pattern is the Eucalypt Tank and Dress pattern from Megan Nielsen, a brilliant Australian designer and an all-around awesome person (I’m talking about her like I know her, but I really don’t. I wish I did though! If this recent blog post of hers is anything to go by, she sounds like a wonderful person with really a big heart.)

I discovered her patterns when I spied the Tania Culottes and Cascade Skirt floating about on the blogosphere, so it was a no-brainer that I opted for her Breakwater Collection pattern pack that got me 4 patterns for the price of 3. #WIN

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The Fabric

Did I mention how cheap this make was? The fabric cost me S$2 per metre – that’s US$0.80! Granted, I did get it from the clearance rack of a random shop in Chinatown so it’s not the most comfortable fabric, but that aztec print! How could I not love it? Plus when I posted it on instagram and wore it out I got a ton of compliments so… it’s a winner already.

The Pattern 

This pattern was a quick and easy make. I had no trouble at all grading from an XS in the bust to a S in the waist as per my measurements (woe is the small busted pear) and found the instructions clear and simple to follow, which is a serious understatement. These instructions are so good that a complete sewing noob like myself managed to execute french seams without even knowing what a french seam was. Are you mindblown? I am (on hindsight).

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The main thing I would have done differently is to cut a straight S as the XS was a little too tight across the chest for a casual woven tank top. I did like how the close fit across the bust and almost A line shape toward the waist gave me a little more shape than I would normally get from a tank top though – I probably wouldn’t have gotten that effect had I sewn up a straight size S. Alternatively, I think this problem may have been managed by making the arm holes a little bigger as they did cut a bit too high.

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Subsequently I made up the dress version of the Eucalypt pattern, but didn’t love it. I felt that it was too shapeless and overwhelming on my short frame – it looks great on the model though, so maybe it would work better on a taller person… or with heels. It doesn’t really matter to me anyhow, this pattern is already a favourite for the tank top version alone.

By the way if you thought I snuck my way onto a movie set, I didn’t! I visited Universal Studios Singapore (for like the 7th time) last month, so I took the chance to coerce my boyfriend into snapping a few photos for me. I’ve got a ton of photos from my visit, so watch out for a short post on it soon!

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The fake jersey boys are countin’ on you 

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DIY, Sewing

Coco Banana // Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top Review

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When I was about 8, I had a friend who had a “Copabanana” phase. This means she sang that one line from Barry Manilow’s Copacabana – “At the Copa, Copacabana” over and over again, but as “Copabanana” instead of “Copacabana”. Clearly it was annoying enough to scar me for life, because I still accidentally sing the wrong lyrics today. So when I sewed up a yellow Coco Top last December, the natural choice of name was “Cocobanana”. #sorrynotsorry

I’ve briefly mentioned in an earlier post how fast and easy the Coco pattern is to sew up, but I never in a million years dreamed that I would be able to sew it from cutting to pressing in 4 hours and still find that I had done a decent job on finishing the hems. As some of you would have seen on my instagram, I rushed out this baby in a single afternoon between sitting for an exam paper and hightailing it to the airport to catch a flight to Hong Kong.

 

 

But let’s start from the very beginning shall we? I first saw the Coco when I became interested in sewing early last year and discovered the existence of sewing patterns (you’d be surprised how many people think all homemade garments are drafted by the sewists themselves!). Being very much a pear-shaped lady I didn’t think the A-line shape of the top would work for me as I felt it would accentuate my already ginormous hips, much in the way peplum tops do. Even after sewing it up in my size and trying it on (with the jeggings above), I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a good match for my body shape. It was only after getting a second (and third!) opinion that I decided to leave it as it was and test it out on my Hong Kong trip.

And how I loved it on that trip. I loved how fitted the top is – the armholes are a good fit and the sleeves are slim and makes my very un-toned arms look thinner than they actually are. Even the bust area needed no SBA! The only thing that I might change is to take a wedge out of the neckline as it tends to gape a bit (would that be a narrow shoulder adjustment? I’m not sure of the terminology).

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In terms of outfit combinations, I knew it was a keeper when I tucked it into a pleated skirt I had and it looked like a great basic fitted/ structured tee that wasn’t too boxy for my liking. While I do still have misgivings about pairing my Cocobanana with jeans, after reviewing the photos above I feel it just about passes the shorts-matching test. I’m pretty sure this pattern is going be one of those that keeps on giving – and I haven’t even made up the dress version yet!

On to construction – like I mentioned above, the top came together in no time at all. The instructions were clear, helped along with Tilly’s sew-along on her blog, and I loved that the sleeves were sewed in flat, it’s SO much easier for beginners. Since the recommended fabrics are low-stretch knit fabrics, like ponte knit, that means it sews up more or less like woven fabric – none of the pesky problems that come with lighter weight jerseys, hurray!

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As for alterations, I sewed a size 2, grading out to size 3 at the waist and hips. It was the first time I tried any sort of alteration on paper before sewing up my muslin and I found this pattern really easy to grade and to blend between sizes. In addition, I referred to Tilly’s tutorial to create this summery short sleeved version of the top.

Like I said before, I would most definitely recommend this pattern to anyone, even a complete beginner! I really don’t think it matters that this pattern is for knit fabrics, the instructions are so clear that it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

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Closet Control, DIY

The Great Closet Detox (& a Mini Room Tour!)

My boyfriend will tell you that I’m a hoarder. He’s probably right. And that doesn’t just apply to mementoes or childhood clothes, I will hoard anything that has sentimental value to me – primary school uniforms, broken childhood toys, letters from friends I’ve lost contact with – you name it, I probably kept it.

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I also have a distinct aversion to throwing away things that are in perfectly good condition, especially impulse buys which have never been worn and will probably never be worn like, ever. The end result is a closet that is bursting at its seams, and nowhere to put the clothes that I do wear. Which in turn, affects the tidiness of my room as the clothes in current rotation end up on any available surface other than in the closet – my chair, my bed, and I hate to admit it but… the floor. It got so bad in December last year that I decided some drastic action was needed, so I called the most ruthless closet purger I knew… my boyfriend (AKA The Master Purger).

I don’t have many photos of my room before “Operation Closet Purge” began (truth be told I considered it but was way too embarrassed to even take any), but some of you may have seen the process in action over on my instagram.

Using Into Mind’s brilliant Closet Detox Cheat Sheet, we went through every item of clothing in my closet and ended up reducing the total garment count by a whopping 75% (estimated). This means that for every 4 items of clothing in my closet, I only kept 1! Are you guys as shocked as I was? I had no idea my wardrobe was harbouring that many pieces that did not fit my style / were not a good fit / or were in an unwearable condition.

The end result was 2 garbage bags full of trash, another 2 garbage bags worth of wearable (albeit slightly out of fashion) garments bound for The Salvation Army, and a large suitcase full of clothes (mostly new and unworn) to be sold on Carousell or at flea markets. The Master Purger also made me promise that any unsold clothes left at the end of the year would be bundled up and shipped off to the good people at The Salvation Army so if you guys are the shopping sort, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pop by my account on Carousell (@jessiehhm) and help me cover some of my shopping losses! Or if you’re not located locally, I’m open to shipping internationally so drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you (I have yet to photograph and upload about 90% of the clothes to be sold, so do bear with me if my account looks a little bare at the moment.)

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I also took the chance to reorganise my room and introduce some new furniture – a bedside table and a bookshelf (I don’t know how I survived without them before!) Other new organisational features which I love are this hanging jewellery organiser and these cubes from Ikea which are perfectly sized to hold my hair styling tools and tech equipment. Before this, they were just sprawled out across my floor, wires in a tangle and so on.

Instead of splurging on an polaroid-sized album (those things are expensive!) for the random instax photos I have lying around, I parked them behind the frosted glass of my wardrobe drawers instead. There you go – an instant design feature that conveniently hides my unsightly underwear and showcases all the people I hold near and dear.

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Despite the emotional and psychological trauma of having my clothing collection drastically reduced in the space of 2 days, I must say that my room is a less claustrophobic, more relaxing place to be in now. It’s also helped to define my personal style which has made it a lot easier to choose my outfits and to see all my clothing at a glance. I would definitely recommend this closet detox process to anyone who feels that they have too many clothes, or to someone who constantly feels that they have nothing to wear despite having an extremely extensive clothing collection!

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I’m loving this new change so much that one of my plans for the next year is to learn more about starting a capsule wardrobe in order to create a streamlined closet of good quality pieces that I love that are in constant rotation!

Do you guys have recommendations for reading materials on capsule wardrobes and personal style? If so, leave a comment – I’d love to hear them!

 

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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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