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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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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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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Pattern Hack, Sewing

Lady Skater Two Ways : A Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress Pattern Review

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IPM 2015 is drawing to a close, what a ride it’s been! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the constant stream of indie pattern inspiration from The Monthly Stitch this past few weeks and will definitely miss it when it’s over!

My last entry for Indie Pattern Month 2015 is the lady skater pattern done two ways – one as a boatneck peplum top and the other as a drapey lady skater dress. I’ve been eyeing this pattern from Kitschy Coo for over 6 months now, and IPM gave me the push I needed to finally make it up! It’s such a customisable design and so similar to some of my favourite RTW dresses, I knew that I could definitely stand to benefit from making a ton of these (plus it’s an easy and quick make too!)

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The peplum top was very much intended to be a wearable muslin. I raised the neckline by 15cm and narrowed the shoulders to 4 cm based on the recommendations in this post, but clearly I’m of a different shape from the original writer because the neckline was much much too high on me! (It may have something to do with my lack of boobage…) I ended up cutting off the finished collar altogether and rebinding it with a neckline binding that was half the width of the original pattern piece. It’s wearable as it is right now, but I think I will go back and cut the neckline a little lower again – it does feel a bit like I’m getting strangled sometimes… I will also definitely rebind the neckline again, there’s a little bit of puckering going on there, though not enough to stop me wearing it out!

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I’ve always had a problem with peplums on my pear shape. I feel that they only serve to accentuate my big hips as they flare right at the largest point of my lower body! This version, however, I can definitely get behind. For some reason, I feel that this top actually does work for me. It may be a combination of the shortened waist (by 2″) and the reduced flare in the half circle skirt (I used the skirt pattern as is, just shortening it to a length of 9″), but no matter the reason I’m quite loving it! I’ve worn it out (in public, imagine that!) twice already, once with shorts to a dinner date and another time to work with jeans and heels on casual Friday. I can definitely envisage myself wearing this a whole lot more once I fix the neckline issues.

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TLDR;

Pattern: Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater Dress (Cap sleeve version)

Size made: Size 2 at bust grading out to size 4 at waist

Fabric used: Black ITY jersey from Spotlight

Alterations made:

– Shortened bodice length by 2″

– Raised neckline

– Narrowed shoulders to 4″

– Shortened skirt to 9″ to make a peplum top

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To me, this lovely drapey dress was the main attraction. It was my first time working with rayon jersey, and I did face a lot of difficulty during the sewing process because of how light and slightly slippery it was!

The advantage of using such a light fabric was that I didn’t need to insert clear elastic into the waist seam in order to the support the skirt. I did attempt to at first, but as I didn’t have clear elastic (or at least not the flat kind) and regular braided elastic caused the fabric to warp at the waistline, I just decided to leave it out altogether.

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This dress is wonderfully swishy and just the right length for me after shortening the bodice by 2″. The neckline on this version is raised as well, but only by 2″, and the shoulders have been left the same width as the pattern piece. The sleeves have also been lengthened by about 1.5″ to make a short sleeve rather than cap sleeve. On hindsight, I should have left the sleeve a little shorter as the print of this dress tends to be a little overwhelming in large doses, but I’m glad I tested out this sleeve length for future reference. Plus it’s a dream to wear, and a perfect length for church and for work #winning

TLDR;

Pattern: Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater Dress (Cap sleeve version lengthened)

Size made: Size 2 at bust grading out to size 4 at waist

Fabric: Rayon Jersey from Sew Many Knits

Alterations made:

– Shortened bodice length by 2″

– Raised scoop neckline by 2″

– Lengthened sleeves by 1.5″

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All in all, I really like what I’ve ended up with! A peplum top that I actually think I look good in (though I will probably love it loads more once I nail down that elusive boatneck neckline) and a wonderfully draped skater dress perfect for summer and big-eating days!

I have a lovely length of Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery knit and I’m wondering whether to make that up as a Lady Skater dress (with a round neck / boat neck)  or as a Christine Haynes Marianne dress. I would love to hear what you guys think!

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Pattern Hack, Sewing

Casual Co-ordinates : Eucalypt Tank and Angelia Shorts

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Hey y’all! I’m so pleased to have had the chance to take part in the first challenge of Indie Pattern Month 2015 over on The Monthly Stitch, and by some miracle I actually won 2nd place! Thanks to all who voted, and I’m so glad that you liked my wild and whimsical Flora dress.

This week I’m back again (and just in the nick of time!) for the Separates competition with a cropped Eucalypt Tank, and a little sneak peek of a not-yet-released pattern from Itch to Stitch – the Angelia shorts! Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Eucalypt Tank pattern by Megan Nielsen

If you’ve been following my sewing journey for a while you’d have remembered my first Eucalypt Tank made out of some cheap Aztec print cotton that I scored from the bargain bin in Chinatown (in Singapore). If you know me in real life, you’d probably have seen me wearing it, oh, just about every other weekend or so. It is by far the best and closest fitting woven tank top or shell top I own, even if the material is kind of stiff and does feel a little too tight around the arm holes. So when I decided to whip up a cropped tank, it was a no brainer that the Eucalypt pattern was the one for me. (It also helped that Holly made this adorable crop top and midi skirt set using the Eucalypt pattern last year and I’ve been dying for one of my own ever since.)

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This is an incredibly simple pattern with great results – only 2 pattern pieces,front and back! Plus bias binding strips if you aren’t using store-bought ones. The instructions are very simple to follow. This was one of my very first makes that I attempted before knowing very much about sewing – I remember reading about french seams months later and realising that I had already done them before just by following the instructions in this pattern! If that’s not a sign of clear directions, I don’t know what is.

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I wish I could give you a bit more details on how I hacked the pattern, but in all honesty, I just winged it. I put on my first Eucalypt and measured how much I wanted to take off from the hemline – this length is about 3 fingers above my navel. I also had a little problem because my eyelet fabric was scalloped, and I wanted to keep the beautiful selvedge as my hem. This meant that I had to even out the curved hem of the Eucalypt and make it straight all the way around instead. If I remember correctly, what I ended up doing was measuring 10cm up from the hem of the side seam, and drawing a perpendicular line from that point, straight across both the front and back pattern pieces. I left the top unlined in spite of the eyelets because they were too small and sparse to be revealing.  I also raised the neckline and armsyces, but ended up wearing the top back to front as I liked the high neckline in the front and the scooped neck at the back instead. I can’t tell the difference – can you?

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Tldr;

Pattern: Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank 

Size made: XS at the shoulders and bust, grading to a S at the waist

Alterations made: Raised the neckline and armscyes, cropped length, evened out the hemline

Fabric and Notions: Less than a metre of black cotton eyelet fabric with a scalloped hem and store-bought black bias binding 

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts 

This pair of nautical shorts was a tester version I made as part of Kennis’ testing process for her upcoming release – the Angelia Shorts Pattern. I was provided the tester version of this pattern free from Kennis for testing purposes, and she’s kindly agreed to let me use them for the Separates challenge! (Thanks Kennis! On a side note, all opinions on this pattern are completely my own.) This is the view A version of the shorts, ie. the simplest version sans pockets or belt loops. There are two other version of the Angelia that include all the bells and whistles – coin pouches, tabs, cuffs, patch pockets and welt pockets – you name it, it’s probably somewhere in the pattern. If you would like to be kept posted on when this pattern is being released, be sure to sign up to the Itch to Stitch group on Facebook for updates.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the pattern as yet, as I’m planning to save that for a later post after the pattern has launched. But I WILL say that this pattern is completely manageable for a beginner or a beginner+, it’s my first ever pair of shorts myself! You may notice that my fly zip is kind of messy – that’s completely my fault as I misunderstood the instructions. I did raise this up to Kennis and she was very quick in taking in my feedback – from what I understand that step will be clarified in the final version of the pattern. If you’ve ever made up an Itch to Stitch pattern, you’ll be familiar with how comprehensive the instructions are. If you haven’t, I would strongly strongly encourage you to get the free Lindy Petal Skirt pattern and see for yourself!

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Pattern: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts pattern, view A (not yet released) 

Size made: Size 4

Fabric and notions: Some kind of cornflower blue printed cotton with a waffle-like texture, a 7″ regular zip and a hook and eye

I can’t wait to get some wear out of both these pieces – either separately or together! I would have liked to make the crop top a little shorter to suit the high waist of the shorts, but I wanted a versatile piece that could be worn with my mid to low rise jeans and shorts as well.

What summer sewing are you guys embarking on? All the shorts, sundresses, maxi skirts and bikinis popping up on the blogosphere have me dying to ditch my work clothes plans and make holiday outfits galore!

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