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 Review, Sewing

All Wrapped Up : Papercut Patterns Coppelia Cardigan review

I’ve been a lean mean garment churning machine this past month! In honour of the 3rd week of Indie Pattern Month over on The Monthly Stitch, I’m back with another new make from a new-to-me pattern designer – Papercut Patterns!

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I first noticed Papercut Patterns a while ago (I mean, who could miss them, they’ve had quite a few blogger crazes running for their patterns over the last few years – Soma Swimsuit, Ooh La Leggings, Rigel Bomber and who can forget? The ever-popular Clover Dress) but never got round to buying one of their patterns because they seemed a tad out of my budget, even with the free shipping. So when Papercut Patterns offered a storewide discount in honour of the Queen’s birthday this year, I simply couldn’t say no. I snagged myself copies of the Coppelia cardy and the Clover dress straightaway, though I wish I had gotten myself more of their patterns now!

After seeing all the gorgeous iterations of Coppelia cardigans out there, I was dying to get one of my own. I loved Elizabeth’s merino ones  (the frequency with which she wore these things during me-made-may had me having serious cardigan envy!) and Amanda’s purple version, but it was really Lauren of Lladybird’s four (yes, FOUR) coppelia cardys that really convinced me that it could have a place in my wardrobe. Look at her in that bright red merino coppelia with her hair up and looking all classy and shit – I could totally use some extra glam over here!

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The only thing that bothered me was that the Coppelia is really meant to be worn done up (or else it would just be a very strangely shaped shrug with too long waist ties) and I almost never wear cardigans worn up – it’s just way too hot over here on the equator! I really wanted my version of this pattern to be wearable as a top and to be short sleeved so that I could wear it as an everyday office staple – this meant that there could be no gaping, it had to be secure (wardrobe malfunctions in the office are a big no-no) and it had to be comfy.

The result? This beauty. I paired it with my Lindy Petal Skirt to show you what a classy little number it could be – this pairing also makes me look much more shapely than I actually am, aren’t wraps amazing?

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Fabric

I am incredibly pleased with this make, though it does seem a little too formal for the office and due to the print can basically only be worn with plain dark neutrals. As this was very much a test garment, and because reviews seemed to indicate that the stretchier a fabric was the less gaping was likely to occur, I opted to make it up in a stash polyester jersey that I had gotten from the bargain bin of a shop in Hong Kong.

Pattern

This pattern ticks all my boxes and it was a quick and easy make to boot! Even though my measurements put me at an XXS for the bust and XS for the waist and hip, I made a straight XXS after reading a bunch of reviews that said that the pattern ran large.

The only difficulty I had was a bit of confusion relating to how to finish the neckline binding. In the pattern instructions, it says that excess of the neckline binding is to be snipped off if it’s too long for the front wrap bodices. My confusion was how the neckline binding was to be finished – was it meant to be attached to the waist ties (i.e. cut at an angle such that the bottom edge of the front bodice is in a continuous line with the neckline binding) or finished separately? In the end, I went with the former method and I think I got it right, it was tricky though figuring out how much excess to snip off and at what angle the excess needed to be removed.

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Alterations

As for the sleeves, this was a simple alteration of taking 9 5/8″ off the sleeve, folding up the raw edge by 1cm and hemming it. I opted not to use cuffs on this version.

Well, that’s all from me this week – but I do have a backlog of new makes to show you all, a real first for me! So how about it, do you like wraps or hate them? Is it actually possible to wear the Coppelia undone? Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below!

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Sewing

Flora in the Wild

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So with the outfit-of-the-day frenzy that is Me-Made-May done and dusted, we’ve officially (as of yesterday) moved into Indie Pattern Month and all the competitions that come with it! Indie  Pattern Month is an annual month of competitions centred on, you guessed it, indie patterns and is organised by The Monthly Stitch. To enter, you sew up a garment in line with the rules and post about it over on The Monthly Stitch blog – click here to see my entry!

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The By Hand London Flora dress has been on my to-sew list since I first started sewing – that’s almost a whole year ago! So when I decided to enter in the dresses competition, it HAD to be the Flora. This is by far my most involved garment to date and is definitely my current favourite – it’s got weird and wonderful Alice in Wonderland-ish paisley flowers, who can resist that?? To match the whimsical nature of the print, I decided that the futuristic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore would be the best place to photograph it, amidst the strange and exotic plants of the Cloud Forest dome. But enough of the chattering from me, keep on reading to find out all the juicy sewing-related details!

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The Pattern

By Hand London’s Flora Dress (Tank bodice with hi-lo circle skirt)

I found the pattern instructions very easy to follow, and coupled with the sew-along, is extremely manageable for a beginner sewist! The only pain was finishing the hem of the voluminous circle skirt – I used my rolled hem foot and even then it took ages (not to mention it got a little tricky at the side seams and centre back seams). Other than that, the construction went very quickly, even having to make slight fit adjustments to fix neckline gaping issues.

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I also loved the gentle shaping given by the knife pleats in the front and the box pleats in the back – I didn’t realise it at first, but a friend asked if the “wavy” effect of the skirt hem was intentional, and it dawned on me that it was due to the shaping from the pleats! (Rather an unimpressive revelation to have, but there it is)

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Adjustments made

– Small Bust Adjustment – I found BHL’s tutorial in their sew-along really helpful!

– Shortened the centre back of the skirt by 3 1/4″ and smoothed out the curve gradient. I still found the skirt a bit too long in the back and the curve gradient a tad too severe for casual wear, I would probably shorten the skirt a further 2″ the next time or try out the other skirt option.

– Removed 2″ total from the back neckline where there was gaping. On my next make of this pattern I’ll be sure to remove a total of 1″ from the front neckline as well.

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Fabric & Notions

Purple paisley lightweight cotton (only slightly heavier than voile), bought from Hong Kong for a mere S$5 (US$3.70) a metre! #winning

White voile for the bodice and a 22″ cream invisible zipper

I had actually bought a similar liberty-esque purple paisley print from Goldhawk Road (and was told that it was a William Morris – I still don’t know if the shopkeeper was telling the truth as the selvedge doesn’t mention it) with the intention to use that for a Flora instead. But lo and behold when I saw this alternative in a dingy Hong Kong roadside fabric store, I decided I liked vibrancy of this print a little more and snapped up 3m of this right away.

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I got such a humongous kick out of finally making up this dress – thank you Indie Pattern Month for the huge shove up my behind I needed to do it! Am really looking forward to showing a few more of my entries this coming month and fingers crossed I’ll have time to finish them all! Wish me luck!

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