I wore it in public!

May 19, 2012 § 19 Comments

Being able to sew something you chose from style to fabric to cut and wear it soon after has been quite an empowering thing for me. And I can’t thank Rikka of Ricochet and AwayΒ enough for hosting the I will wear it in public challenge. My thanks too to all the ladies who participated and have been showing such support, considering that we come from all walks of life and have found sewing as our common ground. This was such a fun challenge to do.

You’ve seen the test dress, so you basically know what I’ve done, though I did a few changes.

Choose your fabrics. This time I chose a flowery print for the top and a solid aqua for the bottom.

For the top, it’s basically a tube top made from two rectangles of fabric. For the length, measure the top of your chest to your lower hip and sew at the sides.

Then fold in the top about half an inch. This will be the “casing” for your elastic. The elastic should be as snug as you’ll be confident to wear. What I did was take the elastic all the way around the top of my chest and cut it about two inches shorter.

Make sure to leave a small opening so you can insert your elastic.

Take the elastic all the way around then sew ends together and sew your opening closed.

Since I don’t have an . . . eherm . . . ample bosom, I wasn’t too confident about the dress being just a tube top, so I added straps to mine.

I know I should have kept the straps stitched from the inside of the tube but I never liked straps biting into my skin and sewed them on the outside πŸ˜€

And done.

I’m very happy about this dress and can’t wait to wear it to the beach. It’s very comfortable and perfect for this crazy desert heat. I got to wear out to lunch with a friend though. Thanks to Meagan for setting aside her disdain of public picture taking and taking this shot of me.



The accidentally grown-up dress

May 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m not sure yet whether this is a happy accident or not, but I do know that this is not the dress I set out to do.

There I was, trying to recreate yesterday’s garment challenge dress with different fabrics and something completely different happened.

I did set out to do a sleeveless version, so I used a tank top for a pattern this time.

I chose a heavier print stretchy cotton fabric (yes, very technical) for the top and jersey knit for the bottom of the dress.

I sewed up everything together like before, except this time I wanted to try out a cowl neckline. Grab two rectangles. The length will depend on the neckline of your top, and the width depends on how “cowly” you want your neckline to be. Just make sure the fabric you use is the kind that would drape nicely. I used the same jersey knit as my skirt.

Sew up the sides of the rectangles together so you end up with a tube. Pin the right side of the “cowl” to the right side your top and sew right around.

When you flip the dress right side up, you’ll end up with something like this.

Now before you decide to go around robbing banks with this on, fold in the cowl in half and sew the bottom to your neckline again. And you’re done. Are you ready to see me all grown up? First let me show you the back.

I’m actually quite happy by how this turned out. It’s as close to professionally looking work I’ve ever done. I’m just not sure it’s me.

Takes some getting used to, I know! But still, this helped me try out something new with the cowl. Best of all, it showed me how my sewing and pattern making skills have improved a bit. All in all a good sewing day πŸ™‚ What do you think?

Garment Sewing Challenge Test Dress

May 11, 2012 § 10 Comments

As you all know, I haven’t been feeling quite myself lately and my crafting has suffered most of all. Then I saw this challenge from Rikka of Ricochet and Away and I just thought this was exactly the motivation I needed. Yet I still kept pushing it aside, saying I didn’t have the fabrics yet, I didn’t know what to do, blah blah blah and more blah. Till I finally decided to just shut up and do it already.

So here goes nothing πŸ™‚

The challenge was to make a garment you would be proud to wear in public. Sounds easy enough, but then you also had to try something you’ve never done before in making the garment. So my challenge for myself was to make a drop-waist dress with pleats and elastic. I’ve seen so many tutorials out there using elastic but I’ve been too chicken to try it out. Well, no time like the present to boldly go where every seamstress must go sometime.

First things first, for the top part of the dress, I chose a favorite top and traced a pattern from that.


I kept telling myself I’d buy new fabric for this challenge but realized it was just another excuse. So we’re going to use a familiar aquamarine jersey for this dress.

Make sure the front neckline is lower than the back neckline, pin together and sew along the sides. Keeping arm and neck holes open, of course πŸ˜‰

Now the skirt. I’m lazy, but that’s no excuse not to finish a challenge so I just put two ends of the leftover jersey together and sewed the open side seam closed to make a longish tube. I’m guestimating that for the whole dress I used up about 1.5 yards of fabric (yes, I am quite a small person).

So now, we need to put everything together.

Yes, you noticed that my thread is a much, much brighter blue than my fabric. But like I said, I was determined to at least do a dry run for this challenge this weekend, lack of right materials be damned. Which explains why I had to cheat on the pleats.

Instead of sewing them in place vertically, I sort of basted them in place. I figured this would at least hold their shape a bit. Now to sew the top and bottom together.

Sew the top and bottom together by inverting the top ride side in the skirt, topstitching the wrong side of the skirt. I hope that makes sense, I still get confused about it in theory but it works out right when you actually do it πŸ™‚ Now for the exciting part: sewing on the elastic.

I’ve seen so many tutorials for this but never really thought it would work. Truth: it does! I took the elastic all the way around the sewn together ends of the top and bottom (of course, you could just measure your hip but again, lazy) and cut the elastic about 3 inches shorter. Pin one end of the elastic to one of the side seams and sew about an inch or two, just to keep it in place. As you can see, my elastic was helpfully marked with zigzag lines I could follow so I sewed it on that way. After the first inch or so, start stretching the elastic as you sew all the way around until you get back to the pinned end. DO NOT stretch your fabric along with it. Especially since I was using jersey, this could have some disastrous results.

And you know what? I was done πŸ™‚

It’s a bit on the plain side, even for me. I think for the actual garment I’m entering in the challenge I’ll do a little jazzing up to it and maybe shorten the skirt a bit more. But for now a bright sash will do and I’ll still be happy to wear this outside anyway. I’m just really happy to be sewing again πŸ™‚




Two maxi dresses

March 24, 2012 § 4 Comments

I didn’t really have time for a step-by-step this week but I just wanted to show off the two maxi dresses I made. As mentioned in the last post, I was invited to a fashion event on Friday and had nothing to wear. I decided to pattern a dress from this one by Lex:

But I’ve never sewn jersey knit fabric before and I’ve heard so many horror stories about it, so I decided to make a backup dress too in case things didn’t go well for the original idea. This time I went for the tried and true:

You’ve seen the tank top dress before. It was my first dress. Basically you just take a tank top, cut it mid-rib, attach a “skirt”, and voila! Dress! Only this time I made the skirt part ankle-length and I “stole” a crochet panel from a curtain and used it as a belt πŸ˜€

Side note: I’ve been eyeing these sandals for so long but they were a bit pricey so I convinced myself I wouldn’t use them in winter anyway and didn’t get them. Well, i walked past the shop, and there they were, half off and my size was one of the last three pairs. Of course I got them πŸ˜€

Now on to “the dress.” Many thanks to Lex for so generously sharing how she made her gorgeous dress. But there were a few things that made this project challenging for a beginner like me. First, she did her fittings on a dressform, which I don’t have. Second, the bodice is made up of four triangles sewn together. You could cut four triangles of your fabric and then try fitting as you go, but I felt you’d waste so much fabric this way so I actually took measurements for mine. Also, I knew from the picture that she was a lot thinner and taller than me and the dress wouldn’t drape as becomingly on me as it did on her. I decided for a “sleeker” fit rather than relaxed, that meant cutting to my measurements with only a quarter inch seam allowance.

One last thing. When sewing jersey knit, I read that people use that 3-stitch zigzag on their machines. Others would use the longest straight stitch with 0 tension. I tested both of these out and found out that the longest straight stitch with the tension at 2 worked better on my machine. You just have to take the time to experiment. And here is what happened.

I ended up going to the party in my backup dress since I felt this one was too “revealing” (you know how unforgiving jersey knit can be if you don’t have the right “foundation”) and I had places to go before the party. Can’t wait for the right occasion to wear this though. All in all I can say it was a good crafting week, don’t you think? πŸ™‚


I’m back . . . I hope

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment


I decided I’ve had enough of feeling down, and since I need a dress for Friday (no more buying RTW, remember?) I thought I’d get my act together and make one. But I haven’t touched my machine for almost a month and I thought I’d ease into it with a super simple one first. Granted I had planned on a maxi dress to wear as my “tropical best”, but this fabric was just right to fall a tad away from my knee and it was just laying around, Β so soft and flow-y, it had “dress” written all over it. So I followed this tutorial and made myself a dress in one hour. Trust me, it’s so easy. It’s just two rectangles sewn together and tied together at the top with a sash. If you had a big enough pillowcase you’d be off to a good head start. Now excuse me while I sew my real Friday dress in my new ultra comfy dress. Ta-ta.

I see the light

March 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

How do you get a down-in-the-dumps crafter sewing again? Invite her to an event for which she has nothing to wear, of course πŸ™‚ I’ve been invited to an event with a “Tropical Paradise” theme, and while I do have a sundress, the weather has been erratic and I don’t want to chance freezing among a very well-dressed lot. A cheeky friend said that since we are from the tropics anything we wear should be appropriate, but I thought sewing something might just be the push I need to finally lose the doldrums. Besides, I feel like stretching my newly formed pattern drafting muscles. I’m going to make myself a maxi dress. All three designs look perfectly fine in my head but we’ll see what works out best. The major difference between the three is the neckline but one will be a tank-maxi, another will be an upcycle patterned after my old sundress and one will be completely from scratch. Watch this space πŸ˜‰

Look, Ma, another engineer

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

My mother raised two engineers and me, the kid who’d quote lines from Snooky Cerna movies in shouting matches with her sister. Since I’d get an asthma attack at the sight of numbers, I steered myself where words led me and my resume is now a weird mesh of occupations that all bottom line to either the spoken or written word. Well and good. Except that I suddenly decided garment construction was something I wanted to do. And now my weekends are spent measuring tape around the neck and trying to figure out which ruler measures what in pattern-drafting classes with the gracious Tsufa and five other wonderful ladies.

To all crafters and sewing enthusiasts who share patterns they made themselves so generously to the rest of us, I raise my hat (if I wore one) and everything else to all of you. PATTERN MAKING IS HARD. Just taking measurements and trying to do them properly and then drawing a block IS HARD. After each class I feel like grabbing the first tailor I see in a bear hug and saying, “There, there,” to them as I rub their shoulders. It has been an eye opening experience, finally understanding how garments are supposed to be constructed and knowing the importance of (having the patience to) taking the right measurements. But is also frustrating because where I used to just sew willy-nilly, I now sit back and think every detail through before even gathering materials. Which has sadly resulted in no finishes these past two weeks and I’m feeling such a slacker now. And this hasn’t helped:

My (just a few days ago) very timid and docile bunny has decided that she is now going to be a ninja, constantly popping up in strange places when you least expect her to. And because she’s such fun to watch, I automatically turn into a two-year-old and start hopping around the house with her. VERY PRODUCTIVE INDEED.

Anyhoo, I found out at the last class that I did my first draft so badly and had to spend the last quarter sitting quietly taking notes over my useless center front bodice. I MUST MAKE A NEW ONE (emphasis for my benefit) before next Saturday’s class and redeem myself among my more crafty classmates. I must do at least one craft project before Friday. I MUST MUST MUST . . . oh, hey there, Bunny, of course I want to play . . .



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