Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bye bye UFO, hello Sorbetto

I'm happy to announce that the refashion project I started when my son was born has now been completed. All the bindings are "neatly" hand-stitched and pressed. And like all of my self made clothes will see heavy wearing and washing. A casual tunic top, I'll wear it with jeans/pants proudly!

I've been searching for the picture of me wearing the "before" dress but to no avail! So here's my lame attempt to illustrate it:

Even brand new it was very snug on the bust, and the sleeves were just not flattering to me IMO. The sleeves were pouffy on the shoulder and then got tighter with elastic and then flare out a bit. The A-line skirt of the dress started right under the bust (like an empire waist) and down to the ankle. Made me look pregnant even when I was not (and can't fit when I actually was), so I was so over empire waist silhouettes.

The Sorbetto pattern (free from Collette pattern) has been my go-to pattern, the base of many of my refashions because I can squeeze out a simple top (or adjust to make tunic/dress) that makes me feel fabulous from the limited fabric of a pre-loved garment.

Addition: Post of how I added the white band to my Sorbetto

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Of UFOs and upcoming projects

Yesterday I decided to finish off my very first attempt at sewing, a very old UFO* as old as my son. The back story is that I cut out my old dress (can't seem to find any picture, but it's a navy colored empire waisted long maxi dress with a faux wrap top - how's that for a description?) to make into a tunic top from a pattern (the only pattern I had at the time). The fabric of this dress is slinky, silky-ish polyester I think. I stop at cutting out the fabric pieces and then put it away for a whole year. Took it out August/September of last year when I became a SAHM, and turned it into a loose Sorbetto top, but never finish it. Didn't want to turn and stitch the armhole and hem (coz by this time the fabric has frayed like crazy), didn't have enough fabric to make self fabric binding, and didn't have anything in stash that matches or complements it too!

But 3 thrift store trips ago I found a white fabric (difficult to know the types of thrifted fabric unless it's noted on the tag, printed on selvage or I take time to do the tests that I do not know how to do, or that I do not have the tools/time to do ---> lazy...). Initially I envisioned something else for the fabric, but when I took out this UFO, they just go together so well!

Okay, technically this Sorbetto is not yet done. I've done the hem part and the length now is more of a tunic than a top which I prefer anyways, but have not yet stitched down the binding on the neckline and armhole. I probably will handstitch it as usual.

One reason why I'm not done with this is because of this boo boo:

My pinking shears accidentally got caught out with the front part of the top when I was trimming the seams where I attached the white to the bottom of the tunic. See the "small" hole on the purple fern in the picture above? As the Bean would say, OH NO!!!

So, last night was spent making these in the hope to cover up the mishap:

That's my very first attempt of making a fabric rosette (this morning I glued on safety pin on the back, so that I won't ruin it in the washer like I tend to do without fail...). I used the same white fabric, and hand sew Czech beads from my stash to the middle parts. Tutorial to make extravaganza fabric rosettes can be found on this site.


Talking about UFOs, a most recent project that is being put on the back burner is a refashion of my favorite Massimo Dutti wool & angora tan coat that I shrunk in the washer fall of last year. I think the shrinking of that coat really made me so upset that I am trying my best to watch my laundering... I've never sent anything to the drycleaners here, so I am not sure of the cost, frankly I am being very conscientious of pricing and cost now that I'm here in the US/with a baby. I did it every month back in Malaysia because we wear a lot of silk/lace etc traditional outfit for events/work and so on.

Here is where it's at:

The coat shrunk from a European size 16 (US size 14) to a child sized one! So it was quite brutal for me to rip up the seams, as there was a lot of puckering (to the many many interfacing) and the wool and angora hide a lot of the stitches too.

My plan is to make a clutch, incorporating the collar and so on to the design. The black fabric with gold, white and bright red flowers is a thrifted fabric that I am using as the lining.

I will only go back to this project once I'm done with at least one of the following upcoming projects:

1) Sporty dress with exposed zipper - I've wanted to make this dress for a while now, but only got the right fabric for it last Friday. It's a Sangria-colored (like darker hot pink) Sophia ponte knit that I bought from Vogue Fabrics. I haven't decided on the type of zippers yet, I bought several types from Joann's but the only gold colored ones are for Jeans and they are stiff... :(

Pattern for this dress is McCall's M6395, and I want to make the long sleeved red version (on the pattern).

2) Kimono-esque style top from purple stretch poly charmeuse bought from FabricMart (provided that I have enough yardage will follow pattern M6204, or else will have to wing it). Beading/embellishment will be optional.

3) Making a 3-quater sleeved version of the Date Dress from pattern M6518 from this thrifted cotton fabric:

This fabric I think was my very first thrifted fabric that's not cut out fabric for quilts. I have 3 yards of it. For the dress, I will leave out the ruffles from the pattern and this version will incorporate the tweaks I want to make for the pattern. I might need to make another muslin for this purpose... hmmm...

4) Top - long sleeved/3 quarter sleeved version) out of this floral knit also from FabricMart using pattern M6513


Anyways, time to hand stitch the tunic and officially close it's chapter as a UFO.

*UFO = unfinished object

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red & black date dress

Yesterday afternoon the date dress was finally completed. I am emotionally exhausted. Spent. Has any sewing project did that to you?

There are some fit issues that I've identified that I can do better for next version (yes I do like the pattern McCall's M6518 , or the shape really) but after so many times ripping the seams, resewing and so on, I won't mess with this one anymore. The issues are from my own limitation re my fitting, and not from the pattern.

I might shorten the hem to follow the pattern sleeve picture. Right now with the knee length and two color it's looking too corporate-ish, officey. Shorter hem will make it look more fun. I'll do longer than knee length when I do an all black version someday.

Might get the hubby take pics for when I am all cleaned up and dressed for our dinner out, but here are the pics for now:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


It's Wednesday and I'm still not done with the date dress. I've been very close to throwing in the towel a few times! First, I was just about done topstitching near the back zipper when I finally notice that I did not match up the back when I sew the zipper in. Weird how I didn't notice it earlier. Probably because it matches up visually when I was pinning and basting that it didn't enter my mind to pay extra attention to this part!

Then last night when I already stitched and topstitched the lining and dress together at the sleeves and put the dress on to test before further sewing, I realised that its a bit too loose on the bodice part. Weird because I've made muslins for this dress. But then again, beeing a noob I must've sewn the seams bigger on the muslin... Or I cut a bigger size than I should and still okay it at the muslin stage because i thought when I sew the lining (which was the muslin) to the dress it will magically fit me. Wrong.

I could have close my eyes and continue and say okay, do better next time. But instead I unpick the stiches. Again. But not the whole dress. Just the part under the armpit for about 2 inches down until where the lining and dress is stitched. Then I pinned, and basted. Pinched in about an inch from under the armpit so that it will fit at the bust nicely and not gaping, and sticthed towards the midriff. Well no point really to explain so much without a picture to illustrate explain. I just needed to vent. Especially since the Bean woke up and cry his piercing cry at 4 am and kept us (and neighbors I'm sure) awake for a while (I was up and been sewing/unpicking the mess at this time) adding to the stress.

This morning before going to work my husband said, so when the date dress gonna be ready? Arghhh.. Dunno, i said.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Under Construction

This is the dress pattern that I have been working on and off the past week, McCall's M6518 (Misses' Lined Dress) that I bought during the recent pattern sale:

I used a red stiff woven fabric that I am not sure what it's called or made of (it was thrifted months ago), just that I like it a lot. It kinda look like linen but stiffer, like a thick shirting. with lighter red and black slubs weaved into it??? Did not have enough to make the whole dress with it, so I decided to cut into my precious thrifted black pure wool fabric. I think it could be gabardine, but also I am not sure re that.

I have been making muslins before I cut into the dress fabric, out of also thrifted fabric for lining, and then made adjustment to the pattern on the neckline: I raised the back neckline and made the U-neck not as wide eventhough I retained the depth. Since I don't have enough yardage of the lining material, I ended up using a cream thin silk fabric that was also thrifted. Only after I was done making the lining and fitting myself was when I start cutting the dress. The pattern pieces for the dress and lining are the same, minus the ruffles for the bodice of the dress.

On the pattern envelope, the dresses are made out of one fabric with contrasting band using trim or ribbon sewed onto the midriff part. I chose to skip that trim as I am already making the skirt portion using black and I don't want to make my torso any shorter than it already is. Ohh, and this dress comes with pockets, yay!

I didn't have an 18 inches zipper to go with the dress, so we went to Joann's yeasterday 15 mins before closing time for me to get it. I bought several lengths of black zippers and some with metal, which turned out to be a blessing because on the car ride home it dawned on me that since I raised the back neckline, it meant I will need a longer zipper! :)

Right now I am attaching the zipper to the dress, and once I'm done with that I will be able to attach the lining to the dress... Who knows how long this will take. If I'm lucky, sometime late tonight....


Parting shot of my surprise Valentine's flower from the hubby :) <3

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy anniversary to me...

Today marks the 3rd year anniversary of my moving here to the US to join my husband, and of course leaving my home country, family and friends back in Malaysia. In my younger adult life, I've lived and worked abroad before for almost 3 years, and traveled quite a bit with my job, but this is different. Back then I know that they were just temporary and I can leave whenever I'm done, thus made things easier to enjoy. Growing up my family moved around a lot, so I had plenty of practice and was always very adaptable to new surroundings. In fact, I thought I thrived at that. So imagine my surprise that I actually found this hard at this "older" age.

I do miss my parents and siblings and the countless extended family gatherings, and there aren't anything here that can fill that void unfortunately. Every family has a different dynamic, a different way to interact. It's funny that when I was back home the sometimes constant extended family get-together were the annoying thing (because as a kid you feel like people are in your business, but now as a parent and an older adult see how the whole family were raising all of us kids collectively and as individuals). Now I feel really sad that my darling son and also my dearest husband do not have that/at this time do not have an option to be a part of that. We look forward to visiting, but having to squeeze that in a couple of short weeks left me too sad to enjoy. This year I will have to remind myself to enjoy every moment that i have there rather than be sad that the time is too short.

As I enter the 4th year of my adjustment period I realized that I am not that badly afflicted with homesickness other than the normal thinking of my family. Of course I wish that my favorite traditional food are readily available in this city especially when I was pregnant and having cravings. At this juncture I know for sure that what I feel strongly lacking is the feeling "at home" here outside my home. Theoretically I know that what I have to do to not feel so isolated is to put myself out there somewhat. The normal course I took was working full time. I did that for 2 years but that didn't help. Maybe if I stayed longer it might, but with the nature of the particular job I doubt as much.

When I first came here, we knew we wanted to move out of state when the economy gets better. :) Then a baby comes, and so on. We still are going to do that, but of course now we are extra cautious. To me a new state/town/place equates the symbol of us as a family unit starting over together, not just me alone making a huge move. Not that this town has any hold on my husband other than the fact that he went to school here - our family here are scattered hours and hours away anyway. But I personally think it will be great for the 3 of us.

I think taking up sewing has done tremendous for my morale. I feel lonesome for my female friends and to have likeminded people exchanging thoughts and opinions and ideas. Building lasting friendships as I get older is difficult, I am lucky to have some close friends that I called my sisters, but they too are scattered. That's why I feel very thankful to have my husband encouraging me to sew, and that I found the online sewing community. Even if I am just reading and taking inspiration from afar, I feel more invigorated than I've ever felt before. :) Thank you!


Talking about sewing, I am working on a dress (McCall pattern M6518 from Phoebe Couture) for a post-Valentine's dinner with my boys. Started on Wed/Thursday, but as usual have things that slow me down. And I have to admit I made 2 muslins, and then also kept on changing my mind on which of my thrifted fabrics to use for the shell and lining!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Silk skirt to blouse

Found a very pretty & simple A-line skirt earlier last year at a thrift store. I love that it's made of silk, and the pretty print, and knew that I just have to take it home, and refashion it into something.

Over the year I've considered it for a project or another, like as a lining for example, but it didn't feel right. Finally last week after finishing up my wool knit sweater dress, I decided to just go ahead and I worked on that into this:

The skirt has a few french seams to it, and I didn't want to rip them unnecessarily, so what I did is I took my adjusted Sorbetto pattern pieces to it and pinned and then cut. I had enough fabric for a little cap-pish sleeves and binding for the neck, so I was set. I incorporated the french seams to the front (near the bust darts) and also the hemmed bottom part of the skirt (which showcased its border print).

I usually do hongkong seams when working with nice but raveling fabrics, but for this project I pulled out all the stops, hehehe, and practiced my french seams, in line with the original ones :)

For the neck binding, I used the same fabric (from the waist band of the original skirt - has a thin interfacing that i just left in) and did not cut it in the bias as i want the print not to be skewed looking. The interfacing, or that it is not cut in the bias may have caused it to be looking a lil wonky, but it's nice i think.

This blouse is joining Recycled Fashion Finds #32 at:

Recycled Fashion