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Chinese New Year Sewing 2016

January 31, 2016

I have not been blogging for the past few weeks, but I have a number of reasons to be very very busy. Chinese New Year is in a week’s time and I’ve been busy spring cleaning and sewing. It is customary for everyone to be dressed in new clothes for the New Year, and since we usually go visiting grandparents and relatives on the first two days, I will have to prepare 2 new outfits (per child) and that means this year I have 6 outfits to sew! At this time last year I was heavily pregnant and due to pop anytime, so I too tired to sew and I just made do with store bought clothes. This year I made sure I started early, but I’m still cutting it close. I’m only done with 4 out of 6 and I still have to make two matching bags, all before this Sunday. So this post will be short, and it will be just to share with you what I have been busy making for the past few weeks.

For this year, I decided to make them all with a little modern twist, and instead of a straight/fitting shape, I made them more fit and flare. I couldn’t decide on a particular design so I made 3 variations.

Dress #1

swans

The first dress was inspired by the fabric. The fabric is a gorgeous November Books fabric featuring the story of the Ugly Duckling. I fell in love with the colors of the fabric and I just had to buy it. The panel print along the border meant that I could not actually cut a flare skirt pattern from it, so I had to settle for box pleats instead.

swanbuttons

The dress opening is actually at the back, which makes it easier to sew, since the front is sewn shut. Don’t you love the diagonal bias tape? I had these lying around since I took part in the Mailbox Surprise Series in 2014, and when I placed it over the fabric, it just looked so perfect.

swanssleeves

I added some cap sleeves this time for a variation. See the bias facing in the lower armhole? I learnt this technique from a Japanese sewing book, it makes the armhole look really neat, since cap sleeves end halfway around the armholes.

Dress #2

bluedress

Moving on to Dress #2. The photos can’t do justice to the beauty of this dress. I had some problems with the white balance and as I also had to take photos on different days, so the color looks different in the different photos but I don’t have time to adjust it further. The design of this dress was inspired by a modern cheongsam for ladies that I saw some time ago on the internet. I think it was my cousin who showed it to me, when she asked if I could make a similar dress for her wedding. Back then I had yet to venture into making these dresses for my kids, so I did not have the confidence to take on the project, but the design stuck in my head. I loved how it looks so simple on the outside, but when the dress is in motion, you can catch glimpses of the cute matryoshka dolls hidden within the box pleats.

bluedress1

I could cut the skirt into a flare shape this time as the fabric was plain in color, so it will not mess up the flow of the prints. You can see how the skirt spreads out because of the flare pattern, which is different from the first dress where the skirts are made from rectangular pieces of fabric.

buttonsandcollars

The fabric is a lovely light blue sateen that was leftover from my tiffany blue dress and the matryoshka doll fabric was from Japan.

matryoushkadolls
A close up of the fabric covered buttons. Isn’t it cute! 🙂 I love how it adds a pop of color to the simple looking dress.

Dress #3

And finally, this must be my favourite dress of all.

 
ombredress1

The designs of the first two dresses were quite quickly finalized, and I was going to make two similar dresses from the November books fabric, so that accounted for 3 out of 4 dresses that I had to make. However, I did not have enough fabric leftover to make a second dress #2, and needed to go fabric shopping for the last dress. I brought my eldest along to Chinatown, in search of the perfect fabric, and we found it! It is a Japanese fabric produced by Junko Matsuda for Daiwabo-tex, and it has the most beautiful gradient effect I have ever seen. The fabric itself is also silky to the touch, has a sheen on the right side, and drapes wonderfully. The color? Spot on. There is another color in a beautful bluish purple, which I am leaving for another day. I can’t bear to use up all of it at once!

ombredress

The gradation of the colors meant that cutting the pieces for the dress had to be done really precisely and carefully. This dress really brought out the perfectionist in me. I actually made a mistake when cutting out the top pieces, and the color did not match at the waistline. I could not stop thinking about it, whether to go ahead and sew or to waste the pieces and cut all over again. I cut them out all over again, which explains why it took so long for me to sew three dresses.

ombrebuttons

I used the simplest Chinese knot buttons. Going with the mantra – Less is more.

ombreskirt

See the beautiful drape of the skirt? The draping called for a flare skirt pattern definitely. It took me a while to cut this piece out as I was afraid that since the gradation of colors is running horizontal, cutting a flare pattern instead of using a horizontal rectangular shape will destroy the flow of the color blending. Thankfully it is not that obvious and the fabric still looks heavenly. 🙂

Just one more picture to share. This is a little boy’s shirt that I made for my soon-to-be one year old. Oh how time flies! I basically made it using a standard shirt pattern, but lowered the necklines so that the standup collars won’t actually be too bothersome or hot. You know how fussy one year olds are with their clothing. ;P I added some yellow trim and bias just to make it look more festive.

boysshirt

For those of you interested in making your own cheongsams/qipao, you can follow my free tutorial here -> http://www.japanesesewingbooks.com/2014/01/13/free-girls-qi-pao-chinese-dress-pattern-and-sew-along/ There are free patterns and also a link to a video tutorial on youtube.

Are you sewing/have you sewn your Cheongsam for the new year? If you have sewn a dress using my free pattern, do post it on my Facebook page. I would love to see it and share it with everyone!

 

Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

April Sew Along – Pattern A1 and A2 from Feminine Wardrobe – Part 2 of 2

April 24, 2014

And here is Part 2 of this month’s sew-along. Click here for Part 1  if you need to refer to it.

Just a quick note about the finishing of the hem (Step 7). Before you finish the hem, try on the dress first and see if you like the length. I found it too long (below the knee for me because I’m short), so I chopped a couple of inches off so that it was slightly above the knee. The book also called for blind stitching for the hem of the dress (A1), and a double fold hem for the tunic (A2). In any case, I would have used the machine for both patterns because I did not really like the idea of hand stitching all the way around. Anyway, my fabric was black so it was hardly noticeable.

I only finished the dress today so I couldn’t get a chance to take any proper pics before it got too dark. My 9 year old took these for me! Tip : if you have short legs like me, get a child to take your photos, her photos were taken from a lower perspective which made my legs look much longer ;P

I will try to take more photos tomorrow morning when there is more light, using other belts (which was my original intention) and also to see what it would look like in the giant bow-tie tunic (Pattern A2) style.

Alinesleevelessdress

For those of you who don’t have this book but would like to get the pattern and sew along later on, here’s the link to buy the book from Amazon.

Happy Sewing! And let me know if you have any questions by leaving your comments below.

Sew-along Sewing Tutorials Sewing Videos

April Sew Along – Pattern A1 and A2 from Feminine Wardrobe – Part 1 of 2

April 21, 2014

This month’s sew-along, as decided by your votes, is this Sleeveless Dress with Bow Sash from the book Feminine Wardrobe (translated to English).  Those of you who took part in the poll early this month will know that it was a very close fight between this and a the Button up blouse from Stylish Dress Book. But there has to be a winner, so this is what we will sew today!

aprsewalong (2)

The dress we are sewing is Pattern A1 of Feminine Wardrobe. The good news is that there are 3 variations of this pattern A.
Pattern A1 – Sleeveless dress with bow sash
Pattern A2 – Giant Bow-Tie Tunic (see pics below)
Pattern A3 – Ruffle Shoulder Dress

femininewardrobe 13

femininewardrobe 12

Patterns A1 and A2 are long and short versions of the same pattern, whereas A3 incorporates ruffles into the vertical seams. The steps for A1 and A2 are identical, and for A3 the only slight variation in steps are the insertion of the ruffles. So basically this one sewing video tutorial can help all those of you who are sewing one of these 3 patterns.

To kick off the sew-along, here are the list of materials you would need

Pattern A1
XS/S sizes – 1.1m wide x 3.5m long.
M/L sizes – 1.1m wide x 3.7m long.

I only purchased 3m, as I decided I was going to make the ribbon in another fabric, or even do without the ribbon and use a belt instead. I am only 3/4 of my way through making the dress so there are no completed photos of it yet. I will post photos when I’m done.

For Pattern A2 you will need less fabric since it is shorter –
XS/S – 1.08m x 2.6m
M/L – 1.08m x 2.7m

(The difference in fabric width is due to the type of fabric used. Pattern A2 used a silk seersucker in the book, while A1 used a printed cotton lawn)

The sew-along videos will be posted in 2 separate parts.

Today 21st April – Part 1 – Steps 1-4
Thursday 24th April – Part 2 – Steps 5-9

Here’s the video for today. Do watch out for Part 2 that will be posted this Thursday.

For those of you who don’t have this book but would like to get the pattern and sew along later on, here’s the link to buy the book from Amazon.

 

Happy Sewing! And let me know if you have any questions by leaving your comments below.

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Simple wallet sewing video tutorial with free pattern – Sew-along Day #2

February 19, 2014

Welcome to Day#2 of our sewing video tutorial. Do you have all your materials ready? Let’s start!

To begin with, please refer to the layout diagram below, for the positioning of the different parts of the wallet. You will need to mark the position of the velcro strips on the outer and inner fabrics. Note the orientation of the inner (on top) and outer fabric (below). This is because the two pieces will be sewn with their wrong sides facing.

layout_sm

 

Layout and positioning of pockets and velcro. Click on image to zoom in.

How to make

Preparation
– Apply fusible interfacing (if you are not using laminates or thick fabrics)

  1. Make coin compartment – Sew front piece of coin compartment to the bottom edge of the zip. Sew backing piece for coin compartment to the top edge of the zip. Open up the two fabric pieces so that right sides are facing up. Topstitch the fabric onto the zip. Foldover the backing piece so that the short edges are aligned. Set aside.
  2. Make ID holder – Clip the two strips of bias in place to the longer sides of the plastic sheet. Sew down one side, with the bias sandwiching the plastic sheet. Set aside.
  3. Assembling the inner fabric piece. Place coin compartment, right sides aligned (as referred to in top diagram), clip in place. Baste the coin compartment to the inner fabric on the right and left sides, with a 0.5cm seam allowance. Next, place the plastic sheet 1cm away from the coin compartment, clip in place to the inner fabric. Sew the other side of the bias (the side that has not been sewn) so that the bias sandwiching the plastic sheet is sewn down to the inner fabric all in one stitch.
  4. Position Velcro pieces – using the layout diagram above, mark with a washable fabric marker/chalk, the velcro hook and loop tape positions  respectively on the outer and inner fabric pieces. Sew the velcro pieces on.
  5. Attach labels (optional step)
  6. Finish top edge of inner fabric – using the cotton twill tape, cover the edge of the inner fabric and sew down with a 0.7-0.8cm seam allowance.
  7. Assembling the wallet – Place outer fabric with right sides facing down (note orientation of velcro), place billfold lining fabric on top (wrong sides of fabric facing each other), and stack the inner fabric with the sewn on ID holder and coin compartment on top of it. Align the bottom edge of all pieces (the bottom edge is the one nearest to you).
  8. Important! Check the position of the velcro strips. Now fold up the wallet to check the orientation of the velcro. If it is correct, sew a 0.5cm seam allowance basting stitch around all 4 sides to hold all the layers in place.
  9. Finish – Using the cotton twill tape, sew all around the raw edges of the wallet, making sure to sew through all the layers.

I feel a headache reading what I just wrote 😛 It’s hard to imagine orientation and right sides and wrong sides without actually seeing it! So please watch the video, it will make things so much clearer. If you have a fast internet connection, watch in HD!

I hope you enjoyed this quick and easy sewing video tutorial. Even if you did not sew along, bookmark the page for you might want to make this one day. Happy sewing and stay tuned for my next sewing video tutorial next month. I will be sewing using a pattern from one of my Japanese sewing books!

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Simple wallet sewing video tutorial with free pattern – Sew-along Day #1

February 17, 2014

This month’s sew-along, or rather, sewing tutorial, is a simple wallet that I made for my girl to carry to school. As she is only in primary school, she only needs to carry some loose change, a couple of bills occasionally, as well as a single student ID card.  So this is a very simple, minimalistic wallet, which I thought will be great for traveling as well.  There is one zipped coin compartment, one ID card holder, as well as an additional card slot (behind the coin compartment). Both card slots are sized to fit a standard credit card size, but in actual fact there’s enough room for a few cards in both slots.

wallet

I am using naniIRO’s Field STAR Hooray_やっほー  laminated cotton. Isn’t it lovely? I bought it last June during my trip to the nani IRO atelier. I wasn’t looking for laminates in particular but there it was, standing against the wall in the corner, calling out my name ;P  I have been keeping it aside to make a bag of my own, but since it was so precious I was always afraid of sewing with it and possibly ruining it! This is a small little project which only requires a little bit of fabric so I mustered up the courage to cut! and I’m so glad I did. 🙂

walletdiagram

It is really a very simple wallet and quick to sew, so there will only be two posts on this sew-along. Today is all about the materials, and I will post the pattern, or rather, the layout diagram, sewing video and how-to-make on Wednesday. This is so that you can have some time to get your materials ready. Please read my notes below with regards to the materials. Making a wallet usually requires interfacing but due to my choices of fabric I did not have to use any. So do prepare some medium/heavy weight interfacing to give your wallet some structure if you are using light/medium weight fabrics.

Materials

materials_1

materials_2

materials_3

About the materials

Outer fabric
I am using laminated cotton fabric, which is great because it can stand up to dirt and stains. It is also quite stiff and sturdy thanks to the laminated layer. If you are using normal cotton fabric, you can use normal fabric reinforced with medium-heavy weight fusible interfacing. There are also iron on vinyls like those from Heat ‘n’ Bond if you have a favorite print you want to use that does not come in laminate options.

Billfold lining
I used an upholstery weight fabric (for cushions and curtains) for this, so I didn’t need to add interfacing. If your fabric is light weight or medium weight it will be a good idea to reinforce this layer with interfacing.

Plastic Sheet
The plastic sheet was actually salvaged from the plastic cover of an old diary. It is slightly frosted which is great because I find that glossy plastic tends to be sticky and sometimes printed cards will get stuck and leave marks on the plastic piece as well. Look around you for something you can recycle, like an old clear plastic file or old book covers. You can even use vinyl sheets (available in some fabric stores), although I must say that cards tend to stick to vinyl.

Cotton Twill Tape
These tapes come in both polyester and cotton options. Both are fine, but try to get one that is not so thick. I found mine a little too thick for my machine to handle, especially around the folds and overlapping bits, I had to manually maneuver my stitches over the thick areas.

Zip
In the list of materials I mentioned a 12cm zip. I chose a metal zip that was slightly longer because the metal zip stoppers on both ends would have made it difficult for me to sew the twill tape over. So I chose to use a slightly longer zip and cut off the excess.

Ok, time to go shopping for your materials! If you have them ready, move on to the next post for the tutorial – Simple wallet sewing video tutorial with free pattern –  Sew-along Day #2