I escaped Vancouver winter this year and went down south to Mendoza, Argentina for two weeks. Most of the time, the sun was scorching in the Mendocinean desert climate so I’ve been wearing these cut-off shorts on repeat.
I bought this pair of second hand, vintage Levi’s 501 with the aim to tailor it into a modern, slimmer fit. I was obsessed (and still am) with the idea of having a modern fit jeans made of used, vintage fabric. At the time, I just started learning how to sew and had no clue on how to tailor pants. It turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined and I failed to make the jeans fit properly.
So these shorts were actually the result of my botched attempt. Feeling dissatisfied with the fit of the jeans, I decided to cut off the legs and make them into shorts. I’ve always wanted a pair of high waisted jean shorts so in the end I was quite happy.
I didn’t follow any pattern for this project as I didn’t have a tried & trusted pant pattern (still looking for one). So what I did was to look at a pair of shorts that fit well and followed the cut of the seat. Then I made some more adjustments as needed; trimmed the waistband and tapered the waist. I made the mistake of cutting off the legs prior to reconstructing the seat..I realized after that I should only cut off the legs after I finish altering the seat. Why? Because when I took in the seat, I made the shorts much shorter and as I have already cut off the legs, I didn’t have any extra fabric to make up for the loss.
Not much was needed as I kept all the details of the original jeans; zipper, button, pockets etc. I just needed jeans thread and needle.
When I took in the seat, I had to cut out a lot of fabric so I ended up having to displace the pockets. Thus creating the super-imposed pocket detailing. I wasn’t sure if I liked it at first but now it grew on me. I think it makes the shorts look unique and one of a kind.
Anyways, my jeans reconstruction adventure continues..till next time!
pictures: Mendoza, Argentina by RY
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One day I’d love to pattern draft my own designs instead of relying solely on commercial patterns. So I’ve been taking pattern drafting lessons from my talented friend, Elena. She’s a fashion designer who has a wealth of sewing and pattern drafting knowledge..I’m so excited to absorb as much as I can. This fleece skirt was the result of our first few lessons.
When I look into my closet I realize that I have mostly dark bottoms. I was super excited to make this skirt so that I can wear light coloured bottoms for a change. Light grey seems like the perfect colour for skirts, a refreshing alternative to the usual black or brown yet still neutral.
It is recommended to start with a classic style skirt when learning how to pattern draft. We took my body measurements and created a basic skirt pattern based on them. For a skirt all I needed was my waist and hip measurements as well as how long I wanted the skirt to be. It helps to have someone measure the length for me as trying to bend down and measure by myself results in inaccurate measurements. Somehow I always find it difficult trying to decide how long I want my skirts or dresses to be.. sigh I’m so indecisive sometimes.
Ideally I’d use wool suiting for the most classic of the classic. However, I’ve been wanting to make a stretch, slitted skirt from fleece fabric. It’s quite tricky to create slits on stretch fabrics, fortunately interfacings exist. I chose fleece stretch fabric as it was late October and I wanted something warmer than regular knits.
Regular zipper and tons of interfacing to reinforce slits and waistband. I used different types of interfacing as it was also a great way for me to learn and practice using all the different varieties out there. For the slits, I used a non-woven, iron-on interfacing while for the waistband I used a sew-in. In retrospect, I would have used a woven, iron-on interfacing as it fuses better without the wrinkles that I sometimes get with a non-woven. For the hem, I used an iron-on hem tape for the first time. Another notion that I would have needed was a button but I wasn’t quite able to do a buttonhole on my machine so I’ll probably sew in some snaps later.
As it is winter, I’m wearing this super warm fur ear muff that I got in Whistler Village and my ARITZIA bomber jacket. I love that this bomber jacket is so lightweight and versatile, it came with a small pouch to stuff into. I’ve been obsessed with this cut out sweater from PRIMARK, good thing we don’t have PRIMARK here in Vancouver..and I’m toting my favorite everyday bag, this black zippered STRAW carryall.
Anyways, happy new year & look out for more self-drafted pieces in 2017 🙂 One of my new year’s resolutions.
photos: Vancouver by RY
Since I live in Raincouver, naturally I would need to sew a hooded coat sooner or later. I’m not ready yet to sew waterproof material such as Gore-Tex but a thick wool blend would do. So here it is, my first hooded coat!
After perfecting the BURDA 7184 for myself, I had planned to use it for several coat variations. I wanted to attach a hood but I was not sure what hood pattern would be suitable. I did have an idea of how I wanted it to look.Since the Burda pattern that I had is waterfall style, naturally it would be best to do a shawl collar style for the hood. Anyways, my fantastic sewing teacher, MaryAn, came to the rescue. She lent me a hood pattern for a coat that she drafted herself when she was in fashion design school.
I didn’t plan on making this coat reversible but when I saw this two tone fabric at FABRICANA, I thought hey why not make it reversible..or at least try to haha. It is quite a thick wool blend composed of two different coloured fabrics glued together. The edges do not fray and cuts nicely. However, I’m starting to notice that the two different fabrics are coming apart in some areas. So I will probably add a bias tape around the edges sometime soon.
Okay so I’m not sure if ‘reversibility’ is a proper word haha but anywayss…in order to make this coat reversible, MaryAn suggested that I flat-fell all the seams. However, this fabric is quite thick and it was really difficult to do on my basic SINGER 8280 PRELUDE so I cheated a bit. I did a ‘fake or mock flat fell’ by NOT folding over the longer seam allowance. Instead, I just sew close to the edge to give the illusion of a flat felled seam. Click on the link Mock Flat Fell by Collete to see how to do this. One problem though with flat felling this pattern is the lower arm..I think it would be best to wrap a bias tape around the seams but if you have a better idea let me know!
Basically I just needed a thread since this pattern is very simple and the fabric pretty easy to sew. And a bias tape to finish the edges. (Actually, at first I had trouble sewing this fabric on my Singer. The thread kept bunching up. After trying different types of needles and nothing solved the problem… it turns out the I just needed to oil the machine haha)
photo: Vancouver, by Alexandra Gordeyeva
It’s one of my favourite time of the year again! Happy Halloween everyone! For my costume this year I decided to try sewing something….easy..haha. I’m currently making a hooded coat for winter and I thought hey why not make a hooded cape for a red riding hood costume (plus my boyfriend happen to already have a wolf costume!). I didn’t feel like sewing the full costume as I already had a white top and black corset suitable for the look. But I’ve always wanted my own cape. I’ve been fascinated with those long medieval style capes since I was a kid! So for my red riding hood cape, I chose to make it ankle length.
I found this amazingly simple tutorial on youtube. This is by far the most simple cape tutorial and required the least amount of fabric. A lot of other red riding hood online tutorials make a full circle cape which would require at least 2 metres of fabric for an adult. Meanwhile, this tutorial uses just enough fabric to wrap around ourselves (I only needed 1 metre). Anyways, I followed this tutorial for the pattern and added extra little details such as lining for the hood and bias tape for the edges.
I bought two different types of velvet for this cape: 1.5 metres of fine, micro velvet for the main cape and another 0.5 metre of crushed velvet which I used to line the inside of the hood. I absolutely love the micro velvet fabric, it is the perfect shade of red, feels luxuriously soft and is quite light. The crushed velvet was like $3 cheaper per metre but I find it too shiny and bright for the whole cape so I decided to use it just to line the hood. I’m very particular about the shade of red that I put near my skin haha I don’t want to look neither yellow nor orange. I truly believe that choosing the right shade of red fabric is just as important as choosing a red lipstick.
Anyways, I thought that this project would be easy peasy and only need 2 hours max of sewing time. Boy was I wrong! I did not realize how slippery velvet is…. sewing velvet on velvet was such a pain in the ***. Especially when I sandwiched the two different types of velvet together for the hood. After almost an hour of struggling with the fabric, I almost gave up….luckily, I remembered my sewing teacher telling me that she used tissue paper to help stabilize slippery fabrics. So, I lined the bottom fabric with tissue paper and magically I can sew as normal!
Since I wanted to finish the edges nicely, I bought a double fold bias tape in red to match the velvet. I also bought a metre long of black ribbon to tie the neck. Oh and since velvet is so damn slippery, you will definitely need a ballpoint needle. The micro velvet is also quite fragile, regular needles will leave running streaks on it.
REST OF COSTUME:
I wore this white top from Guess that I’ve had for years. It has that perfect balconette neckline that resembles blouses from medieval times. To complement the look, I wore a black corset that I’ve also had for awhile. Bought it from ORCHARD CORSET a couple years ago, they have very good quality corsets in case you want to buy one.
Have a fabulous Halloween everyone..til next time!
photos: Vancouver by AC & RY
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Here it is, my current favourite outfit for an fancy night out! I’ve posted about the beige wrap skirt earlier and here is the black version. I sewed this one better I think and the black serged edges looked much nicer than the unsightly white edges of the beige skirt. The two skirts are fairly identical except for the fact that I moved the cut out hole to the side seam instead of the front left side. Moreover, the fabric is different even though both are knit jerseys. For this skirt, I managed to get my hands on natural, bamboo knit jersey fabric. It is much heavier than the polyester knit that I used for the beige skirt but it is also a much better quality. So far, it has not pile at all..yay! Now I’m on the hunt for more bamboo knits!
I’d also like to gush about this exquisite MANU ATELIER bag! Originally its my sister’s bag but its so so beautiful that I just had to snatch it from her haha. I absolutely love the rectangular design, chain strap and supposedly non-scratch leather. I can’t testify whether its true that the leather is resistant to scratches because I’m too scared to try! (My sister will kill me if I scratched it)
Anyways, I also have to mention this top which I also snatched from my sister. We were in London during the summer so of course we had to check out PRIMARK! I’ve vowed to myself to minimize buying fast fashion but this top is just gorgeous! I’ll definitely wear it for several years…with the permission of my sister of course..
photos: London by AC
I’ve been wearing this skirt on repeat all summer and I finally had time to post about it! So far I’ve made two, one in beige as seen here and another in black.
Several years ago I bought a very similar wrap skirt from Siren made of tie-dye knit. Siren has since closed down all over Canada unfortunately. Anyways, I love the style so much that I decided to sew several skirts with a similar style but in more neutral colours. I like tie-dye cloth but nothing beats a monochrome, basic coloured skirt that pairs well with any top.
I’ve never attempted to replicate an existing skirt before. At first, I tried to just guess by inspecting the original Siren skirt very closely and figuring out how it was sewn. I guessed that the overall structure of the skirt is composed of a simple, straight skirt with a hole in it whereby another piece of fabric, the ‘wrap’ fabric goes through. The problem was figuring out the shape of the ‘wrap’ fabric. Initially I thought that it was a triangle shape but when I cut out a triangle, it was way to small to wrap around.
In the end I ended up taking apart the Siren skirt as I was not able to figure out the shape of the ‘wrap’ fabric. My initial guess about the overall skirt structure was correct, but the shape of the ‘wrap’ fabric was a trapezium instead of a triangle..which made more sense now that I think about it..duh. Anyways, I made several changes to the original skirt, I lengthened the ‘inside’ skirt by at least 4cm. I planned on wearing this skirt for dancing (I dance Argentine Tango) and I don’t want it to ride up as I’m moving.
The fun part is playing around with the location of the cut out hole where the ‘wrap’ fabric goes through. For this beige skirt, I decided to cut out the hole in the front, left hand side of the skirt. Its a closer resemblance of the original Siren skirt. For the black skirt, I cut some of the stitches on the side seams and pulled the wrap fabric through there.
Since I used a jersey knit fabric, I had to use ballpoint needles. Ideally I would use a twin needle to hem the edges but I haven’t figured out yet how to thread a twin needle on my machine. Procrastination at its best…anyways, I opted to just serge the edges. Yes I agree, the serged white edges is unsightly. At the time, I couldn’t wait to wear the skirt for my summer vacation so I didn’t bother hemming the edges properly but one of these days I’ll clean up the edges. For the waist band, I just used a generic elastic band.
The original Siren skirt is made of a lightweight jersey tie-dye fabric. So I decided to use a similar lightweight jersey knit stretch fabric which I washed and dried prior to cutting and sewing to minimize shrinkage. It’s perfect for this style but after several wears I started to notice piling which didn’t occur to the black skirt that I sewed with a heavier, bamboo knit fabric. If I had known that this fabric piles easily, I would’ve spent more time looking for the better quality bamboo knit in the beige colour that I wanted. In regards to how much fabric, 1.5 m was more than enough for me.
Anyways, keep an eye out for an outfit post about the black wrap skirt! It’s so versatile and elegant, I cannot wait to wear it to winter parties this holiday season.
photos: V&A museum, London by AC
Here it is, the first skirt that I have ever sewed! I made this skirt when I started taking sewing classes back in February.
PATTERN : I used BUTTERICK B6060 pattern skirt C but without the contrasting fabric nor piping detail. Not only because it was my first ever sewing project and I needed to start with something easy but also because I’m a monochrome kinda girl. I always tend to opt for one colour, unless a multi colour combination really really really catches my eye. Anyways, the pattern is quite easy, even a beginner like me was able to complete the project. So if you ever need a simple, pencil skirt pattern, this is a good one.
As for the size, initially I cut a size 8 but I had to take in a LOT. Now I’ve figured out that I’m size 6 for most patterns. For reference, I’m usually between sizes XS-S, 0-2 for US store sizes and 2-4 for UK sizes. Oh and I actually wanted a longer skirt and a higher waist but I accidentally shortened the pattern too much. Ah well…there’s always a next time..
NOTIONS : Since I skipped the piping, I only needed a zipper. The most difficult part of this skirt was sewing on the zipper. I had no idea there were such things as zipper foot etc haha …So as you can guess, it took me forever to sew the zipper on. My sewing teacher guided me patiently through the whole process. The next time I make a pencil skirt with zipper, I would definitely use an invisible zipper, it would look so much better. But ah well, at the time, I didn’t know any better.
FABRIC: The pattern recommended using gabardine, sateen or poplin. However, as I was fabric shopping, I found this gray polyester fabric that I fell in love with. It was not a scuba/neoprene fabric but it has a similar yet very very slight spongy feel to it. It also has a little bit of stretch and a slight sheen. I guess it could be ponte but I’m just guessing here. I wish I found out about its specific composition. Unfortunately, the Fabricland branch in West Vancouver where I bought it has closed down. Anywhoo, this fabric was a dream to sew and when I pressed the seams, it flattened out beautifully. I guess I will just keep an eye out for this type of fabric and hope to cross paths with it again someday.ACCESSORIES: I’m carrying STRAW small bucket bag in tan. It’s such a cute and light baby bucket bag that fits all of my essentials. I wear it on weekends to get a break from carrying my heavy weekday work bags. As for my shoes, these were a really old pair of Nine West gladiator sandals? heels?…I never know how these high heeled sandals are called but anyways I still love their style even after all these years. I actually nicked them from my aunt haha because she never wears them!
photos: Vancouver, Canada by RY
I came on just recently on the Instagram train, opened my account on February of this year. Needless to say, I have never entered a giveaway contest until about two weeks ago. I was browsing fashion bloggers and discovered SUMBAL CHAUDHRY‘s account, she’s this fabulous Fashion/Lifestyle blogger from Toronto. The first picture in her feed that I clicked on was a giveaway contest in partnership with RUDSAK, a Canadian brand which features sleek and edgy winter outerwear and leather goods. I’ve always loved Rudsak’s rock n roll aesthetic. Anyways, the contest prize was this beautiful PALM CARRYALL bag in Black. I didn’t think too much about the giveaway when I liked the picture and followed Sumbal. A week or so passed by when I received a private message from her, telling me that I’ve won the Palm bag giveaway! I couldn’t believe it, it was such an incredible surprise. She asked for my address and two days ago, I received the bag in the mail.The Palm bag is definitely more beautiful in person. It has three interior compartments and made of beautiful Saffiano leather with cross hatched texture and sleek wax finishing. It also comes with detachable shoulder strap. And oh the hardwares…they are these gorgeous silver zippers and buckles. I especially love the zippers, they look luxurious and open super smooth. To match Rudsak’s rebel chic aesthetic, I just had to wear the bag with my DIY BOYFRIEND JEANS. A style rule that I like to follow every so often is matching bag and shoes. So I paired the Palm Bag with BUENO‘s Umay sandal bootie in black. They were handmade in Turkey, the buttery and soft leather made it super comfortable to wear. To top it off, I wore TOPSHOP‘s Petite funnel necked body suit in white.
Pictures: Vancouver, by RY
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I sewed a bomber jacket! I never thought its the kind of clothing item I would ever sew myself as it looks complicated with all the zippers etc. However, as I was perusing Fabricana’s patterns and saw burda young 6660 jacket pattern, I got inspired. Plus the jacket pattern was rated ‘easy’ so I was motivated to try it out.
FABRIC: light weight synthetic with slight shimmer, tubular rib knit
The burda pattern was for a sporty style jacket and it recommended using micro-fibre, jersey or sweatshirt fabric. But I wanted a classier and sleeker bomber jacket. So I opted for a super light synthetic fabric with a slight shimmer (sorry I didn’t know the name of the fabric). I did use tubular rib knit as suggested by the pattern for the sleeve cuffs and waist band. Both fabrics that I chose were olive green in colour, lighter green for the rib knit as I wasn’t able to find the exact same shade.I didn’t realize how slippery the fabric that I bought was until I started the cutting process. The fabric literally kept slipping off my desk..sigh. Then when I started sewing, I also realized how fragile it was. My regular needle snagged the fabric right away so I had to use ballpoint needle for jersey fabric to avoid damaging the fabric. I highly recommend having a ballpoint needle handy as you will also need it to sew on the tubular rib knit pieces. Additionally, the fabric frays like crazy so I definitely had to serge all the edges.NOTIONS: interfacing, a long separating zipper for the main body and two short zippers for the pocketsI’ve never sewed any project with interfacing before so I decided to just use my leftover fabric as interfacing. As for the zippers, I bought a long separating zipper in matching olive green colour for the main body. However, I skipped the pocket zippers and just made them regular pockets. I actually found two short zippers made of metal (shown in picture above) that would look amazing on the pockets but they were too heavy for my fabric and I was afraid that would cause ripples when sewn. Moreover, I still have some fear about sewing zippers and would avoid it if I could ha.PATTERN: size 8, shortened by 2 cm
The pattern that I had was sized 8-18 and semi-fitted. I knew burda sizes run big on me so I decided to cut the smallest, size 8, and shorten the torso pieces in two places (upper and lower) each by 2 cm. Also, the pattern recommended sweatshirt fabric which usually have some stretch to it but I chose a completely un-stretchable fabric…so just make sure to take that into account. I didn’t but fortunately the finished result still fit me haha..
Every time I bought a new pattern, it is always guesswork for me to decide which size to cut and how much to shorten and lengthen. I hope to improve on this and have a firmer grasp on pattern measurements and my own body size. If you have any tips/advice on this issue, please let me know! Anywhoo, after trying on the finish result, next time I would only shorten the lower torso and leave the upper torso as is, because it was difficult to guess where the bust darts would be.
Photos: Vancouver, Canada by RY
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Vintage Levi’s jeans, especially the 501’s, have achieved cult status even before I was born but in the past few years they became an absolute must-have in the fashion world. Vogue deemed a pair of perfectly worn in and expertly altered pair of vintage Levi’s a stylish staple in every girls’ wardrobe. But to get the right fit is a nightmare! Sizing is a mess. Not only are vintage sizes quite different from today’s standard sizes, they are often inconsistent. A size 28 may fit like a 26 and vice versa. Prior to checking online, I tried multiple stores that sell vintage jeans such as Used House of Vintage and Salvation Army. Apart from thrift stores, I also found used Levi’s at fancy, high end stores. ARITZIA sells limited pairs of reworked vintage Levi’s that cost $100 and up, but they did not fit me well either.
Then I jumped into the vast online marketplace where I discovered Re/Done Jeans. A luxury denim brand that collects used, vintage Levi’s from rag houses, tear apart each pair and cut a new pattern on top. The result is modern fit with the coveted worn in look. But even Re/Done jeans did not fit me as well as I wanted them to. And if I had to spend $300 on a pair of jeans, it would have to fit me perfectly. So I thought why not try to make one? Off I went to buy several pairs of extremely oversized men’s Levi’s at Salvation Army for roughly $10 each. These jeans were size 40 plus and I usually wear a size 26 so a simple alteration would not cut it. I knew I had to tear them apart and do a complete reconstruction.
Back in the good ol’ days, jeans were used for hard labour and worn for years and years. Taking apart the seams took quite a bit of effort because they were reinforced to withstand stress and time. So be prepared to spend some time on this part. Then I had to figure out what pattern to cut on top. I just started sewing at the time and I have never made pants before. Hence I did not have a pant pattern that I can rely on. I did, however, have a pair of vintage Wrangler jeans that fit me well. Since the material was the same, 100% cotton, the Wrangler jeans were the perfect template. But I had no idea how to rub off pattern from ready to wear so I went to my sewing teacher for advice. At the time, I was taking night sewing classes at a local public school.
My sewing teacher, MaryAn, was the coolest and she totally supported my reconstruction project. She advised me to measure my template jeans, the Wrangler and make note of these measurements: waist, hip, rise, upper and mid-thigh. She also advised me to keep the button fly portion of the jeans but take apart everything else.
Having measured my template Wrangler jeans, I then transferred the measurements to the corresponding sections of the Levi’s and cut the excess fabric. I would suggest to keep your leftover fabric pieces as they may come in handy for detailing. The easy part about reconstructing oversized jeans was that I just had to make each fabric piece smaller, while keeping the same shape. Except for the seat curve. The tricky part was to get the seat and bum area to fit well. I had to re-do this part several times as I had no pattern to rely on. If you have a pant pattern then this should be no problem.I also cut the yoke much smaller and moved the waistband down by one button as I wanted a slightly lower rise than the original jeans. As for the leg style, I was inspired by RE/DONE’s ELSA jeans, so I added side slits in the inseam. I also wanted to create a baby flare effect but unfortunately I had already cut the jeans as a straight leg. So I decided to try something unconventional. I cut a triangle shape from my leftover fabric and added it to the hem to create a slight flare as shown above. I quite liked the end result, would definitely experiment more on this later.I took in and tapered the sides a lot so I lost most of the front pockets but I ended up with super cute tiny ones. As for the back pockets, this was where I had some fun. I took apart the pockets and made them much smaller. The result was this really cool super-imposed effect. You could see the previous pocket placement where the jeans was a darker colour.
Anyways, the thought of sewing vintage jeans scared me initially since they were 100% cotton and quite thick. But I learnt that I did not need fancy sewing machines nor industrial ones. A basic sewing machine worked just fine as long as they have heavy duty metal frame and reasonable power. My SINGER PRELUDE has 120 Volts and costs only $120, a basic but powerful enough machine to handle multiple layers of denim. Just make sure to use proper denim needles and thread!
Photos: Vancouver by RY