Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vintage-themed sewing

Funny thing happened last week. A few days before attending a wedding of my husband's colleague, I suddenly find out that it's a vintage-themed wedding. Naturally like any other woman, I panicked and growled like a gorilla in heat: "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!" Except that I was serious because I looked through my closet, and the vintagey stuff were mostly casual wear, not dinnerware (har har).


In panic mode, I decided to make accessories to go with a dress that I made earlier this year for Chinese New Year. I absolutely adore peter pan collars, what more the beaded ones which hypnotized me on Pinterest. 

Megan Nielsen has a really pretty pattern of a scalloped peter pan collar up for downloads, which you can find at her awesome blog here. Unfortunately for me the pattern did not really fit me, maybe due to my stumpy small neck hehehe... so I ended up drafting my own pattern. After a few trials and errors and correction of the curves, I finally got a pattern that sat properly around my neck.

So I started beading the collar while watching Criminal Minds and NCIS and Bones on Fox. Then I watched the reruns of the same criminal investigation episodes again. Nothing like a good murder mystery and gruesome motives to motivate me to keep on and carry on beading. After a whole day of beading, I finally finished it! Yahuuuuu!

The next day I made a quick petal fascinator some felt pieces. I've made fascinators before, but somehow they never really sat properly on my head... I looked through more pictures on Google and realised that what I need was a little base that's almost like a bra cup to sit properly on top. Rather than putting an actual bra cup on my head (I've seen that on DIY blogs, ermm, interesting, but errr not something I'd wanna do in case people ask me "Oh you made that yourself? What did you use for the base?"; "My old bra. I totally washed it before using it though."), I shaped a base out of felt and started gluing petals to it. You can't see how the based is curved like a bra cup here, but it is, and trust me.. it sits sooo much better on your head and your embellishments will look beyootiful.

The wedding was at The Banker's Club, and I really like the venue because it's so apt for a vintage-themed wedding. Many of the guests supported the request of the bride and groom to dress up in vintage styles, and you gotta love fun guests like that at your wedding ;-) Saw some really fabulous vintage dresses and hairstyles that the ladies were sporting, and I was sincerely flattered when some fashionable girls said they liked my dress and asked me if it was real vintage. Naw geeee.. 

Some of the men were sporting bow ties, which were nice, but you know, nothing beats the real bow ties that are really tied by hand (not the clip-on types). I used to think that clip-on ones were good enough, but ever since I saw a real one on Vincent (he tied it himself, like WHOA) and we had that chat about bow ties, I'm a convert. I BELIEVE IN REAL BOW TIES NOW.

My husband wore his argyle vest. I LOVE THIS VEST, doesn't he look dashing in it! Nothing beats a good looking argyle vest, except a good looking husband in a good looking argyle vest. Hahaha. All he needs is a cigar in his hand :P


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sewing Books Review (Pt 1)

There are many great sites online that provide tutorials and knowledge on sewing, but I've also learnt a lot from books. I tried not to splurge on sewing books before, but after buying one by one, my mini library of sewing books slowly grew and have become the foundation of almost all my sewing projects.

I'm quite a cavewoman when it comes to sewing, but reading these books and learning from tutorials online has taught me much about the benefits of little things like sewing with better thread, drafting proper patterns, etc.

Here are some of my personal reviews of these books, hopefully they would be useful to those who are looking to buy any of these books. Also, hopefully they won't be too long-winded :P

(Edit: It did turn out to be a super long post, so I decided to split it into different parts. Will cover the pattern-drafting and fashion designing books on the next round.)

1. Fabric Guide by Simplicity

I bought this in Kinokuniya Singapore, and I love it because it had large, sharp pictures of the fabric types to help me identify them (that's how I knew one fabric I was working with was dupioni). There are also little tips on fabric handling, and common uses for the fabric specified. Sometimes, after finding out the type of fabric, I look it up online to see if there are other tips I should look out for, ie the best thread type that matches with the fabric, etc.

The first half of the book is a reference of identifying fabric types, which is the section I'm using the most currently. The second half covers topics such as trademarked fabric types (ie Teflon, Lycra), types of linings, determining yardage, types of needles, etc.

I know that there are a few online databases on fabric identification too. I have not personally used them, if you have any please do recommend them! :D

This is a really good encyclopedia on techniques on sewing from garments to home items such as curtains. The book uses a couple of Simplicity patterns as examples, and each topic is very well illustrated with step-by-step, er, illustrations. I love the illustrations because they are so clear. Perhaps if you've sewn a TON of patterns using patterns such as Simplicity or other brands which always come with clear illustrations on each step, you might not need this book (just a very rough, un-researched guess though haha). 

The book also covers how to make adjustments, hand stitches, assembling different types of collars, working with different types of sleeves, etc etc.. so whenever i want to find out how to do something, I always check this book first.

3. Vogue Sewing by Vogue Knitting Magazine

Another encyclopedia on sewing, but focused on garment production. I love it because it teaches me the couture way of doing things and helps me appreciate the beauty of couture sewing techniques. Sure it takes more time, but there will be a personal connection between the person who wears the garment and the garment. I would say that the Reader's Digest book above is an excellent guide for Ready To Wear (off-the-rack) garments, and this book just takes it one step further to create an experience for the wearer in couture versions of the garments.

I used to think it was such a waste to use beautiful fabric on the inside of a dress as a lining, but reading Vogue Sewing changed my mind. Sure, nobody sees it but the wearer, but it does give the wearer joy knowing the little secret that her houndstooth skirt is lined with an amazing pop of colour inside. It's kinda like how tshirts have intricate labels on the inside (even with a different illustration than on the shirt itself) that no one else can see, but it makes the wearer feel special, like he's onto a little secret that no one else knows.

I'm not saying that I will be using these couture techniques for all my garments though, because sometimes you just want a light airy tank top to wear on hot days and all those fancy linings might just take that simply, simple charm away. But it's definitely teaching me to consider these options for the more fancy garments such as evening dresses.

4. Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard

This was my parents-in-law for Christmas, one of the first sewing books that I received as a gift :D Compared to Vogue Sewing, this book seems more "updated" and offers a lot of large photographs on the techniques.

Every 2-4 pages explains a couture technique, explained in step-by-step instructions accompanied by the photos. Although it doesn't cover as many topics as Vogue Sewing, each topic is more clearly illustrated compared to the above book.

The most important thing I've learnt from this book that really BLEW MY MIND was knotting the thread through your machine to enable sewing a dart without a knot on your garment at the dart point. Wonderful technique, great for sheer fabrics especially.

So that's about it for today! What a longggg post. Hope it's been helpful to you, if you're looking for sewing books to buy. Remember to check out The Book Depository for the books too, and take advantage of their free worldwide shipping policy. I <3 The Book Depository!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Paper romance


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Print your own fabric at home

Some fb chatter about fabric printing reminded me of this project I tried once. Yes, your printer can (most probably) print fabric for you, right at home! A note of caution though-- the inks are not permanent unless your printer uses pigment inks. Oh and a 2nd note of caution-- use your home printer to print fabric at your own risk. Can't guarantee your printer won't break down and cry with all the culture shock going on. "WHAT ARE YOU PUTTING INTO ME?!? IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE PAPER!!!"

Anyhoot, check out this tutorial and have fun :D

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wake up in the morning and I...

Every day, I wake up in the morning and I feel like P.Diddy. Only the poorer, less groomed, less black version of him.

After 4+ years of being in the advertising industry, I decided to take a step back and step out of the industry. It's just not me on a long term basis. I still love music a lot though, and I think I'm learning to enjoy it and somehow draw a line between loving music for the heck of it and critiquing music for work, and when to let those lines blur and mingle like they're sluts, I MEAN single.

With no steady income yet, I foresee through my Christmas ornament ball that I'll be slaving my ass off for quite some time looking for freelance jobs, and developing the sewing business idea with my mom further.

I've been working on wedding card designs (the pop up ones you see below, which are still WIP), composing music for a simple video, designing party printables for a little boy's party, recording some vocals and vo samples in our "home studio" (thank GOD for a husband who already has the equipment back from his band days, and btw the setup is nothing fancy just a mic, a preamp, and my computer haha), and the most challenging task was to draft out a design for a skirt for a couple of bridesmaids, based on a few reference pictures. In between all that, the days and nights were filled with working on revisions.

The one thing I find ironic is that I don't have time to cook a decent meal even though I'm working from home. SHEESH.

People think that just because I'm working from home, I'm sipping a cuppa with my pinkie in the air and listening to bossa nova while having a facial done. It's totally true, if you haven't been reading what I wrote above.

Every day starts with a 3-in-1 Nescafe Ipoh White Coffee (love that stuff, pictured above of course), feeding the guppies, doing the laundry, getting on the computer or sewing machine, working til I get hungry, eating a 10-min meal cause I can't waste any time, getting back to work again until I get hungry, possibly having a semi-decent dinner with my husband, getting back to work again, and finally sleeping at 3am.

Now back to the coffee. Coincidentally, I was an extra in the commercial for this coffee that I drink every morning LOL. It was... very hot. As in, the set's lights were very hot. My armpits kept sweating. I really don't want to know what hell is like.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tutorial: Easy Peasy Cardboard Cubie

Between my husband and me, we have a lot of cardboard trash. I order sewing books from The Book Depository and Amazon, and he orders car accessories from eBay. We're always happy when our purchases arrive packed nice and good, thanks to the good ol' sturdy cardboard material that's commonly used. If you have a bunch of cardboard boxes waiting to be taken out to the trash, DO NOT THROW THEM!! Captain Planet needs your help!!! Here's an easy peasy to way to recycle cardboard boxes into little cubies to keep things organized at home.

All you need are a pair of scissors, some tape, and your cardboard boxes to begin with.

Yes.... we have a Nerf gun in the house. FUN TIMES!!! :D

One thing I've learnt from my mom in being creative is to work with what you've got. Don't be too confined by instructions or measurements, sometimes you gotta think outside the box (har har). 

So by eyeballing how much cardboard you have, trim them so you get 5 boards (1 for the base, and 4 for the sides) that will form a box when you put them together,....

.... like so! :D 

You can make the box rectangular, square, or if you're super hardworking you can do an octagon one. Since we're eyeballing the dimensions here in order to make the best out of how much cardboard you have, do not be afraid to "make mistakes". Just line up the pieces together, and trim wherever necessary. Captain Planet never gives up!

Check out what my cardboard says. NP = No Problem! 
(Or, Nana's Petunias. Or, Ninja Poo.)

Now to start taping the 4 side pieces to the 1 base piece.
I only had clear tape in the house, but you can use whatever tape you want (except cassette tape coz I hear it doesn't stick too well).

This is what you should have by now, all 4 side pieces taped to the base board.

Fold the side pieces upwards, and tape where the edges meet.

(Seriously, what is UP with clear tape. Takes me ages to find the edge every time -_-")

Tape all the edges until....

... you have this! A-HA! A BOX!!! Out of cardboard that would've been trash!!!
Do a jig.

Make as many as you like in as many different sizes that you like.

You can leave them as they are if you like the whole deconstructed look.

Or wrap them with some pretty paper. 
Use ribbons, or lace, or pearls, or fake fur. Heck, just go crazy with it!

Enjoy your cardboard cubies! :o)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WIP: Pop up no.2

I love it that I can talk to my mom about pop-up books. She even kept a gorilla birthday card that I remember having since I was a kid! So for this mockup, I decided to have a gorilla sit on the chair. hehehehe.

Tutorial: Revive your skanky dead pop filter thingamajig!

I dusted ye olde mic stand and decided it was time it took a stand (har har) to be used by humans who need to record things with a microphone.

Unfortunately for me, the pop filter was in bad shape. And I mean baaaaaaaaaaad shape. 

Look at her.


First step in rehabilitating a skank: Strip the dirt off!

Find some classy tights lying around your house (I used my Burberry ones but you can totally use whatever brand you fancy).

Tie a tight knot on one end so she looks like this. Like, you know, happy. 


Then stretch the classy tights over and tie another tight knot. 
Snip ends off like so and you'll end up with a cute little pigtailed girl.


Anddd you're done!
Pop it back into your pop filter like any sane human would do.

Isn't she such a refined woman right now... 

Sing on, darling, sing on...

Btw, just kidding about the Burberry tights. I don't own anything Burberry. Everything of mine is Prada, including my toothpicks.