Me Made Maldives – Almost Didn’t Make It edition

Last of my holiday sewing was this “cut-off” jeans shorts that almost didn’t make it to the Maldives. I think I had 1.5 days left when I started this. And because I’m a slow sewer I thought I’d go shopping for a backup to relieve the time pressure. Bad idea. Got stuck in traffic & paucity of choices (because wrong season). What I ended up buying fitted poorly through the crotch, so I had to take in across the inseam + shorten it. At this point I’ve lost half a day. So it was an all nighter on this me-made. I had to drop the coin pocket – never use that anyway – and started but left off the belt loops until I got back from holiday.

Closet Case Ginger Jeans Shorts – Mid Rise

Size made: 4 with fitting & mid-rise design changes

Fabrics: 98/2 Cotton/Lycra 8oz Elvis Denim from Sherwoods Fabrics UK, muslin from the Stash, brass zipper from Wawak, donut button from Citron Jeans, ring rivets from Thread Theory, Pro-Sheer Elegance Medium Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply

Changes:

  • Shorten to bum length
  • Left out the coin pocket
  • Belt loop wasn’t added until I came back from holiday

Construction notes:

  • During interfacing fusing I also made the mistake of fusing to the wrong side. I had initially wanted to use the lighter wrong side of this denim on the outside because the right side looks too similar to my flesh colour, making me look like I have no pants on! Tight deadline meant I had no choice but to use the right side as the outside.
  • I was a bit worried about the donut button being a bit too small, but it worked out OK, & was very easy to install using the tool kit from the same Japanese vendor. It feels very secure – unlike some of the buttons I used on previous Gingers. Highly recommend these.
  • For the rivet I again used the hand press kit I got in Asia. I did still have to trim the tacks down to avoid them poking through the centre of the ring rivets because of the thin fabric. But without this tool I wouldn’t have been able to attach them in time…for it was early morning by the time I got to the rivets. And you know, neighbours.
  • My topstitching is still a bit rubbish. I get loops forming on the wrong side in places though not continuously. So good thing these jeans are just for me. I would be too embarrassed to make one for someone else with my poor stitching.

The Verdict: It’s quite satisfying to be able to make my own jeans. RTW options can be so unreliable. You’re at the mercy of the retail seasons & designer whims. And you may still end up having hack it apart & alter to fit. Hopefully my next pair of Gingers will be even faster. And maybe I should branch out to other silhouetter … like bootleg?

Me Made Maldives – Swimsuit edition

When I first experimented with Stretch Pattern School’s instruction for drafting One-Piece Swimwear Block, I didn’t think I was ever going to use it for swimwear. That was an exercise in getting a Knit Top Block that I’d be happy with. Back then my feet would always be firmly planted on the floor of the pool or beach & although I toyed with the idea of learning to swim, I couldn’t find the courage or will power. So this mid-life crisis had at least one positive side-effect. I still can’t swim properly, but I’m committed to learning now. And I got comfortable enough in water that I was able to lift off & chase fishes while on holiday. OK it was really shallow water, but at least my feet was off the lagoon floor! I even ventured into the part of the pool that was a tad deeper than my height! And the swim discs on my arms did come off once I relaxed enough – thank you Maldives! – though I still need those Speedo Fitness Fins & goggles to keep me calm. Anyway, I thought I’d reward myself for my effort with some me-made swimwear.

Self-drafted VS replacement
Bandeau Bikini Top

This was a replacement for an old Victoria’s Secret Bandeau Bikini Top that aquired unsightly stains over the years. I love the design & the bottom still fits OK. And since a bandeau top seems simple enough, this was actually the only holiday sewing I committed myself to.

Fabrics: 80/20 polymide/lycra Riviera stretch fabric and 84/16 nylon/lycra Bodystocking Lining from Funk Fabrics UK. Hardwares & bra padding recycled from the VS original. 8mm latex elastic from MacCulloch-Wallis UK.

Pattern:  I could have just disassembled & traced the VS original. But it was a bit old, so might have stretched out. And for a top that can be worn strapless I didn’t want to risk it falling down. So the pattern is a mix of Stretch Pattern School Bandeau bikini top instruction & the disassembled VS original as guide for pieces needed & shaping. Width-wise it follows the SPS instruction, though I moved the side seam forward slightly. The Front has 3 layers: slightly taller shell, lining, & pocket for bra padding. I added lining to the back as well because my fabric felt a bit thinner than the original. Top elastic is in 3 pieces while the bottom elastic is 1 continuous piece.

Construction: Construction order is based on reverse engineering the VS original roughly as follows…

  • Strap tubing.
  • Bra padding pocket opening edge.
  • Baste the 2 inner Front layers together & Back shell/lining layers together (lining handled like underlining).
  • Front top seam.
  • Front top elastic* to seam allowance & turn right side out.
  • Attachment loops for detachable strap at Front top.
  • Side seams.
  • Back top elastic* & the entire Back-Front-Back bottom elastic*.
  • CB hook & loops.
  • Slide CF buckle in place, then bonings to side seams.

∗ All elastics were overlocked to the fabric edge first, then turned inside & top-stitched in place with zig-zag stitch.

 

Self-drafted Asymmetrical
One-piece Swimsuit

While browsing photos of Maldives on IG, I came across a striking asymmetric one-piece modelled by @cassie_cameron_ (22 Dec 2018). I scoured the internet & the closest I could find is this one from US Forver 21 which didn’t get great review for quality & isn’t available in the UK anyway. The fit & bust seam seems different from the IG photo, so I can only assume it’s a knock-off. The good thing though is the extra side & back views helped me think through what I may want in my version.

Fabrics: 80/20 polyamide/lycra Perform Muscular Compression stretch fabric and 84/16 nylon/lycra Bodystocking Lining from Funk Fabrics UK. 8mm & 16mm latex elastics from MacCulloch-Wallis UK.

Pattern: It was touch & go whether this would make it to Maldives because a) I never properly tested my SPS One-Piece Swimwear Block, & b) there’s no single source of pattern drafting instruction for a design like this. Most asymetric one-piece with tummy cutout have shoulder strap on the non-cutout side. I had to cobble together multiple drafting SPS drafting instruction to create this & tested muslins along the way.

Testing & tweaking the One-Piece Swimwear Block

So first thing I had to do was to retest the SPS One-Piece Swimwear Block. The last muslin I made had really awlful crotch as you can see. But this may partly be because I was too stingy to put leg elastics in for a muslin test. I made a fresh muslin this time with leg elastics which did look a little bit better, but still a bit excess fabric in the crotch. I compared the Block to my 0-ease Pants Leg Wrap just in case, but the crotch length seems right. Regardless, I tried shortening the crotch anyway & I’m much happier with the result. I also slimmed the waist a little bit because I’ve lost a bit too much weight during this mid-life crisis. Hopefully the stretch fabric will accommodate any weight gain after this crisis is over.

 

Now the question of leg hole elastic… There are conflicting advice about this. SPS advice fitting the elastic to your leg rather than trying to calculate negative ease base on the pattern. But when you’re not sure where the leg holes will sit on your bum, it’s a bit hard to know where to wrap the elastic around. On Pattern Review someone said they always reduce the pattern leg hole by 78%. In the end I measured the relatively new no-frill RTW fitness one-piece I have & used that that guide for leg hole elastic length.

The other question with leg hole elastic is whether to have a) more negative ease in the back (so fabric cup under the bum cheeks?) or b) same amount all the way around. SPS advice b. I think I did try both on the muslin & preferred a, though the difference isnt’ great. This is again partly due to my fitness one-piece having similar gather in the back.

On to the actual Asymmetric One-Piece pattern-drafting

This was mostly based on SPS’ Asymmetric One-Piece instruction, with the bandeau bra top tweaked following SPS’ Empire-Line Once Piece instruction. To create the SPS Asymmetric One-Piece, you also had to have the CB Seam Bikini Bottom Block, which is based on the Band Side Bikini Block, which is in turn derived from the main One-Piece Block. So here are the Bottom Blocks & Empire-Line preparatory patterns I had to create first…

And pulling them all together now…

Since it’s a franken-pattern, I made a muslin first to test the fit & also figure out construction order. Good thing I did because the fit & the design both needed tweaking. TBH I don’t understand the logics for all the steps in SPS’ Asymmetric One-Piece instruction – eg why one side of the leg opening is shaped differently than the other. Maybe it’s to address the IRL effects of asymmetry (eg gravity, moving body parts, stretch property of the fabric), maybe it creates illusion of balance better. In any case, it didn’t work for me. So I made both leg holes the same. Also had to lengthen the tab that connect the bandeau & the bottom because the bottom was pulling the top down. Design-wise I aslo widened the tab, tweaked the cut-out curve, lengthen the bandeau top, & narrowed the shoulder band to better match the inspiration photo.

As for the shoulder strap, I ended up using a length that’s the same as my 0-ease bust measurement & underarm-cross-shoulder circumference, which means it’s negative ease when the strap is pulled just off the shoulder. Originally I thought this design would be pool-side/beach lounging only & absolutely no good for swimming. But the shortened strap made it not too bad for swimming. Granted at this point my swimming doesn’t involve much arm movement yet.

When it comes to cutting out, the top & bottom peices are lined/underlined. The top Front also has an extra layer of lining for bust padding pockets – like the VS replacement Bandeau Top above. The strap is shell fabric folded length-wise into a tube. The top uses 16mm elastics at top & bottom edges + boning at the side seams for insurance against waldrobe malfunction. The cutout & leg holes use standard 8mm elastics. The strap has no elastic in it.

Unfortunately I threw away the notes on how much negative ease I used for all the elastics. I think I might have used the One-Piece Block reduction percentage as guide, but recalculate the absolute lengths base on the measurements of the pattern pieces. I think I also used varying reduction percentage for different edges, and uneven application for the leg holes & tummy cut-out. So the leg holes have more reduction in the back, the cutout has no reduction at the vertical stretch (because I was worried about the Bottom pulling the bandeau Top down).

Construction: Construction order is roughly as follows…

  • Top bust darts, Top bra padding pocket opening edge, Bottom CB seams, Strap long seam up to Top attachment points & turn right side out.
  • Bottom F-B crotch & side seams, Strap short seam.
  • Baste Top 2 inner Front layers together, Bottom shell/lining layers together (lining handled like underlining).
  • Top side seams, Top lining layers CF seam (to form pockets for bra padding).
  • Baste Strap to Top’s top seam.
  • Top’s top seam, boning to Top lining side seams.
  • Top’s top elastic* to seam allowance & turn right side out, Bottom cutout & leg hole elastics*.
  • Baste Bottom tab to Top’s bottom.
  • Top’s bottom elastic.

∗ All elastics were overlocked to the fabric edge first, then turned inside & top-stitched in place with zig-zag stitch.

 

The Verdict

Not bad for first attempts at swimwear pattern-drafting & sewing if I may say so myself. Plenty of room for improvement of course. There are draglines here & there, and my zig-zag stitches are quite uneven. But overall I’m fairly happy with these. Too bad that on return from holiday the rubbish housewife striked again. Both of these white swimwear (+ RTW ones) promptly turn pinkish from laundry colour bleed. 🤦‍♀️

I think there will be more swimwear sewing in my future. Probably not training ones, but fashion swimwear. For training I like the idea of high tech suits designed to train techniques & increase water confidence. Hopefully one day I will be able to swim leisurely face above water breaststrokes in me-made swimwear like all the other elegant ladies in the pool.

Me Made Maldives – East Meet West edition

Next up are items made from a couple of my Indian outfit kits. I was half thinking of taking one of my sari outfits, but in the end thought I’d be too uncomfortable to relax. Beautiful as they are, they’re not my heritage & I don’t feel I can pull them off so nonchalantly. Instead, I went fusion. For these outfits I canabalised the Dupatta scarves, bits of the main Anarkali tunic, & the fabrics for the Churidar trousers from my Jinaam Floral Tulip outfit kits.

Jinaam Floral Tulip 7363

For the marroon outfit, my inspiration was a Spring/Summer 2015 Dries Van Noten outfit featured in a travel magazine.

Self-drafted Bandeau Tunic Top

Fabrics: sleeve fabric from Jinaam Floral Tulip 7363 Anarkali tunic for the bodice & Dupatta scarf for the skirt part, nylon/lycra stretch Bodystocking & Silhouette fabrics from Funki Fabrics for bodice underlining & lining.
Pattern & construction: The skirt part is just a rectangle pleated at the princess lines. The strapless bodice was based on my last bodice cling film wrap. To minimise risk of wardrobe malfunction I made a muslin. Good thing I did because I forgot that because it takes a while to do a cling film wrap, you inevitably wrap in breathing ease. So without taking away this ease, any strapless top based on this will flash strangers. For this one though, because the shell fabric is woven, I decided to keep the ease, but used negative ease stretch fabric for the underlining & lining + elastic at top & bottom of the bodice for extra insurance. Because the top has minimum ease, I had to add hook & eye opening at one side seam to get in & out. I added rigilene boning to the bodice side seam & side opening to minimise the bodice collapsing / wardrobe malfunction. Unfortunately the boning ends poked through while I was on holiday. I melted the ends like previous times, so I’m not sure what I did wrong this time. Maybe it’s the nature of the fabrics I used this time. I may have to retroactively pad the ends with something sturdier … if I get a chance to wear this more often.

 

Self-drafted Slim Elasticated Trousers

Fabrics: Jinaam Floral Tulip 7363 rayon Churidar trousers fabric, border from the Anarkali tunic’s skirt
Pattern & construction: Although I went for a Western elasticated + draw-string pajama pants look, the pattern is based on traditional Indian churidar trousers pattern instruction. These are usually drafted directly on the fabric using hip & leg measurements. They’re cut with only seams on the inseam & crotch, and side seam on the bias fold. Normally they’d cut the wasitband separately, but mine is just cut-on. I also wanted pockets, so I added small waist dart at the side seam to attach side-seam pockets. Unfortunately this approach didn’t work out for me. I thought the bias grain would provide moving ease while creating a slender look. But it was rather uncomfortable to wear despite not being skin-tight – the front thigh feels tight at the same time the front crotch looke unsightly baggy. I ended up having to take a wedge from front crotch through the thigh area and add that back to the back crotch as gussets. Not an elegant solution & still a bit uncomfortable. Maybe I have strange legs, maybe it’s an acquired taste. Anyway, now I know to stick to my legs cling film wrap Trousers Block.

 

Jinaam Floral Tulip 7365

Inspiration for the beige outfit was a hodgepodge of things…

Franken V1390 Gigli Wannabe Wrap Top

Fabrics: Jinaam Floral Tulip 7365 Dupatta scarf
Pattern & construction: The wrap top was inspired by Romeo Gigli 1989 Spring/Summer collection. I had already attempted to recreate one before by adapting 90s Vogue Genny Designer Pattern 1390. But because I had limited amount of fabric to work with this time, I couldn’t reuse that pattern as is. Instead, I used the slide & pivot method to tweak that pattern for a more economical layout. I also changed the neckline border trim from shaped to straight for a stand-up collar look that’s more like Japanese kimono collar. The CB seam wasn’t necessary design-wise, but because I wanted to squeeze a skirt out of the scarf as well, this was the only way I could fit both garments into the yardage I had. Because the fabric is translucent, I went with french seams & manual blind hem.

 

Self-drafted Cover-up Panel Skirt

Fabrics: Jinaam Floral Tulip 7365 Dupatta scarf
Pattern & construction: The panel skirt was inspired by one I saw in a K-pop video. The back panel is just a rectangle with elasticated waist. The front panel is shaped to fit the leftover fabric I had & to provide dart shaping without seaming or gathering. I had hoped the skirt would work well as a beach cover-up, but I don’t think the translucent fabric work well with this design. It’s not so bad worn as a floaty overskirt over an underskirt though.

 

Self-drafted Tulip Trousers

OK I lied. This one didn’t actually make it to Maldives. I wanted to take it, but I ran out of time to birth it. So it wasn’t made until I got back.

Fabrics: Jinaam Floral Tulip 7365 rayon Churidar trousers fabric
Pattern & construction: Since the traditional Indian churidar trousers pattern instruction didn’t work well for me, I went back to my Slim Trousers Block for this take on Indian tulip / samosa pants. I’m still a bit timid with volume – especially with fabric that isn’t limp as fish. So I chose a slimmer modern version as my inspiration. Mine is basically slim pants without side seam & with the front double-layered at the waist. It looks like there is some drapes on the inseam side in that inspiration photo, but for the life of me I couldn’t work out how they’re formed. So I experimented with waist pleats on the inner front layer. I couldn’t be bothered to work out complicated closure, so I just elasticated the back waist up to the Block’s front side seam. Back waistband is just a rectanglar casing for the elastic. Front waistband is contoured & interfaced, with a fake closure at the left princess line – which was a pain to construct because I didn’t think the order through. The end result is certainly more comfortable to wear than the slim churidar trousers above, but the legs flare a bit rather than wrap snugly like in the inspiration photo. I tried salvaging this by tacking the hems closer at the ankle and added buttons to disguise this pattern-drafting mishap. Doesn’t look too bad. But the front top layer pulls a bit at the waist forming those unsightly diagnol draglines. Ah well, nothing ventured nothing gained. I can always wear it under a longer top to hide the draglines. Or just own these battle scars proudly.

Me Made Maldives – Dresses edition

I say “dresses” but these really aren’t suitable for wearing solo…unless you don’t mind flashing strangers. One has slit up to the waist, the other is a tad short. But both are so perfect as beach cover-ups. Just make sure that you have some swimwears that aren’t too diva-ish to share the limelight. I made that mistake. Most of mine had something – hardware, neckline, tie, whatever – that clashed with these. So I end up not getting to wear these as much as cover-ups.


 

 

Burda 2013-07-125
Mult-style Beach Cover-up Wrap Dress


This is the more flattering of the rectangle-as-cover-up concept. In the same issue of Burda there was another one that looks like a lot of the commercial versions I’ve seen but seem a bit shapeless to me. Plus you can’t argue with multi-styling option when it comes to travel pieces can you? I only got to wear style A v1 during the holiday though due to the aforementioned diva swimwear issue. If you want to try the other two styling variations, be warned that A v2 may be a bit low cut. I find the slit does still stretch – even when reinforced with a bit of elastic like I did. Or maybe I just don’t have the boobs to prop it up? But as a swimwear cover-up it shouldn’t be a problem.

Size made: 34

Fabric: Silk Touch 95 polyester/ 5 lycra jersey from Tia Knight

Changes made:

  • Skipped the centre seam. Seems a bit pointless to me if your fabric is wide enough. It may be necessary for larger sizes though.
  • Instruction for the slit elastic was really confusing – the materials list mentioned 3/8″-wide elastic, but instruction then talk about 1/8″-wide elastic!?! I ended up using 1/4″ clear elastic. Initially I did the whole slit, but that made the narrow shoulder strap part a bit restrictive, so I had to remove the portion along the strap side of the slit. Maybe it is meant to be 1/8″ finisthed elastic width after you “trim away remainder” of the 3/8″ elastic?
  • Even with the stretchy fabric, I couldn’t manage the turn & stitch slit hem without pleats forming at the slit ends. So I ended up using a separate binding.

Self-drafted Halter-tie-neck Bias Dress

I’ve been putting off using this lovely fabric my Mom gave me because there’s not a lot of it & I was worried I’d waste it on the wrong design. But as I regret not taking my Mom to the Maldives while she was still alive, I decided to take the plunge this time & have her with me in spirit via her fabric.

I had no idea what the fabric is made of, but it felt like a silk scarf. So I had been inclined towards a halter neck-tie top. But I was unsure whether   neckline gather (for some of the bust dart allowance) would work or would you need fabric with more drape for this to look elegant. Also, what length – top or dress. In the end the meager amount of fabric (1-3/8 yd x 39″) dictated the design. I had to plot the pieces in a drawing program to figure out what I can get, which is bias bodice with no pleats in the neckline, and a short dress length – dress when I’m feeling brave, top on other days.

Maybe the silhouette is a bit too tent-like. But I love the feel of this dress / top flapping in the wind. And so glad to have memory of my Mom with me in heavenly Maldives❣️

Me Made Maldives of March in May

…hope that’s enough Mmmmm for you, as my brain’s a bit too fried to manage Me Made May this year!

Ok I’m ready!

So, as I was saying, panic holiday sewing… One of the things that the millenials I worked with inspired me to do was to travel more. Or at least focus more on expansive experiences rather than burdensome accumulation of stuff. With that in mind, we decided to treat ourselves to another Maldivian holiday. This time for me it wasn’t just to relax properly, but also to overcome my fear & resistence to try new things. One of these was swimming. I never had a chance to learn as a kid, & as an adult, psychological barriers had put me off learning before. So this was not only to acqure a practical physical skill but also self-psychotherapy. It took up a lot of time & energy. Despite quitting my job a couple of months early, I didn’t start sewing for this holiday until a few weeks before. I could have just taken old me-mades, but a gorgeous exotic location like the Maldives that may disappear with rising sea level deserves better. Plus I can finally put my Stretch Pattern School Block to good use & motivate myself with custom swimwear.

I managed to make 9 quite different items in the end. That’s a record for me, especially since some required muslins as well & others I just had to roll with the punches when new approaches didn’t go according to plan. They don’t quite work as a travel capsule wardorbe – I was churning out whatever that came to mind when I think of beach. But I’m not sweating it. As I said, trying to get looser with my sewing as well. I’ll go into a bit more details about the new makes in future posts, but for now please indulge me in re-living those Mmmm glory days! It’s so rare to have such a beautiful background to parade my me-mades in…

New makes for MMM 2019

  1. Burda 2013-07-125 Mult-style Beach Cover-up Wrap Dress
  2. Self-drafted Dries Van Noten Wannabe Bandeau Tunic Top
  3. Self-drafted Dries Van Noten Wannabe Slim Elasticated Trousers
  4. Franken V1390 Gigli Wannabe Wrap Top
  5. Self-drafted Cover-up Panel Skirt
  6. Self-drafted Halter-tie-neck Bias Dress
  7. Self-drafted VS replacement Bandeau Bikini Top
  8. Self-drafted Asymmetrical 1-piece Swimsuit
  9. Closet Case Ginger Jeans Shorts – Mid Rise

Old makes that also made it to Maldives…

  1. Burda 2012-04-128a Snake Print Cowl Neck Flounce Dress
  2. V1159 Donna Karan Twist Front Dress
  3. Self-drafted Favorite Oops Tent Dress
  4. Burda 2016-08-125 Stripy T with front neckline ties
  5. Altered RTW HiLo Skirt

… & scenery eye-candies …

 

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