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❣️

Midlife crisis sewing

My, how time flies. Sorry, I’m in the midst of midlife crisis, so haven’t had much time, energy, or motivation to sew or blog. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve even considered Kondoing my fabric Stash – never mind new purchases. Can you believe that? Me of try-prying-my-stash-from-my-dead-hands persuasion, thinking of donating / recycling unused yardages – not even scraps, but whole yardages.

Recent years of losses + meeting new people with different perspectives on life had me questioning my clinging on to things & fear of taking risks. Like a house of cards, once a chunk is chipped away from the foundation the rest came tumbling down. Taking a look at the debris, I realised I had boxed myself into a particular narrative of who I am. And what were once invigorating expressions of that identity are now insipid habits & stashes of unrealised dreams, dead weights & devoid of life.

So yeah, much more time have been spent reflecting, figuring out what to do, how to change, & dealing with the emotional roller-coaster of actually trying to change – rather than just fantasising about some rosy future when this is all over. “Yes please!” to less acquisition-fueled fantasies and to more doing / making. I’m also taking baby steps to face my fears, take a chance & try something new. And to be open-minded, curious, & non-judgemental. I didn’t think I was a judgemental person, but I do in fact layer stories of the past onto what’s happening right now, instead of just observing what is & exploring what could happen next if I try this or that. All this is of course easier said than done. Everything takes so much time! But I’m trying to learn to appreciate the Journey.

The only sewing I’ve managed to do in the last few months were…

  1. more cross-body strap bags to replace the knackered prototype,
  2. a mini-skirt waiting for a partner to complete the look,
  3. a failed mohair sweater frosting that would have been the partner,
  4. and a bunch of panic holiday sewing.

1 & 2 were made when I was just beginning to sense something was amiss. So both tried to revive former glories with the tried & tested. 3 was the first attempt to be looser with my sewing, but I fell flat on my face. 4 I’ll write about in separate posts. Suffice it to say it’s my tortoise version of the Great British Sewing Bee: so much to make + so little time = rolling with the punches & a crash course in the new way.

1 Self-drafted Bags with Cross-body Strap

These are replacements for the prototype I made in 2017. I had already cut out rest of the fabrics when I first made the prototype, so this was a production line to make 3 just before Xmas. A friend at work was leaving her safe job to take a punt in acting. When I first joined the team she was THE welcoming committee & had asked about my prototype bag, even wanting to buy one. So I finally made her one as leaving present.

The only things I did differently this time are:

  • Protective clear PVC layer instead of laminating the print. The original RTW bag I modelled after used a clear PVC layer. The laminated prototype was wearing out in places & looking very grubby. So I was hoping PVC would fare better. Now that I’ve used these replacements for a while, I think the problem is the change in dimension – I made my version bigger than the RTW original. So the bag bends around my body & even the PVC will wear out at the point of the bend. But I’ll worry about a fix when it’s time to replace – hopefully not for another couple of years since I kept 2 for myself.
  • Rivets to reinforce strap attachments… because another point of failure on my prototype was strap attachment stitching, and one of these bags will be a gift so I wanted it to hold together a bit longer. I used a hand press kit & bag rivets I got in Asia. Went on like a treat. No more waking up the neighbours with hammer banging in the middle fo the night!

2 Self-drafted A-line Mini Skirt

A case of mutton dressing as a lamb, this is recreation of a mini-skirt I made over a decade ago. The original died accidentally in the tumble dryer – I’m rubbish with laundry. Made with leftover of the same decade old fabric to go with the same cheer-me-up impulse buy 2004 Stella McCartney vegan thigh-high boots. Talk about midlife crisis eh 🙂

2019 mug shotsI had to redraft the pattern using my current A-line Skirt Block. It’s lined & has contoured facing instead of waistband. While the skirt came out alright, I haven’t dared wear it out yet. TBH it’s been too cold & I’m out of practice with heels. Plus the sweater knit I was going to wear this with turned out a total disaster. So the skirt now has no partner in crime against ageist fashion police.

3 RIP NG Self-drafted Mohair Sweater

This was meant to complement & tone-down the mutton-lamb skirt above, but it was an unmitigated disaster. I had no particular design in mind when I bought this sweater knit from Mood NYC a while ago. As usual I was simply seduced – this one by its heavenly caress Purrrrrr.

plan A

plan B

Trawling for ideas in Pinterest, I thought a cowl-neck sweater dress like the one Gigi Hadid wore may go well with the mini-skirt & thigh-high boots. Had such high hope for this frosting. But it was NG – I felt like a pink Big Bird. So I thought maybe I can salvage this by going tighter – like a ballet-style wrap cardi. Unfortunately there really wasn’t enough fabric in the tent sweater. I tried piecing, but it didn’t work with the delicate sweater knit. Worst part is the shedding. You could have sworn I have like 10 cats in the house. Achoo!

So into the scrap recycling bag this went. Sorry Earth, there’s only so much I can handle. Will shop more carefully in the future.

Cross-body bag & wallet

OK one last blog catch-up before I go back down the rabbit hole….I made this bag & wallet set last year. Now while I can’t recall all the details for you, I can at least update you on how they held up…or not!

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who love things to death. This just-big-enough & reassuringly-secure-crossbody RTW bag I bought on holiday a few years ago is a case in point. It’s probably made from plastic leather, so the strap had started to crack and in danger of literally hanging by the threads. Plus one of the metal strap clips have broken. Super-glue & electrical tape tide me over for a while. But it was time to make my own replacement, not least because I would like it to be just a little bit more personalised to my needs: While it’s my favourite amongst my RTW bags, it just a tad too small and with too few inner pockets. The wallet bought from the same shop also can be improved by having a separate coin pockets and be more accommodating of different size notes – especially the yucky plasticky new £5 & £10 notes that don’t fold well.

The Design & Pattern

So here are the originals by zzzz2005: compared to my replacements:

 

Design changes:

Bag

  • Bigger bag body (2″ wider & deeper)
  • More inside pockets: 2-tier pockets for cards & keys + extra pockets for pen, phone, misc.
  • Simple non-detachable strap attachment. The original bag used swivel clips & the straps would get all twisted over time. Plus clips just seem less secure, easier to break.
  • Custom print for the flap. I do actually like the original print a lot, so could have cannibalise the original bag to reuse the print. But I decided to fix & keep the original bag as well for those times when the smaller size would do.

Wallet

This is a love-child of the one I got from the same shop & the Paul Smith wallet I got for DH, peppered with Make Supply’s tips on making leather wallet.

  • Base design is modeled after the Paul Smith folded wallet construction
  • Sizing-wise I changed it to match my wallet when folded as that dimension fits my smaller hand better
  • Changed one side’s card pockets to a zipped coin pocket
  • Followed Make Supply’s approach to card pockets even though I’m using thinner fabric instead of leather for these inner pockets
  • Added custom prints for one side of wallet outside & coin pocket

For the custom prints…

I ended up using Printfab UK‘s fabric printing service. I looked into the high street photo printing services, but they mostly offer printing onto finished goods – cushions, wall canvas artworks – which means higher prices and more work to recover the fabric for sewing. In addition to per metre pricing, Printfab also offers metric Fat Quarter size (printable area 70cm x 50cm with 0.5cm unprinted border, rather than the smaller imperial FQ size of 8″ x 22″/ 46cm x 56cm). Their fabric choices are all cotton apart from one linen-cotton mix & range from lightweight Cotton Muslin (66gsm) to heavier Cotton Hopsack (398gsm). I went for mid-weight Cotton Half Panama (230gsm) to minimise bulk, especially as I’m adding a protective clear plastic layer on top of the print like the original bag & wallet. The Fat Quarter size is enough for me to decorate 4 bags & 4 wallets. Mine cost £12.78 including VAT & UK domestic shipping and arrived more quickly than I expected – ordered late Saturday night & it arrived on Wednesday.

For the prints, I had trouble sourcing the same vintage Chinese ad poster print, or similar ones that I like as much. So I initially went with some Tang Dynasty scroll paintings with a fabric / sewing theme (“Fang Lady With Servants” by Tang Dynasty painter Zhou Fang and “Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk” by Tang Dynasty painter Zhang Xuan). It took a fair bit of image hacking to cajole these into the shapes & sizes I needed. But there was enough scenes to compose a couple of matching sets. After finding out that the Fat Quarter was bigger than I expected, I decided to make the effort and recreate a similar old Chinese ad poster design as the original bag. I didn’t bother with matching wallets for this design, instead cobbled together a couple of design meaningful to me, one a fabricholic quote that maybe some of you can relate to too! 🙂

I was originally going to use clear PVC fabric to protect the print – like in the original bag & wallet. But the one I bought from Aamzon had that nasty toxic smell. I hung it outside to air & I think it flew away. Oops. So I ended up laminating the print instead.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

As always, step documentation of my self-drafts are sparse on the ground. Here’s what I can reconstruct interrogating the finished bag & wallet…

Bag

  1. Sew Pocket top hems
  2. Fold Pocket sides SAs
  3. Fold Front Pocket at double layer foldline
  4. Fold Pocket bottom SAs
  5. Sew Pocket to Lining – sides, bottom, divider – except the Back Pocket side that goes across the bag left side
  6. Sew velcro to Shell Front & Flap Lining
  7. Fold Bag Shell & Lining in half lengthwise & sew side seams, sew bottom triangles to form bottom side seams
  8. Sew Back Pocket final side & bottom that go across bag left side
  9. Baste Flap Shell & Lining together along all edges, Bag Shell & Lining together at top edge
  10. Tape binding to Flap side & bottom edges, topstitch
  11. Baste Flap to Bag at top edge
  12. Tape binding to top edge, topstitch
  13. Glue strap layers together, topstitch
  14. Thread strap through buckle & rectangle-rings, fold back ends & hand sew in place
  15. Thread strap tabs through rectangle-rings, fold in half, hand sew to bag side seams

Wallet

This one was even more hairy. I resorted to a paper prototype to work out how to pull it together. But even this + the finished wallet don’t yield up a clear picture of the order of construction. So below is again my best guess.

  1. Sew Outer Print & FLeather RS-together, topstitch seam
  2. Trim FLeather SA, Fold Print SA & Outer Lining SA to wrong sides
  3. Fuse Outer Lining to Outer Print-FLeather, Fuse Coated Linen facing to Lining top edge
  4. Fuse interfacing to Inner Lining wrong side
  5. Sew Bridge to Coin Pocket left edge RS-together, Press SA towards Coin Pocket
  6. Sew Zipper to Coin Pocket-Bridge & Inner Lining top edges
  7. Sew Coin Pocket-Bridge & Inner Lining right & bottom edges r-s-together, Turn right side out
  8. Edge-stitch Bridge to Inner Lining (closing off the Coin Pocket in the process), Fold Inner Lining remaining SA to wrong side
  9. Hem all Car Pockets top edges (in my case, turn & fuse with iron)
  10. Sew stacked Card Pockets & Receipts Pocket right edge WS-to-RS, Fold SA inside Receipts Pocket, Topstitch/Fuse SA in place
  11. Working from top Card Pockets down, sew each Card Pocket lower edge to Receipts Pocket WS-to-RS
  12. Fold Card+Receipts Pockets top, left, bottom SA to wrong side, Top-stitch to Inner Lining WS-together
  13. Top-stitch Bridge bottom edge & corresponding Outer bottom edge separately
  14. Align Inner & Outer bottom edges, Top-stitching the layers together starting from Coin Pocket left edge across its bottom edge, up right edge, top edge of Outer only, down Card-Receipt Pockets left edge, across its bottom edge, ending at its right edge.

The Verdict

Six of one half-dozen of the other.

  • While the RTW bag fell apart in the material, my me-made fell apart at the seams. Maybe I should give rivets a go to reinforce the strap tabs attachment,
  • The Shell fabric I used may also be a bit too soft to hold up the goodies in the pockets – the Front top edge keep folding inward from the weight.
  • The laminated prints also did not hold up well. They look rather grubby with daily love. Combined with the softer Shell, there’s now a tear in the laminate where the bag bent naturally around my hip. May have to go back to the stinky PVC idea. But unfortunately I laminated all the remaining prints. Not sure adding an extra layer of PVC would be enough to prevent laminate tear & grubbiness or whether I should attempt to detach the laminate…or maybe even order replacement prints.

On the plus side, one girl in the office loves the bag enough to want to buy one-off me. Of course I said no. At least not until I sort out quality assurance issues. Then again Gen Z & Fast Fashion go hand-in-hand. Maybe she wouldn’t subject one to the daily abuse mine goes through.

The wallet is holding up much better, though again the laminates look a bit grubby from the get-go. Practicality-wise it’s an A.

Sets 2-4 are already cut. One of these days I’ll get around to them. For now shabby chic will do!

Vietnamese Ao Dai robe top

This one is a straight replacement for an authentic Vietnamese Ao Dai robe that a friend gave me when it no longer fitted her.

The original is made of a silk-rayon mix and is absolutely heavenly to the touch. Originally I was a bit disappointed to learn that it wasn’t 100% silk. But then I learnt that rayon is not only more comfortable for hot humid weather, it may also be partly responsible for the superb softness of the Vietnamese jacquard, which none of the other Asian silks have. Sadly it’s impossible to find this variety of jacquard in the Western fabric shops. I would have just kept wearing this original, except the moths loved it as much as I did. And now it’s shredded in places.

The fabric I end up using I got by chance. It doesn’t have the same softness & drape, but is the closest I can get in the West.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-2 high-rise Ginger Jeans 2018;

The Pattern

Block Used: Fitted Top Block

Design Changes Made

  • Change to raglan sleeve by loosely following the instruction in Designing Apparel Through The Flat Pattern. My personalised Block is too irregular to follow these standard drafting instructions to the T.
  • Disregard front waist dart
  • Marked side splits to end 1″ above waistline
  • For lengths & bodice hem widths, follow the rough measurements of the shifty original
  • For neck opening under-flap draw styleline on front neckline as guide & copy with side bust dart closed.
  • For mandarin collar, started with a rectangle the length of the jewel neckline circumference, then slashed & lapped the top edge to make it fit closer to Q my custom dressform’s neck.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton/Rayon ? Jacquard from Minerva Crafts UK
  • Notions: Linen interfacing from the stash for madarin collar. So Sheer interfacing for neck opening binding/facing. 7-mm snaps x 10. Size-2 hook x 1.

Construction Notes

  • I mostly followed the original’s approach to seaming & hemming. So seams pressed open with overlock finishing. Double folded hand blind stitched hems.

The Verdict

Not bad. But the stiffer fabric does make it look more boxy. Next time I think I’ll start the side splits at the waistline instead to for a bit more shaping if I can’t get hold of a softer jacquard.

It’s not a top with many styling option, but oh the romance of the panels flapping in the wind – it’s a sensual pleasure I can’t resist. So there definitely will be a next time!