Tigra-Zeber-Tiber-Zegra Skirt

I really should be sewing right now. A two-part shimmering black snake is hissing at me from the cutting table.

Productivity here still hasn’t recovered from Plutonian shake-ups of last year. But I want to make sure the one beast I did manage to hack together doesn’t miss the Jungle January 2016 Party.

JJ2016-fabricAs I’m still grieving for Mom, this year’s Jungle January pets (and maybe others) will all be refashioning items from her closet. First up is this psychedelic purple top which is now a skirt & a sash scarf/belt. I can’t tell whether this is a Zebra or Tiger stripe. So Tigra-Zeber it is then. Or should that be Tiber-Zegra instead? Anyway, don’t Google “zebra tiger” – the first image that comes up is seriously disturbing!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: Zara blouse.

WORN WITH: self-draped altered RTW top.

WORN WITH: Vogue Donna Karan 1282 top + RTW cardie from Mom.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Mystery flocked knit top from Mom’s Closet. I can’t find any photo of her in this, but I vaguely recall it’s a top + skirt combo. She must had this for ages, as the top had all the vertical darts let out presumably to accommodate the middle-age spread. Sadly the skirt’s gone. Sadder still because it means less fabric for me to play with.
  • Lining: Skin color lightweight Power Mesh from Tissu Fabrics. These Power Mesh seem to have become my GoTo lining for knits.
  • Invisible zipper, hook & eye from the Stash.

The Design & Pattern

What design? What pattern! While I wasn’t as wantonly destructive as the contestants of The Great British Sewing Bee in my refashioning, nonetheless as there was preciously little fabric left for proper pattern-drafting, I too had to improvise as I went along. Key seams were all unpicked. I needed every millimeter I could get.

Changes Made

    • Swapped front & back. My waist shaping always nudges the back waist on skirts downward rather than stay level at the waist. So the lower front neckline of the top was better suited for my back bottom. Especially as it already comes with bum (formerly bust) shaping. Granted the darts are from the side seams. In a plain fabric I would hesitate to use such shaping for the bum – what can I say, sometimes I give in to herd mentality too. So thank god this busy print hurry your eyes away from the darts to whichever ways.
    • Widened & re-shaped neckline for waist.
    • Re-shaped side seams & hem for A-line skirt shaping as this wastes the least amount of fabric.
    • Added side invisible zipper & hook/eye at the top.
    • Added lining (using main fabric as pattern) & reused neck facing for waist facing.

    • Spliced each sleeves length-wise into 4 strips & joined the short ends to create 2 long pieces for double-layered sash. The sleeve caps became the shaped ends of the sash.

The Verdict

Yeah, I could have just left this purple psychedelic top as a top. But then I wouldn’t be able to sent her to the Jungle January Party.

You see, while documenting the top as is, I decided my Mom’s top deserved better than a mug shot. So I found some leopardy playmates for her…


I know, it’s crazy busy & not everyone’s cup of tea. I usually don’t wear so much busy prints in one go. I was trying to honour of our gracious hostess by going all out. But actually I secretly LOVE this combination. Something vaguely Italian about it.

The scarf is Mom’s too. I decided against refashioning it. Firstly there’s not enough of it. Secondly some memories should be kept as is, especially as it play nicely with others & fit perfectly into my Look Book anyway.

The skirt is another altered RTW from 2012 & it’s the best shade of leopard that’s not high on something or other. The golden yellow is the perfect match for the psychedelic purple Tigra-Zeber-Tiber-Zegra. ‘Complementary colors’ they call it right? Most yellow leopards are such dull beasts. Not this skirt.

But now that TZTZ is also a skirt they won’t play nicely together anymore. So the hunt is on. Oh, did I just find an excuse to expand my stash? Oops.

Lessons from MMM’15

I am glad I joined in this year. I have learned a lot. But I don’t think I will officially join in again next year. It was really hard work and disruptive of my sewing routine because like most of you I can’t sew without making a mess. And constantly shuffling the mess around to make room for less embarrassing photos made it impossible to get any sewing done.

Striking a Pose

mmm15-outtakesOver 850 photos were taken just to get the 31 finally shown. And some of the chosen ones were subjected to photo tinkering – like color ‘correction’ / filtering, ‘cloning’ out distracting details like light switch and any mess I forgot to clear out of the frame. I didn’t resort to digital nip-tuck, but the very nature of the camera angle makes the proportion in some photos look nothing like my real figure. Just saying all this so that you know that any good photo I posted didn’t come easily, and with some effort I firmly believe anyone can look good in photos. So I encourage you all to play around with your photos if you have the time. Let’s show the fashion industry that real people can also look artistic & fabulous!

On the positive side photo-wise, I now have a wider range of approaches to play with. Previously my project style shots were staid full-figure tripod set-up which always takes a long time to set up. Now I feel more comfortable playing with informal camera phone that doesn’t take much set up at all.

Also, it was a good exercise in the discipline of editorial selection. When you take so many photos in a session, the temptation is to post a lot of the same thing. From a reading perspective, that’s fine if each reveals some interesting / useful new details. But otherwise it can get a bit boring after the first few photos. So I’m going to try to be more disciplined and at least vary the photo angle / composition / details if I post more than one photo of the same project / outfit.

What I’ve been working on…

I tried my best, but I didn’t manage to wear every single item I made that’s still in my possession. Some of it was due to inappropriate weather. But a few despite looking OK initially turned out to be duds long term. MMMs shone such a brutally honest lights on these. Some of these I’m trying to fix…

Self-drafted Sari Top:

I never blogged this. It was based on an older bodice sloper and suffered from lack of breathing ease and provision for uneven shoulder. So despite the most beautiful metallic border and luscious red silk I’ve only worn it twice. And with difficulty. You saw me working on this in the last week of MMM’15. But I didn’t finish in time. And the result is still not stellar. But at least now I can breath in it. And the border more than justify keeping it. I must source more of these Indian sari top fabrics! Saris are such beautiful outfits.

Emami / Bradbury Endless Dress + Self-drafted Bandeau Tube Top + McCall 6078 Cowl Neck T :

Again beautiful dress but a PITA to wear. The heavy skirt keeps pulling the tube bodice down. But when worn with the separate tube top, there’s too much overlap resulting in a Shar Pei effect, cute on a pooch, not so much on a lady. I’m in the process of redoing the skirt waistband – I think no more than 2″ in height at most since I’m not fond of yoga waistbands. I’m hoping the scrap will be enough to make a strapless top to replace the separate tube top. I will need to figure out the best way to add a shelf bra for such strapless top. Any suggestions?

The hope is that together these remakes will give me a couple of more wearable options and a more streamlined look when they’re worn together. I also need to tighten and shorten the matching McCall 6078 Cowl Neck T. Using the wrong grain for this resulted in a rather shapeless sack over time. Maybe the offcut will come handy for reworking the tube top.

Ditch or Fix?

Ohhh Lulu Betty Retro Hot Pants
I’m debating whether to fix or ditch this attempt at retro hot pants. The leg holes are like tourniquets. After a minute I feel my legs no more. There’s also pooling in my lower back and crotch. I think these problems are all fixable. But MR calls this my Adult Diaper. And the prospect of wearing it outside the house is zilch. Beach holidays where this might be acceptable will become increasingly unlikely. So ditch?

Burda 2011-08-112 Cape
I was really proud of the worksmanship in this one. And I have emotional attachment to the fabric as it’s inherited from my Mom’s youth. But cape just does not work for me. Despite my precautions I still feel like an short squat American Footballer in this. And cold at the same time with the wind whooshing in & out as it pleases. I’d donate to a charity shop, except I don’t think it’d be ‘properly’ appreciated :.( I wish I had made a normal jacket / coat with the fabric. Wonder if it’s still possible…

One thing for sure, I will never jump on the jumpsuit bandwagon. Like capes, sometimes it’s best to just admire the style from the sideline, living vicariously through the Ladies who Can!


Follow-up on 2015 Wadder no.1

Thanks for all your compliments on the beach cover-up that didn’t quite work! It’s amazing how a beautiful fabric can make one fall in love with a garment warts and all isn’t it?

Although I haven’t fixed it yet I now have a plan.

  • As I hardly ever go on beachy holidays, I’m going to turn this beach cover-up into a dress/tunic that I can wear in London. I’ll have to add to the length. The pieces loped off the sleeves should come in handy now.
  • To make the dress/tunic more hardy I’m going to sew up the armpit-airing underarm – sleeve inner hem. The design worked for the sturdier fabric of the top that inspired this cover-up. But with more delicate fabrics the risk of sticking my head & arms into the wrong holes and tearing the fabric is too great. Once the holes are closed up there’ll be less chance of this happening.
  • As extra insurance, and to make this translucent fabric more city-friendly, I’ll underline it with a georgette, which might also make the dress more drapy and silhouette elongating.

I’m in no hurry though as it’s still chilly in London.

Instead I’m working on classy replacement Breton Ts that I can wear at home & work. The Burda 2010-02-112 I made a few years ago is well worn and grubby. Her sister Burda 2010-02-122 had already been donated because the neck opening was too big to stay on my shoulders. So I’ve been messing with Dartless T Block again and making a wearable muslin in a less prized stripy knit. I should finish the muslin today & hopefully be able share the experiment findings soon. I’m cautiously optimistic that this one will turn out well! 🙂

First Wadder of the Year

So far this year I have sewn 0 item from my SWAP. Typical isn’t it? Straight after the Jungle January fever another exciting detour presented itself – an unexpected escape to balmy Jamaica. I thought I was sensible opting to air my underused summer dresses instead of cramming in last-minute Holiday SWAP. But I have little to wear as a beach cover-up. Enter the H&M scarf I had bought not so long ago precisely for this purpose. It shot straight to the front of the queue.

Style Shots

No mug shots this time because this is probably going straight back into the ReFashion pile.

Fabric & Notions Used

The Design & Pattern

This is one of those refashion challenges where you make it up as you go. So there isn’t a proper pattern. My initial idea was a simple kaftan. First up is checking pattern placement…


  • I first tried folding in half with the fold on the shoulder line. This made the pattern look like those Indonesian monster masks which I found too distracting. So that’s a NG.
  • I then tried folding on the bias. I liked the pattern placement. But I noticed the scarf isn’t perfectly square, so it makes the garment look lopsided. So again NG.
  • Lastly I tried folding in half again, but with the fold as the hem and the scarf border at the shoulder line. I like that the border adds interest at the shoulder and the pattern balance it out acting as big stretch of border print. The placement also make the pattern look like a potted flower or a dancing person. So happy days.

Once the pattern placement was decided, I pin-fitted. Unfortunately it looked frumpier on me than on Q because I have arms and she doesn’t. The silhouette becomes wider, which make the length appear shorter. So I decided to lop off the bottom portion of the sleeve area and use the same approach as I did on my altered RTW kimono top. The shorter sleeves shift the emphasis to the bodice area to create a stronger vertical silhouette.

Construction Notes


  • As the fabric frayed badly & shifted easily, I spray-starched & stablized like crazy before I even cut.
  • The sewing was then fairly straight-forward: French seam for side seams & to join the bottom of the sleeves fronts to backs. Then hand-rolled hems for the bodice bottom and top of side seams & inside / underarm edge of sleeves. At the top the front & back are joined at shoulder, elbow, & wrist only. Then the starch & stablizer was washed out.

The Verdict

The top actually doesn’t look too bad. But look isn’t everything is it?

After one wear part of my side seam was already falling apart! I think I might have trimmed the seam allowance too aggressively for this fray-loving fabric. (Thank goodness for those dinky hotel sewing kit!) The whole thing just felt too delicate to wear on a relaxing holiday, especially when  sun-screened skin & sea-laddened air made everything feel so sticky. I was constantly worried that I’d rip the seams. Or the underarm slit when I put the top on or take it off. I may have slit this a tad too far – the sleeves felt like hanging chads, ready to detach at any time. What a bummer.

The print is too lovely though. So for now the top is going into the Re-Fashion pile.

What do you do with a knitting wader?

k-eddie-mmRemember my Michelin Man sweater? It was suppose to look this glamorous.

Edie from Precious by Kim Hargreaves

Look so soft & chic doesn’t it? But mine, which is knitted with Rowan Kidsilk Aura – equally soft & cuddly – came out more the hand of a sweatshirt knit. It took so long to knit and the result was so catastrophic that I haven’t try knitting after that. But while I was fooling around on my recent projects photo shoot, I thought of a way to maybe salvage poor Michelin Man.

I was trying to see if Michelin Man would look better shorter. And the shape I ended up with reminds me of these cool looking Alexander Wang sweater / sweatshirt editorials I clipped a while back.


I haven’t altered Michelin Man yet. For the photo shoot it was only temporarily altered with safety pins. But what do you think, should I go ahead & permanently alter this to be an Wang Wannabe?

It’s still a difficult shape to wear. Especially without the skyscraper heels that I reserve for photo shoots only. But cool outfits often push the boundary of good taste. Straddling that fine line is probably what makes them so irresistible. Like moth to flame, you’re not sure you can love them but nor can you look away!

If you knit garments, what do you do with a knitting wader? Especially one that can’t be frogged. (I’ve tried. All that mohair fluff won’t part.)