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

  • SKIRT
    • 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.
  • SASH SCARF/BELT

    • 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…

0-fabric-MomsTop-1

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.

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Designer Love Child Wannabe Python peplum top

With pretension to be the Love Child of Vivienne Westwood & COMME des GARÇONS it’s no wonder this last snake was a Diva from the very start. After the first few seams it all became a blur. So forgive me for just jutting down what I remember & not making much sense.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-3 Burda 2011-08-121 skirt; 4 Altered drindl skirt; 5 TopShop skirt.

The Design & Pattern

So here are the inspirations…


I’ve always loved Vivienne Westwood’s adaptation of historical costumes & traditional tailoring with a twist of punk. I had this top bookmarked in a book on VW I own for ages. I thought the drape might be a great way to feature the New World Snake. Forgive my ignorance about the different types of corset…Is this 18th century corset style? Anyway, I was hoping it’ll give me some cleavage along with ever enticing cowl drape. Sleeveless wouldn’t be so practical for me since I’m a tropical baby. And waist length again would leave too much cold inducing belly airing. So I decided to add this side peplum detail from my early love – Comme des Garcons S/S 1987 collection. I had attempted a Wannabe before (shown by the sketch, the very wearable result long lost in the move across the Pond). I like how the peplum emphasizes the waist where it’s most visible – at the sides when viewed from the front/back. And I like the extra kinks of drape on either side of the center panels.

For the pattern, I adapted the instruction in Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making for a 1690 style corset. The reviews for the book on Amazon weren’t great. But I bought the book in a bookshop way before Amazon. And I’m glad I did. I like the fact that it’s written for theatrical costume designer / patternmaker & focuses on pattern-drafting. I like that while it covers historical info it’s practical, taking into account that actors need to be comfortable enough to move & perform. And that actors come in different sizes & shapes. So creating a custom “French Block” (looks exactly the same as a Moulage!) is key. The patterns are derived from the “French Block” so again customized. I don’t think French Block is the same as sloper drafting taught in fashion schools as one reviewer said because most sloper instructions include wearing ease and seem to be drafted for standard (ie idealized) shapes. The French Block shown is skin tight and designed to fit all shapes & sizes – eg there was one showing rounded upper back adjustment. The inclusion of the French Block also makes these gridded patterns different from those found in other historical costume pattern books I’ve seen. Those give only one size. Here if you put in the effort you can figure out how to draft your own custom fit patterns based on your French Block rather than just scale up the gridded pattern. And the heavily punctuated, phrasy style of writing does not bother me at all. In fact, I find it much easier to understand than very very long sentences with no punctuation marks. Different strokes I guess.

Block Used:

My Kenneth King Moulage of couse!

Design Changes Made

I think this is a case of pictures worth a thousand words. So have a couple!

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

Sorry, following are really just notes for myself & not intended as proper sewing instruction for you guys. The construction order for this was rather complicated to figure out.  So if I don’t write down what I do remember it’ll be a royal pain to recreate something like this again. If they happen to be useful to you too that’s great. The usual pressing, grading, neat seam finishing along the way applies if you want to try it yourself!

  1. Shell:
    1. Stabilize CB with interfacing. Sew CB invisible zipper, then CB seam above zipper.
    2. Sew & top-stitch Inner Front Princess seams, Back Princess seams.
    3. Sew Sleeve & Cuff Underarm seams, then Cuff right side to Sleeve wrong side. Turn cuff out & tack/stitch in the ditch at Underarm seam.
    4. Stabilize Front & Back necklines, Back shoulder seams with interfacing and/or Vilene bias tape.
  2. Lining: Overlock Inner Front Princess seams, Back Princess seams, CB seam above zipper.
  3. Back Neckline: Sew Back Neck Facing lower edge to Lining, then Facing-Lining neckline to Shell neckline right side together. Understitch SA to Facing-Lining.
  4. Front Neckline: Sew Feature Panel cowl facing edge right side to Lining right side to Shell wrong side, stretching cowl facing edge to match neckline especially at curves near bust. Understitch SA to Facing-Lining.
  5. Feature Panel: Turn Feature Panel out over the Shell Front. Baste Feature Panel shoulder pleats. Vertically ruch/gather Feature Panel between bust & waist on both princess seams. Baste Feature Panel to Shell at shoulder, armscye, outer front princess seams.
  6. Shoulder Seams: Sew continuous seam from Shell armscye edge to Lining armscye edge.
  7. Outer Front Princess Seams: Sew & top-stitch Shell Front to Side, overlock Lining Front to Side.
  8. Peplum: Baste Peplum to Shell right sides together, aligning Peplum upper edge corners with Front/Back Panels hemlines. The Peplum goes up the side of of Front Panel, then across the bottom of the Side Panel, then down the side of the Back Panel.
  9. Bagging Lining: Baste Lining to Shell right sides together from CB hemline, along the Peplum basting, across CF hemline, along the other Peplum basting, & finally the other half of the CB hemline – only CB zipper length is left open.

    Be careful not to baste the wrong way like I did initially! Test by turning the garment right side out. The wrong way looks enticingly tidy wrong side out, but is impossible to turn right side out! Go with the weirdly twisted right way. Sew along basting. Turn right side out. Top-stitch Side Panel waistline seam to CB hemline.

  10. Armscye: Overlock Sleeve to bodice armscye (Shell & Lining).
  11. Finishing up: Slip-stitch Lining CB to zipper tape. Understich CF & CB hem by hand (pick-stitch) to keep Lining from peaking out. All done!

The Verdict

What I like:

  • The cowl! I like the asymmetry. It looks more natural. I like that there’s a fair bit of drape, but from the side it doesn’t give me a middle heavy look, and the attachment to the fitted lining keeps it from exposing too much!
  • The peplum! Especially how it disguise my droopy bum by breaking up that long stretch of hollow small of the back.

What didn’t quite work:

  • The corset idea didn’t really work. The stretchy fabrics undid all the good work! (But makes the top much more comfortable to wear!) So no heaving bosom this time. Any cleavage will have to come from additional shapewear & chicken fillets beneath.
  • The top feels a bit too short. I can only wear it with high waisted skirts & pants if I don’t want to catch a cold. I think the negative ease might have caused the top to contract vertically while stretching side-ways. I still haven’t gotten my head around stretch fabric tension lines, hence this oversight. I think next time I will make it 0 ease (rather than negative ease) and/or add a tad more length.

Overall though I think it’s a good effort and a pretty top. So much more could have gone wrong! But taking the time to baste & try on saved my bacon even if it meant Ms Diva missed the Jungle January Party. I’ve been let off only after Photoshopping her into a lush Jungle with her her own pet snake. Phew.

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D&G Wannabe Python cardi

This one did make it to the party. It almost didn’t. I was still sewing the buttonholes at the eleventh hour. And this isn’t even like the Great British Sewing Bee. I had a whole month, not a meager couple of days for 3 projects. Again this should have been an easy make. But things didn’t go according to plan as I was trying new techniques that didn’t quite pan out.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Burda 2011-08-121 skirt; 2 Burda 2012-05-113 skirt; 3 Altered Victoria Secret dress; 4 TopShop Martha jeans; 5 Modified Burda 2012-04-128 camisoleSelf-drafted skirt.

The Design & Pattern

Dolce & Gabbana cardi featured in Vogue US This one is a double agent: It’s a wearable muslin for all the cardis I planned to sew. But I’ve also wanted to make a feature panel cardi ever since I clipped this inspiration photo from Vogue US. Didn’t realized at the time that it’s a Dolce & Gabbana design. So it’s only incidentally a designer wannabe.

Block Used:

Stable Knit Fitted Top Block (Bodice & Sleeve)
Drafted using Stretch Pattern School’s One-Piece Swimwear + Tankini + Sleeve  instructions using 0% negative ease. Note that the Tankini instruction does add a little bit of ease to the waist and hip. So this block does already have positive ease there.

Design Changes Made

1-pat

  • Added extra ease to CF & CB, side seam, sleeve seam because this is suppose to go over other tops so can’t be too tight.
  • Lowered underarm slightly for the same reason.
  • Lopped off necklines & CF where I’m going to use binding for neck band & button placket.
  • Lopped off lower portions of bodices & sleeve where I’m going to use cuff ribbing.
  • Neck band & button plackets are rectangular binding pieces. They’re double layered with the fold at the neck / CF edge. The neck band length is length of the folded neck edge stretched at the seamed edge to match the bodice necklines to ensure that it’ll lie flat & smooth.
  • Bodice & sleeve cuff ribbing were originally going to be rectangular pieces as well. But I didn’t have matching ribbing fabric and my experiment with mock ribbing (see below) didn’t work. So I had to draft shaped bands instead. They’re also double layered with the fold at the bottom edge. I reduced the width a little bit to simulate the snug fit of real ribbing.

Things I’d do differently next time

  • I went waist length with the feature panel instead of the longer length in the inspiration because I thought blouson lower down wouldn’t work with my shortness & short-waistness. But as my mock ribbing idea didn’t work I think I might have gotten a better result if I had abandoned the blouson cardi idea and just made a fitted cardi top with the bottom band as a design feature.
  • 2-sew-details-3For this make I kept the bust dart. The font bodice is a layer of the thinner / drapier / stretchier New World Snake over a layer of the thicker / stiffer / less stretch Snake Bite Bandage. I was worried that the top layer might sag over time. So I sandwiched the dart seam allowances between the layers and tacked along the dart leg as extra insurance against downward migration of the New World Snake. Although my recent experiment with dartless stretch block didn’t work I might try again and see if I can get a dartless block for the other cardis.
  • I might also add more ease to the bodice & sleeve where they join the cuff ribbing for a more visible blouson effect. Otherwise the seam allowance shows through and the seam just look like a cutting mistake – like I cut them too short and had to patch with a band.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • 2-sew-details-1I had hoped the mock ribbing technique that the Sewing Diva tried and described in details in Threads issue #64 Apr-May 1996 would work for me too. So that I can make sweaters & cardis from more variety of fabrics without having to find matching ribbing. But mine came out really stiff. Too stiff even to use single layer, which I wouldn’t want to anyway as it’s made with parallel rows of twin-needle stitches, so the back side has threads that could easily be snagged. It also curls up if left single layer. Maybe my fabric which is mid-weight like ponte is too thick for this technique. Maybe it would work for thinner, drapier knits. In any case, I had to switch to plain bands. And I think I will have to abandon the cardi idea for my SWAP blue sweater knit because it’s again a bit thick and stiff already. And I don’t have a matching ribbing.
  • I’ll have to rethink the construction order as well. A couple of areas were made more difficult to stitch because I went on auto-pilot:
    • I couldn’t figure out how to top-stitch the cuff seam allowance to the sleeve after the sleeve has been sewn together. The Walking Foot that I rely on to make sewing knit easier is really bulky, so can’t handle the claustrophobic narrow sleeve. So I didn’t top-stitch any of the cuffs & bindings. Hopefully the seam allowances won’t flip the wrong way and create unsightly ridges.
    • 2-sew-details-2I couldn’t use my machine’s one-step buttonhole this time because once the placket/binding was sewn to the front bodice & the seam allowance hidden in the placket, it became too uneven layer-wise for the one-step buttonholer to feel its way around where to start & stop. I had to resort to manual buttonholing with zig-zag stitches. The result wasn’t pretty.
  • The button spacing on this one wasn’t ideal because I was one button short. If this snake didn’t have a party to catch I would have waited until I can find another set of suitable buttons. As it is, the CF gap a little at crucial points like bust & waist, especially when I move.

The Verdict

Despite the warts I still quite like the result. Definitely worth making again with tweaks.

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Barely There Python ruched panel skirt (Burda 2011-08-121)

This should have been an easy make. But my fabrics conspired against me. So this snake missed the  Jungle January 2015 party.

The Pattern

Again this pattern wasn’t my first choice. When I thought I’d go ruching & front panel I had in mind the skirt portion of Burdastyle 2014-05/115 asymmetric dress. But I wasn’t sure the one-sided ruching would look as nice in a plain pencil skirt. It might have appealed to me initially because one shoulder bodice drive home the asymmetry point. Without that it might lack conviction and look like a mistake. Plus it would eat up my precious print. So I went with this simpler symmetrical rusching skirt.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted Alexander Wang S/S 2010 Wannabe sweater, tote v2; 2 Burda 2013-11-111 shrug, Burda 2012-05-109 top ; 3 Burda 2013-11-117 jacket ; 4 Self-drafted Martin Margiela SS 1997 Wannabe top / jacket ; 5 Self-drafted Vivienne Westwood – Comme des Garcons Love Child top ; 6 Burda 2013-12-119 top ; 7 Self-drafted Dolce & Gabanna Wannabe cardi

Size Used

34 as it was closest to Psychedelic Leopard 2: Burdastyle 2012-05-113 draped skirt I made previously which fitted well.

Changes Made

1-patAlt

Fitting changes
  1. Tweaks in widths which probably weren’t necessary.
  2. Sway-Back Alteration: Lowered waistline at CB tapering to nothing at Side Seam.
Design changes
  1. Extended the length to below knee, which is almost the same length as #122. I checked the ruching length. It was about 1.5 times longer than the corresponding front panel length. So I increased the ruching panel length accordingly.
  2. Pegged the side seam for a more shapely skirt. Hem is 2″ smaller.
  3. Omitted the vent. My fabric had enough stretch to accommodate walking.
  4. Added a facing to the lining instead of edge to edge lining. Wasn’t necessary, but since I didn’t manage to squeeze a snake into the front ruching panel I had to sneak the snake back in this way!
  5. I also ended up removing the extended waist. The high waist wasn’t doing anything for my short-waisted torso. More importantly I screwed up on the ruching so it started too low and looks really weird. Plus I stretched the skirt through over-handling. Lowing the waist hid these mistakes.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Pencil skirts are so easy so I didn’t really follow the instruction, especially as I made some design changes like extra top-stitching along the princess seams & omitting the vent.
  • 2-sew-details-2But I did follow the instruction for facing the upper skirt edge. I’ve had trouble getting a clean finish to the zipper opening at the waist before. This instruction gave me a tidy finish there. So thumbs up – I will be using it again.
  • I kept the zipper even though it might not be necessary in a knit skirt, especially with my narrow hip. I like my waist snug. So I didn’t want it stretched out of shape with fabrics of questionable stretch recovery rate.
  • 2-sew-details-1My New World Snake might not have been the ideal fabric for the ruched panel. Despite the narrower pattern (presumably the horizontal stretch would keep the ruching under tension & help it fight gravity) my snake sagged. While some might like the sweep the floor drape look, it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t like my drapes too low. So I had to tack the ruching in place along the CF at multiple points.
  • 2-sew-details-3My lining gave me hell. I originally chose a lighter weight tricot. But it doesn’t seem to have much stretch, but when sewn up the stitching lines all seem too tight. The fabric would sag between the vertical seams with draglines pointing to the seams. I could have tried my serger. But I was too crossed with the fabric to give it a second chance. I went with the same lining fabric I used for the Turquoise Leopard skirt and this time overlocked the seams. But no luck overlocking the hem. Twin needle stitch was NG as well. I resorted to hand blind catch stitch.

The Verdict

Despite the hassle this snake gave me I’m chaffed with the result. Not sure I can wear it over tights or anything bulky or bumpy. But nothing like a knit skirt to give a straight up & down girl some shape right?

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Crouching Batwing Hidden Python top (Burda 2013-12-119)

The Sun has finally decided to come out in London today. So I can finally finish this post. Sorry to keep you guys waiting.

Of all the s Jungle January 2015 snakes this one was the most laid back and agreeable thanks to the ready-made pattern with a loose fit. It was the last one conceived yet the first one finished.

The Pattern

Originally I was going to make Burda 2014-04/111 asymmetric funnel neck top. But even the talented ladies on Russian Burdastyle couldn’t make this look comfortable & chic, with the asymmetry frequently too subtle to look like a feature & more often look like a sewing Oops. So I gave up on that pattern.

Thank goodness I had mentally bookmarked Tia Dia’s fabulous party bronze version of this cowl-neck batwing top before. I drooled over hers, not Burda’s. I hadn’t even bought this issue. Anyway, it now came in handy. I wanted drape. The original Vivienne Westwood dress inspiration had drape. The fabric craved drape. So this is perfect, even if it lacks the asymmetry that I liked in the VW original.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted skirt; 2 Burda 2011-08-121 skirt; 3 Burda 2012-04-128a dress; 4 RTW pants; 5 Self-drafted skirt

Size Used

Mindful of the generous ease & off the shoulder tendency that Tia Dia mentioned I graded down to a 34 (my usual size selection for Burda stretch garments).

Changes Made

1-patAlt-1

Fitting changes
  1. Short-Waist Adjustment: Shortened Front & Back Bodices at the same level (in this case bust) & narrowed Sleeve same amount at corresponding points at cap tapering to nothing at wrist.
  2. Forward Shoulder / Neck Adjustment: Shortened Front Bodice at cross-front level & narrow Sleeve again the same way as 1.

Now my adjustments to the sleeve might be unorthodox. I get rather confused about how to alter sleeve when I’ve made changes to the armscye – eg raising under arm, decrease front length at chest/cross-front, increase width at side seam, drop shoulder. Do you adjust the cap height, extend the sleeve seam length, extend the sleeve width, etc.? In this case, since I was worried about the bat-wing swamping me, I chose the two birds one stone approach of reducing width. There’s not much of a cap height to reduce anyway. This also saves on fabric required, allowing me to get more for my money. Me like!

Design changes
  1. Like Tia Dia I also shortened the hip band to high hip length because I like her version.
  2. I also raised the underarm seam / narrowed the Sleeve at armscye. Too chicken to go full bat-wing at waist level, this change raised it so that the bat-wing starts at under-bust rather than waist level.
  3. Shortened sleeve. My arm is shorter than standard. But this top seem to have extra long sleeve anyway – maybe as part of the drape design. Again, to avoid being swamped I removed some of the extra length.
  4. Narrowed/ensured the Sleeve has no ease at wrist so that I can also wear this with the sleeve pushed up to 3/4 length. I did this on the Back only to cater for my inward rotating arm.
  5. Mindful of Tia Dia’s warning about off the shoulder tendency I double checked on the B bodice where the shoulder seam starts & bring it in another 1/4″ as insurance. I was also prepared to add bra stays if necessary. But seems like my grading down to size 34 + the 1/4″ adjustment were more than enough to keep the neck opening on my shoulders.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

For a change I followed most of the instruction given. The only deviation was location of the gap for inserting the waist elastic – I left a gap in the casing’s side seam instead of the casing top-stitching. I also overlocked most of the seams.

2-sew-detailsSome people don’t like how Burda finishes the neck edges, preferring bindings that mimic RTW. But I don’t mind it. The instruction gives a clean finish. It only looks homemade if you’ve been brainwashed by RTW on how things should look.

With troubled birthing elsewhere I was happy to mindlessly follow this top’s instruction. Hence it’s the first one hatched.

The Verdict

Yeap, I can live with this python bat. I don’t feel swamped in this, both size-wise and pattern-wise. The drapy fabric helps.

I don’t know if I would make more of these. How many bats do I need nesting in my closet at any one time? But it’s good to have alternatives to fitted tops. I would definitely make it again if this bat flies away.

I might need to fix that pooling of fabric at my hollow lower back though. It’s bad enough not having enough padding on my bum to counter balance that thickening boob / middle at the front. I don’t need no fabric puddle shouting about it.

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