Jungle Snake Pit The Origin

OK, this is what I would have brought to the Jungle January party if I had been more organized.


Yeah, it’s all fake. You would never find me near a real snake in this life time – too slimy looking. Damn you Pretty Grievances for enabling me to squander weeks on Jungle Makes & days on Photoshop Element Photomerge Compose instead of job hunting. I guess it’ll be pot noodles for the foreseeable future.

But I’m glad they’re all done now and The Stash is down 2 and a bit. I’m loving my Inner Scot and her mini-collection approach. I could never have squeezed 6 items out of these if I hadn’t done them as a batch to optimize cutting layout. I will go into more details about each later. But since they all use the same fabrics and the fabrics were the starting point for this lot let’s cover that off in one go shall we.

The Star: New World Python

cropped-2013-us-fabrics-93.jpgBefore I subscribed to Pretty Grievance’s blog I would not have had the courage for this mad print with a bit of everything: floral, damask, toile, paisley, and animal. But by her guiding light I now see how the craziest of prints can look great while having all the fun. So I took the plunge.

This mix reminds me of the Age of Discovery. All that heavy floral baroque prints, the conquistadors & their ladies. The Amazonian pythons sneaking up on them.

I got it thinking I’d make something like this Vivienne Westwood jersey dress I saw in the store.

c0e71f1a9d6c56c02259f36166b9709dI liked the asymmetric drape & sleeves (one side has drop shoulder with wider bodice). The fabric had similar drape & hand. But this catalog photo looks so unappealing that I was put off the idea. In any case I was too chicken to commit to a whole dress in this busy print. So I ended up using it mostly as feature panels. Plus one whole top as a compromise. Baby steps.

The fabric from NY Elegant is a wool / polyester / spandex mix according to my illegible notes (the NYC fabric stores aren’t so good with detailed descriptions). It has a really lovely hand similar to challis, and is warm & soft with not a bit of scratchiness. It stretches about 40% width- & length-wise, but sews easily with the aid of a walking foot. It does curl a little bit, so I also spray startched it before cutting & sewing. I bought this back in 9/2012, but it was still on display when I visited again in 10/2014.

Supporting Cast: Snake Bite Bandages

Now this light stone rayon/spandex “Morgan Crepe” from Tissu Fabrics was a bit of a disappointment when it arrived. I hadn’t intended to order yards of bandages. But that’s exactly what it looks & feels like. I was at a loss what to do with it.

So when I saw the Reiss bandage dress that Duchess of Cambridge wore to greet the Obamas I thought that was the answer. But being a more complicated pattern to draft it didn’t happen.

Then by chance it met the New World Python during one of my Get the Stash Out & Play Dress Up sessions. And it was opposites attract love at first sight.

vogue-floral-2 The cupid was this Dolce & Gabbana cardigan from a Vogue US clipping. Just the combination to tame the print while jazzing up the bandage. From there on the rest of the feature panel designs came tumbling out.

BTW, despite the humble look of the Snake Bite Bandages, like the New World Python it’s a pleasure to sew and wear. Equally soft, it’s heavier in weight, has the hand of ponte knit, and stretches about 30% width- & length-wise. And quite cheap too. I don’t think I will get any more, but I’m glad I managed to make something decent out of it.

So there you have it, the origin of this mini-collection of Jungle Snake Pit.

Wait! Wait for us Jungle January!

Jungle January 2015
Just as the gate is about to close on another year’s Jungle January,
my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…

Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.

I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?

Psychedelic Leopard 3: Modified M6078c cowl neck top

So this was suppose to be a shortened Burdastyle Magazine Blumarine 2011-06-139 wrap dress. But after I traced out and altered that pattern, I just couldn’t squeeze the wrap top out of the leopard print fabric. And I laid out pieces for all 3 projects at the same time to conserve fabric too. No luck. So another sleeveless cowl top it is then.

As V1282 has all the drape from bust down, I decided this one should have all the drape from bust up. Just for variety you know. So people don’t think I’m wearing the same stinking top day in and day out! (Not that my DOH could tell the difference.)

The Pattern

I made M6078 view B before and was quite pleased with the result. So I’m sort of using this as a TNT pattern / design block for cowl neck tops in moderate stretch knit fabrics.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

XS (4-6) like my last make of M6078 view B. Recommended size for me would be M (12-14).

Changes Made

Fitting changes = Adjusted M6078 view C pattern

M6078 view C pattern (minus SA) on top of my final pattern (with SA)

  • Wide Shoulder Adjustment: 1/4″
  • Rounded Upper Back Adjustment: additional 1/2″ on back shoulder, eased during sewing
  • Misc shoulder / upper-back adjustments (based on fitting assessment of my last make):
    • Raised front shoulder/neck point by 1/4″
    • Lower back shoulder/arm point by 3/4″
    • Raised CB Neck by 7/8″
  • Narrow Lower Back Adjustment: 1/4″ at under-arm to 1/2″ at waist
  • Sway Back Adjustment: Slashed across waistline & overlapped 3/4″ lengthwise at CB. Redrew CB below waist and removed 7/8″ width from back hip as a result. Added back 3/4″ lengthwise at CB hem.
  • Narrowed bodice for a more fitted look: 1/2″ at under-arm to 1″ at waist
  • Shorten hem 2″
  • Raised armhole by 1/4″. In retrospect I think I should have left it alone. The result was slightly tight. I raised it because the armhole of my previous make seemed a bit low. But that could have been because I laid the patterns on the crosswise grain which is stretchier, so gravity might have pulled down the armhole.

Now before you say “Woah! That’s a hell of a lot of changes” I just want to say “not this time”. I’ve already made most of these changes when I made view B. There were only a couple of tweaks this time. But I listed all the deviations from the original pattern so it’s clear I’m not using the unmodified pattern. As you can see in the photo above, once I got a good fitting version of the pattern, making design changes is Play not Work! 🙂

Design changes

Final pattern with design changes

  • Added a pleat in the front shoulder – like view B
  • Added a rectangular tube-like cowl collar by extending the facing outward from shoulder-neck point half the amount of back neck width
  • Raised CB neck / straighten back neck so the collar / facing wouldn’t sit too low in the back
  • Pleated the back collar vertically so more drape is on the collar outside than collar inside
  • Omitted the shoulder area loops
  • Used self-fabric binding tapes for armhole finishing

Verdict on the Instruction

OK, I didn’t follow the instruction this time as I was too clever for my own good. I thought I’d streamline the process and make 3 projects simultaneously production line style. I probably ended up spending more time on each than if I had followed instructions and done one at a time. But with my design changes I would have had to figure some steps out on my own anyway. The original pattern instruction is pretty easy to follow though.

Here’s how I constructed this one:

  1. m6078cMod-3Stabilized back neck line and armholes with Vilene Bias Tape.
  2. Sewed & overlocked side seams and collar / facing CB seam.
  3. Sewed & overlocked shoulder – back neck / collar – shoulder seam, applying clear elastic in the process to stabilize the shoulder seams.
  4. m6078cMod-4m6078cMod-5m6078cMod-6

    Turned CB collar / facing edge inside and slip-stitched to CB neck seam (like I did for my Golden Cowl Neck Tunic – are you getting the same sense that I LUV COWL??? :-D)

  5. Pleated the back collar / facing vertically, leaving only the desired collar height on the inside (in my case about 1-1/2″ on the insTextide). Secured the outside pleats to the inside collar / facing portion with a vertical stitch along the collar CB seam.
  6. Oops. Tried on the top and discovered the armhole was a bit tight. Ripped out the Vilene Bias Tape to allow the fabric to stretch naturally.
  7. Sewed binding tape to armhole (in the same method as instructed by V1282 I was making at the same time).
  8. Overlocked hem edge then turn and sew hem in place.

The usual Walking Foot and stretch stitch advice applies. I didn’t bothered with twin needles for hems because I always get a ridge between the two stitching lines and it drives me crazy! One day I’ll treat myself to a cover stitch machine. But I haven’t earned it yet.

This time I also omitted the interfacing for the hem and hoped for the best when overlocking. Unfortunately my fabric was too stretchy / difficult to control. I ended up spray starching the hem to temporarily stabilize fabric for overlocking and heming.

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

Probably not this particular pattern modification. It didn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned. Then again my visions tend to be a bit hazy! }:-)

I do like the concept, so I’ll probably play with this type of cowl neck again. I just need to figure out where exactly I want my drapes and where I want it snug.

I would most definitely recommend the original pattern, and for the more adventurous amongst you, playing with this type of modified cowl neck.

Psychedelic Leopard 2: Burdastyle 2012-05-113 draped skirt

It was love at first sight for this pattern, though I didn’t have the leopard print fabric in mind.  In fact, the print might not be the best choice as it obscures the lovely drapes a bit. But when I was planning a wrap top for the fabric, I thought this skirt worn with the wrap top might give me a faux wrap dress look I originally wanted. Never mind that the wrap top never materialized due to fabric shortage. The skirt pattern stuck. Especially after I saw Merche of Aventuras de Costuras showing off her version worn with the very same V1282 top I also made from this fabric.

The Pattern

One piece pattern, très chic result. How brilliant is that? Photo here is actually for the longer view C in a thicker knit. I went for the mid-length view B.

Style Shots & Mug Shots


Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

For bottoms I’m between size 34 & 36. I chose 34 because I assumed a knit pattern would be more forgiving and I wanted a snug fit. I did check the pattern measurements against my fabric’s stretchability to ensure the negative ease won’t be too much for the fabric to handle.

Changes Made


  • Narrowed hip 3/16″ on both side seams (3/4″ total) to get 0 ease at hip level.
  • Short Waist Adjustment – lowered the raised waist by 1″ (from 3″ to 2″) so the top edge isn’t right at my underbust.
  • Ignored the hem length and measured on the unpleated side seam the length I need for a skirt length that’s just below my knee.
  • Added zipper and hook to the pleated side seam. I wanted a snug fit at the waist and didn’t want my fabric to stretch out of shape with wear. So zipper was the only way to go. Noting the problem Merche of Aventuras de Costuras had with wavy zipper on the unpleated side I went for the pleated side, thinking that the pleats might hide any waviness.

Verdict on the Instruction

It’s typical Burda instruction: terse, unillustrated. So put on your thinking hat, I usually do anyway. In this case, it didn’t help me with step 1: I was totally confused about which direction to press the pleats.

bs201205113-3In the end I pressed it in a way to minimize the bulk noted by several Pattern Reviewers: Bottom 3 pleats downward, top 2 pleats upward, and the remaining pleat half-up-half-down. Even so, the pleat still puffed up like a blow fish. And my fabric isn’t that thick. Even with the underlining I’d say it’s mid-weight at best. Imagine this in a thicker ponte knit! I feel your pain, fellow Pattern Reviewers.

bs201205113-4See how the zipper is buried in the Valley of the Pleats!

Distributed pleats. And tightly trimmed seam allowance. Imagine the thickness of those pleats multiplied by two if I didn’t. It looks rather precarious though, doesn’t it? As insurance against fabric fraying and pleats falling apart I then fused 3/4″ wide So Sheer tricot interfacing to the seam allowance, overlapping stitching and the inner pleats. Sorry I forgot to take photo showing this.

bs201205113-6Zipper catch-stitched to the underlining to further tame the bulk.

The resulting pleated side is bulky, but not uncomfortable. And I think the bulk enhances the draped design. So no complaints from me.

bs201205113-2Heeding the warning of  Melissa of Fehr Trade about potentially saggy waist and facing flipping out, I went down the separate facing route (views A & B) and as extra insurance (a) interfaced the double-layer facing with So Sheer tricot interfacing  which has stretch in one direction; (b) added clear elastic to the skirt-facing seam; and (c) catch-stitched the bottom edge of the facing to the underlining rather than just tacking it down at the two side seams.

Dawn of Two on Two off  wondered on Pattern Review about why views A & B have separate facings and view C has cut-on facing. My theory is that the “Ponte Jersey” recommended for view C is stable enough not to need the double-layer facing or the extra seam for added stability. The “Fine Stretch Jersey” recommended for views A & B would be too flimsy without stabilization. So I’d recommend choosing the appropriate facing option depending on the fabric you choose, regardless of the length you go for.

Other than these two finer points, it’s a fairly easy and quick skirt to sew up. So don’t let my long-winded review put you off!

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

You betcha! One in a heavier-weight knit like the view C photo. And maybe even a woven! I would have to go up a size or two width-wise of course.

Psychedelic Leopard 1: V1282 Donna Karan cowl neck top

If you were reading this blog April last year, you’d know I bought this pattern hoping it’d be The One for this leopard print fabric. It only took 10 months for me to finally get around to it. During that time I of course flirted with other ideas. But in the end, true love was meant to be. So voilà, a top that I’ve already worn twice to the Office this week. Score!

The Pattern

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

I went for size 4, down from a recommended size 12 and my current norm of FBA’ed size 8!

This is partly on the advice of the Pattern Reviewers (with their complaints of how big and low cut the pattern is). I compared the sizes against the adjusted pattern for the M6078 cowl neck top I made last summer and 4 come out the closest (I went down to XS or 4-6 for that top as well).

I also roughly compared the pattern’s B-W-H measurements with my B-W-H to ensure the negative ease won’t too much for my fabric to handle. Eg if pattern hip = 30-3/4″ and my hip = 35″, then 30-3/4″ − 35″ = -4.25″ (negative ease) ÷ 30-3/4″ (pattern hip) = -0.138 OR 13.8% that the fabric cut at 30-3/4″ would need to stretch to fit my hip of 35″.

I checked all three measurements and took the largest % number, then compare this to how much my fabric would stretch. In this case, 10″ of fabric stretched to 12-1/2″ OR 25% (12-1/2″ − 10″ = 2-1/2″ ÷ 10″ = 0.25 = 25%). So the fabric stretches more than required by the pattern size I chose and I’m fine to go with the 4 – for widths at least.

Changes Made


  • Wide Shoulder Adjustment: 1/2″
  • Rounded Upper Back Adjustment: additional 3/8″ on back shoulder, eased during sewing
  • Narrowed upper back by removing 1-1/8″ per side (2-1/4″ total) from CB at neck level tapering to nothing at bust level.  This was on advice of Pattern Reviewers as well, but the precise amount was based on a comparison of this pattern with my  adjusted M6078 which now fits relatively well. Also raised CB neck 3/4″ so the CB neck angle is closer to original pattern.
  • Widened 3/8″ per side (3/4″ total) at hip level to avoid hip being too small and riding up.
  • Short-Waist Adjustment: shortened at waist 1-1/4″. The way I did this also narrowed the upper front 1/4″ per side (1/2″ total).
  • Shortened hem 1″ – I’m taking the Pocket Stylist‘s advice that a top length closer to the high hip is more flattering than one ending right at the hip.
  • Raised armhole 1″ and reshaped it to scoop a bit out at the back. My arm joints seem shorter and wider than standard. So the shallow curve of the original looked uncomfortable. In the end though I should have scooped out more or not bother raising the armhole as the result feels a bit tight.
  • Reduced CF stitching line (step 6) by 1″ after basting the seam and trying on the top. The smaller size and my short-waist adjustment resulted in a higher cowl neck opening – unlike for most Pattern Reviewers.  I decided I can show slightly more skin and avoid what to my eye is a strange contrast between the drapeless CF seam and the drapy cowl below the bust line.

Compared with the original before short-waist alteration.


Final pattern compared with altered M6078 which fits well.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is pretty straight-forward. And having step-by-step illustrations is helpful for beginners. So as long as you have a Walking Foot and stretch stitch of some sort (zig-zag would do) then any beginner can whip up this stylish top. Picking the right size is probably the trickiest part.

Having said that, I did deviate from a few steps.

  • I ignored the layout instruction that called for a bias layout and just used the standard lengthwise layout (with the stretchiest crosswise grain running around the body). First of all I didn’t have enough fabric because I wanted to squeeze 3 projects out of just over 2 yards. And while I love bias results in wovens I loathe the fabric wastage. Plus this is a lycra knit. So I see no point as the knit bias doesn’t seem to have the same obvious advantages as woven bias.
  • I also interfaced the back neck area with So Sheer tricot interfacing. The stable direction of the interfacing runs across the back neck to prevent it from stretching out of shape during sewing or wearing. Shoulder seams were stabilized with clear elastic and armhole with Vilene Bias Tape – which I had to remove later because I shortened the armhole too much.
  • For step 8, I used 3 pennies for weight. And while the weight did enhanced the CF drape, it didn’t prevent the drape from flipping out like it did for one of the Pattern Reviewers. So I tacked the tip of the weight pocket to a fold in the underbust drapes. With so much drapes there, plus the busy print, the stitch is hardly visible.
  • I skipped steps 14-16 for adding hanging straps. I don’t know who would want to hang up knits. Isn’t that asking Gravity for trouble?

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

Hell Yeah! I want a shiny one like Clio & Phineas’ or SewEllen’s. I also really like Merche of Aventuras de Costuras’ partly because she modeled the combination of this top and Burdastyle 2012-05-113 draped skirt for me – saves me from having to use my unreliable imagination! 🙂

I just hope I have enough pennies left for a few more tops!