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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

BurdaStyle 05/2017 - 108 Oversized Pocket Skirt

You often read about sewing bloggers saying that a fabric "spoke to them" when deciding what to make with it.  That happened to me here when this printed cotton sateen, which was always going to be either a pencil skirt or a shift dress, shouted very loudly that it wanted to be this skirt.  The funny thing is I was never particularly attracted to this pattern and I still think it is kind of a crazy design, but I could not get it out of my head and had to search it out on the Burda site.

The talkative fabric - printed stretch cotton sateen from Pattern Bee in Sham Shui Po as mentioned in my previous post here.  I think it was HK$60/yard, really nice to work with.


And the crazy pattern.  Yes the giant pockets do take up the whole length of the skirt!  I think to make them usable you would want to add a line of stitching otherwise you will have to fish your phone or wallet out from down by your knees!

5/2017 - 108


(Edited to add :  Oh!! Now I see the line drawing online it is supposed to have front pleats, this isn't obvious in the line drawing in my magazine and clearly I paid no attention to the directions either!  My pockets are attached the whole way down and looking at view B in the magazine, I think I prefer my wrong way better!)





It is an easy skirt to make, the only slightly annoying part is that you finish hemming the layers partway through construction.  I much prefer to do it at the end when I can properly try it on, but I think it would be a bit bulky if you try and do it altogether.  You also end up with slits in the underlayer (oops, no I sewed it wrong see my edit note above!) , but how much this helps with walking in it I'm not sure.  Fortunately I like the finished length although it looks better on me with heels.

Also if you follow my instagram (@allisoncsewing) you would have seen that the zip pull came right off just as I finished the skirt, so for now (and realistically probably forever) I have a ribbon pull.



Here are pictures of me wearing it - I realise I could have saved myself a bit of work and just made a plain pencil skirt, but it's fun to try new patterns and this one was really interesting to make.  Still haven't used the pockets yet....!






Friday, 24 August 2018

Fabric Shopping in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

I've had this post half drafted for a while now and a recent message on instagram has inspired me get it done!

This is in no way an exhaustive guide, in fact every time I go I usually find somewhere new and since the stock can change drastically you never really know what you are going to find.  If you are looking for that special piece of silk this may not be the place to find it to be honest.  (I go to Shenzhen in China for that, but you will need a visa if you want to do the same.  You can also try upstairs at the Western Market in Sheung Wan, more expensive, but nice stuff).

This is the area I focus on in Sham Shui Po when I am doing a quick trip so I thought it would be useful to share for those of you visiting Hong Kong on holiday or a stopover and maybe with a friend or partner who does not get as excited about fabric shopping as we do!!  If you have time and want to really explore then you can just expand out from the area highlighted here.  Let me know if you find any gems!

Mauve Cloud Studio also has a fantastic post with photos of this area that I really recommend you also take a look at.

Last time I went it was chucking it down with rain so I was really efficient.  I also managed to fill up my rucksack in one shop where everything was on sale for HK$5 per yard (around US$ 0.65) - insane.  I assume stock must come from fabric or clothing factories at the end of a production run so the quantity, quality and type varies enormously.  There are though a few shops that reliably have certain things and the suggested itinerary below includes them.

First, here is my $5 haul which has singlehandedly made my stash out of control!

Stretch cotton shirting and ribbed knit


Stretch cotton twill in all the colours

Suggested fabric shopping itinerary
Take the MTR to Sham Shui Po, Exit A2 for Apliu Street.  (There is a fascinating market here selling a bizarre collection of things - one stall will only have secondhand remote controllers, next door a pile of drills for example).

This area is laid out in a grid system so it's quite easy to get around.  You want to go straight from the exit across Apliu and Yu Chau Streets and then turn left onto Ki Lung Street.


For fabric shopping I generally stick to Ki Lung Street between Nam Cheong Street and Wong Chuk Street.  You'll see a bunch of stalls selling fabric in the street here and there are also shops lining both sides of the street.  (The end of Ki Lung Street that you start at from the MTR is mostly for wholesalers, you'll see all the little sample cards outside the stores, so you need to walk further up to reach the regular stores).

Once you reach the right section the stalls in the street are worth a look, one place sells nice soft cotton prints, there is always cotton shirting here and suitings/knits of varying quality.  I also get zips and overlocker thread here.

Of the shops lining the streets some regulars for me are :

Pattern Bee, 156 Ki Lung St
An actual store with fabrics nicely displayed, always great prints here.

Earth, 158 Ki Lung Street
Another nicely laid out store if rummaging is not your thing, often some amazing digital prints here.

Wa Fat Fabric, 217 Ki Lung Street
Usually some nice jerseys on the stairs at the back.

Jerseys from Wa Fat, really wide, HK$30-45/yard

159 Ki Lung Street
This is a new one for me, but is where I got my HK$5/yard fabric so I will always have a look now!

For higher end fabrics, though again it's kind of random what you will find, I recommend Moon Yue Fabrics on the first floor of 125-127 Yu Chau Street, the next street over and weirdly marked on the map above.  No matter when I visit the staff seem to be eating in the middle of the store so it is kind of an odd experience, but they are very helpful!

You could then walk back to the MTR along Yu Chau Street which is the place to go for all the trims, beads, buttons etc. that you could ever wish for.

Last, but definitely not least, should you need a coffee break and a pitstop in the middle of all this then I recommend Cafe Sausalito, just one street across at 201 Tai Nan Street, also marked on the map above.

Happy Shopping!


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Three Easy Knit Travel Dresses

I've mentioned before that I love knit dresses for the summer and especially for travelling - they are comfortable, pack up really small and light and don't crease plus it is easy to wear them very casually for sightseeing and dress them up a bit for evening.

This is mostly old news if you follow my instagram account (@allisoncsewing), but last month I went to Puglia, Italy and as usual decided at the last minute that new dresses were needed.  I turned to 3 of my favourites that I have made many times before.  I actually only managed to get two of them done in time, but the final one is finished now and will still get plenty of outings before summer is over.

Burda Style 05/2010 - 105
I have lost count of the number of times I have made this dress (& now I think about it I packed 4 of them on this trip!).  I usually widen the skirt and wear a slip underneath to reduce the lumps and bumps a bit, but honestly I prefer the narrower skirt silhouette if you have the confidence for it.
This version is very casual, in a soft pink & black stripe cotton knit.  It doesn't drape as well as some of the ITY knit versions I've made in the past, but for casual daywear it is ideal.






McCall's 6319 (out of print)
I've only ever made View A and I've never bothered putting on the zipper at the shoulder, perhaps I will branch out on a future version!






This one is in a classic black & white striped knit, I like the effect the asymmetric pleats make with the stripes.







McCall's 6069 (out of print)
Last but not least is McCall's 6069, View A which is the one I just finished last week.  Despite making this dress a few times before I have yet to make it in anything close to the 1 hour boldly claimed on the pattern!  Originally I wanted a sort of relaxed maxi sundress feel so I widened and lengthened the skirt.  However, when I tried it on it looked too much like a formal gown with it's dramatic front and back cowl drape.  This is good to know if I ever need a packable, quick to make fancy dress, but it wasn't what I was looking for this time so I hacked the skirt down to midi length.










Friday, 20 July 2018

BurdaStyle 07/2018 - 113 Knot Dress

I loved this pattern from the July issue of Burda Style and made it in record time (for me anyway) for a whistle stop trip in the UK before heading to Italy for a holiday.


https://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/knotted-neckline-dress-072018

The knot detail at the neck is really interesting, I had assumed it was just a simple slit in the centre front seam, but the pattern pieces are curved and lined so that you end up with a circle that stands out from the bodice a bit.  This creates nice gathers when you add the loop in later.  Fortunately this part of the instructions has an illustration which helps a bit.





I made a size 40 and added around 20cm to the length of the skirt so that it would be midi length (I was making this to wear to Henley Regatta in the UK which has a strict, if slightly prehistoric dress code - nothing above the knee, no trousers or culottes).

I used quite a loud crepe print in shades of pink, orange, black & cream.  It is a complete accident that I ended up with a neat little cream diamond shape at the centre front bodice seam as I did not even attempt any pattern matching.






I really love the finished dress, the v neckline and cut on sleeve style are  my personal favourite shapes and I would like to make it again, perhaps in a solid colour.  

The weather in the UK was absolutely glorious, it was pretty hot the day I wore this and it was really comfortable although it creased a bit from sitting.




It's not like this all day, but these photos from the event amused me - largely empty deckchairs for viewing the rowing and a jam packed bar!   (No judgement from me, I was doing the same!).





Thursday, 7 June 2018

Vogue 9293 Dresses

This pattern is from the Vogue Easy Options range and has a number of different skirt and sleeve options to create different looks.  I used the pattern to make not one, but two cocktail dresses for two events I went to recently!

https://voguepatterns.mccall.com/v9293




The first was a formal black tie dinner and I didn't want to wear the full length ballgown I made last year (see post here). I did however have a lot of that same brocade fabric left.  Originally I was thinking of making a full skirted ballgown, plus there was a separate piece on the bolt they gave me - I probably still have enough for a jacket or pencil skirt, but I'm kind of done with this fabric for now!

Brocade is not one of the recommended fabrics (seersucker, linen, challis, broadcloth) for this dress, but I thought it would work and chose view A, the short sleeved, full skirted version.




I left off the pockets and also lowered the neckline a bit.  I just did this by folding the edge over on my dressform and ended up creating a small v at the back neckline too, just to get it to sit nicely.  The original neckline is finished with bias tape, but I decided to create a facing piece to match my new neckline which I then interfaced to give it a bit more structure in my brocade fabric.

I sewed the side seams last as is my preference so I can fine tune the fit in the bodice.  The hems were all finished invisibly by hand which was faster than I expected as the texture of the brocade hides everything.



Despite the small risk taken with completely ignoring the fabric recommendations, I'm really happy with my cocktail dress.  It was comfortable to wear and great for dancing - sorry no photographic evidence!





Just a week later I had another, smaller dinner to go to which was Oscars themed and I decided it was time for a new LBD cocktail dress in my wardrobe.  We had visitors that week too so with limited time I just pulled out this pattern again and made View D, the short sleeved, pencil skirted version.



I used a black silk dupion which I underlined with black silk organza and basically made in the exact same way as the first version.  I always use this underlining method when sewing with dupion, it gives it a bit more body and means that no stitching is visible on the outside as all the hems can be hand stitched to the underlining.





Surely now I have a dress for just about any formal occasion!?  I love both of these dresses and I think this is a great pattern, although you may want to check if the neckline is also too high for you.

Maybe one of these days I will get around to making a version in one of the recommended fabrics!