Category Archives: tips

Fabric Review #2

Woohoo! I am back from a 5 day vacation in Lake Tahoe. It was such a snow wonderland there — we had so much fun snowshoeing, sledding, and snowboarding/skiing with some of our best friends. I tried snowboarding for the first time, and although my butt is still hurting from all the falls, I loved it!! It snowed for two days and this is very near to where we stayed:

Beautiful, isnt it? I havent lived in a snowy place since I was six, so it was rare to sit in a warm and toasty house, playing boardgames and enjoying good food and company, with all the fluffy snow drifting down from the sky.¬†Occasionally, we would see our icicles come crashing down, and even spotted some yellow snow! ūüėõ

Now back at home, we spent the past two days packing up our kitchen to get ready for our remodel. I would probably be quite slow in my sewing projects for the next two month due to the remodel as we are doing part of the work ourselves. For now, I have an incomplete  skirt that I am thinking about giving up. I made the mistake of using too thick of a material for a skirt that has many darts. *gasp*, my garment attempted:garment completed: garment often worn for year 2011 is currently:


Gotta work on that ratio! ūüôā For now I am looking through my latest fabric horde and drooling after all the possiblities.

Shetland Wool Heathered Palm Leaf :

Very good quality wool, i think it is thin enough for skirts and good for jackets and thin coats. It can be stretched a little on bias as well. sadly, the real color is a lot lighter than pictured. I was hoping for a forest green short skirt. I guess I didnt see this. now I am not so sure about what to do with it. Any suggestions?

It was on sale for 10 dollars last year, so I also bought the same material in white, which is beautiful (and unfortunately sold out). I want to try and knock off this look:

Vera Wang Silk Check pale pink 54″ Wide

Sometimes, the difference between polyester and silk is so subtle! I like this shade of pink, sort of a grey-pink with interesting patterns on it. I think it will make a interesting, and simple top.

I also bought some¬†Wool Tricotine in camel color for a new trench coat — the old one I made has some issues with the interfacing, the buttons are pulling the fabric in a weird way, cotton twill is not the greatest material for a trenchcoat, and topstitching everything in green thread was not one of my brightest moment. The material turned out quite nice and crisp, but unfortunately it is already sold out.

Slate Blue Bamboo Knit 60″ Wide

I just love bamboo knits. they are so soft and so heavy, super comfortable against the skin. I saw this top that the beautiful and pregnant hanamik was wearing:

And I really want one! (Her looking so gorgeous while pregnant also makes me look forward to being pregnant in the future ūüėõ ) I was thinking about making something like that out of the bamboo knit, but make it flexible so that it looks good on just the normal old me, or a preggy me in the future. Well, actually, I just really like the idea of flexible clothing. I think all the ties makes it possible to do that, but we will see how it goes.

Also got navy charmeuse and navy cotton satin from there, which are sold out. I find that fabric mart almost never disappoint me in terms of quality of their fabric. However, their color on picture and in person occasionally doesnt match too well!

So much dreaming about sewing. I should really go sew. But knitting in bed next to hubby sounds much more warmer…

How to Alter Your Basic Coat Pattern for a Flared Coat

Its almost the end of 2010!  One thing I wanted to post before the end of the year is how I made my lady grey inspired coat.

I used a basic coat pattern — McCall 5525:

The alterations are fairly simple. Here are the 4 bodice pieces:

All you really need to do is to add volume between the seams from the waist and down. I liked my coat fitted at the waist, so I  started adding flare at about 1 inch below the waist mark. You can make that longer if you want the  coat to flare out at a lower point:

Another thing to calculate is how much you want the coat to flare out. Determine the length of the coat, and the think about how many inches you would like to add ¬†to the¬†circumference of the skirt. I wanted a really really flared coat, so I added 4 inches to each side of my bodice pattern — this resulted in 8 inches added per seams– 7 seams total, meaning 56 inches were added! You can increase or decrease this number.

Do not add any flare to the front seam where your coat opens — that seam should remain a straight line. If I were to make this coat again, I might not add volume at the back center seam also — it feels a little awkward, but that is just a matter of personal taste.

Zooming into just the center back piece, (every seam adding was the same for me) to give you more details:

Note that I chopped off a little¬†triangle¬†at each hem corner. I did that when I have decided how long I wanted my coat to be. Then I folded over the excess fabric that will be on the inside of the coat, and chopped off the extra fabric at the end. I did this so that I did not have to gather the ¬†hem seam to deal with the fact that the hem line is smaller than the hem seam line (hope this make sense). However, if you want to do it¬†properly, dont chop those corner off and look at Gertie’s hemming tutorial.

Now you got the skirt part done, lets move onto the other alteration – collar. The front center bodice piece will need to be altered to create the big lapel. I dont have a set pattern for you, but I just added a lot more lapel as below:

Then when I was making the coat, when I have finished the shell, I tweaked the lapel size while wearing the half-finished garment by cutting it down to desired size and shape. Keep in mind that you have a seam allowance to consider. Also, the tutorial from Gertie also talks about how to minimize the lapel for petites.

Lastly, my colar is simply a piece of half circle with a smaller half circle cut out from it with the sides a little trimmed (hope that make sense):

I just took a piece of felt — it was cheap and about the same weight as my wool, and attached it to the coat with pins to make sure I like the look. ¬†After a few tries I got the look I wanted, and cut it out with seam allowance and made the collar.

Tada! That is it! I apologize for the terrible drawing — I am no artist. But I think it should convey my thoughts sufficiently. If you happen to make any use out of this tutorial, leave me a comment! I would love to see the result!

Lace Heaven!

It wont be a true Cupcake Goddess inspired circle skirt without some pretty laces attached to the lining! So I started looking for some laces eight days ago and found lace heaven. Today, I finally got the shipment and I must say, I am in lace heaven!!!

Yes, I did go a little crazy. But I haven done this before with zippers and buttons. Somehow, those stuff always get used up and its nice to have them around. So I got 85 yards of lace, (yes, its not a typo, EIGHTY FIVE), and 2 yards of stretch lace fabric. Total cost including shipping: $62.15.

Its not too bad, right? Do you know of other cheap online lace shops?

Leveling the circle skirt hem– the Juebejue way

I am two photoshoots behind! I have a dress and a skirt that I have completed and am very excited to show you — but the weekend had been crazy busy and I only like to do photos in natural light these days. On Saturday night I did manage to squeeze in a few hours of sewing. I am currently making my second winter skirt, a Cupcake-Goddess-inspired circle skirt. It is not completed yet — I didnt have lining on hand and I was too busy after work to go to the fabric stores, so the completed shell of the skirt was hanging on the dressform for an entire week! But it turned out to be a good thing, because the bias part of the skirt got longer, by a lot! I needed to cut the skirt bottom so that the hem is even.

I was going to get the skirt marker recommended by the Cupcake Goddess, but alas, I do not have the patience to wait for 3 weeks for it to come (just waiting for 1 week to go shopping for lining almost killed my mojo). So I did a little improvising – inspired by a 1 dollar tripod my husband raved about/made years ago:

Tada! Basically, I tied a string to a ruler (I made the mistake of using plastic ruler, which bends, the better option would be a wooden/steel ruler, or any flat solid objects that you can tie to), tied the other end of the string to an arm of the scissor. I made some adjustments to the length of the ribbon to make sure it will produce a hem at a¬†desirable¬†height. Then, i put the ruler directly below the hem, stepped my feet on it so that it doesnt move up. With the string taught and scissor always parallel to the ground, i start cutting off excess hem, and turning my dressform around slowly so that I /ruler does not have to move. (You can substitute the dressform with a real person so that it rotates automatically ūüėõ ).

It worked pretty well! the hem looks pretty straight now after one go:

Sorry for the crappy photos, this happened at night and I had to use flash. I hope my description was clear, let me know if you have any questions, or any other methods you use to get a straight hem!!!

Looking Tall on The Wedding Day (at least, for the photos)

I was just looking through some photos by my awesome photographers (our two good friends took all the good photos, and one of them + my husband is processing them) and I¬†realized¬†— I looked really good and really TALL for the wedding! I mean, I still looked petite if my husband is right next to me, but the proportions are all nice and long and made me look very slim, and I didn’t even wear a very high heel (less than 3 inches! That was funny because I actually had leg/feet cramps half way through the wedding and had to change into a flat flipflop to walk around and dance). And analyzing my dress, these are the few things that I think helped me look tall, slim, and proportionate:

  • I bought a Petite size! You can hem a dress all you want, it still wont look good if the waist is 3 inches lower than where your waist is. (Or really, make your own! ūüėČ )
  • the dress had a train — from the back, it make you look soooo much taller! It created an¬†illusion¬†that my leg is thaaaaaat long
  • the dress had straps — originally my dress was strapless, and it made me look a little shorter since the height of white fabric from top to bottom was cut short. By adding straps, the eyes are reminded of the portion above my chest/back and hence made me seem slimmer (especially from the backside!) If I had more time or if my husband didnt love¬†straps¬†so much, I would had added laces to cover my upper back and chest to see if that made me look even taller!
  • well fitted dress — I took in a little, but not too much from the side, so that the dress fit snuggly but not tight enough to show any bulges — creating a straight un-disrupted curve and made me look slimmer
  • strategically hemmed hemline — I hemmed it so that it just touches the ground when I am on my heels. This way it doesnt look like I was on my heels and again, made me look taller! But dont hem it too long such that the skirt folds near the ground, a dead giveaway! (I think mine could had been half an inch shorter).
  • A-line and empire waist dress — every where I looked, advice says that A-line and waist dress makes you look taller. I guess its true! My dress is a very slim A-line and fitted near the hips and flare out gently — slightly mermaid-y but not really, because I know I look very short in mermaid dresses!
  • great photographers and wide-angled lens – this has nothing to do with my dress, but it did help greatly. The two photographers shot from great angles (down to up) that flattered me, and one of them used wide-angled lens, which elongates my body when it was shot with my face/upper body in the center and my train/feet area at the edge of the photo. Think of all those tricky mirrors that made you look slightly slimmer in store just because of the way they were placed on the floor (faced upwards a little).

One thing I would advice all the short brides — bring some safety pins to your wedding and a flat comfy shoe! If your feet cannot take it due to lack of sleep, excitement, or whatever reasons, you can always use safety pins to bustle all around the skirt to make it shorter. My big snap buttons did not hold too well, so safety pins would have helped! Practice bustling with a girlfriend so that she can help you out during the wedding, and mark the points you want to bustled so that you dont take too long figuring it all out!

P.S. Our friends and my husband ARE available as wedding photographers in Seattle and San Francisco Bay Area. If anyone wants to consider hire them (they would charge much less than normal since they are just starting out, $$ is just used to cover travel expenses, equipment and slight motivation for the massive amount of time spent on post processing), feel free to leave me a comment and I will provide their contact info!

Cute Little Things

I wanted to take a small break from wedding stuff, but did not want to start on anything big before the wedding. I had scrapes from the Maui White dress and some cotton trim from Walmart (they have some good cheap stuff very occasionally) lying around my sewing room. So I decided to make a cute undie!

I used McCall’s M5651, view B. The pattern called for knits but I used cotton. It was cut on bias so it had a LITTLE bit of stretch in it, side ways. To compensate for the lose of vertical stretch, I attached a elastic band on the top to make it sit taller on my hips. This is a true low waist hip hugger! Then I sewed all the trims on. A tip for that: always zip-zag, never straight stitch for stuff that needs to have a little stretch. The first time I attempted on the trims I straight stitched, i couldnt even get into the undie since it lost all the stretch. Even zigzaging the trims on make it loss a little bit of stretch, unless you stretch the base fabric while you are stitching.

I love it! Its all cotton and all cute! Going to wear it with my White for Maui dress to Maui! Most importantly, I felt all calm and happy after making it, very therapeutic!

Semi-DIY wedding: The Program

I wanted to incorporate some sewing-flavor into my wedding besides what I am going to wear. It wont really be a Jue-be-Dex wedding if there are no threads and fabric involved, right?

For our wedding program, I bought papers from paper and more, an awesome place for bulk and cheap stock paper. I bought three colors of the linen (duh!) paper: black, red, and natural. The service was awesome and quality is SUPURB — they even have cutting service for a reasonable price, so that I dont have to do any cutting!

I originally wanted to wrap fabric around one side 0f our program (like our invitation, which will be posted later with a how-to). But our program had 7 pieces of the cards together, adding fabric made it way too hard to stitch. So I decided to just stitch them together with plain stitches and thick threads. Unfortunately, I did not have white thick threads around, but selfish seamstresses’ rant about double straight stitch totally saved me a trip to the store and 3 dollars. I actually had a triple straight stitch on my little sewing machine, and that seems to do a pretty good job.

(excuse the obvious photoshop to blurb out our last names and dates! 2003 is the year we started going out ūüôā )

Some tricks when I was stitching the program together:

  • I used a size 11 needle –if the needle is too thin and it will break; if it is too thick, ¬†it has a hard time penetrating the papers. I stitched through 40 programs, and only broke 1 needle!
  • Go at a medium speed, at least for my sewing machine. If I go too fast it will skip stitches, and if I go too slow the motor doesnt seem to have the momentum to penetrate the paper
  • I taped a straight block on the sewing machine to help me making a straight and parallel stitch with equal distance for all the programs!

Tada! it took a few hours to do all 40, but its done! ūüôā What do you think? Any other ideas for a sewing-incorporated wedding program?

On a related note. I wanted some card stands to display instructions during our wedding, but I could not find a good looking one anywhere! So my awesome fiance made a bunch of this for me from a tree we cut down in our backyard last year:

sewing wife and wood-working husband… ¬†ūüôā ¬†I am loving it already!

Semi-DIY Wedding – Veil

Have you ever wondered why veils are so expensive? I was looking through Davids Bridal’s veil selection — they are mostly made from polyester tulle that I can buy from Joanns for 2 dollars a yard with some crystals or beads or ribbons glued/sewn on them. The non-barebone options cost 70 dollars and up!

The thought of spending 70 dollars on a piece of slightly decorated polyster just drove my little chinese (read:cheap) brain nuts. I decided that I should make my own veil – how hard can that be, right? For 70 dollars, I can get a nice silk veil, no problem! So I set out to make my own veil.

First step, material.¬†I wanted to find silk tulle, but the rumor on the street is that it is extremely expensive, and it is hard to find. I dont really like bulky veil either, so English netting is out. I bought a few¬†yards¬†of natural silk chiffon from Exotic Silk in Los Altos(best silk fabric store ever!), but when I got home, I decided that it is not transparent¬†enough¬†for me. I started searching randomly for silk online and came upon this: Dharma trading’s silk gauze. It seemed perfect for the job — light, flowy, transparent, and cheap! Can you believe that their silk is less than 3 dollar a yard?! I bought 7 yards of the 3mm and 45″ silk gauze.

I know that I would like the veil to be finished with¬† some kind of hemming, but rolling the tissue-y fabric and stitch it up presented with ¬†much difficulties (you can all imagine, right?)¬† So I experimented around with different stitches on my machine to just sort of “serger” up the edge (imagine zig-zagging the edge of the veil) with the thinnest needle i can find (it turned out that number 11 (see left) on my machine worked out the best for this material). Because the fabric is so thin, the threads pull the fabric in to form a nice line at the edge. It also creates some nice waves¬† at the biased edge and the little fraying makes it seem to soft and airy.

I wanted a floor length veil at first, with a blusher. The width of the fabric is 45″, so I had to basically draw a long big oval and cut it out (see design 1). However, that means the sides of the oval is not on a bias cut, and it doesnt create the cute waves (though much easier to stitch), and the overall look was just, weird.¬† But I am glad I did it — because I had lots of practice with stitching the edge, and the transition from the biased edge to the straight grain stitch was a little tricky!

Finally, I decided to make another one without the blusher and just finger tip length. This time, I made a half circle with the straight line along one of the side of the fabric (pattern shown in design 2) and  I did a much better job with the stitching. and at the end I just gathered  the straight edge together onto a white plastic comb I had lying around. Tada!

I feel really beautiful in my veil! Its so soft and I feel like its glowing under the sun ūüôā That fabric made me really wish that I sewed my own wedding dress! Though it took much longer than I thought it would, and all the hours of monotonous edge stitching (you have to go really slow on the machine) wasn’t much fun, I think it is well worth it! I now have something *handmade* for my wedding (yes, I am adding that to the list of old, new, borrowed, and blue!).

Hope that this howto would help some brides out there! Let me know if you have any questions. Readers, did any of you also made your own veil?

p.s. right before this photo shoot, i had my hair highlighted and done as a mock up for the wedding at my hair lady, and then I was heading out for some ¬†shopping¬†with my awesome friend Ngoc. But somehow my¬†fianc√©e¬†tricked me into wearing the white silk dress (in photo) and I showed up to a surprise ¬†Hawaiian¬†bridal shower with lot of my ¬†favorite ¬†girlfriends!! ūüėÄ I had sooooo much fun. ‚̧ maybe when the photos come, I will show them off here! ¬†‚̧ Ngoc(+ her awesome husband)! ‚̧ let-sister! ‚̧ all my friends!

Juebejue’s tips on making a pair of Jeans!

Hello! Now that I have shown you how I altered the Anita Jeans, I am going to share with you some tips. I must first clarify that I am just a hobby seamstress, and I have made only 2 pair of jeans, a year apart. However, I hope my tips here would be useful for you. SS also has a lot of useful tips from making her jeans.

Top stitch, top stitch, top stitch!!!!

I LOVE top stitching, it is so soothing and therapeutic. No thinking, no swearing, just press the pedal  and go. Here is a few reason why you should top stitch: Continue reading