Pattern testing: Desmond Backpack

Desmond backpack Desmond backpack

Taylortailor is one of my favorite sewing blog. I love how much thought and details are shown in each project that Taylor has made. There is no one day sewing project in his blog, everything is developed slowly with so much patience. Something that I often don’t have! If something takes more than a week, I usually begin to lose interest….

Another thing that I like about his projects is that his style is something that my husband can relate to. My husband likes simple lines, functional details, and often muted, calm colors. So when Taylor called for patters testers for his new bag pattern, I was very excited!

Desmond backpack Desmond backpack

The pattern is finally launched this week so I can post about my version! Desmond backpack is a fully lined backpack with roll top, zippered front pocket, two side pockets, and several pockets inside.

For my version, I use medium weight nylon fabric on the outside and lighter nylon fabric for the lining. I want an all-black bag so I use black plastic hardware.
Desmond backpack Desmond backpack
There are several changes that I made to the bag but mostly only the hardware stuff, like using side release buckles instead of D-rings and tension locks instead of O-rings. I did add a wide pocket inside so to insert a piece of XLPE foam sheet so my bag can has more structure and not too crumpled.

Desmond backpack Desmond backpack

I think one of the most challenging part about designing a bag is making the perfect dimension, not too big nor too small and with perfect balance between height, width, and depth. I am very happy that this bag has fulfilled these requirements. The size is just right for daily use. The front pocket is perfect for keys, and little things that need to be accessed easily, and the side pockets are the right size for water bottle. Everything is not too much nor too little, just right as it is.

The instructions are quite clear and straightforward. I can say that this is a perfect project for a beginner who wants a little challenge. Taylor has started Desmond backpack sew-along at his blog at the moment if you want to hop in!
Desmond backpack Desmond backpack

Pattern is Desmond backpack (PDF) by Taylortailor.

Neon yellow set

Neon yellow set Neon yellow set
I’ve been playing around with this neon stretch lace fabric that I got sometime ago. The fabric is very stretchy and transparent.

For the first set, the pattern is Merckwaerdigh BHB40. The pattern set has two underwired bra pattern and two bodysuit with low leg cut patterns. One of the bra is actually has three-piece cup although the drawings show that both bras have two-piece cup. This came as a nice surprise for me as I have planned to draft a three-piece cup bra.
Neon yellow set Neon yellow set

The notions are from the Basic Kit that I got from Makebra. They has the best foam padding that I have ever encountered. I cut the cup pattern without seam allowance (except for the underwire allowance) for the foam padding and attach them together using zigzag stitch with width set on 5 and length set on 0.5 – as shown by Erin on this post. I think the result is indeed quite stronger than my usual method.

Usually I use zigzag stitch with width set on 3 or 4 and length set on 2. Afterwards, I would cover the seam with lining strips and topstitch them with three step zigzag stitch. Using this new satin stitch method, I don’t have to cover the seam with lining strips anymore.

Neon yellow set Neon yellow set

With the black foam underneath, the neon yellow lace shows the most contrast. The thong has no lining and you can see that the appearance looks quite different than the bra.

As for the fit, I always have good fit with any Merkwaerdigh bra pattern and this one is not an exception.

Neon yellow set Neon yellow set

The second set is made with Watson bra and bikini pattern by Cloth Habit. I made size 30C according the measurement chart. The bra and panties are lined with powernet in the same neon color, the lining pieces are basted to the main pieces and treated as single pieces.

Neon yellow set Neon yellow set
With the neon mesh net as lining, the transparency is reduced but you can still see a hint of skin when the set is being worn. I find that this stretch lace is quite fragile, so lining them is a good decision.
Neon yellow set Neon yellow set
Although it is a soft bra, I’m surprised that it is quite supportive and comfortable. In fact, this bra has become one of my favorite bra to wear recently. The cups are a bit too small though, so next time I might make my usual size, 30D.
Neon yellow set Neon yellow set

Acually I’m not too sure if I like this fabric or not. The color is very bright and interesting, but I find the fabric a bit too fragile. I’m afraid I will create a hole everytime I put them on. But both bra patterns are very good and comfortable. I also really like the Watson bikini pattern.

Anyway, I have the same fabric in other color for another set of lingerie. The other one is neon pink. I don’t know why I keep buying these neon fabrics!
Foam cup bra pattern is Merckwaerdigh BHB40, size 30D.
Thong pattern is Kwik Sew 2075 (out of print), size S.
Soft bra pattern is Cloth Habit Watson bra, size 30C.
Undies pattern is Cloth Habit Watson bikini, size S.
Bra notions are Makebra the Basic Kit in black.

Summer date dress

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

Since Sidra entered Junior High School, he becomes very busy with all the school activities. He even has to be at school on weekends for his sports club activity. My husband and I got a bit lost on what to do as the three of us usually did things together on weekends. But we have to get used to this. Eventually Sidra will have to be by himself as he grows up so maybe it is time to start letting him go.

One of the thing that my husband and I are starting to do at weekends is having a date. We would get dressed and go to the city, have lunch at a nice place and do things together. When Sidra was still in elementary school, it was very rare for my husband and I to go out by ourselves. I had forgotten how it felt to go on a date. It was strange at first -and I felt a bit guilty to Sidra- but eventually we enjoy it!

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

This is a dress that I made to wear on these dates. Of course I don’t always have to get dressed to go out with my husband, but where’s the fun? After all I always welcome more reasons to wear pretty dresses.

The pattern is Burdastyle Halter Dress with Ruffles 04/2015 #111B, it is already in petite size so I cut size 17. The midriff part was shortened a bit, about 1 cm. I also eliminated the ruffles as I think it is a bit too much. To do this, I just cut the strap frill two times and tapered the ends to have a couple of long straps. I was a bit worried that the floral fabric might look like a curtain, but I think it works quite well with this pattern.

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

Obviously I can’t wear a bra with this dress, not even the strapless one because of the cutout under the bust. It doesn’t really matter actually, but I feel a bit exposed wearing the dress in train. Sometimes the train is crowded and you have to stand a bit too close to other people. I’m shorter than most people so they can look down into my dress -deliberately or accidentally. Maybe I think about it too much! But anyway I made a shrug to wear when in train or when it gets a bit chilly.

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

The shrug is called Saki’s shrug, you can check more about in Yoshimi’s post about the shrug. It is delightfully simple, basically just several rectangles sewn together. But the result is quite pretty, especially in light knit fabric like this.

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

Halter dress and shrug Halter dress and shrug

I love summer with all the pretty dresses, swimsuits, and tanned skin. Unfortunately it is over now, time for some pretty autumn dresses!

Dress pattern is Burdastyle Halter Dress with Ruffles 04/2015 #111B, size 17 (petite size).
Shrug pattern is Saki shrug – as posted by Yoshimi


Soma swimsuit

Soma swimsuit Soma swimsuit

I made a swimsuit! The pattern is Soma swimsuit by Papercut Patterns. I made size XXS, with the only alteration was shortening the bottom part about 1 cm. Instead of elastic strap, I just use the foldover elastic for all the binding and straps. The fabris was lined with skin-colored swimsuit lining.

Soma swimsuit Soma swimsuit

It was an easy sewing and I love how little fabric are needed for this swimsuit. I still have enough leftover for another swimsuit, but I guess one is enough for this year.

Let's go to the pool ??I see that some people inserted swimsuit bra cups when making this swimsuit, but I didn’t do this. I don’t really have problems with nipples but then I saw everyone around me has cups under their swimsuit. Maybe next time I’ll put the cups. Or maybe I just have to stop looking around 😛

Actually I made the swimsuit to go to the beach this summer holiday, but then things happened and we had to cancel the plan. Bummer! So we went to a nearby swimming pool on the last day of summer holiday. It is far from the beach but the most important thing is that we were having fun together!

Soma swimsuit

Here I am wearing the suit pretending to be in a real beach. There are several pools in one place, this one is a fake beach complete with waves. One of the funny thing about Japanese swimming pool is that there is a mandatory rest every one or two hours. The lifeguard will announce that it is time to get off the pool. People will usually start to walk around buying drink and food. During this rest, the visitors are not allowed on the water. After about 10-15 minutes, depending on the pool, there is an announcement that the pool is opened again and everyone run back to the water. Only in Japan!

Pattern is Soma swimsuit by Papercut Patterns, size XXS.

Lace Brazillians panties – Boobytraps patterns

Lace Brazillians panties
Lace Brazillians panties

These lace panties look so weird when not worn, but they actually fit really well on me – surprisingly quite comfortable too! These are a couple of quick things that I made yesterday with a new pattern. I’ve heard about Booby Traps patterns before but this Australian-based company only ship to Canada, England, America, and New Zealand. Until recently I found out that they have digital patterns!

For my first try, I chose the simplest one (in my opinion) which is the Lace Brazillians. This pattern only needs some stretch lace and cotton jersey for the gusset. Although the pattern and instructions are in PDF format, they are not instant download. They sent me a dropbox link a day after I placed the order. The pattern is in A2 format, so I had to tile-printed it. I wish that they will format the patterns for A4 in the future.
Lace Brazillian panties Lace Brazillian panties
As I’ve thought, this is a very quick and easy pattern. After finished cutting the pattern, it only took about 15 minutes to make a pair of panties. Because it only uses stretch lace, you don’t have to fiddle with attaching underwear elastic like usual panties.

For the constructions, I only use sewing machine to make the panties. I use straight stitch for all the center seam, then topstitched from the right side using wide triple zigzag stitch the keep the seam allowances flat.The waistband is attached to the back and front piece using triple zigzag stitches. The cotton jersey is attached last, again using triple zigzag stitches.

Lace Brazillian panties Lace Brazillian panties

I have lots of stretch lace bought on sale or left over from past projects, so this pattern is perfect for them. I’m happy with the result and now intrigued to try other Booby Traps patterns!

Lace Brazillian panties Lace Brazillian panties

Pattern is Lace Brazillians by Booby Traps, size 8 (PDF pattern).

Merchant & Mills Workbook: The Strides

The Strides trousers The Strides trousers

I’ve often heard about Merchant & Mills patterns and sewing supplies, but have never found the patterns here in Japan. The closest that I can get was several T-shirts by Uniqlo when they collaborated with Merchant & Mills. So I was very happy when they contacted me to review their newest book, Merchant & Mills Workbook.
The Strides trousers

The Strides trousers

The Strides trousers

The book has six paterns for vest, dress, skirt, top, jacket, and trousers. Four of the patterns have style variations so you can get more from this book. Although the patterns are simple, they are aimed to develop new sewing skills. So it is perfect if you are beginner who wants to learn more.

Merchant & Mills also offered to send me some fabric to make something from one of the patterns. I decided to make The Strides pants with Aizu fabric, medium weight Japanese slubby cotton in charcoal. For the pocket lining and fly facing, I used Indonesian batik fabric.

The Strides trousers

The Strides trousers

grading down
Grading down the pattern

The patterns are in sizes 8-18, and unfortunately the smallest size is still too big for me. So I graded down the pattern one size to size 6.

The trousers are full length with style variations for shorts, but I decided to cut the hem about calf length. I also shortened the seat around 1 cm.

Instead of making the trousers the way I used to do, I followed the instructions quite closely. The instructions are quite clear with hand-drawn diagrams. I love the hand-drawn pictures!

Here is a few notes about the pattern:

  • – no grainline mark on the back piece.
  • – no grainline mark on waistband pattern but probably not necessary as it is a straight piece and there is fabric placement diagram.
  • – there is a pocket back piece in the pattern sheet, but it is referred as pocket facing in the instructions.
  • – instead of being mentioned, the seam allowances are marked by notches. I think the reason for this is because it may vary. However, I prefer the seam allowances are mentioned as well in addition of the notches. For these trousers, the seam allowances are 1.5 cm all around.

The Strides trousers The Strides trousers

Other than those things that I mentioned, I’m quite happy witth how the trousers turned out! My favorite part is the fly facing with button inside that is similar to men’s trousers. I’ve never made this kind of fly facing before, so I’m happy that I learned some new things. And of course I should wear the tousers with my Uniqlo Merchant & Mills T-shirt!

Pattern is The Strides – Merchant & Mills Workbook, graded down to size 6.

Guest post: Attaching Bias Binding For Corset Making

I am happy to once again have Scarlett from here! This time she will show you how to attach bias binding on corsets. There’s a few tricks for finishing the end, especially when the binding ends in angled shapes.

Thank you Scarlett for the tutorial!


1 bias binding examples
I was so excited to find out I’d be guest blogging for Novita, I’m always in awe of all the beautiful clothes she makes. So I had a real think about what you, her readers, might find really useful. Something that could be applied not just to corsetry but to other items of clothing.

In corsetry, like with most home sewn garments, the finishing touches can elevate something to couture or make it stand out as homemade (we like to tell people we made it ourselves not have them guess!). With corset making the binding is one such ‘make or break’ detail; if you apply it badly it shows, especially at the centre front and back.

So I’ve put together this tutorial to show you exactly how to apply bias binding to a raw edge with a corner (which any garment with a closure has, the bottom edge of a button up shirt for example) and then I go over how to get those crisp corner edges, no matter what angle the corner is; for example at the front opening of the corset pictured above, the top edge slopes inward to meet the front and the bottom edge points out, creating two very different angles.

There’s also been a special 30% ‘Summer Fun Purple Discount’ in my store since last week when Novita kindly reviewed my corset making video course. It ends in the next few days so take advantage and learn corsetry this summer by clicking through and using the special PURPLE30 discount code before Monday!

The first thing I want to point out is that this is ‘bias binding’ which, you guessed it, is cut on the bias so the grain goes diagonally through the binding allowing it to ‘bend’. Don’t be tempted to use any other kind as you’ll get wrinkles if there’s even a slight curve in the fabric edge.

Place the binding with the opening face up, unfold one of its edges and line it up along the raw edge of your fabric, then pin as shown above. Leave about an inch hanging over the cornered edge.
Now sew along the crease in the binding, staying just to the side of it that’s nearest the raw edge. When you’re done it should look like the picture below.
Now fold the binding up along your line of stitching and flip the fabric.
Cut off any excess binding so you have about half an inch hanging off the corner and fold it in as shown below.
Now fold the binding down so it covers your line of stitching and pin. Do the same at the other end of the binding.

At this point you can hand stitch the binding to the wrong side of the fabric for a truly couture finish by taking a long stitch through the crease in the edge of the binding and then a tiny stitch through the garment fabric and repeating along the entire edge.

To machine stitch, turn back to the right side of the fabric and continue with the steps below.
Butt your machine needle up against the edge of the binding, one stitch away from the corner edge as shown above. We’re going to sew through the binding that needs securing on the back. This is why we pinned it below our first stitching line, so check your needle will catch it if you don’t think you pulled it down far enough on the back.

Now backstitch to the edge and sew a careful line along the fabric where it meets the binding. When you get to the other end, backstitch once to secure. It should look like the picture below.
And here it is from the back. I’ve used a very thick thread in a contrasting colour to make it easy to see but in a normal, colour matched thread it blends in nicely.

Perfect corners

Here we have a pointy corner that needs binding, I’ve already sewn the first line on the front and flipped it over.
The trick to getting perfect corners, no matter what the angle, is to fold the edge of the binding so that it matches the edge of the fabric. In the image above you can see my folded bias binding continues the straight line of the fabric edge. You can place a ruler next to the fold to check everything lines up if you don’t want to eyeball it.
Now fold the binding down as before, preserving that folded edge by letting any excess flap out on the back (just make sure the binding fold looks nice and straight from the front). You can then tuck in any pointy bits on the back, as shown in the picture below.
Once you have any excess binding tucked away at the back it should look like this.
Flip back to the right side of the fabric and secure as we did before. Here is the stitching on the inside.
And here’s the stitching from the right side with its perfectly pointy corner binding. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and learnt something new. A massive thank you to the lovely Novita for having me! :)

Neon skirt

Neon skirt Neon skirt

Since Sidra entered junior high school, he became very busy with all the school activities. Even on weekends, he often has to go to school for sports practice. I suddenly found myself with lots of free time, so I started taking a couple of jobs recently.

One thing that I do is working with a designer in developing a product. The company makes bags for outdoor use like backpacks, photography bags, and such. I’m very excited with this job because I get to work with materials that I’ve never used before (do you know what a gatekeeper is? I didn’t know either!), and make something that I will probably never use. It’s like taking a peek into a completely different world.

Last week I just wrapped up a development stage and sent the bag to the designer. I had been working with the bag for a couple of weeks and needed some refreshing time, so I made a skirt for myself. You might think that it is somewhat strange that my idea of refreshing myself after a couple of days sewing a bag is to sew another thing. But these are completely different things to sew!

Neon skirt Neon skirt
The fabric is polyster knit in medium weight that I found in Okadaya, Shinjuku. You wouldn’t miss the rolls of fabric when you saw it on the shelves. I was considering between yellow lime, shocking pink, or neon orange before deciding on this one.

The pattern is Hollyburn skirt by Sewaholic. I tested the pattern before and made myself  a short skirt. This time I made view B which sits below knee. I made it in size 4 with no alterations, a size bigger than what I usually wear. I find that I’m not really comfortable with skirt that sits exactly on my waist because my body has an asymmetry.

Dresses are fine because they hang on the shoulders, so are pants because they follow the shape of the legs. But skirts that hang on my asymmetrical waist will cause asymmetrical hem, so I prefer a high-waisted or low-waisted skirt. Of course, I might exaggerate a bit in my mind. The asymmetry looks so obvious for me, while people often don’t notice. It’s funny how we see our own body.

Neon skirt Neon skirt

As usual with Sewaholic patterns, everything goes smoothly. Tasia from Sewaholic always makes well-drafted patterns with good instructions. That is why I chose this pattern for my refreshment project. I didn’t want to think about taping PDF patterns and decode some unclear instructions.

When I said neon orange, it is really neon! The skirt reflects every bit of light that falls upon it, so it looks like it is shining. My husband was a bit hesitant to see such a bright color. Everyone made a double-take when they saw me walking down the street in this skirt. Actually it is not a color that I usually wear, but why not? Life is too short to never wear neon colors!

Pattern is Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt view B, size 4.

Review: The Express Corset Making Course

I always love to learn how something works. When I was a child, my favorite book was ‘How Things Work’. In the sewing world itself, there is still so many things that I don’t understand and want to learn. People often says, ‘Isn’t it difficult to make this or that?’ Of course everything is difficult when you don’t understand, but there is a satisfaction when your brain is slowly figuring out how something works.

In pursue of this satisfaction, a couple of years ago I learned to make a corset. It was a very satisfying experience and I really love the result although I rarely wear the corset anymore. At that time, there was not many resources for people who want to learn corset-making. Even now, I think there the resources are still scarce.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 1.36.45 PM.png
Pattern Compendium

So I was happy when Scarlett from Corset contacted me about her newly launched The Express Corset Making Course. It is a package of downloadable MP4 video course and a couple of PDF books. She sent me a link to download the package and it consisted of:

  • 2 hours of step-by-step corset making video
  • 36 minutes of bonus features on making the back panel and altering the mock-up
  • 51 pages of corset making manual
  • 26 pages of pattern compendium, on drafting several corset patterns

Now 2 hours seem like a long time! But I have watched it all and it is really a step-by-step video of how to construct a corset. If you have all the materials and equipments, you can basically start sewing with the video playing and finish a corset during that time. Of course it is better to read the manual and watch the video first before actually making the corset.

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I wish I found this course when I first made my corset! It has everything basic that you need to know on making corset. The PDF manuals has all the information on making the mock-ups, the types of materials and where to get them, the order of constructions, and how to finish and embellish the corset.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 1.32.27 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 1.36.00 PM.png  

If you’re interested in this course, you can watch some preview video here:

The course is $49.99 but Scarlett has offered a 30% off if you use the code PURPLE30 when you buy The Express Corset Making Course. The code will be available until the 13th so you have plenty of time to think. She also has 100% money back guarantee if you find out that the course is not for you.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 5.02.51 PMIf you’re looking for something even more simpler, you can download this free corset belt pattern!


I was offered the course for free in exchange for a review. I was not paid for this review but the link is affiliated. However, every opinion is my own.

Shortie shorts

Shorts and white tee Shorts and white tee

Summer is coming and it means shorts season! Sometime ago I bought BurdaStyle Retro Classics Pattern Collection which have 9 patterns from the 1950s-60s, one of them is pattern for these shorts. I’m not sure what’s so retro about them but I quite like the double pleats on the front.

As usual for Burdastyle patterns, I printed them at 92% at cut size 38. They are quite short though, so I lengthened the hem about 5 cm. The fabic is cotton twill with a bit of stretch on them. Sewing the shorts was quite straightforward. The only thing that I don’t really like is the straight waistband. The shorts sit a bit lower than the waist, straight waistband on a woman’s body will usually leave quite a gap on the center back. To fix this, I took a wedge about 2 cm on the center back.

Shorts and white tee
Burdastyle shorts

The white tee was made with SJ tee by Papercut Patterns, currently my favorite tee pattern. This pattern actually has quite a wide neckline, I just made the neckband shorter and pulled them a bit while stitching.

These photos were taken with iPhone 6 and edited in Google photos. It has some basic light editing and filters, not too bad I think!

Shorts and white tee Shorts and white tee

In other news, have you ever heard about The Super Online Sewing Match (SOSM) on Sew, Mama, Sew? The first one was held about two years ago, and this year is time for the SOSM II! The Grand Prize Winner will receive both the Janome Skyline S5 Sewing Machine and the Janome 1110DX Pro Serger! I wish I could participate, but I’m one of the judges for this year.

If you’d like to become a challenger, you still have until June 21 midnight PST to send your audition!

Shorts pattern is Burdastyle Retro shorts, size 38 printed at 92%.
Tee pattern is SJ tee by Papercut Patterns, (PDF) size XXS.