Sewing · SJPP

So I’m missing my graduation tho…

Yeah, so after that not-so-productive birthday sewing challenge, it may not be the best time to talk about my formal sewing training right? Oh well, I needed the reminder that I can actually sew…

Today is graduation day for the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) here in Barbados, and I had no idea that Evening Programmes were included in these activities until I received my graduation notice about 3 weeks ago. Not only did I complete my Basic Ladies’ Tailoring Class successfully, it seems my tutor awarded me the honour of “Most Outstanding Student”. *insert Grammy/ Oscar shocked winner face here*

Since I’m here struggling with acute sinusitis and can’t attend, in honour of my little achievement, I decided to let you guys see the work I did for the class, which started in August 2011 and ended in May 2012. For the basic class, the tutor focuses on sewing basics, with a focus on skirts in the first semester and on shirts and dresses in the second.  And please forgive the quality of the photos as I had just gotten my new camera and had no idea about its fancy settings.

Abbey Dabbles: Three Skirts: Tailored, Panel, and Gore

Continue reading “So I’m missing my graduation tho…”


Abbey 3.0 Sewing Challenge Wrap Up!

Thank you for waiting. Abbey version 3.0 is installed.

It’s the last day of October… and my sewing challenge is… unfinished… 😦

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Items Final Status

I’m going to hazard a guess that 8 items were probably a bit much for me to try to complete this month, what with starting to teach a new class at the BVTB and then feeling positively crappy for about 2 weeks.

I did have some fun though and especially love how my both my Wrap Dress and Ruffle Skirt came out. I like the Maxi Dress and the Leggings too, but there are some adjustments and improvements to incorporate when I make more of each.

The Peplum Top and the Colourblock Top were my biggest disappointments. EPIC FAILS! I am so doing those over until I get the look I was going for.

And time just ran away and left me so I couldn’t get to the Lace Top or the Cardigan. Of course, I still want these items so they will definitely make a future appearance on this blog.

Thanks everyone for your kind words of encouragement throughout the month!


Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 7 – The Colourblock Top

I am a big fan of the colourblock trend. I’m more inclined towards the practice of putting three or four colours together in a garment in a pattern, than the practice of wearing each individual item of clothing in different colours. 

I found tons of colourblock inspiration on Burda. Burda member community is truly awesomeness! And of course, there are millions of retail inspiration as well.

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 7 Inspiration

Continue reading “Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 7 – The Colourblock Top”


Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 6 – The Leggings

Leggings are everywhere. They come in all lengths – knee, calf and ankle. They come in all colours and patterns and fabrics. They are being worn by everyone. The young and the old. The skinnies and the curvies. Women and yes, even men. Come on now, you know some of those male skinny jeans be straight up leggings. If a man gotta be jumping up and down to get in his skinny pants, chances are they’re too tight to still be called pants. Don’t play you aint know. 

In my house, leggings have been a staple for YEARS. My mom is without a doubt The Leggings Queen. She probably owns 40 pairs. No joke. Whenever we went on our yearly summer vacations to my aunt in NY, you can be sure my mom bought at least 3 new pairs of leggings for herself, as well as for my sister and I. So very easily, any of the females in my house had about 10 pairs in circulation at any given time.

Why so many? Two reasons really.  Both are essentially a kind of geographic location/ culture thing.

In Barbados, as in any other tropical or hot location, there be bugs that like to snack on your blood and feast on your skin and make you totally miserable – mosquitoes and sand flies are the primary culprits (and sand flies are without a doubt the worse!). Some people, like those on my mother’s side of the family, tend to be extremely bite prone (a trait both my sister and I were blessed with) and leggings are the easiest way to add extra protection to your poor legs after you have been bathed in insect repellent.

The other reason is that in Barbados, as children, we were raised with the concept of having specific clothes to suit what you have to do and where you have to go. So you would have your school clothes (or work clothes for adults), church clothes, out clothes, and home clothes. Each of these were separate and distinct from each other, so you would never wear your out clothes to church or vice versa and your school clothes were only for school and school activities. Yeah, so trying to sneak and wear your church shoes to school because you somehow damaged your school shoes and hadn’t told your mother yet, was a sure-fire way to get some punishment. Home clothes were what you wore on evenings when you came home from school and on weekends, when you were home and didn’t have any outing or church to go to. Both out clothes and church clothes were your very best clothes, with church clothes being those which were decent and respectful enough to be worn into the House of God and out clothes being those you wore to parties and fairs and general fancy outings with family and friends.

Leggings were mostly classed as home clothes for my sister and I. But we had specific leggings that were to be worn at home and then specific leggings that were to be worn to the dance classes we both did at Erdiston Primary (and those she later wore when she was going to Dance Strides Academy on evenings). These two sets of leggings were never to be confused, as the dance leggings were the “good leggings”. Although dance tights could be retired to home clothes, just like out clothes, when they started to lose their shine or got old (and old clothes in my childhood years had to be like 3 or more years old to count as old and be worn at home). 

As I got older, especially during my image conscious teenage years, big tees and leggings became a staple, for home and for out. This is also true now, even though I’m a less image conscious adult, as you can look in my wardrobe and actually count 20 pairs of leggings. Some are way old, like twelve years old and they still look good enough to be risked worn on a supermarket or mall run. Some are newer, but not nearly as durable or of a high quality as my old faithfuls and they already need replacing because of misshapen waistbands, shorn seams or long ugly runs, which is how I ended up adding leggings on to my sewing wishlist.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Wishlist Item 6

Burda has a really nice leggings pattern called Carol that sells for $2 and the instructions seem pretty simple and easy to follow. Seriously, US $2!!! Most leggings retail above $18. Even adding the cost of fabric, you can still make your own for less than retail. #justsaying But I was being a bit defiant and wanted to do my own thing and copy an old favourite leggings to make my new one.

Overall, it didn’t take very long to make my new Black Skinnies made with this beautiful stretch jeans fabric I found at Abed’s… sorry, I really can’t stand the word “jeggings”. At most, I’d estimate an hour and a half, and most of that time was spent tracing and cutting. I was also being very lazy and didn’t want to go through the hassle of cutting a waist band, so I used 3-inch wide elastic instead. Yes, I know. Very lazy indeed. Of course, I had to add pockets too. What good is any skirt or pants without pockets?

I’m comfortable with the results for now, but I know I’m going to tackle this leggings project again with the same fabric but using the Carol pattern and added all the fancy topstitching and back pockets like real jeans leggings. I’m not very pleased with how the crotch came out, but that area will almost always be fully covered by a top, so I won’t have to be too paranoid that someone may notice the flaws.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Birthday Challenge Status: Item 6 Completed!

PS: I even found a website that ONLY SELLS LEGGINGS!! It’s a Leggings Superstore, if ya please… Just had to share!


Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Item 4 – The Wrap Dress

I have always loved a wrap dress. It always seems to make its wearer look so elegant and lady-like, when it fits well that is. I have owned several wrap tops and dress, but they were all off-the-rack and often left me very self conscious because the wrap portion would never stay where I wanted it to or stay as wrapped as it should be.

So, a wrap dress was a no-brainer addition to the Abbey 3.0 Wishlist. The real decision time came when I needed to choose the style. Real or faux wrap? Full wrap or just bodice? Original wrap or convertible/ infinity wrap? And it didn’t help that inspiration was abundant.

Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Inspiration - Item 4 Wrap Dresses

  1. Burdastyle – Wrap Dress Plus Size 02/2011 #139
  2. I Heart Jenny’s Art – Dita Von Teese Faux Wrap Dress 
  3. IGIGI by Yuliya Requel – Isabella Wrap Dress
  4. Lirola – Wrap Dress with Flutter Sleeves
  5. Monif C – Marilyn Two Toned Ruched Convertible Dress
  6. Ashley Stewart – 10 Way Dress

Now, I had already decided that whichever style I choose, I was going to wear a wrap dress for my birthday dinner. So I wanted the style to be easy to achieve and quick to make. That’s how I finally chose to do an infinity dress, for which you can great construction ideas and tutorials here and here

Introducing the Berry Birthday Infinity Wrap Dress:

Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge - Wrap Dress

An infinity or convertible dress (either name is correct) is essentially one of the easiest and quickest dresses to make as it is basically only a skirt with two very long pieces of fabric for straps. Honestly, the whole process took about 3 hours, most of which was spent meticulously drawing and cutting. I can’t seem to cut straight without guidelines and even then… smh… it’s so sad really… and time-consuming…

Most of the infinity dresses that I’ve seen (retail and DIY) were made using circle skirts and I really need to try those at another time to figure out which size circle (i.e. half, quarter or three-quarter) I really like first before I incorporate any circle skirts into my wardrobe. Yup, another sewing project for another time. So I settled on using my faithful grey maxi A-line skirt as the pattern, which I noticed was a common design on the original wrap style dresses. I added a small waistband about 3 inches wide and 1 inch less in length than my waist measurement so it would fit snugly.

I’m not going to lie. The straps were a pain to cut and then manage during the actual sewing process.  But I got through thanks to several pins in strategic places along the waistline and by folding up the straps so they wouldn’t be so long to possibly get in the way while I was at the machine. My straps were about 14 inches wide by 120 inches long, and they overlapped each other 4 inches at centre front, so I wouldn’t have any wardrobe malfunctions or suffer from cleavage display overload.

Abbey 3.0 Birthday Sewing Challenge - Wrap Dress

I love my new dress, but there are a few things I would like to change:

  • Most of the sewing bloggers recommend making the straps as long as one and a half times your height. I’m thinking that works out really well for any one with boobs in size D cup and below. As I’m not that fortunate to be small chested, I believe that making the straps twice or even two and a half times as long as your height measurement would help in ensuring that your goodies are securely wrapped up.
  • Again, because of the bust, some kind of under top, like a tube or cami, is necessary to add some security and to help hide your bra at the back and under your armpit. I had to ask Mr. AD to help tug and pull the straps, especially in the back. Maybe next time I will sew a tube top straight unto the skirt and save me the stress. All night at dinner, I kept thinking that my bra was showing. Even though it wasn’t. 
  • Although this particular wrap was the look I was going for, I need to devote some Monif C YouTube time to watch some of the other ways this dress can be styled
  • My skirt is too short. I’d prefer if covered most of my feet when I’m wearing heels and just had the toes peeking out. The base pattern skirt fits me at my ankles, but it is worn just above my hips. I’m thinking next time to add at least 4 inches to the hem of that pattern to account for raising the skirt to my waist.

Abbey 3.0 Sewing Birthday Challenge Status: Item 4 Completed!

And I joined my first link party…. which you can check out at The Train To Crazy.

P.S. For those who are wondering. No I haven’t skipped out Items 2 & 3. Well, not really. I just don’t have any pics to put up yet. So there’s going to be some backdated posts for them. Apologies in advance.

Update: Abbey 3.0 Wishlist Items 2 and 3 have been posted!