Saturday, January 21, 2017

Colour Swatches for Upcoming Projects

I've had lots of inspiration recently after discovering a few wonderful cloth shops selling materials for traditional Korean and Chinese costumes. Am hoping to do a few more outfits this year and explore a few more periods in history! Here is a list of 5 projects I hope to complete by this year / next year:

1. Ming Dynasty Ao Qun

Here's the colour scheme for the costume: 

 2. Tang Dynasty Qi Xiong Qun or Song Dynasty Costume 《胭脂》

I've already bought the fabric for this one, but haven't yet decided whether I should attempt another Qi Xiong Qun, or try out the Song Dynasty costume. These are gorgeous silk fabrics from China. I'm intending to do a two layered big-sleeved robe with the red and blue fabrics, use the dual-toned green/red silk for the skirt, and the black and silver patterned fabric for the shirt.

On the left, the Qi Xiong Ru Qun, and on the right, the Song styled way of wearing the garment:

An earlier colour scheme that got ditched because it was a little too old and pale:

I want to do something with that beautiful purple silk though!

3. Hanfu Menswear 

I haven't tried menswear before and thought it would be interesting to give it a shot. However, I need to find a male model! This selection of fabrics use natural fibres and organic dyes, creating a more rugged but stately look. I think the textures are wonderful and go together brilliantly. The downside is that these natural fabrics cost a lot more then their synthetically made counterparts, going for at least $15-20 a metre. 

4. Another Hanbok

I haven't thought of doing another one since Sonjjang stopped selling Korean fabrics online, but I've since found another good supplier. I absolutely love Korean silks and I think there is nothing else like it in the market; am hoping to make a few more costumes before going to Korea one day to do a photoshoot! I've not refined the colour schemes for these experimental swatches yet, but I'm thinking of doing something blue/yellow and possibly white or hot pink, something different my favourite colours! Leave a comment if you like any of them, to help me decide.

5. Regency Outfit 

A friend of mine who is a member of the Jane Austen Circle Singapore (JACS) organises regular teas and dinner dances a few times a year, and I've been hoping to make a dress for this event! This year, their first dinner and dance session is in March, and you can purchase tickets here:

You can also find out more about JACS from their Facebook page:

I'm thinking of a light blue taffeta fabric with white and gold lace trimming, or maybe something a bit more dark and formal and with a Regency coat. We'll see!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

《朱雀》 Making the Tang Dynasty Summer Ruqun

Finally got the time to sit down and sew during the holidays last December, and I managed to complete a design I started working on one year ago.

This is a more period-authentic Tang Dynasty styled Qi Xiong Ru Qun; it conveys a more casual and youthful look in comparison to my previous court robe costume. I really enjoyed mixing and matching the different patterned fabrics together, as well as toying around with the colour schemes and accents. While I still have a lot of areas to improve on (neatening seams, measuring accurately etc.) before it can be considered commercial standard, I did learn a lot from experimenting with completely enclosed seams, and working with a whole lot of Chiffon fabrics! I am quite pleased with the end result, and I hope you like it too.

Original design (Nov 2015):
I decided to use the turqoise fabric for the waistband ties instead of another shirt as the fabric turned out differently from what I expected; the floral print was too small and wouldn't stand out well as an outer piece.

Making the Shirt
The pattern for this shirt was based on a commercial costume I purchased, and I slightly modified it after referring to several historical sources and patterns done by other costumiers online. Basically, it is 2 main pieces: the sleeve, and the bodice. You will also need to cut out a few more rectangle pieces for the collar and ties. 

1. Start by sewing up the seams attaching the sleeves to the half-body piece. I used French seams for the whole garment this time; it made for a beautiful finish, but I only realised at the end that I forgot to account for twice the seam allowance, so my shirt ended up a little bit small! :(

2. Next, sew up the centre-back seam and press all the seams flat.

3. Fold over the ends of the sleeves twice, press and sew to create a nice finished edge.

4. Flip the garment right side together, then pin and stitch around the bottom seam of the sleeves to create sleeve tube. Continue sewing past the armpit area, carefully turning the edge. Sew down the sides of the body piece. Press, and flip wrong-sides out before sewing back up to completely enclose the raw edge of the seam. (Still using the French seam here - I was afraid it would be hard to do a curved edge for the sleeve, but it worked well for chiffon as the fabric evened out after pressing.)

5. Make the collar by measuring and cutting a rectangle where the length of the rectangle = the unfinished edge of the garment, and the width is up to you to decide, depending on how thick you want the collar to be. The collar on either side of your garment should not overlap when it is worn though, so they should not be too thick. This is a characteristic of the 对襟 design. You can then use the same method for attaching waistbands to skirts to attach the collar to your shirt. I referred to this website and decided to go with the stich-in-the-ditch approach in the end, although my stitches ended up getting out of the ditch at points! Slip-stitching the inside part of the waistband to your shirt fabric is also another way of finishing the collar; refer to this website for more information.  

6. Lastly, roll and hem the bottom edge of the shirt, and add on two thin spaghetti strap-ish ties for the shirt closure. My favourite method to make these ties would be to use hairclips to assist in rolling the fabric right-sides out; just snip a small slit, attach a hairclip, and pull it back through the roll. It will drag the fabric out easily and works much better than the metal sticks / pencils / chopsticks I've used in the past.

The completed shirt!

Making the Skirt
I decided to try using the two-panel method of making the skirt this time. Instead of being a wrap-around like the chima, this method requires a front and back panel which will be overlapped and tied at the sides instead of at the centre-back. There is some debate over how these skirts were constructed in the past, as there is evidence for both the single piece wrap-around and two-panel approach, but commercial costume companies seem to prefer the two-panel method as it looks more aesthetic and reduces the likelihood of indecent exposure from the back if you're not careful! 

Anyway, all you need are many rectangles - two for the thick front and back waistbands, and two for the skirt fabric. I bought about 4m of cloth for this. You can determine the length of the skirt fabric piece based on i) how long you want your skirt to be ii) how full you want your skirt to be - and how many pleats you want to put into it. For the waistband, a width of at least 8cm is recommended - your rectangle for the waistband should therefore be (8x2 = 16cm wide, multiplied by the width of your waist divided by 2). Note also that the back piece of the waistband should be shorter than your front piece.

My measurements:
Front piece - 48cm by 24cm
Back piece - 42cm by 24cm

Here are some graphics (source unknown) illustrating how the skirt can be constructed via the two methods.

For the two-panel method:  

1. With the fabric wrong-sides together, sew up the sides of the waistband rectangles, attach the waist ties, and flip right-sides out.

2. Pleat skirt fabric and pin. Attach skirt fabric to the waistbands using the stitch-in-the-ditch method outlined above. If you need a lining, process the lining fabric in the same way before pinning and sewing it together with the fashion fabric to the waistband.

3. Sew the left and right sides of the two skirt panels together, leaving a 10cm slit at the top from where the waistband is. Finish up the raw edges of the slit by rolling the edge over twice, and stitching in place. The shape of your skirt should be complete now! I then sewed on a large piece of decorative trim over the waistband for added ornamentation and to make the waistband stiffer, but you can also add interfacing under the original waistband pattern piece if you prefer. 

4. Lastly, hem the bottom edges of the skirt and lining fabric, and the skirt is complete!

The final outfit:


And here is a video explaining how to put on the costume :)