Red envelopes filled with money, known as red packets or 'hong bao', are often exchanged during the Chinese New Year. Which was the reason for my trip to Singapore - so I could give out (and receive) some of those delightful envelopes! It is also traditional to wear a new outfit for the Chinese New Year, and although I never need an excuse for a new outfit, I was very happy to work on a new dress for the occasion.
It may have been a 'new' dress, but the fabric certainly wasn't brand new. The shiny, red brocade fabric came from eBay about six months ago - I think they started life in the 1960s destined to become curtains, but were left somewhere and forgotten about, until I got my hands on them. Curtains? No way, they were much too magnificent for that!
Dress - selfmade, Tights - Sainsburys, Shoes - Hongkong (a very long time ago)
The dress itself is fairly simple - a sleeveless, jewel necked bodice, with darts at midriff and bust, and a half-circle skirt on the bottom. I lined the bodice with some cream habutai silk - very luxurious, and very comfortable too, especially in the tropical heat. I also put in a lapped zipper in the centre back seam, using a vintage metal zipper from my stash.
The brocade fabric is fairly thick, so I ended up with a fairly heavy dress, and I was worried that I would be sweating in a very unladylike manner throughout the day. I'd even thought of bringing a petticoat along to give the skirt even more floof, but then decided against giving myself heatstroke. Good thing I decided against that option! When the time came though, the dress actually turned out to be surprisingly comfortable, and the perspiration was kept to a very bare minimum. I'm pretty sure the habutai lining helped in keeping cool - I'm definitely a fan of it now. It may be more expensive than other kinds of lining material, but I think it's worth the expense.
Lastly, I finished the hem with some horsehair braid (following Gertie's tutorial) to give it some shape. That handsewing very nearly defeated me - I was frantically catchstitching just hours before my flight on Friday morning. I think it was worth it though - the hem certainly stands out nicely instead of hanging limply around my knees.
Looking like a walking, talking red packet certainly seemed to pay off during the Chinese New Year, as I ended up collecting quite a few of those wonderful envelopes during the course of my holiday!