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Student Feature: Zhi Wen and Kok Jun - A couple of stitches.

Posted on December 30 2020

Student Feature: Zhi Wen and Kok Jun - A couple of stitches.

 Zhi Wen in her black Shift Dress and Kok Jun in his Menswear Mandarin Shirt.

 

A couple who sews together, stays together! The lovely couple Zhi Wen and Kok Jun are here to share with us what got them started sewing for each other and their wonderful story about how they met. Though they faced challenges when sewing, they tackled them head on together! Watch their lively interview below, or read their interesting story!

Introduce each other! 

Zhi Wen (ZW) and Kok Jun (KJ): Hello!  

KJ: I just want to introduce my partner here - this is Zhi Wen and she WAS 21 last year and she’s still 21 this year. She’s currently an Arts Programmer at the Esplanade and she has too many hobbies, I can’t really keep up but sewing is definitely one of them.

ZW: Hello! This is Kok Jun and he is 31 this year - he’s a Music Composer. He mainly freelances and his hobbies include: writing music, making music, performing and of course, sewing.

KJ: You make me sound like I have no life!

ZW: You have no life!  

[Both laugh]

 

When did you two first meet? 

ZW: When did we first met…  

KJ: When did we first MEET.

ZW: Oh yeah - okay, when did we first meet. I think that was way back in Secondary School, right? When we were performing forEast Zone - we participated in East Zone [Schools Chinese Orchestra] Camp.

KJ: It was a music camp and we met then. And I have no recollection of this event at all. So apparently, I took a photo with her [Zhi Wen] and one of her good friends there, Liang Yu. And, what happened was that, about 10 years ago, we met again -

ZW: At another performance.

KJ: Yeah! At another concert - and this girl came up to me and said, “Hey! I took a photo with you before, do you remember?” and I was like, “No…” [Laughs] Yeah, and she showed me the photo.  

ZW: Yeah, chubby boy!  

KJ: Huh, mushroom girl!  

[Both laugh]

KJ: And yeah, we’ve been together ever since.

 

From left to right: Zhi Wen, Liang Yu and Kok Jun back in Secondary School.

 

What got you guys into sewing? 

ZW: What got me into sewing… Uhm, I think I’m not exactly very tall - so every time, when I buy a dress, I end up having to alter it. Yeah, so one day, one of my friend(s) posted an Instagram Story to showcase her sewing stuff. She did a class in Fashion Makerspace, so I was telling him [Kok Jun], “Eh, actually it’s quite good to just learn some basic sewing so that I can save money on alterations.”

KJ: You think? [Laughs]

ZW: Yeah… So I ended up spending much more money. I had to buy a sewing machine, an overlocker, I buy fabric, I buy all the accessories -

 

Bought a sewing machine, an overlocker, fabrics, accessories...

 

KJ: But you DO save on alterations.

ZW: I haven’t [done my alterations!]  

[Both laugh]  

ZW: So, I end(ed) up attending a few classes in Fashion Makerspace for these 2 years. Yeah, I kinda enjoy making more menswear now - for him [Kok Jun]. So I think, there’s a bit of change after 2 years. My direction slowly kind of changed [and] shifted.  

KJ: Now the pressure is on me because my reason for starting sewing is not that interesting actually. It’s just that we’ve been together for so many years and during the weekends, you start to think - what are the fun things to do, to learn together and then I saw - the same friend, was going for sewing classes over here [Fashion Makerspace] and I just thought, “Hey! That sounded like a fun thing to do during the weekends,” so I thought why not try a class and that’s how I got started. 

 

How did the idea of sewing for each other come about? 

KJ: So honestly speaking, when Zhi Wen told me after our Basic Sewing class that she wanted to continue, I wasn't that interested because I’m not really interested in making clothes for myself. I’m pretty basic you know - T-shirts, sometimes a nice coat or something.  

KJ: But then I was looking through the website of Fashion Makerspace and then they had this course - courses, for Womenswear under their Cut and Sew, which is now Fashion Sewing. And then I saw that there were many nice dresses over there and I say, “Hey, I think, let’s do it and I will make you a dress!”

 

Fashion Makerspace's Fashion Sewing Category.

 

ZW: I think my reason is quite similar to him as well. So, I wanted to learn something more than just the Basic 101 that we had attended. So we were looking at the Cut and Sew class(es) which is the Fashion Sewing class(es) now. And then we initially wanted to be in the same class, so we registered for the same pattern - Shift Dress, yeah.

 

Fashion Sewing 207 - Shift Dress, Custom Fit.

 

ZW: Then we realised that no matter what you choose I think if it’s from the same day then the class will be the same. So we like, aiyah, might as well right? We can spend the same amount and we get two different patterns.  

KJ: Mmhmm - don’t tell them, okay?  

[Both laugh]

 

Describe the masterpieces you guys made for each other! 

 

Zhi Wen and Kok Jun's masterpieces!

 

Both: Here it is - tada!

KJ: Okay, so this is the black Shift Dress that I made for Zhi Wen and it looks a bit like this. So I have this question for you [Zhi Wen], “How many times have you worn it since I finished making it?” 

ZW: One time!  

KJ: One time! Can you explain to the camera why is that number not larger!  

ZW: [Laughs] Because this looks - I think because of the colour right, it looks very corporate. Yeah, so in my office I don’t really wear very corporate wear.  

KJ: Ah okay. So next time if you got the opportunity, please wear it more often!

ZW: Please make more dress(es) for me!  

KJ: [Laughs] Okay - but I on the other hand, I’ve been wearing this Mandarin Collar quite a few times.  

ZW: So I made this Mandarin Collar shirt for Kok Jun.  

KJ: And there’s a bonus as well - she even made me this matching mask!  

ZW: Yes, you know why? Because this fabric was the excess after I made the mask! [Laughs]  

KJ: But it fits very nicely though! There was once at a rehearsal I actually wore this combination and a lot of people were saying, “Ah! I know who made that for you,” because it’s all over your Insta Story!

[Both laugh]

 

Any challenges you faced during these projects? 

KJ: There were so many challenges when I was making this. I don’t know where to even start. Is it the zip or the darts or putting it together - but honestly speaking, everything was worthwhile. Everything was challenging but fun.  

KJ: Uhm, the thing that I really still hate very much is the cutting process. It may sound very easy, it may sound like just cutting paper or following a line - but it’s a lot more than that. There’s a lot of consideration and I was so bad at it! Our instructor, Hailey, had to keep waiting for me to finish. She was so nice and patient, she just says, “Oh take your time, take your time!” but I was like SWEATING!

 

*sweats*

 

ZW: [Laughs] 

KJ: But you were fine, you were coping quite well!  

ZW: The cutting wasn’t the main issue for me. But the challenge that I faced was sewing the sleeve to the armhole - because I had a lot of difficulty and I redid a lot of times. I had a lot of difficulties trying to fit the sleeve onto the armhole properly such that they don't overlap each other. That's why I did this 2, 3 times before I managed to do it properly.

KJ: Wow! You have to teach me how to do it. So after our last class we were saying that we will teach each other how to make our respective garments - but that has not happened yet! Okay, you gotta teach me how to do this!  

ZW: There, this class ah. This class that we’re currently doing.  

KJ: Oh, okay. [Laughs]

 

Share with us what you enjoy the most about sewing! 

KJ: The best part about sewing is actually how meditative it is. I know it is very ironic that I say that it stresses me out, there are so many challenges - but when I’m in the zone, when I’m cutting and sewing, especially the sewing. I just feel very, detached from all the stresses of what I have on hand and it’s a very happy feeling. And to be able to have something solid and usable after the whole process is really a big bonus.  

ZW: Yeah, what I enjoy about sewing is pretty similar to him. I think it breaks the routine, from our daily routine. Like you know, going to work, going home. I’m always looking forward to our class over here so at least we can do something and I really enjoy holding the end product in the end.

 

What do you look forward to when you take classes at Fashion Makerspace?

ZW: What I’m looking forward to learning more in Fashion Makerspace is to learn how to draft a pattern from scratch. Yeah, so for this, for the previous class that we attended on making this Shift Dress and the Mandarin Collar Shirt, we were provided with a pre-prepared pattern for us already.  

ZW: So the next step would be learning how to draft a pattern from scratch. Yep, so currently the class that we are taking is the drafting class for Women’s Top and Bottom (Skirt).  

KJ: So for me it’s nothing specific, but I do enjoy learning the new techniques and the professional techniques that they share over here at Fashion Makerspace. Honestly, there are a lot of resources online - just need to go to Youtube and type, “How to sew something".  

KJ: We also go to Kinokuniya where there are a lot of Japanese sewing pattern books. But honestly if you just follow these instructions they can only get you somewhere, but the techniques that we learn over here can really help us to really understand sewing and put a more professional touch in our final pieces.

ZW: Yep!

 

What do you wish to accomplish in terms of sewing?

ZW: For myself, I hope to be able to make a traditional dress, like a Cheongsam for myself. At least I would like to learn how to draft it and draft it from scratch. Because I think I saw someone in one of the classes before - she was making a Cheongsam and it looks very, very difficult. But on Fashion Makerspace’s website it looks very gorgeous la. You know it’s, you can really see the shape of your body.

 

Various Cheongsam Designs.

 

KJ: I thought you were interested in making Men’s stuff? [Laughs] 

ZW: Yeah that one, for you, I haven’t finished yet!  

KJ: Okay, okay. [Laughs]  

ZW: For you, I hope to be able to make a full suit in the future.  

KJ: Wow! Next year?  

ZW: But then I will need a bit of time to get there - 5 years maybe?  

KJ: 5 years?! Okay, that’s enough time for me to get, you know, a bit plumper. And you can measure me again then.  

KJ: So I don’t have such lofty ambitions like Zhi Wen, for me, all I want to make are some accessories like bags and pouches. The thing is that you always have your own stuff and they’re all of different shapes and sizes that you want to bring out - and there can never be the right bag to fit all the stuff that you have. So to be able to customise an accessory or a bag or a pouch for yourself, I think the idea of that is just wonderful.

 

Any words to say to the other?

KJ: To do this properly we need to look at each other. Kay, you have something to say to me? You first? Okay go for it.  

ZW: Yeah. I thought you promised to make for me another dress?! After this class? Where is it! Where is it!  

KJ: Okay, okay, be patient, be patient! Okay, and what I want to say to you is - stop buying expensive fabrics! Learn the skills first!  

[Both laugh]

 

 

Zhi Wen and Kok Jun were such a delight during the interview - it was great to have you two! If you find yourself in a similar situation, where it’s difficult to find activities to do together, drop by at Fashion Makerspace and immerse yourself in something valuable and fun. From fanny packsbucket hats to full garments like jumpsuits and bowling shirts - there’s a huge variety to pick from and it’s not at all difficult to start! 

Check out the classes taken by Zhi Wen and Kok Jun below: 

Starter Bundle Fashion Sewing 101 and 102 (For beginners)* 

Fashion Sewing 207 - Shift Dress, Custom Fit 

Fashion Sewing 304 - Menswear Mandarin Collar Shirt, Custom Fit 

WSQ Sewing and Patternmaking of Womenswear Top and Skirt (Basic) 

For those starting out, head to the Starter Classes page for your first step into the sewing world. Want to browse the Fashion Sewing category? View them here. If you have Skillsfuture credits and would like to use them, view our available WSQ classes here.

See you and stay tuned for more features from the students themselves!

 

*The Starter Bundle has been revamped as of Nov 2020.

 

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