SEWN: Refashioned Summer Belle Dress (1980s look to 1950s style!)

The background

Since August 2018, I have been trying to declutter and downsize the things I own. I have a HUGE collection of vintage dresses from over the years. A big bunch of them are 1970s and 1980s clothes from my early years into vintage and from my previous trips to Hong Kong. I have been trying to sell them at a decent price on Instagram and Etsy, but I am also painfully aware of the fact that I may not be able to sell all of them in the timeframe that I have in mind.

The original vintage 1980’s yellow dress

There’s a particular yellow dress that I have a soft spot for – a 1980s dress with puffed sleeves and a beautiful circle skirt. I have always been a fan of the sleeves and the skirt, but didn’t think the bodice was too great. I made myself a promise – if it didn’t sell by the start of February 2019, I would cut it up and make myself something “new” to wear for Chinese New Year.

Alas, it didn’t sell.

The design

When I decided to cut the dress up, I had a few ideas in my head but no concrete plan for the final design. It’s hard to have a very definite plan for a refashioned project because I need to know the amount of fabric I have to work with, and I can really only tell after I have started cutting the pieces up. However, for this project, I was sure that I wanted to work the look around keeping the hemmed circle skirt and the puffed sleeves.

Originally, I thought I would do a shirred back with some shirring elastic I have, but then after cutting the bodice up and removing the lining, I realised it wouldn’t make sense to have a shirred bodice and that it would be easier to just make a basic peasant style blouse.

The bodice
Gwenstella Made Refashioned Summer Belle Dress 1980s 1950s vintage

front vs back view

With the zipper and lining removed, I sewed the back centre-seam together on the machine. Then, I cut the neckline to make a scooped neckline and trimmed the bottom hem of the bodice to straighten it.

cut skirt from bodice, removed zipper and lining from bodice

cut scoop neck and trimmed bottom hem of bodice

After that, I finished the cut edges with a small zig-zag stitch (with moderate tension) for a clean finish. Finally, I folded down along the edges of the neckline and the bottom hem to make a casing for the elastic.

finished edges with zig-zag stitches, made elastic casing

The skirt

lining is from original dress

The skirt was a pretty easy make. All I had to do was to make an elastic casing around the waist!

The final look

After completing the bodice and the skirt, there was still the little piece of fabric left from the faux cowl of the original vintage dress. I didn’t want to waste that fabric, so I decided to make some roses with them! The leaves of the roses are made with some green felt I had lying in my box of sewing supplies. I sewed some brooch pin on the leaves and then glued the leaves onto the back of the roses. I didn’t want to sew the roses directly onto the bodice because I want this blouse + skirt to have a more versatile look (i.e. not just one look).

Making the roses turned out to be such a great decision!

This blouse and skirt set has turned out to be such a great match to my “Pineapple of my Eye” set. I think I have just expanded a summer capsule wardrobe by accident. I will be mixing and matching my looks with them for the rest of the month, so keep an eye out for the outfits I will be posting on my Instagram (@gwenstellamade).

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through the process of this refashioned project. Tell me what you think about this look in the comments section! x Gwen

MADE: Etive Romper

From the moment my friend told me she was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to make a special handmade gift for her baby. Since I’m open to sewing, knitting and crocheting anything, my head was buzzing with 1001 different gift ideas for the baby (e.g., bunting for the room, mobile for the cot, pillow for the bed etc). But when I saw the cute versions of the Etive Romper that Christina (@gussetsandgodets) made on Instagram, I knew I wanted to knit the same romper for the yet-to-be born baby boy.

This is my first time knitting something for a little bub, and the romper sure is a quick and satisfying knit! The pattern is short and easy to follow, with lots of potential for easy modifications like the ones Christina (@gussetsandgodets) made. I was originally planning on taking it slow and completing it in February, which is around the time that the baby boy would be due. However, an unexpected baby shower came about and I decided to crank up my knitting speed. I casted on and started knitting the gauge only in the beginning of January, but was done the night before the baby shower in the middle of the month.

back view

leg cuff

I made this romper according to the pattern for the 0-3 month size range using the Jeans® yarn in Classic (by Lion Brand Yarn). The yarn is such a joy to knit with and has turned out looking so beautiful! Faux denim or faux shibori? You decide. Either way, it’s definitely a basic yet stylish look for a baby 😉

__________________________________________
Details:

Pattern: Etive Romper by Rainer and Bear (available here)
Yarn: Jeans® by Lion Brand Yarn via Spotlight Stores (Singapore)
Needles: 4.00mm, 3.25mm (as per pattern)


P.S.: My friend is due in February and I can’t wait to see how her baby boy looks in the the romper!

2018 Sewing Review & 2019 #MakeNine Plans

Ah, here we go again – it’s time for the annual #MakeNine plans and promises! Back in January 2018, I decided to tackle my fabric stash instead of doing #MakeNine the classic way with 9 different patterns. Obviously, I didn’t cut into all 9 fabrics like I planned to. I’m just too much of a “sew-on-a-whim” kind of person…

Hopefully, things will change for the better in 2019. First of all, I definitely want to work on some unfinished business from 2018. I just have to! In addition to that, I am going to really focus on things that I NEED rather than patterns / fabrics that have caught my attention.

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So, here’s my 2018 scorecard and my sewing plan for 2019:

make nine sewing fabrics gwenstella made2018 sewing review

  • White swim fabric
  • Black swim fabric

Did I use it?
Nope, but read on to find out what my plans for these are in 2019…

  • Red cotton in casino print

Did I use it?
Nope. I still want to make a rockabilly inspired bustier top with this at some point but at this stage of my trying to refine my wardrobe, a fancy print like this is not a NEED at the moment. This is moving way to the bottom of the to-make list.

  • Burgundy rayon

Did I use it?
Hell yeah! I made the V2241 with it and I am waiting for the right occasion to take photos of this dress in. I planned to wear it for NYE dinner but it ended up raining all afternoon and I really didn’t want to be dragging a wet train on a bus. Keep your eyes peeled!

  • White line/poly mix
  • Red gingham polycotton (small squares)


Did I make it?
Yes. I made a dress with B6212 using these fabrics for Chinese New Year in 2018. I talked about it in my blog post here and also posted a video review of the pattern on Youtube!

  • Red gingham polycotton (large squares)

Did I use it?
Yes! It took a while because I worked on my wedding dress and then took a long break from sewing after that, but I finished it in early December. Unfortunately, no photos for now since there’s a finite number of hours on the weekend and I spend the daylight hours on the weekdays at work.

  • Salmon pink linen

Did I use it?
Not yet. I am not quite sure what I want to do with this linen right now. I’ll probably have to mull over it. You can share some ideas with me if you have some!

  • Novelty red polycotton in Southeast Asian inspired print

Did I use it?
Sadly, no. I am still tossing between making the Butterick B6019 or the Lamour dress with this pattern.

Summary: 4/9 fabrics used
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2019 #MakeNine Plans

I have some pretty concrete plans for 2019. There will be a whole ton of changes happening to me personally in 2019 so I really just want to take it easy on myself and stay focused. I want to set goals that are achievable, so some of the things I am planning to make are small projects (i.e. likely completed in a weekend). But hey, raise your hand if you want tutorials for the little projects marked with an asterisk (*)! And for the sake of fun, there’s a wild card! Honestly, it’s because I can’t think of what else I NEED right now…

  1. Retro bikini set with Butterick 6358 (B6358)

    (pattern available here)

    This is one of the unfinished business from 2018! I’ll be making one in black & white contrast design. Fingers crossed I can get this done in the first quarter of 2019 (or any time before my next island getaway)!

  2. Backpack

    I haven’t quite decided on a design but I bought a book on making bags plus some thick poly-canvas for making bags during my trip to Taiwan in Sept 2018. I am in dire need of a bag. My secondhand $5 backpack is beyond repair and at this point, I don’t own a single backpack at all!

  3. Arccos undies by Sophie Hines

    (pattern available here)

    I haven’t bought new panties in at least 2 years and if you could see the state of my panties right now… hahaha. So, this is pretty straightforward. I NEED NEW PANTIES.

  4. Fifi pyjamas by Tilly & Buttons

    (pattern available here)

    I like the idea of owning and wearing cute pyjamas. The babydoll pyjamas and the blue floral pyjamas I made back in 2017 are REALLY STARTING TO WEAR OUT. I guess it’s no surprise since I have been wearing them on a regular basis in the last 2 years. I am toying with the idea of making not 1 but 2 of these! Probably one in a casual cotton flannelette and another in a super luxe hemp-silk using the remnant pieces I have from sewing my wedding dress.

  5. Reusable eco-friendly produce bags*

    I have been toying with the idea of making some reusable drawstring produce bags for myself for ages but have been putting it off for some reason. After making a couple of them as a birthday present for a friend, I’m inspired! Why have I put it off for so long?

  6. Vintage-inspired gingham apron

    (image via CynicalGirl’s Etsy shop here)

    It doesn’t hurt to look cute when you’re cooking, does it? Currently, I cook without an apron and I hate how my t-shirts turn grimey after a couple of minutes in front of the stove. Hopefully this will solve the problem. I’ll be drafting my own pattern, using images from vintage sewing patterns and magazines as sources of inspiration!

  7. White bustier top with Simplicity 8130 (S8130)

    (pattern available here)

    I had a white bustier which was a secondhand piece (this one), but I just never really liked the way it sits on my body. I had recently sold it off on a secondhand marketplace and decided that it’s time to make my own with this pattern! Looking forward to learning about inserting boning and creating a wardrobe staple with this project. Perhaps I will make it in time to wear with my gingham circle skirt for Chinese New Year!

  8. T-shirt yarn bag*

    I have a handful of t-shirts that are stretched out and really not worth donating. So, I have plans to make yarn out of those shirts and crochet a bag with it.

  9. WILD CARD

    Woohoo!

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Looking forward to the new sewing and non-sewing adventures in 2019!!!

SEWN: Holiday Dress 2018 (Butterick 6453)

Happy holidays everyone! I hope everyone is having a great holiday so far. The year 2018 hasn’t been the best for me, but I have learnt a lot and grown a lot personally and creatively. I can’t wait to usher in 2019! Of course, there will be a post talking about how I did with #2018MakeNine (uh, news flash, I didn’t make all of them of course) and my plans for 2019.

Before I start getting teary reflecting on 2018 and dreaming about 2019, here’s my latest make – my holiday dress for 2018! Last year, I made a self-drafted pencil skirt using a super kitschy Christmas Kitty fabric. This year, I decided to be a little bit more “proper” and picked this red poinsettia print set against a black background.

Progress: I took a photo for each night that I made progress on this dress. The first 2 photos feature an old RTW dress I cut up to make the muslin.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a dress for this Christmas at first, and by the time I decided that I do want to make something with this fabric, it was already almost the middle of December. So, I decided to pick a simple dress that would be easy to make.

The Butterick 6453 by Gretchen Hirsch (with McCall Pattern Company) is something that has been sitting in my stash for the longest time. I’m pretty late to the game because the original sew-along on Gertie’s blog occurred wayyyy back in March 2017. But yeah, better late than never!

This is probably the easiest thing I have made this year. I made a muslin for the bodice (*gasp*!) and only had to slice off the sides to fit my bust and my waist.

Here are the all the changes I made in this version:

  • Slices off sides of bodice to fit my bust and waist
  • Shortened the length of the bodice
  • Shortened length of skirt
  • Used invisible zipper instead of regular zipper (only because I had an invisible zipper in the right colour sitting in my sewing box and I really didn’t want to run out to get a new zipper)
  • Shortened the straps by around an inch – in hindsight, I should have followed by guts and shortened it even more. I wear the dress with the straps adjusted to the shortest length!
  • Used bias tape for the seams of the facing – I wanted to be a little fancy! Also, I had some red bias tape left from making my cheongsam and I just wanted to finish it… heh

I love how it has turned out and it’s so satisfying to see the “Gwenstella Made” label on the facing as well!

By the time you read this, it would be less than a week until 2019. If I don’t get to write anything here before then, here’s wishing you a magical start to 2019. Thank you for being part of my creative journey in 2018. I have enjoyed writing every single post and reading all the comments that you wrote. I hope you’ll continue to hang around in 2019.

To new beginnings! x G

Wearing: Secondhand faux fur cape, vintage 60’s faux snakeskin purse, me-made B6453 dress, old RTW heels, vintage earrings & necklace

SEWN/RESTYLED: Country Road Dress (2011 make)

You know the funny thing about time? Time changes people.

It’s been several years since I started sewing and I think I have changed a lot since the time I started creating with my Elna Sew Fun for the first time. My style has evolved and my skills have advanced (even if it’s just for a little bit).

Back in 2011, I shared my “vintage-inspired Country Road dress”. As I proudly wrote in my original blog post, it’s the 4th thing I had ever sewn. Ah those early years!

The original “Country Road” dress from 2011

Fast forward to 2018, many of the clothes I made during my first years of sewing have ended up being stored away in the dark corners of my wardrobe, neglected and forgotten. As I move towards trying to be more thoughtful and deliberate in the things that I make, I have also begun to think about all the things I have made and forgotten.

The original design made using New Look 6824

Obviously, I stopped wearing these items for a reason. For example, this dress that I made back in 2011 using New Look 6824 is no longer my current size, and no longer the length that I like going for these days. Also, I didn’t mention it in the original blog post, but I have always been unhappy with the way the neckline sits on my bust. The corners are kinda creased because I unknowingly clipped too much of the seam allowance away.

I had a little more than 0.25m of this green+purple gingham fabric stashed away for the longest time, and one day it dawned on me that I had to do something about this little piece of fabric and this forgotten piece of work. Moreover, I needed to sew a muslin for the bodice of my modified version of the Butterick 5209 (B5209) sewing pattern for my wedding dress. If I could: a) get a “new” casual day dress of out of this, b) revive my old dress, and c) use my fabric stash – WHY NOT.

So, here’s how I made my old dress into a new dress:

  1. Removed back centre zipper and unstitched bodice from skirt
  2. Lined bra pads with fabric from old bodice
  3. Make the sleeveless version of the B5209 with the remaining 0.25m of the original gingham fabric with the following modifications
    • sized down to my measurements
    • left the halter design open for addition of straps for a halter tie-back design
  4. Drafted the halter straps with a coordinating purple fabric and stitched them on
  5. Added the new B5209 bodice on the old New Look 6824 skirt (also resized the waist) with a side zipper and bra pads inserted – I had to make sure the bra pads were lined because the gingham cotton is kinda sheer
  6. Chopped off a portion of the bottom of the skirt and added a short width of the coordinating purple fabric to lengthen the skirt

New version of the dress: Front view

New version of the dress: Interior view

And that’s it! I thought I had more photos of the process taken but somehow I didn’t have them saved on my phone. I think everyone enjoyed the process photos in the last blog post so I will make sure I have the process photos taken for easier visualisation in the future!

I really think adding straps for a halter back-tie design is a great hack for the 1950’s style Retro Butterick 5209 pattern. You can also try adding a tapered pencil skirt or a quarter skirt like I did for this dress for several different looks!

Let me know what you think about this simple refashioned project. Also, how does everyone else cope with the handmade items that you have “grown out of” (either size-wise or style-wise)?

SEWN: Refashioned 1970’s Inspired Midnight Bohemian Skirt

I am going to start by making it clear that this is not a style I usually go for. But when I found out about the #SewFrosting Challenge organised by Heather Lou (of @closetcasepatterns) and Kelli (of @truebias), I knew I had to make this.

This sad, oversized vintage 1970’s dress had been sitting in my wardrobe for the longest time since I got it. (Why and how I got it, I can never recall or imagine) I love the print of the fabric and the soft, slinky feel of the polyester, and I knew I could alter it easily to fit myself, but I also didn’t think I would enjoy it in its very form – a midi length, long-sleeved dress with a pussybow.

Obviously, sending this to the donation bin is like a death sentence for the dress (and the fabric). Who would save a dress like this except for someone crazy like me? So, I did what I had to do – I butchered it and then stitched it together again.

I wanted to stay true to the era (i.e. 1970s), so I decided on the following 2 key design elements:

  • bias drape
  • ruffles

The result? A skirt that is 1 part goth, 1 part bohemian, and 100% ready for disco-dancing. Here’s how the magic happened:

  1. Unpicked stitches for sleeves and pussy bow collar
  2. Unpicked stitches for skirt
  3. Cut skirt the following ways (while checking that the final measurements will fit around my hips and knees):
    • sloping from back to front along the waist (so that the front will end up shorter than the back, and for that faux bias drape)
    • sloping from top to bottom (so that the width around the knees will end up narrow than the hips)
  4. Stitched along dotted line
  5. Folded down and stitched along the dotted line to create an elastic casing. Insert elastic.
  6. Cut sleeves to get rectangular pieces
  7. Aligned rectangular pieces as such and stitched them together to get a long strip of fabric. (This photo shows 4 rectangular pieces – 2 from each sleeve. I ended up getting 2 more rectangular pieces of the same measurements from the fabric from the bodice of the dress.)
  8. Gathered the long strip of fabric and stitched it along the hem of the skirt
  9. Stitched the unpicked seam of the pussybow collar to get a belt

This project was so fun to make and I loved doing something different on a whim. Anyone else here taking part in #SewFrosting as well?

I had been in a weird funk with my sewing since making my wedding dress and I think I finally got my sewjo back with an unusual sewing project like this one! No patterns, no regrets – just all about having fun! xx

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ROUNDUP: 7 Days of Hawaiian “Honeymoon”

 

When Steven and I got married at the end of July, we didn’t pack our bags and board a plane to an exotic getaway the very next day. Nah, I only had a week away from work and I knew I wouldn’t have time to really enjoy a holiday overseas. Moreover, Steven’s family was visiting and we were having fun hosting them and showing them around the city.

Honeymoon is a state of mind. Despite the absence of a vacation outside the city, I still found the strong urge to bust out my Hawaiian prints for the whole week right after our wedding. Well, Singapore is a tropical city!

So here’s a quick roundup of all the Hawaiian prints I wore for the 7 days right after my wedding. Some are vintage, some are me-made. My collection of Hawaiian prints (both me-made and vintage) is ever-growing, so writing a blog post like this gives me a chance to reflect on what I currently own in my wardrobe. Through exercises like this, I hope to continue to refine my wardrobe and develop a style that is truly mine.

Keep scrolling for the details!

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Me-made dress
Pattern: Cynthia Rowley 2250
Fabric: Polycotton featuring a border print with hibiscus and palm trees, purchased in Sydney

Fun fact: I wore this dress on the night I met Steven for the first time. ‘Nuff said, never getting rid of this!

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Vintage 1980s dress, Japanase label, purchased in Hong Kong
Also wearing: Second-hand wicker purse, thrifted sandals

This dress makes me feel kinda meh. Some days I think it’s a great, casual dress and on other days, I find the print too… 1980’s. I’ll probably let go of this soon…

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Me-made shorts with elastic waistband and pockets
Pattern: New Look 6055
Fabric: Polyester in a print featuring musicians, surfers and Hawaiian floral with a background of ocean waves, purchased in Sydney

This is a pretty unusual look for me. I think I was headed to the gym in this get-up. Regardless, it’s still a pretty unusual make for me. Well, I made these way back in 2013 when I was still finding my style and wasn’t quite sure what I was doing with my sewing. It is actually overall a pretty decent make considering that I was still pretty much a beginner sexist at that time, but I find the print placement on the front questionable. Guess I should really look into selling these shorts or donating them. They’re just not me anymore!

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Vintage 1960s Liberty House of Hawaii – I can’t remember where I bought this!
Also wearing: Vintage bamboo purse

I keep telling myself that I need to wear orange more often. This bright orange dress is an instant mood-booster, fits me right, and is definitely a keeper.

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Vintage 1970s in the most amazing citrus yellow! Purchased in Hong Kong.
Also wearing: Vintage bamboo purse, thrifted sandals

Another keeper! I am so in love with neon Hawaiian dresses. When I first put this dress on in Hong Kong, I basically gasped and told my friend that this would be my burial dress –  the dress I would be buried in. Well, the truth is, I want to be cremated and I think the fumes from burning this polyester dress will be pretty nasty. I still love this dress but it’s not gonna be my burial dress anymore.

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Vintage 1970s with statement hibiscus border print. Purchased in Hong Kong.
Also wearing: Vintage bamboo purse, vintage silk scarf, thrifted earrings

I am undecided about this Hawaiian number. There are many things I like about this dress: it’s made of 100% cotton, it has dramatic sleeves and an eye-catching border print. Unfortunately, it just lacks the oomph that the previous bright Hawaiian dresses give. Some days I am ready to sell this to a new owner. Some days I think I would keep it. For now it’s sitting in my online Carousell (aka Singapore Depop) account until the right owner comes along.

At a glance…

Hawaiian item: Me-made shorts
Pattern:
Self-drafted
Fabric: Cotton in a print featuring Hawaiian landscape, surfboards, and cruise ships with a background of ocean waves in navy blue

There’s no doubt that this is also a keeper. Steven has a shirt that I made with this same fabric, and I also recently finished a 1950’s style bra top (Simplicity 1426) using the same fabric. Pardon me, but my weakness is in matching honeymoon sets. I will have some photos taken for the blog soon once Steven is back from his trip. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

MADE: Knitted Beauty School Tops in Baby Pink and Powder Blue

Earlier this year, I test-knitted the Beauty School Top and matching Beauty School Turban patterns for Amy Appel (@poisongrrls). It was not my first time test knitting for Amy but these patterns turned out to be my favourite designs by her so far.

The sweater has a basic design that is full of possibilities and has an amazing fit for a 1950’s style silhouette. It’s a definite staple for any handmade vintage style loving lady.

When I did the test knitting, I chose a cotton blend yarn in baby pink because I wanted a colour that would go with my Country Garden skirt and Country Garden dress, and a fibre that would be suitable for this tropical climate. When I did a swatch of the yarn, I felt that the yarn seemed to be like lighter than the fingering weight that the pattern called for, so I ended up having to use small needles (i.e. 3.00mm instead of 3.25mm). To ensure a safer fit, I also decided to add stitches to the circumference of the sweater.

The sweater turned out to be such a dream, I wanted to make another one in a different colour. So, I decided to make one in powder blue as a birthday present for my friend!

As I am practically incapable of making the SAME thing twice within the same year, I decided to change it up and made some modifications to the pattern the second time round. Also, my tension seemed to have loosened up a little this time round so I used the required 3.25mm needles. Moral of the story: swatching is important and test-knitting is fun but stressful.

Can you spot the differences?

At a glance…

Project link on Ravelry: Baby Pink version & Powder Blue version
Pattern:
 Beauty School Top by Amy Appel (aka @poisongrrls) [link]

BABY PINK VERSION
Yarn: Hamanaka Sea Queen Shine Cotton “Lamé” in baby pink (with shiny metallic strand)

Modifications:

  • Needles: Used 3.00mm needles instead of 3.25mm to make the stitches denser
  • Chest size: Sneaked in 4 stitches in total across the chest (2 at the front and 2 at the back when casting on extra stitches to join the shoulders pieces) as I was aware that cotton could have less stretch
  • Length: Added 10 more rounds of knitting at the bottom to make the sweater longer

POWDER BLUE VERSION
Yarn: Hamanaka Sea Queen Shine Cotton in powder blue (aka no metallic strand)

Modifications:

  • Sleeves: 12 rounds of ribbing instead of 6
  • Neckband: 5 rounds ribbing with smaller needles, 5 rounds ribbing with larger needles

Obviously, I am wearing my good bra in these photos to achieve the 1950’s style silhouette. These sweaters are sure snug! For anyone who is not a fan of snug, cropped tops, I will suggested making it wider by casting on more stitches when joining the back and front together, and longer by knitting more rounds between each decrease from bust through the waist to the hem.

Do you have this pattern on your queue or have you also made one? Let me know what you think about my pastel versions of the Beauty School Top!  xx

MADE: Knitted Silk Camisole

As I move towards having a 100% thrifted, vintage and me-made wardrobe, I have been wanting to knit a simple, sleeveless camisole for casual, everyday wear. Well, it’s summer every day here in Singapore!

Of course, anything too plain would be too boring for me. So, something has to pop – either the yarn or the pattern has to have a bit of *jazz*. Fortunately for me, this little project ended up to be a little bit of both.

I made this basic tank top using a free Japanese knitting pattern by Pierrot Yarns (a Japanese company) found via Ravelry, with some modifications to the neckline and sleeve opening for an extra feminine touch. If you look again, you will also notice the twisted rib stitch. They give such an interesting visual effect and add so much texture to the final product. Spending time twisting the stitches when knitting it was totally worth it!

The yarn is from a Japanese brand called Hamanaka, and this yarn is called Excel Silk. There’s a stash entry of it on Ravelry and it’s claimed to be 100% waterproof. To be honest, I have no idea what that really means. So… it doesn’t get wet? Anyway, I don’t think I will be washing it very often. The material feels cool to the skin and the stitches stretch out when I wear it.

I barely sweat in it. I’m just gonna wear, hang, air/sun, and repeat!

I am also in love with the super soft shade of pink that blends in so well with my skin. I feel like I could just melt into one of the impressionist paintings of the French countryside by Monet. So, don’t be too surprised if you see this camisole rotating into my basic weekend wear on Instagram. x

At a glance…

Project link on Ravelry: here
Pattern:
 216ss-02 Knit Bustier by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd) [link]
Yarn: Hamanaka Excel Silk in pink
Modifications: CO 113 (instead of 115), add sc all around the armholes and neckline, then with 3ch between each sc the second round.

P.S.: I still have a few balls of this yarn available, enough to make a matching bottom. I’m thinking about making a knitted pencil skirt with the same twisted rib stitch! What do you think?

SEWN: 1950’s style Blue Floral Cheongsam (Simplicity 8244)

If there’s one type of dress that I need more of in my wardrobe, it has to be cheongsams. Also known as qipaos, cheongsams are traditional Chinese dresses that were once the national dress of Republic of China in the 1920s.

I have a couple of cheongsams custom-made during my vacation in Shanghai many years back (like this one), but I have always wanted to make one myself. It’s always better when you make it yourself, isn’t it? When I came across the Simplicity 8244, which is a reproduction of a 1950’s vintage cheongsam pattern (Simplicity 1018), I knew it is the perfect pattern for me to begin my cheongsam-making journey.

What I love

There are so many things that I love about this pattern. The kimono sleeves offer more freedom in movement and the illusion of a fuller bust, while the double waist darts provide the illusion of a slimmer waist. More importantly, the design options offered me the chance to give the pattern a go without the pressure of failing in perfecting the mandarin collar and the placement of the frog closures!

To be honest, I really enjoyed every part of the process in making this dress. The bias tape finishing is such a nice touch and I loved the meditative act of hand sewing it on.

What I loathe

If I must say, the trickiest part of the pattern would be sewing the side vents. I struggled with understanding the instructions when reading it at first but figured it all out at the end. My experience in sewing the vent for my Christmas Kitty pencil skirt definitely helped.

Also, I made a boo-boo when cutting the back and front of the dress. I cut the fold line of both front and back pieces by accident and ended up having to mend the cut with some interface and zig-zag stitches. The thread and fabric matched up so well, it’s hard to see it from far. It’s not perfect but I am okay with it. Really, can you even see it from far?

 The fabric and other notions

This navy floral polycotton has been sitting in my stash for many years. I bought them from Spotlight while I was still living in Sydney. That means that it has been sitting in my stash for at least 5 years. FIVE LONG YEARS. I definitely did not think that I would make a cheongsam when I bought this fabric, but this fabric stood out amongst everything else I have in my stash. I knew it would look outstanding with red bias tape as a contrasting design point.

To make sure that I have the exact same red for the buttons, I made self-covered buttons using the bias tape.

The fit

While the pattern did not state the kind of fit that the final dress gives, I found the ease in the bust to be a lot more generous than the ease in the waist. Being petite and having a modest 32″ bust with my best bra, I ended up taking in an extra 1cm on each side of the side seams for the top half of the dress (i.e. bust/bodice) after sewing everything up. This is despite grading down from size 6 to size 4 in the pattern before cutting into the fabric!

And of course, as usual, I modified the length of the dress for my height. I am 5’2″ (157cm) and I can safely say that ALL Big 4 patterns require modifications in length for my height.

Zig-zag machine mend on the centre back. You can also still see my fabric chalk marking on the fabric. Oopsey!

Take a close look and spot the zig-zag mending on centre front

Absolutely love the bias tape finishing!

The side vent

The future

What do you think about the dress? I definitely have plans to make a version with the mandarin collar and frog closures. True to my history of fabric pattern obsession, I have about a yard or so of this SAME design but in white, and I am wondering if I should make a cheongsam top with it, or sell it in my efforts to destash and simplify.

xxx

At a glance…

Pattern: Simplicity 8244, view B
Fabric: Navy floral from Spotlight
Size made: Graded from size 6 to size 4
Modifications: Took in additional 1 cm on each side of upper body (i.e. upwards from waist), shortened the length

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