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.

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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Me Made May 2018: Round-up and reflection

Hello June! The month of May had come and gone in the blink of an eye and I hope everyone had fun taking part in Me Made May organised by Zoe from ‘So, Zo…’. I know I definitely had fun going through my handmade wardrobe and discovering other like-minded makers on Instagram!

My pledge for Me Made May this year is to spend time reflecting on my makes and to get a clearer idea of where I want to go in my handmade journey. Since I rarely wear my me-mades to work on the weekdays (because my work involves getting rice cereal, blue dye and drool on what I wear on a regular basis), I thought it would make more sense to just do a round-up and reflection at the end of the month.

So here’s a round-up of all the key pieces I wore on the weekends (and public holidays) for the month of May 2018. They don’t look like a lot because sometimes I repeat the outfit and accessorise differently, and  sometimes I stay home and just wear my me-made pyjamas (this and this).

With just one look, I think it is easy to tell that I love prints. I started the month with a couple of fruity prints, progressed to floral prints (based what people picked via an IG story poll), and then ended with classic gingham. There is a mixture of very old makes from way back in 2012 (which is the year I started sewing more seriously), and more recent makes from earlier this year in 2018.

And here’s a breakdown of all the things I love and loathe about these me-mades:

  1. 1950’s style Retro Rockabilly Cherry Dress

    Year made: 2012
    Pattern: New Look 6020 (View D)
    Thing(s) I love: I mean, just look at that sweetheart neckline!
    Thing(s) I loathe: I still think this dress is pretty cute. But the combination of fabric just seems a little too cute-sy for me now and the skirt length just isn’t what I am into right now.
    Future plans/things to note:
    It’s gonna break my heart but I will have to take this dress apart and transform it into something that I still want to wear and feel great in. I still have some of that cherry print fabric so maybe I will make a set of 1940’s inspired sun top and bottom. Also, I think I should always make sure that my 1950’s style skirts are always below the knee in the future.

  2. 1950’s style Lemon Drop Dress

    Year made: 2017
    Pattern: Vintage Reproduction Circa 1952 Vogue 2902
    Thing(s) I love: That built-in petticoat made with inspiration from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book! Took more time to complete the dress but definitely worth the trouble.
    Thing(s) I loathe: You can’t tell in the photo because of the belt, but the bodice is about half an inch shorter than I would like it to be
    Future plans: I definitely should continue to take time to ensure that the wrong side of the dress looks as well-made as the right side of the dress… and work towards maybe making a dress with a built-in dress like Christian Dior’s! Also, I need to pay more attention to getting the right body measurements.

  3. 1950’s inspired Blue Country Garden Skirt

    Year made: 2018
    Pattern: self-drafted
    Thing(s) I love: The classic floral print!
    Thing(s) I loathe: It’s really a pretty decent piece of work! There’s nothing that I dislike about it.
    Future plans: I am kinda getting sick of making flared skirts (i.e., circle or gathered). Time to move on to exploring making pencil skirts, gored skirts etc! But I definitely need to slowly expand on my country garden collection. For example, I love how my knitted sweater (No. 4) goes so well with this skirt!

  4. 1950’s style Beauty School Top

    Year made: 2018
    Pattern: Amy Appel’s (aka Poison Grrls) Beauty School Top
    Thing(s) I love: Amy did such a great job with the pattern for the sleeves. They fit LIKE A DREAM.
    Thing(s) I loathe: Just a tad not a fan of the neck opening. It might just be me being tight with my stitches but it takes a bit of effort to get through the neck opening.
    Future plans: I already have plans to make another one in blue for my best friend!

  5. 1940’s style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Pink version with sleeves)

    Year made: 2014
    Pattern: Vintage Reproduction Circa 1947 Butterick 5209 (View B)
    Thing(s) I love: I am absolutely in love with this dreamy shade of dusty rose pink!
    Thing(s) I loathe: I think in 2014 I was still figuring out ease and my body measurement. Or maybe I lost some weight? At this point I can’t remember. But I don’t like how this dress is kinda loose on me. Wearing cinched me-made 1950’s style clothes has made me used to having clothes extremely close to my body.
    Future plans: Part of me wants to sell this dress. It would look SO MUCH BETTER on someone else with the right measurements. Part of me wants to save it for when I gain weight in 10-20 years’ time. But for now, I have no real plans for this dress, except to wear it again when the mood calls for it.

    1940's style Retro Rose Floral Dress (Purple version without sleeves)
  6. 1940’s style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Purple version without sleeves)

    Year made: 2014
    Pattern: Vintage Reproduction Circa 1947 Butterick 5209 (View A)
    Thing(s) I love: Definitely in love with the Monroe vibes over here! This is also the first piece that I made with bra pads sewn in by hand. I have also since learnt to plan ahead and sew the bra pads in between the main fabric and the lining (like my 1950’s gingham sun top listed as No. 9)!
    Thing(s) I loathe: The initial final product was so loose on me I had to sew some elastic along the upper edge of the back and take in an inch where the straps join behind the neck. On the other hand, this unfortunate outcome gave me the opportunity to learn to use shirring elastic!
    Future plans: So if you have been following me on my Instagram via @gwenstellamade, you will know that I have been talking about making my wedding dress. My original muslin for my wedding dress failed so now I will be hacking the pattern for this bodice to make my wedding dress. I am getting married in 2 months so it MUST and WILL be done by then!

    1950's Pullover Sunday Picnic Dress

  7. 1950’s style Sunday Picnic Dress

    Year made: 2018
    Pattern: Vintage Reproduction Circa 1952 Retro Butterick 6212
    Thing(s) I love: The stark contrast of red gingham skirt with a white bodice. Also, I like anything in gingham, really.
    Thing(s) I loathe: The questionable fit of the armhole, demonstrated in my Youtube video here
    Future plans: MAYBE (as in like, HUGE MAYBE) modify the pattern and improve the bodice/armhole situation… and just continue wearing this as a regular dress..

  8. 1970’s style Baby Blue Gingham Prairie Dress

    Year made: 2012
    Pattern: Vintage 1970’s Butterick 6124 (View A)
    Thing(s) I love: Those puffy sleeves and the dual ways of wearing the dress (i.e. shoulders on or off)
    Thing(s) I loathe: A tad too girlish for me
    Future plans: Make more peasant style tops! Perhaps consider making my own pattern by hacking into this vintage Butterick pattern or purchasing Gertie’s Rita Blouse (via Charm Patterns by Gertie). Maybe stop wearing this when I turn 40 and feel too old for this.

  9. 1950’s style Gingham Bra Top and matching skirt

    Year made: 2017
    Pattern: Top = Simplicity 1426 (View A), Bottom = self-drafted basic gathered skirt
    Thing(s) I love: Definitely the classic gingham print and this shade of green!
    Thing(s) I loathe: Naive increase in the length bottom band of the bra top to make a top without any regard for the shape of my waist
    Future plans: Continue making Simplicity 1426 but put in more thought into modifying the pattern into proper tops and perhaps even a bodice for a dress. That means darts and maybe an elasticised back!

I know it’s only June but I really feel like the year is whizzing by so quickly! I can’t wait to see what other sewing adventures I will go on for the rest of the year (and all the years after). But I know that in the short term, these are the 5 things I want to work on:

  • Make more pencil skirts
  • Use more solids to build a versatile me-made wardrobe
  • Hack previously-used and loved patterns
  • Get the right fit with commercial and self-drafted patterns
  • Write crochet patterns
  • Reflect and re-invent

What are some of the things you learnt about yourself and your own sewing through Me-Made May? I’d love to hear your thoughts about them! By the way, which one of these makes is your favourite? xx

More details of the above me-mades:
1950's style Retro Rockabilly Cherry Dress (here)
1950's style Lemon Drop Dress (here)
1950's inspired Blue Country Garden Skirt (here)
1940's style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Pink version) (here)
1940's style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Purple version) (here)
1950's style Sunday Picnic Dress (here)
1970's style Baby Blue Gingham Prairie Dress (here)
1950's style Gingham Bra Top and matching skirt (here)

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TRAVEL: Sri Lanka (2018)

I love going away on a holiday for my birthday. What’s a better way to spend the day than being away from work, relaxing under the warm sun, and enjoying good food and good company?

To be honest, Sri Lanka was not my first choice of destination for my birthday this year. I was hoping to spend some time in Melbourne (or any city in Australia) instead. But after watching some travel videos on Youtube and some convincing from my partner, I decided to give it a go.

Now, I’m completely sold and I am already looking forward to returning for another trip. My favourite things about Sri Lanka are the friendly locals, the delicious curries, and their aromatic teas. I am not a huge travel blogger, but I thought it would be nice to share some of the places we went to, things we did in, outfits I wore and snaps I took…

Colombo

We spent only 1 night in Colombo and I’m sure that’s all you need. Colombo is such a large, busy city and we just didn’t think we needed that since we were coming from Singapore! Our first dinner was at a Sri Lankan buffet at Nuga Gama at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel where we discovered hoppers and my love for unsweetened ginger tea. It’s a little pricey compared to everything else you could have (since it’s located in a hotel), but it was such a beautiful alfresco dining experience and it gave us a good introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine for us.

Kandy

Mountbatten Bungalow

Our first meal at Mountbatten Bungalow

We travelled to Kandy from Colombo via the train. Our first class tickets were purchased in advance via the Visit Sri Lankan Tours website. After we arrived in Kandy, we took a tuk-tuk to get to our accommodation, the Mountbatten Bungalow. This is where we spent most of our time in Kandy.

Breakfast at the Bungalow

There’s a pool and fully-equipped kitchen. Everything we needed was available here (WiFi included) and we enjoyed all the hours we spent lazing at the pool under the sun. Of course, I also spent some time to knit my Beauty School Turban (pattern by Amy Appel on Ravelry) by the poolside!

Galle

The Lighthouse

Our next big stop was Galle Fort. We travelled from Kandy back to Colombo via train, and then hired a car to take us to Galle from the Colombo Railway Station. We would have loved to enjoy a scenic train ride from Colombo to Galle. Alas, the timing didn’t match up and we didn’t have many days planned our for this entire trip, so a hired car was the most time efficient method of travelling.

Knitting my turban outside our room at Rampart View Guesthouse in the morning light

We stayed at the Rampart View Guesthouse, in a cosy room that was located right next to the fort. We loved taking walks along the fort in the morning and watching the sunset in the evening.

Hoppers and roti at Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

There were also many restaurants and cafes that are worth visiting within the fort. My favourite tea place was a little “dive” tea shop called Royal Dutch Cafe. They were so many different types of tea available from the menu, and the tea I ordered came in a beautiful teapot in red and gold. Of course, the tea was brewed to perfection, like all the other pots of tea I had in Sri Lanka.

Unawatuna Beach

We also spent an afternoon at the Unawatuna Beach near Galle where I got harassed by a little monkey kept in chains called “Lala” and bought some peanuts from a toothless septuagenarian.

Matara

While we were in Galle Fort, we realised that we had more time in the area than we thought, so we decided to take a little day trip out of Galle to another nearby town. We ended up taking a train to Matara for a walk along the beach and some restaurants. As we didn’t have any train tickets booked beforehand, we ended up purchasing second-class tickets which was only about SGD0.70 each.

Check out the metal straw they use at The Doctor’s House!

Butter Chicken Woodfire Pizza xoxox

We had a delicious lunch at The Doctor’s House and briefly discussed the possibility of us abandoning our city lives and live in a quiet town like Matara. The conclusion was that we simply could not live the life of a beach bum.

And so, here we are, back at our city lives in Singapore.

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Vintage Novelty Pineapple Teapot Set

VINTAGE OF THE MONTH

Sharing a vintage a month, since September 2017!

vintage novelty pineapple teapot

I have a confession… I love pineapples! Earlier this month you have heard me gushing over my retro 1950’s style 3-piece holiday set in pineapple print. Today, for Vintage of the Month, I will be sharing this sweet vintage teapot set I have in my collection!

Look at all the mini teacups!!

I found this vintage novelty teapot set on Carousell (think Depop, but based in Singapore) a couple of years back for a ridiculous price of just $15. I had to get it. It had been listed for a while and it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. So I felt that I had to save it from an unthinkable fate! I had to give it a new home and a new life! *cue dramatic music*

And of course, I did.

Pineapple flavoured iced yerba mate, from Teakoe, purchased in Colorado

 

Pina Colada flavoured black tea, from Miesna, Sri Lanka

Unfortunately, it’s just been sitting in my cupboard all this time. For some reason, I just haven’t quite found the chance to bust the set out and let it busk in all of its vintage novelty glory. But now that a couple of pineapple flavoured tea has creeped into my tea collection, I think I might be ready to use it for an afternoon tea at home soon.

(via)

(via)

Perhaps I might even make one of those upside-down pineapple cakes using a vintage recipe? Maybe I will make a ketogenic version of it? Ah, all the possibilities!

If you think you fancy a novelty pineapple teapot but can’t find the right one, you can also consider making a pineapple teapot cosy yourself! There’s a free crochet pattern by Tea and Craft on Ravelry, and a a free knitting pattern for a slightly different design here.

Left: crocheted pineapple teapot cosy (via) Right: knitted pineapple teapot cosy (via)

I have a few other pineapple-related projects lined up. So, if you, like me, think pineapples are cute, you can look forward to more pineapple inspired posts coming up in the next month! xx

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SEWN: Pineapple of my Eye (1950’s inspired weekend wardrobe)

Gwenstella Made Vintage Style 1950s Pineapple Holiday Wardrobe

Gwenstella Made Vintage Style 1950s Pineapple Holiday Wardrobe

Two weeks ago, I was in Sri Lanka for a short week-long vacation and finally got the chance to bust out my Gwenstella Made retro 1950’s style pineapple holiday set! Making and owning a vintage inspired weekend wardrobe has always been a dream of mine, and it’s finally happened after many months of planning and sewing. Creating weekend wardrobes is the real reason why I often buy a generous amount of yardage for a specific fabric I really like, or why I buy fabric from the same design series. Remember the Country Garden Dress and the Country Garden Skirt? I just love being able to coordinate and mix-and-match all the pieces in my wardrobe!

If you follow me on Instagram (@gwenstellamade), you will know that I have been working on this set since 2017. Yes, it took me the whole of 2017 to complete the set, but I enjoyed every part of the process.

This weekend wardrobe set is pretty basic. It consists of a full circle skirt, a pair of high-waisted shorts, and a classic bra top, and here are the details of each item:

Convertible Bra Top:

Pattern: Simplicity 1426, View C
Details:

  • with bra pads sewn into lining
  • with bias strip sewn along top of lining to conceal white lining that was peeking out from the front
  • white organic cotton lining

1 top, 2 straps, 3 different styles!

This is the second bra top I have made using Simplicity 1426. The first one was the green gingham version. This version is much trickier than the green gingham one I made. Hot tip: Don’t use a white lining. The pattern stated “lining”, but really, I think I should have just used the same fabric as the rest of the top. The white lining was peeking out from the top middle portion of the top and I had to hand-sew a self-made bias tape along the inside of the upper edge of the lining to conceal the white lining. This was what killed my motivation a little and got this entire set placed on hiatus mode initially.

Bias tape hand-sewn along the upper edge to conceal the white lining, and bra pads sewing between the main fabric and lining

Regardless, I pulled myself together and completed the top in good time. This classic mid-century design is definitely a must-have in any mid-century style fashionista’s wardrobe. The BEST thing about this top is the removable straps. I can make 3 different looks by placing the straps in different ways and removing it all together!

 

High-waisted Shorts:

Pattern: Self-drafted
Details:

  • 1 inch waist band
  • Lapped zipper on left side seam
  • Button closure, with 2 buttons for waist adjustment
  • with bright yellow pom pom trimming
  • white organic cotton lining

Of course, a pair of high-waisted shorts is another staple for a 1950’s style summer wardrobe. To make the shorts stand out and to make sewing them a little more challenging/fun, I decided to add little pom pom trimmings around the hem. Pom poms always makes anything 100 times more fun!

Full Circle Skirt:

Pattern: Self-drafted
Details:

  • 1 inch waist band
  • 26 inches in length (just grazing my knee)
  • Hook closure
  • with plastic horsehair braid sewn into the hem

Plastic horsehair braid sewn following the steps in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

This pineapple print fabric screams “summer!” and I thought that making a full circle skirt for a fun and flirty look was absolutely compulsory. I also wanted this holiday set to be something that could be worn comfortably at the beach, so I decided to use a horsehair braid around to hem so that the skirt will have a nice structure even when I am not wearing a petticoat underneath. I mean, it would be too hot to wear a petticoat to the beach right?

Peek-a-boo!

After making a skirt, a pair of shorts and the Simplicity 1426 top with removable straps, I still have sufficient yardage to make a simple top. But I’m thinking maybe that’s enough orange pineapple fabric for now. Ummm, I also still have another one of this same fabric but in sky blue.

Well, if you like pineapples as much as I do, stay tuned for more posts on some SWEET pineapple goodness on the blog in the next month or so!

xxx

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Vintage Trifari Monogram Brooch in Letter ‘G’

VINTAGE OF THE MONTH

Sharing a vintage a month, since September 2017!

Gwenstella Made Vintage Trifari Monogram Letter G brooch

Happy birthday to me! The month of March had come and gone by quickly, and I am now another year older. Other than welcoming a few more dark spots on my face, I also welcomed a new member to my collection of vintage jewellery… Behold, the classic vintage Trifari initial brooch in letter ‘G’!

I have always wanted one of these Trifari brooches, but had never gotten around to buying one for myself for some reason. Perhaps in the back of my head I felt that it would be more special if I got it as a gift. So, when my birthday came around this year and I still didn’t have any idea what I wanted in particular, I knew it was the year to ask for this brooch from my partner!

Yes, I’m the kind of person that asks for my presents openly without any shame. Life is too short for unwanted presents from your significant other. I even did the search for a reasonably priced piece on Etsy myself. That way, I was sure I would get exactly what I wanted and made sure that my partner didn’t have to spend more than what the item is worth.

Gwenstella Made Vintage Trifari Monogram Letter G broochThe original cost of the brooch back in 1966 was $2 (excluding taxes). According to this inflation calculator, $2 in 1966 would cost $15.36 in 2017. Guess what, that’s pretty much the same price we paid for this brooch (excluding shipping)! It was an incredibly lucky find on Etsy, because the Trifari initial brooches are not always easy to come by, especially one that is in such an excellent vintage condition. Also, as a vintage appreciator, I often assume an appreciation in value for vintage pieces like this one. So, really, we are lucky to have found one that cost the same as they did in 1966!

Obviously, ‘G’ stands for ‘Gwen’. Many of you know me as ‘Gwen’, but that is not the name on my official documents. My Chinese name is ‘琪雯’ (romanised as ‘Qiwen’). It’s not a name I go by because the first sound of the first character does not exist in the English sound system and many people have difficulty saying it. I went by ‘Gwen’ when I was living in Sydney because it kinda looked like the romanised version of my Chinese name. The name stuck and it almost feels like my real name now.

Moreover, the letter ‘Q’ brooch (along with letters ‘U’, ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’) was only available via special order according to this page from the Trifari catalogue. So, even if I wanted to get the letter ‘Q’ for my Chinese name, it would be so much harder for me to find one.

Now that I have one in ‘G’ for ‘Gwen’, I am wondering if I should get the letter ‘H’ for my last name, ‘Heng’ (romanised version of my Chinese last name). This Trifari ad is so cute, it makes me want to parade my initials on my garments every where I go.

Do you also have one of these Trifari initial brooches? What do you think of wearing them like suggested in the ad?

Vintage 1950’s Red Cluster Earrings and Moonglow Necklace

VINTAGE OF THE MONTH

Sharing a vintage a month, since September 2017!

It’s the time of the month again! Yes, it’s time for me to share a piece of vintage item from my very own collection. Instead of sharing a clothing item like I had for the last 4 posts, I have decided to share some accessories this time. In fact, instead of just sharing an item, I am sharing a set of 2 items!

If you are into vintage style like me, you will probably get my love for having things in a set. This means having clothes as a set, having matching shoes and bags, and even jewellery. Basically, having a well-coordinated outfit is important, and this is achieved by wearing things that come in a set.

Owning one or more demi-parures, semi-parures or full parures of vintage mid-century jewellery has always been (and is still) a dream of mine. However, finding a set of vintage jewellery in the style and colour that I love is challenging, and often costly. As a result, I have now resorted to working within the constraints of my budget and using my creativity – I find matching pieces in identical colour to pass off as part of a set.

Here I am, introducing my first faux demi-parure in one of my favourite colours – red. How can any 1950’s-loving gal not have set of red mid-century accessories in her collection? The earrings in this set is a pair of clip-on cluster earrings made up of faux pearl beads, while the necklace is made up of crescent-shaped red thermoset lucite. How classic is this shade of red?

Cluster earrings are very popular in the 50’s and 60’s. These vintage earrings are usually clip-ons, and can have the names of the brands stamped on the back. Some of the popular brands are Coro, Lisner, and Monet, etc. However, my favourite signed earrings to buy are usually the ones signed simply with the word “Japan”. I don’t know why, but perhaps because I don’t care for brand names in jewellery, or perhaps because they evoke a certain sense of mystery – no brands, just the name of a country.  These ones are signed “Japan”.

Thermoset lucite jewellery is another type of vintage jewellery I am always on the look-out for. These plastic jewellery have a special lustre and are also described as “moon glow”. How romantic is that? The half-moon design seems to be particularly popular for thermoset lucite jewellery. But thermoset lucite jewellery can also be set in a variety of shapes like leave, circle, square, rectangle, and even heart-shape. They also come in a range of colours. Some of the colours I have seen are baby pink, coral, orange, forest green, and midnight blue!

I am slowly working on having different sets of jewellery in different colours. That way, I will always have a set of vintage jewellery to put on with any kind of colour I am wearing! This may take my whole lifetime, but hey, a girl can always dream…

Do you also love wearing a jewellery sets? What is your favourite kind of vintage jewellery?

SEWN: 1950’s style Sunday Picnic Pullover Dress (Butterick 6212)

Butterick 6212 Gwenstella MadeI have always been a fan of the 1950’s walk-away dress ever since it was featured on The Great British Sewing Bee. When Butterick reproduced the pattern as B4790, I was disappointed to find that the smallest size offered by the pattern was size 8. I’m usually somewhere between sizes 4-6, and having to grade an unusual pattern like the walk-away dress would require more thinking than I would like.

The Walkaway Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

The Saturday Morning Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

So, when I found the B6212, a pullover back-wrap dress which is also another re-issue of a vintage 1950’s sewing pattern by Butterick, I knew I had to get it. Some sites and posts describe it as the “Popover Dress” or the “Saturday Morning” dress. I like both names, but it’s giving me more of a “Sunday Picnic” vibe. I was smittened by the white and red gingham version on the envelope of the pattern, and while I haven’t gone for a real picnic in years, I decided that it would be the perfect colour scheme for Chinese New Year.

Of course, as with all Big 4 sewing patterns (and the sad fact that I have almost non-existent boobs), I had to make some minor adjustments to the pattern before cutting the fabric pieces out. Most of the grading of the pattern involved the bodice. I didn’t make any adjustments to the width of the waist, because I thought I could always change the positions of the buttons to make a tighter fit if I wanted.

For the bodice of the dress, I used a white linen fabric I bought in Thailand some years back, and for the skirt portion, I used a polycotton in a red/white gingham pattern. For the buttons, I decided to make my own fabric-covered buttons using the same linen fabric I used for the bodice, to create contrast in the final look.

Unfortunately, the bodice was somehow still too baggy when I tried the dress on after sewing it together. There was too much room in front of the bust! I had to take in some fabric at the front of the bodice by making some fake vertical darts (ie folding the excess fabric inwards and then topstitching it in place).

There’s also some extra room in the underarm area which I could do nothing about. It’s a little annoying, but generally tolerable as I would be wearing a slip under the dress anyway. I think this is probably one of the biggest design flaw of the dress. I can’t imagine if having bigger or smaller bust will make this problem worse. On the bright side, at least my dress looks better than the one on the McCall site!

(via)

Despite the flaws in the design of the sewing pattern, I must say that this is a very easy pattern to sew. I love how it gives the illusion of a circle skirt without the usual yardage that is needed, since the back part of the dress is more like a shift dress. It could also probably be modified easily for an A-line skirt design!

Top: Front view. Bottom: Back view.

Making vertical faux darts on the front of the bodice

For anyone who is making this, I would strongly recommend adding the back-ties, because that allows the waist to be adjusted more easily. You know, sometimes the waist expands by an inch or so depending on how full or bloated you are!

Also, if you REALLY are thinking about making this dress, do a search and find out what others are saying about this dress. Some people really had issues with the underarms for this dress. Do your research and make an informed decision!

Have you made the Walkaway dress or this Saturday Morning dress? Are you a believer or a hater? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

And now for the million-dollar question – who wore it better? The Butterick illustrated model or me?

TUTORIAL: Crochet Sweetheart T-shirt Yarn Purse (FREE PATTERN)

I have always been a big fan of novelty materials. Way back in 2008, I experimented with knitting with fabric strips. Obviously, I had a poor understanding of fabric and how they work back then. The woven fabric I used worked out poorly and it was a failed project.

In recent years, the use of jersey aka T-shirt yarn has gotten “in vogue” again and I have always wanted to embark on a project using T-shirt yarn. When I got this sweet pastel pink T-shirt yarn, I knew I had to make something for Valentine’s Day with it. Rather than plowing through the Internet for something specific, I decided to write my own pattern for my purse. And since I already wrote it, I might as well share it with everyone too!

The best thing about T-shirt yarn is that they are considered a bulky weight and are worked with a large hook, meaning you get to a large size quickly! This sweetheart purse was made with 2 pieces of flat heart-shaped motifs sewn together, and each heart-shaped piece is made up of just 9 rounds.

Materials:

Yarn: 85m of t-shirt / jersey yarn

(e.g., Darn Good Yarn’s Reclaimed Cotton T-shirt yarn, Hoooked’s Zpagetti, or make your own using thrifted/old T-shirts via the Mollie Makes tutorial here: http://www.molliemakes.com/diy-fashion-2/how-to-make-t-shirt-yarn/)

Hook: 9.0mm

Other notions: Tapestry needles, 1 button, materials for making option lining (i.e. fabric, sewing needle and thread), plastic bag strap (or make your own using the same yarn)

Details:

Size: One size, finished bag measures 23.5cm across

Lining is optional

Instructions

GwenstellaMade Crochet SweetHeart T-shirt Yarn PurseRnd 1: Create magic ring with 6 sts

Rnd 2: 2sc in each st – 12 sts

Rnd 3: (1sc, 2sc in next st) * rep until end – 18 sts

Rnd 4: (2sc, 2sc in next st) * rep until end – 24 sts

Rnd 5: 7 sc, (2sc into next st)* rep 3 more times, 2sc, (2sc into next st)* rep 3 more times, 7sc – 32 sts

Rnd 6: (3sc, 2sc in next st,) * rep 2 more times, 2sc in next st, 4sc, (2sc in next st, 3sc)* rep 2 more times, 3sc – 38 sts

Rnd 7: 2sc in first st, 7sc, 4hdc, 4dc, 2hdc, 2sl st, 2hdc, 4dc, 4hdc, 8sc – 39 sts

Rnd 8: 2sc in first st, (4sc, 2sc in next st) * rep 1 more time, 3hdc, 2dc in next st, 1dc, 2dc in next st, 2hdc, 1sc, 1 sl st, 1sc, 2hdc, 2dc in next st, 1dc, 2dc in next st, 3hdc, 2sc in next st, 4sc, 2sc in next st, 3sc – 48 sts

Rnd 9: 2sc into first st, 7 sc, 2sc into next st, 3hdc, 2dc, 2dc into next st, 4dc, 2 dc into next st, 1dc, 1hdc, 2sc into next st, 6 sl st, 2sc into next st, 1hdc, 1dc, 2dc into next st, 4dc, 2dc into next st, 2dc, 3hdc, 2sc into next st, 4sc – 57 sts

TO FINISH

Rnd 10: 1sc, 2sc into next st, complete with blind sl st (see pictures below for details)

GwenstellaMade Crochet SweetHeart T-shirt Yarn PurseCut yarn off, learning a long tail to weave in or for stitching the 2 heart pieces together. Sew in a loop and a button as the closure for your purse. You can use a store-bought strap for your purse like I did or simply crochet your desired length of chain stitches for the strap of the bag.

GwenstellaMade Crochet SweetHeart T-shirt Yarn PurseTo give my purse a more professional finish, I also added a lining and a store-bought plastic bag chain to go with it. The lining is really optional, but for anyone who is interested in making one as well, here’s how I did mine:

  1. Create a paper pattern for the lining by tracing the shape of the heart motif on a paper. Using the paper pattern as a guide, cut 2 pieces of fabric in the main colour as your yarn, and 2 pieces as the contrast fabric.
  2. With wrong sides together, sew along the lower and side edges of the 2 pieces of fabric in main colour. Repeat this for the 2 pieces of contrast fabric. Snip notches on the bottom pointed corner.
  3. With right sides together, place the main fabric and contrast fabric pieces together. Sew along the upper edge, pivoting at the corners (as shown in the picture). Leave about 5cm of the upper edge free for turning the lining inside out. Cut notch along the curved seam.
  4. Turn the lining inside out. You should now have a lining with the main fabric on the outside and the contrast fabric on the inside.
  5. Sew the 5cm upper edge that was left unsewn using slip stitch. Press the seams if preferred.
  6. Hand stitch the lining into the bag using slip stitch.

I had so much fun taking my new purse out for a spin last weekend. This is such a fun and quirky bag, and is just the perfect size for a quick dash out of the house. If you have lots of old T-shirts lying around at home, it could also be a great upcycle craft! I hope you’ll have fun with T-shirt yarn with this pattern.

Download the FREE PDF version of this pattern which includes step-by-step progression of the rounds via my Ravelry page here. You can share your versions of your project on the Ravelry page and on my Facebook page here!

xxx

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Vintage 1970’s Floral Dress with Bell-sleeves

VINTAGE OF THE MONTH

Sharing a vintage a month, since September 2017!

So it seems to me that I had completely forgotten about my VOTM post for December 2017. My apologies for that, and let’s pretend that I was on a holiday somewhere…

Welcome back to my “Vintage of the Month” series! This month, I am sharing another piece from the groovy 1970’s, and discussing some very lovable details in this well-made vintage garment.

Wearing: Vintage 1970’s dress, vintage mid-century leather purse, very old RTW heels

I got this beautiful 1970’s Japanese vintage dress when I was on a holiday in Hong Kong a few years back. It’s just about 1/2 to 1 size too large for me, but I couldn’t let it go because of its beautiful shade of meadow green and those graceful, subtle bell-sleeves.

The bell-shape design wasn’t only restricted to pants in the 1970s. They also made their way up and crept into the design of sleeves! Bell-sleeves started becoming popular in the late 1960’s when the free-love hippie movement came about and fashion took on a boho-chic angle. It continued to stay in fashion in the 1970’s, especially in the years when the Gunne Sax and the Little House on the Prairie look became in vogue. Many knee-length and floor-length dresses in those years feature a sleeve design with a wide opening, and a length that goes up to the elbow or beyond. Just like the bell-bottom pants, these sleeves are called “bell-sleeves” mainly because of how they resemble the shape of a bell. The more exaggerated versions with even wider sleeve openings are sometimes described as “angel sleeves” too, because they look like wings when you spread your arms out with these unique sleeves.

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I wore this dress for the first time to a friend’s wedding in 2016 and these photos were taken on the day itself. Notice that I have shoulder-length hair in these photos. 😉

As with many pre-1980’s vintage garments, there are many hand-stitching details in this dress. Let’s zoom in and have a look:

Blanket stitches on hook and eye

Blanket stitches on hook and eye

Hand-stitching on the facing

Hand-stitching on the facing

Thread belt loop

Thread belt loop

Sheer polyester fabric with embroidered leaves

Sheer polyester fabric with embroidered leaves

These are all beautiful hand-stitching details that I would like to learn to incorporate into my own sewing. I have only used regular straight stitches when sewing a hook and eye, but I really like the way the blanket stitches look. Yes, I definitely should make it a point to start using blanket stitches when sewing hooks and eyes!

What is your favourite detail of this dress? And to all my sewing friends out there, what kind of vintage sewing technique do you incorporate in your everyday sewing?