PATTERN HACK: 1940’s Vintage-inspired Burnside Bibs (Sew House 7)

My personal mantra for the year 2020 is: use what you have. I am trying to apply this to my sewing projects as well. This means using my fabric stash and doing more pattern hacking. Besides, hacking the patterns that I already will help me to save money, reduce clutter (both tangible and digital), and improve  my pattern drafting knowledge!

After making my first monochrome Burnside Bibs in 2019 as an exclusive work-wear attire, I immediately made plans to make more versions of this pattern. I had bought this LECIEN floral fabric (on impulse, oops) when it was on sale because I knew I wanted to make a summer, weekend version of these bibs. Considering that my weekend wardrobe is usually vintage-inspired, it’s no surprise that I decided to take a retro spin on this version of the Burnside Bibs!

My inspiration for adding the ruffles came from the numerous vintage sewing pattern envelopes illustrations from the 1940s. Vintage sewing pattern envelopes are basically my version of the Sears catalog – they are such a great resource for studying vintage trends and fashion!

Vogue 8680, circa 1942

Du Barry 5630 – circa 1943

I found that pinafores and overalls seem to be very popular in the 1940s. Wait, are they the same thing? Anyway, many designs feature ruffles over the shoulders. I love the fun, feminine look they give, so I decided to give that a go.

Whilst I was quick to decide on adding ruffles to the shoulder straps, deciding on whether to add the scalloped hem took a lot longer. I was afraid that the scalloped hem would make the entire look too cute-sy. At the end of the day, I said to myself, “heck, go big or go home”. And so, I added the scalloped hem as well. The verdict? I LOVE IT.

In summary, here are the changes I made for this retro floral version:

  • Crotch length increased by 1” (as I previously talked about in the first version)
  • Shorts with finished measurement of 3” inseam
  • Ruffles on straps
  • Scalloped hem

And here’s how you can hack the Burnside Bibs by Sew House Seven too!

  1. Increasing the crotch length
    • Cut the front and back pants pattern pieces by following the horizontal crotch marking on the original paper pattern
    • Spread the pattern pieces by 1” to increase the crotch length
  2. Making the short length
    • Mark 5” inseam length for both front and back pants pattern pieces
    • Cut fabric with the 5” inseam length 
  3. Adding ruffles to shoulder strap
    • Cut fabric for shoulder straps and ties according to original pattern
    • Cut 2 pieces of rectangular strips measuring 3” by (~2 x the length of your should straps)”. I made the 00 size and the length of the shoulder straps for this size is ~24”. So, I cut 2 rectangular strips of fabric measuring 3” by 50”.
    • Using a tailor’s chalk, mark 5/8” from one of the corners. Then, using a pair of scissors, cut a gentle curve from the marked point to the long edge of the fabric strip. Repeat this for the other end of the fabric strip.

      Marking and cutting the soft curve

    • With the help of an iron, fold and press 1/8” of the curved edge and long edge of the fabric. Then, fold and press 1/8” length again to create a double-fold edge. Pin the double-fold edge in place.

      Pinning a double-fold edge along the curve and long edge of the fabric strip

    • Edgestitch the double-fold edge in place.

      Edgestitching the ruffle strips

    • Using the longest stitch on your sewing machine, sew basting stitches (i.e. a continuous length of straight stitches) on the fabric strips, 2/8” and 5/8” from the raw edge.
    • Create ruffles by gently pulling only 1 thread from each row of basting stitches. The final length of the ruffles should measure no more than the finished length of the shoulder straps. (Note: My ruffles are the exact length of the shoulder straps. You may wish to make your ruffles shoulder if you like.)

      Basting and creating the ruffles

    • Prepare shoulder straps and tie according to instructions in the original pattern using the FOLD METHOD (i.e. fold and press 3/8″ for one of the long edge of the shoulder strap + tie combination).

      Preparing the shoulder strap + tie for sewing

    • With RS of the shoulder straps and RS of the ruffles together, pin the ruffles to the shoulder straps with the curved edge. Make sure to align one end of the ruffle to the start of the shoulder strap and the other end of the ruffle to seam between the shoulder strap and the tie (or shorter if you don’t want your ruffles to be too long).
    • Sew the shoulder strap and ruffle together using a 3/8″ allowance. You may want to press the ruffles flat before sewing to make sewing easier.

      Sewing the ruffle to the shoulder strap

    • Fold the shoulder strap and tie in half lengthwise and edgestitch in place as per original pattern.
    • Attach the shoulder straps with ruffles to the bib as per original pattern. Make sure both ruffled straps are mirror image of one another!
    • Don’t forget to remove the basting stitches at the end as well.

      Making sure that the ruffles WS up before sewing the shoulder straps to the bib 


  4. Sewing the scallop-edge hem
    • Using your sewing machine, sew zig-zag stitch all along the raw edge of the hem. You may also wish to use a serger if you have one.
    • Fold 2″ of the hem outwards to make the WS together. Pin and press in place.
    • Mark out the scallops of your desired width, making sure that the bottom edge of the scallop is 3/8″ from the fold. If you wish to have scallops deeper than 1.5″, you will need to include a longer hem allowance for your shorts.
    • For reference, my scallops are 1.5″ deep and 3″ wide.

      Marking out the scallop pattern

    • Sew along the marking for the scallop pattern. To ensure that the sharp point where 2 scallops meet fold out nicely when you turn the scallops inside out, make sure that you sew a single horizontal stitch across the point.

      ATTENTION!!!: Sew a single horizontal stitch at the sharp point where 2 scallops meet

    • Trim and cut the scallop, leaving ~1/8 to 2/8″ from the stitches.

      Trim the scallops

  5. Fold the scallop inside out, then edgestitch all around it.

    Edgestitching to make it look pretty

And that’s it! I hope you find this pattern hack tutorial easy to follow. Actually, these methods of adding ruffles and scalloped hem can be modified really easily. You can do this to any overalls/dress/shorts pattern you have!

Hope you’re staying safe and healthy wherever you are. xx Gwen


Images of vintage sewing pattern envelopes are from: 



I don’t think I have ever talked about my #Gwerkclothes project here but here’s a short summary to bring everyone up to speed on this series of refashioned projects: in 2019, I needed work-appropriate clothes badly and was too stingy to buy new ones so I decided to refashion my mum’s unwanted clothes. With that, the #Gwerkclothes series was born.

There was a handful of clothes that I refashioned, but 1 polka dot top and 1 navy striped top appealed to me most and I decided to document those 2 projects on my Instagram (search #Gwerkclothes). Now that I have completed my 3rd and final version of refashioning for this series, it’s time for a recap and a reveal of the grand finale!


My mum is about 2 dress sizes bigger than me so the first time I worked on the clothes, all I did was altering the clothes to make them fit my petite frame better.


After wearing them consistently for several months, I got sick of their shapeless silhouette and decided that it was time for me to run them through my sewing machine again. This time round, I experimented with creating shape using elastics. The new look worked well for me for another cycle of several months. And then, I found another job position and decided to start anew!

These refashioned tops were no longer relevant when I quit the job I started this #Gwerkclothes series for. The navy striped blouse was used to make a muslin for a sewing project in the end while the polka dot top laid low in my wardrobe for a while

Mind you, these mass-produced high street pieces weren’t made to last. By the end of the peak of version 2, the fabrics were starting to pile badly with the constant washing. But I still hung on to the polka dot piece because I knew I would get an itching to create something from it again someday.


After transitioning into my new position, I decided that it was time for me to work on the polka dot top again. Considering the damage that had occurred to the fabric, I decided that making small accessories that would go with my current work capsule wardrobe would be the best choice.

And so, I made a scarf/belt AND flower brooch with the fabric! Wearing accessories is such a great way to change up an outfit. Here’s 6 different looks that I created with the same white dress and these 2 refashioned accessories:

LOOK 1: Brooch on the dress

LOOK 2: Brooch pinned to a floral hairband

LOOK 3: Scarf tied around the head as a headscarf

LOOK 4: Scarf worn around the neck

LOOK 5: Scarf worn around the waist as a belt

LOOK 6: Scarf worn around the head as a headscarf with the excess length hanging over the shoulder

With these photos, I proudly conclude the short but interesting #Gwerkclothes series. If you’re interested in seeing how I transformed the top into these 2 accessories, hop over to my Instagram to watch the tutorial via my IGTV channel (via @gwenstella.made).

Stay safe and wash your hands, everyone! x

MAKE DO & MEND: Freddies of Pinewood Jeanie Jeans

I bought these Jeanie Jeans from Freddies of Pinewood back in 2015 when they were on sale with a known zipper flaw. The risk of a zipper malfunction didn’t deter me from buying them. I just wanted to have them so bad at a good price!

The zipper worked fine for a while. Then, during my trip to Colorado in 2017, it tore. Fortunately, the tear was close to the bottom of the zipper and I could stop the zipper from unhinging from the teeth on one of the sides by handsewing the tear shut with just a needle and some thread.


The tear slowly got larger over time and at some point I was even wearing the jeans as they were. That means that I had to physically insert the teeth back into the zipper head after every trip to the bathroom. Of course, that didn’t last long.

My Jeanie Jeans went into hibernation for about a year. The last time it appeared on my Instagram feed was in October 2018. This year, I decided to shake the dust off these jeans and finally got around to fixing the broken zipper!

Here are the specific materials I used for this mending project:

  • New zipper with gold metal teeth in the same length as original
  • Dark brown jeans topstitching thread
  • Navy thread in the bobbin
  • Zipper foot on the machine
  • Jeans sewing needle in the machine

Can you spot the tear near the bottom on the right side of the original zipper (silver teeth)?


To be honest, sewing jeans isn’t easy on the home sewing machine. I am using a secondhand Husqvarna E20 with needles specific for sewing jeans and I had to physically hand-crank the machine to get the needle to go through.


Good news, I got the job done after unpick the stitches twice and broke 0 needles in the process! I’m so glad to have my Jeanie Jeans back. The stitching is not perfect but hey, it’s functional and that’s all that’s important.  x


RESTYLED: Shortened Black Gingham Shorts (2010 make)

How long is the longest relationship you have with your handmade garment?

To me, having a change of heart with my handmade garments is only natural. I don’t expect my figure and my style to stay the same forever, but I sure would like to extend the relationship I have with my handmade garments for as long as I can. Last year, I restyled / refashioned one of my 2011 sewing projects into something that fits my current style better.

And just last weekend, I decided it was time my black gingham bermudas from 2010 get a brand new look. This is the first pair of pants I have ever made and the one & only time I have ever sewn a fly zipper. Well, I’m not saying that I won’t ever sew a fly zipper again but for some reason I have been able to avoid it for the last 9 years…

Back in 2010, I wanted to make a pair of bermudas because I thought they would give a great 50’s look. As it turned out, I have always felt awkward in them because of the length. I guess I’m just not a bermuda kind of gal!

So, to give my neglected black gingham bermudas a new lease of life, I decided to shorten them and turn them into a pair of true shorts. If you are interested in learning how to shorten the length of shorts and make a double fold hem, here’s how you can do it!

  • pins
  • fabric scissors
  • straight ruler
  • fabric marker
  • thread
  • sewing machine

  1. Fold each leg of the shorts in half, lengthwise by aligning the side seams of the shorts with the inseams. Pin in place.
  2. Using a straight ruler and fabric marker, measure and mark 5″ from the crotch. Cut along the marked line.
  3. Make a double-fold hem: fold 0.5″ towards the wrong side of fabric, then fold another 0.5” with the folded edge facing the wrong side. Using a hot iron, press the double fold hem.
  4. Sew approx. 1/8 ” from the uppermost edge of the double-fold hem on the sewing machine. 

It’s that easy! Cutting the excess length off and making a simple double fold hem work well for pants that are not tight-fitting or tapered towards the knee. Be sure to make that this is the case for the pants you want to work on, to avoid ending up with hems that are too tight on your thighs.


TUTORIAL: Hue Are Cool sweater (FREE PATTERN)

Happy 2020! How is everyone doing in the new year so far? I’m excited to be back here and today I am sharing some photos of a matching sweater and beret that I made for a friend for Xmas.

I started knitting the sweater in late November 2019 and slowly worked on the projects until the beginning of January 2020. Obviously, it’s not quite a Xmas anymore since it’s about 1 month past Xmas. But hey, better late than ever right?

This sweater is designed with a faux turtleneck, 3/4 sleeves and a positive ease. It is knitted in the round, top-down and best of all, is seamless! I am sharing my pattern for free with everyone in the post. You can also download the PDF version via my Ravelry page here.

Download the PDF version of the free knitting pattern

Hue Are Cool – sweater

Finished size:
Fits UK 6 – 8 best
Chest = max 34”
Length = 22.5”
Sleeve length (from shoulder) = 16”

Yarn used:
Cake ball by Lanas Stop OR any long-strand, self-striping yarn in aran weight

approx. 530yds

18 sts to 4” with 5.00mm needles

5.00mm 16” circular needles
5.00mm 24” circular needles
4.50mm DPNs / 9” or 16” circular needles
4.00mm DPNs / 9” or 16” circular needles

Other notions:
2 stitch holders


CO 100 sts on 5.00mm needles (16” circular)

Join in round and place stitch marker at the beginning of the round

Round 1: Begin K1, P1 rib st until work measures 5” from CO

Round 2: (K1, P1, K1, Pfb)* rep until end – 125 sts

Round 3: (K1, P1, K1, P2)* rep until end. Repeat 2 more times.

Round 4: (K1, Pfb, K1, P2)* rep until end – 150 sts

Round 5: (K1, P2, K1, P2)* rep until end. Repeat round 2 more times.

Round 6: (K1, P1, Pfb)* until end – 200 sts

Round 7: (K1, P3)* rep until end. Repeat round 2 more times.

Round 8: (K1, P1, Pfb, P1)* until end – 250 sts

Round 9: (K1, P4)* until end

Continue until piece measures 11.5” from beginning OR lengthen according to your upper chest body length


(Place 52 sts on stitch holder, CO 5 sts right needle, knit 73 sts)*rep until end


Switch to 5.00mm 24” circular needles for more comfortable knitting

Continue knitting in the round until piece measures 9.5” from underarms, OR lengthen as desired.

Switch to 4.50mm needles, knit (K1, P1) ribbing for 1.5”

Bind off with stretchy BO


Work on 1 sleeve at a time

Place sts on stitch holder on 5.00mm needles, then pick up 10 sts from underarm gap

*place stitch marker between 5thand 6thstitches picked up to mark the middle of the underarms

Knit in the round for 5cm, then start decrease rounds

Dec round 1: (K1, K2tog)* rep until 3 sts remain, sl 1, K1, psso, K1

Rep dec round until sleeve measures 10” from underarms – 56 sts

Dec round 2: (K5, K2tog)* rep 8 times

Dec round 3: (K1, P1, K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K1, P1, K1, P2tog)* rep until end of round

Switch to 4.00mm needles, continue (K1, P1) ribbing for 3 rounds with the magic loop method

Switch to 3.50mm needles, continue same ribbing until ribbed portion measures 1.5”

Bind off with stretchy BO

Repeat for the other sleeve


The beret made to go with the sweater is knitted using another free pattern available on Ravelry here. For these projects, I only used 2 balls of the ‘Cake Ball’ yarn by Lanas Stop with a teeny tiny ball of yarn left to spare at the end. I am now working on a pink version of the sweater for myself, with some modifications to fit my style better.

I hope you find this pattern useful! If you decide to make your own version, please share your sweater with my via #HueAreCoolsweater so I can check out all your wonderful work! x

SEWN: Two versions of pink floral Fifi Pyjamas

The facts

Version 1: no bust adjustment, error in cutting cup, worn with little foam pads under the cups to fill the cups out

Version 2: SBA done, no foam pads under the cups in photos

The Fifi Pyjamas is part of my 2019 Make Nine plans. I bought this sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons during their Black Friday sale last year with the initial plan of using the leftover hemp-silk from making my wedding dress to make a set of luxurious pjs for myself. But of course, before I cut into the hemp silk, I wanted to make a wearable muslin to make sure that the pattern fits me right.

On top of that, I have also recently realised that my last 2 me-made pyjamas (aka Cath Kidston inspired blue floral pjs and 1950’s style Baby Doll pjs) are really starting to wear out after the constant wear in the last 2 years. It’s not surprising how easy it is for pjs to get worn out considering that I roll on the bed in them almost every day and wash them once a week!

The fabric (and other materials)

Version 1

Version 2

I decided to go with a cotton flannelette for this wearable muslin because it’s easy to sew and the fabric just screams “bedtime!!” to me. These 2 sweet, pink floral cotton flannelette prints from Spotlight Stores were an obvious choice for this project because they go so well with the other colours and prints that I used for my other handmade pjs! I just love seeing my handmade pieces go together.

The fit (and other modifications)

As the first version (larger floral print) was supposed to be a wearable muslin, I made no modifications to the pattern initially. I cut the pieces according to size 1 (UK 6, EU34), but unfortunately made a mistake with cutting the little centre-facing pointy bits of the 2 cups. I got confused with all the different lines indicating the different sizes and nipped a little bit more of the fabric than I should. As I continued sewing, I also realised that there was too much ease around the underbust and waist, and had to take the stitches out to take in a few centimetres off the side seams. Obviously, I should have just checked the finished measurements and made some modifications right from the start! *slaps own forehead*

I also ended up cutting extra pieces for making the bias tape, so I decided to make my pjs a little different with crossback straps. The cups are also definitely too big for me, and when taking these photos, I had to place some little foam cups just so the modelled photos look better. I don’t mind wearing them at home but I just want the modelled photos to look better, heh.

For the second version (smaller floral print), I followed a tutorial on the Tilly and the Buttons website for a small bust adjustment (aka SBA) and the fit turned out PERFECT! I also made the straps go closer to the centre around the back because I didn’t want the straps falling off my shoulders too easily.

Final thoughts

I am so happy that I made a second version of the Fifi Pyjamas and didn’t just walk away from the pattern after sewing it once. I have been sewing for many years but I still find it hard to sit down and do a proper muslin / fit test with my sewing patterns. But lately, I am really starting to find the value of spending a little bit more time sewing a mock-up of a sewing project, making modifications and learning things along the way.

Version 2

This is such a fun pattern to work with. I really enjoyed working with French seams. I feel that this pattern even has the potential to become a casual wear top or a night-on-the-town top with the right fabric and trimmings.

Which version do you like more? Have you made the Fifi pjs or do you have this on your to-sew list?

SEWN: Monochrome B&W Striped Burnside Bibs

Hello world, here’s my first Burnside Bibs!
The facts
I bought this pattern by Sew House 7 when the #sewtogetherforsummer hashtag on Instagram was in full swing. Unfortunately, other projects came along the way and took priority instead. Fast forward a few months later, this sewing project jumped to the front of the sewing queue when I got a new job and needed a boost in my work wardrobe!
The fabric
I made this jumpsuit using a light-weight woven cotton in vertical b&w stripes for the main colour and a light-weight woven cotton in black for the contrasting colour. As the weave of my MC fabric of the cotton is not the finest (being factory second), I decided to add a lining to the pants using a light-weight white tencel. The same white tencel was also used for the back pants facing as well as the front bib facing. Here’s a breakdown of the fabrics I used:
B&W vertical striped cotton (MC): all pieces except the ones cut with CC1 and CC2
Black cotton (CC 1): ties, pockets
White tencel: bib facing, back pants facing, pants lining
The fit
I made version #1 of the pattern (i.e. the version with a more fitted look) because of a few reasons: i. I wanted to save fabric so I could potentially make a Jailhouse Rock inspired blouse with the rest of this fabric, ii) I know the medium-weight fabric won’t look too good with a baggy look, iii) I don’t like the baggy look. Being a pretty loose-fitting garment, I knew I wouldn’t have too much issues with the horizontal fit. I checked the finished garment measurement and was happy with a 3-5″ difference to my waist, and went along with my size without making any changes to waist size.
The first and only change I made to the original pattern is the length of the pants. I am quite petite and stand at just 157cm tall, so I knew I had to take a couple of inches off the length of the pants. I took off 2 inches off the cropped version of the pattern to get this length on me. Is this considered cropped on me? I don’t even know… In any case, I am also experimenting with wearing the bibs with the legs rolled up a little bit more for a different look.
When I make the bibs again, I will be lengthening the crotch to raise the waistline up. I’m a true high-waist kind of gal and LOVE having everything on my natural waist. The current pattern is sitting on my natural waist but I think I will have more room for big movements and stay more comfortable with prolonged wear IN ALL KINDS OF POSITION (haha) with a longer rise… if you know what I mean…
Final thoughts
I have been following the Burnside Bibs hashtag on Instagram for a while and it seems like this pattern works really well in a solid colour and linen fabric. There are so many versions of this jumpsuit in different colours! I haven’t seen one made with thick vertical stripes like mine and I think that the stripe print definitely gives it a kooky look. To be honest, I didn’t start out planning on making it kooky – it just turned out that way and it’s kinda fun that it did!
This is definitely not the one and only Burnside Bibs I am going to sew in my life time. I have plans to make more versions with the following modifications in mind (on top of lengthening the rise as I mentioned above)
1. Medium-weight canvas / cotton in pink camo print
– for everyday yard work in the future
– no lining
– full length
– rectangular patched pocket
2. Light-weight cotton in pink floral print
– for everyday hanging out in the summer
– no lining
– shorts (i.e. just about 2 inches inseam)
– smaller patch pockets OR the regular round side pocket
I actually already have the fabric for the option / version 2 above but I think I will focusing on my Halloween dress and Xmas dress for the rest of the month and the following month.. so we’ll see when I get to start making the second version of my bibs.
Have you made the Burnside Bibs or have the pattern in your queue?
x Gwen

MADE: Knitted Blue Fluffy Sweater

For some odd reason, my knitted and crocheted projects don’t get featured on the blog as much as my sewing projects and I think that needs to change!

So let’s have a little chat about this sweater that I made earlier this year!

The pattern

Before I decided to use this vintage 1980’s sweater pattern from a Patons booklet I bought in a thrift store, I thought about using the Beauty School Top pattern to make another sweater with this yarn.

However, I had already knitted the sweater THREE TIMES before this project and I wanted to try something new, so I decided to use the vintage pattern instead. I am so used to having things that fit close to my body that it feels a little odd when I wear this loose-knit sweater! I guess it doesn’t hurt to have something with more ease on days when I feel like changing things up.

The yarn

The yarn that I used for this project is a novelty yarn with a fluffy texture by a Japanese company. For some reason it says “Kanebo” and it’s kinda confusing because I thought that was a cosmetic company?

Regardless, I bought this yarn for 3 reasons: 1) it has a unique texture, 2) it’s in my favourite shade of blue, 3) it’s old remnant stock as a discounted price.

This shade of powder blue also happens to be a colour that I am featuring in my current capsule wardrobe (search #Gpinkbluewardrobe2019). Since I wanted it to be part of the capsule wardrobe which started earlier this year in March, I was very motivated to get the project finished in good time. I  completed the sweater in May, and it has been worn numerous times since its completion.

Being an old remnant stock, the yarn came with some visible dirt, possibly from storage. When I first finished knitting this sweater, I could see a dark area right across the front of my chest! Fortunately, that has all come off from 2 rounds of wearing and washing.

The look

Wearing: knitted blue sweater, pink belt from my pre-teen years, me-made skirt

The colour of this sweater goes really well with my capsule wardrobe (which also features this skirt that I made), but I am still unsure of how I feel about the fit of this sweater. I think it looks better with jeans but I’m also trying to make it work with a skirt.

Well, keep an eye out for this blue sweater on my Instagram profile (@gwenstellamade) because I am sure I will continue to feature it in my capsule wardrobe!

x Gwen

SEWN: 1950’s Style Red Gingham Circle Skirt (self-drafted)

This red gingham fabric was part of my 2018 Make Nine plan. Yes, I know, we’re already going into the last quarter of 2019 but the truth is, I did finish it in 2018! I finished this skirt in early December of 2018 but haven’t had the opportunity to style it and to photograph it… until now.

Handmade is a slow process when you have a full time job, cooking and laundry to do. Every time I embark on a new sewing project, I have a very specific idea of how I want the new garment to be incorporated into my current wardrobe and enhance the pieces I already own, and sometimes it takes time for the pieces to come together.

I wanted this gingham skirt to be paired with my Simplicity 8130 white bustier. I’m not saying that this gingham skirt could only go with my Simplicity 8130 white bustier, but I wanted these 2 pieces to be THE GOLDEN PAIR, the combination that I would feature on the blog once I am done with sewing the skirt. This meant that I had to complete that white bustier before I could style and wear this skirt out. And so, with the completion and formal blog post written about my Simplicity 8130, it’s time to showcase my red gingham circle skirt!

I have a basic circle skirt pattern that I drafted and use repeatedly (like for the skirt in my Pineapple of my Eye set). However, making circle skirts repeatedly is quite boring so I try to experiment with a new thing every time I sew a new circle skirt. My pineapple circle skirt was made with a basic zipper closure and plastic horsehair braid along the hem to create fullness. This skirt is made with a button closure and finished with bias tape along the hem.

I didn’t plan the use of button closure very well. It was kind of an afterthought, so I had to add little flaps reinforced with iron-on interfacing Since I wanted this gingham circle skirt to be a really casual piece, I thought opting out of the horsehair braid will make the skirt a fuss-free piece when worn. I could opt to have some fullness with a petticoat if I wanted to, and I could just let it go limp if I couldn’t be bothered with a poofy skirt. Anyway, I also had some leftover red bias tape hanging around from making my cheongsam and I wanted to put them into good use.

To finish the hem, I placed the bias tape and skirt right sides together, stitched them together close to the edge, then folded the bias tape over to the wrong side of the skirt and hand-stitched the bias tape to the skirt using a blind stitch for a vintage look.

Despite the imperfect button closure, it’s a really simple and straightforward sewing project. I love the look of this red gingham skirt. A circle skirt in a classic gingham print like this is such a staple for a vintage style wardrobe!

Do you also enjoy sewing circle skirts? What are some of your favourite prints or colours to use when making circle skirts?


SEWN: Vintage 1950’s Style White Bustier (Simplicity 8130)

Well well well, it’s August now and here I am, writing about the first item I just checked off my 2019 #MakeNine list. When I first talked about my Make Nine plans for 2019, I was certain that I was NOT going to finish what I planned out to make. No, I am not a defeatist. I am just a realist who accepts the fact that life is unpredictable and things don’t always go as planned.

I had an unexpected change in living arrangements earlier this year and had to find a new apartment unit to rent. Finding a new place to stay and setting up my sewing space again meant taking some time off from sewing. But this also provided me with time to reorganise and helped me to learn to really prioritise what I need to sew.

Gwen posing on the beach in the white bustier she made. She is pairing the white bustier with a red sarong. Gwen posing on the beach in the white bustier she made. She is pairing the white bustier with a red sarong.In the last few months, I have embarked on several refashion projects like my collaboration with Swapaholic and my personal #Gwerkclothes project (check hashtag on Instagram for details). Refashioning is easier to do than sewing from scratch because I don’t need to be too precise with cutting my fabric, and was a way for me to get back into the rhythm of sewing after the break.

I also decided to prioritise making a new pjs for myself because all my other pjs are becoming so worn from repeated daily wear! My first version of the Fifi pjs, which is kind of meant to be a wearable muslin, is completed and I will be taking some time to take some proper photos of the set soon.

The facts

This vintage 1950’s style white bustier top was completed at the start of year because I desperately needed a white bustier top to add to my vintage style wardrobe. I have always struggled to find a bustier that fits me, and when I got my hands on the Simplicity 8130 pattern, I knew I was going to finally make a bustier for myself.

Honestly, I don’t know why it has taken me so long to finally get down to making my own bustier. Other than trying to find the right pattern, I think I was also daunted by the need for me to learn to insert boning. It’s silly because when I finally did it, I was surprised at how easy it is!

The fabric (and other materials)

I made this bustier using a white “linen” that I purchased during my holiday in Krabi. This is the same fabric that I used for my 1950’s pullover dress. I say that with the quotations because I had done a burn test with the fabric and found that it really is a poly-linen mix. The lining for inserting my bust paddings is another a red gingham polyblend from another project I completed (more on that in another post). I thought the idea of using a different fabric for the lining would be cute because it gives the final garment a more interesting look.

The boning I used is some discounted, flexible plastic boning I bought from Spotlight years ago. Basically, this bustier is made from some really cheap materials because it was just meant to be a wearable muslin.

adding bias tape for boning

Adding bias tape for boning

Adding gingham fabric for inserting removable bra paddings

Adding gingham fabric for inserting removable bra paddings

The fit (and some modifications)

The first time I put the bustier on, I thought I had just made the most perfect bustier top for myself. But when I started wearing it during my vacation in Koh Samui, I realised that I probably should have done a small bust adjustment to it so that the centre of the bustier lies closer to my skin. You can see the red gingham peeking out at times in the photos. I can play beach volleyball in this bustier without any fear of endangering my modesty, but the perfectionist in me keeps paying attention to that 2cm gap between my skin and the centre topmost point of the bustier. Am I crazy?

Regardless of that gaps, I still think that this bustier has a pretty good fit overall, considering that made a few omissions in this wearable muslin. I omitted the use of interfacing and the boning on the back bodice. I didn’t think that I needed something that feels stiff like a corset when I plan to have this as part of casual wear.

The other thing I changed when making my own bustier with this pattern was to add the extra gingham lining on the inside for the purpose of adding some removable bra paddings. With this additional design feature, I feel confident going braless in this bustier. My lack of assets means that I can never have that 1950’s bombshell look that I want but I always get around it with a little help from a couple of sponges.

A back view of the white bustier top

Final thoughts

Now that I have gotten over the fear of using boning in a garment, the next element that I am going to include in my next version of the S8130 bustier is shirring along a segment of the back bodice. Many of the vintage 1950’s bathing suits and playsuits have this design feature to enhance the fit of the garment. I wonder if an SBA alone will solve the issue of the 2cm gap between my skin and the centre of the garment but I think I would also like a little bit of give for a fitted garment made with a non-stretch woven fabric like this. I know from experience with my Simplicity 1426 (Hawaiian, Pineapple, Gingham versions) that sneezing (and sometimes breathing) could be painful when THERE IS NO ROOM for my ribs to expand.

Gwen smiling and showing off her handmade white bustier top on a beachAll in all, this is a pretty decent pattern for a petite gal like me. I can’t wait to get my final PERFECT bustier pattern after some additional modifications. I already have plans to use this pattern in an upcoming sewing project – a 1950’s prom style gown made with a gorgeous starburst tulle from Minerva Crafts!

Have you tried this pattern? What are some of the fit issues and what modifications did you have to do?