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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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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