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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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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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?

SEWN: 1950’s inspired Blue Country Garden Skirt

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

In the second half of 2017, I shared a 1950’s style dress I made using a lovely blue floral fabric from the “Country Garden” series from Spotlight. Unsurprisingly, considering the not-so-secret obsession I have with having things in similar themes and style, I have a few different fabrics from this series and I intend to slowly let them creep into my wardrobe and bloom like morning glory.

This is a simple gathered skirt made with just 3 yards of fabric. The construction was simple. I basically used the skirt pattern from the Vogue 8789 pattern (but just 3 of the rectangles instead of the 4 that the pattern asked for), and added a 1.5 inch band on the top.

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Just 3 rectangles

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

In my previous Country Garden dress made using the Vogue 8789 pattern, I also only used 3 rectangales instead of 4, but only because of insufficient yardage. I subsequently read some reviews on Facebook where some sewists commented that using 4 rectangles resulted in too much bulk in the waist. Since I wanted this to be a casual day skirt, I decided to just go with just 3 rectangles for the body of the skirt.

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

I like including the selvedge in my sewing. I usually include in the side seams, but in this project, it’s used in the hem. This way, I also get to avoid folding in the raw edge before sewing the bottom hem!

Of course, I used a side-lapped zipper, just like the way our grandmothers used to sew.

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Having 3 rectangles for the body of the skirt means that there will be 3 seams for the skirt. I decided to wear the skirt with the zipper (and seam) at the back, so the other 2 seams are closer to the sides (even though they are located on the front. Regardless, the skirt is quite voluminous with the yardage involved and you can’t really catch the seams with the fluff and busy floral print.

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Country Garden 1950s Inspired Skirt

Wearing: Secondhand white bustier, Gwenstella Made skirt, very old high street heels

I’m wearing a thrifted Betsey Johnson petticoat underneath my skirt in these photos. Despite it being a gathered skirt and not a classic circle skirt, it still has a good volume and looks good with a petticoat worn under. Can you see the seams in the photo easily?

Tell me what you think about my Country Garden series with a comment below! I love hearing from everyone. xx

SEWN: Meowy Kitschmas Pencil Skirt (self-drafted pattern)

meowy christmas gwenstella made sewing

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade Happy holidays everyone! We only have less than a week to go before 2018 hits the town!

I hope everyone is having a great time this holiday season with your loved ones. My partner and I spent Christmas day together in Singapore for the first time this year. We had a low-key lunch date together at P.S. Cafe at One Fullerton, and I finally had the chance to wear my “Meowy Kitschmas” pencil skirt. Yes, you heard me right. Meowy Kitschmas.

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade This project has been brewing at the back of my mind for at least a year. I bought the fabric in 2016 and didn’t get to start on a project in time for Christmas then. Naturally, I had to wait a year for Christmas season to come around again before I could start working on a project with it.

I originally intended to make a simple gathered skirt with a fitted waist, but by the time it was November, I had made so many flared skirts and dresses that I was pretty much sick of making flared skirts. I wanted a project that I could learn something from, and a project that is different from all the other sewing projects I have embarked on and completed this year. And so, it was obvious that I had to make a pencil skirt with a self-drafted pattern (with the help of my Bunka Fashion Series book). Of course, it was also helpful to know that many of you who checked out my Instagram story voted for a pencil skirt. 😉

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade Being the person that I am, I couldn’t settle for REALLY just a BASIC pencil skirt. I wanted something different with a bit of retro 1950’s inspired rockabilly vibe.

These are the key design points to this basic pencil skirt:

  • Wide waistband with a higher front than back
  • Exposed metallic zipper
  • Organic cotton lining
  • Slightly exaggerated tapered bottom

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

To be honest, the use of an exposed metallic zipper kind of happened out of necessity. Somehow I made some wrong measurements when drafting the skirt and ended up with a smaller waistline than I intended. I had to reduce the width of the seam allowance where I was going to insert the zipper to make sure that I could still insert a zipper. The zipper insertion was successful, but upon trying the skirt on for the first time, I realised that the zipper was faulty and I had to force myself out of the skirt with a stuck zipper. It was not a pretty sight.

When I finally tore myself out of the skirt, I decided to use an exposed zipper so that:

a) I could add some bling to the skirt
b) I could have a wider seam allowance for inserting the zipper
c) I could learn something new

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade It was one of my best decisions ever! The exposed metallic zipper worked perfectly… and feels way stronger than a regular invisible zipper too.

I love the way the skirt looks and feels on me. The organic cotton lining is soft on the skin and the tapered design gives me the rockabilly wiggle when I walk – it’s everything that I have dreamed of and more!

You know what else makes this skirt special?

Proudly “Gwenstella Made”

This pencil skirt, is the very *first* item in my sewing history to bear the bold label of “Gwenstella Made”. Can you believe it!?

I am so glad that the Dutch Label Shop came forward to offer me some labels to use for my sewing projects. I created my labels easily and quickly on their site itself – no fancy designer software or knowledge needed! You can choose from a wide range of colours and generic symbols. I chose black, grey, and pink with a sewing machine, ball of yarn, and heart respectively. Aren’t they lovely? I am soooo looking forward to using them for my personal sewing, knitting/crochet projects and other handmade gifts in 2018! I will be sharing a discount code for anyone who is interested in getting some labels made too. Keep your eyes peeled!

One Fullerton PS Cafe Singapore Christmas

With my partner Steven, taken in PS Cafe at One Fullerton

What do you think about my first Christmas sewing project? Do you have the tradition of making a new thing for Christmas or any other holiday(s) like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa that you celebrate each year?

UPDATE (10 Jan 2018): Get 15% off your purchase from the Dutch Label Shop when you enter the code “gwenstellamade15” before you check out! xxx

Vintage Pledge 2017 round-up & 2018 Make Nine

Gwenstella Made Vintage Pledge 2017

Vintage Pledge 2017 Round-up

It’s only about less than 2 weeks until we bid goodbye to 2017 and usher in the brand new year of 2018. How has the year been for everyone? After years of suffering from a creative drought (a side effect of moving away from the life you want and starting a 9-5 job), I think it’s now safe to say that I am finally on board the train to sewing enlightenment. Full speed ahead with no time to lose!!!

This year, I completed an unprecedented number of sewing projects – 2 pyjamas sets, 2 skirts, 2 shorts, 2 sun tops, 2 dresses, and 1 men’s shirt to be exact. Most of these projects have already been featured on my blog, but there are still a handful of them that are waiting to be shared.

At the start of the year, I also jumped on the Vintage Pledge bandwagon. Just a recap for everyone, this is what I pledged:

“For the year 2017, I pledge to sew (at least) an item each for the purpose of home, work, play, and party. I will use a pattern from a different era for each project, and I will use a different type of fabric for each project.”

Here’s a round-up of all the items I made using vintage or vintage reproduction patterns this year. How did I do with adhering to my pledge? Let’s see… did I use different types of fabric? Nope. I only used cotton in these projects. I simply have too much cotton in my current stash!

How about different eras? Who was I kidding? All the patterns I used this year are from the 1950’s. I guess I am just all about the 1950’s!

How about different purposes? Hmmm, let me think… My pink pyjamas set is obviously loungewear, my lemon dress made an appearance at work once, my green gingham set went on a holiday with me to Colorado and Texas, and my blue Country Garden dress was worn at my friend’s wedding in Byron Bay, Australia. I guess I did sew different items for the purposes of home, work, play, and party this year!

Touring the city of Denver, CO with my green gingham skirt (2017)

Walking along the street after breakfast at Lucile’s in Boulder, CO (2017)

Another day in Denver, CO (2017)

At a dear friend’s wedding in Byron Bay, AU (2017)

Obviously, the vintage pledge is not a life-and-death deal. It would have been great to have stuck to it. Imagine all the skills I would have learnt from working with the different fabrics and all the fun I would have had playing dress up for the different eras! But, I might not have had the joy of sewing what my heart wanted and making something “just for the sake of it” would have been tiresome. I am really proud of everything I made this year and I am really looking forward to another year of creating and learning.

I have made some rough plans for 2018 and it’s mainly going to be about using the fabrics that I have in my stash and making sure I don’t buy new ones… just cause they are pretty and I have no self-control. Heh. It also seems to me that I have used mostly prints this year, so I am going to make it a point to sew with more plain fabrics next year.

So, instead of listing 9 different projects I have in mind, here are the 9 different fabrics I have in my stash which I will be using in 2018:

From top to bottom:

  • White swim fabric
  • Black swim fabric
    • OMG YES I am going to make a bathing suit in contrasting colours
  • Red cotton in casino print
    • Obviously, this will be a 1950’s inspired rockabilly bustier top. Maybe with boning…
  • Burgundy rayon
    • For the sake of not divulging any information about my next big project, I just want to say that this will be used for making a wearable muslin for my BIG project. You know it’s important when I actually PLAN to make a muslin.
  • White line/poly mix
    • This is the contrast fabric for my latest project – Butterick 6212
  • Red gingham polycotton (large squares)
    • This will be a skirt, but I haven’t checked the yardage so I am not sure if it’s going to be a 1/2 circle, 1/4 circle, or just a basic gathered skirt.
  • Salmon pink linen
    • I think I have at least 3-4 yards of this. Guess what, I am going to be making coordinates with this!
  • Red gingham polycotton (small squares)
    • This is the skirt portion for my B6212 dress. No surprises here really, especially if you follow me on Instagram and have already seen photos of me working on this in my InstaStory!
  • Novelty red polycotton in Southeast Asian inspired print
    • Yes, another Shaheen-inspired item! The last time I used a batik fabric was for a self-drafted playsuit. This fabric will be used for making a Southeast Asian version of a Hawaiian sarong dress!

Did you also take part in the Vintage Pledge this year? How did you pledge go? What is the biggest project you are planning to make in 2018? Tell me all about it in the comments section! x G

SEWN: 1950’s style Blue Country Garden Dress (Vogue 8789)

Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden

Sewing Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden
Is it just me or is the year flying by at the speed of light? I can’t believe that it is already October and this is only my SECOND dress of the year. Only 2 dresses so far!?

Surprisingly, I actually made this in record time of less than a month. The queen of procrastination is procrastinating no more! At this rate, I am hoping to complete at least 1 more dress, 1 pair of shorts, 1 bra top, and 1 skirt before 2017 draws to an end. *insert strong arm emoji*

Sewing Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden

Sewing Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden
This dress was made using Vogue 8789, a reproduced vintage pattern from 1957. I made adjustments to the bust and waist, as usual, to fit my under-developed bust and very average waistline. Grading this pattern down to my size was super easy with its simple design.

The fabric I used for this project is a beautiful floral fabric from a collection called “Country Garden #11”, something I purchased from Spotlight many years ago. I have a couple of other designs from this series and I can’t wait to sew other things with them.

Sewing Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden

Inside out.

Topstitching around the seam between the bodice and the skirt. There was so much fluff underneath because of the gathered fabric for the skirt!

Invisible side zipper

The pattern asks for 4.75 yds of 45″ wide fabric for size 6, but I only had 3.5 yards of this 45″ wide fabric. So, instead of cutting 4 rectangular pieces to make up the skirt, I only cut 3 pieces. In spite of that, I actually still managed to get a rather decent body to the skirt with a petticoat underneath. I wonder what it would look like with the full volume as stated in the pattern!

Hem of the skirt finished with a rolled hem foot on the sewing machine to save yardage! Also, I’m a fan of leaving the selvedge of a fabric in the finished product so I can always remember what the the fabric is called.

Centre front seam – perfect match!

I am absolutely in love with the simplicity of the pattern. It was easy to sew and the style is such a classic 1950’s look. If I made the dress again, I’d definitely want to add a lining to the bodice, and use the same fabric for the armhole facing rather than a plain white fabric like I did for this dress. Finishing the armhole facing with bias tape wasn’t something that the instruction asked for, but I thought it would make my dress look more “finished” on the inside. I’d do it again for the next time I make a dress with this pattern, perhaps even with a fancier bias tape just to make things more interesting.

Sewing Gwenstella Made Vogue 8789 Country Garden


Do you have this pattern sitting in your stash? My recommendation is to dig it out and start sewing! xx G

SEWN: 1950’s style Lemon Drop Dress (Vogue 2902)

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

Summer is my favourite season. My fabric stash is usually made up of fresh prints and vivid colours made for summer, and nothing screams summer like this vintage 1950’s style lemon print fabric.

gwenstella made sewing vintage V2902

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

I have had this fabric in my stash for a few years, but I have never quite gotten around to making something with it… I think I had been waiting for the “right” pattern to come to me. When I bought the vintage reproduction pattern Vogue 2902 a few months ago, I knew it was the perfect pattern for this fabric. The bright lemon print needed something to “frame” it to make it stand out even more, and the contrasting band on the bodice for V2902 was just what I wanted.

(via)

As usual, I didn’t have sufficient yardage to reproduce the pattern in its entirety. This is not shocking news when you don’t buy fabric with a project in mind and end up deciding to make a dress with a full circle skirt! It was definitely disappointing initially, but I think my decision to replace the original design with a simple gathered skirt worked out beautifully as well.

I love that having a gathered skirt means there’s no pressure to wear a petticoat to give the dress the structure for a more authentic 1950’s look (as illustrated on the envelope). I have always wanted this dress to be a casual, vintage style summer dress anyway! But still, I didn’t want the skirt to be entirely… limp.

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

And so, I decided to add just a itty bitty bit of structure to the skirt with a lining that resembles a petticoat. Here’s how I cut the layers for the lining:

FullSizeRender

Making the lining

I could add more layers to add more volume, but I decided that 3 sections was sufficient. As a general rule, you would want the next layer to be 1.5 times the length of the previous layer.

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

Cutting the pieces to make the lining, with the skirt layered underneath for comparison of length

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

Sewing up the lining

I chose different colours for the layers of lining because:

1) I wanted a coordinating colour to show if my lining does peek out by accident
2) I was afraid that a completely blue lining might make the skirt look more blue or somehow just show under sunlight

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

Peek-a-boo!

Replacing a circle skirt in a pattern with a gathered skirt is such an easy hack, and I had so much fun adding a fun lining to the skirt for my dress. The design of the bodice for this dress is such a classic vintage look, I think I will continue to have fun hacking the pattern. How about a wiggle dress with this same bodice next? Let me know what you think about my version of the V2902 pattern in the comments below! xx

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

SEWN: 1950’s style Baby Doll PJs Set

This is a project that I had planned as part of the basic 4 patterns for the year for my vintage pledge. To be honest, I didn’t think I would actually begin sewing this so soon. I have been busy working on a few different sewing projects concurrently for the past couple of months, like the lemon dress and pineapple bra top. However, progress for those projects have been slow (for reasons that I shall not elaborate on for the purpose of this post), and I decided to start on something new and simple.

Nothing screams classic mid-century home glamour like a baby doll pjs set. This Burda Style 7109 sleepwear pattern is an absolute anomaly for me. Specifically, it’s the one and only Burda Style paper pattern that I own. I am not sure if it’s a true vintage reproduction pattern, but the illustrations on the envelope and the description of the pattern on the Simplicity webpage suggest so:

Marvelous ensemble with all the charms of the 50’s: long, sleeveless night gown with elastic casing or shorter variant covering the knee, with short sleeves or cute baby doll with bloomers.

I always knew this light pink swiss dot fabric would be used for this project. When I dug it up from the abyss of my stash, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough yardage for the pattern. I only had 1.5 yards each of the swiss dot and the cotton lining I was going to use. This pattern suggests 2 1/4 yds for the top (option C), and 7/8 yds for the bloomers (option D) for the smallest size printed for the pattern – US size 10. Fortunately, after downsizing it by 2 sizes for it to fit my frame, I realised that I was able to squeeze all the pattern pieces onto just 1.5 yards of the fabric.

Only 4 pieces (excluding the ruffle on the top, option C)

Tip: I stitched a light pink cotton lining under the sheer swiss dot with the machine using a zig-zag stitch in slightly higher tension to make both pieces work together when stitching the pieces together.

Grading this pattern was easy peasy as it’s a very simple design. The most tricky thing about using this pattern was the cutting of the fabric. All of the patterns I have been using show the cut line on the pattern (i.e. 5/8″ seam allowance included), but this Burda Style pattern actually shows the stitch line (i.e. 5/8″ seam allowance NOT included). I forgot about this important piece of information along the way and actually cut the fabric along the stitch line. *gasp*

Oh the horror! And mind you, I only realised my mistake halfway through sewing everything. As you guessed, I did not make a muslin. Out of sheer luck, everything ended up fitting me pretty decently.

To give this baby doll pjs set an even greater and sweeter baby doll vibes than it already does, I decided to use floral bias tape binding, and added some ribbon roses to the centre front of the top and the sides of the bloomers. I’m so happy with how these details turned out. They make me feel that the reproduction is more true to the era, and give the entire set a more polished look.

I am not sure if I will make any more pjs for the rest of the year, since I have already made 2 so far (including this one). But I think this is a very versatile pattern which I will keep re-using. I am already thinking about making another pair of bloomers to go with a lonely vintage 1960’s baby blue pajamas blouse, and perhaps even making a variation at some point with puff sleeves. Hurrah to all the sewing that awaits! xo G