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

 

My #VintagePledge (2017)

gwenstellamade vintage pledge 2017

Clockwise from top left: Vintage 1940’s McCall 6437, reproduced vintage 1950’s Burda 7109, reproduced vintage 1960’s Butterick 6582, vintage 1970’s Butterick 3148

My relationship with vintage and sewing goes a long way back. I picked up sewing from a dressmaking course in a community centre way back in early 2010, and my first project ever was a basic shirt in a vintage shabby-chic floral fabric. Back then, I was already deviating towards vintage style, but was still not sure of what I was going for.

The next sewing project I embarked on was a dress made from the vintage 1992 Butterick 6019 pattern that I found in a thrift shop. As you can see from the photo, I was still not sure what I was going for.

gwenstellamade vintage pledge 2017Months turned to years, and my style and understanding of sewing developed (albeit slowly). The turning point came when I made my best dress to date in 2012 – the Edith dress. It’s a sweet pastel green dress made with the vintage 1960 reproduction pattern Butterick 6582. In that same year, I found happiness with mid-century style. Since then, many of my sewing projects evolved around the 40s (e.g., the Rosie), 50s (e.g., the Green Gingham), and 60s (e.g., the Mondrian).

1950s 1960s floral dress butterick retro sewing hell bunny petticoat

Edith

gwenstellamade vintage pledge 2017

Left to right: 1940s vintage Butterick 5209, 1950s vintage Simplicity 1426, modern 1960’s inspired New Look 6049

So how is it possible that this is the first time I’m taking part in the Vintage Pledge? Honestly, I never knew about the Vintage Pledge until I chanced upon a tweet by Marie from Stitching Odyssey recently. Yes, this is the beauty of social media (and the use of hashtags).

I have been struggling with being consistent with my sewing for the past few years. If you check out my sewing posts on this blog, you will notice that I have been sewing (and posting about my sewing) very sporadically in the last 5 years. I could write down a long list of reasons for not keeping up with my sewing and my blog, but that won’t be helpful at all.

Never mind the years I have lost and not spent on sewing, because this is the year that I will finally come out of a creative rut and find my sewing mojo again. And I think making this pledge will really help in this regard. So here, ladies and gentlemen, is my Vintage Pledge for 2017:

“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.”

I’m hoping that in sewing different projects for the home, work, play, and party, each from a different era, I will be able to continue to explore my style, and develop a sense of sewing identity in my different areas of life. More importantly, I want to explore and learn about techniques needed for working with different types of fabric. Yes, it’s time I start moving away from weaved, stable fabrics!

Here’s a look at some of the patterns that I will be using:

gwenstellamade vintage pledge 2017

The vintage 1940’s McCall sewing pattern is actually a birthday present from a dear friend this year. ❤

gwenstellamade vintage pledge 2017I am still in the early stages of planning these sewing projects, and I can’t wait to share more with everyone once I have some concrete ideas for these projects. I’m so excited!

Are you also taking part in the Vintage Pledge? Let me know what you’re making! I’d love to have a look at the patterns that you have. x

SEWN: 1950’s style Gingham Blouse and Skirt

Wow, I can’t believe that this is already the second “Sewn” post for the year. This has been an incredible year of sewing for me so far (and it’s only March), and I am so excited to share this recent make with everyone! This green gingham fabric has been in my stash for a long long time. I remember purchasing it because it was cheap (which is a bad choice in retrospect) and putting it away with the rest of my stash while waiting for the “right pattern” to come around. When I purchased the Simplicity 1426 pattern late last year, I knew I wanted to use this fabric to create a cute 50’s inspired look with any of the bra tops in the pattern, complete with a matching skirt. It seemed easy when I planned it out in my head…

Back when I bought the fabric, I was a young and naive sewist. I didn’t know matching pattern was a thing. Watching The Great British Sewing Bee taught me a lot of things. For one, it taught me that pattern matching could either make or break a finished garment. As I began to plan the placement of pattern pieces for this project, my feelings towards this chirpy green fabric turned from that of happiness and hope to a kind of fear and resentment.

Alas, the fear of matching large gingham pattern got the better of me. I decided to shelf this project for a while (and later moved on to cutting and sewing my first handmade PJs set).

Somewhere in November, I finally mustered enough courage to start sewing the pieces together. Everything came together surprisingly well! It’s not perfect in all the spots, but I think it’s pretty darn good for someone who is doing pattern matching for the first time.

Sewing Simplicity 1426 Retro Vintage 1950s 1960s gwenstellamade

Fairly well-matched pattern

For the top, I made view A in size 4 which fitted me very well at all the important spots. As I wanted something that would look more like a top and less like a bra, I lengthened my bottom band to around 3.25″ wide. I also added some bra cups between the gingham fabric and the lining so that this could truly be a bra top and not worn with anything else underneath. More importantly, the bra cups help to fill up the top more than my boobies can!

I made the skirt without any pattern. It’s basically a long rectangular piece of fabric sewn at the ends to make a loop, then gathered at the top and sewn to a sturdy waistband. Working with limited yardage (as usual), I could not make a full circle skirt.

The first button: For days of multiple feasts

The second button: For more adventurous days

Both the bra top and the skirt have button closures. The top, in particular, has the cutest green flower buttons I found in my stash.

Have I mentioned anything about the buttonholes? Another thing that the GBSB taught me was the magic of a buttonhole foot. Every single button hole on the back of the top is of equal size. Every. Single. One.

In case you’re wondering, I wore my top over the band of my skirt

Wearing: Gwenstellamade top and skirt, thrifted wedges, vintage clutch

Moving ahead, I’m already in the midst of cutting up view C for another project. I also have this same gingham print in red and blue (in different yardage). Maybe I will be working on them soon in the next few months. If you like what I have been making so far this year, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram (@gwenstellamade) to join me in all of my adventures!

SEWN: My first handmade PJs set

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Sewing Retro Blue Floral PyjamasGrowing up, I never owned any PJs. What  I usually wore to bed were a ratty tee and a pair of ugly, loose shorts. These were usually the same T-shirt and shorts that I wore to bum around at home and sometimes, for a quick run to the stores. It was not the classiest ensemble, but it was very comfy.

I always thought that PJs was a bourgeois practice. Why a different set of clothes was needed for going to bed was something I never understood.

But oh, how the times have changed.

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Sewing Retro Blue Floral PyjamasI no longer wear any ratty t-shirts when heading out for a quick trip to the store, and I’ve grown fond of the idea of putting on something sweet and delicate after my shower in the evening. Yes, I’m turning towards the life of the bourgeois.

I’ve had this royal blue rose garden print flannel fabric in my stash forever. I think I found it in a fabric remnant bin and bought it for less than $10. I always thought I would make something Cath Kidston-inspired with it, like a purse or a hat. But I never got around doing that, and when the idea of making a pyjamas set came to me, it was clear that this was the perfect fabric for the project.

As I only had a short yardage to work with, I decided to make a simple sleeveless blouse and a pair of shorts – nothing too stuffy for bed in Singapore!

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Front and back

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Buttons

For the blouse, I drafted my own simple button-front top with waist darts on the front and back. The armholes were finished with bias tape. This is my favourite method for finishing sleeveless armholes.

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Sewing Retro Blue Floral PyjamasFor the shorts, I used New Look 6055 (option E). In order to work with the limited yardage I had, I eliminated the pockets. I also created a curved hem and added ruffles along the hem of the shorts to make it look cuter than the regular pair of pyjamas shorts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric to make some ruffles for the blouse too.

Sewing Retro Blue Floral Pyjamas

Sewing Retro Blue Floral PyjamasNevertheless, I’m really happy with how this pyjamas set has turned out. The fact that the print reminds of Cath Kidston’s designs is an absolute bonus.

SEWN: 1950’s inspired Bateau Neckline Blouse

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau Sewing

Wearing: Matching boat-neck blouse and skirt, and pom pom headband (all me-made)

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau SewingI’m a real sucker for matching sportswear. They have endless outfit possibilities and let me pretend that I have created a collection for my own pretend fashion label for Fashion Week.

Ideally, I want to complete my matching sportswear within a month of making each item of clothing. But very often, that is not possible because of my general disregard for time. (I’m slowly getting better at this, I swear.)

I wrote about the “Dancing Couples Flared Skirt” back in January 2015, but only managed to make this matching bateau neckline top several months later, in October 2015. And for some reason, after completing it, I put it back in my closet and only wore it out for the first time in May this year for Me Made May. (What is wrong with me???)

All right, let’s get over the embarrassing timeline and focus on the subject of the post. The bateau aka boat-neck design was a very popular cut in the 50’s. Using pictures of vintage 1950’s sewing patterns I have found online as inspirations, I drafted my own pattern for a fitted blouse with a bateau neckline and cut-in armholes.

Front view

Front view


Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau Sewing

Back view

The construction of the blouse was easy. I didn’t even make a muslin for this. The trickiest thing was actually deciding the kind of fastening I wanted for the top. As the blouse has a pretty fitted waist, I needed something with an opening that was large enough for my arms, shoulders, head, and (non-existent) boobs. I didn’t have any separating zippers (and didn’t want to buy one), so I simply made do with an invisible zipper that I had.

Centre-back zipper fastening

Centre-back zipper fastening and contrast thread


Armhole finishes with bias tape

Armhole finishes with bias tape

I somehow managed to find a balance where I could *just* fit the blouse over my head. (Thank you, non-existent boobies.) But in hindsight, I probably should look into doing some research on vintage dressmaking techniques and doing a proper vintage fastening, like having the bottom fastened with buttons so I won’t have to do the wiggle every time I put this blouse on.

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau Sewing

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau SewingWell, live and you learn.

I still have maybe a quarter yard of this fabric available. I should look into making an accessory with the rest of the fabric, like a hat, a belt or a little purse. We’ll see!

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau Sewing

Dancing Couples 1950's Vintage Style Blouse Bateau Sewing

Check out my post on the Dancing Couples flared skirt here.

SEWN: 1960’s style Plaid Shift Dress

vintage 1960s inspired plaid shift dress sewing dressmaking

*wipes the cobwebs off this blog*

Ah! How time has flown once again. I have been so busy with moving and everything else that I haven’t had the time to write a blog post. Now that wifi is set up in my new home, I am excited to be back and sharing something again!

In my previous post, I shared with everyone a shift dress I made a few years ago using a fabric with a Mondrian inspired print. That sleeveless dress was made using a New Look pattern, so this time I thought I oughta challenge myself by putting my amateur pattern-making skills to test and draft a shift dress with sleeves.

I thought it would be easy but I was wrong.

vintage 1960s inspired plaid shift dress sewing dressmaking

Wearing: 1960s inspired plaid shift dress (handmade), black glitter thigh high socks (ASOS), cat eye glasses (ASOS), black purse (won in a giveaway eons ago), vintage white clip-ons (thrifted)

vintage 1960s inspired plaid shift dress sewing dressmakingI know it looks fine in the photos but there are so many things I am unhappy about. First of all, the collar is a little too high *chokes*. Next, the darts don’t lie flat despite my best sewing attempt. Finally, the sleeves took 2 drafts to finally fit (and when I mean fit, I mean I can just barely move my arms in the dress).

Good thing I was cheap and I only used the expensive plaid fabric on the front of the dress in the attempt to create contrasting accents for the dress. If I had to make the plaids match front and back too, I would have died on the sewing table.

 

vintage 1960s inspired plaid shift dress sewing dressmaking IMG_5780But you know what, I am actually rather pleased with how the contrasting patch pockets turned out! They are a wee tiny but I think I have done a good job at sewing them on.

vintage 1960s inspired plaid shift dress sewing dressmaking As of now, I have worn the dress about twice as part of my current weekend capsule wardrobe. I am still not happy with the way the sleeves are making me use my arms like a T-Rex, and I am seriously thinking about either taking the sleeves off completely, or…. *cue horror music* try drafting the sleeves again for the third time.

We’ll see!

SEWN: 1940’s style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Pink version)

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

Last week I wrote about the purple version of my Retro Rosie dress that I made using the Retro Butterick B5209 paper pattern. Guess what? I have another version of the dress in pink!

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at my own silliness. Yes, I bought the same fabric design in 2 different colours and made 2 similar dresses out of it using the same paper pattern. Blame it on my old soul, but I have a weakness for coordinated wardrobes like people used to in the past. If I had enough fabric I would even want to make a separate skirt! And then for a whole month, I would be wearing items from the same series on the weekends. Hehe.

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

Wearing: Handmade 1940’s vintage style Retro Rosie floral dress; pink sunnies from ASOS.com; black ballet flats from London Rebel; handmade pink peony hair pin

Butterick Retro B5209

(via)

This pink version of my Retro Rosie dress comes with sleeves and the original gathered skirt. Nothing major happened throughout the cutting and sewing process. However, similar to the purple version, the bodice turned out a little loose on me. Fortunately, the sleeves and the presence of a back piece made it all look ok and not too baggy on me, so I didn’t have to do any adjustments like I did for the purple version. I’d definitely resize it if I ever made another one again!

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

1940's vintage style retro rosie floral dress in pink

And now that you’ve seen both versions of the Retro Rosie dress, tell me, which one is your favourite? I’d love to hear your thoughts! x

SEWN: 1940’s style Retro Rosie Floral Dress (Purple version)

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

A (long) while back, the McCall Pattern Company reproduced and reprinted a series of Retro Butterick patterns. One of the Retro Butterick patterns I purchased is Butterick 6582 (1960s pattern) which I used to make the Edith dress. The other pattern I purchased is Butterick B5209, a pattern that was first printed in 1947. I chose it because I was smitten with the classic “New Look” silhouette and the fact that the sleeveless version of the dress looks so much like the famous white dress worn by Marilyn!

Butterick Retro B5209

(via)

Unfortunately, the sleeveless version of this pattern didn’t fit me so well in the bodice area and I had to make a few modifications to make it stay close to my body. I shortened the halter neck strap, added elastic along the back, and even added boob pads on the bodice front so I could wear it without a bra. Yes, the slightly plunged neckline at the back makes the wearing of a bra tricky.

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

And… worst of all, by the time I was done with the bodice, I realised that I didn’t have enough fabric to make a gathered skirt like the original pattern. I must have forgotten to plan out the cutting of fabric or I just didn’t get enough fabric – I don’t remember which happened. Regardless, I solved the problem by making a half circle skirt instead. I am so happy that everything turned out just fine!

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

1940s inspired style Retro Rose Floral Dress

Now that I have worn it for the first time, I am still feeling kinda iffy about the positioning of the boob pads. I might take them off and sew them on again, this time closer to the centre. And then, I’d be looking forward to wearing it again.. and again.. and again!!! xo

SEWN: Red Hot Batik Summer 1950’s inspired fitted playsuit

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

The Internet has helped me to realise that there are tons of vintage mid-century Alfred Shaheen playsuits out there. But unfortunately, it’s hard for me to find one with a print that truly speaks to me. Besides, it’s also hard to find an affordable one in my size. Aye, I expect vintage Alfred Shaheen to be expensive, but I am not sure if I am ready to spend that kind of money…yet.

McCall 3919 Playsuit and Skirt Sewing Pattern

McCall’s 3919 Playsuit and Skirt Sewing Pattern (via)

And then I came across this picture of a vintage McCall’s 3919 Instant Playsuit and Skirt pattern (circa 1956). My heart spoke and I did what it said; I drafted a pattern based on this picture, and took a cheap batik tablecloth out of my fabric stash.

Alfred Shaheen was known for using unique fabric designs inspired by the Hawaiian islands. On the other hand, batik fabric is a type of fabric design that is symbolic to and very popular in the Indonesian culture. Batik designs are also seen and used in many countries in Southeast Asia. The uniform worn by the Singapore Girls of Singapore Airlines is one classic example of batik design. These 2 designs come from 2 different corners of the world, but their styles are highly similar, and they evoke the same mood to me. Two words – exotic summer.

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

Wearing: Handmade vintage inspired playsuit, rattan basket bag from Vietnam, laced up ballet flats

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

I was really apprehensive about starting the project because it was my first time drafting a pattern myself after attending a series of Italian dressmaking classes last year. What if I failed!?!?!?!!

Fortunately, I didn’t. Well, I guess it wasn’t a very difficult pattern. I had to take the playsuit in a little bit more at the end, but that was it. The bust area fit fine, the facings match the main body, the armholes look tidy, and the centre-back button entry is right at the centre!

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

Detail: Up close

Armholes

Detail: Armhole with bias tape sewn

Fabric logo

Detail: Unfortunate placement

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

Back details: Centre-back button entry and one gold motif on each half of the back

The other challenge was cutting the fabric pieces according to the design of the fabric. I cut it in a way such that the front has a vertical design down the centre, while the back has a different motif in each half. I had so much fun figuring this out! And everything turned out rather well. The only thing I would pick on… would be the unfortunate placement of the logo of the fabric at the crotch. But I had no choice, the fabric was only a little more than a metre and I was trying to work with the design of the fabric. Good thing it’s not too noticeable.

Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s inspired playsuit

Front details: Vertical design down the centre and a round neckline

I guess the only difference between the original pattern and mine is that I have a regular neckline at the back instead of a lowered neckline. Looking back, the latter would have been a better idea because I can’t reach some of the buttons too easily – getting in and out of the bathroom takes a while!

Other than that, I’m super glad with how everything has turned out. This is definitely something I will keep forever. I am thinking that making clothes using batik fabric to emulate the popular vintage tiki designs might be an addictive business… xoxo G

 

SEWN: Take A Holiday Gathered & Flared Skirt

Take A Holiday 50s Inspired Gathered & Flared Skirt

Oh hello March!

I think I am starting to get the hang of sewing skirts. This gathered and flared skirt was really easy to assemble. Best of all, I cut the pieces myself without any sewing pattern involved! This is the first time I have sewn a clothing item without the help of a paper pattern. True, a skirt is super easy. But at least this is a start!

Take A Holiday 50s Inspired Gathered & Flared Skirt
Take A Holiday 50s Inspired Gathered & Flared Skirt

This skirt was made with just 1 yard of fabric. I think I have just made up my mind that skirts are the best fabric stash buster.

I bought this dreamy fabric from Spotlight just a few months ago. The houses and trees remind me of the streets I used to walk along in Sydney.. Ah… those long sunny days and hazy summer dreams…

Yes, novelty prints are the best. And why yes, this project was inspired by all the novelty print skirts and dresses from the 1950s. Here are some more to spark some inspiration!

1950s novelty print skirts

(via)

 

1950s novelty print skirts

From left to right: here, here, here

 

Only 2 more weeks to my next holiday! Woohoo! xoxo G