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

 

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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

SEWN: Dancing Couples Flared Skirt

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Wearing: Handmade Dancing Couples Skirt, Betsey Johnson retro style telephone bag, ASOS heels, and bumper bangs!

Details

Details – dancing couples and heart-shaped buttons!

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This is a skirt that I made last year and never got the chance to blog about! I am terrible at blogging. At this moment, I still have 2 other vintage style dresses that I made in the last year which I haven’t had the chance to share with everyone as well!

I made this skirt using a whimsical fabric that features dancing couples. Can I just say that I want all of those outfits that those ladies on my skirt have? This skirt was made with a pattern.. which I can no longer find in my stash. Seriously, where did it go? It is possible that I sold it to one of the people in my pattern-making class…

Let's do the Do-Si-Do!

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IMG_5687Also, I am wearing my harlequin top again. Can you blame me? It goes with so many things I have. And let’s take some time to appreciate my Betsey Johnson retro style rotary dial “Call Me” handbag which I got as a Xmas present from my boyfriend. XoX

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SEWN: 1970’s Baby Blue Gingham Prairie dress

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It is not a secret that I love mid-century style. But lately, I have been slowly venturing into the fashion of the 1970’s. In my opinion, the fashion of 1970’s is a lot more easy to replicate than mid-century for everyday wear if you are just starting to experiment with vintage fashion. One of the more memorable trends from the 1970’s is the bohemian/prairie/peasant look.

This circa 1970’s vintage Butterick sewing pattern is an example of the classic peasant look from the post-Woodstock years. I thrifted this pattern a couple of years ago from a thrift shop for just 50c. And then, upon returning home, I discovered, to my horror, that it was missing the instruction sheet. Thankfully, there’s this thing called the Internet and I figured out how to sew it, lining and all!

Pattern: Vintage 1970’s Butterick 6124
Fabric: Baby blue gingham, polycotton
Modifications: 1) Reduced the bust size as the pattern is not in my size. Looking at the end product, I think the bust can definitely be reduced further. T_T 2) Added a white lace and ric rac trimming at the bottom because obviously it looks better that way

Butterick 6124

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Up to this point, I still don’t know what I feel about the sleeves. I find them a bit too poofy. So poofy that they make me look like Popeye after 4 cans of spinach. What do you guys thinks? Should I downsize the sleeves further when I use the same pattern again?

P.S.: Yes, of course I would want to use the pattern again. Join me in my Butterick 6124 madness inspirations via my Pinterest board here.

SEWN: Mid-century inspired gingham pants

Sears Catalog, Spring/Summer 1958

I have always wanted a pair of mid-century pants. I have several poofy mid-century style dresses, circle skirts, and super tight rockabilly high-waisted shorts. Those are great, but I have always wanted something more casual for a lazy weekend. Of course, buying true vintage or reproduction is out of question because of cost and fit. I can’t even find a pair of modern denim jeans that fit me properly because my hips are a size bigger than my waist.

And then my chance came with the Italian pattern making class. I can now draft my own pattern for a pair of pants that fits me nicely!

1.5 years on and most of what I wear is still handmade and/or from Sydney...

1.5 years on and most of what I wear is still handmade and/or from Sydney…

Pattern: My very own
Fabric: Black and white gingham seersucker

And also, this is the first time that I sewed a front fly zip! I have been avoiding doing this for the longest time because my mother told me it would be challenging. I should have known better – it was NOT too difficulty. I am not kidding. If you are scared of front fly zipper, don’t be. It’s not that difficult. There’s Youtube. There’s blogs. There’s the Internet.

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Do you get the implication of this? Do you get it at all? This means that I can now make a zillion pairs of peddle pushers, shorts, pants in various prints – floral, polka dot, paisley… Ok perhaps a zillion is just an overstatement. But you get me.

So much happiness from simple a pair of gingham pants. x

SEWN: Hawaiian Boat Neck Top

 

SEWN: Hawaiian Boat Neck Top

SEWN: Hawaiian Boat Neck Top

Wearing: Handmade Hawaiian Boat Neck top, ASOS high-waisted bikini bottom

Wearing: Handmade Hawaiian Boat Neck top, ASOS high-waisted bikini bottom, ASOS platform shoes

I recently attended a course on the Italian method of pattern-making and one of the things we went through in class was the drafting of kimono sleeves. And when we were asked to make a top with kimono sleeves (and any kind of neckline), I decided to make a boat neck top to match my Hawaiian shorts.

First things first, I am not a fan of kimono sleeves/bat wing sleeves. Sure, they are common in the 50s, but that doesn’t mean I am obliged to like them. I don’t understand the concept of having excess fabric under the pits. Is it supposed to help with air circulation? And how is it suppose to drape!?!?!

Despite the general contempt with kimono sleeves as well as the confusion with drafting a pattern with kimono sleeves, I went ahead to cut the fabric anyway.

If I had a 2014 Resort collection, this would be part of it.

If I had a Gwenstella Resort 2015 collection, this would be part of it.

I am embarrassed to admit that my first attempt at boat neck was abysmal at best. In other words, there was no boat, but a mess of fabric on my chest. Thankfully, the problem was fixed easily with some darts. My boat now stays afloat!

My kimono sleeves also didn’t turn out too great.  I am guessing that they are supposed to be rounder and lower. 😦

All in all, disasters were averted with my alterations after putting everything together. I probably need to review that awful draft I drew again.

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SEWN: Dare to Pear Dress

Dare to Pear Dress - 1

Groovy, baby

Dare to Pear Dress - 2

I bought a yard or so of this lovely knitted fabric with repeated pear print in Sydney AGES ago. As the fabric itself is kinda quirky and attention-grabbing, I decided to make a simple shift dress with it, using a long knitted dress I have as a base (i.e. no paper pattern involved). I have never worked with knitted fabric prior to this and boy was I in for a ride. I finished the neckline and the sleeve openings using bias tape I made with the same fabric and.. all I can say it that it needed a lot of patience..

And then I decided to get a little creative and do a curved hem for the dress. That was the worst decision I made in the process of making this dress. The dress turned out a little too short to be a real dress but still a little too long to be a tank top. It’s still really cute in my opinion but I am just finding it hard to reconcile with the ultra mini length.

Maybe all I need is a pair of white plastic hoop earrings and white go-go boots, then I’ll be good to go. Swinging sixties look, of course.

DIY / OUTFIT: My own Hawaiian way

Before (left) and after (right)

A close friend of mine gave me her old Hawaiian dress several months ago. It’s a vintage blue Hawaiian dress she bought when she was on a holiday in Hawaii back in the 80’s! I love old clothes. 

Unfortunately, the dress wasn’t quite my style. Seeing that it’s made of easy-to-deal cotton fabric, I decide to bust out my Elna and give it a modern twist. And here’s the result…


Wearing: Refashioned vintage Hawaiian cropped top and skirt, thrifted necklace and bag, ASOS platforms

All I did was cut the shirred top off and finished off the raw edge with a zig-zag stitch. Then, I shortened the skirt and added an elastic waist to it. Easy-peasy! It originally looked more like a holiday dress… as in something you would only wear when you’re on a holiday. But now, it’s more like a ready-to-wear item. This is definitely something I can wear often in hot and humid Singapore! x

SEWN: Hawaiian Dress

Aloha~

I once wrote about the almost countless yards of fabric in various Hawaiian prints in my fabric stash on my old blog here. That was about a year ago. Fast forward a year and…, I have only sewn one pair of Hawaiian shorts and this Hawaiian dress.


I started this dress when I was still in Sydney. I vividly remembering cutting out the various pieces for sewing and then packing them neatly in a ziploc bag before placing the bag in a box (along with the rest of my fabric stash) for shipment back to Singapore. 

I only finished this dress in … I think September? I guess I took such a long time because I got distracted by other things that were happening in my life and also, I made other stuff in between. 


I got this amazing fabric with a Hawaiian border print back in Cabramatta in Sydney. It’s 100% cotton and I like how the stiffness of the fabric makes the skirt look kinda poofy when I wear it. Looking at the example on the front of the dress pattern envelope, I think that’s the idea of it – for the skirt to look poofy.

Pattern: Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2250, skirt length for B and strap design for A
Fabric: 100% cotton with Hawaiian border print
Modification(s): I scrunched up the bit at the chest area a little more than instructed in the pattern.
What I dislike about this pattern: That bodice. It was a tad complicated to sew.What I love about this pattern: That bodice. It was a tad complicated to sew BUT it gave me a chance to improve my skills! Oh, and did I mention that there are pockets!?



I love this pattern because the it is really unique and I love how the border print along the bottom of the skirt turned out. I know I am definitely using this pattern again. Now excuse me while I strum my ukulele and daydream about Hawaii…

SEWN: Kitty cushions

Meow

So, things have been rather quiet around here lately. Yes, I have been busy. In the time that I have been absent from blogging, I have sewn 6 kitty cushions; sewn 2 lion-head cushions; completed my Hawaiian dress; made a crochet flower pot. If you follow my Instagram @gwenstella89, you would know that I haven’t been lazy!

Ah, 6 kitty cushions. Six adorable kitty cushions.

I found this fabric panel featuring a bunch of random kitties while casually shopping at Spotlight one day and decided to buy a panel for a quick project. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was 0.5 m or 1m. All I know is that I got 6 kitties out of it. 



This project was so easy and I had so much fun matching the kitty fabric with a contrasting fabric. I chose a fun but simple purple floral fabric for the grey kitty; a plain red fabric for the brown floral kitty; a plain pink fabric for the purple floral kitty. To add some creativity to project (and to add more charm to the kitties), I made the ears bendable and added bells inside the ears! 

Trust me, the jingling bells doubled the cuteness factor of the kitties. 


And, just to spice things up a little, I made the kitties wear my glasses. Geez, I was totally smitten with these kitties. 

That purple kitty looks flat because I was not done with filling it up before taking this family photo. I had run out of the polyester filling and HAD to take this family photo because I was giving one of them to someone who was leaving!


I’ve given all but one of the kitties away to my friends. One of the kitties now resides in Shanghai, another in Chicago, and the rest remains in Singapore. One of them lies in bed with me at night. Honestly, I’m NOT a soft toy person. But I DO like this kitty I made. xx