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

Gwenstellamade Vogue 8789 Country Garden

Gwenstellamade Vogue 8789 Country GardenIs 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*

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.

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.


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

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DIY: Dainty Rose Choker

So in my last Vintage of the Month (VOTD) post, I promised that I would share the super quick and dirty tutorial for making the dainty rose choker that I wore in the outfit. Here it is!

There’s tons of 90’s inspired choker tutorials out there on the Internet. In my opinion, doing it with a ribbon and some chain is definitely more ideal but I wanted to work with what I have (i.e. yards and yards of elastic) instead of heading out to buy new supplies, so this is what I came up with.

Materials:
Needle and thread
Little roses
Wide, black elastic

Steps:

1. Measure the diameter of your neck. Add 0.5″ seam allowance on both ends for sewing. Cut the required length of elastic. For example, the diameter of my neck is about 12″ and I wanted 0.5″ as seam allowance on both ends, so I cut a length of elastic measuring 12″ + (2 x 0.5″) = 13″.

2. Sew ends of elastic together. Ensure to sew 0.5″ from the ends of the elastic. You now have a basic, plain elastic choker.

3. Sew 3 little roses together to form a cluster of 3 roses.

4. Sew the cluster of roses to the centre of the basic choker.

5. Pull, stretch and wear over your head!

I hope this tutorial is useful for anyone wanting to make some elastic chokers! xx G

If you’re thinking to yourself that the little roses look awfully familiar, you’re right. They are the same ones that I used for my 1950’s style Baby Doll PJs set!

90’s does 30’s Betsey Johnson dress

VINTAGE OF THE MONTH

Sharing a vintage a month, starting this month!

Vintage 90's does 30's Betsey Johnson dress

Every vintage lover (and dedicated follower of fashion) knows that fashion comes in cycle. Most people  estimate that fashion cycles around on the average of once every 30 years. When shopping online for vintage, I have come across many examples of the 30-year cycle rule. I have seen tons of 90s does 60s, 80s does 50s, as well as 70s does 40s on the internet. But never have I thought of or came across 90s does 30s… until I chanced upon the listing for this dress on Instagram.

Pink
Velvet
Betsey Johnson
Bias cut art deco vibes

 

These are all the things I love… embodied in a single dress. Something truly magical happened in the 1990s for this dress to come to be.

Vintage 90's does 30's Betsey Johnson dress

Vintage 90's does 30's Betsey Johnson dressI kept this dress for several months and waited for the right occasion to wear it. That chance finally came along when my partner and I decided to have dinner at The Black Swan for date night a while back.

The Black Swan Singapore - art deco vibes

The Black Swan Singapore - art deco vibes

The Black Swan is a dreamy restaurant and bar oozing with glamorous art deco vibes, set in a beautifully restored 1930’s building in the heart of Singapore city. I visited the restaurant for the first time with a couple of friends from work, and knew right away that I had to revisit the restaurant all dressed up in 1930’s inspired style.

The Black Swan Singapore - art deco vibes

The Black Swan Singapore - art deco vibes

The service at The Black Swan was excellent during both of my visits, and my partner thoroughly enjoyed the fact that he could select the steak knife to use for his steak.

I wore my 90s does 30s pink velvet gown with a pair of black heels that I have had for many years, as well as a vintage beaded black purse I found in a thrift shop in the USA. My hair was basically the result of a failed wet set and a dozen of bobby pins. Nothing is more classy (and easy) than a low, messy chignon!

Vintage 90's does 30's Betsey Johnson dress

To give the entire look a bit of a quirky modern edge, I also made and wore a black choker. I am working on a post to share with everyone how I made this little choker. Stay tuned for a super easy and quick tutorial!

xx G

Click here to see all ‘Vintage of the Month’ posts

 

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

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V290208

sewing vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

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

gwenstella made sewing vintage V2902

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 vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

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 vintage 1950's dress Vogue V2902

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

 

OUTFIT: ‘Til seams come apart

 

Wearing: True vintage 1960s dress, vintage London Fog sunnies, thrifted & upcycled wicker purse

You might find this dress familiar. You might be thinking that you have seen this dress on the blog prior to this post.

Yes, this dress was first featured in this post exclaiming the importance of owning a pair of white stockings for a vintage/retro wardrobe. You have seen this dress before, but today is the first time that you will be reading about the story of this dress…

This is a vintage 1960’s dress that I bought in Austin, Texas back in December 2014. I wore it out for the first time for Chinese New Year in 2015, then a couple more times after. It remained untouched in my wardrobe for most of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, until I took it out again for brunch a couple of weeks ago.

With the last week being Fashion Revolution Week, I am once again reminded of the importance of buying quality over quantity, and cultivating shopping habits that encourage sustainability. Admittedly, I don’t utilise my wardrobe as much as I want to, and I am still in the process of decluttering and learning to ‘choose joy’. Being a recovering shopaholic, I still have emotional attachment to all of the things I own and need a bit more time to learn to let go. But I always make sure I go through my wardrobe in cycles so my clothes get worn and I get to decide if I need to turn them in at a swap or sell them, in my own time. Check out my Instagram and you will see that the same few pieces of clothes will always tend to pop up for a certain period of time.

I love the concept of putting together a capsule wardrobe with what I already own, working through the pieces and being creative with the styling of an outfit. The same dress looks different when you roll up the sleeves, carry a different bag, and slap on a different pair of shades with it.

I don’t have a weekend capsule wardrobe right now, but I am working with a colour theme – pink. And so, here I am again with this pink dress which I first blogged about in 2015.The stressed seams on the front darts make it too precious to be worn out regularly, but every time I wear it, it’s like a new dress to me. You will probably see this dress on my Instagram or on this blog again some time in the future. Don’t be surprised if you do. Loved clothes last. x

If you are interested in learning more about the perils of fast fashion and the current dire state of consumerism, check out The True Cost documentary. I also love this article by The Telegraph. 

STYLE: Freddies Four Ways

If you’re a vintage gal into mid-century style, then you’ll most likely have a pair of high-waisted denim in your possession. I own a pair of high-waisted denim shorts that I purchased from a high-street store in Sydney years ago, as well as another pair of high-waisted skinny denim from H&M (also from a couple of years ago). Unfortunately, they create a more pin-up look than I like on some days, and give me a wedgie every few hours.

Ever since I discovered Freddies of Pinewood on Instagram, I have always been a big fan of the authentic mid-century design. I never thought I would actually buy one because of their rather hefty price tag. Months passed, and after a period of deliberation, I finally made a leap of faith and ordered a pair of Lana capris that was on sale. This happened a couple of years back and I have never regretted that decision.

I love the way it’s snug around the waist and roomy around the crotch. I have to admit, the waist felt a bit too snug on me at first, but they have eased pretty nicely and quickly over time – just like the website promised.

Lately, I have been wearing them more than usual on the weekends. It’s perfect for those lazy days when you want to be casual but still keep that vintage style. Here are the 4 different ways I have styled my Freddies of Pinewood Lana capris recently:

Freddies of Pinewood Lana 4 ways Vintage Style

Wearing: Gwenstella Made 50’s inspired blouse, thrifted & refashioned wicker bag, shifted Nine West shoes

Freddies of Pinewood Lana 4 ways Vintage Style

Wearing: Tara Starlet blouse, Sunjellies jelly shoes, thrifted Chinese takeaway box purse

Freddies of Pinewood Lana 4 ways Vintage Style

Wearing: Tara Starlet blouse, plastic granny-style retro sandals (from Hong Kong), Sunjellies Jasmine Atomic tote

Freddies of Pinewood Lana 4 ways Vintage Style

Wearing: High street brand basic striped tee, high street brand black loafers

What is your favourite way of wearing your vintage style high-waisted denim? Do you have a go-to casual vintage look?

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.