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 inspired 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: 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.

OUTFIT: Happy, Happy Birthday Baby

1950s 1960s floral dress butterick retro sewing

A month ago I celebrated my 27th’s birthday. Wow, 27 years of existence. I never really used to celebrate my birthday in any remarkable fashion, but in the past few years, my lovely partner has always found a way to make it special for me.

cherry blossom sakura high tea singapore pollen gardens by the bay

This year, he took me to catch the cherry blossoms that are in bloom and on exhibit at Garden’s by the Bay (Singapore). The line to catch the blooms up-close and personal was too long and we were happy to just catch the ones just around border of the main exhibit. Of course we also took some time to appreciate the other exhibits in the garden.

The highlight of the day was high tea at Pollen, which was the best high tea set I have ever had in Singapore! Yes, I have had high tea at several hotels and cafes in Singapore, but Pollen is definitely the best one I’ve had so far.

high tea singapore pollen gardens by the bay

high tea singapore pollen gardens by the bay

high tea singapore pollen gardens by the bay

The menu consisted of a good range of savoury and sweet items. Even my partner, who isn’t usually a big fan of high tea or sweets, enjoyed the menu thoroughly. And did I mention that there’s free flow of tea and coffee? My partner had about 3 cups of coffee but I only tried 2 different types of tea.

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

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

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

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

Wearing: Cat-eye sunnies by ASOS (from 2 years ago), thrifted vintage bag, pink heels by ASOS (from more than 3 years ago), wooden fan (gift from a friend), and my dearest me-made Edith dress with the luscious Hell Bunny petticoat

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

1950s 1960s floral dress butterick retro sewing hell bunny petticoat
And now let’s talk about the dress! This green floral dress is my beloved Edith dress. I made it back in 2012 using the retro Butterick 6582 dressmaking pattern and it’s been featured on my blog a few times (here and here too). And hey, if you’re observant, you’ll notice sometimes it’s a featured photo on my blog header too. Yes, my infatuation with this dress is obvious. This dress is very special to me because I made it around the time I started getting serious about both dressmaking and vintage style. Specifically, I made it so I could have something decent to wear to a vintage fair. It’s really a shame that I haven’t been making such dresses at all in recent years, and I really hope to change that this year! We’ll see…! *fingers crossed*

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

Wearing: Brows by Anastasia Beverly Hills, eyeliner by KATE (Japanese brand by Kanebo), eye shadow by Too Faced, lips by elf, and not forgetting a pair of vintage cluster clip-ons

Do you also have a dress that holds a special place in your heart? xx G

MUST HAVE: Sun Jellies Originals Tote for an Instant Retro Flair

Sun Jellies Jasmine tote retro 1950s style

I love plastic shoppers. They have a certain kitschy charm to them and they add an instant retro flair to any outfit.

Most of the retro and vintage bags that I have are pretty small and can’t carry much. This makes things tricky when I have to carry more than my bare essentials (i.e. lipstick, mobile, and purse) when going out.

Sun Jellies Jasmine tote retro 1950s style

Wearing: 1950’s style gingham swing dress (Hell Bunny), retro plastic jelly bag (Sun Jellies Originals)

Sun Jellies Jasmine tote retro 1950s style

Sun Jellies Jasmine tote retro 1950s style

Sun Jellies has a range of totes in delicious colours like white, pastel yellow, pastel blue and pastel pink (or you could also call them Serenity and Rose Quartz aka Pantone colours of the year haha). I am lucky to get my hands on the dreamy white version and I think it’s a lovely addition to my retro/vintage wardrobe. It’s a spacious carry-all that is perfect for trips to the beach and to the mall. Best of all, it has a clip that fastens the handles together so your things don’t fall out of the bag easily. Nothing beats the joy of having both convenience and style in a single bag!

Sun Jellies Jasmine tote retro 1950s style

1950's retro vintage pincurls Asian look

Also, I want to show my first attempt at doing pin curls on my short hair! 😄

You can find Sun Jellies Originals on their site/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook

MADE: Vintage 1950’s inspired Polka Dot Sweater

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater
Many of you may not know this, but I started blogging eons ago when I picked up knitting. My first blog was called “because she started knitting”. Obviously, my focus has changed significantly since. But… my knitting skills pretty much stayed stagnant because I was never confident enough to move away from hats and scarves.

A while back I blogged about some vintage-inspired knitting and crochet books which spurred me to pick up my knitting needles once more. Fast forward many months later, this polka dot sweater is born.

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

Left: My creation // Right: The original pattern from the book Vintage Knits for Him & Her: 30 modern knitting patterns for stylish vintage knitwear

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

That’s 6 inches off the bottom!

It took me about 2 months to finish this project, and then a couple more months to grieve over the fact that it was too long for my liking. After a tearful post on Instagram, I finally mustered enough courage to snip the bottom off and to correct the length. I took off about 6 inches from the bottom! I honestly don’t know how I ended up making a dress. Maybe I shouldn’t have steamed it with a steam iron. But I love how yarn looks after a bit of steaming.

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

Front and back

And then, after the length was fixed, I realised that I wished it fitted on my body better. Once again, maybe.. maybe I really shouldn’t have steamed it, because steaming relaxes the yarn.

Vintage 1950s inspired polka dot sweater

It took me a few more months of grieving before I finally came into terms with the fact that I am NOT going to make it better. I am NOT taking the sides in. I have had enough. This project has exhausted all of my patience. And so, this is the way it stays. xo G

DIY/MUST-HAVE: Vintage-inspired Saddle Shoes

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

*This post is also featured as a guest post on Atomic Amber’s fabulous pin-up and vintage style blog.* >>> here!

Saddle shoes were very popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and are a must-have for anyone that loves mid-century fashion. Back in 2012, I made a pair of two-tone oxford brogues using bronze fabric paint. Now that I am slowly progressing towards a more vintage-inspired wardrobe, I find that I need a pair of black and white saddle shoes to supplement my wardrobe. And being me, I’d much rather make a pair myself than to buy a pair online.

So here’s a simple tutorial for everyone out there who wants to make a pair too!

Materials:

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

A pair of white plimsolls – I got mine from Target
A pot of black fabric paint
A paint brush with a flat or sharp tip for precision during painting
Black fabric marker
Sticky tape – I used wash tape I have in my stash

Steps:

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

1. Remove the shoe laces. Place sticky tape somewhere off the centre of the shoes. Also, tape the tongue of the shoe down so it doesn’t get in the way while you paint.

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

2. Use the black fabric marker to mark a semi-circle on the back of the shoes. I followed the stitching pattern that was already on the plimsolls.

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

3. Start painting away! Don’t be too worried about getting paint on the eyelets because you can wipe the paint off before it dries.

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

4. Wipe off any paint you have on the eyelets. You can also clean the insides using cotton buds.

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

5. Allow the paint to dry for a day, then set the paint with an iron. Avoid being too close to the rubber soles because you don’t want to melt the rubber!

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

6. Put the laces back on and smile, because you now own a pair of saddle shoes!

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

Wearing: Freddies of Pinewood Lana jeans and #gwenstellamade vintage-inspired saddle shoes

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

DIY Vintage Inspired Saddle Shoes

A couple of weekends ago, I wore my “new” saddle shoes for the very first time. I’m so excited about all the different ways I can incorporate it into my mid-century outfits in the future! Let me know if you make a pair for yourself too. I’d love to see your projects! x G

 

OUTFIT/MUST-HAVE: The Oriental LBD

In the Mood for Love 1960s style cheongsam

A couple of weeks ago I took my man out to the Fullerton Hotel for a birthday buffet dinner. It was the perfect opportunity for me to bust out this tailor-made cheongsam that I made in Shanghai a few years ago. I am ashamed to say that this is only my second time wearing this cheongsam! The last time I wore this was a year ago…

In the Mood for Love 1960s style cheongsam

In the Mood for Love 1960s style cheongsam

The cheongsam is probably the oriental version of the LBD, in my opinion. It’s a great piece to have in anyone’s wardrobe. A tailor-made cheongsam accentuates your curves and adds instant glamour to your look. Also, it’s great for creating vintage-inspired looks! Some of my favourite inspirations are the long and slender looks of Shanghainese ladies from the 1920s – 1930s, as well as the stiff high-collar design of 1960s cheongsams like the ones in “In the Mood for Love”.

Mid-century cheongsams

 

1930s Shanghainese cheongsams

 

I paired my cream floral cheongsam with bright pink satin chunky heels and a vintage beaded bag for a vintage inspired look. I wanted a 1960’s look, so I wore my mid-century cluster clip-on earrings.

1960s vintage inspired cheongsam

1960s vintage inspired cheongsam

I have 2 other cheongsams in my wardrobe, of which one has never been worn. SHOCKER! I should wear it soon…

How about you? For those people who own cheongsam(s), when was the last time you wore a cheongsam? For those people who don’t own a cheongsam (yet), do you fancy a cheongsam in your wardrobe?

(Note: The pictures of the 1930s and 1960s cheongsams are from Pinterest. Unfortunately, none of the links for the images worked, so I apologise for not including the original sources.)

MAKE DO & MEND: Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned

Getting the size of my wardrobe in check has always been a challenge for me. Month after month, there’s always bound to be a couple of pieces of clothing that I no longer fancy. And once every few months, I impulsively shop for mass-produced clothes from online shops because of the silly hankering for something rather new and fancy to become part of my daily ensemble. Sadly, love at first sight often only lasts for up to 6 months.

However, I must say that my shopping habits have improved markedly from my reckless days as a uni student. As part of my personal pilgrimage to achieving sainthood in being a conscious citizen of fashion, I often turn to the good ol’ make-do-and-mend. In other words, I put my amateur sewing skills into good use and turn something old into something new.

I have had a couple of projects in the past such as turning an XL denim shirt into a skirt and adding strips of jersey for a military inspired tank. But for the remainder of this year, I have resolved to make more radical alterations (and buy less mass-produced clothing items).

Behold! My first make-do-and-mend project of the year. This is a 1950s style kimono blouse that was inspired by the vintage sewing pattern Simplicity 4538.

Simplicity 4538 Vintage 1950s Sewing

(via)

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned

I was struck by the ingenuity of this pattern when I chanced upon it on Pinterest and had to do a lot of thinking before embarking on this project (since I don’t have the original pattern). My fabric stash contains no jersey material because I have no serger (yet), so re-using a preloved T-shirt was an obvious choice. Lucky for me, my boyfriend has lost quite a bit of weight recently and has a few T-shirts that no longer fit him *insert devilish smile and shiny scissors here*.

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned

Before

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned

After

Materials/skills needed:
1 old large T-shirt
A pair of sharp scissors
The ability to sew a straight line on the machine

Steps:
The steps are as easy… (no serger required).

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned StepsStep 1: Cut the top of an old XL tee off, leaving only the rectangular piece of fabric

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned StepsStep 2: Sew the top of the rectangular piece of fabric, bearing in mind to leave about 6 inches of opening at each end. These openings are the armholes, so you might want to adjust the opening according to the width of your upper arm.

Step 3: Cut a vertical slit from the bottom of the shirt to just about the middle of the fabric.

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned Steps

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned Steps

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned Steps

Step 4: Fold a small 0.5 cm edge towards the wrong side of the fabric/old tee and sew as marked in the picture.

Step 5: Wear it with pride! Put your arms into the armholes, making sure that the vertical slit is at the bottom (i.e. it will end up being on your back and just above the butt). Be sure to check out this link to see how it is worn!

Vintage 1950s inspired Kimono Blouse Make Do and Mend Refashioned

Please bear in mind that I am quite petite and my bust is non-existent, so the fabric from a super large T-shirt is sufficient to maintain my modesty. Busty and larger girls might not be able to recreate this from just an old tee. But hey, combining more than 1 T-shirt or using your own roll of jersey fabric works too!

Are you thinking about making a similar one? Let me know because I’d love to see your version! I have another large T-shirt with wide stripes in my stash.. and I might just make a striped version like the one on the cover of the sewing pattern!

xo G

SEWN: Red Hot Batik Summer 1950s 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