SEWN: Holiday Dress 2018 (Butterick 6453)

Happy holidays everyone! I hope everyone is having a great holiday so far. The year 2018 hasn’t been the best for me, but I have learnt a lot and grown a lot personally and creatively. I can’t wait to usher in 2019! Of course, there will be a post talking about how I did with #2018MakeNine (uh, news flash, I didn’t make all of them of course) and my plans for 2019.

Before I start getting teary reflecting on 2018 and dreaming about 2019, here’s my latest make – my holiday dress for 2018! Last year, I made a self-drafted pencil skirt using a super kitschy Christmas Kitty fabric. This year, I decided to be a little bit more “proper” and picked this red poinsettia print set against a black background.

Progress: I took a photo for each night that I made progress on this dress. The first 2 photos feature an old RTW dress I cut up to make the muslin.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a dress for this Christmas at first, and by the time I decided that I do want to make something with this fabric, it was already almost the middle of December. So, I decided to pick a simple dress that would be easy to make.

The Butterick 6453 by Gretchen Hirsch (with McCall Pattern Company) is something that has been sitting in my stash for the longest time. I’m pretty late to the game because the original sew-along on Gertie’s blog occurred wayyyy back in March 2017. But yeah, better late than never!

This is probably the easiest thing I have made this year. I made a muslin for the bodice (*gasp*!) and only had to slice off the sides to fit my bust and my waist.

Here are the all the changes I made in this version:

  • Slices off sides of bodice to fit my bust and waist
  • Shortened the length of the bodice
  • Shortened length of skirt
  • Used invisible zipper instead of regular zipper (only because I had an invisible zipper in the right colour sitting in my sewing box and I really didn’t want to run out to get a new zipper)
  • Shortened the straps by around an inch – in hindsight, I should have followed by guts and shortened it even more. I wear the dress with the straps adjusted to the shortest length!
  • Used bias tape for the seams of the facing – I wanted to be a little fancy! Also, I had some red bias tape left from making my cheongsam and I just wanted to finish it… heh

I love how it has turned out and it’s so satisfying to see the “Gwenstella Made” label on the facing as well!

By the time you read this, it would be less than a week until 2019. If I don’t get to write anything here before then, here’s wishing you a magical start to 2019. Thank you for being part of my creative journey in 2018. I have enjoyed writing every single post and reading all the comments that you wrote. I hope you’ll continue to hang around in 2019.

To new beginnings! x G

Wearing: Secondhand faux fur cape, vintage 60’s faux snakeskin purse, me-made B6453 dress, old RTW heels, vintage earrings & necklace

SEWN/RESTYLED: Country Road Dress (2011 make)

You know the funny thing about time? Time changes people.

It’s been several years since I started sewing and I think I have changed a lot since the time I started creating with my Elna Sew Fun for the first time. My style has evolved and my skills have advanced (even if it’s just for a little bit).

Back in 2011, I shared my “vintage-inspired Country Road dress”. As I proudly wrote in my original blog post, it’s the 4th thing I had ever sewn. Ah those early years!

The original “Country Road” dress from 2011

Fast forward to 2018, many of the clothes I made during my first years of sewing have ended up being stored away in the dark corners of my wardrobe, neglected and forgotten. As I move towards trying to be more thoughtful and deliberate in the things that I make, I have also begun to think about all the things I have made and forgotten.

The original design made using New Look 6824

Obviously, I stopped wearing these items for a reason. For example, this dress that I made back in 2011 using New Look 6824 is no longer my current size, and no longer the length that I like going for these days. Also, I didn’t mention it in the original blog post, but I have always been unhappy with the way the neckline sits on my bust. The corners are kinda creased because I unknowingly clipped too much of the seam allowance away.

I had a little more than 0.25m of this green+purple gingham fabric stashed away for the longest time, and one day it dawned on me that I had to do something about this little piece of fabric and this forgotten piece of work. Moreover, I needed to sew a muslin for the bodice of my modified version of the Butterick 5209 (B5209) sewing pattern for my wedding dress. If I could: a) get a “new” casual day dress of out of this, b) revive my old dress, and c) use my fabric stash – WHY NOT.

So, here’s how I made my old dress into a new dress:

  1. Removed back centre zipper and unstitched bodice from skirt
  2. Lined bra pads with fabric from old bodice
  3. Make the sleeveless version of the B5209 with the remaining 0.25m of the original gingham fabric with the following modifications
    • sized down to my measurements
    • left the halter design open for addition of straps for a halter tie-back design
  4. Drafted the halter straps with a coordinating purple fabric and stitched them on
  5. Added the new B5209 bodice on the old New Look 6824 skirt (also resized the waist) with a side zipper and bra pads inserted – I had to make sure the bra pads were lined because the gingham cotton is kinda sheer
  6. Chopped off a portion of the bottom of the skirt and added a short width of the coordinating purple fabric to lengthen the skirt

New version of the dress: Front view

New version of the dress: Interior view

And that’s it! I thought I had more photos of the process taken but somehow I didn’t have them saved on my phone. I think everyone enjoyed the process photos in the last blog post so I will make sure I have the process photos taken for easier visualisation in the future!

I really think adding straps for a halter back-tie design is a great hack for the 1950’s style Retro Butterick 5209 pattern. You can also try adding a tapered pencil skirt or a quarter skirt like I did for this dress for several different looks!

Let me know what you think about this simple refashioned project. Also, how does everyone else cope with the handmade items that you have “grown out of” (either size-wise or style-wise)?

SEWN: 1950’s style Sunday Picnic Pullover Dress (Butterick 6212)

Butterick 6212 Gwenstella MadeI have always been a fan of the 1950’s walk-away dress ever since it was featured on The Great British Sewing Bee. When Butterick reproduced the pattern as B4790, I was disappointed to find that the smallest size offered by the pattern was size 8. I’m usually somewhere between sizes 4-6, and having to grade an unusual pattern like the walk-away dress would require more thinking than I would like.

The Walkaway Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

The Saturday Morning Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

So, when I found the B6212, a pullover back-wrap dress which is also another re-issue of a vintage 1950’s sewing pattern by Butterick, I knew I had to get it. Some sites and posts describe it as the “Popover Dress” or the “Saturday Morning” dress. I like both names, but it’s giving me more of a “Sunday Picnic” vibe. I was smittened by the white and red gingham version on the envelope of the pattern, and while I haven’t gone for a real picnic in years, I decided that it would be the perfect colour scheme for Chinese New Year.

Of course, as with all Big 4 sewing patterns (and the sad fact that I have almost non-existent boobs), I had to make some minor adjustments to the pattern before cutting the fabric pieces out. Most of the grading of the pattern involved the bodice. I didn’t make any adjustments to the width of the waist, because I thought I could always change the positions of the buttons to make a tighter fit if I wanted.

For the bodice of the dress, I used a white linen fabric I bought in Thailand some years back, and for the skirt portion, I used a polycotton in a red/white gingham pattern. For the buttons, I decided to make my own fabric-covered buttons using the same linen fabric I used for the bodice, to create contrast in the final look.

Unfortunately, the bodice was somehow still too baggy when I tried the dress on after sewing it together. There was too much room in front of the bust! I had to take in some fabric at the front of the bodice by making some fake vertical darts (ie folding the excess fabric inwards and then topstitching it in place).

There’s also some extra room in the underarm area which I could do nothing about. It’s a little annoying, but generally tolerable as I would be wearing a slip under the dress anyway. I think this is probably one of the biggest design flaw of the dress. I can’t imagine if having bigger or smaller bust will make this problem worse. On the bright side, at least my dress looks better than the one on the McCall site!

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Despite the flaws in the design of the sewing pattern, I must say that this is a very easy pattern to sew. I love how it gives the illusion of a circle skirt without the usual yardage that is needed, since the back part of the dress is more like a shift dress. It could also probably be modified easily for an A-line skirt design!

Top: Front view. Bottom: Back view.

Making vertical faux darts on the front of the bodice

For anyone who is making this, I would strongly recommend adding the back-ties, because that allows the waist to be adjusted more easily. You know, sometimes the waist expands by an inch or so depending on how full or bloated you are!

Also, if you REALLY are thinking about making this dress, do a search and find out what others are saying about this dress. Some people really had issues with the underarms for this dress. Do your research and make an informed decision!

Have you made the Walkaway dress or this Saturday Morning dress? Are you a believer or a hater? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

And now for the million-dollar question – who wore it better? The Butterick illustrated model or me?

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: 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

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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: 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.