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!

(via)

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?

SEWN: Meowy Kitschmas Pencil Skirt (self-drafted pattern)

meowy christmas gwenstella made sewing

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade Happy holidays everyone! We only have less than a week to go before 2018 hits the town!

I hope everyone is having a great time this holiday season with your loved ones. My partner and I spent Christmas day together in Singapore for the first time this year. We had a low-key lunch date together at P.S. Cafe at One Fullerton, and I finally had the chance to wear my “Meowy Kitschmas” pencil skirt. Yes, you heard me right. Meowy Kitschmas.

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade This project has been brewing at the back of my mind for at least a year. I bought the fabric in 2016 and didn’t get to start on a project in time for Christmas then. Naturally, I had to wait a year for Christmas season to come around again before I could start working on a project with it.

I originally intended to make a simple gathered skirt with a fitted waist, but by the time it was November, I had made so many flared skirts and dresses that I was pretty much sick of making flared skirts. I wanted a project that I could learn something from, and a project that is different from all the other sewing projects I have embarked on and completed this year. And so, it was obvious that I had to make a pencil skirt with a self-drafted pattern (with the help of my Bunka Fashion Series book). Of course, it was also helpful to know that many of you who checked out my Instagram story voted for a pencil skirt. 😉

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade Being the person that I am, I couldn’t settle for REALLY just a BASIC pencil skirt. I wanted something different with a bit of retro 1950’s inspired rockabilly vibe.

These are the key design points to this basic pencil skirt:

  • Wide waistband with a higher front than back
  • Exposed metallic zipper
  • Organic cotton lining
  • Slightly exaggerated tapered bottom

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade

To be honest, the use of an exposed metallic zipper kind of happened out of necessity. Somehow I made some wrong measurements when drafting the skirt and ended up with a smaller waistline than I intended. I had to reduce the width of the seam allowance where I was going to insert the zipper to make sure that I could still insert a zipper. The zipper insertion was successful, but upon trying the skirt on for the first time, I realised that the zipper was faulty and I had to force myself out of the skirt with a stuck zipper. It was not a pretty sight.

When I finally tore myself out of the skirt, I decided to use an exposed zipper so that:

a) I could add some bling to the skirt
b) I could have a wider seam allowance for inserting the zipper
c) I could learn something new

meowy kitschmas gwenstellamade It was one of my best decisions ever! The exposed metallic zipper worked perfectly… and feels way stronger than a regular invisible zipper too.

I love the way the skirt looks and feels on me. The organic cotton lining is soft on the skin and the tapered design gives me the rockabilly wiggle when I walk – it’s everything that I have dreamed of and more!

You know what else makes this skirt special?

Proudly “Gwenstella Made”

This pencil skirt, is the very *first* item in my sewing history to bear the bold label of “Gwenstella Made”. Can you believe it!?

I am so glad that the Dutch Label Shop came forward to offer me some labels to use for my sewing projects. I created my labels easily and quickly on their site itself – no fancy designer software or knowledge needed! You can choose from a wide range of colours and generic symbols. I chose black, grey, and pink with a sewing machine, ball of yarn, and heart respectively. Aren’t they lovely? I am soooo looking forward to using them for my personal sewing, knitting/crochet projects and other handmade gifts in 2018! I will be sharing a discount code for anyone who is interested in getting some labels made too. Keep your eyes peeled!

One Fullerton PS Cafe Singapore Christmas

With my partner Steven, taken in PS Cafe at One Fullerton

What do you think about my first Christmas sewing project? Do you have the tradition of making a new thing for Christmas or any other holiday(s) like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa that you celebrate each year?

UPDATE (10 Jan 2018): Get 15% off your purchase from the Dutch Label Shop when you enter the code “gwenstellamade15” before you check out! xxx

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.

IMG_6407_fotor

IMG_6409_fotor

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: Hawaiian Shorts


This is a sewing project that I completed late last year while I was still in Sydney, and while I was still writing my thesis and pining for summer. 

It’s not just about my love for Sydney’s summer – it’s also about my obsession with Hawaiian print. 


Hawaiian print – the mere thought of those words is sufficient to make me smile and do a pirouette. You might think that I am exaggerating. I can assure you that I am not. 

I can’t even remember where I bought this Hawaiian print fabric because it has been soooo long ago. It’s 100% polyester with a texture that is similar to Billabong board shorts. So, of course, I had to make a pair of beach shorts out of it.

Pattern: New Look 6055, option E
Fabric: 100% polyester in Hawaiian print
Modification(s): I shortened the hem and opted not to include the belt loop (mostly because I was too lazy to sew them).
What I dislike about this pattern: Nothing!What I love about this pattern: It’s super easy to sew and there are POCKETS!!!

Unfortunately, I have only worn this pair of shorts once thus far and it was not a trip to the beach. So, this is the only photo I have of the shorts to show to everyone.

I wonder when I’ll get the chance to wear this pair of shorts again…

Anyhoo, I have about 1 metre of this fabric left and guess what I’m making with the remaining fabric? A matching bag!! 😀

x g