SEWN: Blue Hawaiian Honeymoon Set

And this is it! It has taken me over 2 years but this Blue Hawaiian honeymoon set is finally completed.

Two years ago in 2017, inspired by vintage Hawaiian honeymoon sets, I made a pair of matching shirt and shorts for Steven (aka my Instagram husband and now real-life husband) and myself respectively for our engagement party back at his hometown in Houston, Texas. Right from the very start, I had always planned to make a matching set of bra top and shorts for myself using the same fabric. I managed to finish the matching bra top for myself around the end of 2018 but never had the chance to wear it out. In my head, I wanted to “save” it for our next beach holiday together.

Houston, TX (2017)

Then, after being married for more than 6 months, we finally had the time to take a vacation together. We took a mini holiday in Koh Samui and got the chance to wear our special me-made Blue Hawaiian honeymoon set together!

Koh Samui, Thailand (2019)

The facts

His shirt: McCall 6044

Can you spot the pocket on the shirt?

This is a basic shirt pattern by McCall that I recommend everyone to get if you are starting out with sewing men’s shirt. It’s very straightforward and easy to sew.

I struggled with the fit for this pattern at the start ONLY because Steven has a neck that is around size L and a torso that is around size M. So, at the end of the day, even after trying to make my own adjustments to the pattern, this shirt has a collar that he won’t be able to button up. I guess it doesn’t matter so much since no one buttons up the collar of a summer shirt anyway!

Her shorts: Self-drafted

This is a pair of high-waisted shorts that I made using a pattern I drafted myself. Many vintage shorts and trousers have a centre-back zipper entry, so I wanted that for my shorts to have a more authentic vintage look. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to run out to get regular zipper when I was finishing the shorts and ended up using an invisible zipper that I had in my stash. So, at the end of the day, I lost the true vintage aesthetics. Well, that’s ok. I still love the way centre-back zipper fits and feels!

Her top: Simplicity 1426 (View B)

I have made this pattern in View A and View C, and I can tell you that View B is the version that fits my petite frame best! Similar to my version of View C, I sewed foam pads between the main piece and the lining to give my girls a perkier look.

To prevent my arms from getting all sore while fumbling with the buttons in the back, I decided that using hooks would be an easier way to put the top on. It’s worked out pretty well!

The fabric

I bought this fabric from Chinatown in Singapore and it has the Sevenberry label on the selvedge. It also came in different colourways like orange, red, and green. I was soooooo tempted to buy more of this print in red so I could make a matching Alfred Shaheen-inspired dress for myself! Alas, I decided to be more prudent with my fabric purchases and abandoned that idea.

Oddly enough, I can’t seem to find this same fabric online, so I am sorry if you are wondering where I bought the fabric! Sevenberry seems to have a pretty decent selection of Hawaiian-print fabrics if you are interested in having a look.

Some final thoughts

I think it’s safe to say that this is not the only me-made matching set that I will be making for my husband and I! Have you made a matching set for yourself and your significant other? Are you Team Match or Team Retch when it comes to making coordinating outfits? xx

SEWN: Refashioned Summer Belle Dress (1980s look to 1950s style!)

The background

Since August 2018, I have been trying to declutter and downsize the things I own. I have a HUGE collection of vintage dresses from over the years. A big bunch of them are 1970s and 1980s clothes from my early years into vintage and from my previous trips to Hong Kong. I have been trying to sell them at a decent price on Instagram and Etsy, but I am also painfully aware of the fact that I may not be able to sell all of them in the timeframe that I have in mind.

The original vintage 1980’s yellow dress

There’s a particular yellow dress that I have a soft spot for – a 1980s dress with puffed sleeves and a beautiful circle skirt. I have always been a fan of the sleeves and the skirt, but didn’t think the bodice was too great. I made myself a promise – if it didn’t sell by the start of February 2019, I would cut it up and make myself something “new” to wear for Chinese New Year.

Alas, it didn’t sell.

The design

When I decided to cut the dress up, I had a few ideas in my head but no concrete plan for the final design. It’s hard to have a very definite plan for a refashioned project because I need to know the amount of fabric I have to work with, and I can really only tell after I have started cutting the pieces up. However, for this project, I was sure that I wanted to work the look around keeping the hemmed circle skirt and the puffed sleeves.

Originally, I thought I would do a shirred back with some shirring elastic I have, but then after cutting the bodice up and removing the lining, I realised it wouldn’t make sense to have a shirred bodice and that it would be easier to just make a basic peasant style blouse.

The bodice
Gwenstella Made Refashioned Summer Belle Dress 1980s 1950s vintage

front vs back view

With the zipper and lining removed, I sewed the back centre-seam together on the machine. Then, I cut the neckline to make a scooped neckline and trimmed the bottom hem of the bodice to straighten it.

cut skirt from bodice, removed zipper and lining from bodice

cut scoop neck and trimmed bottom hem of bodice

After that, I finished the cut edges with a small zig-zag stitch (with moderate tension) for a clean finish. Finally, I folded down along the edges of the neckline and the bottom hem to make a casing for the elastic.

finished edges with zig-zag stitches, made elastic casing

The skirt

lining is from original dress

The skirt was a pretty easy make. All I had to do was to make an elastic casing around the waist!

The final look

After completing the bodice and the skirt, there was still the little piece of fabric left from the faux cowl of the original vintage dress. I didn’t want to waste that fabric, so I decided to make some roses with them! The leaves of the roses are made with some green felt I had lying in my box of sewing supplies. I sewed some brooch pin on the leaves and then glued the leaves onto the back of the roses. I didn’t want to sew the roses directly onto the bodice because I want this blouse + skirt to have a more versatile look (i.e. not just one look).

Making the roses turned out to be such a great decision!

This blouse and skirt set has turned out to be such a great match to my “Pineapple of my Eye” set. I think I have just expanded a summer capsule wardrobe by accident. I will be mixing and matching my looks with them for the rest of the month, so keep an eye out for the outfits I will be posting on my Instagram (@gwenstellamade).

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through the process of this refashioned project. Tell me what you think about this look in the comments section! x Gwen

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: Pineapple of my Eye (1950’s inspired weekend wardrobe)

Gwenstella Made Vintage Style 1950s Pineapple Holiday Wardrobe

Gwenstella Made Vintage Style 1950s Pineapple Holiday Wardrobe

Two weeks ago, I was in Sri Lanka for a short week-long vacation and finally got the chance to bust out my Gwenstella Made retro 1950’s style pineapple holiday set! Making and owning a vintage inspired weekend wardrobe has always been a dream of mine, and it’s finally happened after many months of planning and sewing. Creating weekend wardrobes is the real reason why I often buy a generous amount of yardage for a specific fabric I really like, or why I buy fabric from the same design series. Remember the Country Garden Dress and the Country Garden Skirt? I just love being able to coordinate and mix-and-match all the pieces in my wardrobe!

If you follow me on Instagram (@gwenstellamade), you will know that I have been working on this set since 2017. Yes, it took me the whole of 2017 to complete the set, but I enjoyed every part of the process.

This weekend wardrobe set is pretty basic. It consists of a full circle skirt, a pair of high-waisted shorts, and a classic bra top, and here are the details of each item:

Convertible Bra Top:

Pattern: Simplicity 1426, View C
Details:

  • with bra pads sewn into lining
  • with bias strip sewn along top of lining to conceal white lining that was peeking out from the front
  • white organic cotton lining

1 top, 2 straps, 3 different styles!

This is the second bra top I have made using Simplicity 1426. The first one was the green gingham version. This version is much trickier than the green gingham one I made. Hot tip: Don’t use a white lining. The pattern stated “lining”, but really, I think I should have just used the same fabric as the rest of the top. The white lining was peeking out from the top middle portion of the top and I had to hand-sew a self-made bias tape along the inside of the upper edge of the lining to conceal the white lining. This was what killed my motivation a little and got this entire set placed on hiatus mode initially.

Bias tape hand-sewn along the upper edge to conceal the white lining, and bra pads sewing between the main fabric and lining

Regardless, I pulled myself together and completed the top in good time. This classic mid-century design is definitely a must-have in any mid-century style fashionista’s wardrobe. The BEST thing about this top is the removable straps. I can make 3 different looks by placing the straps in different ways and removing it all together!

 

High-waisted Shorts:

Pattern: Self-drafted
Details:

  • 1 inch waist band
  • Lapped zipper on left side seam
  • Button closure, with 2 buttons for waist adjustment
  • with bright yellow pom pom trimming
  • white organic cotton lining

Of course, a pair of high-waisted shorts is another staple for a 1950’s style summer wardrobe. To make the shorts stand out and to make sewing them a little more challenging/fun, I decided to add little pom pom trimmings around the hem. Pom poms always makes anything 100 times more fun!

Full Circle Skirt:

Pattern: Self-drafted
Details:

  • 1 inch waist band
  • 26 inches in length (just grazing my knee)
  • Hook closure
  • with plastic horsehair braid sewn into the hem

Plastic horsehair braid sewn following the steps in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

This pineapple print fabric screams “summer!” and I thought that making a full circle skirt for a fun and flirty look was absolutely compulsory. I also wanted this holiday set to be something that could be worn comfortably at the beach, so I decided to use a horsehair braid around to hem so that the skirt will have a nice structure even when I am not wearing a petticoat underneath. I mean, it would be too hot to wear a petticoat to the beach right?

Peek-a-boo!

After making a skirt, a pair of shorts and the Simplicity 1426 top with removable straps, I still have sufficient yardage to make a simple top. But I’m thinking maybe that’s enough orange pineapple fabric for now. Ummm, I also still have another one of this same fabric but in sky blue.

Well, if you like pineapples as much as I do, stay tuned for more posts on some SWEET pineapple goodness on the blog in the next month or so!

xxx

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

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

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

sewing gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

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 gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

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 gwenstella made vintage 1950's Vogue 2902

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