50s Inspired Sabrina Cape Dress Part 1

When I read this post by the Selfish Seamstress, I knew I wanted to make one of the 1950s outfits she posted. I love the idea that the cape is attached to the buttons on the dress like this one I found a day later on etsy.

I already have a vintage cape pattern, butterick B5032 pattern, so I didn’t want to purchase another one. Instead, I made the dress out of burdastyle’s Sabrina sewing pattern which I’ve always wanted to try but am arm shy. But with a cape, the outfit is ideal! I would never have thought of this outfit on my own so I am thankful to have seen these vintage patterns. They are my inspiration. I have just completed the dress portion so here it is. I hope you see some similarities 🙂

I used a medium weight ikea fabric in navy blue plaid for the dress, white fabric for what was called the ‘neckline’ on the sewing pattern and added some navy blue piping on top. I love the egg colored buttons which were attached to the front and back of the dress to hold the straps in place.

Expect lots of sewing for this dress. I have never used this much thread on a dress before LOL and I only realized it when I counted the number of used bobbins. There are princess seams running on the skirt on both front, back and pleat pieces in between. This is my first time sewing a box pleat skirt and I really enjoyed learning something new. I lengthen the skirt quite a bit as the original version was rather short.

Sad to say, the sewing instruction was a total letdown. It was overly brief and confusing for a dress that had quite a number of steps to complete.

If you bought this pattern, I hope you will find the steps I took below helpful. You can follow burdastyle’s instructions till the end of interfacing and then:

1) Sew the front neckline piece to the front yoke piece (this was not named on the pattern but you can identify it by the bust measurements printed on it), right side facing. Repeat the same for the other front neckline and yoke pieces. Please note that the bodice is very fitting so measure yourself before selecting the size.

2) Sew the back neckline piece to the back yoke piece, right side facing. Repeat the same for the other back neckline and yoke pieces.

3) Sew the front and back pieces together at the side seams for both sets.

4) Sew the two sets together by joining the two necklines, right side facing. You can insert piping here if you wish. Turn right side out, fold in one set of the neckline/yoke set and top stitch the neckline. Fit.

5) Sew the centre front piece and the pleat pieces together, right side facing, matching the numbers. Sew the pleat pieces to the side front pieces, right side facing, matching the numbers. Sew the top of the side front to the centre front, right side facing, matching the numbers until your waistline.

6) Sew the back front, pleat and side pieces in a similar fashion.

7) Sew the  side seams on the right. For the left side, sew until the zipper mark.

8 ) Baste top of skirt to one of the bottom seams of the front yoke, matching the side seams. Fit and stitch.

9) Fold in the seam allowance of the internal bodice and iron. Top stitch at the seam.

10) Fold the strap in half and stitch, right side facing, leaving a gap, trim allowance, turn inside out and top stitch. Repeat for the other strap. Pin on marked button spots and do a fitting.

11) Insert zipper and make button holes. Sew buttons.

12) Finish hems and we are done!

I have been procrastinating on the Sabrina for a long long time. There is another reason that gave me a push. The weather here has been anything but predictable recently. I have never witnessed this much rain in June and July! They were supposed to be the hottest months. Can you imagine,  these couple of months we actually had a number of flooding incidents! So, I thought this dress with cape would be sort of weather proof- warm or cool. Also, it is perfect for my Sundays. First watching my prince swim at the sunny pool, followed by church service in an incredibly cold auditorium.

One thing though, I find the dress a little bit difficult to remove due to the tight fit at the bust area. But, it’s only a small issue given how comfortable this is when worn! If you use knit, this issue can be easily resolved and you will not need a zipper.

Now, I just have to get the cape done!

Resort 2011: Retro Inspiration!

I do not usually visit style.com. In fact, this is probably my second visit to the site. This time round something is distinctly different. I was glued to the site for hours as retro chic has become the buzzword for Resort 2011!

I saw lots of beautiful sheer fabric, scallop edges, soft ruffles and irresistible laces. Thereafter, I went in search of similar vintage sewing patterns for them. I didn’t manage to locate all of them but will update the list whenever I do make new discoveries. Please feel free to let me know if you spot something similar!

Kaftan by Chanel and 1970s Simplicity sewing pattern available at RetroModVintage. Or check out the instructions here.

Dress with scallop facing by Christian Dior and 1971 vintage Simplicity dress with Peter Pan collar available at OneLittleWindow. Scallop facing can be made using the Vain and Vapid tutorial. Flower belt tutorial at Ruffles & Stuff.

Dress with scallop neckline by Marc Jacob and 1960s vintage Simplicity sewing pattern available at mbchills. Or if you have the Built by Wendy Dresses book, this might work. Use the shift dress pattern, shorten the sleeves and hem. Draft your own neckline and facing pieces for the neckline, sleeves and hem.

Pleated Scallop Hem Dress by Collette Dannigan and 1950s Advance vintage sewing pattern available at tricotgirl. The major difference here is the designer dress has pleats which I am not  really sure how to create with a scallop hem.  I am guessing (and this is a super wild guess!) the way might be to create the pleats first, secure them at the bottom of the skirt before creating the scallop edges.  It could also be that the lace fabric the designer used came with scallop edges to start with 😦

Black mini dress by Giambattista Valli and 1950s (I think) vintage Butterick sewing pattern available at mbchills

The styles were minimalist, mod, preppy with a good variation of wrap and shirt dress and bow blouses. The popular hues ranged from black, grey, white, green, purple, blue, orange, red and pink. Mostly in solid pastels.

Pink Dress with white facing by Louis Vuitton and 1970s Simplicity vintage sewing pattern available at frillygirlythings.

Christian Dior

2 piece outfit by Marc Jacob and 1966 vintage Simplicity sewing pattern available at vintagesewingandmore .

Pastel green dress by Versace and 1960s McCall’s Mod Dress sewing pattern available at SewingWithMissDandy


Military inspired Cape with shorts by Stella McCartney and 1960s McCall’s vintage sewing pattern available at sandritocat

The popular prints with designers this season include black and white prints, animal prints, nautical stripes and florals.

Sonia Rykiel

Floral Mod Inspired dress by Stella McCartney and 1960s Mod dress sewing pattern available at SewingWithMissDandy.

Swimsuit by Cynthia Rowley and 1965 Simplicity bathing suit sewing pattern available at Fragolina

Carolina Herrera


Dress by Givenchy and vintage simplicity sewing pattern available at Baby10

I am glad to have spent the time browsing through the many Resort 2011 collections. Most importantly, I saw gorgeous retro inspired designs brought to life in a big way by numerous designers. The experimentations with adaptation, new fabrics, colours and embellishments are just fabulous! Some of us might just own vintage sewing pattern similar to the designers’ creations above!   Now, I can’t wait to get back to sewing retro inspired garments!  If you have been procrastinating on a vintage sewing project, perhaps this will be a great time to start. Do you have a favorite from the outfits above? It’s too difficult for me to pick one. I am torn between Marc Jacob’s scallop neckline dress, Giambattista Valli’s little black dress and Chanel’s kaftan.

Oh! And if you have time, go check out the Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 Campaign shots!


Fashion and runway photos source: Style.com

Sunday Etsy Faves: All dressed up

Four very different dresses caught my eyes today. The first is a toga dress in blue with a simple ruffle down its front. Simple but striking and blue is so in, so now. I love it!

Penelope James One Shoulder Dress by featherweight

I might not have mentioned this before but green has always been my favorite color. It is rather ironic but I don’t usually wear green as I think it makes me paler than I already am. Yet, I am so in love with the color of this dress. It makes me think of summer in Paris. Aren’t the brown shoes just perfect?

Fleur’s Petal Dress by Nadinoo

I love the print and what looks like piping running down the front of the dress.

Melt the Guns Frock by iheartfink

Finally, a vintage inspired lace dress. Perfectly graceful and pretty. The magic of lace.

vintage dress from AstralBoutique

Bambi Tara

The first blouse from my Tara Experiment Week is done!  It’s  cool and comfortable, definitely something I will wear. I thought there is some retro vibe in it as well. It’s a sweet  blouse compared to the usual t-shirts I wear but I don’t mind it.

This time, I used a fabric slightly heavier than the last and I think it is a cotton/linen blend. That’s partly why I decided to go ‘sleeveless’ so that I can remain cool on a hot day.

My deviation from the Tara sewing pattern:

– Added flaps with white piping at the neckline and also a button.

– Used bias tape and lace for the sleeve in place of the butterfly ruffles.

One down, two more to go!!!

Sunday Etsy Faves: Vintage (Inspired) Accessories

Hair clips, rings, earrings, necklaces and bags are just a few of my favorite things. Maybe they are yours too. I love them even more when they have a certain look. A vintage inspired look.

The Great Singapore Sale just started last week and while browsing through etsy today, I was curious what crafters from Singapore were selling and off course I wondered if they were participating in the Great Singapore Sale. While I didn’t see any sale in their shops, I’m glad to have checked them out.  Otherwise, I would not have chanced upon these lovely creations. All vintage inspired and all from Singapore based talents!

The Mushroombrella Wristclutch by LittleOddForest

Lucky Pink Owl Necklace by PrincipessaTwinz

Spring Awakens by Marolsha

Royal Purple Nagorie by theMIX

Almond & Ice Flower Headband/Hair clip by forestflame

Tangerine mist set by beadpod8

Yellow roses earrings by ChiliCrab

Dreams by FleurAvenue

Always in your heart by shopjmp

This could be my longest Etsy Faves list yet!

Strangely, I can imagine myself wearing the Spring Awakens necklace with the Dreams ring OR the Lucky Pink Owl Necklace, the Almond & Ice Flower hair clip and Always in your heart bracelet OR the Tangerine mist set with the Mushroombrella Wristclutch…

Retro Hot Pink Dress Completed!

Yes! The Sew Convert has completed the retro hot pink dress based on vintage butterick B5032 pattern! The sewing pattern was first printed in the 1950s and I chose to sew the dress with belt. This is a relatively easy dress to make with clear instructions. I did however unpick the seams joining the top to the skirt twice to ensure that side seams matched and that the dart lines on top matched the centre of the skirt’s pleats. So, this is the first solid colour dress The Sew Convert has made. No, not really… The Sew Convert decided to pick a polka dot fabric for the belt:)

I was not happy with the first belt I made as it was a little too short so I lengthen it. Somehow, a handmade belt does not feel as secure and stable. Perhaps I should add a loop to the belt? I also shorten the length of the skirt to increase its wearability. When I compared the photo below with the pattern cover above, I must say the dress does resemble what’s promised remarkably. I’ve been looking at the dress, perhaps a little too much but I still can’t decide if I like it more with belt or without belt. Which do you prefer?

Dress without belt

Back of dress

Close up of belt and pleats details

Dress with belt

Side view of dress

What I love about this dress is the flattering fit and the colour. The pleats on the front are well positioned to hide the tummy:) I also think it is a versatile garment. Throw on a jacket and you can wear it to the office, off comes the jacket and you can meet friends for drinks. With or without belt. The Sew Convert remains indecisive…

Sew Retro!

The Sew Convert is now a member of Sew Retro! It’s so exciting to be part of a group that loves sewing vintage and retro inspired clothing:) What’s more, these ladies are so talented! I thought I should take this opportunity to share some of my favorites by Sew Retro members!

Simplicity 4194 by Sewing and so on

I love how the fabric choice and style add to how effortlessly vintage this blouse looks. It’s  a beauty!

Bestway 19665 by Cargo Cult Craft

The Sew Convert heart this gorgeous outfit and all its intricate details. You have to visit her blog to see the close up photos! Love those shoes too!

Refashioned 1940s frock by The House of Mirth

This black and white gingham dress looks so amazing, I want one for myself!

Dress Pattern Shopping Day

The Sew Convert is not herself today. She is feeling lethargic and lacks the motivation to sew. She is literally melting at 34 degrees celsius!

So, instead it turned out to be a pattern shopping day for The Sew Convert.

Colette Pattern’s Rooibos and Macaron dress patterns are on the way! The Sew Convert can’t wait to make these yummy dresses!

Rooibos Dress

Macaron Dress

My oh my! What other good deal did The Sew Convert discover?  Vogue Patterns is having a two-day sale. Most patterns are going at $5.75! The Sew Convert’s patience had paid off .  These are some of the lovelies that ended up in her shopping cart. Oops:P

Vintage Vogue V1171

Vogue V1158

Besides ordering the vintage jumpsuit pattern she mentioned previously, The Sew Convert also got herself a Vintage McCall pattern with cape inspired collar. The cape collar is full of potential and can possibly go with other outfits!

Now, The Sew Convert is not a ladylike person. In fact, she is most comfortable in her bootcut jeans. However, her infatuation with vintage outfits might be revolutionizing the way she dresses. If so, it would be documented right here on the blog.

While The Sew Convert did not make an immediate purchase, this 1940s Swing Dress from Sense & Sensibility Patterns also caught her eye.

1940s Swing Dress

What’s more, there is a downloadable pdf pattern while all instructions are online! Gorgeous as it is, The Sew Convert shall get this when she is done with the rest:) Who knows, there might be a sale when The Sew Convert is ready!

On a separate note, Grosgrain’s A Frock by Friday was postponed to this week. While tomorrow is Day 2  of the sewalong, The Sew Convert will only be able to continue sewing on Thursday as her mum can’t babysit.  Hopefully, she’ll be able to catch up with the rest. Nonetheless, she looks forward to a fun-filled day with her princess. Fabric shopping might very well be in the itinerary:)

Retro Inspired Dresses

I managed to sew two retro inspired dresses this week and am totally delighted with them. I have no one to snap the photos for me today so I tried my best by standing on a stool and snapping my reflection in the mirror. Think it would have been hilarious if anyone was watching. Anyway, I used this vintage simplicity pattern I got from etsy for the first time. I chose the one with V-neck but shorten the dress length and the sleeves.

Dress Number 1: The Hummingbird dress

Full length view

Close up

The Sew Convert chose to make this dress in Patty Young’s hummingbird fabric (Flora & Fauna collection). The vintage pattern came with a 1.5cm seam allowance so it was ideal. It was my first attempt with vintage pattern so I was a little skeptical but the instructions were surprisingly easy to follow. It was also my first experience sewing a zipper and as The Sew Convert does not have a zipper foot, she chose a normal white zipper instead of an invisible zipper. Thank goodness it turned out all right, phew!

Dress Number 2: Scallop Hem Floral Mini Dress

Full length view

Front view

Side view

My second zipper

Off course, I was inspired by the vintage blouse I posted here. I adapted the sheath dress pattern from Wendy Mullin’s book Built By Wendy Dresses and used the vain and vapid tutorial for the scallop edge. I had to add seam allowance to the pattern and drew my own pockets.  Instead of sewing the hem area as suggested by the tutorial, I used bias tape to finish it so that it does not show on the right side of the dress. To ensure that the hem stays I stitched it to the sides of the dress,  the bottom seams of the pockets and the back centre seam. I used a thin orange bias tape for the pockets as I didn’t have piping but am happy with the end result.

For both dresses I adjusted the fit at the waist and hip area a little at the end. Two dresses in a week. That makes it a good week doesn’t it?

To make it an even better week ahead. Have you heard about the 30% sale at colette patterns? Don’t miss it, I know I won’t! I have been wanting to make the Rooibos and the Macaron dresses from colette. Drool!!!!

Sunday Etsy Faves: An inspiration to sew

It is so easy to find items that inspire and sometimes distract me a little too much on etsy.

I mentioned how I wanted to do a bow collar blouse yesterday. Now, The Sew Convert is dreaming of sewing these whimsical bow collar dresses for herself and her princess after seeing this japanese sewing book for mum/daughter outfits at pomadour24’s store

Too cute!

What about the gorgeous vintage inspired hand sewn dresses at MichelleTan’s store? If The Sew Convert wasn’t this eager to hone her sewing skills,  she would have snapped  up the Custom 1950s inspired dress and the Jessie dress in a heartbeat! (Check out copyrighted photos at store from link above).

This Brittany Dress and matching sky girl hat at taratothet are simply oozing with vintage coolness!

I am also in love with this vintage scallop edge blouse from clevernettle. I have to make one for myself! Really soon!