Meet the Maker: Gwenstella
by Kollabora Follow

posted 9 months ago

My name is Gwen, but you may know me as Gwenstella Made (from my blog or Instagram profile), and my DIY weapons of choice are novelty fabric, tracing paper, and a sewing machine.

I keep myself inspired by browsing Pinterest for images of vintage sewing pattern envelopes and following like-minded makers on Instagram.

After a long day of making things I like to drink a warm cup of Earl Grey tea and watch an old film.

I first started making things when I began getting into vintage style. I was a poor university student then and I couldn’t afford the expensive vintage dresses, so I decided to make my own vintage inspired dresses.  

My creativity is driven by my love for vintage style. Nothing excites me more than the ability to create a vintage look from scratch at the fraction of the cost of true vintage.

Very often, when I think about starting a new project, I focus on the design that I want to create first. It could be a late 40’s dress, a 50’s playsuit, or a 60’s shift dress. Next, I will try to match the design with the fabric I have available in my stash. I often decide on a project on a whim and rarely buy a fabric with a pattern in mind. Because of this, I often end up having insufficient yardage for a specific project I have in mind, and have to make certain changes to the original design. Sometimes, this can be frustrating. But more often than not, it’s exciting to put my creativity to the test.

If I wasn’t a speech-language pathologist, I would love to be a stylist, a pattern designer, or perhaps even a writer for an indie/sewing/DIY magazine.

My favourite place to buy fabric in Singapore is Spotlight and the second floor of this dumpy building called People’s Park Complex in Chinatown. The entire second floor is packed with shops selling a huge range of fabrics and all kinds of sewing notions!

I get out of a creative rut by working on mini DIY projects like making earrings or crocheting cute pot coasters.

My favourite maker is Gretchen Hirsch. She has an enviable wardrobe and mad sewing skills. I recently received her latest book as a birthday present and I am really looking forward to working on a few projects from the book this year.

My favourite thing about making is that anything that you have made with your own pair of hands is absolutely one-of-a-kind in this world. That’s pretty awesome.

To me, DIY is like cheap therapy. When I start sewing, knitting, or crocheting, I get in a meditative state and the hours just run like water.

The first thing I made was a shirt blouse in a shabby-chic floral print. It was more granny-chic that glamourous vintage, but it was a start. I still have it lying in a dark corner of my wardrobe. Perhaps I should wear it out more often…

My favourite things to do on the weekend are to sew and to dress up in adorable outfits! Working with children in a hospital setting means that I need to dress accordingly (i.e. professional and comfortable). Weekends are the only time for me to dress up in all the cute things I have made, and to make even more cute things to wear in the future!

I can’t get enough of this Japanese baked cheesecake. It’s sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb and best of all, very velvety. (Tip: Add matcha powder)

Three words that describe me (according to my partner, after a looking up Dictionary.com for 5 minutes): retro, eclectic… and vulpine

Three words that describe my work: nostalgic, kitschy, colourful

Best creative advice I ever received is from my mum. When I first picked up knitting, she said to me (in Mandarin), “the patience to undo and re-do is the key to completing a project successfully.” Wise words indeed.

If I could live in any country, it would be Australia. So many fond memories of my days there when I was in university!

My DIY secret weapon is a No. 2 pencil. I use it to sketch ideas, draft my own sewing patterns, and make little markings on fabric.

My next project is the Simplicity 1426 pattern in option C. It is a vintage 1950’s reproduction pattern. I have already made one in option A and I can’t to make one of every single option!

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