For my entry for the refashioners 2016, when I made a dress from jeans (see earlier blog post), I had made a toile for the bodice and although it was a bit rough and ready, had always intended to continue this to a dress in its own right.
The bodice was made from a pair of 100% cotton trousers by ‘no fear’ which I had bought at the end of a jumble sale when they were just desperate to sell anything and had a ‘fill a bag for a pound’ offer. The binding for the bodice was made from an old pillow case.
I looked through my stash for some suitable fabric to make the skirt and decided to use this the remainder of this long dress.
I bought this dress last year in an independent charity shop, I was attracted by the fabric and the amount of it.
Charity shopping tip: look to the floor
When I’m scanning the rails of any charity shop, it’s sometimes difficult to see everything because the items are tightly packed, so I always cast my eye to the floor to see if there are any long items with good fabrics, and that’s how I picked this out.
These independent shops are always the ones which throw up the best finds. The bigger chains have become quite expensive and the items for sale can be on the bland side. The independents tend to be less discerning about what they put out on sale. In this one I remember a particularly striking lime green leather jacket, which I wish I had photographed.
The dress was too small and revealing for me to wear but I’d bought it for the fabric anyway so I chopped off the top half and just kept the skirt.
I’d already used some of the fabric in an unblogged t-shirt refashion.
I needed a third element to have enough fabric to complete my dress and this time the stash turned up an unworn pair of white cotton trousers.
These trousers were left behind by a former girlfriend of my stepson, I don’t think she’ll be coming back to claim them. They are a good make and maybe I should have taken them to a charity shop instead of cutting them up, but in my experience the shops are full of items in small sizes whereas the buyers tend to be looking for bigger sizes so that’s my justification.
Its funny but various different girlfriends have left items behind, I’ve got a scarf, a jacket and 2 pairs of trousers, and a handbag, so virtually a whole outfit.
I wondered how best to fit the 3 elements together
I made some measurements and there was a difference of 20 inches in the bodice width and the skirt width so I cut 8 panel shapes from the trousers in the right length and shape to fill the gap, basing the length I was aiming for on my denim dress.
At this stage it was going so well I was almost tempted to keep it as a peplum top.
Finally, the tube of skirt fabric was added, and with a small amount of tweaking of the panels to improve the hang (making the front middle seam bigger), it was ready.
I wore this dress in a recent trip to Seville, the red almost looks a bit Spanish?
I was given this dress last year.
It came in a bag of clothing from the nursing home where my daughter works. A member of staff had brought in some clothes ‘in case any of the residents can make use of them’.
Relatives keep an eagle eye on the clothes their family members are wearing because the relatives buy the clothes, and will spot any imposters immediately, making a negative judgement about the standards of care at the home. This is how the dress found its way to me, because despite good intentions it was impossible to give it to anybody. The dress is 100% viscose, no country of manufacture admitted to ( I would guess Bangladesh.) Florence and Fred brand ie cheap to buy originally.
I normally avoid budget brands when I’m charity shopping because I’ve got a bit of a superior attitude, but I’m also unable to resist something for free, which usually triumphs over snobbery.
This dress doesn’t really know what it is meant to be. The lightness of fabric could make it a summer dress but the navy pattern and long sleeves are more evening wear. I am not even sure myself in which direction I am taking it – maybe summer casual evening wear but definitely a better fit.
The bell sleeves are bang on current trend, but not for me. I have tried them before in a previous decade and know they are rubbish. I made an easy chop to make the sleeves elbow length.
The size of this dress is UK 16. I have measured myself against size charts and my body parts are usually 3 different sizes. My bust is size 16, waist size 18 and hips size 14. It is the waist/hips mismatch which causes me the most problems. I have never had a particularly small waist and ageing has not improved the situation, however although this dress fits my bust size, the neck and shoulders are too big, a common problem for me.
I wanted to raise the neckline and add interest by sewing the cut off bell component of the sleeves onto the front of neck. I hoped this would also keep the neck together a bit and prevent it slipping down my shoulders.
I pinned one of the sleeve frills onto the neck and it looked OK
I unpicked the original neck binding and re-sewed it back on to incorporate the sleeve frill, there was enough length of neck binding because I was making the neck smaller.
I unpicked the binding on the keyhole fastening at the back and sewed up the seam, just to bring the neck together a bit more – I could still get the dress over my head quite easily.
The dress did look better and I was pleased with the neckline work, but was still more short and flimsy than I would like, so with another chop it became a tunic length top.
I added side tab openings.
Ideal holiday wear for a recent trip to Seville