A friend gave me a number of items to refashion, one of them was this dress.
The fabric was a very light and stretchy 96% viscose 4% elastane, made in India.
The maker was the Spanish brand Indiwoman by individual.
My friend said she liked the fabric of this dress but it didn’t hang right, and when I tried it on I could see what she meant.
While not terrible, it was a bit too short and had an unflattering belly area. Also while I do like a wrap top I usually end up sewing them shut to avoid the inevitable bra revealing gape.
The shoulders and sleeves were good so I was going to keep them.
First stage was to unpick the seam at the waist to free up the top section.
I sewed the wrap front shut to make a regular V neck and trimmed off the excess.
Let me say now, I strongly believe in trying on at every stage of a refashion. When I don’t try on I make mistakes. I must have tried this top on about 20 times during the course of the refashion process and don’t regret any of them.
I was hoping to make a dress by adding an alternative skirt section. This was mainly because I already have a lot of tops.
I auditioned a rather attractive table runner bought in a jumble sale a couple of years ago.
Although tempted, and the resulting dress would have been dramatic, in the end I decided that because the fabric of the original dress was so light, there was a danger of it being pulled down by the weight of any heavier fabric. I also may not be brave enough to wear a table cloth out to dinner.
So it had to be a top.
I cut off the bottom section of the dress below the pockets. I know pockets are useful but not in a top.
Then sewed the bottom of the dress onto the now closed upper section, trimming some length and width to make it the right size.
I tried this new top on and it looked OK but a bit boring.
I rummaged in my stash for this trim, previously removed from a skirt waistband.
I draped it around the neck and it looked good, especially the way the point fitted the middle of the V.
After a few goes to get the trim to lie flat when being worn, I am now happy with the result, hope my friend is too. I am quite pleased the joins are not obvious.
I wore the top on a recent trip to Northern Ireland
Dress, too small and too short, fabric a very lightweight polyester, viscose 3% elastane mix with some texture, made in Morocco. There’s some difficult to see olive green in there as well as black and white.
Skirt, also too small and definitely too short, fabric 100% canvas weight cotton, broken zip.
Both items were originally from Primark, the epitome of fast fashion, and were given to me by daughter.
The plan was to combine them to make a skirt.
I was unsure at first if the two fabrics would work well together, because of the different weight and composition as well as the colours.
I decided to go for it, the heavier green cotton would be used to lengthen and add weight to the dress fabric.
First step, chop the dress
I know the cut is very high up the dress but I was unsure how much of the length could be used. I tried this bottom section on, and although it was still small, the stretch in the fabric provided quite a lot of give, it didn’t look ridiculous, (but maybe not suitable for a blog photo)
The green skirt had quite a deep hem, so this was to ripped open, then cut two as wide as possible strips to sew onto the bottom of the dress.
In the lengthening process it would be necessary to follow the flared shape of the dress, and as the skirt does not really flare I decided to make some pleats to make sure the shape looked right. The skirt was constructed of panels so there was a natural place for each pleat to go.
I sewed the 2 skirt strips together to make one long one, and hemmed it. Before turning the hem over, cutting into the serged seams to reduce bulk.
Finished hemline with pleats.
This adds a nice amount of length and weight.
The fabric is so lightweight and stretchy and does not fray. I am going to leave it as it is for now, just turning over the right amount for a supremely comfortable yoga type waistband. I’ll try it for a few wears and review the situation. Because the cut was made so high in the dress and above the natural waist, it seems to work without slipping down.
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