Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Old Dress - or - Project #1

I get discouraged when I go clothes shopping in the mall. The fashions that have been out for the past few years, while they may look great on the young, just aren’t what I’m looking for. And those clothes eventually find their way to the secondhand stores, which makes any clothes hunt challenging since the selection is thinned out by this stuff. I sometimes find nice pieces from the Dress Barn or Talbots, a bonus if they’re in great condition because they are well-made and last longer in both style and durability. But most times I walk away empty handed.

Due to a Mediterranean heredity and a job that keeps me glued to a computer screen, causing what we used to call “secretary’s spread”, I cannot wear the pencil or slim skirts that are currently on the racks. I’ve learned that what the stores are calling “A-line” is what I call a “straight” skirt. So for the last two and a half years working for my employer I’ve worn slacks. Nice, neat, women’s slacks and business blouses or sweaters, and sometimes a jacket or blazer.

Several times last winter I thumbed through my selection of old sewing patterns, wishing I could pull a few dresses like these off the store racks and whisk them into the fitting room. But it wasn’t until early this spring when a few co-workers were talking that an idea went off in my mind. These ladies were commenting on the dress worn by one of them, a wrap dress, as if it was a new style. My heavens, Diane brought those into mainstream work life in the early seventies, to the adoration of millions of working women. I owned a few back then. I have a few wrap dress patterns. If they’re acceptable now, why not whip up one or two? Hmmmm.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going through the patterns again and again. I’ve decided to re-create a few of the older styles, for comfort and presentability. And yes, for the Fall I will even make some heavier weight A-line skirts, the staple of a working woman’s wardrobe in the late 60’s.

I’d like to share my first Self-Stitched September attempted creation (not that anticipated wrap dress….yet.) It started out as a bright thrifted floral summer dress. By taking it apart at the seams and using an old pattern (adjusted for size), I was able to make a bright new floral summer dress.




Before:







After:






* The hem still needs to be stitched later today.....





I used this pattern:







The cropped sleeves on the original dress did not have enough material to make the sleeve in the dress pattern, so I intentionally made them short and edged them with self-made white piping. This is the original “scallop” shape to the sleeve:










There weren’t any large pieces of leftover fabric so I stitched together some scraps to make the neck facings. After all, making-do has been a women’s secret tool since time began ;) My cost for the dress was just over two dollars. I even re-used the original zipper.

Are there things I should have improved on? Oh, yeah! This is the first zipper I’ve sewn in YEARS. I simply stitched it down on the basted seam. Next time I’ll do it the proper way, with one lapped side. And I’ll take the time to carefully ease in the sleeves.

Am I happy with it? Yes. It will be a bright addition to my July and August work wear. And I’ll definitely wear it once during September. Modelling photos then, promise ;)

Now I’ve got a lightweight knit in the works. Part thrifted, part new material, and another vintage pattern. And sometime later on, that wrap.

P.S. On the record player during my stitchin' time this week: The Glenn Miller Carnegie Hall Concert album. Ah, trombones....






Have an awesome day!

4 comments:

Mary said...

Your "new" dress is so pretty, with its vibrant print and color. I have just joined SSS and am looking forward to participating more actively by sharing some upcycled clothing. Again, love your dress, and your blog!

Wendy said...

Awesome dress! It's so lovely.

And wow! I just can't even express how impressive it is to me that you completely remodeled that dress. Very cool!

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for the compliments. I'm looking forward to seeing your creations, along with the ones from everyone else!

Hi Wendy,
Thanks! All it takes is a good print fabric and a simple pattern.

Kathryn Ray said...

What a great idea. I really like the new dress.