Like all seamstresses, my absolute favorite thing in the world to do is repairs and alterations for other people. I can think of nothing that brings me more joy than the tediousness of throwing darts into an ill-fitting top, or fixing a hem line for all the shorties in my life. Seriously though, when I got home from regionals and my sister greeted me with a “Hi, how are you I bought this dress but it’s got major issues can you fix it?” you can imagine the overjoyed expression on my face. Interestingly though, this was the first time that she didn’t come running to me for problems with the fit her garment, but instead because she had major issues with the style of the dress. In her words the bottom was “really cute” and she “really liked the fabric” but the top was “Little House on the Prairie” in a way she just couldn’t overcome. Now, I don’t know that it was quite that bad (I’ve been reading Burda for a while now…), but the ruffled sleeves were of a proportion that fell in quite an unflattering way, and the intense pleating of the neckline did have a bit of an… outdated feel.
Above is the H&M dress in it’s original state (image from google image search/shopstyle.com). My sister really liked the bottom half of the dress, but hated the neckline. She got it for a steal on sale, and thought it might be salvageable, with a little help from yours truly.
I wasn’t too keen to work on this dress right away after regionals, and I didn’t have the kind of fabric I wanted to use in my stash anyway. Luckily, while I was at Nationals, I managed a quick trip to the Albuquerque Hancock fabrics, and found the perfect navy rayon challis for this project.
I have recently been doing a sewing space revamp (partially for functionality, partially for ergonomics, and, yes, I’ll post about it once it isn’t just a mess of boxes and bags everywhere), so I was motivated to get all the unnecessary stuff out of my way. And by unnecessary stuff I mean all the random fixes that have been sitting in my craft space for
almost two years a reasonable amount of time, along with the newer projects that just got handed to me from my sister.
Anyway, since the only complaint on this dress was with the neckline, I cut it off above the serger stitches, cut off the ruffles, and used the rest as the pattern pieces for the rayon. I cut two of each of the front and back yokes, stitched the shoulders together, stitched the neck opening, flipped right side out, serged the arm openings, turned and topstitched those, then stitched and serged the yokes to the dress bottom. Not too much effort, and the finishing on the inside looks surprisingly clean (or at least like it came as part of the original dress). And I think the overall refashion turned out pretty cute!
Definitely a more modern vibe than the previous version. It should be much more flattering to wear in any case, and much easier to layer without the awkward ruffle sleeves of awkwardness. Also, pardon all the random bags of assorted sewing stuffs in the background. Like I said, sewing room re-vamp in progress. Not that my sewing space doesn’t normally look like a tornado swept a bunch of fabric into town. Oh well. Keeping it real.
In any case, this is my first refashion, and I have to admit it was actually oddly satisfying. I’ve always admired the thrifters who find some of the craziest clothes on the planet and manage to turn them into something cute and wearable with a little ingenuity, a few well-placed stitches, and, of course, the all powerful magic of Rit dye. I’ve gotten terribly behind in my sewing plans over the past two years, which essentially means I’ve got a lot of fabric, a lot of patterns, and a lot of worn out and ill-fitting clothes. Of course, I’m more excited by the thought of sewing through my stash, and I really don’t need more things to do, but the thought of refashioning part of a wardrobe is sort of appealing. In any case, I’m hoping that this will lead to doing a bit more refashioning in the future. Though I’ve learned to be careful what I wish for – and having re-read what I’ve written I realize I’m now going to have to wade through piles of clothes to refashion for the sisters. Did I mention I love to mend other people’s clothes? Sigh.