Sustainability can come in so many different forms. For the past year I’ve been talking about buying less, buying better quality, being more mindful – but it has sometimes felt so unachievable. I read blogs for inspiration but quite often they have the opposite effect. I suddenly want to spend time I don’t have on a particular kind of lifestyle, spend money I don’t have on different products, and that I’m just not up to scratch. But that’s all ridiculous isn’t it? I need to take my lead from my sewing friends that remind me to do keep doing my own thing and not worry about it. Enter #slowsfashionstyling which starts next week in an effort to give the unloved items in your closet some wear.
Along the theme of doing my own thing, I wanted to share you a dress I remade. In its original form it had a load of compliments from random strangers on the street, but I hated wearing it (more on that shortly). In its remade form it has had a grand total of zero compliments after 2 months – not sure whether or not to feel disappointed about that – but I wear it a lot more and I like it a lot better so all is not lost. I am also posting this now as the annual Refashioners sewing challenge is on again. Unlike previous years, there is no garment type specified for the refashion (previous year themes included refashioning a suit, or refashioning denim). Not sure if my remake is technically a refashion, but I think terminology is irrelevant. For me its all about making the clothes I want to wear, rather than wanting the creative challenge of refashioning for the sake of it.
My original dress
I dithered for weeks before buying it as I wasn’t sure what the peach would do for my skin tone. Eventually I caved in and I like to think that I bought it before it was splashed all over the internet. Later on after I made the dress the fabric became super popular and I got dress stress when I wanted to wear it to a party! You can read the incident here when I wrote about FOMO (fear of missing out).
Why I had to remake the dress
The waist elastic was really uncomfortable and situated too high. The cap sleeves are just holes in the bodice for the arms, and these are folded back twice to finish the seam. Which means the underarm opening isn’t particularly strong even with reinforced stitching. I ripped and repaired it THREE times (twice on one side, one on the other) reaching for things! See this picture because close ups do not lie. You can see also that the buttons are big given the width of the placket.
The new dress
The new bodice is a heavily hacked version of a dress in Japanese pattern book. The pattern was v neck dress with tucks at the waist and 3/4 sleeves. Besides raising the neckline, I wanted to have buttons down the front so I had to mess with the centre front and draft facings. Then I hacked away at the sleeves. Basically all that is left of the original pattern piece is the armhole – because I don’t know how to draft those! I’m tempted to go learn to draft a bodice and sleeve block just for me so I never have to buy a pattern again.
Cutting and laying out
After the unpicking, the pieces at the front bodice were smaller than I wanted – there was a button placket, shoulder panels, a collar, plus the rips I mentioned before. I just ended up making bias strips out of the front bodice and cutting out a part of a facing. You can see what I did in this picture. (PS – it was my first time trying to draw something with paint and markers! I’m pretty happy with the result!). The gathered skirt is the original one, no change there.
The pieces you don’t see in the picture are those I cut out of leftover fabric. I had bought yardage based on the original pattern which had a full circle skirt. In the end I didn’t want to use that much fabric, so I made a gathered skirt instead which used a lot less fabric. Lucky I kept it all!
My friend Christine had kindly bought me some bias binding when we met up a couple of months ago, so I used this to give a bit of definition to the bodice, sandwiching it between the centre front edge and the front facing. I was too lazy to pull out the overlocker so I did french seams all over the bodice. For the skirt I just removed the waist elastic, attached it to the new bodice and let down the hem a bit. The only fancy thing I did was to use the bias strips I cut from the original bodice to bind the bodice facings. Maybe a bit overkill for this dress but it does give a nice finish.
Finally, the buttons are from my stash. I found them after excavating my haberdashery drawers.
And the dress is done!
It felt like a hard slog to get it sorted, but a worthwhile exercise. When I started the remake of this dress I also started logging my outfits for fun. Since I finished it about 2 months ago I have worn it 6 times, making it the most worn dress in my wardrobe (yep, that’s how many clothes I have …) Let me leave you with a demonstration of my happiness that the remake is finally finished!
Have you ever pulled apart and remade anything you originally made? Do you ever feel guilty cutting up wearable clothes to refashion?
You look terrific in your “new” dress. Way to go! I have to say that I remake sewn items quite frequently. In fact, I guess I think of remakes as part of the life of my memade clothes. I changes necklines, hemlines, waistlines, and sleeves. If I don’t like the fabric, I’m less likely to hang on to something, but often the fabric was the first thing I chose so I want it in my wardrobe. Though I have to say that I dye things fairly frequently as well, when it turns out that the item doesn’t go with enough other things in my wardrobe. I always save my leftover fabric in case I want to make belts or ruffles , or . Now that I really think about it, I believe I actually love that part of my sewing practice, working on things until they feel just right to me.
Thank you Susan! Happy to hear you also remake. I agree that fabric is of utmost importance when considering all the extra time need to unpick and trying to figure out the pattern layout puzzle on small pieces. This dress is probably the only thing I’ve spent a huge amount of time on. The rest is stuff like cutting up old jersey sewing fails for my child’s t shirts instead…
Your new re-styled dress looks so much comfier than before and the black bias creates beautiful contrasting style lines! What a great save!
Thanks, comfort is key! The last pic shows how wide the waist is without elastic, let’s call it my food friendly dress ????
Hi Kate,I think comfort and love is the kay for being exactly ourself and happy with our clothes, mostly if we have done they. Having said that, why is it supposed that I should feel guilty if I change something of mine,that I have done,until I am satisfied? Be happy with your beautiful comfy dress!
Hi Barbara, I think I feel guilty if I change something a lot that is not made by me. For example if I buy something at a charity shop which looks like someone could wear it and it is in good condition. Its like I think I will mess it up or it is a shame that someone else could have worn it as it was. But if I make it myself, then I don’t mind remaking it as you say until I am satisfied. With this dress I feel I have made a success! Kate xx
What a beautiful dress! I had the same expirience with a dress. It ripped while pushing the stop button in the bus. I did make other panels in the bodice to make normal armholes and now it is a nice dress. It is not so neat done as your dress but it is a small callico black and white fabric so I hope no one will look close up.
Thank you Marian! Ah I know so well the annoyance of having to reach out and press the stop button. Glad you got your dress sorted though and I am sure no one will notice your construction. I am sure your dress fits better than many of the people wearing badly fitting RTW! I like normal armholes a lot better and will not be trying the funny cap sleeve again any time soon.