Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Dress for a Summer Wedding

Two of my very good friends from college were getting married and invited me and the gentleman to attend.  What to wear?  It was pretty informal, but it was also going to be outside in Western Mass in June, which mean it was pretty much guaranteed to be toasty.  Clearly a skirt at least was called for.  I decided to go for a dress that I could also wear to work or around town, so comfort and pockets were called for.

This is what I had to work with.  The dress was huge to the point that if I wasn't wearing that tanktop you all would have gotten to see my lovely bra!  I loved the colors and the flower print, but there was way too foof: ruffles and shirring, oh my!  Luckily on the same thrifting trip I came up with that simple coral tank, which matched the color of the pinker flowers in the dress's pattern quite well.  It was destined to be the bodice of my new dress.

First I chopped all the skirt layers off of the lining layers, leaving me with three pieces of fabric.  I pinned right sides together and assembled my new, simpler skirt with a zigzag stitch since the jersey had some stretch.  From here on out I was guided by this tutorial.

Next I measured my waist with some 3" elastic and found a comfortable fit.  Chopping off the desired length I zigzagged the ends together.

A quick press to the elastic hem and it was time to attach the skirt!  I divided both the elastic and the skirt top into four equal parts and marked the bounds with pins.  I matched the pins on both, and then gathered the skirt in each quadrant.  Once gathered I pinned the rest of the skirt to the elastic so that the gathers were evenly spaced.

Satisfied, I sewed it down with another zigzag.  I of course forgot to hem the top of the skirt - clearly sewing after 9pm is not a good idea for me.  I finished that off hem with fray check after finishing all my sewing.

I then turned to my tank top and shortened the straps by measuring on me and pinning.  As a short torsoed and busty lady I basically have to do this with every tank ever.  Two quick zigs and snips, and I measured where I wanted the elastic to hit me. 

With a pin to mark it I took off the tank and cut off the unneeded bottom, and then pinned it inside out onto my elastic.  Another zigzag hem, and the basic piece was assembled!  When I wore it I found that the tank was too long in the back.  I didn't have time to fix it before the wedding, so I threw a cardigan over it and left it to fix later.


Here it is on the mountain where the wedding was held.  Please excuse the squinting - it was an awesome time but VERY sunny. More info on pocket creation will come in another post.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blah to Statement Necklace

A good friend that I work with is leaving soon to go to Colorado, and I knew I had to make something to send her off with.  She and I are always admiring each other's clothes, and she is the one that inspired me to try wearing colored jeans.  We've traded some crafts over the years, and she's been very supportive of my new refashioning endevours.  I asked her what kind of piece she felt she needed more of, and she stated that she needed more statement necklaces.  I used to make jewelry back in the day, so the idea of refashioning some baubles for her sounded super fun.

I found this collar necklace at a local thrift store for a whole $4.  I liked the settings, and that the plastic gems were a nice pale color that would be easy to paint.  I broke out my nail polish for this as it is an enamel paint and with some enamel sealant (found anywhere paint-your-own model kits are sold) will last a good long time.  It is also cheaper and comes in a bigger variety of colors than model enamel.

I went with magenta, green, and teal along with some green and gold glitter over the tops in some places.  I wanted this to be a very striking piece, which meant COLOR to me.  Once the paint dried I sealed every gem.  I also picked up some larger plasic gems at a craft store and painted those to match.  Mix in some new lengths of chain, and this was then end piece.

My friend put this on the moment I gave it to her and wore it the rest of the day.  What greater compliment is that?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Polkadot Jumper...thing? to Dress

When I first saw this piece on the rack at Goodwill I thought it was a dress.

It was not.

Is it clear from my facial expression how excited I was to turn this thing into a dress? I started by ripping open the inner leg seams, throwing the dress on a very understanding boyfriend/dress form substitute, pinning them together and sewing two new seams to leave myself with a skirt.  I was a fool and forgot to take pictures of this process, but Jill the Refashionista shows what I did here.
See how flat the unaltered piece is from my waist to below my hips in the second picture?  Those where looooong pleats that had been sewn down.  I ripped them open and was left with a much more flowy skirt.
I was originally going to remove the sleeves, but instead of the standard bodice with sleeves attached at the shoulders that I'm used to, the sleeves were actually extensions of the side panels of the bodice.  So I changed my plans and took in the sides and sleeves to get rid of those batwings on the side instead.
I also sewed the wrap front down from just below my bust to the waist line so I wouldn't experience any accidentally shirt openings.  Not content with the V I pinned and sewed two new points on the sides of the neckline to make a lovely sweetheart shape.
Next I removed length from the skirt

And the sleeves.

I folded the skirt hem over twice since Rayon in fray-heavy, and stitched it down. 

The sleeves did not get hemmed.  I had other plans for them!  First I grabbed this bright red Rayon shirt I just happened to have
Then I chopped the hems off its sleeves and pinned them over the hems of my dress's sleeves.  I was a dope and didn't fold in the shirt hems, so I treated them with No Fray so they didn't fall to pieces.
Next I cut the bottom hem off of the shirt and attempted to make a sash with it.  It ended up way too skinny and was set aside for some future project.  Next try!  I cut off more fabric from the bottom of the shirt.  Pinned and hemmed both of the long edges. Then I put my dress back on, firgured out where I wanted my faux-belt to sit, and pinned it on.
I still didn't like that.  I really wanted a belt on this dress, though, and I wanted it to be red.  I decided to go looking for a nice red belt at a thrift store.  Sadly, I didn't find one.  But I did find a nice white belt and had some spray on fabric paint...
I taped up the leather bits of the belt to protect them and got to spraying.  Then I hung the belt up to dry.

And I was done!  It was a chilly day so I put some black leggings on under it and as I sadly lack red shoes went for my shiny silver flats to complete the outfit.
It came with pockets, which means I now have a new work dress too.
A close up of the new sweetheart neckline.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Old Lady Curtains to Party Dress

When I first saw this dress I was looking for lace I could steal for another project.  Initially I was going to pass this by, but then I realized that the waist "belt" was the same as on a dress I own and adore.  So this came home with me.

I didn't take a lot of during shots because I am a fool.  My first step was to rip all the seams holding on that horrible collar and modesty insert thing in the front.  Then I detached the sleeves, which took the shoulder pads along with them.  This left the front of the bodice completely unpieced.  I put the dress on inside out and pulled up the front until the "belt" was just below my bust, since this is how it sits on the dress I love.  I pinned the straps waaay down the back, unzipped, and chopped the length off the top of the back that I now didn't need.

I hated the shape of the back, so I cut a square neckline.  Then I pinned and hemmed the bodice, back, and neck holes.  I sewed the center of the bodive together a bit so it wasn't cut down to my ribcage.  I raised the hem to my knee, since ankle length was just too much fabric on my 5'0" frame.  I also removed the buttons from the "belt" since they were there for decoration and did not please my eye.
I wore it, washed it, and realized that Rayon frays like nothing else!  So I repinned and hemmed allllll my hems again.  No more fray for me!

And voila!  A cute party dress with lots of swingy skirt.  The entire time I felt like I was carving away all the bad stuff to find the cute dress underneath.  It's given me so much confidence to be able to pull this off.  If I can refashion this I can refashion anything.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Quick Dye Job

What a difference a dye makes!  I loved this little knitted shrug I got at Salvation Army, but I didn't want to keep it white.  I always manage to stain white clothing some how.

So into a dye bath it went!  It was only 40% cotton, so I figured it would come out pastel.  It went in a bath of RIT's Navy Blue with a few other things.

It came out this great periwinkle/purple color.  Look how nicely it compliments my hand painted nebula shoes!  In the middle of a lot of more ambitious projects it was really nice to just throw this into my washer and get a new piece out.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Raspberry Sorbet Skirt

When I found this dress at Goodwill I was much more interested in the skirt than the top.  Which is good, because the skirt fit and the top did not.

I'm looking super grumpy in an effort not flash you all.  Too small and see-through is not a good look for a shirt on me!

I was just going to cut the shirt off since the skirt had an elastic waist already, but it turns out the casing for the elastic was half shirt, half skirt.  Ah well.  I ripped out that seam.

Pinned and sewed a new seam and new casing.

Grabbed my bodkin and the original elastic which was both in great shape and the perfect length.

A few quick stitches to join the ends of the elastic and then close the casing, and voila!  A pretty new skirt with pockets.  Pockets on skirts are my favorite.  The length on my new skirt, however, was not.

The pin was to mark where my knees were.  Then I gave it an asymmetric chop, flipped it inside out, pinned and hemmed.

It's not a big difference in hem height - the front hits the top of my knees and the back hits the bottom, but it's plenty fine for me!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lanky vs Lace: Round One

I picked up this too small dress because I knew I could do something great with the lacy top layer.

I ripped out the seam between the top and the skirt because that was also too tight, and then cut out the liner.  After that the lace went in a dye bath that was half RIT navy and half crimson.  The lasce was polyester so I knew it wouldn't take much dye, but I figure a pale purple would be easy to work with.

Instead it came out pink!  The blue didn't take at all.  When I dyed a shrug with a different RIT blue it didn't take any either!  This was so frustrating since I am not a pink person, and especially not a pale pink.  Ugh.  I'll have to figure out something else so I don't have to toss this.