And... Breathe...

The Compulsory Before Shot...

To me, Springtime is about breathing in deeply, for what feels like the first time in months... As you are probably aware by now, I'm definitely a lover of sunshine, and everything that comes with it... 

I have plenty of positive associations with the sun, like good food... smiling people... easy company... sitting outside, anywhere, any time... long walkies with Rod... and many happy memories from my childhood, like the smell of cut grass, blossom, the sound of the waves... AND, in addition to all that... I much prefer my summer wardrobe. 
When I found this lace dress in a vintage dress shop in Clapham Junction for £10, I decided to change it's season. That sounds strange, I know, but essentially I wanted to 'remove the winter' from it's construction, and make it fit for summer wear. Now that you understand what I was going for, the rest of the refashioning should make sense :) 
(*and - if you have a way of opening another window, and listening to a track at the same time as reading this post, here's my blog post soundtrack for this post... I'll let you figure out why! Ah, the memories....)

Sew why does this dress seem wintry to me? 

Well, the length is overpowering... the lace has seen better days, and is fraying... the lining overwhelms the lace, making it look just like a 'normal' black dress. (The only hint of it being lacy, are the sleeves, which aren't particularly flattering, IMO.) Basically it had a 'heavy' feel... not the material particularly, more the construction... which felt at odds with the fact there was lace involved... Am I making sense at all? I had this dress out for weeks, I was too afraid to do anything with it (for fear of making a complete hash of it!) - but then I read fellow-refashioner Andrea's inspiring lace skirt post... and said "Sod it! I'm doing it now!!"

OK... less talk, more action!

Let me first show you the kind of thing I wanted to AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Some lucky leggy lovelies wearing Dolce and Gabbana. Try saying that fast.
To be clear, I mean I wanted to avoid the "Have I ever shown you my pants before? No? Then here they are!" look - NOT the look of ambition, talent, achievement, or a great figure. If those qualities wanted to seep into the construction of the 'new' dress, then I'd be hugely grateful!

Funnily enough, I've long-since been a fan of Dolce & Gabbana's lace work, and promised myself I'd find something that would tick that box in my wardrobe deficit (without paying out a couple of thousand pounds) - BUT showing underwear just isn't my bag. I'm far too apologetic for that. The ONLY time I've done that is walking through Formby village with my skirt stuck in my pants, unknowingly. Or there was that time in Hounslow when the wind blew my skirt over my head. Actually that happened a couple of times. (Hounslow's windy, OK?!). But rest assured it wasn't in a Marilyn Monroe way, more in a I'M- NEVER-WEARING-A-SKIRT-AGAIN-IN-HOUNSLOW kinda way. Moving on.

Here's a reminder of the 'Before', so you can see for yourself, it was rather voluminous, felt a little over-powering and shapeless, and was fraying at the hem...


And a couple more construction details...

I liked the placket at the back of the dress, and decided to keep it (whatever I decided to do to the rest of the dress). Meanwhile, the short sleeves were a little bit of a conundrum to me... Truth is, I'm not a massive fan of my arms, but there's no hiding fraying lace. I had to choose, a) learn how to tidy it up - or b) chop it off. We'll come back to that - because that decision ties in to the hemming of the dress...

In previous refashionings, all I've had to consider is where I want the hemline to be... In THIS dress, the lace made the decision for me. There's an obvious recurring pattern, which is hard to see when the lining's under it... if you cut anywhere BUT where there is an obvious 'edge' to the pattern, it'll look weird... So here's how I did it; I sandwiched some pattern paper between the lace and the lining, and cut all the way around the dress, along the most obvious pattern up from the hem... like this;


(*And before you ask, no - I haven't yet decided what that lace trim will be used for... but rest assured it will come in handy at some point!)

I wasn't entirely sure about what to do with the neckline... all I knew was I wanted to 'lighten it up' a bit, by highlighting the lace detail. If you watched The Great British Sewing Bee, you'll know there was much talk about pattern matching in the show. Basically that means taking care of matching up any obvious patterns in the fabric, with any obvious construction details in the garment... This blog post explains it really well! So when I tell you that this lace dress has obvious asymmetry in the lace around the neckline,  you'll understand why I was wary of highlighting that... Whilst the black lining is under the lace, it's not noticeable, but the second I cut that back to reveal the look of the lace, I'm not just exposing the skin - I'm also drawing attention to the fact the fabric is skew-whiff... I spent a lot of time wondering if EVERYONE is aware of those kind of things, or if it's just me. (*and a few million other people who know about fabric/design/dressmaking).


SEW!

I started by using bias binding to test some necklines out, at this point the sleeves were still attached... basically I wanted to see if anything jumped out at me, as a clear front runner... Which one are you naturally drawn to?


I decided to go with a more 'fluid' scoop neck, using Dolly to mark out where the lining would be taken back to, before cutting and sewing. I also removed the sleeves...


There were a couple of moments when I considered not doing any sewing on this dress... (shock horror!!). The lining is a stretch lycra, a lot like the fabric used in leotards... so there's little chance of it fraying, and little need for hemming. But then I remembered how I feel when someone starts inspecting my 'work', and quickly decided it had to be finished well. It's a pride thing!!


And sew to the finished product...

Did I meet my own target? Did I remove the winter from the dress, and replace with Spring..? I'll let you be the judge of that. But I will say this - I wouldn't have worn the dress before, as it was. Now I see a few outings ahead, wearing it with a sash belt and high heels for the likes of afternoon tea with Mum and Nan (one of our favourite pastimes)... with a tan leather belt and denim jacket to meet up with friends for a drink... or dressing down with sandals for the beach... I'm happy with the newest addition to my wardrobe, and whilst it's no Dolce and Gabbana, it's certainly a nod in the right direction :)


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Maybe it comes as no surprise, that my spring/summer wardrobe is much more 'me' than it's winter counterpart. It's only recently dawned on me that I feel like I'm dressing like someone else in the colder months, layer upon layer, any style going out of the window - I'll wear anything, just so I'm warm... I'm really hoping to change that this coming year... But in the meantime... 


  • The third and final instalment of my Sequins and Slippers crafty Youtube series is coming soon (likely the end of this month!), the concluding episode may well give you the means to earn some cash (it did for me...) :)
  • I thought we could all do a bit of Easter crafting, together-apart... in other words, I'll share the tutorial with you - and you can get making, then send me pics of your finished work... I'll put your photos alongside my own, in the next corresponding blog post - but make them, photo them, and e-mail them to me, QUICK - it's an Easter post!! Here's the tutorial... :)  I think Josie's decoupage eggs are really beautiful, so even if it seems like a rush right now - maybe you can attempt them with a Christmassy theme..? Or for next year? No pressure..!
  • The Stitchery Studio has given an extension to the deadline for the The Zinnia Sewalong, it's now shifted to the end of May... which, I have to say, is a bit of a relief! I hadn't reckoned on having so many tiffs with the georgette fabric I picked... Lesson learned; next time I do one of these things, I'll pick an easy fabric!!!

Have a great week - and get crafting if you want to share your Easter Eggs with me :)




Comments

  1. Super cute makeover. Sew very clever and you look wonderful in your 'new' frock!

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    1. Thank-you Josie!! Sew lovely of you to say ;) (altho' I really must do something about my footballer knees!) And now that's done, I can concentrate on making some of your classy-looking Easter eggs... :)

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  2. Adorable dress! I love the new neckline and hem line. I bet you'll have lots of opportunities to wear it out and about.

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    1. Thank you Amy Jo, for visiting, for commenting, and for being so complimentary! :)

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  3. I know the lace dress has been on your list for some time, the effort was worth it and the model and dress combo definitely fits into the DDG (drop Dead Gorgeous) category..
    And I learnt a new word as well Placket, just need to find a use for it now..

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    1. Yeah- I'm tryin to find inventive ways of using 'placket' on a day to day basis... :) Thank-you Brian, always such lovely feedback!

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  4. Lovely!!! This is so perfect now...the new length, sleeveless and minus some lining without going too far ;) So so pretty and feminine and versatile! Thank you so much for the link over to my blog :) and I'm glad I could help propel you on your way to tackling this...now you've inspired me to change up the hem of my skirt to follow the pattern of my lace ;) So, thank YOU for the inspiration, too!

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    1. Thank you Andrea, honestly I feel so motivated by your blogs... there's just so much to learn, and sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming, so I'm grateful for all the advice and coaching your posts provide :)
      And I can't see your skirt needs any alterations...it's perfect! X

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  5. This is lovely, love. Just what I would have loved when I was younger. I am constantly being surprised by your ideas, enthusiasm and innovations. Can't wait to see it in person, as it were. You could make Roddy a little lace collar, or perhaps leg-warmers (how very eighties) to match !
    Just loved the dress.

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    1. Thank you Mum! I'm so pleased you like it xxx
      As for Rod... I don't know if he'll ever appreciate the power of accessorising...he certainly doesn't take after his Nan in that regard! X

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  6. Like I said over on the Refasion Coop board, your new dress is so classy!

    This is my first time on your blog and I love how much detail you give on your process. Did I read correctly that your dress form is named Dolly? That's so cool! Mine is named Sally.

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    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for popping by, and commenting :) And yes, we spend so much time with them, it's be rude NOT to name them, wouldn't it?! Please pass on my regards to Sally, Dolly says 'hello' too...

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