Mellow Yellow to Mad Men...

So, there I was feverishly working away on a dress, cursing Vogue for calling a pattern 'Easy' when it quite plainly wasn't... or isn't... (The Being still lives in a semi-state of being) when it suddenly dawned on me, it wasn't going to be done in time for the wedding...

Easy? Pah!
...not mine of-course! I'm not onto bridal couture JUST yet!! No - this was meant to be my dress to wear to a family wedding, but staring at it on Thursday afternoon, when the wedding was on Saturday, and Friday would be spent driving up north, well... I had find a scrap of white material in the shape of a flag to wave at the sewing Gods.

Now this is not something I do often, admit defeat. My mother -given the chance - will recount many stories when I've taken something on, not quite knowing how-on-earth it was going to get done in time, only to manage it By The Skin Of My Teeth. University dissertations... signing up for marathons (when I've never run for more than for a bus)... agreeing to take part in a charity bike ride to France... things that seem achievable in the 'well if someone else can do it, why can't I?' bracket, yes! But this simple Vogue dress? No. It just wasn't happening. 
And the blogpost soundtrack for today? Shakira's Hips Don't Lie... Why? The explanation comes later!

Now here's the curious part. Last week I realised my shopping habits have changed on a fundamental level. It used to be the case, if you'd put me in this position a few years ago, that I would have run around a shopping mall, grabbing things off racks, spending an intense couple of hours solo shopping, emerging with something that would do. Now? My first thought is "Where's the nearest charity shop?". I can't tell when this happened, exactly, but I'm definitely all about the Find Something Vintage and Make It Your Own now... And THIS is what I found... 


A lined yellow dress (or 'lemon' if you ask my Nan), by a designer called Paddy Campbell. It's only now, as I write this, that I decided to Google that name (having never heard of it) - and it appears, after a small amount of research, that Paddy Campbell is no longer in operation, but was a mother and daughter design team, with a store off Bond Street, commanding average prices of £400 per garment. Would I have cut into this dress, had I known it's possible retail value? Possibly not. But I did... so... moving on... 
(*by the by, it was a size 16, which was too big for me, and unsuitable for anyone I know - and I wouldn't have bought it to sell, so it's just as well I wasn't aware of it's original price....................)



I pinned myself in, used chalk to mark where the pins were, removed the pins and dress, turned inside-out, and replaced the pins as a guideline for sewing... The pics make it look like there's a BIG difference between where the pins first were, and the inside-out view - but I was pinning, and re-pinning, for quite some time before I was satisfied; that's just one shot from the process!
This would have been much quicker with a sewing assistant (!) - but this is proof that it can be done, solo, even if it does take much longer... and that's also the reason why there aren't as many pics as I'd like. Would you have gone about this differently? Feel free to share (with a comment below) - I'm learning as I go along, with the help of online tutorials, blogs, and Youtube videos - and you, Dear Reader, are part of that process :)

Here are a few original details; the concealed zip under the arm - and the lining, created separately to the outer dress. To avoid adding a new seam in the centre back, I decided to keep the zip where it was. Having said that, the side seam was exactly where I'd planned to take in the dress. SO!

I sewed up the side, cut away the excess with pinking sheers- which included the zipper - and then unpicked the zip from the old fabric, so I could reuse it.


I then re-positioned the zip over the seam, pinned it in place, sewed up both sides on the seam allowance (so the stitches weren't visible from the outside of the dress), then unpicked the previous seam in between the zipper teeth. As a final stabilising gesture, I re-sewed up the sides of the zip (so it could be seen from the outside of the dress), which means it's different from the original design - but it felt much more secure. I'm not sure this makes much sense (in print...) - but it seemed to me the most straight-forward way to make sure the zip was in the right place (given previous sewing projects involving zips).

I also tinkered with the idea of taking up the dress via the shoulders... 


You can see, by this point, I had decided to use the back of the dress, as the new front (much like I did with the metallic dress) - but the problem was that it was indecently low... Taking up the shoulder seam could have worked, but it left very little room under the arms. So, I unpicked the underarm area, thereby creating more room, and - instead of creating a new seam above the arms - pinched the fabric between the neckline and the underarm, pinning, then sewing in place by hand. You can see it created a ruched effect, and also meant the front of the bodice hitched up a little... 


I'm yet to take a photo of me from the back, as no sooner had I finished the dress, than I was driving back to Liverpool for a wedding, and WEARING the dress! That is, to date, my quickest turn-around, and I'm really pleased I took the gamble. Yes, I could have found an outfit on the high street - but there was NO WAY anyone would be wearing the same Mellow-Yellow-to-Mad-Men dress to the wedding, and that was an amazing feeling. It was a little embarrassing hearing my Nan repeatedly whispering "Gem made that dress for today!" to anyone who would listen... 

Would I change anything? Yes - I would have taken longer in The Making Of, if I hadn't been against the clock. I would have finished the inside seams properly, either with bias binding - or even a French seam - but as it was, I finished with a simple running stitch. I would have also made the effort to sew up the lining separately to the dress, as it was, both were sewn up at the same time for speediness. All I can say is, it held up and didn't fall off while I was dancing to Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, THE Ultimate Garment Test, in my book! 


I teamed it up with gold accessories, but would have happily done the same with navy - the only reason why I settled on gold was because that's what I had in! Although I know, deep down, had I wanted navy, my Mum (Queen of Last Minute, Anything You Need I've Got, Accessorising) would have jumped to my rescue... 

So Congratulations, Joanne and Neal, on your Wonderful Wedding Day!


The best part? Well aside from meeting people for the first time, relatives who I'd previously heard so much about, I also got to see lovely relatives I haven't seen in YEARS. I'm hoping my cousin Natalie (with me in the above pic, on the right) doesn't mind me sharing this photo with you; I shared so much with her when we were little... meeting up with her felt long overdue, and made me so happy. My Nan's brothers and sisters were all there (apart from those living on the other side of the world); and I felt grateful to be part of such a warm day... we always say it's only at weddings and funerals we all get together, so I was thrilled to not be working - and part of the reunion. I even got to do my Nan's hair on the morning of the wedding... Not bad for 94, is she?! Love you Nan!



Comments

  1. Wow, great find and you did a great job with it. I want it!! ;-)

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    1. Thank-you SO much! I'm really chuffed you like it, I love your blog (fan of the Sex in the City themed outfits especially) - and congratulations on Capital Chic Patterns! I really must say all this on your blog ;)

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  2. Beautiful job! The colour is lovely on you. Love the gathering on the shoulder area; that was innovative brilliance :)

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    1. Thank-you Jenny! Innovative brilliance?! More like flying by the seat of my pants, but I'll take that :D Thanks so much for commenting!!

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  3. I love it! It looks gorgeous!

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    1. Thank-you for visiting - and thank-you for commenting, catsrul! Really chuffed you like it :)

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  4. I can't believe that transformation!!! Seriously in awe. Plus, it looks like it's worth $800 now rather than 400. The fabric must be amazing quality. Just gorgeous. xxx

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    1. I'm really pleased you like it :) The fabric is lovely - although I NEARLY didn't buy it, as it said the dreaded words 'Dry Clean Only'... normally that's enough to put me off! I really must look more closely at what the fabric is... Thank-you for commenting Laura :)

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  5. So your Nan was telling everybody you made your dress, while you were telling everybody her age. Two peas in a pod. :o)

    Your dress turned out beautifully! I came over from Refashion Coop to get a better look. Sewing in a time crunch is so nerve wracking, there's just no time for mistakes!

    JJ
    www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

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    1. I never looked at it like that before, but yes - we are the same that way! Haha!

      And thank-you for stopping by, just been to your blog for the 1st time - what incredibly colourful combinations, LOVE! So pleased you commented, thank-you! :) (a few too many exclamation marks, I think...) (!)

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  6. Such an amazing transformation! I love what you did with it!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and leave such a lovely comment!! :)

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  7. Wow! What an incredible transformation! I love the neckline and sleeves. Can't believe you transformed it so quickly!

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    1. Thanks Ree, for visiting, and your lovely comment! You're pretty gifted yourself, just had a look at your blog - great stuff! :)

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