Seeing the World in Black and White

In this very uncertain time, politically speaking, I've found comfort in connecting with the simple things in life. The things I can define, shape, and - importantly - enjoy...
I found a maternity dress in a local charity shop; mid calf in length, long sleeved, and very stretchy - made from scuba fabric.

You can see from the pics that the top half is made of a waffle scuba, and the bottom half is plain black scuba. Not only is there extra room in the front of the dress, there's also rather a lot of room in the armscye... this had the unfortunate result of pleats forming either through the bodice, or across the arms, when I rested my arms at my side... So that had to change!

I was unconvinced about the length, but held off making a decision about that until the rest of it was right. So! The blogpost soundtrack today, I feel, is rather fitting for this dress... what do you think?!

The back story to this refashion is that I've been hunting for something rather specific for a while now, to fill a gap in my wardrobe; namely a formal dress fit for both teaching kids, and delivering sessions to adults. When I'm doing workshops with teenagers, I'm quite often running around - it's an energetic job (!) - and I've often thought that suits are too stiff and stuffy for the role. And whilst there's less running around with adults (!) it's still a full-on job, that needs all my concentration - the last thing I want to be thinking about is how I look, or feel. Striking a balance between looking smart/tailored, and feeling really comfortable, is an ongoing struggle for me... but I feel quite confident I've hit the mark with this refashion, and that's not something I say often!

*Inspiration Struck* when I saw this dress in French Connection at the start of the year, it seemed to be simple enough to a) go with suit jackets I already own and b) dress up with colourful accessories!

It was priced at £110, as I write this it's on sale at £55... 
OK, it might not be very original of me, gravitating towards monochrome, seeing as I already have my stripy black and white refashion, and my sixties' inspired black and white polka dress... but when I saw it I remember thinking "That doesn't look too complicated, I could make that!". 
The thought passed, and I was taken with other things... until I found The Maternity Dress :)

It was the perfect candidate for refashioning into the dress I was hankering after; more than enough fabric to work with, in a forgiving scuba fabric. I also quite liked the exposed white zip through the centre back, and decided to leave that in as a feature.

I felt the arms were a bit overkill, and didn't fit with the look I was going for, so chopped them off... I didn't unpick the seams as i normally would - I simply made sure to cut near to the serged edge of the fabric, so that it was 'finished' and ready to work with later.

The dress seemed to be neither empire line, nor right-on-the-waist fit 'n' flare - so I wanted that to be the first sewing alteration, creating a more defined shape by reducing the depth of the bodice by hitching up the skirt. I then took in the side seams, by putting the dress on, inside out, and pinning close to my body, before sewing.

I then fitted through the front and back - by created long darts running down the length of the middle of the body. This took a while... it's not the easiest thing to do, to yourself... and I wanted it to be precise, from a measurements point of view - so there was pinning, then measuring, then re-pinning, then re-trying on, with Dolly's help (!) to make sure it was symmetrical before sewing up.

I also made the decision to leave the skirt more a-line than fitted; I feel a bit more comfortable when I'm not wiggling around a classroom!

The arms were still gaping somewhat, so I pinched a dart, to run from the armhole towards the bust. After sewing up, I turned the armhole in on itself, and sewed down with a straight stitch. I think it's quite a clean-looking finish, in spite of not having a bias-bound edge; here's a close-up shot of the dress, inside-out, showing the dart, and the armhole...

I tried it on one final time before deciding to take the hem higher, to sit just below the knee, instead of mid-calf. It felt a bit off-balance before, almost bottom-heavy - so I'm glad it's now shorter... I think it now looks 'lighter' somehow?
Oh! And... no hemming the no-fray fabric, just cutting... I know, naughty, eh?!

Let's start with the view from behind!

And from the front..?

Suffice to say I'll be wearing this, to mentor teenagers, to coach adults, and maybe even to do other work in too...! Comfy AND smart... Bingo!! ;)

My fave part... the Before and After...

It was JUST what the doctor ordered; an easy refashion to re-engage me with something I love doing, and will go on to love wearing (*with any luck)! 

What's next? I'll be sharing with you another scuba fabric dress I made and wore to a wedding last weekend, as shown on my Instagram feed...and my next Minerva make! Oh yes, I'm sewing up a storm at the moment, and loving every minute! Shame the weather's an unpredictable load of old crap rubbish...but I'm ready for the sunshine, whenever it decides to make an appearance :)

Sending you a big hug, wherever you are,
Gema x


  1. I presume scuba fabric is a type rather than a brand? My initial thoughts about cutting up wetsuits for maternity wear was a bit harsh..
    The end result is both classy and classic, suits you down to a t or even knee..another triumph.

    1. Yep, scuba is a type of stretchy fabric, with a high Lycra content, similar to what you'd find in swimwear...but not rubberised/padded like a wet suit... There's a much better explanation online, on someone else's blog- I'm struggling to find it again, but I will!

      And thanks Brian! :)

    2. Interesting, I do wonder if in the future there'll be material that requires gluing than sewing, not sure that the Great British Gluing Bee would have that much appeal though 😬

    3. I'd still watch it! ;) Actually, there was a contestant in the second series who used glue to appliqué flowers onto a dress... It was beautiful, and creative, but the judges weren't too impressed...

    4. I did actually see that, I thought 'she was robbed' she was marked down for using the glue rather than design, she could always have sewn them on later if it was to be sold etc

  2. Well done! You look fab in that dress.

    1. Thanks Alice.. What's not to love about a dress that doesn't need dry cleaning, or ironing? ;) xx

  3. As usual, and not surprisingly, I am amazed and in awe at the way you have approached this project. What a great idea and what a result ! I am so impressed with the way you could see the potential in the original outfit , I wouldn't have looked twice at it, let alone give it house-room , but what a beautiful result. It looks great, love. Very well done.

  4. Wow! You really impressed me with this one. I love the finished result.

    1. Thanks so much Natalie, for visiting, for your lovely comment, and for introducing me to your cool sewing blog! Nice to meet you! :)

  5. Much better. Looks great. The song choice is hilarious :)

  6. So chic and lovely!!! What an amazing transformation!!

    1. Thank you so much Beth!!
      I keep flicking through your book - have plans to try one of your projects SOON...just need to find the time :)


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