Happy Valentine’s Day!
For this love-ly holiday, I decided to make a pretty red dress. But there was nothing red in my to-be-refashioned pile, so a thrift store trip was a necessity. I decided that, for a challenge, I would buy the single ugliest red dress I could find. And, my goodness, was there ever a really, really, really hideous red dress at the thrift store. You guys know I’ve done some pretty ugly garments, but this one truly takes the cake.
Where to even start with everything I hate about this dress? How about those huge baggy sleeves, those funky pleats on the skirt, that weird womb triangle? What was the designer thinking?
“I know! Every woman’s favorite body part is her lower belly, so let’s make a dress that’s super huge and baggy everywhere EXCEPT her lower belly, and then let’s point to that part of her with a giant triangle that looks like a uterus surrounded in pleats! Yes! Every woman’s dream!”
Okay, so obviously, some pretty major overhaul of this dress was in order.
First things first. Shoulder pads be gone!
I needed to try stuff out and make a plan. My very first idea was to tighten the sleeves a little bit, but keep some of the bagginess since batwing sleeves are kind of in right now. But this is supposed to be a dress that makes me feel pretty on my Valentine’s date, and that’s never been a style I’ve been to keen on, so I thought I would do something else. I tried tying the sleeves around my neck as if they were halter straps and it managed to get even baggier (though somewhat less ugly):
I tried turning it sideways so that the neckhole was an armhole, and I thought it was beautiful. The problem was that it would have taken some pretty serious draping to make it look good, there was a weird seam straight down the front, and I was worried about how to get it over my head. Plus my handy-dandy dress form (aka my twin sister) had better things to do than stand around all day while I pinned a dress on her.
So I decided to just get rid of the sleeves altogether. Since there was literally nothing I liked about the skirt, I knew I was going to have to deal with the top and bottom separately, so I seam ripped the waistline to make two separate pieces. While I was at it, I also took out that triangle:
Then it was time to deal with the top. I seam ripped off the shoulders like so:
And then I chopped them off and pinned straight up the sides to get rid of some of that excess bagginess to make it easier to work with:
I stitched up those seams and put in a hook and eye to make the back less open. Then I put it on my handy dandy dress form to make it actually fit properly:
Once I sewed that, the shoulders were sticking out too far for my taste, so I re-shaped the armholes:
The top half was done, and was looking oh-so-very much better. Now it was time to deal with that monstrosity of a skirt. Taking out the triangle and the pleats left these crazy points down one side, so it wasn’t a matter of just taking it in to fit. I laid it out on the floor and pinned out the shape of a skirt. I tried to keep most of the width at the bottom, and I made the top just a couple of inches wider than my waist so that I would be able to gather it a bit. And then I chopped off my new waist and sewed up the sides.
At this point, I also added the zipper back into the middle back, but I’m not going to show you how I did that because I kind of winged it/messed it up and if you want directions on how to put in a zipper, there are a million tutorials by people who are much better at zippers than me.
And then it was time to attach the skirt to the top. First, my husband helped me make a chalk line around my natural waist, which was where I wanted to attach the skirt.
Then I basted around the skirt’s waist. Basting is sewing a long stitch all the way around that you can pull on to create a gather. And then I pinned it to the waistline of my skirt, gathering to make it fit all the way around.
And then all that was left was to give it a nice hem and press the seams (which didn’t really work all that well. This was a synthetic fabric that didn’t really respond well to the iron). And my new, WAY BETTER dress was complete!
Ahh…That’s more like it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!