From Eek to Chic – Vintage Refashioning!

Ladies and Gentleman, I feel I have done something very dangerous (to my future bank balance at least!). I have re-fashioned a vintage dress.

It all started when I finally got round to spending the vouchers for a vintage store in London that my step-dad had given me a couple of Christmases ago. I saw this dress peeking out on a rail and was immediately drawn to the big floral print. The only problem? The dress itself was hideous.

Puffy sleeves give me a slightly

Puffy sleeves make me cross, apparently…!

Usually at this point, I would sigh wistfully and put the dress back. However the sewist in me started to plan how to make it wearable. Before I knew it, I had parted with my cold-hard cash and the dress had found its way onto my sewing pile…

When I got the dress home, I realised just how tacky the dress was in its current state. That witchy collar? The 20 teeny tiny buttons that seemed to be everywhere? The giant sleeves with the long cuffs? It needed dragging into the 21st Century!


Headless, due to the awful face I was pulling in this pic!

I took the bodice and skirt apart, and unpicked all the bodice pieces. The skirt needed taking in at the waist, which I did simply by overlocking the dress into a smaller size. For the bodice, I turned the back into the front and vice versa, using a different dress I have as a guide for the shape.


More wearable!

Initially I tried to make a clean finish binding on the neckline and the armscye using Colleterie’s brilliant tutorial, but the fabric was too thick and it made the dress sit a bit funny, so I ended up taking them off and using a double needle. This gives the edges a nice clean finish without being too bulky. Hurrah! The only problem is that I couldn’t quite get the front of the bodice to sit flat. I don’t think it looks too bad, but if anyone has any tips for how to avoid this, let me know in the comments!!

If you look in the middle of the bodice, you can see where it's standing a little proud...

If you look in the middle of the bodice, you can see where it’s standing a little proud…

For the back, I made a little opening at the top and re-used one of the buttons. When I tried to do this with the binding, I couldn’t quite get my head around it! I ended up double stitching it down too, which gives it a neat finish whilst still being nice and secure.


The dress is a bit skewiff in this photo because I’m standing a little strangely

Being able to re-fashion clothes was one of the reasons I wanted to start sewing in the first place and it was definitely fun seeing what I could make from what was there. The only problem is, as a lover of all things vintage (crazy prints, big skirts, gorgeous silhouettes… swoon!) I suspect that my vintage shopping budget will significantly increase now that I can change up the styling!!



Have you re-fashioned anything vintage? If you’ve blogged about it, link in the comments so I can have a look!


The bunting dress



Last weekend I was invited to the wedding of my friend Jon and his lovely fiancĂ©e (and now wife!) Stacey. Not only is this the first wedding that I have been invited to as an adult, it’s also the first big occasion I’ve been to as a sewist. And if a wedding isn’t a good enough excuse for making something new, I’m not sure what is!!



As a result, this past week has been spent furiously sewing the Lilou dress from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book Love at First Stitch. I made the gathered skirt version (due to this lovely fabric I got in the Village Haberdashery Boxing Day sale being a bit too narrow for the pleated original) with a scalloped neckline for extra prettiness.


Given I’m still at an early stage in my sewing journey, I still learn a lot from each and every make. The thing I learnt from making my Lilou was, in contrast to my last post about Speed Sewing, taking your time actually saves you time.

Whilst this might sound contradictory at first, throughout making the Lilou I was really conscious of the fact that I was sewing to a deadline. This meant I rushed through the steps, which resulted in me unpicking a lot:

  • I originally cut the bodice without the scallops. Thankfully I had only cut the lining, and i had enough to re-cut the front bodice piece with self-drafted scallops!
  • I had to sew the side seams on the skirt three times; first because I had sewn the French seam the wrong way, and then again when I had re-sewn the French seam only to remember that I wanted to add pockets.
  • I had to unpick the side seams on the bodice after realising I couldn’t turn the bodice the right way round with them stitched together
  • I had to unpick the gathers after not pinning them to the skirt before doing the final tacking stitch. This meant that the skirt stretched out and was too big for the bodice.
  • I also had to re-do the zip after accidentally getting it twisted the first time!
  • I had spent so much time un-picking and re-sewing that I had to finish hand-stitching the lining and the bow-belt whilst on the train up to Scarborough for the big day itself!

All told, I could have probably finished this project a lot quicker if I’d taken a little more time over each step and actually read the instructions properly instead of second guessing myself!!


A lesson I had learnt by the time I got round to the bow-belt!

Even though it caused me a bit of grief to get right, I’m really happy with how the dress turned out! If (or rather when) I make another version I’ll probably shorten the bodice a little as it is a teensy bit long on me, but overall I think it looks pretty good!


The back of the dress – the bodice is a little big, but I reckon it looks ok!



The wedding itself was absolutely lovely, and the sun even came out in honour of the occasion. I think I will probably make another outfit the next time I get invited to a big ‘do’, but maybe I’ll give myself a little more time and pay closer attention to the instructions!!