Refashions are just my recipe for having a great time at my sewing. A slightly ill-fitting vintage 1980s dress came out from under my sewing machine a very fresh and fun 1950’s two piece set of a crop top and simple skirt. One vintage era went backwards in time through my sewing to suit another era…what a time warp!
I do love a good summer-time-fun combo, and more separates that work well with my existing wardrobe are most welcome. This is no exception. If you follow my blog you may notice or might have read that I have a weakness for turquoise (and purple) so this set matches with so much! Besides, it is really lovely floral that is like flowers scattered in the wind, in a basic white print…something I don’t have. This fabric is so soft and semi-transparent, too, making this a cool, fun, and breezy set that’s put-together enough for dashing around the city in summer yet made for lounging around by the water.
FABRIC: Well, it’s more than just fabric, really, since I started with a dress that that from the 1980s, but it is a soft cotton and polyester blend knit. A remnant of cotton knit, leftover from this project, went towards the waistband of my new skirt.
PATTERN: Simplicity #4213, year 1953, was used for the top and I self-drafted the waistband for the skirt
TIME TO COMPLETE: This re-fashion project only took me a handful of hours and it was finished on May 29, 2015.
TOTAL COST: Not counting – this was a special gift! Read on…
The 1980s can be a hard era to re-fashion, especially with this dress. When something is frumpy from the beginning, with a lot of extra fabric, it can be tough to envision anything else working better! This dress was so worth it to save, though. This was something from my hubby back when we were only dating in 2009. I remember we were out and about in downtown on a bitter cold winter day after an early morning breakfast one Saturday. I had on so many layers to stay warm that I didn’t first try on this dress that caught my eye in a vintage resale shop, but he bought it for me anyway. As it was, it really didn’t do anything for my figure, so I didn’t wear it, but was determined to make it into something I would enjoy. Thus, it was kept it on my backburner of my ‘to-be-re-fashioned’ queue until the right idea struck. Well, it took a few years to get the feel of what I wanted to do with that 80’s dress, and a few years more to post about it, but here it is, finally! When good memories are attached to what you are wearing, it somehow seems to make the current moments so much sweeter. This is definitely not my most interesting sewing project, but to my mind, with the background history to it that I know, it feels so very interesting to wear.
Now, at first glance this set probably appears to be a dress, and I intended it that way. You see I really wanted to keep the dress, well, a dress, but ideas for doing that were not popping in my head. Besides, to make a divided dress that deceptively seems like a one-piece would be just as good, maybe even better. I made sure the top was only long enough to reach the skirt when I’m standing straight and the waistband was wide enough to look like some sort of belt or middle cummerbund. In all, I love this! When I reach around it feels so subtly sexy to have a crop top, and wide waistband is great to wear and doesn’t roll.
The blouse/top pattern is labelled “Simple to Make” and boy are they ever right! It was the perfect answer for my desire to leave as much of the original seaming intact. Keeping with the kimono sleeves, the bodice was more or less only trimmed a little. I re-cut half of the shoulders and side seams only, marking the darts after the skirt had been detached. I left the neckline as it was because I love a V-neck for my face but did remove the sleeve elastic. Then the top came together before I knew it and fits like a glove. As the fabric is a knit, I am able to slip this on over my head without a zipper or any closure, which always surprises me every time I put it on. The waist is so tapered in and defined!
For the skirt, I adored the triple rows of shirring at the waist, so I made sure to keep them. They do stretch, since there is elastic thread sewn into the stitching, which is good because this is a pull-on skirt with no closures, like the top. I chose 2 ½ inch wide elastic for the waist, and drafted the casing accordingly – double the width plus two seam allowances. Then the empty casing was stretched and stitched on, the elastic run through it, and the opening closed up. Easy-peasy! I left the hem alone, so that is original to the dress, and also was able to keep the original side pockets that added to the appeal this garment had on me from the beginning.
I kind of feel bad for my hubby actually because this outfit reminds me of a conundrum. He really likes me in what I chose to make for myself, yet he used to like to buy things for me, too. Sewing for myself has completely cured me wanting anything from a store nowadays, and it has taught both of us to look for quality…which we generally do not find in ready-to-wear. So – he really can’t buy me clothes anymore! I make what I need and I like it that way. I guess my dress re-fashion merely reminds me of a sweet thing he used to do for me that my current sewing practices (which I wouldn’t change) have curtailed. Now, he is really getting good at picking out neat fabrics for me, though!!
Have any of you also found some interesting aftereffects to sewing for yourself? Do you (like me) also find yourself unhappy with much RTW the more you find yourself pleased with how you feel in your own handmade garments? Do you also find fabric so very inexplicably exciting, much more than buying a new outfit in the store? Does your significant other or friends understand that wonderful “hooked on fabric” bug? (If so, they’re a keeper!) Let me know because this re-fashion project has made me ponder just how far I have come along in what I wear and who it comes from over the last few years. At least with my sewing skills, I was able to hold onto a little bit of the past and continue to wear a good memory.