Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cheap & Chic - Tutorial #2 - 80s shoulder pad nightmare!

While shopping at a local Goodwill, my friend Sarah saw this dress and immediately grabbed it and told me this was my next tutorial! It's a beautiful floral print wrap dress from the 80s. Shoulder pads, puffy sleeves, dickie, but most importantly, had a matching belt and fake handkerchief!

I'm sure many of you can find a similar dress in your mom's closet. A great print but so many things holding you back from wearing it. This tutorial will help you update it and make it 100% ready-to-wear. Taking off the few things you don't like, tailoring it to fit you, all so simple! In less than an hour I made this dress perfect for summer!

The problems:

The "dickie," a fake front of a shirt.

Shoulder pads and puffy sleeves

This strange flap.

It goes all the way around the back. Accentuates the hips. Definitely has to go.

Awesome features:

Little fake handkerchief

Matching belt!

The dress fit me perfectly aside from the few things I needed to change. I liked the length, just about at my knees.  And I just love the deep V-neck of this dress!

I started by cutting off the dickie. It was attached on one side with a simple seam and buttoned across on the other side. Be sure to cut out the now useless button.

Next, carefully cut out the shoulder pads and cut off the sleeves. I use a straight razor blade and rip out the seams. More inexperienced sewers use a thread ripper. I prefer a razor blade as it is faster and sharper. This can also mean you cut yourself and the fabric more easily, so be careful!

See it's potential starting to come through?

[Note: All the fabric you cut out can be reused! Save the sleeves and make a matching pouch or small handbag! Once you cut out all the seams, there is a lot of fabric to work with. And with the should pads, being the same floral print, you can get really creative and use them too! When I was a little girl my mom used her old should pads she cut out of dresses to make barbie couches and arm chairs.]

Again with your razor blade, split the seam attaching the flap. The yellow indicates the path of the seam. The dress will look like a mess when you are done with this step.

Now the finishing seams. Only a few more minutes and you are done! 

First thing is putting the dress back together at the waist. The seams that ripped out the flap just needs to be sewn back together.

Use a straight stitch and follow where the previous seam was. Use a zig zag stitch along the edge.

Now there is a small opening on either side of the front of the dress to close.
Straight stitch, then again, zig zag stitch along the edge.

Finish off the seams on the sleeve. Double folded hem works perfectly. You don't want any raw edges showing! Don't just fold the fabric once. Fold it over twice and it gives you a much nicer finished product.

And you are done!

Your new dress:

Since it's such a deep v and this is the internet, I wore it with a vintage bright pink slip I cut down to my size. It can easily be worn alone.

This isn't your mother's dress anymore! No one will ever know the state it was once in.

Dress: Goodwill
Heels: Liz Claiborne
Necklace: vintage, gift
Slip: repurposed, Goodwill

This dress is now for sale in my Etsy shop. Click here for the listing.

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  1. You deserve some kind of Goodwill award for this! The final product seriously looks incredible, Sally! I love that you post tutorials and extra details, it makes your blog so special and different from the others. I adore it.


  2. Sally,
    Love what you did. I'm a thrift store, consignment shopper, and find everything you did to that one great garment easy to replicate on other finds. I think the item must first have good "bones" to work with. A shopper must see the potential. Carla

  3. This is so so amazing! You do a seriously wonderful job!! I love it!! That last photo is so cute, by the way. :)

  4. Love it!! It's fabulous on you!! I find myself cutting and re-purposing a lot of thrift store finds.....wish I knew how to sew though :(

    Love cheap chic!!!

  5. great job on the dress. i actually liked it before but you made it look so different and also amazing.

  6. Hello Sally, Nice Job! I like your dresses. I would like ot ask if you have dresses for girls like me wiht big calves? thanks!