Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cheap & Chic - Tutorial #3 - Mormon to MAGNIFICENT

While shopping at Goodwill in Evans the other day with my sister, Rachael and my friend, Sarah. Sarah found this fabulous dress for only $5! I was busy looking at vintage dishes for my new apartment; I didn't even think of looking for dresses that trip. Sarah always finds the best hideous dresses to repurpose. I think she has an eye for everything my size and style! Every piece of clothing she has picked up fits me like a glove. It's incredible. 

Here is the dress:

Negatives: puffy sleeves, the length, it's way too long. 

Features: Reminiscent of a Mennonite cut and design to the dress. Beautiful cutout in the back, I love how the bottom my tattoo barely shows when I sit up and turn just right. Buttons above the zipper framing the cutout perfectly, little bow on the top button closure (we will use this later), beautiful color and print! Because of all the cut of the dress, it was a huuuge bonus that this dress fit me perfectly, it really accentuates the natural waist. It would have been a lot of work cutting it down to my size. 

Rachael helped me take the before pictures out on our patio under the trellis. It was nice having the flowers in bloom. I was twirling like I was 5 years old, and she kept taking pictures. I because quite dizzy. 

First step: Cut off the sleeves, carefully, with a razor blade or thread ripper. Set aside. The fabric can be used for other projects. Because this dress is fully lined, and the lining and the floral fabric were both sewn to the sleeves, I ran the edge of the sleeves through my machine, using a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying. Sew both pieces of fabric together (lining and outer fabric). I also removed the bow at this time. 

Next, figure out the desired length. I chose to cut it a few inches above my knees since the waist is so high and the neckline is going to remain the same. If this were a low-cut dress I'd keep it at the knees. Can't show too much skin! 

I started cutting this dress up last night, and my dad is in town. He hates the neckline and wanted me to bring it down an inch. And also keep it at the knees. I had to explain to him that because there is a cutout in the back, a low neck-line would look silly. And because I'm so tall, the high neck-line and knee length would look silly. He still doesn't agree with me, but he's a man. What does he know? Haha. Silly Dad.

Anyways... after you cut the sleeves off and cut it to the desired length, it will look like this (notice the scrap fabric lying on my cutting table? There is enough fabric to make a matching clutch and a handful of other accessories.) :

My camera battery died right after I took this picture. It was about midnight last night, so I didn't get the chance to photograph the sewing for this dress, but it is a very simple transformation. It is all really simple steps any novice should be able to handle.

Only a few more seams and you're done!

Next, pin the sleeves and close the seams. I did a 1/4" double folded hem. Then I closed the bottom with a simple 1/2" double folded hem. Viola! You're done.

A big thank you to my friend, Sarah who took these pictures today at the library. We brought her kids Finlay and Maura. They played on the jungle gyms while we messed around with our cameras. I modeled a bunch of jewelry for Sarah to list on her Etsy page before changing into this dress. I'm standing up on the amphitheatre at the public library in Evans. Behind me is where Arts in the Park took place a few weeks ago. And oh my goodness, it was so humid today! We were dying taking pictures in the sun.

Matching bow for your hair (see below for instructions)

Oh, and it has pockets!

Just the right length, eh?

This dress is for sale in my Etsy shop here.

Optional: Using the leftover bow (or make one from your excess fabric), thread, needle and hair barrette, sew the bow onto the barrette and you have a cute hair accessory to wear with your new dress!

I started on the left side. There are little holes at either end of the barrette to anchor the bow. Start at either end, work your way down to the other, and make sure it is attached well. It's really very simple to create a cute little hair bow to match any dress, all you need is a little extra fabric.

Dress: Goodwill
Shoes: vintage Hush Puppies

Next tutorial:
The dress that my mannequin was wearing when I bought her. Here's the kicker: it's going to be sized for someone else! Not my boyish figure, but someone with curves, fingers crossed. New model on the next tutorial! Stay tuned!

Questions? Comments? 
Contact me at keisersa@msu.edu
I'd love to hear from you!

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  1. Amazing transformation! I am not suprised at the work you do. Great job! Can't wait to see your next tutorial.

  2. I LOVE the outcome of that dress!!! Totally wearable and cute cut-out! You're amazing, Sal. Can't wait to see what your next one looks like! =]

  3. Oh. my. gosh. LOVEE that first dress!! Seriously seriously amazing! You have talent!

  4. Your stuff is interesting! Ever thought of making youtube video tutorials?

  5. Thanks ladies. I love this one. It turned out so well. I can't wait for more!

    Denise -- video tutorials were what I initially wanted to do a while back but I'm a little camera shy. Eventually I'd like to incorporate it into my site though. Just need to invest in a good camera. Thanks!