Thursday, May 10, 2012

DIY 80s dress reconstruction & sewing instructions
What I Wore:: 5/9/12

This dress was purchased from Salvation Army back when my friend Betsy visited. It was half off that day; I think $2 or less. I was in love with the fabric and knew that it could be beautiful again. The shoulder pads were ghastly, felt like they almost touched my chin, the length too long, and the batwing sleeves too long. This tutorial will show you how to alter a similar dress to be chic and updated, perfect for summer!

When finding a similar dress to alter like mine, be sure it fits well in the waist! This is very important, as that is a more difficult alteration. 

You will need:
  • rotary cutter
  • straight edge ruler
  • scissors
  • chalk
  • sewing machine
  • matching thread
  • razor blade or seam ripper 

1. Turn garment inside out, and start by removing the shoulder pads with a razor blade or seam ripper. 2. Get your ruler and rotary cutter. Mark the desired length with your chalk, plus room for seam allowance. 3. Cut. 4. A little trick I use to be sure they are the same length. Use the removed sleeve, place it on top of the other sleeve, and mark with chalk. Cut.

1. Now time to cut the skirt. I like to do all my cutting before I head to my sewing machine to finish all the seams. Saves time that way. 2. Instead of using a chalk hem marker, which measures the distance from the ground all the way around the skirt. I just shortened the dress 10 inches. Click here and here for tutorials on this blog using a chalk hem marker. 3. Head to your machine, and sew a double folded hem. 4. On the sleeves, sew a rolled hem, with as little of a fold as possible using your standard foot or check into a rolled hem foot. 5. Press your seams (not pictured) and you are done!

What a world of difference. I had this dress on early in the morning as Matt left for work, and we both laughed at how hideous the dress was. Matt mentioned how the fabric was "interesting" or "busy"; I can't remember which. As soon as I was done I snapped a picture with my phone to show him the huge improvement! It's incredible how a few simple alterations can turn a dress from drab to chic with just a little bit of effort. And the best part, you will never run into someone else wearing your dress!

And even at the end of the night, getting ready for bed, Matt had the best idea. Next, make this dress sleeveless, and then strapless! I can't wait to see the transformation and share the sewing instructions with you all. I'll wear it one of twice more before changing it again, but how fun to show this dress in found stages?! 

I love the twirl of the circular hem on the skirt. So much fun!

A fun little outtake with Zeus and I. It's always fun taking pictures with my remote because you never know what this big butthead is going to do! We had a fun time on the porch taking some pictures while the afternoon showers were subsiding.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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  1. The sleeve and the swing are perfect!! I love it! Especially with your vintage shoes :) and kisses to Zeus!

  2. Great job on the dress! I recently just bought one entirely too big so I'll be doing the extra altering at the waist unfortunately.