Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Drab to Fab dress reconstruction and tutorial
DIY Update a granny dress!

Do you ever find the best dress at the thrift store, fabric-wise, and the cut is horrific?! Use this tutorial as a guideline on how to alter a dress that's a few sizes too big and create a more modern summer dress! This tutorial is for the moderately experienced seamstress/sewer, but if you are just starting out don't be afraid to dive in and try, it's the only way to learn, right?!

My sister, Rachael, bought me this dress when I first moved to Georgia. I took before pictures over two years ago, with this dress in my work line way back then. I can't believe how much different I look with only two years having passed. I was definitely skinnier back then, but I'm a lot more fit now. Obviously the hair has changed and many more wrinkles and grey hair!

Anyways, back to the dress. I can't believe it too me so long to get to it. Other projects got in the way, and this was shoved back in my closet for years. It's almost hit the Goodwill pile a time or two, but I just couldn't part with it! The fabric was too amazing. I love the irregular polka dots. But it needed work. Problems with the dress, before: shoulder pads are hideous, too big, too long, sleeves too outdated, and I'm not a huge fan of the neckline.

For this alteration, you will need:
  • dress, obviously
  • scissors
  • matching thread
  • around 30" of 1/4"-1/2" wide elastic
  • rolled hem foot for your machine
  • chalk hem marker
  • tape measure
  • seam gauge or small ruler
1. Get rid of those shoulder pads! I like to save them for my project one day of making Barbie couches and arm chairs out of old shoulder pads like my mom used to do. Or you can toss them. 2. Remove sleeves. Cut as close to the seam as you can, but be sure to cut off the seam! 3. Measure your waist where the dress hits, and take away a few inches, my waist is 27" so I cut a 24" piece of elastic. 4. Instead of dealing with all the work of removing the old elastic, and possible removing the top of the dress from the skirt, I just sewed the new elastic over top of the old. Pinning at both end, which meet up at the front center line, and at the side seams of the dress. Stretch as you sew. Try your best to sew over the previous seam so it's not noticeable from the right side of the dress.


Now time to finish the shoulder and seams. Since you removed the shoulder pads, the shoulders will need to be taken up. Not pictured: Put the dress on and pin the shoulders until the bodice fits comfortable and sits at your shoulders well. Take off dress and time to sew. 1. Make a note of how much the shoulders will be taken up before removing pins! Remove the facing from the bodice on both shoulders, leaving a few extra inches. Sew both bodice and facing separately, the amount to be taken up. 2. Cut excess fabric off facing and bodice, zig zag stitch. 3. Pin facing to bodice, sew back together. (Hint: it's easiest to remove the top stitch that is on the entire length of the facing a few inches wider than this alteration so it's as neat as can be.) 4. Top stitch on the side of the facing, sewing the raw edge underneath to the facing. 5. Not pictured: use a rolled hem on sleeve openings.

Now for the skirt. Get out your chalk hem marker. Use a pin to mark the desired length of the skirt. Move the chalk hem marker to this height and mark all the way around. Be sure to stand up straight or you will loose an inch or two! Cut 3/4 of an inch below chalk marks, and use your rolled hem foot to hem the skirt.

I also changed the neckline, but that's a bit much to also add to this tutorial. I'll show you all how to do that in another post. This dress couldn't have turned out better! I LOVE IT!



 Zeus makes outfit pictures so much fun to take! I love this dog.

So whatcha think of the dress reconstruction? Questions? Comments!?

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2 comments:

  1. Super Inspiring, thank you for the tips, have been meaning to reconstruct for myself and not just the little one. <3

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  2. wow I love it .....am definitely going to try on a dress i get from aunt in England. thank you

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