three tips for restyling a thrifted dress.

So one of my most favourite places to wander around is the Goodwill store a few blocks down from where I work.  In my opinion it's the best one in the city, the secret's out guys, try not steal all the good stuff now.  Generally/every time I end up coming home with something from the kitchen section.  How could I pass up a vintage pyrex juice pitcher for 40 cents or an awesome floral fire king bowl for 35 cents? So impossible.

I occasionally will browse through the clothing, but generally it tends to be ugly things from the 90's.  I was born in the 90's.  I'm quite done with 90's clothing.  HOWEVER there is occasionally something interesting amidst all the velvet dresses and awkward two piece dresses.  And it is usually in the plus size section, so I have learned.  Most of my favourite thrifted dresses are some giant size, like the one in this post, it's like a size 14.  This dress is a size 22. Yeah.  But there are ways to make these awkward dresses into something really awesome!
There are generally three tips that I follow when restyling an old dress:
1_cut it. 
 So many of those dresses have great potential but are really weird lengths.  An instant way to make it a little more modern and wearable is to cut it to the same length as one of the dresses you normally wear and hem it.
2_add a belt.
Rarely are thrifted dresses the right size, especially if you're like me and find that all the things you like are 8 sizes too big.  Adding a belt defines your waist and changes the silhouette of the dress.  This works best with dresses that don't already have a defined waist, like sheath dresses.
3_do something interesting.
Sometimes after cutting and hemming your dress it still isn't quite right, it needs something a little extra to make it perfect.  This could be adding a ruffle along the hemline, cutting off the sleeves and finishing the edges, or changing the neckline.  A little extra sewing can make a big difference in whether you actually end up wearing that dress you thought was so awesome for 30 cents.
This is what the above dress looked like when I first bought it for 50 cents.  The fabric and the "made in canada" label intrigued me.  And I liked the buttons.

I think my face says it all.  It has a definite dessert travelin', biblical times, sheep herder feel.
Or at least it did.  Until I cut it into a mini dress.
This is how I made it so much sweeter, using the above three guidelines.
1_using a rotary cutter and a ruler (and a cutting mat!) cut your new dress to your desired length, add an inch for hemming.  you can always cut it shorter, it's a lot harder to make it longer.  follow an existing dress if you're unsure of how long to cut it.  i cut mine pretty short, i don't really ever plan on wearing it without tights.
2_take in the sides.  i am all for flowy things. however, there was just a little too much fabric so I took in the sides, sewing about an inch away from the existing seam and then trimming the edges to 1/4" from the new seam to get rid of the bulk.  again, start small and try it on before taking it in some more.
3_you could either hem your dress at this point and be done with it, but i decided to add a ruffle to the bottom. start by cutting a strip of fabric to 3 - 4 times the width of your existing hem line and to whatever desired width, keeping in mind hemming will take up about an inch.  i didn't have any fabric that was long enough so i cut two strips that were four inches wide and sewed them together along one of the short edges.
4_hem the long edge.  i find it the easiest to sew 1/4 " away from one edge and then use the stitch line as a guide to fold the hem along that line so that the raw edge is pointing upwards. press.  fold over again so that the raw edge is now tucked in and not visible.  stitch about 1/8" away from the top fold.
5_sew the two short edges together and press seam open.
6_using a long stitch and without back stitching at either end, stitch around the top of the fabric.  then, gently pulling on top strings of either end gather the loop of fabric until it matches the diameter of your dress.  make sure the gathers are evenly distributed.
7_with right sides together, pin your ruffle to the hem of your dress and stitch using a regular length stitch.
8_trim threads, press ruffled edge down and you're done!  I decided to use an existing scarf as a belt but you could sew your own by cutting a strip of fabric to the desired length and then hemming all edges!
This little project took only a few hours and turned out to be something I would totally wear on a normal day!  I can't wait to see what I discover next time at the thrift store.  Have an awesome week, xo, T.

No comments:

Post a Comment