Many crafters are of the ‘make do and mend’ attitude and I count myself in that category. Although there are obvious benefits to that, there are also drawbacks – for me, I really struggle to get rid of old clothes. My head just fills with creative ways to refresh the garment or ideas for the fabric, so I put it safely away, ready to work on when I get round to it (which rarely happens).
Well, I’ve finally managed to find some time to complete one of these ‘refashion’ projects on an old dress, and I’m really pleased with the new life I’ve been able to give this old friend. Here’s the original dress:
I love the colour and simplicity of this dress, which was a summer staple in my wardrobe for years. Until I put on a little more weight and that elasticated waist became painful! I’m sure this discomfort was nothing like wearing a corset, but even so, wearing clothes should surely be fun. The dress has been sitting in a drawer waiting for a revamp ever since.
To get started, I turned the dress inside out and unpicked the stitching that was holding the elastic in place. This involved unpicking the side seam a little bit as well, which made a small hole – only a temporary worry.
As you can imagine, the dress was rather shapeless and tube-like without the elastic. So I decided I’d make a new waist, in part to cover up the old stitch holes.
Since the dress is made out of knitted jersey fabric, I used a similar fabric to make a tube to go around the waist. To do this, I cut a long strip of pink jersey fabric, folded it in half lengthways with right sides together and stitched down the long edge. I turned the tube the right way out and pinned it around the waist of the dress, lining up the ends of the tube with one of the side seams.
As I was thinking about stitching the tube in place, I noticed that there are several stitches on my sewing machine that I’ve never used. They tend to be specialist or decorative stitches that I’ve just not needed to use before. So I chose an unusual zigzag stitch, which my machine calls a ‘stretch blind stitch’, and used that to stitch the tube to the waist of the dress:
When you look at the stitches close-up like this, it’s not super-neat… but from a distance it’s a pretty effect:
With a bit of hand stitching at the side seam gap, the tube was finished and I was ready for the next stage: elastic.
Yes, yes, I’m happy to admit the irony of removing elastic from a dress only to insert elastic again, but this time I got to choose exactly how tight the elastic sits and therefore customise the fit. Makes sense to me, if no one else…
So I threaded a wide piece of elastic into the tube, all the way around and out the other end:
I safety pinned the two ends together and then it was time to try on the dress again. I repinned the elastic at the ideal fit point, using a very small safety pin and poked the ends back inside the tube. I’ve not sewed the two ends together yet because I’m thinking that I’ll wear the dress a couple of times to check the tightness of the elastic before committing myself to the fit, otherwise I might end up with the exact same problem of a corset-style dress all over again!
For now, I’m really pleased with my new dress: it still has the same turquoise colour I like, with the addition of a stylish pink waistband – plus I can breathe in it, thanks to the improved fit. What more could I ask for?
The only problem I’ve got now is that, um… this turquoise dress isn’t the only one in my wardrobe… I also have the same dress in an inky blue shade and it needs the same treatment:
I’m thinking maybe a white waistband for this one though, what do you think?