08 July 2009

154. Sustainable: Refashioning the Clothes I've Made

It's hard to believe I've been sewing long enough to refashion the clothes I've sewn for myself, and blogging long enough to refer to the original posts from these garments' debuts to the world! This time I don't mean dramatic transformation, and I don't even mean finishing a UFO. I'm talkin' about refashioning clothes I've made for myself that have languished in the closet because of a little something in their look or fit that is less than ideal.

First up is Simplicity BBW 3964. In Flickr, the pic of the original dress is my most popular picture, i.e. Favorited by more people than any of my other photos, which mystifies me because I hate the way the cap sleeves look. I never liked the angel flutter sleeves that come in the pattern, so I followed a tutorial to convert the existing longer sleeves into cap sleeves. Except, knowing almost nothing about sleeves, I followed the directions to a T and didn't shave off any of the excess fullness, so the resulting cap sleeves were almost as crazy as the original flutters.

I've worn it maybe 5 times since I made it. I love the shape and length of the bodice, but it's just not my favorite dress because of those sleeves. So I took them off. This process brought back a few memories of how I struggled to sew them on and finish them in a manner consistent with the finishing on the rest of the dress; I had to unpick five or six sets of stitches just to get those sleeves off!

The other dress is a summer dress from last year, sewn from New Look 6731. I didn't realize when I sewed it that the pattern is for a tunic with no dress option! I put it on and thought, "Wow, I didn't petite this dress but it's soooo short! How would a 5'4" woman wear this and feel comfortable?" Checked the pattern envelope and saw that a 5'4" woman would wear it as a tunic and feel very comfortable.

Didn't stop me from wearing it as a dress on hot days anyway! I was careful to not bend over when wearing it, so as not to increase likelihood of appearing on Daddy Likey's walk of shame, Don't Show-cha your Chocha. I even think in the original photo that my hands are in my pockets to help push the hem down to a more modest length. Mental note to self: when you use your toes to pick things up from the floor to keep from bending over and flashing the world, your dress is too short.

And it didn't stop people from liking the dress. This is probably one of my most popular dresses IRL. Friends and strangers would ask me about the dress every time I wore it, I guess because it was something that didn't look like you'd be able to get in a store but something they would want to wear. Now, with extra length, it's something I want to wear a lot, too. :)

Had some extra scraps in the scrap drawer so I pieced together an extra 4 inches to add to the bottom hem so it is now a comfortable knee length. And my toes can rest.

[Wondering why the "now" pics are so blurry? I'd tell you if I knew! They looked fine in the camera viewer, and fine when I downloaded them to my laptop, but when they got to Picasa they looked totally blurry. But you get the gist, right?]


  1. Guess once the refashioning bug bites you never get over it! I really like the neckline of the second dress on you, it doesn't show as well on the form.

  2. Hi Antoinette,
    Thanks for stopping by. I did get in touch with Spandex house. I've been refashioning a lot lately as well. And I working on some UFO's. Sometimes, it helps to revisit a project and get it done once and for all. I love that NL dress. I might have to check that out.

  3. I admire your restraint at going back and fixing things that aren't quite right instead of thinking, "hello Sallies, like my dress?" and starting all over.

    Very cute fabric, looks like you added subtle length there with those scraps.

  4. I love both dresses. I have always been intrigued by the Built by Wendy--your version is by far my favorite! With or without sleeves!And I give you credit for refashioning the sewn garments--I am so impatient that I would just disregard and start new! Pat on the shoulder!

  5. I love both, too--though the collar in the second one makes it the more memorable. Or--well, I can't decide, I like both. It's too bad the first one is tunic-length because it's super cute as a dress.

  6. I think I have fallen in love with the New Look one! Really really endearing and I like the length too. And regarding puffed cap sleeves, they are a hard look to pull off, and if you remove ease and make them tighter they might restrain your range of motion instead. So I think it was cleaver (no pun intended!) of you to remove them :)

  7. You're so funny! [Especially the toes part, although that's definitely something I would do]. Glad to see these two are back into rotation in your wardrobe ~ it would be a shame for them to linger in the "not often worn" pile. Admittedly this is one reason I've been so slow to jump into making dresses, all the potential fit issues! But this reminds me that, duh Jessica, you could let them sit awhile and then go back and fix them!

    Nice work. Inspiring :-).

  8. Hi ladies! Thanks again for the great comments. A few of you seem very interested in NL6731 so I will refer you to my pattern review if you want to hear more details. Quick summary though: it is a knit pattern that I used with woven fabric based on finished garment measurements. I should have scooped out that armhole a little more -- it's kind of tight -- but other than that, what you see is what you get. :)

    @Sarah - I'd been focusing on the complete transformations for so long that I forgot that little changes to a garment can make the difference between wearing it and not!

    @RiAnge - I'm glad you checked out Spandex House. They have such a wide offering! I've been amazed at your output with the ugly fabric contest pieces you were sewing up! It seemed like a new garment a day!

    @Mary Nanna - It took me over a year to go back to both dresses, so I don't know if I get that many bonus points. LOL

    @Cindy - Sometimes I'll look in my closet and grab a piece that I bought, and think about the financial investment I made and how I can salvage that and make the garment something I need to wear. When it comes to stuff I've sewn, I feel almost more of a need to make it desirable, because of all the time (and occasionally money) I've put into it! It's a return on investment issue! ;)

    @Trish - These are both great patterns and I recommend them highly!

    @Johanna Lu - Good point about the cap sleeves. I did draft a set of cap sleeves for this dress last year, made some other pattern mods, and ended up making it too big overall so it went to a friend of mine, but it does look cute with some tamed cap sleeves. :)

    @Jessica - Don't be afraid of dresses! Just pick patterns that are semi-fitted so there's room to learn how to interpret what you see on the pattern and how it will translate to a 3-d dress. S3964 is just one of many good choices -- the shape of the dress is very flattering but it's not fitted at all.

  9. Oh my gosh these are SO pretty! Pretty enough that I'm sure I would barely notice a Don't Show-cha Your Chocha moment, but I'm glad you kept it in mind! :) Also, loving your blog, and will add it to my link list ASAP!

  10. I have to say it makes so much more sense to refashion something you made yourself after all of the time and care that went into it, as opposed to something someone tossed...but it seems like I rarely do it myself. You've inspired me, yet again! I'm off to raid my closet for a potential refashion.

  11. perfect fix! love it, as always. Real cute on you.

  12. I absolutely love the second dress, esp. the neckline.
    I tend to think about refashioning my stuff while I'm still working on it, or just finished it. Which is why stuff is never truly finished.

  13. @daddylikeyblog - So glad to have you stop by and enjoy the dresses! I'm also glad you have commented -- it has encouraged me to de-lurk on your blog! :)

    @Allison - The inspiration flows both ways, as I've added a stop in leather jackets at the thrift store to my weekly visit so that I may someday try my hand at refashioning The Perfect Leather Jacket. Yours is amazing. I've wasted so much time trying to find the perfect one to buy!

    @Dana - Thank you, dear!

    @Violet - I could see that, totally. I have done that with a couple of garments, too. Most of the time I am pushing for the finish, though, even if I'm not convinced of a specific feature, which leads to not enough wear in the closet but hopefully a refashion in the near future.

  14. goodness, you are a sewing maven! I <3 the cap sleeves on the first dress but can understand if they were made too big without adjustments that they would be just as big and billowy as flutter sleeves.

  15. talk about sustainability! refashioning your own hand sewn dresses... I applaud you. And they are all cute - cap sleeved or mini - always very good work. I totally understand how fit is the most important thing. I still have items in my closet that I love but can't quite love on me.

  16. It's funny--I like both dresses as they were and also after. I've had some *short* dresses that may have been meant more as tunics but being 5'1 I feel like I can get away with it!

  17. cool post. I 've been wanting to do this for ages.. Refashioning my wardrobe. Mental note to self: just do it - at some point during the summer...

  18. @bookwormbethie - Those cap sleeves I improvised were less billowy and more Balenciaga S/S 2008. Only Jennifer Connelly could pull off structure like that.

    @glam.spoon - Well, I can't say that every piece in my closet is picture perfect. But I am asking myself questions now I wouldn't have asked 2 years ago, like, "What would it take for me to wear that garment every week?"

    @ambika - I hear you, my petite sister. We really can get away with wearing tunics as mini dresses when it counts, yes?

    @amelie - It would be fun to see what you prioritize to refashion if you end up sharing the results on your blog. :)

  19. Congrats! You won the giveaway. I emailed you (the email address on your blog profile), but if you didn't receive it, please email me your address at keikoblog[at]gmail[dot]com

  20. @Keiko Lynn - Awesome! Thanks again and again.

    @Columbia Lily - Thank you! LOL The sad thing is that the A/C seems to run constantly, even through most of the night. I don't think it gets below 80 even at night. The next electric bill will give me fits, and we're talking with the thermostat set at 79 degrees.


Hi! I'm so glad you stopped by. If you have a specific question, be sure to leave your email address or check the box to receive email follow-up comments so I can answer your question! Thanks for commenting!