Altered Dresses (May 2012)

I have finally been able to edit the fotos I took in may of the dresses I altered. I find altering can be just as hard as sewing from scratch, or even harder, as you’re not starting with a length of fabric, so you’re limited in what you have to work with.

The first dress I altered (my first time sewing again!) was simply shortening the waist on this dress:

I got it over the internet, and now that it fits me (well, it became a little short in the process, but I always wear legging-cut-off-shorts underneath) I wear it so much! it’s very comfortable. It’s amazing how much better and more “expensive” cheap clothing looks when it fits right!

above, before altering (but with a couple of pins in it), below: after

This one I got in Paris for € 45, and I did quite some altering. It seems to me that this dress was handmade by someone! A lot of the hand stitching had come undone, and some more of it had to be opened to alter the dress. I really like how it turned out! I did make the waist a little too tight for it to be as comfortable as the polka dot one above (which has elastic shirring around the waist), but it should work fine for cooler summer days at work.


Ok, this one I got on ebay for $24(!!!) and it’s my favorite! Buuut, it’s also the hardest to work with fabric wise. I made the skirt waaay to tight the first time:

Couldn’t sit down! Second time around is better, but I’ve worn it once and I really have to put in a walking slit at the back, I had to take tiny steps! Plus, I was too scared to cut off the hem when I shortened it, I just folded it and it become quite thick, which explains the wonky hem. I’ll have to fix that. Quite a bit of altering had been done on this dress. It was originally made in Hong Kong, in the early 60ies probably. It reminds me of Joan from Mad Men! She had on this Asia-Inspired Floral Dress on in season 5 if I remember correctly… (oh btw, how dark was this past mad men season? I mean, no feet chopped off, no wild affairs for Don, and still, the season went very gradually from “hey, everything might actually work out this time!” to “everything’s so depressing and I can’t put my finger on how it happened exactly”. Very much like real life though. I really liked Megan, even though I didn’t think I would at first, and now that marriage is over, they made that pretty clear in the end… ok enough with the Mad Men talk!)


Floral Dress – the last steps

Soo, after I’ve already posted the finished dress, here are the last WIP and inner construction photos:

Finished catch-stitching the facingto the underlining:

waist seam:

Finished center-back edges:

ready for the zipper!


half-finished hand-picked zipper:

It was really worth hand-sewing! It looks much nicer than any machine-sewed zipper I ever inserted. And the stitches are pretty much invisible :)

inside views:

New techniques I learned during this project:

  • draft a fitted bodice pattern
  • how to underline (with the help of Tasia’s Tutorial)
  • how to understitch facing (again, with the help of Tasia)
  • catch-stitch facing
  • french-seams
  • gathering with 2 lines of stitching (used to only stitch 1 line and gather, it’s so much better with 2, a lot more evenly spaced)
  • properly prepping the center back seam for the zipper (cleanest back-seam edges I ever had!)
  • hand-pick a zipper

Things that could’ve turned out better:

  • back-neckline could’ve been about 2 inches deeper (but I’d rather have it too high than too deep with the bra strap showing)
  • I used blue threads to gather, thinking it would be easier to take them out that way, but I ended up not taking them out because it would’ve taken forever. So I should have used white thread. This doesn’t bother me so much though.
  • I made the waist-stay tighter than the waistline of the dress, which makes the part of the dress at the back that’s not attached to the waist stay stick out. Have to correct this (make another, looser hook on the waist stay)

But I’m happy with how the dress turned out :) And I can cross another project off my Mad Girls List!

Flower Dress – Inspiration

So, in the post before this one, I explained I want to reuse an old skirt I made, of which I still have enough fabric left to make a dress out of it:

And here’s the inspiration post!

Tasia from Sewaholic

Betty Draper

Betty Draper Part 2” by Sian O. on

I’m not really sure about the neckline though, I’m considering one like in the picture above from lookbook, or one of these:

first dress from, the rest is from (old ones I’ve collected in my inspirations folder)

I do know that I want to make it sleeveless. A nice, summery dress :)

I want to use the pattern drafting book I got for my birthday to draft the bodice. And I want to make this dress prefect on the inside! Going to use underlining (don’t know what kind of fabric yet…), an underskirt with a nice trim, add a waist stay, a hand-picked zipper etc. I’m probably also going to make a muslin first, because the fabric is just a children’s duvet-cover I found at the thrift store, so I don’t have that much to work with. It’ll be a “learning” project, want to try lots of techniques I’ve shied away from in the past.

As for the skirt, I’m just going to take it apart and redo everything.

Floral Skirt

This is an od picture of a skirt I once made and haven’t worn since that summer. I got the fabric at the thrift store, it was a children’s duvet-cover.

It was an easy skirt, just an elastic waist, very very basic. As I was still pretty much a beginner, the “finish” isn’t really nice:

But since I still have more of the fabric, I’ve decided I’m gonna make a dress with it, reusing this skirt.

(btw: what’s funny is that a design student in my town took the image at the top from my german blog without asking me or even letting me know, and last year I went to see the exhibit of the bachelor “projects” or whatever you’d call them (thesis?), and it was the strangest moment of my life, seeing myself on the wall, on a huge poster, and all over the pages of a magazine she printed, with this image of me cut into strips, ripped into pieces, cut into triangles etc. It was unreal! But I never managed to really do anything about it. She didn’t mention me ANYWHERE. Like, I’m sorry but you can’t do that when you’re writing a thesis type thing (even the maturaarbeit at our school is very strict about citing sources)! I always wondered whether I should’ve called the school, if they would’ve taken away her Bachelor’s degree. I mean, her entire thesis was about the different ways she cut up my picture! (She choose it I guess because there are three of me and the title of her thesis was “prosopagnosia”))