twice remade

I found a dress in mom’s closet many summers ago. While the shape of the dress wasn’t anything too special, the pleats, the bright blue color and the soft thin cotton was begging to be turned into a summer frock. So I went to it. While my enthusiasm was admirable, my work certainly was not. Being impatient to have the dress wearable, I took so many shortcuts it turned into a dress I never wore.

Digging it out from it’s hiding space I have done a repair on my botchy initial remake. Partly out of embarrassement, but also since I haven’t made any changes to the shape of the dress, I’ve opted to skip the “before” picture, and go straight to the “after” photo-shoot:

The initial changes I made, was to chop off the top portion of what was a sleeveless dress, and make straps instead. I also shortened the length quite a lot. The bodice was taken in to be fitted, and the original zipper put back in. Back in the days I didn’t know how to put in an invisible zipper, so that was one upgrade on this second round of remake. Someone (probably not me) had the foresight to save the scraps I had cut off from the original dress, and from the hem-leftovers I was able to add another layer to the bodice to make it less flimsy. And joy over all joys, among the scraps I found an inseam pocket from the original dress, that I had just cut around! I obviously put the pocket back in the dress, for I like my inseam pockets. Finally, I finished all the seams I had left unfinished last time. While I made no big changes, I still believe having done the steps properly this time around makes for a better looking dress.

The boy helped out by taking nice pictures with his fancy camera. And obviously, if you go outside on late summer nights, the mosquitoes will get you. Big time.

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grandma-dress

There are some things I’ve sewn that have gotten more use than others. This is such a thing. It started out as my grandmothers dress, that I wore some times. While I loved the shape of the dress, I didn’t really wear it much as it was – always with sweater over it. I spent several years debating whether or not to cut into it and making a strapless dress instead. Having been my grandmothers I was very apprehensive, feeling like I’d ruin her dress by altering it – but I finally decided I’d probably get more use of it after the refashion.

I did. I’ve celebrated birthdays, opera-premieres, exhibition- openings, garden-parties (granted, the birthday girl – which wasn’t me that day – got to wear it for that occasion), school- acceptances, and ordinary school days in this dress. It’s also the perfect summer garment to randomly frolic, back-lit, in a lush field:

Yes – I love this dress.

Looking at the picture of the dress as it was, I do think it was a beautiful dress, and maybe at this point, I would use it as it was. However, I can’t regret making this pretty floral frock, and I am often complimented on it when I wear it, so that is lovely.

To the left: The dress as it was. Perhaps some day I will try to replicate it. This was the only picture I had of the dress pre-refashioning, so I apologize about the blurry head. To the right: The dress is obviously well suited for hanging out in a chair in a field.

The fabric wasn’t as lovely as the print, which is one reason I went ahead with the refashion. Being some 40 years old (or more?) it is of course made of polyester, or some other equally clingy and unbreathing material. The lining was even worse; static and plasticy, and generally horrible. First I unpicked the bodice from the skirt, and took apart all the pieces which were to be used for the new corset-like bodice. Next I placed the seam and zipper of the skirt in the back instead of the side. This made the skirt fall rather strangely, so I ended up placing all the gatherings in the back to compensate.

To the left: Making the pattern for the bodice. To the right: The dress at an exhibition-opening. The cardigan -silk and cashmere!-, belt and shoes are thrifted. (I realize this is an odd way to combine the pictures, and an illogical order to present them, but I think they just worked better like this, colorwise.)

For the bodice I made my own pattern. Luckily I had recently taken a corset-making course, and based my pattern on one I already had. I wanted to make as few pieces as possible, to show as much of the large pattern as possible. Both the skirt and the bodice was lined with a thin white cotton, and for the bodice I added another layer of white canvas for support and to stiffen it up. I originally wanted to use the zipper that was already in the dress, but it came apart a couple of times and I realized I couldn’t go around worrying that my zipper would suddenly unravel.

Now, for the pictures with the flowers in my hands – I attended my own exhibition-opening today! Some 15 young, local, “up-and- coming” artists were asked to participate in a summer show in my home town, and today was the opening day. I obviously wore a self-made garment for the occasion, as I was showing a couple of my own designs. They might show up here in a later post, but for now they can be in the background of the picture. I sadly didn’t have time to sew something new for this exhibition, so I showed some pieces I made a couple of years ago. The dress on the right is for whichever dressy event where I need to look like a pink fairy princess, made with thai silk, embroidered silk chiffon, and every shade of coral and apricot and seashells (and all other lovely things) in chiffons, satins and smooth cotton. I think I have six or seven different fabrics in that dress. The top to the left is very much influenced by noa noa, and is made of a very airy embroidered cotton, and a green lining fabric. The belt is the best part, with lots of layers and raw edges. Along with these two garments, I exhibited the poster to the left (the bold pictures on the right belong not to me), which is for a local outdoor summer play, set in medieval pilgrimage time.

And so, let my wordy homage to this dress end. May it continue to make me feel pretty.

apron

There is something about aprons that just invites you to roll up your sleeves, and make. In grade school we would wear our aprons made in home ec class, while making food in home ec. At home the aprons would come on when we made plastic-clay room interiors on ice cream carton lids with dad, and with mom when we felted wool hats or helped her cook and bake.

For Christmas a couple of years ago I got an apron from a dear friend. She had embroidered my name on it, and sewn on a deer-patch. It is lovely. And it’s gotten so much use; for cooking, for crafting, for dish-washing, for eating… I’ve gone whole days without taking it off. I adore the efforts she’s put into making this all mine:

I was visiting a good friend in Berlin about a month ago, and whenever it was time to cook, I would look around the kitchen to find the apron. There wasn’t one. So coming back home I pulled out my own green apron to use as a pattern, and went to work. I really wanted a quick, satisfying project, so an hour later, I was ready to pose:

The fabric is a thrifted, thin curtain in a cotton-mix, so I used two layers of fabric. The sides were then sewed up, leaving strategic gaps for the band. On the upper sides I added a seam to make channels for the band to go through, so it’s adjustable at the neckline.

This was sent in a bright blue package to Berlin, where I hope it will lead an exciting life with my friend and her flatmates!