As my confidence with sewing has increased I’ve moved on from just producing children’s clothes and have started to sew a few more things for myself, sometimes for fun and sometimes for necessity. I love second hand clothes and will happily trawl charity shops and eBay to find pieces I like at a low cost.
|Zip front blue dress|
|Red and white dress|
Here are two dresses I’d bought second hand for a couple of pounds each online but, after a good few months of wear, I thought they needed a bit of a revamp, mainly because the blue one was a tad short on its own (I tended to wear it with leggings and a jumper for precisely this reason) and the tulip skirt of the red and white dress was a little too restrictive for my liking. And so a Molly Ringwald style mashup ensued!
For those of you not familiar with Molly Ringwald she enjoyed the height of her fame in the 1980s in several – fantastic – John Hughes films, including The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. It’s in Pretty in Pink that Molly’s character chops up two (actually quite nice looking dresses) and makes one new dress for her prom (which, outside of the 1980s, doesn’t actually look so great). Hence this project has been nicknamed ‘the Molly Ringwald dress’, although I should point out I have no aspirations to write an agony aunt column for the Guardian, and I had every intention of ensuring the finished dress actually looked nicer than the sum of its parts.
The blue dress was originally from Tesco and is a medium weight fabric with a slight stretch, so highly versatile. The red and white dress is from H&M and the fabric varies: the top is a thin and flimsy jersey while the red skirt is a heavier cotton mix. I decided not to touch the top of the dress as I’d probably wear something over it anyway as it’s too sheer to wear on its own. Since it was the tulip skirt that was the problem I planned to cut slits into the skirt and sew in triangles of fabric from the blue dress.
|Unzipped all the potential is visible|
Because both dresses were a good weight of fabric both cut easily and with minimal fraying. I used a basic straight stitch on the inside with a zip zag on the seam allowance to prevent fraying. I found it a little tricky to get the point of the triangle stitched in neatly and ended up doing a little hand sewing to finish the pleats off ok. The most important thing however was to be sure that the hems of the new panels matched the existing skirt exactly. One of the handy things about reworking old clothes is that with careful planning you can make life easier for yourself, i.e. using the existing bottom edge for the new hem.
|Blue triangles of fabric and the red dress marked ready to cut|
The finished dress definitely shows more than a little of an 80s influence, part punk/part preppy, and I wouldn’t look out of place in the background of the party scene in Some Kind of Wonderful. I love the contrast of the orangey red and the black/blue print. Going from what was previously a tulip skirt to basically a circle skirt means it is far more wearable, even if I am still modelling it with leggings.
|Panels in place|
|Still rocking the cardigan and leggings combo|
Another successful upcycling project where second hand clothes have been given a third lease of life, preventing sending fabric to landfill unnecessarily while also having a bit of fun with my wardrobe.
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