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Topic: Help with dress recon please?  (Read 3437 times)
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maenad_au
« on: January 08, 2008 05:46:09 AM »

This is my first reconstruction that I'm going to attempt. I have this very basic 1980s dress that has cute material and falls on my hips nicely. My hips are wider than average so it's hard for me to find dresses that fit.

My problem is that the top part of the dress is horribly out-dated. After ripping out the shoulder pads and putting a hole in the shoulder seam I realised I had no idea what to do next. I'd prefer to take it in a rockabilly direction but I've been looking on the web and haven't found anything, so I'd be just as happy with something simple and effective. My sewing is mainly by hand too. Could somebody help me or suggest a tutorial please?

The photos are just thumbnails that link to bigger images.
Front:


Back:
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MyDestny
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2008 11:31:51 AM »

Is this fabric stretchy?? I guess it doesn't matter too much. There are a number of different things you could do with it. Here are some pictures of ideas and what I would do to achieve a similar look.

Rounded collar shirt
http://www.shopplasticland.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=P70830302&Category_Code=Rockabilly-Style

To do this, I would start by removing the sleeves, and cutting the skirt part off below the bust. I would say about 2 1/2 " below so you allow for a seam. Then make the top part as fitted as you can and still be able to slip it over your shoulders when putting on. Then I would attach the sleeves back on, if there is extra fabric in the sleeves now, make them gathered at the top. Then create a waistband in a constrasting color and reattach the skirt by either cutting down the size or or making pleats to make it it fit the size of the waist. Then make a collar in a contrasting color (black, white or red). If you make the color rounded like the picture, kind of like a Peter Pan style, it willlook more Rockabilly styled.

A little bit different styled dress but still about the same technique as above.

Collared dress
http://www.shopplasticland.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=P71011801&Category_Code=Rockabilly-Style


A really cute bib styled top. You could achieve this by finding a button down shirt with frilly trim on it and sewing it to the dress' chest area.

http://www.shopplasticland.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=P70707308&Category_Code=Rockabilly-Style

A big key to making the rockabilly style is using piping for trim. It seems to be on that style a lot. I would choose black or red for your fabric.

Good Luck!!
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audsnico
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2008 11:35:34 AM »

hmmm, it would be easier to make suggestions if we knew how it fit on top.

You could make it into a spaghetti strap/jumper type top.
like this: http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/paper-doll-productions-.html
I don't know how easy this would be for you, since this is your first recon....

The print is pretty rockabilly already, so i'd look for an easy classic top shape, then add rockabilly details (red lace, bows, gun appliques, whatever)

edit: maenad_au, what is your sewing level? I was thinking that since this is your first recon, you may be a beginning sewer. The suggestions by MyDestny look good, but making a collar and reattaching sleeves are pretty advanced. As is using piping anywhere.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2008 11:37:47 AM by audsnico » THIS ROCKS   Logged
violentjayne
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2008 06:32:46 PM »

I think a halter dress can look pretty Rockabilly and would be super easy w/ the fabric you have to work with ..
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maenad_au
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2008 07:16:53 PM »

hmmm, it would be easier to make suggestions if we knew how it fit on top.

You could make it into a spaghetti strap/jumper type top.
like this: http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/paper-doll-productions-.html
I don't know how easy this would be for you, since this is your first recon....

The print is pretty rockabilly already, so i'd look for an easy classic top shape, then add rockabilly details (red lace, bows, gun appliques, whatever)

edit: maenad_au, what is your sewing level? I was thinking that since this is your first recon, you may be a beginning sewer. The suggestions by MyDestny look good, but making a collar and reattaching sleeves are pretty advanced. As is using piping anywhere.
hmmm, it would be easier to make suggestions if we knew how it fit on top.

You could make it into a spaghetti strap/jumper type top.
like this: http://www.pinupgirlclothing.com/paper-doll-productions-.html
I don't know how easy this would be for you, since this is your first recon....

The print is pretty rockabilly already, so i'd look for an easy classic top shape, then add rockabilly details (red lace, bows, gun appliques, whatever)

edit: maenad_au, what is your sewing level? I was thinking that since this is your first recon, you may be a beginning sewer. The suggestions by MyDestny look good, but making a collar and reattaching sleeves are pretty advanced. As is using piping anywhere.

Yes audsnico, that was a good guess, my sewing skills are very basic. I'm a mum and a student and so the budget just won't stretch to buying a sewing machine. Despite requests every Xmas for the past 4 or 5 years, the family just don't seem to get it.

The dress's fit on top is loose. The suggestion of a colar I think I could work with if I find a top with the right sort of colar, cut it off and sew it to the neckline of this one. I don't think I have one right at the moment though and the sleeves absolutely have to go. They remind me too much of my school uniform. Actually I think that's what annoys me most about this dress. The cut is just like my junior summer uniform! LOL. I only just realised that.
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audsnico
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2008 08:31:27 PM »

If the top is loose, you're probably going to have a problem when you cut the sleeves out, that the arm holes will be too big, and will sag.

I was originally going to recommend a halter top, like violentjayne said, but I don't know how it would work with the princess seams.....

but ultimately, you're just gonna have to cut into it and see what happens Smiley Then start pinning to try to make it fit, then sew it up and decorate. If this is your first one, don't worry too much about making a perfect finished project, just learn something!

If you get stuck and need more help, come back and ask Smiley
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ulcdmj
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2008 01:56:43 AM »

I agree with a halter. Maybe one where the straps tie behind the neck. I personally like that style.
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maenad_au
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2008 05:09:50 AM »

Thanks for all the help everyone!  Cool 

I've gone with the halter neck because something clicked and I could suddenly see how it could be done. My handsewing leaves a lot to be desired but it's mostly invisible and I am having trouble with the lack of fit around the bust but on the whole I'm really pleased with how good it looks so far. Since it's my first reconstruction I expected there to be a lot trial and error so that's OK. I'll post pictures of it when it's finished.

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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2008 05:19:30 AM »

By the way, a sewing machine doesn't have to be expensive.  Be on the look out when you go to thrifting.  Most thrifted sewing machines work just fine.  And during Christmas sales, I have seen some for $70 at Walmart and Joanns.  Be careful though, it's pretty addictive!
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audsnico
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2008 10:38:41 AM »


I am having trouble with the lack of fit around the bust


you might be able to put in some darts or just take in the side seams a bit to get the right fit. What I like to do is put it on inside out, pin it so it fits right, and then sew along the pin lines.
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MaxineBrandywine
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2008 08:17:25 PM »

Hi maenad_au ...

I'd love to see how your dress is coming along. I agree with a previous poster on getting a sewing machine. I have survived my entire life with used machines. If you look around at sew-n-vac places and I'm not sure where else you're bound to find one. About 16-17 years ago I recieved a really good one as a gift and then this year for Christmas I got an embroidery machine from my wonderful, magnificent, I am the luckiest woman in the world fiance. I'm 56 so there you go. I spent my life on old used machines and I sewed! Just think about it...

I wish you the best of luck on the dress. I think if you consider a zipper or maybe lacing that will help with your fit. A corset style lacing in the back might solve your problem. Piping and ruffles are also great and you probably have plenty of fabric left over from cutting to do one or both... but... doing piping by hand would take eons.

I can't wait to see...
Rock On
Maxine
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maenad_au
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2008 07:34:45 PM »

Piping and ruffles are also great and you probably have plenty of fabric left over from cutting to do one or both... but... doing piping by hand would take eons.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement. Without realising I have done something sort of like piping by using a long black satin ribbon along the edge of the back and up to the neck to be tie.

I'm using darts on the bust but if it ends up looking bad I'll unpick it and try the corset idea. I like that one. I'll have to wait a few days until hubby gets paid though because I don't have an eyelet thingy.

As for the sewing machine thing I've mailed a request for one through the local freecycle so now I"m just waiting to see if I get any responses. I've got a little $20 hand-held Singer thing but the reviews on Amazon said it was a piece of junk so now I'm not keen to waste time on trying it out.

Since you've asked I'll post pics of how it's coming along soon.
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"Burn down the disco,
Hang the blessed DJ,
Because the music that they constantly play,
says nothing to me about my life."
- The Smiths

http://www.wists.com/Maenad
maenad_au
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2008 09:00:00 PM »

OK, here are some pics of the dress. It is by no means finished. My handsewing is admittedly woeful but I'm using thread that calls itself invisible and while it's itchy in places it is invisible on that black ribbon and not too bad with the darts I put in either. I did the runching first and that was fun.  Smiley

I'm afraid that the pattern makes my hips look rather wide so I want to make it more eye catching up top to distract from that. I'd probably have a better shape in it if I had an appropriate bra to wear under it. That will probably be my next recon project.











Feedback and tips are most definately appreciated. Smiley
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"Burn down the disco,
Hang the blessed DJ,
Because the music that they constantly play,
says nothing to me about my life."
- The Smiths

http://www.wists.com/Maenad
MaxineBrandywine
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2008 09:55:07 PM »

Wow... excellent transformation...  I think you are doing a great job of just taking up seams where they are needed according to how it's fitting... I have a huge amount of patience but there's no way I have the patience to hand sew all that...

It's coming alone really well... I'd say it's lmost done, yes? You know what would go nicely with it? A cute shrug. If you don't have enough of the dress fabric left, maybe all black and the dress fabric for trim...

Good Job!
Rock On
Maxine
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2008 10:47:51 PM »

i have to say it... you couldnt look wide if you tried. it is completely flattering and well done. as a hand-sewer myself (not knowing the ways of a machine) i sympathise with your struggles and commend a job well done when i see it
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sandy810
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2008 11:45:07 PM »

how about a halter w/ a black tulle crinoline?
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audsnico
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2008 10:57:49 AM »

This is looking really good! Congratulations on your first recon! I love the ruching

For fit, you might see how it looks if you take the two front seams in a little bit around the waist. It looks like it fits pretty loose from under the bust, down. (But I like everything to fit pretty close...) I would also try it on with a belt and a crinoline if you've got one. I think that would give it a more 50s/rockabilly look. But I realize not everyone has crinolines sitting around. :/

Have you decided what to put up at the top? I think buttons along the ruching could be pretty cute.
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mcm
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2008 02:24:35 PM »

You're doing a really good job so far...

I'd like to second the sewing machine suggestion.  Just bop them over the head with it, tell everyone what you want for your birthday is a cash contribution toward a sewing machine (put someone in charge of collecting so you can get it all at once).  And then either get yourself a good used machine, or spring a couple hundreds for a Janome, you won't be disappointed. 

I've had both used and new, and there's nothing wrong with used except that it has to be a good machine to begin with.  A kenmore, or a shitty 80s singer, won't help you :-).  Janome by the way is a Chinese factory that manufactures 90% of the current market, including the high end (Elna, Pfaff, Husquevak..).  They're starting to put out under their own name machines much cheaper, but with all the features of the good ones.  I paid $150 for mine and I'm deliriously happy with it.  The main thing that's expensive in a sewing machine is a forest of embroidery options, and you won't need those for regular clothes sewing.
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