Thursday, January 31, 2013

#18: Silky Black Robe

Hello hello! I've got a new piece for you today. Drum roll please...

What's the new piece?


(my best version of a typed drum roll)


That's it. No, not the tank top, the black silky robe (probably gave it away in the post title). I found it on the dollar rack at a local thrift store a few months ago, and finally got to it in my big bag of projects waiting to be done. It had no sash, and the loops were cut off. That was just fine with me!

Before: Silky Black Robe

Before: From behind

It had thick lace around the sleeves and at the shoulders, and since I LOVE lace (remember my last lacy project?), I decided to add some more as I transformed this project.

I had an idea of what I wanted to turn this robe into, so I made my way on over to JoAnn's Fabric store with robe-in-hand to see if I could find some lace that matched the sleeves.

Rows and rows of fabric

Not only did I find some lace fabric that matched pretty well (slightly different than in the previous picture), they were having a 50% off buttons sale, so I snagged these:


I began by grabbing some black elastic from my box of sewing supplies and cutting 2 strips about 7 inches each.


I measured and pinned each strip of elastic to across the side seams on the inside of the robe at the waist with plenty of fabric in between. Then I sewed the ends of elastic down.

Elastic pinned at the ends

I stretched the elastic out by hand as far as it would go as I sewed along both long sides of the elastic.

Stretching the elastic

Once sewn on, the elastic contracted and looked like this on the outside:

Scrunched fabric

Next, I used a seam ripper to remove the thin lace trim from the robe.

Removing the lace trim

Next, I grabbed the lace fabric I bought and pinned it to the inside of the front of the robe, leaving a few inches of space down the front for the lace to show.

Floral Lace

Pinned to the front inside
I sewed the front panel of lace onto the robe, then I pinned and cut about a quarter of the way down the back from the collar.

Straight cut down the back

I opened the back up and tucked the cut sides in to create a "V". Then I pinned another panel of lace into the back V, overlapping it in the center, and sewed it to secure it on.

Pinned and ready to sew

I cut the lace I had folded over in the center of the V and sewed it down, as this would be the new panel for some buttons.

On the top layer, I sewed some button holes, and on the bottom I sewed on 4 of the plain buttons I got at JoAnn's.

Button holing

**Put a pin at the end of a button hole so you don't rip the thread!

Placing the buttons

The lace had an awesome wavy trim which I cut out and had planned to use as a high collar, but after sewing it on and removing it twice (it looked funny and was very scratchy on my neck), I scrapped the idea, so I'll skip that step. Instead, I just ended up folding in and sewing around the neck hole.

Next, I cut a bit of length from the bottom. Then I measured, pinned, and sewed a new hem around the bottom.

Hemming it up!

Once everything had been adjusted, I took the original thin lacy trim I had removed, and lined it facing outward around all of the edges and collar I had sewn, front and back. Then I sewed it on (great way to add some flare while covering awkward stitches!)

Re-pinned lace trim

To add a little more decoration, I took some of the shiny fabric I had cut from the bottom and sewed 2 strips from it.

Strip of fabric

With one of the strips I tucked one end into another, like a snake biting its tail. Then I took the second, flatter strip and tied it around the center of the looped first one. This made a simple, fluffy bow (Sorry. I forgot to take this picture. But you'll see it in the after photo). I hand-sewed the bow onto the front waist over the lace material.

Despite the elastic, I still had to take it in a little more on the sides and a little under the arms. 

Finally, I took the 3 special buttons I got and hand-sewed them directly onto the top lacy part on the front of the piece.


With all the details done, 2 days of scrupulous work, and paired with my lacy camisole, my new blouse is complete.

Whenever I see other blogs about clothing transformations, I always wish that they would put a before photo next to the after photo so I wouldn't have to scroll all the way back to the top to see the before photos. I'll try doing that from now on.

So remember how it looked before?

Before: Silky Black Robe

Before: From behind

And here's the after:

After: Silky Black Blouse

After: From behind

Up close detail with crazy lighting

I almost scrapped the project about half way through because it was giving me all kinds of problems, but instead I got a good night's sleep and had a renewed vision in the morning. Glad I persisted. I like how it turned out. It now looks like something I could actually wear during the daytime, not just as nightwear like the original robe. It might even look cooler with a different colored undershirt to show off the lace more.

Say Cheese!
I hope you liked this transformation! We'll see what I've got in store for the next go-around.

I'll leave you with some lyrics from the song I'm listening to right now:

"Well, it's alright to be little bitty
A little hometown or a big old city
Might as well share, might as well smile
Life goes on for a little bitty while."
~Little Bitty, Alan Jackson

Until next time, blessings.

Monday, January 28, 2013

#17: Blue Lace Dress

I....LOVE....LACE! I think lace is so elegant and beautiful, and we're seeing it pop up all over the recent Hollywood award shows. I don't own much lace, however, but that all changed when I found this beauty!

Before: Cringe-worthy!

Before: from behind

Something incongruent here? Yep. I love lace, but this thing felt terrible when I wore it! The under slip was all wonky and nothing sat in the right place. And the scattered purple beaded accents were a bit crazy. I felt kind of like some kind of cowgirl-bridesmaid-gone-wrong.


But I loved the way it swayed as I twirled and danced around, and I saw a lot of potential in it. 


Dancing around!

I didn't find this one on my own. I had shared my blog address with one of the employees at my favorite thrift store, and the next time I came in she was so excited about what I was doing that she gave me a big hug! Then she pulled this dress off the rack and said she thought it would be perfect for me to re-make. I left that day without buying it, but I kept thinking about it for the next few days, went back, and thankfully it was still there! :D

First thing I did was hand-wash the garment. Glad I did. It left the water looking like the deep blue sea. 

What's lurking in the waters LL?

After it air-dried, I snipped out both the shoulder pads and the under slip that were attached to the lace shell at the shoulders.

Pitiful Shoulder Pads

Then I ironed both the under slip and the lace dress separately. Be VERY careful ironing lace, as it can melt easily. I'd suggest either very low heat, laying another material over the lace while ironing, or take it to the dry cleaners.

Ironing the slip

I then tackled all the purple beads. How did someone decide how to place these? It's like they threw them down and stitched them where they landed! They were individually stitched into the front of the dress, and were SUPER tedious to remove. Uuuugh!

Beads, beads, beads, beads
Soooo many stitches :S

Courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half


I was glad once they were all off. I separated and stored them in a medicine holder I got from the dollar store to keep for later (they sell storage containers like this at much costlier prices at craft stores. Same thing for a buck! (As long as big weekday letters don't bother you!)).

Separated and stored
After I took off all of the beads, I began working on the slip. It was too square at the neck, and was ill-fitting, well, everywhere. So it needed some adjustment.

I used another slip I have as a template for changing the slip. First I cut and pinned the neck and arm holes for a thinner, scooped shape.

Pinned and ready to sew


I sewed the neckline in place, and adjusted the straps shorter.

Shortening the straps

Then I took it in at the sides of the slip to make it a little more fitted.

After that I moved on to the lace dress.

The sleeves were a bit big, so I pinned and sewed them to make them less loose.

Pinned sleeves

I also took it in along the sides to make it more fitted. This meant I cut off the lovely side-buttons. I saved those for later too.

Laced buttons

Next I took to the length. I measured down from the waist and cut off almost a foot of ruffles from the bottom.

Slicing off those ruffles

Can I mention here that I do not like the word "slice"? It makes me feel icky. I think it reminds me of when I was a kid and saw my uncle fall into a palm tree and slice his forearm open. Groooooosssssss!!! (After plenty of stitches he was ok).

Anyway, back to the blog. Even though the ruffles were gone, the dress still flared out at the bottom. I wanted a little less flare, so I turned the dress inside out and pinned all the way down the front, back, right, and left seams (creating bottom-heavy triangles), and sewed away some flare. It was still kind of strange, though, because the seams in the skirt were curved, not straight.

Sewing off the corners

Once I got the circumference of the skirt the size I wanted it, I hemmed both the under slip and the lace dress so the dress would be lightly longer than the slip. I flipped the lace dress around to wear backward, as I liked having a slightly higher neckline in the front.

The dress still didn't look quite right. I didn't like the dipped waist in the front. It kept the dress looking too costume-y. So I took the extra strip of ruffles I had cut off of the lace dress and lined it up vertically along the new front of the dress. I tucked the edge into the neckline, and pinned and sewed the the strip of ruffles straight down the center of the dress. I then cut off the excess strip of ruffles from the bottom.

Ruffles pinned down the center, laying to the side

The original length of the sleeves hit at an awkward part of my forearm, so I cut off 2 squares from the excess ruffles.

More ruffles

I pinned them around the outside of the sleeves, and sewed around the sleeve cuff.

Pinned sleeve cuff

Flipped the sleeves over, and I have new, extended sleeves with just a little flare to match the ruffles down the front of the dress.

Extended Sleeve

Lastly, I took 2 of the buttons I had saved and hand-sewed them onto the back of the dress at the small of the back.

Re-attaching buttons

Remember all those beads I removed from the front?

All. Those. Beads.

I found a thin necklace from the dollar store,

Inspiration-al necklace

took off the charm, strung some of the beads onto it, and  BAM! I have a new necklace.

Purple beaded necklace

Paired with my newly-transformed dress, my thin white heels, and my new haircut (second-ever professional cut of my life (just a trim and some layers. No biggie.)), my new look was complete.

After: Sophisticated Lace Dress

After: from behind

I've been super busy out of the house this week. I worked on this dress a little at a time over a week, and found myself exhausted with this dress until the very last steps when I felt revitalized. Perhaps I'll try to block out chunks of time to sew from now on so I feel like I actually make some progress.

I've still got a HUGE bag of clothes in my closet waiting to be re-made, and I'm excited to look through it and remember what I've picked up over the months! I've already got in mind what I'll make next.... ;)

By the way, thank you for all the encouragement I've been receiving lately about my blog! It means a lot to me :)

Until next time, blessings.