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.

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