Friday, February 15, 2013

#22: Valentine Dress

Love is in the air! This Valentine's day has got me seeing red.......dresses, that is. I found this red dress while I was thrifting with my mom a few months ago. It has been sitting in my big bag of projects as I waited for an opportunity and inspiration to re-make it. I thought it would be perfect for Valentine's Day!


Before: From behind

The thigh-high slit had me feeling like Angelina Jolie at last year's Oscars!

Famous awkward leg pose

Not-famous awkward leg pose

Speaking of awards shows, the fashion at the Grammys this past Sunday gave me some inspiration for how to make this dress V-day ready. There was a lot of sheer paneling going on, some more risque than others.

Alicia Keys rockin' sheer

Kelly Clarkson's sheer acceptance speech

Faith Hill sporting sheer (with her clear braces like mine!)

Neyla Pekarek from The Lumineers sings sheer tunes

Rhianna (kind of) covered up in this sheer number

The fashion choices of the stars definitely gave me some great ideas. Let's see how this turns out!

First I made a stop at Joann's fabrics to look for some red sheer fabric. I bought some nice "tango red" chiffon for 60% off, along with some thin red ribbon with my 40% off coupon. Score!

Matching ribbon and chiffon

Once I found the right material, I started the transformation. I wasn't quite feeling the top of the dress, so I removed the zipper from the back, then I chopped off the shoulders halfway down the straps and set that piece aside.

Removing the zipper

Changing the shoulders

Next, I reshaped the bust into a sweetheart neckline by tucking the remaining strap material inside and sewing it in that shape. 

Sweetheart neckline

I then tucked and pinned the chiffon material into the front neckline. Then I sewed it down, tracing the neckline.

Pinned chiffon

Once I had the front sewn on, I folded and hemmed the side edges of the chiffon. Next, I measured my shoulder from front to back using a tape measure. I measured that same length of chiffon from the neckline where I had sewn it on and pinned it to the back of the dress. I sewed both sides, stopping in the middle, as I had to make sure not to sew over where the zipper would be. Then I cut off the excess chiffon inside the dress. 

Pinned to the back

Next I had to create a neck hole. I took the shoulder strap top piece I had cut off at the beginning, lined it up with the top of the folded-over chiffon, and cut out the same neckline.

Cutting a neck hole

I cut the chiffon straight down the center of the back, then grabbed the zipper and re-sewed it up the back of the dress ending at the collar. I was careful to fold and sew the chiffon to the edges of the zipper leaving it slightly exposed.

Welcome back zipper!

Pinned and ready to sew!

Next, I folded and pinned the side arm holes under to create about a 2-inch shoulder strap from the new neckline.

Folded and pinned arm holes

I took the red ribbon and carefully folded it around the edges of the the neck and arm holes and pinned it all the way around. Then I sewed it down and cut off the excess.

Folding and pinning the ribbon

Sewing ribbon around the arm holes

I added a hook eye at the top of the zipper to help close it, and sewed a button on top of the hook eye to make it look prettier. I also sewed a matching button at the center of the sweetheart neckline.

This hook eye may need its vision checked. Seems blurry ;)


Lather, rinse, repeat. I did almost all of the above twice. I sewed everything in place, and it just wasn't fitting right. The sweetheart neckline was to high/deep and it didn't look good, and I broke the original zipper. With only a few hours until V-day, I had to decide whether give up or start over. So I started over and worked late into the night and early the next morning to have it ready for the day. That explains the variation in some of the pictures. 

Next I moved onto the length. Sorry Angelina, but I needed to close this slit ASAP.

I ripped the seam from both sides of the slit, lined them up, and sewed them together.

Rip the Slit! (Sounds like a rock band's name)

Closing the slit

Once I had closed the slit, I lopped off a good 20 inches or so from the bottom of the dress and hemmed the bottom.

No longer long.

I cut that portion into 2 equal halves, hand-stitched a straight stitch through the raw edge side, and pulled it taut to scrunch it. Then I hemmed the sides and bottom of the fabric. 


I flipped the fabric upside down so that the scrunched side was pointing down. I then pinned the scrunched side to the side waist evenly between 2 seams on the front and back of the dress, and carefully sewed along the scrunched side. I did this on both sides of the dress.

Flipped upside down

Let gravity work and now I've got a long, split peplum. No, that's not an injury. As defines it, a peplum is "a short overskirt or ruffle attached at the waistline of a jacket, blouse, or dress."

I also sewed a bow by pushing a large strip of sewn material through a small loop of material. I hand-sewed it at the small of the back on only one side of the zipper so the zipper could still be used.

Easy Bow

With everything done just in time, I was ready to celebrate with my sweetheart <3

This is how it looked before:


And now after:

After: Valentine Dress

After: From behind

I painted my fingernails and toenails to match :)

With color-coordinated fingernails and toenails, I was ready for my date!

I spent my Valentine's Day evening pondering the wonders of the universe as I explored in amazement everything offered in and around Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles! The night time view was simply stunning and very romantic <3.

Griffith Observatory at night (NOT my photo).

I learned about orbit, moon phases, solar flares, planets, stars, the periodic table with real elements on display, and much, much more. To think of the huge leaps we've taken in only the past 2000 years. And to think that we're each significant, even in the massiveness and complexity of the universe. Blows my mind.

Solar flares


(Almost) looking through Galileo's telescope

Viewing Jupiter and its moons through the famous Zeiss teloscope

The *sheer* wonder of it all. By the time I got home, I was pooped and more glad than I've ever been IN MY LIFE to get my shoes off!


This was my first time sewing chiffon, and honestly, it was a hassle. The sewing machine tugged and scrunched it in all directions. Oh well. At least it turned out well. These are my adventures in learning to sew, after all. Next time I'll look up how to best sew with delicate and combination materials.

I hope you enjoyed spending Valentine's Day with someone you love. If not, I hope you spent it knowing that you are loveable and wonderful just as you are!

Until next time, blessings.

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