Monday, October 31, 2011

Renovated Thrift Shop Dress to 1920's Dress

A few months ago I got a few bags of clothes from the thrift store during their annual fill-a-bag-for-$1 day. I got this pink dress because it is 100% linen and at the time, I figured I'd cut it up to use for linings or something for medieval, 18th century or regency stuff. However, I never used it and it has been sitting on a shelf in my sewing room since then.

A few weeks ago I was wondering what the heck to do with it when I realized I had some pink cotton gauzey fabric that was a very similar color. The fabric had also been sitting unused on my shelf for quite some time. I then had the idea to combine the two to make a 1920's style dress.

I haven't had a chance to start work on my idea until this afternoon. But today I finally took scissors to the dress and began sewing it up.

To start with, I measured from my shoulder down to where I wanted the low waist to be. For early 20's, this is not extremely low. I decided to go with 19"-20" for my length, so I pinned a row of pins across the dress to mark the low waistline:

Then I measured a center panel 12" in width, from the waist of the dress down to the hem:

Then I cut out the sides following my pinned lines:

I then cut two rectangular panels of the gauze that measured the length of the dress from the waistline to the bottom hem. This was 33". I used a full width of my fabric which is about 40" wide, for each side.

I sewed the panels to the long edges of the dress, leaving the top (waist edge) free. I then pleated the top edge of the side skirt panels to match the waist of the dress:

To keep everything tidy, I basted the edges to a piece of hem lace:

And then covered the hem lace with a faux tab belt, stitched down to cover everything.

So far, I have only sewed down one side of the faux belt. The other side is just pinned. I also pinned up the hem to just above the ankle and tried it on the see how it is looking so far. I think this is going to work!

The dress is still obviously very rough. Since this was a generic "medium" size dress it does not fit my body very well. The neckline is too wide so I plan to bring it in a little bit by making a few tiny tucks that release just above the bust. I plan to add to the sleeves to bring them down to just above the elbow, and possibly add a V shaped faux insert at the neckline so the bodice doesn't look so plain. Or maybe a collar. :) I still don't know yet!

I'll keep you posted!



  1. It's looking good, Sarah! I love refashioning thrift store finds, and it's so much fun to look through another seamstress's eyes and see what she saw when looking at a particular item. Some ladies are so creative. I like the idea of the faux neckline insert. It sounds like it might work better than collar. But both would be nice.

  2. Oh, wow! That looks pretty. You could use the lace to do a geometric 'V' shape from the neckline to the waist to give an art deco feel to the lines.
    Your giving me lot of ideas for what I want to do with my dress. My smock/tunic dresses come up quite short so I'd have to look for a maxi dress to do the same....hmmm the sale rack at the shop calls me. lol!

  3. I love where you're going with that! I think for the neckline, do the release tucks like you suggested then a collar. It looks darling!

  4. I love the dress where can i find your completed version?

  5. I came back looking to find the completed dress, too...


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!