Well, besides all the outdoor stuff we’re trying to cram in while the weather is so gorgeously gorgeous, I’ve also got this new hobby that rears its head ferociously on occasion. Back in May I blogged about how I’ve started upcycling things I’d found at the Salvation Army, inspired by Marisa at New Dress a Day. After those first couple of projects, I found a few more things to work on. Which meant I lost a lot of sleep because sewing is an evening project, and once I start on something, I find it hard to stop until it’s done. Especially because all these projects were “oh-so-simple-it’ll-just-take-another-few-minutes-to-do-this”.
These new projects were all dresses —I am obssessed with dresses this summer! I discovered a couple of years ago that if you can’t find shorts that fit (and don’t ride up!) a nice skirt will do the job. So a dress is just an extension of that, right? Besides, you don’t have to find a top to go with the skirt.
I didn’t bother doing before pictures, so you only get the “and after” part of the story, I’m afraid. No one was around to do the before pictures and I was too impatient to just get started. But TRUST ME, they all needed help.
These “after” photos were done my friend Leslie Leong, who happens to be a professional photographer. (You can check out her books here!) She is so awesome — we laughed all the way through this photo shoot.
This green number was given to me to use as a maternity dress, and it’s wonderfully light and summery, very comfy to wear on a hot day. The elastic shirring was a bit old and tired and I found the spaghetti straps unflattering. I started by adding the daisy chain (which I picked up for $5) to disguise the frayed edge, then tightened up each side of the bodice. Finally, I added a wee bit of yellow ribbon to the straps to make them wider and add a hit of colour.
This skirt started out as a size 16 dress. I spotted it at Sally Ann and fell head-over-heels in loooove with the fabric. When I started working on it, I realized that the bodice wouldn’t work without a serious makeover beyond my skill level, so I changed plans and turned the thing into a skirt. Since the material is stretchy, it simply pulls on and off. I love simple! I made the belt by sewing some red satin ribbon to a length of woven strap material and adding a few embellishments. The belt loops were easy to make, since I still had the spaghetti straps left over from the dress.
This dress doesn’t look like much, but it’s one of my favourites because it slips on easily and is a lightweight denim which means it can put up with all sorts of abuse. It was a great find because all I had to do was shorten it and take it in a bit, which I did by cutting it straight up the back and then sewing it smaller. I added a couple of darts for minor shaping in the back and it was all done. It’s wrinkled because it had been sitting in the dryer, having just the previous day made a trip to the local water park with the girls. (I slipped in a puddle of clay and landed on my tushie!) The buttons on the side mean I can still get boob access when Halia demands it (which she does!) and can I just add that pockets are totally awesome?
This is another favourite. I bought it without even trying it on because I was so obssessed with the stripy fabric. You can’t tell from this far away, but the skirt is cut on the bias so that the stripes are diagonal, meeting in the middle. Whoever sewed this really paid attention to the details — all the stripes match up! Unfortunately, besides the very functional zipper down the back, there was an ugly, ugly white zipper down the middle of the bodice. When unzipped, it revealed an even uglier white mesh-like material. (It was trying so hard to be sexy and coming off way gross instead.) (Or maybe it was sexy in the 80’s?) There was a long strap included with the dress, meant to be used as a sash. I cut some of it off and — after removing the yucky mesh — I used the sash material to disguise the zipper. I took in the sides a bit, shortened the skirt, adjusted the straps, added a couple of darts to the front, and — whew! — was finally done. Besides being cute, the awesomest thing is that with that zipper in the chestal area, I’ve got a perfect nursing dress!
Here’s the last one. Before I fixed this one up, it was so wide on me that those sweet little ruffled sleeves looked like ridiculous cherub wings trying to take to the air. I cut the dress up the back and removed, I’m not kidding, a 12-inch-wide strip of fabric. I removed the ties that were sewn into the seam and used leftover fabric from the back to turn the ties into a longer sash, which I attached right below the bust (as you can see). The little bit of ruffle from the bottom of that extra swath of fabric became a wee pocket, perfect for holding a cell phone or keys. Finally, I remembered that I had a few daisies left over from the green dress above. I had exactly three — one to cover each of the black buttons at the neckline, and one to embellish the pocket.
I can’t resist adding one last picture Leslie took, one of Jade making mischief in the garden while I was changing outfits. I’ve been busy making cute things this summer, but she’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever made in my life.