Without a doubt, my favorite type of sewing is refashion. I love the creative freedom that stems from taking something dowdy and outdated and turning it into something that someone would actually wear. I love the idea that I’m saving something from the landfill. I really love that most of the time your total materials cost comes to less than ten dollars.
So when I saw this two dollar dress while thrifting a few weeks ago, I knew it had potential. I loved the cross pattern on the bodice – it reminded me of Deer & Doe’s Centaurée dress, which has been on my wishlist for awhile now.
But it was a tent. A seriously unflattering tent. And clearly someone else thought so, too, because it still had the original tags.
So I started brainstorming and realized that while I have a lot of little black dresses in my closet, all of them tend to have fitted skirts. So rather go for a complete design overhaul, I thought a few simple adjustments would make for an easy skater dress.
Let’s take a look at what isn’t working here.
- The hem is way too long. When you’re 5’3″ like I am, long hems make you look even shorter.
- The waist was “defined” with a flimsy elastic band. There wasn’t any structure, so it made my hips look bigger.
- The bodice was just a little too big and would need to be taken in.
The first step was hemming the skirt. I took seven inches off and left about an inch and a half to finish for a turn under hem.
I don’t have a serger, and knits can be a little tricky on a sewing machine. The stitches bunched a bit, causing the dreaded wavy seams effect. In the past, I’ve used temporary stabilizers on knits, but it dulls the needle much faster. After some frantic googling and wondering if I was doomed to a distorted hem, I found this ingenious post from Katy and Laney about avoiding wavy stitches with knits.
Steaming solves most wavy stitch problems? Well, damn. I’ve been doing this pressing thing wrong.
My iron is a million years old, so I’ve always been a little afraid to use the steam function. With some trepidation, I heated it up and hoped that I wouldn’t start an electrical fire with a thirty-five-year-old iron. After about a half hour of steaming the hell out of the hem, the stitches began to lay flat, and I simultaneously felt smug about not needing a serger for perfect knits and also a little dumb for not realizing that steam loosened up stitches.
The bodice needed to be taken in about an inch and a half on both sides. Younger, lazier me would have just cut down the sides (I have so many ill-fitting “refashioned” tee shirts in my past) but I’m a grown up now, so I wanted the best fit possible. I ripped out the side seams and detached the bodice and skirt by about an inch and re-sewed the side seams. A hip ruler made the alterations of the skirt a breeze.
The original dress had an elastic waistband, but it was pretty flimsy. That went out, and I replaced it with a thicker elastic in a casing.
Here’s the final result: