Garment upcycling classes are such a fabulous way to learn great sewing and alterations techniques. Some may also add that garment upcycling classes are the way forward in sewing and dressmaking, as well as fashion and the way we look at and value what’s in our wardrobe. I couldn’t agree more! There is nothing more exciting about picking up a garment you don’t quite like as it is, or that doesn’t fit you like it should and working some sewing magic to turn it into something you are so proud of and look forward to wearing again and again!
This is precisely how I felt about my once 70s turned 40s tea dress. I absolutely loved the fabric and had once loved its shape too, but my taste had changed as I grew older and this once cherished piece had been sitting in my wardrobe unworn and half-forgotten for the past 3 years…It was one of those frocks I just couldn’t bring myself to give away, despite having fallen out of love with its shape…I just knew that with my design and sewing skills I could restore it to new heights onto my favourite dresses’ list and so…after some, or rather MUCH procrastinating, I finally decided to turn it into one of the garment upcycling projects I would be forever proud of AND which would provide the springboard for adding garment upcycling classes to the studio’s teaching schedule!
All it took was a little determination and the help of my super cool vintage , industrial sewing machine, a tape measure, some tailor’s chalk, a pattern master and some fabric shears. With these tools, I managed to turn this cute polka dot number into a more flattering, waist hugging, 1940s tea dress, so…here is a sneak peak into the sewing and alterations processes I used to achieve the result!
I started off unpicking the collar and using some fashion tape and tailor’s chalk, I drew a v-neck shape making sure the centre front line was marked as a reference. Then I marked a 2cm seam allowance above the neckline’s marking.
I cut along the neckline’s marking starting by making a slit on the shoulder line and continuing all the way down both sides of the neckline before proceeding to unpick the button’s plackets.
I measured approximately 4cm from the edge of the original back neck opening and marked the new neckline making sure it met the front neckline at a nicely shaped angle. I then proceeded to pin the front of the bodice and stitched it using a 1cm seam allowance.
I cut along the new back neckline opening and folded the edge in by approximately 7mm sewing it close to the edge. I then pressed the new seam flat and folded it over again topstitching on the right side of the neckline.
I marked the new waistband’s shape at the front and back of the bodice, making the centre front aprroximately 4-5cm higher than the side front, and the centre back just 1cm higher than the sides. I cut out the top bodice and started marking dart lines putting one dart on each side of the front and back centre lines, while deciding on the distance I wanted them to be from the centre. In this case, creating darts was necessary to obtain a fitted waistline as the original dress did not have any bodice shaping. I then proceeded to sewing 1cm wide darts and pressed them towards the centre.
Once I had my waistband nicely shaped ,I proceeded to sew a gathering seam approximately 3-4mm from the bottom edge of the top section of the bodice and gathered it to fit the waistband. I then attached the upper bodice to the waistband sewing just above the gathering stitch line.
I marked my sleeve’s length (excluding the cuffs) with a straight line measuring from the the wrist line up to my chosen length. I cut off the lower section of the original sleeve and used this to cut out the cuffs adding an extra 2cm seam allowances. To create the cuffs I folded them in half lengthwise (with right sides together), pinned them and stitched them using a 1cm seam allowance.
I trimmed the cuffs’ seam allowance down to 5mm and pressed the seam. I then stitched a gathering seam about 5mm from the edge of the sleeve and gathered this to fit the cuffs’ measurement.
I pinned the cuffs onto the sleeves with right sides together and raw edges matching and stitched a 1cm seam allowance from the edge. I then pressed the seam allowance towards the cuffs, folded these over and pressed them while turning the raw edge of the folded cuffs in by about 5mm and…last, but not least I finished off with some beautiful hand sewing by slip stitching the folded edge of the cuffs onto the wrong sides of the sleeves!
So my lovelies what do you think?
I hope you have enjoyed this little sneak peek into what goes on in our garment upcycling classes!
Happy sewing everyone 🙂 x