Clothing can be powerful. It can be transformative and can be transformed itself into something new. Sometimes, clothing takes you on a journey, sometimes it follows you on a journey. Upcycling a dress is a great analogy for going through the process of divorce. There were some really, really great parts of the relationship I had with my husband that I really didn’t want to loose. Overall though, it just wasn’t working. Sorta like this vintage maxi dress I found at the thrift store.
Near the end of my marriage, I went thrifting with Lou. It was a hard thing to do. My heart just was not in it. Then, this vintage maxi dress, probably from around the late 60’s, maybe early 70’s appeared. Poor vintage maxi was so awfully dated but the fabric was, well, groovy! She spoke to me. Then Lou came up behind me and said “What is That?!?!”
I really wish I had a pre-cut photo. It was so, so groovy.
Next thing I knew, I was packing up my studio lock, stock and Singer and moving on to a new home, new life and the great unknown. (Kinda like the dress did!) A whole bunch of stuff followed and a whole lot more didn’t make the cut. After a couple of weeks in plastic bins, I began to miss sewing and started digging around. What do you think showed up? The groovy vintage maxi dress! This time, it didn’t just speak to me, it vibrated. There was music, I saw a vision (I was probably experiencing a flash back from my less than stellar youth, but that ‘s another story.) ANYHOOOO..
Let the upcycle begin!
I took to chopping. First, I measured the length of the dress to make sure that it would work as a dress AND a skirt. No matter what happens, life or fashion- you always have to make sure your ass-ets are covered.
Next on the block were the very dated ruffles all around the neckline. ( I really wish I had before photos. I’m sure when the dress was originally born, it was very a la mode!)
Then, the rest of my summer and fall was spent trying to get my past life cut all apart for court and divorce lawyers. I also got strep a couple of times and jury duty (yes, all at the same time!). Everything went on pause. Poor groovy orange maxi dress had to be put on hold once again.
Prepping for the spring line typically begins during the winter doldrums. Groovy vintage orange maxi dress appeared in the middle of a very high pile of clothing all pulled apart and cut up looking like it she’d had a very long nap. She’s been with me all along, and now it was time to finish her up!
Having the belt with the dress was such a stroke of luck!
Belts hardly ever stay with the original garment. If you look closely at the starting photo, you can see the original belt on the dress. Very matchy, matchy- ick! I decided that the new dress would need a little bit of color change around the waist, so the buttons got cut off and the fabric from the old belt was used to hold the new elastic waist for the skirt.Then, a new belt for the dress was made out of some purple fabric which was on hand that happened to match perfectly. Karma?
The new hem of the dress which was originally sewn on by moi, was just awful. Redo!
Then, the original ruffle which had been removed was restored along with some of the purple fabric in a much more modern fashion.
Next, I made a casing for the waist of the bottom portion of the dress which was to be the new skirt, so I measured the width of the (new) elastic I would be using, tucked under the raw edge the width of the elastic and about 1/4 of an inch and sewed it up.
Then, picking open one of the seams halfway, I secured one end of the elastic to the opening and attached another pin to the opposite end of the elastic in order to easily feed the elastic through the casing.
Once done, sew the two ends of the elastic together and whipstitch the casing shut. Case Closed! Need a visual? Click here.
At last! It took some time, patience, love and some crazy hallucinatory style visions to make it to this point, but it sure was worth it, don’t you think?
Like this lovely vintage maxi dress, my old life was cut in two. However, nearly everything can be upcycled and why not my life too? Clothing can have the power to change your life, so upcycle your wardrobe and upcycle your life. It’ll be an adventure and I sure do love those!
Take care y’all!
SarahBack to Blog