80's Dress Makeover

If I had to answer the question "what do you do?" without answering with my job, there are a lot of things I could say. I like to read. I like to cook. I'm a blogger that you've never heard of who tells stories about food, thrifting, and things that happen when she's PMSing.....

Such as last weekend. I was in an awful mood where I couldn't stand to be around anyone. I've had a bag of thrifted clothes sitting in my closet for the past several years that I only kept because one day I would learn how to sew and make them into something new. Of course, that meant I actually had to learn how to sew first, which like all other projects I start, never made it beyond sewing two pieces of fabric together and getting bored.

So last weekend, I was feeling extremely moody and couldn't stand to be around anyone, so I retreated up to my Bren Room and decided that once and for all, I was going to teach myself how to sew. It's amazing how a few hormones can make you do that.

I blew some dust off the machine, pulled out the beginner's sewing book my mom got me for Christmas, and started practicing on a few scraps of fabric before diving into my first project: an 80's dress given to me by a friend's mother. The dress fit me around the waist like a glove, which was why I kept it around; I knew that if ever I learned my way around a sewing machine I could make it into something new. I wish I would have taken some better 'before' photos, but I slipped it on to snap a photo, if for nothing else, to remember the dress as it once was before I hacked it into a mess.

I had a clear idea in my mind of what I wanted to do, and the structure of this dress really made it easy. I planned to remove the sleeves and shoulder pads and shorten the hemline by a few inches. Easy enough, right?

So I went to town with the seam ripper and yanked out those shoulder pads.

I flipped the dress inside out and cut off the sleeves, leaving enough fabric to pin back and sew around the shoulders. I also took my handy dandy ruler and chalk pencil and measured several inches up from the bottom of the dress the whole way around of where I needed to cut so that the dress would come to a flattering above rather than below my kneecaps.

If I wouldn't have been so grumpy, I probably would have taken the time to do a full photo tutorial, but I ripped and cut and sewed my little heart out, realized I did it all in white thread and that it looked ridiculous, so I ripped it all back out, figured out how to change the thread on the machine, and did the whole damn thing again in matching dark blue.  I also broke and replaced the needle at some point too...because there is no better way to bash out your feelings than a furiously humming sewing machine on a dinky card table.

To make a long story short (or has this story already been too long?) by the end of the day I had myself a new dress that may or may not be a little see-through.

By no means is it perfect, but finally finishing a sewing project that I started is worth something, right? 


  1. Wow, good for you for tackling the project like a terrier. The dress turned it really cute! It's much less dated now. Now when I say to myself, I can't sew, I'll think of you and what you've done! :)

  2. Wow! Good for you teaching yourself how to sew - great determination :) Hormones are awesome in that sense, huh??

    Love the changes you made, it looks like an entirely new dress!

  3. i am so scared of my sewing machine...i think next pms run, i will have to pull it out! i love the end result!

  4. I have a few items of clothing that I wish I could kind of switch things around on but of course I don't know how! You did a great job.

  5. I'm impressed! I have a sewing machine that I got for Christmas a few years ago, but all I've attempted so far are pillows covers. I would love to sew clothing, but I've been too scared to start! Good for you for tackling it!

  6. that's a great idea! and those are great boots! hello from BEDM & will stop back by tomorrow =)

  7. I'm impressed. Very nice work. Also, I love making good things out of moody moods. When I was moody/angry as a kid I used to rearrange my room. Fun times. Something about moving heavy furniture was good for me.

  8. i also have a pile of need-to-alter items. ive made it through some, cant be bothered with others. good job, lady!

  9. Oooh, way to go! And as a beginner too? I'm doubly impressed!!! :)

  10. You did an awesome dress makeover!! Great look! xo

  11. Good job pal! I've totally been there- broken needles, wrong color thread use and all. We should do some sewing projects together sometime!


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