taking something old... making something new.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

dress 1: the plan

I have my first project and it's one that I'm pretty excited about. It involves two found items that I'm in love with. The first is this gorgeous 100% silk pottery barn duvet cover I bought secondhand years ago. It is heavy and has a beautiful drape and sheen to it and I've always felt that it would make a better dress than it would duvet cover.

Every time I go to a thrift store, I have a short list of sections that I always go to first. I look for: wedding dresses, aprons (I collect vintage aprons), plates (love vintage plates), and slips. I love love love vintage slips and robes. I have been collecting them for some time. I have done a lot with them over the years. For a while, I took slips and tie-dyed them to make them into wearable dresses that I sold at the farmer's market. I also like to add rows of lace to the bottoms to make what I call "extender slips" so I can wear them with dresses that are a bit too short for me. (Yes, I've had my share of little old ladies at church gently inform me that my slip was showing...I just smiled and shocked them with, "Thank you, but it's supposed to show!") I also love to wear them to bed on nights when it is too hot for pajamas. And over the years I've been collecting the more sexy ones for my own trousseau that I'll finally get to use in a few months! Well anyway, I digress. I found this gorgeous yellow nightgown and thought about buying it to make into a cute little nightdress, but felt that the lace was too pretty to be reserved for nighttime. The lace is beautiful and the fabric is rayon that drapes quite nicely. I think it could be transformed beautifully into an elegant wedding dress.

From here, I draw up the design in my sketchbook. I want to use the lace as-is for the neckline. If you can tell from the pictures, the lace has a layer of yellow piping throughout it that is really quite pretty. I'm going to leave that in there, because I think it's really subtle and beautiful. I will then make the rest of the bodice and skirt out of the white satin. I will add a slightly belled sleeve to the dress that will end at the elbow. The skirt part will be high-waisted and cut on the bias so it just hangs off the hips. To top it off, I will use the yellow rayon to make a thick tie to go around the waist. I imagine this to be very reminiscent of the 30s or 40s.

Just a little sidenote on my plans for these dresses. I am looking to make gowns that are both non-traditional, unique, and modest. My sister got married this summer and we went dress shopping together and really struggled to find anything with sleeves. The dresses we did find with sleeves all looked pretty much the same. My goal is to make unique, classy, one of a kind dresses for those who are looking for anything other than strapless!

So once I have the drawing, I have to start at the basics. I've got to clean everything. I know a lot of people who hate shopping at thrift shops because they have a very distinct old-lady smell. Just so you know, I wash all the materials and garments when I buy them, no matter the material. A great solution for delicate materials is to soak them in oxy clean for several hours. I fill a bin in my bathtub with warm water and oxyclean and soak it for a few hours. Some items that seem a bit dingier I will rinse and resoak until it is clean and smell-free. Then I rinse and lay flat to dry. My next step..the fun part Get out the seam ripper and take the dress and duvet apart.


  1. Cyd, I love this dress idea! The yellow in the lace is going to be perfect :)

  2. That nightgown is GORGEOUS! Can't wait to see how this one turns out.