Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Lola's Remade Sundress

About a third of my stash consists of clothes destined to be remade in some way. The original version of this dress (pictured below) was made using some vintage Laura Ashley printed cotton and a vintage Simplicity sewing pattern. I made it 9 years ago, but truth be told, the fit wasn't very good. Why I didn't just toile up the front and back bodice pieces, I don't know.  

Because of the poor fit, it only got a couple of wears, so the fabric was still in excellent condition and prime for remaking. This summer, Lola was short on warm-weather clothes. She loves wearing dresses that have a fitted bodice and a full skirt, which I felt I could easily create from this similar-styled garment. I carefully unpicked the original dress, retaining the side seams and binding of the skirt section. 

To make a pattern for Lola's version I started off with the bodice pieces from a children's pattern from a recent edition of Burdastyle magazine. Lola likes the waistline of her clothes pretty low so I lengthened the pieces. I want it to last two summers, and therefore needs to survive at least one grow spurt. I did what I should have done for the original dress and made a toile of the bodice to assess the fit. This told me I needed to reduce it across the width, but otherwise it looked alright. 

Because the adult version's skirt was obviously going to be too long, I had a bit of fabric from the top of the skirt section to play with which became the straps. Unlike the original dress, I decided to line the bodice of this incarnation. I lined it using some red poly/cotton from my stash (that had been table clothes at Pat and my wedding!), inserting the straps into the seam at the neckline at the front. 

Next I attached the skirt. The original skirt was never very full, so I used the full width of what was available. The original dress had the zip inserted into the side seam but I wanted to position the it in the centre back this time round, which meant that the other, former, side seam ended up at the centre front. Thankfully my original pattern matching wasn't bad, and it's largely hidden amongst the gathers anyhow. 

With the skirt attached and zip inserted, it was time to sort out the other end of the straps. My first thoughts were to have the straps simply going over the shoulders. I got her to put the dress on, and after some playing around, I discovered that a cross back style was possible. I planned to stitch on some buttons at the back as a decorative feature, however, when I realised that it was going to be too tricky for her to get the dress on and off with the straps stitched in place, I added buttonholes and made the buttons functional. It adds some additional future-proofing too, as I can restitch the buttons a little further down on the straps in the future.


What often surprises me about adult's-to-kid's clothes refashions is how little fabric there is left over! I guess this is especially so now that my six-year-old is almost in eight year old-sized clothing! I'm thrilled that the lovely fabric got to have another life, and she definitely enjoys wearing it. If I say so myself, I think I nailed the fit of the bodice: it's fitted (as per her liking), but not too tight (as per my liking!). Remaking garments always throws up challenges that a regular sewing project that started with an adequate length of fabric wouldn't have. But working out how to roll with those, and coming out with a wearable garment that the recipient enjoys wearing is super satisfying. It also feels like a 'free' project!  

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