Dress Repairs!


Spring this year left me with a weird craving for florals. I think it might be because spring for me this year actually resembles my idea of spring. Spring in Washington State, much like the other seasons in Washington State, is really rainy and makes me crave woolly things. So, with florals in mind, I went adventuring off to the shops. I ended up in a bunch of charity shops and I found this sad hand made dress in a cute floral. It really wanted me to take it home and fix it.


The before picture is really bad because I took it late at night when I just wanted to get sewing. I didn’t even move my ugly curtains out of the frame like I usually do. I was also watching TV at the same time. I really couldn’t be bothered to make an effort. For some reason I find this amusing.

Anyways, the dress was ankle length. One sleeve was pretty much held on by safety pins. Most of the darts had burst in one place or another. And then there was that weird drawstring… That really baffled me. The casing for it was hand sewn on top of everything like it was an after thought. If it was just a quick temporary fix, that explained why the actual draw string was such a hideous mismatched color. So I removed the casing and I went to remove the draw string only to find that the burgundy strip of ugly had been machine sewn into the seam with the zipper. It wasn’t an after thought. It was a deliberate choice. That still has me baffled.


After removing the draw string and repairing the ripped bits, I realized that the dress was kind of big in the “waist”. Since it was a bit loose, I figured that I’d probably always wear it with a belt so I used the leftover bits from the drawstring casing to make belt loops at the side seams. A belt wouldn’t stay in place without them for the same reason that I put “waist” in quotation marks. It actually hits me in the middle of my rib cage. The bodice isn’t long enough to sit at my waist, but it isn’t short enough to be an Empire waist. It’s a little odd and a belt wouldn’t stay in place without some assistance.


The one thing I didn’t do but should have was replace the zipper. I checked it before I left town, but I didn’t look closely so I decided not to replace it. It’s a chunky metal zipper and I was okay with that initially. Unfortunately, when I went to try the dress on after my repairs, I discovered that it is actually a chunky metal separating zipper. It drives me crazy, but I’ve gotten pretty good at putting the dress on without unzipping it low enough for it to separate.


It wasn’t a repair, but I made the dress quite a bit shorter. I had meant for it to hit me just above the knee, but it ended up shorter than that. I got my flat mate to mark where above my knee was, but our flat has no full length mirrors so I couldn’t verify the mark’s accuracy. I added four inches for my hem and cut. When I tried the dress on, it looked like it was going to be a bit shorter than intended so I changed my hemming plans so I only used up 2 inches of fabric. I sewed the hem by hand which led to a lot of cursing, anger, and a beautiful hem. Despite my best attempts, it didn’t end up hitting me just above the knee, but it’s not unwearable.


While I was hemming, I found a patch of the skirt with pale yellow paint on it like someone had brushed up against a freshly painted textured wall. It’s not noticeable and I sort of love it. The dress is already stained so I don’t have to worry about being the first person to ruin it. Naturally, I dropped some slightly smooshed raspberries on the skirt the first time I wore it. I didn’t fuss about it because the dress was already stained. I realize that this is some bizarre logic. In case you’re wondering, the raspberry juices just washed away.






11 responses to “Dress Repairs!”

  1. From a sewing fail to sewing WIN!

  2. Love it! I think the dress length is just right for you. You have nice legs, so show ’em off! 🙂

  3. Much improved! It’s a beautiful dress now. The length is lovely, and the red belt is such a great choice.

  4. What an improvement – it went from sort of nightgowny to super cute and retro! I forgive a lot of stains/small holes on vintage clothing too. It’s just a sign they were loved.

  5. DARLING! Well done.

  6. The “before” dress looks very “sister wife”! Love the shortened belted version – so cute!

  7. You have the patience of a saint – great job! The dress, and you, look super-cute!

  8. I love that you added belt loops, and I quite like the belt you’ve paired with the dress as well. I wouldn’t have guessed that dress in such disrepair would have so much potential.

  9. I was browsing awesome dresses in Islington last week wishing how I could sew to either shorten them, add an ‘extra’ hem or turn them into skirts. ::jealous::

  10. Britta


  11. That is an amazing transformation. And it really suits you and looks amazing.

    But I am a little concerned by your flatmate’s measuring. Maybe she doesn’t know what a knee is? Maybe a diagram might help?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.