Over a relaxing, Hawaiian Thanksgiving break I stumbled across an amazing pattern. This little summer frock looked comfy and cool, but also completely out of my skill range as a dress making newbie. I bookmarked the source, and moved on with my life, and tried to forget that beautiful, jersey dress.
Until…I entered the thrift store a few weeks ago and found the 1980’s polyester copy-cat (possibly…if you squint your eyes really tight) of my inspiration. We shall call her…Fuschia.
I liken Fuschia to my high school choir robe. Shapeless, matronly…something out of Big Love, if you will. The first thing that caught my eye about this piece were the awesome skirt pleats that looked something like this. Gorgeous, perfectly spaced, neatly pressed pleats. It turns out that when you machine wash a piece of clothing that says “Dry Clean Only” in huge letters on the tag, those pretty little pleats wash right out.
A quick image search of Karin Stevens apparel yielded some pretty freaking fantastic results. Check out these vintage gems on Etsy!
And now, I present to you…the infamous shoulder pads. I’ve had one of these stuffed in my winter coat pocket for about a week after toting it to the fabric store to find matching thread. I feel a weird affinity for them now. They will not be thrown away! Though I have yet to think of a clever repurpose for them.
Since this is my first tutorial, I’ll be the first to admit I forgot to document several important steps. It might have something to do with the fact that I hastily ripped the arms of this little gem off in a fit of rage in the wee hours of a Monday morning. Seam ripping is the best therapy.
Since I was attempting to imitate my inspiration piece, the arms (and shoulder pads) obviously had to go. Then, the back had to become the front and the front had to become the back. This would require some neck tidying.
I added a 1/4″ topstitch to the fraying neckline to clean things up. Easy peasy.
Next, it was time to sew up those arm holes. Now this part is not pretty, and I welcome any insight you have about transforming a sleeved piece into a sleeveless piece. This is my second attempt at removing sleeves, and it seems the arm holes always look a little wonky afterwards.
To do this, I folded the arm holes in towards the inside of the fabric once about 1/4″ and then again over itself to create a nice inner seam. I carefully sewed around the edge with about a 1/8″ seam allowance.
The last step would require a fair bit of fabric to come off the bottom of this sucker. Karin and Steven designed this little lady to hit just about mid-shin. Flattering.
I cut about 2.5″ off the bottom with my rotary cutter. Then, I folded the fabric over 1.25″ and pressed, and folded over again and pinned. This time I sewed with about a 3/4″ seam allowance. Now, the dress falls above the knee.
After taking so much length off Fuschia, I had plenty of fabric to whip up a little belt. Because the elastic waist is completely stretched out, I needed something to suck it all in. To make the belt, I simply sewed the raw edge of the extra fabric towards the middle, keeping it in a loop. It’s a bit strange to tie, but it creates a neat little bow-type thing in the back. For me, it works.
I have to say, I don’t totally hate this look. Not quite the inspiration dress I was going for, but certainly wearable.
It was a sunny day in Boulder, imagine that. Hence, the eyes stay shut.