Big Refashion Project: Dress #1

It all began with me having some time on my hands. A dangerous thing, apparently.

While my husband and son were away on a school trip, one of the things I did was shop at my neighborhood thrift store. I was pretty excited to find not one, but three dresses that I liked and would fit me. Great haul!

However, when I got home and tried on the dresses, I was disappointed. They didn’t look nearly as good on me as they did on the hanger. I was despondent over having wasted the $20. But then I remembered that some whacky crafty types out there cut up thrifted clothing and make new stuff out of it. Ding ding ding! An idea had germinated.

I’ve been sewing since I was five years old, and have made countless garments from scratch, including my own wedding dress. However, refashioning old clothes was a “do not compute” for me until that moment. I started web surfing and found a whole culture of thrifty refashioners out there, including the Refashionista.

The Refashionista even blogged a new outfit every day for a whole year. Sure, some of them were kind of lame, like the day she tied a sweatshirt around her waist and called it a skirt, but it showed how easy it can be.

Now, unlike the Refashionista, I am not a size 2. If I tie a sweatshirt around my waist, I look like a Manatee having a really bad period. I can’t buy a mumu, take it in on the sides, tie a belt around it, and look fabulous.

My refashioning challenges include trying to make off-the-rack clothes flattering to my undertall, size 12 figure.

Now, taking the before pictures of myself was the occasion of a monumental body image self loathing battle that is best not described in detail.

Now, having deleted a long, detailed description of that battle, I present to you the “before” picture of dress #1. (With apologies for the bad cell phone self-photography.)



This is a size M Old Navy stretchy polyester/lycra-ish summer dress. I am, of course wearing it over my favorite gray yoga pants. It’s actually not bad, but I wasn’t crazy about how clingy it was. Even if I had the perfect figure for it, I’m not really the type to wear a bodacious, skin tight stretchy dress.

After some thought, I decided to cut the skirt off and make a top out of it.

This was an easy refashion. I didn’t even haul out my sewing machine. I cut it somewhat long, because I find that longer tops are more flattering to my short torso, and because I like the security of knowing that it’s not going to ride up and expose my tummy.

I hemmed the bottom, then added some subtle gathers on the side. This is an effect I like quite a lot, but rarely find in retail stores. The gathers provide yet more cover and camouflage for the tum tum.



Still with the gray yoga pants. (But a different pair! I have them for every day of the week.) Also, because the Refashionista often models her clothes at bars, art shows, concerts, and other social gatherings, I gave myself an elegant updo, as if I were headed out for a night on the town. How do you like it? (I do that a lot. Like all the time. Really. Art shows. Concerts. Karaoke. Yep.)

If you’re coming to Penguicon, you’ll probably see me in this tomorrow night. I’m quite taken with it.

Stay tuned for Dress #2. I have it all cut up and may finish it tonight. If I’m lucky.