Some clothes are hard to part with. I feel that way about many of the handmade garments in my archive. This is especially true when the fabric is special. In that case, the garments are worth revisiting and restyling.
Identify a garment that needs an update.
To inspire me as I planned the Revamp your Wardrobe class for this week’s ASDP conference, I retrieved an ankle length dress from the back of the closet. The wide flanged padded shoulders and super long length felt so dated. It has been at least 10 years since I wore it last – to a funeral. But the wonderful printed silk panels had been scraps passed down to me by my friend Sarah Veblen. I have always loved them.
Determine the direction of the redesign.
The Carpe Diem tunic was my redesign inspiration. I loved the panel hem on the original dress and wondered how to raise it for a more contemporary length. The dress hung in the studio, calling my name for months until the week in March when we were leaving for the Atlanta Expo. I was teaching a class in Creative Hemlines and wanted a tease about an upcoming project. So, I cut the dress in half and took the hem section to present to the class. While that sounds imprudent, sometimes you just have to do something to get started and I did assess the length from the planned empire waist position to make sure there was enough length.
In July, before leaving for France, I visited with it again and made a plan that included ripping out the top’s side seams and flange pleats so it could lay flat on the cutting table. A project for evenings in front of baseball games.
This dress was a very early wearable art experiment. In assessing its successes, I was forced to confront its imperfections. In my mind, the element to modify was the butterscotch bias trim that framed the neckline, front panel and sleeve cuffs. The fabric is such a solid color, it speaks very loudly. While it pulled out the tan color from the Asian silk print and created a strong vertical, it did not elevate the composition.
Make time to get the work done.
Last weekend I finally got serious and did the work:
- Using my Front and Back gridded Pellon Carpe Diem Pattern pieces, I positioned the patterns on the deconstructed top. The Pellon patterns are soft enough to mold the pattern onto the partially deconstructed top, pin it in place, and cut away the extra around the edges.
- The sleeves were cut from the Dolman sleeve sections that remained and then constructed.
- My two darts were sewn in the front and the sleeves were inserted into the bodice.
- The lower skirt section was then aligned with the top for shaping. Fortunately, it’s circumference was full enough to remove the facings and buttonholes up the back. A center back seam was created and stitched closed.
- The skirt was attached with a continuous seam to the top.
- After a try on, a long dart was added to each side front for an improved shape and hang. This is where there would be a seam in a classic Carpe Diem dress.
- Red crocheted trim found in my stash was hand stitched over the butterscotch bias trim. While not perfect, it completed the redesign admirably.
I plan to wear it with black leggings and fun boots or shoes. Stay tuned for the debut on Social Media.
Try it yourself.
Now get inspired to redesign an old favorite. It’s sustainable and an easy way to energize your wardrobe and economically revamp your style. Just give each project some time to marinate in your brain and sketchbook. Then work on it when there is some extra time in your schedule for the best success.