Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Promise of Summer!

This dress is exactly what I needed now. No, not because I can actually wear it right away - for summer hasn't arrived yet where I live (Vienna). Indeed, it is so cold that I almost made a fire yesterday evening. But this dress has a promise, a hope, and even a special purpose for warmer weather. I will be wearing it for my next opening night - it will be on July 18th, a summer festival, and I shall be twirling in it like in the photo at the end of the post. Summer HAS to arrive until then!

I did not make this from scratch. My aunt gave it to me and it looked like this:

A beautiful white eyelet fabric, a dress meticulously sewn, a fit just perfect!
Yet, I couldn't have worn it like this.

It might not be that obvious in these pictures, but to wear it like that, you'd really have to be courageous and willing to attract a lot of attention. It had no lining at all, so it is basically see-through. I am wearing a skin-toned bra and little hot panties underneath. I would never have gone out on the street like this.

While I might not be known as very hesitant about cutting into vintage garments (see: Amadeus Coat, London Coat, 70's Coat, it was different in this case. The dress is just fabulous, mainly hand-sewn with absolute perfection, and I really didn't want to make permanent changes on it. And I didn't. Not a single one.
I underlined the dress and shortened the hem line.

Here is how I went about it:

I put it on my new dress form inside out. The new dress form is adjustable and "fits" me perfectly, so the dress also fit perfectly...
Here is a close up of one of the amazing things about this dress. The facing on the neck was cut so that all the eyelets overlap perfectly! The seam allowance is minimal, so the see-through effect is left intact almost entirely... the edges on the entire (!) dress are finished with microscopic hand-sewn whipstitches, creating a kind of miniature rolled edges...

I took a piece of muslin and drew lines on it, parallel to the grain line. I pinned it down the center front first, and then down along the grainline of the dress - in my case, the line I had marked on the muslin went directly through the center of the flower motive, making it super easy to see:

...this way, the first dart practically fell into place by itself! I just had to position it correctly and was done!
I continued the same way with the rest of the front bodice and used a pen to draw the shape on it:

I took it off the form, added seam allowances, sewed it together and checked the shape on the dress. By the way, I shouldn't have only sewn half the bodice, it is a bit risky. It's better to sew the whole thing, but I couldn't take the muslin double, or else I wouldn't have seen through it anymore. I was too lazy to re-cut the whole thing. I would have, if the fit would have been off terribly though... yes, sure I would! ;-)

The fit looked great (except for the length, which I added on) - the muslin has barely any give, while the eyelet fabric does, so a few little creases were unavoidable. I took it back to the cutting mat, added the extra length and was done! By the way, if you cut away the darts, they are super easy to transfer to the actual fashion fabric (on the fashion fabric of course, you leave them on!)...:

I did the same for the back bodice, even though I wasn't going to use it on this project. But this way I have a great pattern now for a perfectly fitting top or dress bodice...

By the way, we have to take a little tea break and marvel yet again at the craftsmanship on this dress. The zipper is hand-sewn, the facing again matched up perfectly, the symmetry dead-on! Look! What an inspiration!

Ok, on we go! I folded the seam allowance of the bodice towards the inside, so that the edge wouldn't show up through the eyelets:

Because I didn't like the look of that, I sewed a tape over the edge along the neck and the arm openings.
Then I hand-stitched that to the dress - but only to the facing, so that not a single stitch is showing up on the outside.

It was fun and didn't really take that long at all. My hand-stitching might even have improved a bit. Still not comparable to the rest of the dress...

This is the inside of the front bodice...

Along the side seams, I tucked and stitched the green lining under/to the eyelet fabrics' seam allowance. Sorry the picture isn't focused...

The skirt part of the green lining is just a rectangle which I pleated somewhat evenly along the waist (hip) line and hemmed at the desired length. Then I attached it - by hand - to the seam allowance only, again making sure no stitch showed up on the outside.

This is the inside of the dress. Not so pretty along the waist line, but I didn't want to add anymore bulk by finishing it with bias tape or such...

Last thing to be done was to fold under the eyelet fabric and attach it - yes, by hand - to the green lining. It won't win the beauty price on the inside, but it works very well and like I said, no permanent changes were made!

The back bodice was left un-lined.
I think it is sexy without being in-your-face...:

The fit of the dress is so perfect that I am not even in need of a bra...
The side looks cool:

I love to wear it with a pink belt:


Best to all of you!


  1. Gorgeous, both before and after! That is amazing how the eyelet matches up in the collar. The bubble bottom was a great idea to transform the bottom without cutting into it. :) Lisa

  2. I loved it before but I'm loving it even more with the after! The green tone adds some mystery to the dress and the bubble bottom adds a modern twist. Wish I had one :-)


  3. I keep looking at your dress and it's just so beautiful. Thank you for sharing on the Refashion Co-op. I have shared your link on the Eddies Room best dress refashion tutorials post. I hope that's OK?

    xx Eddie

    Come over to Eddie's Room on Facebook for some crafty ideas and conversation. :-)

  4. What a great job refashioning this! The original is amazing, but the green underlining is really a perfect addition.