Here is an example I recently found on Etsy.
That awful octopus is heat fused on there, so there is no going back.
And its not even a happy octopus - its frowning! It doesn't like it either!!
However, repairing vintage to make it wearable again, and in doing so maintaining the integrity and style of the original dress is just fine. For the above example, if there was a giant nasty stain or a hole where they stuck that octopus, I would have patched it, or covered it with SOMETHING SUITABLE AND MID CENTURY!!! Not a giant bloody turquoise octopus!!! Who on earth is going to wear that now!!!
*deep breath Beccie*
It makes me so mad!
Anyway, lets talk about the dress I adjusted on the weekend. This discussion will not involve octopuses (octopi???)
Recently I purchased a lovely dress from the facebook group for buying, selling, and swapping mid century clothing - Ooh La La. When it arrived I noticed that it was VERY yellow, had a few minor spot stains, and had a faint odour. I decided that it was nothing that a good soak wouldn't cure, and I was right! There is hardly any yellowing left and the spot stains have gone too!! But gee the water was a revolting colour, and stank to high heaven!!! I wish I'd taken some before photos... and had a way to record and play back the smell... Actually, no I don't.
I put it on and realised that although the bodice was the perfect length, the skirt was not. It was sooooo long - mid calf on me, the 'dowdy length'. Even with quite high heels it still didn't look right. Here is a before photo on my headless helper:
Isn't she gorgeous! You can see why I completely fell in love with her!
I don't have a before photo of the dress on me, because I didn't wish to be looking dowdy even if it was for illustrative purposes. So the photo above will have to do.
I loved the dress and wanted to keep it, so the skirt needed to be shorter. And since there is a border design, I couldn't hem it. Instead I would have to unpick the skirt from the waistband, make my adjustments and sew it all back together the same way to make it look original.
I was also going to be limited in the amount that I chopped off, due to the placement of the buttons. To keep the distance between the buttons the same, I decided to cut the skirt at the first button down from the waistband.
This would shorten the length of the skirt by 2 1/2 inches, from 30 inches to 27 1/2 inches. Whilst I would have liked to get it to 26 inches, I figured that would be good enough.
So I started very carefully unpicking the skirt from the waistband, and started thinking about the dress itself. I had decided from the shape of it (and I'm no clothing historian) that it was from the 1940s, and I had inspected the dress thoroughly and there was not a tag to be found. I assumed it was an expertly sewn home job, but when I unpicked the skirt and noticed the 1/2" seam allowance, I was convinced. This is because patterns printed in the 1940s were made with a 1/2" seam allowance!! Does anyone have any further opinions on this? Or have seen the pattern maybe???
I also enjoyed unpicking the parts of the waistband that went through the centre of a flower, because you could see just how much the print had faded over time.
The colours would have been so bright when she was new, but I still love her in all her faded glory.
Then came the moment of truth, when there was no going back. Cutting off the excess inches.
I drew a line so it would be straight-ish, and went at it bravely.
Then I gathered and pinned and sewed and ironed and top-sewed, and put it back on my headless helper.
It is definitely shorter!
All I had to do to finish it was sew two buttons (one I cut off by mistake - oops!) and a hook and eye back on and I was done. All in all a much easier project than I anticipated! It is one of those icky jobs, but it was perfect for a down-in-the-dumps Sunday afternoon pick-me-up.
And I wore it yesterday with pride!
Its still long, but you can imagine how much longer it would have looked before...
This project was such a success that I've realised there are a few other dresses that could benefit from the same treatment! However, I think they have zips in the side...which would make it much more difficult. On second thoughts, I think they'll just stay as they are.
Please feel free to have your say about upcycling in the comments section!