Monday, 26 August 2013

Remaking a fifties / eighties rose print dress.

I've just had a couple of weeks off work to recharge my creative batteries.
I was hoping to have a lot of sleeps in, but my cat Lola decided to moonlight as a feline alarm clock.
Anyway, I managed to read lots of books on fashion history and design.
I've been wanting to attack my stash of vintage fabric and patterns (which has alarmingly grown to fill 4 or 5 boxes!) but I have a huge basket of mending which has been something of a mental block.
This peach and blue dress was made by me (from Butterick 3624) in 1986, but I hardly ever wore it because it had a puffy gathered skirt and an annoying floppy scarf-type collar which never sat correctly.
I'm not sure where the fifties / milkmaid revival theme came from, but it must have made sense to me at the time!
My weird mathematical mind thinks that it's a 30 year fashion revival cycle (1950s/1980s/2010s). 
When I made it, my antique sewing machine didn't do zigzag, and I was a lazy dressmaker, so the innards are a bit messy.
I seem to remember having to lose some of the fullness in the skirt and sleeves the first time I made it.
This time around I took off the skirt, converted the dirndl to four box pleats, lining them up with the princess seams, and re-attached it.
Then I took off the collar, re-shaped, re-interfaced, re-lined and re-attached it.
Finally it needed some extra oomph so I converted the old scarf collar ends to curved cuffs, re-interfaced them and sewed them on.
The whole project has taken several months of planning, because I like to mull these things over rather than dive right in!
It's still not perfect, but it's a lot better, and I've always loved the blue rose print on a soft cotton twill.
It's also nice to see that my sewing skills have improved over the years.
I'm not 100% sold on the peachy-pink, despite Curtise from Past Caring's fabulous blog post on the colour pink - maybe I'll dye it red or purple.
It follows on quite well from the green roses theme last week, n'est-ce pas?
Hopefully my sewing drought is now over.
Now for some orange roses:
A "Designed by Juliet" NZ-made 1960s chiffon maxi from Toff's which I will be shortening and turning the collar around so it's a V-neck.
And some red roses: 

Two cushion covers from the Salvation Army which I will be turning into a skirt.
Roses are beautiful, don't you think?


  1. Two fabulous frocks and those cushion covers are going to make a wonderful skirt - far too good for sitting on! x

  2. Love those rose prints. Especially the reconstructed peachy-blue one.

  3. Your remake of the 80s dress sounds great, and I would convert the 60s dress to a V neckline too, those high necks don't do much for me. Great prints on both frocks, and I love the cushion covers! Thanks for the mention. xxxx

  4. Ohh these are all gorgeous! Those cushion covers are dreamy and I even rather like the 80s dress. I think being busty, pale and having long flowing locks make me look soooo dumb in milkmaid-y styles but I still adore them on other people and try them on in vintage shops and laugh at myself in the mirror. Also, good call on remodelling the neckline on that super chiffon dress. Love the sheer sleeves.

  5. Oh so many lovely fabrics - I almost don't know where to start! The 1980s one is gorgeous and you are very patient and clever to reconstruct it. Nothing I made in the 1980s survived. The Juliet fashion dress is lovely too - I am always hesitant about adjusting necklines in case I mess it up. The cushion covers are a great find - can't wait to see the skirt.


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