Bad Dress Rescue

1-horzYou just don’t know where inspiration will hit you.  I was walking past Laura Ashley – a shop from which I’ve never bought anything – when in the window I saw a dress very much like the one I made a year ago, lying crushed at the bottom of the mend pile.

1 Velvet Laura Ashley DressThe Laura Ashley velvet dress (reduced to £84) is dark blue with beads on the front arranged like flowers.  A  band of sheer (not that it shows here) fabric at the hem, double-sided, is a great solution if the dress you make is a bit short, though you may need to hunt around for the perfect match.  When I unpicked the hem that I’d hand sewn quite messily, I found enough length not to bother with a sheer panel.  Instead, I did as suggested in the original Blue Velvet post and used a bias strip of organza to hem the dress which required only 1cm off the dress’ length (the strip is turned under and catch-stitched).

Organza bias strip hem

Organza bias strip hem

I took me a couple of hours to add the beads, and that’s including a bit of practice on some scraps.  But my bead placement is different from the inspiration.  I put the dress on and looking in the mirror decided where to place the flowers, avoiding, ahem, ‘areas of controversy.’

Another improvement came via Kate who suggested not to molly-coddle the velvet but to allow it to age – and go boho.  I washed the dress and thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’ tumble dried it.  This fluffed up the nap and as a side-effect, the blue colour has deepened, i.e. not being as flat, it’s not as silvery and reflective.  Having said that, it’s all quite subtle and this is a difficult fabric to photograph!

1 dark blue

1 bveBut the best decision was to ditch the collar.  Initially, I’d fixated on the idea of making a velvet dress with a lace collar and, having got what I wanted, couldn’t admit it wasn’t working.  I’m sure you know the feeling, be it with dresses or relationships!  It made me feel prissy.  And also a little bit like a Jacobean gentleman 😯  I  could always see the collar ‘in me peripherals’ and it was giving me bad vibes.

But the collar is saved and will look nice on a T-shirty blouse, some day.

1t guido

Dark blue Organza: from Unique Fabrics, Goldhawk Road (which is where the original velvet was from).  I only bought 0.25m, as you can guess from the seam in the bias strip!

Dark blue beads from Beadworks, Covent Garden.

1 cluster

12 thoughts on “Bad Dress Rescue

  1. This is what I would call a ‘Christmas dress’ – soft and cosy, yet glamorous enough to lift it out of the ordinary so you can wear it for Christmas lunch and feel comfortable but ‘dressed up’. That’s my take on it anyway. Good idea to ditch the collar. Who wants to feel prissy and Jacobean gentleman-like in a dress or in a relationship? 😉

  2. I think the collar is lovely, although I understand where you are coming from. I’ve made a couple of Peter Pan blouses and although they were pretty they did not feel like me at all.

    I like this refashion a lot. Do you know why? Because I’m always dissatisfied with the things I make and think they could be better. Or after the fact I think of something that I would have preferred. It’s a good reminder that the creative process is an evolving one and it’s nice to have the skills to go back and make tweaks. Nice job!

  3. I am a bit of a fan of aged velvet and you can see the difference in the two pictures. I am regretting not buying a very nice old velvet dress for a song, probably 30s as it was bias cut, because the fabric was falling apart a little bit. It’s very becoming little number and I love the beading, just enough seasonal bling.

  4. Nothing better than rescuing something that you wasn’t completely happy with. Before reading any comments, my thoughts were, what a lovely Christmas dress. Now I see that is the general consensus.

  5. Much better without the collar! Far more elegant. With the collar it looks a bit like a ten-year old’s best dress which is probably not the look you were going for.

    Thank you for your idea about washing the velvet. I have just bought 2m of black silk velvet (because making a new dress is what you do 4 days before Christmas) and will be slinging it into the machine tonight.

    • I’m scared now! Please test a little of the velvet, just in case 😯
      And though the idea of sewing a dress 4 days before Christmas is also scary, I often appreciate the sense of excitement (and a deadline) as it helps me concentrate. Good luck and enjoy!

  6. I thought I had the washed velvet top in the bag a couple of days ago, and then poor neck facing execution left me weeping. It’s sitting on the desk in front of me right now, as if typing this note is going to get that hand stitching done any faster (at least I’m done ripping all the bad work out).
    Blue velvet…well, it has a song. Of course it’s wonderful, and it’s wonderfuller on you.

    Don’t look at the movie, just listen to the song.
    Best holidays to you and them

  7. Thanks for the tip on making a dress longer Marianna. Dresses I like are always too short for my advanced years so I have now bought 2 bargain dresses in H&M and used this idea!!! That is about the limit to my dressmaking skills. Love the velvet dress both ways.

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