Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Garage Sale Refashion! (part one)

If you have ever, ever had any fear of buying something totally hideous at a garage sale, please allow this post to put your mind at ease.
This is quite possibly the ugliest dress ever made. Ok really, that probably isn't true. I can think of far, far worse fashion that came out of the 80's, but this is still pretty rough.
I was part of a garage sale to raise money for cancer research a few weekends ago and one of my co-workers brought this fantastic dress in as a contribution. It belonged to her mom in the 80's. Just so we're clear, in the 80's I was just starting school, so thankfully I missed most of the tragic fashion choices from that decade. It's really interesting- the music and movies were fantastic, but the clothing, hair + makeup totally stunk. The 90's weren't much better. Thankfully, things have improved.
Anyway- back to the dress. Bethany openly acknowledged the awfulness of this dress, so it's OK to mock it. In fact, she said she would shake the hand of the brave soul who bought it. Highly doubt she expected it to be me.
But I just kept going back to the stinking dress... here's the deal, when you're at a garage sale and wondering what you should buy for a refashion, consider these things...
a) condition: what condition is the clothing in? Will it need repairs? Are there stains?
b) fabric: is the material something that can be easily refashioned or is it hard to work with?
c) print: if there is a print, does it fit with the trends of today?
d) ability: do I have the skill to make this fit me? (if you're trying to alter it down a size, etc.)

I could answer favorably for all questions related to this dress. To be honest- in one long piece, the print was horrible. But once it was chunked out, it became cute. I've seen this pattern a lot this summer. The sweet floral prints have made a come back in skirts, so making a skirt from this just made sense. Want to see part one? Here we go.
(1) Measure it. I put the dress on and then marked with a pin the proper length. You could also put a skirt in the proper length over top and measure that way. Place the skirt + the dress hem to hem on the bottom edge. You want to leave the bottom hem intact so that you have less work to do, so cut off at the top, not the bottom.  Remember to leave an allowance for your elastic- so you'll want twice the width of the elastic + 1/2 inch (ex: 1 inch of elastic = 2.5 inches of extra at the top)
(2) Cut it. Cut the extra right off and set it aside for something else. Ps- you should probably iron your piece if it looks like mine before doing anything else. I ironed mine last. I always try to skip ironing, it never works.
(3) Pin it. Flip the skirt inside out and fold over the top edge based on the width of your elastic + 1/4 inch so that your elastic is easier to thread + pin. There should be another 1/4 inch left over on the other side of your pin. Iron the fold to make a nice crease. OPTIONAL: If you want a nice, professional casing, fold the top over 1/4 inch, pin and iron. Next, fold it over the appropriate width for your elastic, pin + iron again. Your raw edge should be tucked inside of your casing for the elastic.
(4) Stitch it. Stitch along your pin line with a straight stitch in a thread color which matches your fabric. Leave 1 inch open on the seam (both sides) to thread your elastic. 
(5) Thread it. Attach a safety pin to one side of your elastic and push it through your skirt. Next, I like to pin both sides of the elastic together while I push the material around and make the bunching even across the top. Lastly, overlap your elastic by 1/4 inch and pin together, then stitch the two ends together using a straight stitch. Don't forget to back stitch so that the bond is tight.
A note on elastic: Measure the area where you want the skirt to hit and then take away one inch to determine the length of your elastic. For example, if your waist is 25 inches around, you'd measure a piece of elastic that was 24 inches. 
(6) Finish it. Fold down the opening of your elastic casing and sew it shut using a straight stitch. Get the bunching exactly how you want it and then sew a straight seam on top of the side seams to keep the elastic in place. I usually only go 1 inch past the elastic. That's optional, if you don't mind the bunching moving around, you can skip it.
Done! I wish I had done this earlier in the season so that it could be worn all summer long. I really love it. If you're wondering why there are *so* many finished product pictures- I'm submitting this project for craft sites and want plenty of options :) I hope you're ready to bravely take on ugly dresses now. The job is easy and the pay off is totally worth it. 
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!


  1. You did a great job and look adorable!

  2. it's cute!!! I want to try and make one.thanks for sharing

  3. Oh my goodness.... my mother's dress never looked so good! Fan-freaking-tastic!!!


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