I adore charity shops there seems no end of inspiration. It might just be my own obstacle, but am fearless to alter items bought secondhand that I would hesitate to alter new! Thrift store or charity shop seem to bring out my adventurous side- especially if there are only a few pounds at stake!
This dress caught my eye – I knew the style was not right for my body shape but the fabric thrilled me so much I bought it anyway. It is your standard maxi sundress – with a shirred top, you can find lots of dresses like these at the moment, even in charity shops.
As you can see this fabric is wild! Lots of different colours going on – including different coloured backgrounds. the great thing is that there is no directional design, it all seems to flow freely, which makes pattern cutting easy.
You can see from this picture why this dress style doesn’t work for me – the uni-boob is not a flattering look! My waist has completely disappeared and as this dress falls from my boobs, it has added excess inches around my whole body! As if I need any more inches adding! lol.
Look what happens when I lower the gathering down to the waistline, it already looks a lot more flattering. It is a very generous skirt, there is lots of fabric to play with – and definitely enough to make a top half! While the shirring is a great scale for bodice, it is a little too wide for my waistline- so I shall shorten it and remove the top edge.
My inspiration for this re-fashioning came from a vintage 1950’s pattern – the gypsy top element to this dress pattern is a delight! When I was growing up in the 1970’s gypsy skirts and tops were everywhere I loved swirling around in my circular skirt – an enduring link with hot summers and gypsy style remains with me today. I love the way the puffy sleeves give a bit of balance to the full skirt in this pattern it emphasises the hourglass shape. It is unashamedly girlie!
Given my love of gypsy tops, it won’t surprise you that I had this pattern in my stash! I wanted the bottom left style – intending just the top section to be used for this re-cycling dress. Somewhat less of a square neckline than the 1905’s pattern- but the sleeves would more likely cover dreaded bra straps! (Monster bra straps are a necessity for the larger bust!)
Take largest pattern piece and measure the overall length this will determine how much fabric you need to cut off the bottom of the skirt. As mine is a maxi skirt I had plenty of fabric to play with so I ended up with a circle of fabric that was just a little bit longer than my top pattern piece.
The key here, is not to un-pick any seams: as it will reduce your overall available material. I folded the fabric over with a seam running straight at a fold and then cut the bodice piece with the centre front at the ‘fold’.
My fabric was so wild that the original seams disappeared, even though one old seam ran across one of my sleeves at a corner edge, the material still remained intact. The pattern matching was easy, but I did make sure the pattern pieces went in the direction of the dress, e.g. the top of the pattern piece was at the top edge of the fabric.
The main feature of a gypsy top is the gathered edge that is either elasticated or gathered by using a cord. I had this delightful heart shaped lingerie elastic, so gently zig-zagged it on to bring the neckline in.
If you are using any of the patterns listed above, shorten the bodice and back to just below the waistline, then add the dress to the lower bodice edge. The shirred section is now the waistline.
It is just a case of then finishing your hem edge, we are so used to seeing overlocked edges I decided to finish mine in black.
I don’t think this dress is far from the original 1950’s pattern inspiration – more importantly it makes the most of my waist which is more flattering.
As an re-vamping overall I am very pleased with the results – so much so that I am going to scour the local shops for more!