Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Refashioned Maternity Dresses

EDIT: Not all the after pictures are up yet. They will be.

So I tried to refashion some dresses I bought at the thrift store into maternity dresses. The maternity dresses I have were getting quite worn out, and I reasoned that refashioning some already-made dresses should be easier than making a dress from scratch, right?


Anyway, they took wayyy longer than I wanted (I worked on them on and off for over a month) but I didn't want them to end up in my UFO bin(s), and so I struggled on.

Overall I am pleased with the results, although if I knew how much time it would take, I don't know if I would have done it in the first place.

Brown Dress: From the thrift store, a beautiful brown eyelet crossover dress, fully lined, with a skirt that flared a little at the ends. Came to just below the knee. I loved the fabric. I don't know why I like wearing brown so much....and the eyelet has a leaf theme.
Problems: It isn't a maternity dress. I needed to wear it with a camisole. I really don't like the look of the fake (non-closable) collar on me, or the look of wrap crossover dresses on me---they require a deep V, but I think the shallow V or the Y neck look a lot better on me. I used to try wrap crossover thinking that it would be easy to nurse in...but its not for me, I need to pin it akwardly in place and unpin it, etc. And if its a wrap I have to loosen the whole thing up (under a nursing public) which is kinda nerve wracking.

 [pictures coming soon]

Purple dress A warm purple high quality woven fabric, made into a crossover dress with a thick empire waist band, with a pleated skirt.
Problems: Again, crossover doesn't work for me, and the neck was too low to wear without a camisole. I loved the pleats in the skirt (although due to bone-headed mistakes while refashioning this, I ended up having to repleat the waist anyway)
AFTER (I didn't take Before Pictures, alas)
[pictures coming soon]

Teal Dress
This one, my MIL bought me years ago, I picked it new from Kohls, intentionally getting an XL to refashion it to my tastes. It's a beautiful soft teal knit with screen printed design on the skirt. (I think that's why I picked it. I love light-colored embellishment on darker fabric)
Sleeveless, though, which after burning the tops of my shoulders so badly that I couldn't shower for a week, I try to avoid. Anyway, I got this dress years ago. Now, I finally found a T-shirt at a thrift store whose color matched enough to supplement the fabric.
I discovered I am not good at fitting knits to a woman's shape. Thankfully, it turned out way better than I feared as I worked on it.
BEFORE: I look like an idiot in this picture, but that's kind of the point, right? Refashioning this dress not only looks better but added 20 points to my IQ! Or something....

Things I learned, the hard way....

  1. VERY FIRST STEP, cut off the sleeves, cut open the side seams, usually cut the underbust-to-skirt seam as well. Make it flat.  Don't try to "save seams" anywhere on the bodice. Cut away, make things flat, and trace your base patterns onto them. You will save time in the long run than pinching things just so and hoping it works. My creative solutions look bad.
  2.  Do "checking measurements" while working (before sewing it all up). Will the armhole measure at least 16" + Seam Alloweances? Does the center bust come up at least 6"? Does the underbust measure 31"? Does the bust have atleast 36"? This saves a lot of trying it on, refitting,etc. (If the Armholes are huge, but you still need the bust width and can't afford to cut new armholes, then armhole darts are your friend)
  3. ONLY EVER BUY XL OR maybe L sizes, that come AT LEAST to calf length. That way I KNOW I will have enough fabric not to desperately piece things and hope it looks alright. It's just so much more relaxing. Which the whole point of refashioning is, to save time (and $, of course...)
  4.  Only buy woven dresses to refashion (unless the bust already fits perfectly). Knit dresses + Fitting a woman = Pain for me. (Save the knits for the kids, that's just fun) 
  5. Always do a lapped zipper for front nursing access. ALWAYS. Do not try to sew in standard zipper style and "hope for the best", it will pull open and look bad. Yes, lapped zippers take more fabric, but piecing is your friend here. Just piece in the front, and extra seams still look better than a zipper popping out.

And here is a knit teal dress I refashioned from a woman's shirt, for Jenny. Little people are sooo much easier to sew knits for. I think I shall generally only sew knit dresses for little people from now on.

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