saving a vintage dress

hi folks,

ok so is it saving a vintage dress or is it sacrilege? let me know what you think at the end.

I always get a pang of doubt, along with a large dollop of guilt when I take a pair of scissors to a vintage frock. Some precious item that has managed to survive over 50 years, what right do I have to do anything but admire?
Ok there are certain items that just need straight forward mending; replacing a broken zip, re-stitching a seam that has come apart.  All these things are fine, along with taking in and letting out when this doesn’t involve doing something that is un-do-able, like cutting up your fabric! This is where I start to wonder ‘should I? shouldn’t I?’

Ok so enough scene setting, at a vintage fair last summer I spotted this little beauty, and when I say little I mean it, a mere 24 waist.  Well at the end of the fair it was still there and with price of £15, I was tempted to go closer and take a proper look.  The guy manning the store said a couple of girls had tried it on, but no-one fitted into it. He had had it awhile and although stunningly embroidered and made of silk and velvet, no-one wanted it. I looked closer, the seam thread was rotting away, the frog fastening were falling apart, and there was some strange staining on the pink silk. But for £15, I decided the embroidery was worth it alone and I was going to think of it as compassion, not sacrilege and save the dress.

Had I been a little slimmer I might have thought about adding panels down the sides to increase the width, but with the state of the seams, it seemed that a complete new pink dress was in order and then getting the velvet panel back on the front. Simple eh…
After taking it apart, quite scary how easily the seams fell apart, I really wouldn’t have wanted to wear this out as it was, the first stage was to make up a muslin of a simple shift dress.  I wanted to keep the shoulder line, and old readers may remember my narrow shoulders, remember narrow shoulders not wide waist!! very important that. Anyhow this dress fitted me around my shoulder, so I copied that straight onto the muslin.

I found an old pattern I had of a similar shaped dress and added that to the muslin as well, cut out tried on and changed the darts a little to fit, but on the whole that stage was quite doable. 

 Next was the velvet panel, it had lovely scallop detailing top and bottom that I didn’t want to lose. 

The top was easy enough as already finished as part of the closures on the original dress, but the bottom needed to be sorted, originally it had a raw edge and the pink covered it with a neat finish.  This I couldn’t do as the new dress had the velvet on top not beneath the pink.  So I sewed a piece of black lining on to the velvet, right sides together, following the original scallop line.

Cut the excess off, clipped the curves etc and turned inside out

 The original fasteners were too badly worn to use again, so I made some more and I will let you know all about that in another blog as that is a session all on it’s own.

 But here is the finished frock, so what do you think? I’m glad I did it and when I wore it out I got loads of compliments so I’m pleased with that. Oh and don’t fret that silk has not gone to waste, but into the re-use box, where it will grace some future project.

 and of course it needs a hat.
Well till next time.
Happy christmas or non-demonial greetings if you prefer.
hugs Ally x

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