Thrifted Thursday: Sailor Skirt

A few weeks ago I hit the jackpot while thrifting. I found this super 80s (though I have no idea which decade it’s actually from) sailor dress that was in perfect condition and just screamed “take me home tonight!” So I did.

It's like I'm a life-size version of how my Mom dressed me at age 4.

It’s like I’m a life-size version of how my Mom dressed me at age 4.

I know what you’re thinking: “Jordan, why on earth would you even consider refashioning this dress? It’s like 11 shades of all things perfect!”

Well, friends – here’s my defense:

1. Long dresses are a short girl’s worst nightmare (is it possible for my legs to look shorter?! Oh yes, it is.)

2. My sister’s birthday was fast approaching and I had not even started on that bag I’d promised her (new designs are fun to dream up in your head, but extremely intimidating to actually start so I’d caved to the intimidation…for now). I knew I wanted to make her something special. She loves sailing so obviously she loves anything nautical and THIS was IT.

In addition, my sister had recently started a new job (being that myself, my sister and both our Hubs started new jobs this year, we’ve declared 2014 “The Year of the Slices” – which includes spouses 😉 ). She was transitioning from the classroom to take on the role of a “Reading Coach” at the same school where she’d been planting her roots for the last 5 years. Since she’d be out of the classroom and in meetings a lot more often she’d already started the hunt for more “grown-up” clothes. So I thought: “I can help with this!”

My definition of “grown-up” clothes is a little skewed. Rather than being defined by suits of any kind [I. will. not!] I believe in cardigans. Lots of cardigans! And this was about to be a “just-add-cardigan” outfit!

While trying on this beauty, I realized the back zipper stopped just above the skirt. Meaning: I could easily chop off the bottom and preserve the top without struggling around removing a zipper. Win!

One last chance to truly appreciate this beauty..from the poof sleeves to the square collar with bow embellishment, it's just too stellar.

One last chance to truly appreciate this beauty..from the poof sleeves to the square collar with bow embellishment, it’s just so stellar.

Like any thrifted outfit, I started by washing (because duh) and drying – a recommendation for all fabric you work with. Whether you are chopping cloth off the bolt or refashioning, always wash and dry so that you don’t end up with an outfit for a toddler after it’s first wash.

I used some washi tape to secure the sides of the dress to the door I’d hung it on. It’d probably be better to cut on a flat surface, but I like to bend the rules for my convenience.

Since I’d decided this would make a super easy (did I mention my sister’s birthday was fast approaching?!) elastic waist skirt that would be a perfect gift for my sister, I started by cutting the skirt off just below the gathered top/waist of the original dress.

taped edge

Snip snip!

This pretty much ends my photographed steps – I’m not so great at documenting my visual progress. However, I loosely followed a tutorial I found a while ago that worked for me – it’s this one from Extra Petite.

I adapted this tutorial a little: I omitted the pockets because my sister always complains they make her hips look too big. If you love pockets and have little hips like myself, include them – they’re fun! I also decreased the width a bit because the first skirt I made following the tutorial was a bit too full for me.

Once I had inserted the elastic waist band, I had my husband stretch the skirt to it’s full capacity. Then I went around it and vertically pinned a few places about 6 inches apart. I used those places to stitch vertical lines so that the skirt wouldn’t bunch unevenly at the waist. Bonus: you can’t see the stitches because of how they fall between the bunching.

pinned elastic

Here you can see the pins – they are a bit closer (maybe 3 inches) once the elastic is “un-stretched”

And – tada! – the final product of this simple skirt:

skirt

Makes for a pretty cute skirt, right?!

While it is cute on my door and all, it’s way cuter on my sister!

Excuse the wrinkles (though you probably didn't even notice because of all the cuteness!), I made her try it on as soon as she opened the present!

Excuse the wrinkles (though you probably didn’t even notice because of all the cuteness!), I made her try it on as soon as she opened the present!

Seriously! How cute are these two?!

Seriously! How cute are these two?!

TIP: I have several skirt tutorials pinned on my Seamstress Dreams Pinterest board where I collect all the clothing tutorials I’ll probably never try, but dream about conquering one day. I usually read several tutorials before starting a project like this and combine little pieces from each until I get what I want.

I hope you enjoyed this #ThriftedThursday post!

PS: I’m still working on finishing up the matching top. Keep an eye out for that one – coming soon!

{Catch up on all the Thrifted Thursday posts here.}

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Thrifted Thursday: Housedress Refashion

I’ve already confessed to you my love for the ReFashionista’s blog on July’s What I’m Lovin’ post so it should be no surprise that I’m attempting to put that inspiration into action!

Today I’m showcasing my first refashion which I’m excited to say was a total success!

I tried my best to take pictures of the steps, but I encourage you to browse through the ReFashionista’s blog for tips and inspiration! She’s been at this refashioning business far longer than I have and she’s much better at taking step-by-step pictures.

My favorite outfit from the ReFashionista so far has been the seersucker house dress she revamped a few weeks ago. As I admitted in July’s What I’m Lovin’ post, I’ve been in search of a house dress to do the same! If you’ve ever tried on a house dress (or a muu muu), you know exactly why. Comfort is THE reason these fabulous things were created. Fashion or figure flattery (is that a word? Spell Check thinks so. I’m running with it!) were not the intention here.

My mission to find the perfect house dress to refashion journey began as the thrift racks parted and out jumped this wonderfully wrinkled seersucker linen blend house dress right into my arms.

It barely covered my sneakers :)

It barely covered my sneakers 🙂

Yes, it was long. And wide. And super unflattering on someone of my height.

But the sleeves!!

Despite your assuming the square front pockets were my initial attraction, it was actually the fabulous sleeves!

Despite your assuming the square front pockets were my initial attraction, it was actually the fabulous sleeves!

These sleeves reminded me of the April Rhodes Date Night Dress pattern I’d bought and told myself I’d make this summer, but of course I let fear (and a lack of time..) drive me away from tackling that project (yet!).

In addition, these are the kind of sleeves that every Southern lady appreciates. They’re flouncy enough to let a little breeze in so you’re not a total puddle of sweat when venturing outdoors in this swamp-like heat.

This one made me so giddy to tackle! So, I decided to make it my first refashion. Ever!

I started by trying on the dress inside out (so I could make marks) and pulling it in on each side to get an estimate of about how much I would need to take it in.

Then I turned the dress back to it’s right side and gently started ripping off the square pockets from the front of the dress. I would’ve loved to keep them (because I love pockets of all sorts and kinds…even though I never use them), but upon trying it on I realized the pockets would get split down the middle and be useless anyway when I took it in.

housedress_seamripAfter successfully (and painstakingly slowly..) ripping the pockets off, I turned the dress inside out and tried it on again. This time I placed pins along the sides of the dress until the fit was roughly what I wanted.

I think this dress may have been handmade because there were no tags in it. That being said, I kept having trouble telling the front from the back so once I figured it out, I stitched in one of my old fabric resliced labels so I’d easily know the back of the dress now.

Plus, we can say this dress has officially been "resliced"!

Plus, we can say this dress has officially been “resliced”!

I then drew a few marks with my vanishing ink fabric marker (highly recommend getting one of these!) in the arm pit / bust area. This is an area that can make or break your dress so be sure to mark carefully (give yourself a little extra “wiggle room”). After the pins are placed, be very careful when taking the dress back off so your pins don’t fall off and you lose your measurements (you could make marks with your marker where the pins are just in case. If you do this, be sure to mark both sides of where the pin is placed).

The door to my craft room + one of those hangers with the swivel hook on top has become the best set up for alterations. If I had one of those fancy dress making mannequins that’d be a good substitute, but I’m workin’ with what I’ve got!

So, I hung up the dress & used washi tape (it’s just fancy painters tape, but I found some cute rolls for only $1 at JoAnn’s!) to secure the edges of the skirt to my surface (in this case: my door).

housedress_before 1

I taped this area so that I could cut the bottom of the dress easily while it was hanging. If you have room on the floor, you could get fancy and use a cutting board or even a table, but again – I’m workin’ with what I’ve got!

See this cute washi tape! I love that it won’t rip the paint off and it’s easy to rip off the roll. Great for crafting!

housedress_washi

 

Here you can see the pins along the outer edge of the dress (turned inside out). If you look close you can even see my purple marks.housedress_sleeve & pins

I cut quite a bit off the bottom of the dress. This material is great weight and very sturdy so I’m looking forward to using the scraps to make a purse.

housedress_scrap

 

From here, I basically straight stitched along my marks from the edge of the sleeve to the bottom of the dress (where the edge was still raw).

Before cutting the excess fabric, I tried on the dress one more time to make sure it fit. After confirming the new seams worked, I cut the excess fabric from each side of the dress.

To secure the bottom hem of the dress, I used fusible hem tape.

hem tape

Sew Caroline introduced me to this stuff in her Out And About Dress pattern. Basically, you just roll the tape out and stick it to the edge of your seam. Then remove the paper so that both sides of the tape are sticky. Flip the edge of the fabric so that the tape is sandwiched between your hem. Iron it in place so that it fuses to the fabric. If you’d like, you can leave it like this because the tape is supposed to be permanent. I don’t trust it, so I always top stitch over it to secure the edge. If your raw edges fray, you can use a tight zig zag stitch or serger if you’re fancy like that.

Here’s what my final product looks like!

housedress_after

I picked the dress up for only $3 & found the belt for 50 cent! Win, win.

And here – a side by side before and after!

housedress_before after

So what do you think?

This refashion was oh-so-easy and super fun! I’m definitely going to be doing more of these in my new Thrifted Thursday series (I’m using “series” loosely here since I may not have a new refashion every week, but when I do – I’ll post it on Thursdays!).

 

Thrifted Thursday: Getting Started

This is the first of [*hopefully*] many future posts that I’ll try to save for Thursdays. I can’t promise I’ll have enough for every Thursday, but wouldn’t that be fun?

Long ago I worked at a thrift store which ignited my passion for thrifting. I’ve never been afraid to dig through trash to find treasure because I have seen the reward! One time someone donated a brand new (tags still on it!) mustard yellow “The Lauren” Hobo wallet. At the time I didn’t know it was as valuable as it was I just knew I loved the yellow leather and all the pockets (I’ve always had a thing for functional bags) so I snagged it for myself. A friend googled it and informed of the value so of course my dog ate it a few weeks later.

I’m going to use these posts to tell you all about what I found while thrifting – be it really stellar furniture, weird knick knacks or vintage clothes! I hope they’ll inspire you stop by your local thrift store for an upcycling project.

Last Friday I dropped my dog off for a bath and shots (a double whammy – I did not get elected for Mom-of-the-year that day) and headed in the direction of the craft store to pick up a few pieces of hardware for a purse I am planning to make for my sister.

Welp. Next thing I know my car had skidded (literally.. it was a snap decision plus it was raining..) into the Goodwill parking lot. Brian Williams did a Nightly News report not so long ago about how little Goodwill was paying their disable employees (they found a loophole in the Fair Pay Act and decided to exploit it) so I’ve been on a Goodwill strike. I’m ashamed to admit that’s where I ended up for thrifting, but I’m trying to be honest here. At least the staff at this store were super friendly (thus, I’m justifying that I like supporting this store’s staff 😉 ).

First, I saw this amazing vintage love seat sized sofa:

Even with the ceiling fan cluttering my picture, you can tell this is a BEAUTY!

Even with the ceiling fan cluttering my picture, you can tell this is a BEAUTY!

The green crushed velvet literally made my heart skip a beat. {I admit that I petted it for a minute or two…} I so wish I had a good excuse to take that sucker home with me because it was only $55. Aside from the slightly droopy cushions, it was in perfect condition. It was even a sleeper sofa with a fold-out mattress inside.

I’m sinking into not-buying-guilt so let’s proceed on.

Last week my friend and former (if we don’t work together can he still be my current? Because he’s awesome) Work Hubs sent me an email titled “6 grandma trends you want to try TODAY” (he knows me SO well!). Enclosed was a link to a Refinery 29 post justifying my desire to become “old lady chic” as Markessce (Works Hubs) puts it.

My favorite quote from the list of Old Lady Style Tricks: “One important style lesson worth learning is old folks sacrifice their comfort for no one” – YES.

My closet is primarily made up of elastic waist skirts and loose dresses so I’m half way to living this fashion rule in my mid-twenties {and I don’t hate it.}

I was so inspired to embrace my inner old lady I almost went for it with this polyester stretchy workin’ girl outfit:

suit

Imagine this: shoulder pads & lace collar embellishment removed. Plus, my promise to never wear the top & bottom at the same time. Wouldn’t be so bad, huh?

The black and white floral print was a little busy, but the super soft light weight fabric, elastic waist of the skirt and sweet scalloped bottom of the blouse had the pair riding around in my buggy until I decided at last minute to leave them for the next lucky shopper.

I did take home 2 dresses that won’t require much (if any) refashioning.

The first is this mint polyester, stretchy dress with a slouchy bust line.

I think my tennis shoes really bring out the color. Don't you?

I think my tennis shoes really bring out the color. Don’t you?

I appreciate the fact that this dress came with a matching tie to add some jazz to the waist. (And I love bows.)

I’m trying to get behind the slouchy neckline, but it’s possible I may have to figure out how to change it because I’m still not totally feeling it.

One of the shoulders has 4 buttons and hoops that hold the dress closed. Only one of the buttons still maintained the original fabric cover so I picked up a pack of 4 plastic pearl colored buttons to replace them. A few of the hoops were a little loose so I’ve got a bit of repair work to do, but otherwise this dress is not in dire need of refashioning.

Second up is this adorable mint colored house dress!

mint house dress 1

Mint is fast becoming my favorite color (and all these years I thought it was pink…).

If it has a zipper down the back, is it really a house dress? That seems a bit fancy for something one lays around the house in. Doesn’t matter either way because I’m going to pretend it’s fancy enough to add a belt + a few snazzy accessories and wear to work. 😉

The sweet ruffled neckline and cinched shoulders are my favorite part! (Of course they are because there’s really not much else to this simple number)

Here's a close-up so you can appreciate the ruffled detail :)

Here’s a close-up so you can appreciate the ruffled detail 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, I already ruined the surprise of my first refashion.

BUT – next week I’m going to reveal the [almost] step-by-step on how I performed the surgery (err…I mean: refashion).

Plus – I’ve got another refashion coming down the pipe line that involves one dress and TWO totally revamped closet staples.

Hope you have a great weekend!