Friday, August 16, 2013

From Rags to Bridesmaid Dress

This was a project that I didn't expect to take on this week, but I found a need I could fill for minimal money on Tuesday, so it was added to the top of my list.

I believe I have mentioned before a large bag of fabric I purchased from the thrift store for $4. So far, I have made a cooler for Patrick's lunches, a tablet carrying case, a onesie, and four no-sew fabric drawers out of the contents of this bag. Not bad for a bag of scraps, in my opinion. We can now add to that list a bridesmaid dress.

Inside this bag of fabric was a large assortment of random pieces of lavender crepe. I don't know what this fabric did in the past, but I think it may have offended someone. It was punished quite brutally by being cut into lots of odd-shaped, four-sided polygons. I can't imagine what the purpose of this was since none of it was cut nicely enough to have been table squares at a wedding or anything.

Putting aside all my ponderings on the history, however, I decided a long while back that this would be the perfect fabric to make a dress out of. None of the fabric pieces were large enough to just make any normal pattern for an adult, and unfortunately I had a boy, not a girl, so baby clothes were out (That is unfortunately for the fabric, not for me). Thus, I had to get creative.

Lots of sad, non-square scraps.
Early on in the process, I decided that a drop waist would be necessary to make the dress knee length, so the 20s became an early inspiration. Then, in doing research for the dress, I found out that apparently we are in a 20s revival thanks to The Great Gatsby.  I can't say I understand the fascination with that book. I admit it to be thought provoking, but once I was done with it, I never wanted to go through it again. None of the characters are likable--which I realize is kind of the point, but it makes it hard to enjoy reading it. Anyway, we were talking about a dress.

So, in any case, I came up with a plan for a handkerchief hem and a top made of lots of strips of fabric cut from my squares. Then, I had a terrible time trying to make up a pattern for myself without a dress form, decided that even if I could make a good dress form out of duck tape or something I would have nowhere for it to go, put the fabric in my couch turned craft chest, and got caught up in other projects.

Then I found out Patrick's sister Alysa needed a lavender dress for a wedding. This fabric had always screamed wedding to me (though part of that was probably the sheer quantity of random pieces), so I figured it would be perfect.

We altered the original plan because Alysa is not as flat chested as I am, so we adapted for her body shape. I must say, I really like the way this skirt turned out instead of the handkerchief hem I had originally planned.

Most of the dress is constructed by cutting 2 1/2 inch strips and sewing them together. The skirt is gored and I got smart at the end for the bodice front and the sleeves. I basically made a pintuck on the wrong side of the fabric and saved myself a lot of cutting. Since the bodice stripes run on the bias, it was probably really good I discovered that. It made it a lot easier to construct without stretching out the fabric as I sewed.

All in all, I think it worked out well and now I feel this fabric has been redeemed. I felt kind of bad for it before. There are several mistakes I didn't have time to fix and some things I would have done differently if I had more time or bigger pieces of fabric. Still, I am pleased with what I accomplished in a few days out of a pile of scraps with a nine month old trying to push the pedal to my sewing machine.

My favorite part of the dress is the textural stripe effect.

And that is well complimented by Alysa's impressive sandal tan. Can we all just admire it for a second?


  1. LOL I was going through the post amazed at the sewing and burst into laughter at the sandal tan. So funny. The dress turned out great though. :) I would LOVE for you to share this at "That's My Style" Link Party going on TODAY on my blog. I hope to see you there! :)

    Karla @

    1. Thanks, Karla! I think Alysa is pretty proud of her tan.

  2. Alysa: Aaaah! Graaaah! *waves fists in triumph over sandal tan*
    I thought she was upset. Nope.

    1. I thought she might like the attention to the tan.

  3. LOL - I love the dress and the tan line.

    1. Thanks, Celeste. It was fun to make (the dress not the tan line. I can't take credit for that fabulous tan).


Thanks for the comment! If you wish to contact me directly, you can email me at