Spotted this cute polyester printed fabric in my local Boyes store and just had to have it! £3.25/metre. Looks destined to become a lovely fit-and-flare dress, and I’ve found the perfect 50’s pattern to use.
My new project is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Whilst rooting about in my parent’s house I found this dress, purchased by my Grandma in the 1970’s. Clearly she was prone to a bit of Dresstoration too, as she never wore this garment- simply proceeded to take it to pieces!
The question is… what should I do to it?!
At a Vintage Fair in March 2012, at Lincoln University’s Engine Shed, I picked up this lovely 50’s style dress. Unfortunately it had been altered badly, and the hem made much too short for a 50’s style dress. On inspection it had several more flaws…
The shoulders had been altered at some stage and had been stitched by hand with a bright green thread. At some point the dress also appears to have had a sleeve, as there was evidence of interfacing on the shoulders. Once this was unpicked, the dress fitted better at the waist, so I decided to add an extra panel to the shoulder to improve the fit.
Initially I had planned to create an underskirt in gold, however on comparison of fabrics, the soft mint colour selected was more sympathetic to the dress.
A new skirt was created by cutting 4 quarters of a circle from the fabric and cutting a hole for the waistband to create a perfect fit. The dress ad been half lined with a cream linen fabric at some stage, but evidence showed it was not part of the original dress (due to the way it was attached) so this was removed before adding the new underskirt.
Once the waist had dropped and the hem had been turned down, the dress was nearly knee length. To maintain this length a trim was added- stitched by hand (4 metres long!) to the original skirt, helping to integrate the new underskirt layer….
Some entirely new pieces were created for the dress. There were existing belt loops but no sign of an original sash. I created a new sash from the mint green fabric, cut on the bias for the best possible finish. A small piece of remaining trim from the hem was added, for decoration!
As a conservator, the principle of Dresstoration was to show some love to this beautiful vintage dress, but not detract from its history. As with all good restoration projects, all of my alterations are detectable and reversible, and recorded.