Refashioning Grandma's Dress

TST #11: Updating Grandma’s Dress

Somehow my sewing-for-fun plans haven’t progressed much the past few weeks. Time seems to go so fast in this last stretch (6 weeks to go!), and I’m trying to balance sewing with baby prep, working, and adulting like buying a new car and wrestling with French institutions over boring admin stuff. I now also spend some time ‘resting’ every day, something I had not factored in. I’m not used to low energy levels! Not surprisingly, time consuming sewing projects get pushed to the bottom because the other stuff just has to get done. Fortunately making something from scratch isn’t the only way to fill your wardrobe gaps: refashioning can save a lot of time! As was the case with this project: just an afternoon of alterations and I have a much needed summer dress.

This Thrift Store Treasure (TST) was picked up a few weeks ago when we were baby shopping. I didn’t try it on, I just I really liked the fabric and I figured the large size would give me enough room to work with. Plus it had the right ingredients for something that had been on my wishlist for a long time: a sleeveless shirtdress. The fabric is a soft viscose (I’m guessing, the label was cut out). It did have some yellow stains but they’re not really visible in this print. I’m guessing it belonged to a lady who lived in a home because of the sewed in name tag.

Refashioning Grandma's Dress
Refashioning Grandma's Dress

I started with chopping off the sleeves and reshaping the armholes. I took in the shoulders by 3 cm on each side and took in the side seam because the armholes were quite large. I finished them with bias tape, using this method to make them lie nice and flat. I like to go step by step when refashioning so I can better determine what needs to be done. Once the sleeves were off, the high neckline and the pocket flaps stood out as old-fashioned, so I unpicked those. The button came off and I sewed the top buttonhole shut.

Refashioning Grandma's Dress
Refashioning Grandma's Dress

The waist definitely needed some shaping, so I fabricated two straps out of the pocket flaps and sleeves and attached them at the front seams. I really like this detail of having the straps placed more to the front instead of at the side seams. I had to sew the placket shut to prevent gaping, but I didn’t need that opening anyway. The length is perfect, creating a slight high-low hem over the bump.

Refashioning Grandma's Dress
Refashioning Grandma's Dress

Refashioning doesn’t always save time but I couldn’t have sewn a dress like this in just an afternoon! Especially when there’s long button plackets and collars involved it’s definitely faster. You just have to be lucky to find something large enough to work with that has the right fabric and design details. This dress is definitely a winner, I’ve been wearing it lots already.

As far as sewing plans go, I’ve given myself a week off to get all the admin and baby prep out of the way. And to give myself some space to figure out what I can actually accomplish in these last few weeks instead of being frustrated by how slowly things get crossed off the to-do list. Self-employment is great that way – I just need to remember I’m in charge instead of just ploughing on.

How did you spend your maternity leave? Any tips?

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  1. The dress is lovely….such a great refashion. Couldn’t tell you were pregnant until your side pic…for my first I spent my maternity leave getting used to be a mom…there were quite a bit more quiet patches than I was expecting…so we walked and I rested. Enjoy…

    1. Thanks! It’s not visible from behind either, like a balloon stuck to my belly. I’m getting used to the quiet time already!

  2. You look wonderful and the dress is perfect for this time of year. I was pregnant during the summer (I had a November baby) and!

  3. A very nice job on the refashioning of that dress and I am sure you will be able to wear it post baby as well. What does one do on maternity leave? Get used to having a precious baby and living on little to no sleep! So take as much rest as possible and enjoy being with your baby

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