SEWN/RESTYLED: Country Road Dress (2011 make)

You know the funny thing about time? Time changes people.

It’s been several years since I started sewing and I think I have changed a lot since the time I started creating with my Elna Sew Fun for the first time. My style has evolved and my skills have advanced (even if it’s just for a little bit).

Back in 2011, I shared my “vintage-inspired Country Road dress”. As I proudly wrote in my original blog post, it’s the 4th thing I had ever sewn. Ah those early years!

The original “Country Road” dress from 2011

Fast forward to 2018, many of the clothes I made during my first years of sewing have ended up being stored away in the dark corners of my wardrobe, neglected and forgotten. As I move towards trying to be more thoughtful and deliberate in the things that I make, I have also begun to think about all the things I have made and forgotten.

The original design made using New Look 6824

Obviously, I stopped wearing these items for a reason. For example, this dress that I made back in 2011 using New Look 6824 is no longer my current size, and no longer the length that I like going for these days. Also, I didn’t mention it in the original blog post, but I have always been unhappy with the way the neckline sits on my bust. The corners are kinda creased because I unknowingly clipped too much of the seam allowance away.

I had a little more than 0.25m of this green+purple gingham fabric stashed away for the longest time, and one day it dawned on me that I had to do something about this little piece of fabric and this forgotten piece of work. Moreover, I needed to sew a muslin for the bodice of my modified version of the Butterick 5209 (B5209) sewing pattern for my wedding dress. If I could: a) get a “new” casual day dress of out of this, b) revive my old dress, and c) use my fabric stash – WHY NOT.

So, here’s how I made my old dress into a new dress:

  1. Removed back centre zipper and unstitched bodice from skirt
  2. Lined bra pads with fabric from old bodice
  3. Make the sleeveless version of the B5209 with the remaining 0.25m of the original gingham fabric with the following modifications
    • sized down to my measurements
    • left the halter design open for addition of straps for a halter tie-back design
  4. Drafted the halter straps with a coordinating purple fabric and stitched them on
  5. Added the new B5209 bodice on the old New Look 6824 skirt (also resized the waist) with a side zipper and bra pads inserted – I had to make sure the bra pads were lined because the gingham cotton is kinda sheer
  6. Chopped off a portion of the bottom of the skirt and added a short width of the coordinating purple fabric to lengthen the skirt

New version of the dress: Front view

New version of the dress: Interior view

And that’s it! I thought I had more photos of the process taken but somehow I didn’t have them saved on my phone. I think everyone enjoyed the process photos in the last blog post so I will make sure I have the process photos taken for easier visualisation in the future!

I really think adding straps for a halter back-tie design is a great hack for the 1950’s style Retro Butterick 5209 pattern. You can also try adding a tapered pencil skirt or a quarter skirt like I did for this dress for several different looks!

Let me know what you think about this simple refashioned project. Also, how does everyone else cope with the handmade items that you have “grown out of” (either size-wise or style-wise)?

MAKE DO & MEND: 1970’s Inspired Pastel Bohemian

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

As I bravely declared in one of my Instagram posts, one of my goals for 2016 is to work on more sewing projects. This includes altering a garment so it works better for my body and my current style, as well as dressmaking projects.

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

This is an alteration project that I completed quickly in 2 nights earlier in January. Silly me, I got into the project so quickly I didn’t take a proper photo of it before the alteration. This 1970s pastel peasant dress is one of the vintage pieces that came with a vintage lot I bidded and won on eBay. It was too large for me and the original band around the top was losing its elasticity so I decided to unpick the stitches and reinsert new elastic bands.

The waist also came with a tiny and frail elastic thread that wasn’t really doing its job anymore, so I also took that out and put in a thicker elastic band around it. I am pretty proud of how neat the gathers around the waist turned out!

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Left: The altered dress on the mannequin
Right: Close-up of the gathers of the waist on the right side

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Left: Close-up of the bodice
Right: Close-up of the top band with elastic inserted on the inside

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Thick elastic band on the waistline on the wrong side of the garment. I’ve taken a bit of the sides in after sewing the elastic band… bad planning…

Unfortunately, I miscalculated the width of the waist and the dress turned out a little baggy even after inserting the elastic band. I fixed that by taking in the sides a little. No way am I going to unpick all 3 rows of stitches in the thick elastic band! I know that sounds awfully lazy, but I swear I do more unpicking with dressmaking projects when something goes wrong.

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

I know it looks better on the mannequin, probably because the mannequin has a bigger bust than I do…. Yes yes yes, on hindsight, I probably should have measured the width of my chest and width of the top of this dress, and altered the sides accordingly.

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Make Do Mend Vintage 1970s Pastel Peasant Dress

Experimenting with elastics in this project was fun and I am pretty happy with the way it looks on me right now. Pop on a large sunhat and coordinating accessories, and I am ready for a lazy Sunday afternoon in the park.

xx G


Wearing: Vintage 1970s babydoll peasant dress (eBay), white sunhat (Target Australia), white clip-ons (thrifted), white necklace (nondescript shop in Sydney), vintage white purse (thrifted), retro square sunnies (ASOS), vintage-inspired huaraches (ASOS) 

More Make Do and Mend projects on the blog right here