Hot! An ‘Eleanor Special’ Coming Right Up!

Isn’t this dress just darling?!?!?  When I first saw it on Dear Golden’s etsy site I knew it was the dress I’d want to wear over and over again; to formal events, to work, to picnics, to bed…errrrr…shhh, you didn’t hear that!

When I got it in the mail I nearly squealed for all to hear, and then when I tried it on I did cry a bit, because it didn’t fit! I told myself not to worry; there were some darts and gussets that could be let out.  Still, being relatively new to sewing I waited to tackle that very very very intimidating task. I relegated this beauty my closet to await the day when I had the courage take on that mega challenge.

In the meantime I did my research.  The dress was from Gigi Young (New York), which was a sister label to Suzy Perette. Suzy Perette was a manufacturing company that made affordable Parisian styles in the 1950s.  And Gigi Young made those affordable Suzy Perettes even more affordable.  So I guess it’s like getting your Vera Wang at Target or something like that.


Wait, what’s that? You see a little rip in the dress?  No, that’s crazy!  Why would I  ever buy a…waaaaaaaaaaat!?!?  And there it is, the horizontal rip about 12 inches long. I wondered how the hell something like that could have happened. Before I could even put together a complete thought, this lil’ beauty came into the room purring and prancing about, meowing all the time.  This, my dear ladies, is Eleanor. She is a beauty of a cat, dainty as can be, but she also has a very ‘special’ mind for a cat. Her special mind leads her to do some very foolish things (see item above).  As much as I love her, I hated her just as much when I discovered the rip in my first big vintage purchase. So Gigi was relegated again, but this time to my dress form. I wasn’t going to give up her just yet.

So when this challenge came along, I didn’t even bat an eye, I knew that I wanted to make my WWII army issued pants into a pair of shorts or even a skirt if I could manage it. I bought them back when I had a bit of an addiction to ebay and WWII memorabilia.  It started with me wanting cool items for my classroom and then it spiraled out of control.  With a mini-intervention from friends and family I refocused my mind and became a more normal consumer. I haven’t gone back to ebay since. Anyways the pants were two items that still remained in my home, waiting to be put to good use.  As I began my refashioning, though, it became all to clear that the shorts would never work out; the wool was just too darn thick for both the hem and my thighs.

On to what became plan B…Gigi!  All along I had planned to fix this vintage beauty up so that I could wear it, it was just a matter of me mastering a few basic techniques and now that Eleanor had basically destroyed the dress, I didn’t really even care if I had those techniques mastered. I had free reign to experiment!

The Facts

Fabric: Blue Polka Dot Silk, Gigi Young New York & White cotton muslin
Pattern: Self drafted waistband
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Threads
Time to complete: 1 hour tops
First worn: Friday for spirit day!
Wear again?  There are many more wears in this skirt’s future!
Total price: How do I calculate this???  Maybe $1.00 worth of muslin and $10.00 worth of the vintage price??

So I cut the skirt right below the rip, maintaining the original hem and the side seams.  I then went to my big bolt of muslin and cut myself a basic straight waist band. I made some gathering stitches on the skirt and made them very loose since I had to make the fabric I had fit to the size of the waistband. When it came to the zipper, I didn’t want to bother, so I finished the waistband in the back by making a tuck and fold so that the bands ‘met’ where the back skirt seam did.  Flawless!  I guess the only awkward part is that the skirt has to go on over my head since there isn’t any stretch in the waistband.  I thought about cutting the darn thing on the bias only after I had sewed it on to the skirt, but in the end it’s a minor issue that won’t stop me from wearing the skirt.

I wore it to school on our spirt Friday.  Normally we’re supposed to wear some kind of blue & gold t-shirt and it’s a free day to wear jeans.  I opted out in order to sport the skirt; it was blue so I still had plenty of school spirit. Rah Rah!!!  Quite a few of my students really liked the skirt and seemed to like it even more when I told them I had refashioned it. Pretty cool. Since J and I work at the same school, I was able to get him to take a few pictures as well.  All in all, it was a pretty great Friday.  We ended it by performing in our annual students vs teacher improv battle (we totally won)!



Cheryl is a teacher, martial artist, crafter and sewer just trying to find balance in a busy world. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin she's now trying to fit into and explore the vast expanse that is Chicago, Illinois.


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  1. Awww your Eleanor looks like a distant cousin to my torty Luca Brasi, who this week has taken to pouncing on most of my shoes and back foot buffeting them into submission….I now have to make sure my closet doors are closed.

    Love that skirt and that you’ve managed to save a item that obviously has meant enough to you to be kept this long. Isn’t it a fab feeling beating an impossible :) I also adore your Bart Simpson inspired chalkboard photo! Oh and your shoes, your shoes are gorgeous!

    • Ohhh, you should post some pictures of Luca! Hopefully he’ll get over his latest shoe obsession :) I am feeling mights invisible, which may cause a problem for this weeks challenge! Would you believe, Tempest, that I’ve never actually seen the Simpsons!?!?

  2. Very cute, Cheryl. Those darn cats they can be so mischievous and maybe a little jealous? You managed a great save. I love the blue polka dot fabric and the skirt is very becoming on you. My hubby works at school with me too. You’ve given me some new photo ideas.

    • Haha, you might be right Barbara! Maybe I should start sewing kitty dresses out of vintage materials?!?! Definitely take advantage of the hubby’s digs, lots of grand ideas!!!!

  3. Oh boy, I would of cried to with a rip that size. Nice save and it looks very nice on you.

  4. Triumph! Gigi looks darling (and spirited). Funny how the fantasy outfits morph into wearable outfits, isn’t it?

  5. Naughty puddy tat! I feel sad for your vintage dress but happy you could salvage the skirt and I would imagine you would get more wear out of it. Also you have the top of the dress you could add a new skirt part too, 2 outfits from 1!

    • Thanks, sorbet! The top is killing me!! I have no idea what to do with the dang thing since it is too small for my bust! I might have to see if anyone else is willing to take on the challenge…

  6. Great remake! And its so cool that you researched the label.

    Eleanor is so gorgeous. She sounds like Felicity – my pastel calico. Felicity is remarkably naughty, but has been remarkably good about not damaging anything fabric or vintage yet. She does have a vendetta against expensive leather goods though. And I can’t refashion them as effectively as you did!

  7. nice save and very nice skirt. So now what to do with the top of the dress???

  8. I love the new skirt, and I love the photo of you with the chalkboard behind you! It’s just all together awesome.