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!
Fabric: Blue Polka Dot Silk, Gigi Young New York & White cotton muslin
Pattern: Self drafted waistband
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)!