The “Favorite Polka Dot” Dress
Fabric: Polka Dot Cotton
Time to Complete: 3 hrs
First Worn: May 2012
Wear Again: Yep, part of Me-Made-May :)
Total Price: $0
Growing up I never thought too much about clothes (until Jr. High and High School of course) so it never occurred to me to think even more about the clothing that other people wore. It’s only when I look back do I recall certain pieces of clothing that marks one of my loved ones. For my mom, I can honestly say that one of the most memorable outfits that she wore was her favorite polka dot dress.
Sadly, I couldn’t find many images of her in this dress, but she wore it to church on Sundays, to baby showers like in the image above, to weddings, etc.
So you can imagine how happy I was to receive this dress from her last year as she was cleaning out her closet. I’m totally surprised that it had stayed in her possession for so long, after many garage sales and prior spring cleanings of her closet. It really speaks to how much she must have loved this dress.
What was even more surprising was when I tried it on it kinda sorta fit me in the waist and hips… but the shoulders are another story.
Being a dress from the 80’s there was ample room in the chest/shoulder area; it would need an overhaul in order to be worn my myself. My mom had given me this dress along with another one, in hopes that I could pull it to pieces and make something better.
I’ve never refashioned clothing before…. I thought about making a skirt with it, but it’s such a sweet dress that I wanted to save as much of it as possible. Intent on saving the dress, I removed the sleeves, unpicked all of the neckline stitching (4 rows of various stitching) along with the serger threads. It took me longer to remove all of the stitching than it did for me to re-fit it!
I raised the shoulders by a fat one and 1/4 inches but the armscye was still too low for me to adequately attach the sleeves back onto for my body, I had to make it a sleeveless dress instead. To help moderate the additional fabric in the chest, I changed the front waistline darts to be princess seams which end at the middle of the armscye. I re-cut the front neckline for a classic look (instead of the 80’s v-neck) and lowered the back neckline by 2 inches to make it a bit more feminine. Being shorter than my mom, I had to raise the hem by 1.5 inches or so. And to try to keep to the original as much as possible, I reused the same white bias binding all around the neckline even though it had a tiny stain on it. (Perhaps it will come out in the next washing…)
Besides a love of sewing, my mother passed down her love of polka dots to me which I couldn’t be more thrilled about. To properly thank her, I’m officially giving a shout-out to my mother, Julie…. Happy pre-mother’s day mom, I love you lots & thanks for the dress!