The ‘Duchess Green’ dress

The Facts

Fabric: Thrifted cotton knit dress, about £5, plus polyester chiffon, originally from Goldhawk Rd market for about £2/m

Pattern: None

Year: Contemporary

Notions: none

Time to complete: Maybe 5 or 6 hours altogether

First worn: May 2012

Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: About £9 (including dye)

I know it’s the Queen’s big day, and I did try to find a Queen-related project for this week, but as a brunette who favours low-maintenance hairstyling, I’m currently very much appreciating the Duchess of Cambridge’s contributions to the red carpet.  I think she played it pretty safe to start with, but now we’re seeing some amazing outfits.  My jaw dropped at this dress.

Source: fashionista.com via Amy on Pinterest

 

Fellow Sew-Weekliers, I truly was tempted to go all out and try to recreate this gorgeous Jenny Packham design.  The colour, the lace, those sleeves, the draping and pleating… it’s so wonderful.  But honestly, when would I ever wear it?  Just for starters, compare that car Kate’s getting out of with mine:

 

So I’ve had this cotton knit dress hanging around for ages – I spotted it in a charity shop and fell for the intricate detailing at the neckline.  I took it in at the princess seams, up at the hemline, lopped off the sleeves, and got a fairly good fit, but somehow it never got as far as my wardrobe.  What got the cogs whirring again was this picture showing Kate’s dress versus the runway version:

 

 

Green gown on the left? Meh.  Green gown on the right? AWESOME.

What I needed was a colour change!  I used Jade Dylon dye (no longer available, bought off eBay).  Thinking about it now, I should really have used bright blue, counting on the original green of the dress to tip it over to that great jade/teal colour.  As it turns out, I’ve ended up with a greener dress than intended, but I still think it’s rather lovely.

Even the beads took on a pleasing greeny hue:

 

The other detail I took from Kate’s dress was the chiffon… and serendipitously, I’ve had some chiffon in my stash for over a year that happens to be a perfect colour match!  I modified a little bias-cut cap design from a Simplicity pattern, and used bias binding to finish the underarm edges.

I felt totally comfortable in the stretchy cotton goodness of this dress all day, plus a little special and dressed up with the chiffon sleeves and beading.  I can see myself wearing this all summer long.  Which got me thinking – it would be amazing to have that royal access to whatever beautifully created designer dress took one’s fancy – but imagine losing out on wearing things you’d sewed yourself?  My finished garments are never perfect, sometimes a bit wonky, and often a deviation from what I’d planned in the first place… but I relish that creative process.  And I had a ball transforming this dress from a charity shop cast-off to something that fits my body, my lifestyle, and that happy little sewing centre in my head.

Have a great Jubilee week everyone!

Author

Amy

Amy has been sewing since she was a teenager, but 'got serious' about making her own clothes at the end of 2010. She is starting to learn about balancing sewing and blogging with the rest of her life.

18 Comments

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  1. Much better color! I like it.

  2. This is so pretty! The dye was a great idea, and it looks like the perfect summer dress. Love your inspiration and the final product!

  3. what great fun and the beads are pleasing indeed! thanks for sharing your inspiration! love it..

  4. Very cool. The inspiration dress is simply stunning! Good job making it into something you can wear on a regular basis.

  5. What a great color change. I have to give dyeing a try. I love how you refashioned the sleeves, a very nice touch.

  6. Very nice job! I do this kind of thing, find thrift store treasures and fix them up, though I am very leery of dying anything (bad results in the past). The beads on the dress are beautiful, I wonder what company made such a nice dress?

  7. That colour is amazing and I love the softness of those chiffon cape sleeves, makes the dress so much dressier and yet still everyday wearable. Love the comparison pics of the cars too, cracked me up :)

  8. Wow! Love that color. This is a great, simple refashion.

  9. Great refashion and fab car photo, brilliant

  10. The new color and the added sleeves make this dress into a truly fantastic piece – I absolutely love this shade on you, it’s so stunning! Great refashion!

  11. Changing the color was a great idea. The darker green looks fantastic. I really like the sleeves you added also. Well done!

  12. Wow what a difference a dye job makes. On a dress at least.

  13. Such a transformation, nicely done!

  14. Thanks everyone! Glad you agree on the colour change… I was a little apprehensive someone would say ‘but it was so nice BEFORE!’

    I have to admit, the dye consistency is a little iffy round the lower skirt, but I did dye it in a rather small saucepan, so not a surprise. I’m already thinking about what else I could boil up!

  15. Amy, what a great refashion! Love the new color and the little sleeves. Isn’t wonderful when a challenge makes something come alive and take on a new life?

  16. Wow Amy! I really like the color and the sleeves and beading really make it fun and feminine You’ve inspired me to look for something fun like this to refashion. My dye jobs never work out-any secrets?