This morning I refashioned an old dress from the summer wardrobe (the whole of which has now happily come out of hibernation). I have had it since 1995. I was a student then, and I remember I felt incredibly extravagant buying it. It was the fabric I liked — plain grey linen — and I wore it an awful lot that summer. At least, I think I did — unfortunately I can no longer find the photographic evidence. Nor do I have any evidence, in fact, of how this dress looked before I started messing around with it with scissors and sewing machine today — I forgot to take a before pic. Fool! (Ma, do you have any pics of me in this dress? I’m sure you remember it).

Anyway, there were a few problems with the dress, which is why I’ve not worn it for ten years or more: 1) the fit was large, and it hung sack-like on me 2) it had a wrap-around split front. This extended the whole length of the dress from the the empire-line waist to the ankles and had an unfortunate tendency to flap open in the breeze. As I recall, I had to wear a couple of safety pins in the front to prevent any unseemly knicker flashing. Finally 3) the linen creased like buggery. Not much I could do about the last of these, but I tried to sort out the first two to make it wearable again.

With my seam ripper I took the skirt off the bodice, sewed up the split from the wrap-around then re-attached the skirt to the bodice, sewing it flat across the back but taking in the resulting extra fabric on the front of the skirt by adding a few pleats. Then, in lieu of a waistband I sewed on a fabric cover with an attached internal cord to the front of the dress. This enables me to gather in the extra width of the dress thus:

As you know I like external pockets. So I added some pockets in the same fabric as the waistband, and trimmed them with the grey cord:

(note to self: you really do have weird bony thumbs)

The fabric is a fat quarter of Japanese cotton bought last winter at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. The cord was a gift in last year’s fabric-and-notion-filled birthday box (thanks, Ma).
So here are my sewn-on additions:

and heres how the whole dress looks now:

Theres a seam right up the centre from where I sewed up the open edges of the wrap-around, but its now hidden in the folds. Not a terribly exciting dress, perhaps, but it is comfy, fits better and, most importantly, no longer threatens to reveal my underwear.