I got a bunch of really gorgeous vintage dresses from one of Boyfriend’s relatives a few weeks ago and I was so excited about this one I dove right in and finished it in two days.
But let’s back up. This started out as a bit of a monstrosity. There were shoulder pads, shoulder flanges, no shaping darts anywhere, and awkwardly long sleeves. There was, however, the most gorgeous beading all over the back, as well as on the edges of the bottom and sleeves. Plus, it’s 100% silk and has the most luscious drape.
I knew immediately that I had to keep the beading all in on piece and not mess with it at all. I toyed with the idea of doing some kind of short shift dress, but all of the beading just seemed too heavy for that kind of design. Then I had one of those light bulb moments and realized that it would be much better balanced if I just turned it around and put the beading on the back.
Once I had a design idea, the first thing I had to do was a lot of careful seam-ripping. I unpicked the shoulder flanges and then undid the side seams up to about where I wanted to hack off the skirt. Then I did a lot of procrastinating before actually slicing off the skirt.
You guys, cutting into this thing was SO nerve-wracking. I chewed on my nails for a while and then just went for it. I decided I wanted a high-low thing going on at the hem so I measured and cut accordingly. The front is 3″ shorter than the back. Then I cut straight down the center back which would become the center front opening. I took the excess skirt fabric and cut long strips that would become the center front panels, and reshaped the front neckline to get a more kimono-esque shape. I also had to draft a back neck piece, which I sewed to the front panel strips, and unpick the facings, which I felt inordinately guilty doing since they were so beautifully sewn in.
After that was a ton of hand-stitching. I sewed one side of the front panels on by machine but pretty much everything else was done by hand, including re-attaching all the beading to the bottom hem. I’m debating also adding beading to the end of the sleeves but haven’t decided if that would be a nice balance or just be too much.
Either way I absolutely love how it turned out. It’s super swishy and fun to wear. Actually I didn’t realize until just now that I subconsciously picked my swishy Minnetonka boots to wear with it. Multi-swish! I’m literally slightly bummed that it stands out so much because I keep wanting to wear it every day. (I finished it a week ago and have worn it like three times already.)
(And yes, I should steam that back hem again. Wherps.)
Anddd I’ll leave you with a photo of me looking utterly ravishing in a backwards shoulder-padsy dress.