Strapless no more!

I don’t know if it’s because I hate being cold so much, or because I’ve been wanting to travel to Hawaii since I was 5. (I have a rather vivid memory of my parents going there and leaving me and my 3ish-year-old brother at my dad’s parents, and being woken up every night by sirens at the nearby fire station and having this bizzare, vivid nightmare of standing outside of my house with my other grandparents’ dog, watching it tilt on one corner and fill up with water. What can I say, I’ve always had bizzare, vivid dreams. But the point is I’ve wanted to go to Hawaii ever since.) But I have a definite weakness for tropical things. I kind of want to hug palm trees every time I see them, and I seem to be strangely drawn to fabrics with hibiscus flowers and other Hawaiian-style prints on them. So when I found this dress on a Goodwill run with one of my friends on Friday night, it was no exception.

It’s a lovely print of flowers and palm leaves, in red and green and just enough brown to keep it from looking too Christmassy. But there were two things wrong with it:

1. Though it fit really well overall, it was just a little bit too small at the top to be truly comfortable.

2. It was strapless. Which always makes me feel like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.

(On a random side note, do you ever feel really self-conscious about how you photograph for this sort of thing? I don’t know if it’s because I’m just that pale, or something weird about the way the natural light comes into my room, or what, but my legs look like they belong to someone else when compared with my arms! I’m like a Frankensew-and-so! Anyway, back to the dress.)

The bodice had a boned lining with an elasticized bottom (to substitute for a bra for ladies who can get away with that sort of thing, I suppose). And though the overall fabric is a stretch cotton, the lining was also fully underlined with a non-stretch layer. So I figured I had a shot at making this thing fit without too much trouble.

(The lining after I took it off of the dress, removed the elastic, separated the underlining, and ditched the boning.)

I was impressed with how many nice details were in this dress, actually. It’s originally from The Gap, which is a place I tend to not shop (mainly since I find it rather expensive and often too preppy for my taste.) But besides this couture-esque lining, it also had  a fully faced hem instead of a folded-up-and-stitched one. The finish was really clean, and I may have to use that at some point. It was actually partially what gave me the idea for how I could make this work with a very limited amount of fabric.

The top of the lining had a strip of interfacing on it.

So I added a seam allowance and cut it off. This became a similar facing for the top of the dress.

With what was left of the bodice lining, I cut strips, sewed them together on the bias, and made two straps. They ended up being a bit thicker than spaghetti straps–linguini straps, maybe?

Now I want pasta. I shouldn’t write when I’m hungry. (Sorry for all the tangents and apparent loopiness!)

And here’s the finished dress. I feel a lot more secure with the straps! And with just the facing to allow for a little extra stretch, the fit of the top is much, much better. I can breathe without it being painful now!

I probably would have delayed this recon a bit longer so I could get started on the pants project, but I wanted to get it done in time for the Around The World in 80 Dresses challenge, for which I believe the deadline is Saturday. So just in time! And since I’ve been scraping small bits of sewing time here and there, this was a nice project to work in so I could feel like I accomplished something this week.


2 thoughts on “Strapless no more!

  1. i LOVE this print. i fell asleep looking at it last night and dreamt it was mine, all mine. then i woke to your comments on solids & color pairings! umm, i think you've got a trip the light fantastic pairing going on right here. i love it.


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