Upcycling an evening dress into an Edwardian ball gown.

Knowing that I sew, more than a few people have given me bags of old dresses and clothes for me to rip apart and reuse the material. I love it, you never know what sort of fabric you might score, it’s like Christmas! However, I’m getting a huge pile of dresses in my closet all of which are intended for ‘cutting up one day’. The truth is my pile is getting a little out of hand!

Anyway, one of the dresses I had back there was my size, in colors I like, so I tried it on for kicks. Urgh. It has an empire waist which personally I think is the most hideous fashion ever. Sorry, not sorry. It also had thin little spaghetti straps. Not really a flattering look for me as I have broad shoulders and strong arms. 

 But then, wait! The general shape and cut was right, it just needed a little work and tada! Edwardian ball gown!

Usually, I hate wearing something I haven’t made completely. It’s not that I’m snobby (well, that much) but when you sew, everyone expects that everything you wear comes from your own hand, and I hate disappointing them by saying that ‘I didn’t actually make this’. Also, why wear something someone else made when usually I have so many ideas to make my own?

But is it always practical? A frugal budget can leave little room to afford yards and yards of new fabric every time you need a new gown. No shame there, that’s just being responsible. Also, I’ve wanted an Edwardian gown for some time now… but when I’m I ever going to get a good chance to wear one? Unless I throw my own party, none.  So why not upcycle an old dress into a new one?

Or, in this case, a new dress into an old one!

 

The dress before alteration. The under skirt is a very pale, creamy gold.

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Adding sleeves, just pinned down here. Sorry about the wrinkles, the chiffon scrap have been bundled in a bag for a month or two.

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The sleeves drape down the back, making the very distinct v-shaped back that you saw at this time.

 

…And a sash. The sash is cream colored, I tried a black and gold sash but the gold on it was too gold an clashed with the skirt. I think the cream gives it a very authentic look!

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Then I added some applique at the bottom of the cream/gold skirt. Normally ball gowns were heavily beaded but my patience doesn’t run towards beading for hours on end, so the appliques are sequined designs cut out of a remnant and sewn on. Good enough for me.

 

And done!

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Yeah, still a mass of wrinkles!

In barely an hour, I added a complete, new historical dress to my wardrobe, how fantastic is that??

Historical accuracy: Well, the general shape is good, we won’t discuss the fabric, or zipper placement.

Cost: Dress -free, Sash-free, Chiffon for sleeves- 2 small folded squares from a MASSIVE length of chiffon I bought cheap earlier this year. Let’s say $1?  Other expenses sequined applique cut from remnant fabric from Joann’s, two black glass beads for the points of the sleeves. Both remnant fabric and beads were bought for other projects a while ago and I used barely any, so yes, I bought them, but it hardly counts. Let’s say $2?

Still need: Full length black gloves. Pick up from a Halloween store next month. I really need a period corset, the Edwardian shape is very distinctive. However, since I really have no place to wear this, the time and money it would take to make a proper Edwardian corset really isn’t practical, or high on my list of things to do. Eventually!

 

I have a lot more dresses, so consider this the first in my Upcycling series. This was definitely the easiest one, the rest should be a bit more tricky!