Pimp My Dress #1

I altered this dress for my birthday. I found it for $3 at an op-shop called the Good Samaritan. It is one of my favourites, as they have a $2 costume bin I dive into every time I am in the store. Costumes….more like every day casual wear! Also, the dress did not have a tag, and the woman asked “Is three dollars o.k….?” 

While it fitted well from the waist down, it was obviously sewn for someone with a smaller rib cage and breasts. I do not have any photos of me wearing the dress in this state, but imagine 10kg of potatoes in a 5kg bag. That is what I looked like in this dress.

So, then it was time to unpick the seams on either side of the back zipper, and attach two lace inserts. There was a little bit of lace left over from some other thing, so I measured two isosceles triangles and sewed them into the space where the seams were. It’s hard to see, but I added approximately 10cm to the bust by doing that. I hand-sew everything, and looking closely you can see a pattern of Xs along the lace and down to the start of the tulle of the skirt. I did that because I thought running stitch would be boring, and I didn’t have any thread in Insipid Pink.

Lace inserts and stitchery

So, then it was time to alter the bottom. Using lengths of tulle approximately 15cm wide by 1.5m long I made concertina folds 5cm long to add more volume to the bottom of the dress and sewed those firmly to the hemline.

From a distance

Front view

Back view

For the most part then I was done. I thought the uninterrupted pink material of the bodice was unflattering to my skin tone, so I sewed a length of lace around the top of the bodice, to break it up visually.

Finished dress modelled by the ever patient Puzzletits
Back view
Back detail
Lastly, there were a few rips in the pink tulle I needed to patch up. When you wear only secondhand stuff, mending is a permanent fixture of the landscape and finding a balance was hard with the tulle. How to mend the rips without destroying the delicacy of light pink mesh? Make it part of the detail of the skirt! I used a special swirly stitch* to make it look like everything I did was on purpose. Which it totally was.


So, there is my birthday dress. 100% secondhand and reused material, maybe…20 hours work altogether? Worth it.

*button stitch, or blanket stitch, if you want to be precise.

About kellymarietheartist

I am an artist who, up until recently, was living and exhibiting within Toowoomba and the greater Granite Belt district. I have since packed up and left Australia, and am currently living and working in England. My work engages the craft involved in handmaking within a contemporary art context. I am drawn to the physicality of repetitive textile processes, and this is transcribed though the tactile quality of my forms. In particular, processes such as crochet, sewing and rug making serve as a proxy for growth within my personal environment. Many of my works imitate situations in nature, and they form organically as I create each individual piece, each addition both a continuation and re-enforcement of its predecessors. I enjoy using recycled materials for many of my works. Using crochet and other textile techniques to do this is an important part of my work as it celebrates a tradition of craft that has historically been relegated to 'women's work', with all the negative connotations that entails.
This entry was posted in Crafternoons, Re-use, Textiles. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pimp My Dress #1

  1. Pingback: Staying in Dos Hermanas near Seville | kellymariemcewan

  2. Pingback: Staying in Dos Hermanas near Seville | kellymariemcewan

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