Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Sewing- Reclaimed clothing

I have been doing a lot of baby and toddler sewing recently- and it's been a lot of fun. Recently I came across something that really caught my attention- a woman in California who is making a new article of clothing every day. She uses dresses purchased from a thrift store for $1.00 and repurposes these finds. Her blog, New Dress a Day shows a daily before and after picture, as well as in-between pictures and commentary.

I've been hoarding interesting clothing items for a while, and I thought I would do something similar, focused on baby clothes. Not one a day, certainly- both of my granddaughters have more clothing that they could ever wear. And probably not $1.00- but close.

Without further ado- here's dress number 1. It was an odd floor-length gown, from the Better Days Animal League Thrift Store, and cost $1.50. Odd, because in order to make a dress for my 2 year old granddaughter, I didn't make it any smaller around. I just cut off length. Now, think about that. She's 2... This dress was floor length for an adult... Hmmmm.

So here is the before picture- this is a VERY slender dress made by stitching with elastic around the top. I loved the color and the paisleys.
Here in this extremely close shot, you can see that the elasticized portion is 9 inches long- well, you can see the 10 on the tape measure, and it's just below the elastic. You can also extrapolate that if I had taken a picture of the width of the dress, something I didn't do and should have- it would be about 9 inches as well- about 18 inches around, with relaxed elastic.

And the dress is just a hair short of 41 inches long.

OK, I'm an average height- 5'4", and a 41 inch dress would be a comfortable floor length for me in this strapless design. 18 inches around I am most definitely not. My granddaughter, who is a good sized girl at 35 inches tall, measures 24 inches around her little round tummy.

Who on earth could have worn this dress?

I'll never know the answer. The mysteries of life are what make it interesting.

I wanted to cut off some of the elastic area- 9 inches seemed too much for the little dress I had in mind. Because the lines of elastic stitching didn't match up well enough for me, I ripped the one seam to make a flat piece of fabric.

I cut the elastic stitched portion in half-ish- I left 5 inches attached to the skirt, and cut off a 4 inch piece, which was promptly cut into two 2 inch pieces. I made straps for the dress from one of the 2 inch pieces, and a headband with the other. I cut off 20 inches of skirt and saved it for other projects.

And here is the beautiful princess wearing her dress. She's not wearing the matching headband because I forgot to mail it to her. Bad Grandma.
The straps are a little long- one of the hazards of sewing for someone 700 miles away is that it is hard to fit things...

Some of those gorgeous paisleys were cut out and appliqued to a toddler-sized bib for the princess. Made from a hand-towel, these simply have a neck hole and an opening slit cut, the cut edges are bound with bias tape, and a piece of velcro attached to close.

I really like the idea of remaking thrift store clothes into other items. It feels, well, both thrifty and as though it sponsors stewardship of the earth. In addition, it's an interesting mental challenge, and the finished items have a unique appearance. My older son used to have me repurpose thrift store finds for him- I remember a bowling shirt to which we attached a faux zebra "fur" collar and placket. In fact, here's a picture:

Ah, those punk days.


  1. Maybe with all that elastic the dress would stretch out a LOT for a grownup? Surely so. I love the dress you made out of it.

  2. Thanks Beth- maybe Ellie needs some new clothes...

  3. So cute! Love the bib, the paisley looks almost like seashells. Hopefully Whozat is right about the dress stretching a lot for an adult - but still!!!

    Our grandmother (whose children were born during the depression) remade lots of things back in the day. I remember her turning old dresses into aprons, blouses, etc. She also saved all the buttons off old stuff to use again too. A very different mentality than we have today about things.

    Oh - maybe you could solve the strap length issues by making straps that tie.

  4. BTW, thanks for mentioning New Dress a Day. I now have a new blog in my favorites list. :)