At the thrift store a few weeks ago, an unlikely piece caught my eye and spoke to me. Sometimes this happens to me: I see a piece of clothing that I would normally overlook, but it grabs my attention & won't let me ignore it.
This time it was an oversized navy linen button down blouse by Eileen Fisher:
This shirt is not my style and it didn't fit me. It made no sense to me why it wanted to come home with me, but I bought it on faith for $3.99. I did appreciate the beauty of the linen; the navy is a really rich shade in person, and the linen itself has a softness and drape that felt really good. I don't know if it's part of Eileen's collection using organic linen, but the quality of the fabric is beautiful.
The shirt sat in my studio for a few weeks untouched. I have been really busy with projects & I was getting work wrapped up in time to depart for SXSW in Austin, TX. I love Austin and I always look forward to the warm weather there, especially since it's been raining so much in the Bay Area where I live. I also love to make myself a new outfit before I go on a trip, but I really didn't have the time.
Again, the shirt insisted.
The Sunday before I left, I stole a few hours to myself, to create a dress out of the shirt. My goals were:
- make an easy, wearable, comfortable dress for warm weather
- make a dress I could wear a belt with (my sweetheart had just bought me a leather belt from an antique shop & I wanted to wear it)
I started without a plan. First I basted the side seams to narrow them. Then I cut off the sleeves. Then I attempted to add length, piece by piece. I would baste, try on, adjust, stitch, then move to the next design decision. It was a bit like jazz; I know the rules and techniques of sewing and fitting a garment, but I was improvising as I went along.
I ended up using almost all of the fabric from the original shirt. Here are my leftovers:
When I tried on the finished dress, I decided it needed some arrows. The last step was to hand paint gold arrows on the front and back.
I wore my finished dress in Austin and I loved it!
It's hard to see some of the details in these photos, but I sewed the cuffs from the sleeves onto the bottom hem of the dress. I sewed the front button placket shut with a criss-cross pattern. When I narrowed the side seams for the second time, I took the seam allowance that I cut off and sewed it onto the hems of the sleeves. A lot of the edges on the sleeve and hem are left raw.
This was such a fun project and it gave me the opportunity to do some of my favorite things: sew, transform, upcycle, create, paint & wear something one-of-a-kind!