As my awareness for the waste that is involved in fast fashion grows I have to ask myself, “Do I have too much waste?” Sure, I have made all of my clothing, but do I value it? Do I love it? Do I wear everything I have made? And if not, why?

I decided to do a massive overhaul. I took all of my clothes, put them in a pile and pulled out what I do not wear. These pieces were mostly not worn because the projects didn’t come out as planned, the fit was less than perfect or perhaps I just got a little grandiose with my design process. We all want to do what we love and if you are an artist chances are you have crates in the garage full of things that you’ve made.

After getting organized I had an entire crate of these dresses that I made but I wasn’t wearing. I started with pulling out the best things that I would wear if I had the time to fix first. Some were ill portioned and could be hemmed or let out to be loved again.

Today’s linen dress has been altered more than one time since it was originally made in 2017. It’s the third time it’s been changed. My first design was an oversized dress I thought would be super cute.

After posting my first oversized dress online I got a lot comments like, add darts, take it in and that dress looks like a drapery.

I decided to take the dress in a little and add darts. The dress was still large enough to pull over my head and needed no zipper.

Below is my dress after the second attempt and three years, still not being loved.

With no shame I put another post on facebook, this time asking friends if they were to make changes to this dress to make it more wearable what would they be? The number one thing people said was to change the neckline. A few wrote to make it into a romper. A few who knew fabric, textiles and design quickly zoned in on my major design flaw. The fabric is so thick and heavy that the dress wears me and it makes a lot of noise when I walk. A couple people said they loved it and to leave it the same. I get that too, it looks good in these pictures. Of the 27 suggestions some spoke clear to me. Bring the waist up, change and deepen the frilly neckline and to shorten the length but – keep those pockets!

What this meant was taking the entire dress apart. I started with removing the neckline and cutting it larger.

Since the dress was too big I was able to cut it all instead of ripping stitches apart. I started with the sides, above the waistline and then below the waistline.

I gave all of my pieces a loving press, laid them on the floor, studied them and proceeded to make the difficult design decisions. At this point I had enough material for separates, pants, a romper or the same dress with better fit.

The deciding factor was that I was at work with no patterns. Pants were marked off my list. Making the same dress with the correct fit and proportion would not only be easier but a great lesson in humility.

I folded the huge skirt pieces into fourths and cut smaller a-line pieces out of them leaving the pockets intact.

Once my pieces were cut I put them back on the floor to make sure I had the look I wanted.

After sewing my skirt seams, gathering and attaching the skirt back to the bodice I knew I would now need a zipper since the dress is more fitted. I sewed in a side zip since that is where my seam was.

Last I revisited that neckline. I cut and pressed double sided bias tape out of my quarter yard scrap left over from the hemline.

Wearing the dress the next day another studio owner and staff member asked about it. I was wearing it and they didn’t even notice! Now I can wear this dress and love it!

Here is my side by side.


Behind the scenes~

My first Teen Sewing Night is this Wednesday.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!


Tracy McElfresh
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