Due to the positive response I had for last week's project (and thanks for the feedback, by the way!), I decided to feature another vintage renewal project this week - this time, also with a maxi dress but with a much different end result.
I purchased a long sleeved gray silk maxi from a vintage store that was going out of business a few months ago and while I loved the dress, it seemed to be past its prime.. its elastic waistband was stretched out, the silk was faded in spots, and the size and length overwhelmed me whenever I tried to wear it. Rather than shortening it and replacing the elastic waist, I decided to change its overall style by creating a drop hem effect at the bottom and replacing the oversized long sleeves with sleeveless, cutout shoulders.
If you have a long-sleeved maxi dress lying around, this is the project for you. All it takes is an afternoon and it's perfect for hot weather wear. The drop hem effect is best with lightweight and airy fabrics like silk, rayon, and some polyester blends.
First step - measure your arm holes and the desired distance from collar to bottom of arm hole. I modeled my cutout shoulders after a vintage silk blouse I recently fell in love with (seen in this outfit post) that had the same style. The length from collar to bust was roughly 8 or 9 inches, so I copied that on my dress.
Then, cut off the sleeves. The sleeves on my dress were rather wide and batwing-like, so it left a large hole. I sewed up to about an inch above the breast pockets, making a small armhole (too small for wear).
Then, time to cut the shoulders. Measure from your new armhole to the collar at the shoulder seam and cut a diagonal line between the two (I matched the measurement of the cutout silk top from above). Try it on as you go to see if the cuts are right and lay well on your body. Then, finish the seam by folding in 1/4 inch twice and sewing it in place.
Next step - the skirt. Cutting a drop tail hem (a hem that is longer in the back than in the front) isn't tough.. just lay your dress out on a flat surface, folded in half with the center front on the lefthand side and the center back on the right. Figure out the difference in lengths that you would like (a bigger difference from center front to center back means a more dramatic look), then cut at the center front and back at the desired lengths about 6-10 inches across. Then connect the two cuts in the middle by cutting diagonally between the two. My finished dress length in the center front was 36 inches and center back was 49 inches, making the difference between the two cuts about 13 inches.
Finish the hem, and the dress is done!
Overall, I'm happy with the way the dress turned out.. I can't wait to start layering it with pullover sweaters or cardigans. I really considered replacing the stretched-out waistband elastic but in the end, kept it because I liked the drop waist effect it had.. the waistband adds to its lightweight, loose fit. The dress might be the most comfortable thing I own now.
I'm always interested in feedback or questions about DIY projects like this one - let me know if I can help or if you have any suggestions! Comment here or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For my fellow USA friends, Happy Memorial weekend! We're driving to Kentucky to spend an afternoon at the lake - yay for miniature road trips to bodies of water on hot days.