It’s the last Friday of August! Where has the summer gone?! I am always a couple steps behind when it comes to sewing for the appropriate season, so here we are again, with a garment perfect for summer. First things first, the Before & After!
I spotted this dress at the thrift store two weeks before I actually bought it. I passed on it the first time around because I didn’t see the potential. After I passed it by, I started seeing denim dresses everywhere and I really wanted one! Once I saw it on the rack again, I picked it up even though I didn’t have a pattern in mind.
It sat in my pile for a few weeks while deciding what to do with it. Because it was much larger than my actual size, I had a lot of material to work with and didn’t want to waste it on the wrong pattern. This piece could be something cute, but in order to stay in my wardrobe, it had to be wearable.
I started my research on denim dresses and noticed that the 2018 summer silhouettes showed a lot of dresses with the front button placket. For refashioning this dress in a similar style, my first thought was the Fiona Sundress by Closet Case Patterns. With the two different length options and different back options, this allowed a lot of design freedom to fit in with what I could make with my current dress.
I shared my thoughts on this dress on Instagram, and another seamstress suggested the Jessica Dress rather than the Fiona Sundress. I wasn’t familiar with the Jessica Dress, but after looking it up – it was a no brainer. It was so perfect for this dress.
The Jessica Dress is a FREE dress pattern from Mimi G. If you aren’t familiar with Mimi G, she is basically the queen of the sewing community. She has a pattern line with Simplicity, an online sewing academy, a HUGE online following, a digital sewing magazine and she just recently started a podcast! Man, I don’t know how she does it all, but I am totally in awe! I’ve loved Mimi G for some time, and her style is fantastic (and if you have a creative business, or want to start one, her podcast is AMAZING!). I remember liking this dress when it first came out, but I didn’t take note of the pattern because I don’t normally wear dresses. But as soon as I saw looked at the pattern again, I quickly downloaded the pattern, and got to cutting!
For today’s refashioning tip I wanted to share exactly how I used the pattern to work with the existing dress. Most of the time, when I use a sewing pattern it becomes all about pattern placement on the original garment, and I’m not concerned with keeping the silhouette or details of the original garment. This dress was different, and I wanted to be able to use as much of the dress without cutting.
First step was to seam rip the skirt, while leaving the buttons in tack. Since this was one of the main areas I wanted to keep, it was important to leave as much of the area untouched as I could.
Next was to cut the bodice. I removed the breast pockets, but since the denim had faded around the original stitching lines, I knew I would have to add them back on.
Since the button placket already had the seam allowance in the center front, I didn’t need to include the allowance in the CF pattern piece (in the photo the seam allowance is folded in). I wasn’t paying attention to where the buttons would line up on my final dress, and the top one was a little too low for the sweetheart style (but more on that later).
Because of the sweetheart neckline, the front bodice was cut into parts. The bodice side front kept its seam allowances and was able to fit on the rest of the denim dress bodice (and used just a little of the sleeve). I did this cutting method to both sides. I then reattached the pocket following the original stitching lines.
I had a lot more freedom to cut in the back of the dress, and fit the center back and side back pieces on the back of the dress. I was also able to fit the back facing pieces.
I followed the instructions for sewing the bodice together, just omitting the sections about the button placket. Next up was hemming the skirt, and gathering and reattaching it to fit! I didn’t need to cut any of the skirt since the pattern called for a gather skirt, it was already on the dress, I just had to gather it more than the original dress had been gathered.
Originally, I chopped 10″ off the hem, and it left me with a beautiful length. I tried the dress on with wedges, and the length was super sophisticated for my figure, but realistically, I knew I would mostly be wearing this dress with flats. The longer length in flats made me look short and stubby, which isn’t ideal. Hemming it an extra 2″ made it the perfect length for both!
The tricky part for me was with the top button. I needed another button to close the top, but didn’t have proper spacing to make a button look good. Since this dress required a facing, I used it to add a hidden buttonhole. While it’s serving its use as a buttonhole, it is also hidden from the outside of the garment, so it looks like a much cleaner finish!
I really love using the existing details in a garment, especially when they are details that can save a lot of time! Making all the buttonholes and sewing them on would have added a lot of time to the project, but being able to keep the originals were a huge help!
I had a lot of fun sewing this piece, and it definitely tested my creativity. I’m excited to look for more dresses with front buttons and use this technique again!
A few notes on the pattern: I made a size XS, and it fits beautifully. The pattern was drafted great, and for a free pattern, the amount of detail in the instructions are amazing. What I do wish is that there were a few more details lined out for placements. There were no buttonhole placement markings and no pocket markings on the pattern pieces, which I look forward to when sewing other patterns. (I personally omitted the front skirt pockets because I thought they would overwhelm my body. ) But that’s my only issue! And since I didn’t need those bits of information, I really didn’t have an issue when making!
I would most definitely make this pattern again. I love the fit, and I love the end result!
Here’s some denim inspiration! This type of dress has a lot of options – even while keeping the buttons! One of my favorites is a collarless denim jacket – with the extra hem from a dress, you would have plenty of fabric to make long sleeves!
Links (clockwise): Denim Jacket, Denim Dress 1, Denim Dress 2, Denim Skirt, Denim Dress 3 (original link didn’t work (damn fashion website slide shows!) but search for denim dress on pinterest and you’ll find it!)
Have a great weekend!