Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No More Tiers

Last summer, I bought this polka-dotted dress on eBay. I was led by the photo to think it would be much longer and more flared than it actually was, and was disappointed by the reality—that it was actually a little too short for work, and had that unflattering "multiple tiers of ruffles" look that was all over skirts in 2010. Remember that look? I had one black skirt that matched the description, which I wore several times in my early Unfashionista days (unfortunately, those were also the days that I couldn't seem to get the hang of adequately lit photography), despite never liking its shape
The infamous "before" picture
Years later, when I acquired this particular dress, I had enough clothes and experience to know I didn't have to wear something I really didn't like. I wore it one time, just so I would have a "before" picture, and then set it aside for redemption.

The things about this dress that I really liked were the sweetheart neckline and the structured bodice (complete with real boning along the princess seams, a true mark of quality that often gets neglected in cheaper garments)—basically, the top half. 
So the first thing I tried to do is cut off the bottom two tiers of the skirt and convert the dress into a peplum top. Sadly, it never really worked for me. It was just slightly too short to look good with any of my pants or skirts. Nonetheless, I kept it around over the winter, deluding myself with the thought that, come spring, I'd find the perfect companion to this poorly proportioned top.

I never did. So finally, a year after getting it, I decided to improve upon the skirt and reattach it. The things about the skirt that I didn't like were the length (too short) and the silhouette. I've never been a fan of multiple tiers of ruffles. I guess the only skirt shape I ever really like is basically an A-line.

I figured that by detaching the ruffles and reattaching them end-to-end so they formed a continuous line rather than a cascade, I would get a shape I'm more comfortable with. So that's what I did.

Each tier was originally attached to the single, basically straight-up-and-down liner. My first step was to seam-rip out the second and third tiers.
Fortunately, each tier was already neatly overlocked on the top edge, so I didn't have to do anything further to prevent fraying. 

I laid the bottom hem of the top tier directly over the serged edge of the second tier and pinned them at four equidistant points, accounting for the slight differences in size between the two pieces. There were just enough creases remaining of the original gathers, that I could line them up neatly without any extra work. First I glued them with temporary fabric glue...
Then I sewed them together with a topstitch, trying to follow the line of the existing hem as closely as possible.  

I followed the same process to attach the bottom tier to the middle tier.

The outside of the skirt was now much improved, and I could have quit right there, but I decided it would add additional fluff and flounce if I also reattached the liner. 

When I'd originally removed the skirt, I'd simply cut the bottom part of the liner off at the level of the bottom of the first tier. 
To restore the two pieces, I put them back together at the cut edge, right sides facing, and sewed them back together with an overlock stitch.

I am much happier with this dress now that the skirt flares instead of cascades. The finished product has more of the "vintage lady" look I had hoped for, and as an added bonus, the skirt gained almost 2 inches in length, making it more office-appropriate. It only took a year—I can finally feel the way I imagined I would when I first bought the dress!

Before.... After!
I tried to take my "after" photo in the same pose and location as the original, but my memory wasn't that good after a whole year!

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