There was a week this past summer when I was pretty under the weather. I stayed in bed and did a little hand sewing but mostly I watched Netflix. Seriously, what did people do when they were sick before Netflix? This same week I discovered that Netflix had aired an original short series about The British Royal Family. The show was put together like one of those weird documentary shows that you would watch in high school when you had a substitute teacher. They showed tons of interviews with people that seemed to be fairly obsessed with the royal family and had titles like “Royal Family Enthusiast” and “Royal Baby Diaper Deliverer”. It was pretty terrible. Naturally, I highly recommend it. The reason that I bring this up is that during one of the episodes there was a little clip of Princess Diana wearing a dress almost exactly like this one! And embarrassingly enough, seeing that was the highlight of my sad, sick little day and I am now admitting that to the internet.
I had bought this dress a few weeks before the Netflix sighting and had no idea what I would do with it. Once I saw that it was basically a royal dress I had to a least try! I couldn’t think of a way to save the pocket square so I removed that and the faux pocket that it was attached to. I was thankful that the pocket came off so easily and didn’t leave a trace. I removed the shoulders and took off the sleeves and gave them a new hem. I also removed the white piece in the front. I can’t begin to imagine what that piece is actually called! I tacked the two top pieces back together so that it closed nicely at the top. Then I shortened the dress slightly and called it a day. I was still pretty unsure about it until I paired it with a sweater. The sweater really tamed down the pattern.
Bonus information that you’re dying to hear: Brian’s younger sister Emily was over while Brian and her Fiancé were playing Mario Kart. I was showing her some of the dresses I had done recently and I picked this one up and said, “This one is Princess Diana’s Dress.” She looked at me, horrified and said, “You cut up Princess Diana’s dress?!?!” So I just want to be clear this dress did not actually belong to Lady Di, that I know of! I promise I wouldn’t cut up an actual “Royal Dress.”
When I found this dress it reminded me of a story that my dad likes to tell. Growing up, he had 5 brothers that all went to “country school” which was located in a small schoolhouse about a half a mile down the road. My guess is that half of the students were from the Carr family. Anyway, they had this mean teacher, Ms. Mabel Hotz. Good ole Mabel gave the Carr boys some trouble every now and again. (Now, I sort of imagine the Carr boys may have brought some of this trouble on themselves.) But one particular incident ended up with Ms. Mabel Hotz chasing one of the older boys around and around the schoolhouse with a broom as he rode his bike heckling her. My dad can’t tell this story without cracking up. I imagine that poor teacher to have been wearing a dress that looked about like this.
So this refashion is dedicated to you Ms. Holtz, you mean old bat!
That neckline that just doesn’t quit, those spectacular buttons all of the way up the back, and those sleeves… just long enough to be hideous, the whole thing was sort of a mess. I first thought that I would keep this dress maxi length but it was just too short for that. I chopped off over a foot of length and gave it a new hem. I decided that I would rather have the buttons in the front of the dress so I flipped it around. I gave it a new v-neck line that I felt gave it some desperately needed pa-zazz. I ripped the sleeves off then I took a little extra off in the shoulders. Finally, I gave the arms a new hem. I thought I was finished until I tried it on. It was still really frumpy. I took the shoulders up an inch or so and gave it a couple of bust darts and we were in good shape! Here’s to you Mabel!
Oh this dress… There is just so much of it. There’s a fun story about this dress, I see it EVERYWHERE, all of the time! Since doing this project I have come across this dress in at least four different thrift stores! Once I found them in a matching pair! I have a theory that involves some pretty fashionable 80’s twins…. Seriously everyone, please just take a second to think about my theoretical 80’s twins wearing these dresses. Thank you.
Anyway, I fell in love with this nautical nightmare mostly because of the buttons. There’s not a lot that gets me more excited than some charming buttons! (Yes, I know how cool that makes me sound.) Also, this dress has pockets. Cute buttons and pockets, I see why there are so many of them around!
First, I hacked off A LOT of fabric from the bottom and gave this little charmer a quick new hem. After that, those sleeves (probably my theoretical twins favorite part) met my seam ripper. Once the length and the sleeves were gone, things for this dress were looking up. It was still pretty big so I took the sides in quite a bit and finished off the sleeves with some white bias tape that I had laying around. I wish those 80’s twins could see it now!