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blue revival - refashioned dress

Added Apr 13, 2011

by elegantmusings

Virginia, Virgin...






This humble 80s number started out life as a rather bland and unassuming office dress (last photo). The medium blue rayon print is what caught my eye in the racks (and the price tag too), and it had a darling matching belt as well. My original intent was to remove the sleeves and shorten the hem, making a cute (if somewhat conservative) summer day dress. However, once I got the dress home and was looking at it in bright sunlight, I noticed several stains on the center front of the bodice. After a few attempts at removing the stubborn stains (which were faint, but there), it was apparent that either this dress would have to be salvaged for another project (skirt, maybe?) or I’d have to come up with a creative solution to work around the small sliver of stained fabric on the front.

Unsure of what exactly to do (at the time my thinking only went so far as ruffles, but didn’t feel right for this dress), I was flipping through a book from the 80s on Princess Diana’s style. There I spotted a dress with a very similar shoulder line and material, sporting a lowered neckline inset. Well, in reality it was a dress and jacket, but in my prior-to-sleep state late at night it looked like a one-piece dress. (Note to self: read the descriptions!) A solution had been found: simply remove the bodice and skirt, slice open the front to remove the offending stained portion (and use the front edges to create a facing) and add a new inset piece fashioned from one of the sleeves. Yes, it was a bit of work, but I got it largely done within a few hours on Saturday, and a new (and far more flattering) neckline was in the equation as well.

The first time I wore this, I was tickled that not one but multiple people stopped me to comment on the dress. Not nessecarily because it was something I refashioned, but because it was a humble $1 thrift find originally! I always love dresses with lowly origins that end up being showstoppers, don’t you?

I did a little tutorial on how I made a pattern to face the armholes and attached those, which you can see here

Be sure to drop by my blog for more about this project!

Material Notes





Spring, Summer
Garment Type
Romantic, Vintage

18 Comments Sign in to add a post

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    Aug 6, 2011, 12.25 AMby cyndi-de-crafti

    It is super beautiful. I want a dress like that. <3

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    May 6, 2011, 02.10 AMby Gabriele Yorlano

    lovely dress!

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    Apr 19, 2011, 10.58 AMby luxihere

    I can absolutely relate to Bleed Blue Syndrome! I have been sewing lots of Blue of late !

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    Apr 19, 2011, 01.44 AMby grossgirl

    It’s so darling! Love it! Can’t wait to see your tutorial on the arm holes – I am in the beginning stages of my first dress refashioning and that’s the part I’m at…which I’ve never done before so thank you in advance :)

    p.s. love the necklace, too

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    Apr 18, 2011, 06.40 PMby elizabethking

    I can think of a few dressmaking patterns that could benefit from this treatment, and t shirts! Well done

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    Apr 18, 2011, 03.46 AMby pie-83

    This dress is darling! I love the new neckline!

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    Apr 17, 2011, 09.20 PMby janetheclerk

    just wonderful. i love your shoes too. i was thinking about how small the leap is between an 80s dress and something that wouldn’t look out of place in the 50s; it occurs to me that as far as fashion is concerned, there really is very little new in the zoo, it just depends how you put it together, and what your accents are. i love your work.

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    Apr 17, 2011, 03.05 PMby prairieponygirl

    I simply love it! You did an amazing job. It’s look gorgeous! CAn I ask which photo you based this dress on?

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    Apr 16, 2011, 01.52 AMby tinybows

    love this, really creative way of transforming it into something very wearable!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 10.57 PMby joybells

    Fantastic! I just love refashioned pieces. I work at an op-shop (thrift store) for a few hours each week. It’s a treasure trove of pieces begging to be reworked – which I do bring far too much of home and try to make into something lovely. :) Well done – it’s a gorgeous dress!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 07.48 PMby xanray


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    Apr 15, 2011, 07.20 PMby shellidawn

    Your taste and styling are darn near impeccable!!! Awesome job!!!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 05.56 PMby villeford

    Very beautiful! Great for a light, summer dress, and perfect for the price.

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    Apr 14, 2011, 02.58 PMby cathysews

    Really fantastic….

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    Apr 13, 2011, 09.32 PMby emilywirt

    This looks great! I refashion vintage finds a lot, too, but you did a really great job creating a really innovative top to this dress. I love it!

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    Apr 13, 2011, 03.22 PMby lanternwaste33

    This is like something you’d find on Modcloth.com for like a million dollars and eat your heart out over because there’s absolutely no way you can afford it. So awesome!

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    Apr 13, 2011, 12.42 PMby iroiro

    Wow wow!! I am in love with this dress ♥

    Not only have you rescued it from an 80s nightmare (!) but now it truly is a showstopper. Now I want to refashion one too!

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    Apr 13, 2011, 11.58 AMby Priscilla Folley

    How about posting a tutorial on how to make the beautiful flower you’re wearing?

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