Gala Dress

Jilly in Philly Dress
Q&A Monday: How to Refashion without a Dress Form

Sorry guys.  No Wannabe Wednesday this week.  :/  I’ve been uber-busy and just couldn’t quite make it happen.  But don’t fret!  I think this refashion will tide you over!  :)

Once a year, the state agency I work for throws a fundraising gala that I have to attend/work at (Ain’t no party like a work party, cuz a work party is mandatory).  Once a year I scramble at the last minute to throw something appropriate for the event together with my rather smallish salary.

Since I started refashioning, this task has gotten considerably less expensive.  :)

The night before the big event, I had absolutely NO IDEA what the eff I was going to wear!  I search through my refashionables, and settled on this:


It was the most formal-ish thing I could find, but that lining gave me pause.  Allow me to show you why!


Want a closer look?


There was no flippin’ way I was going to wear this dress with the lining as-is, so I made quick work of getting all that grossness outta there!

Lots and LOTS of snipping!
Lots and LOTS of snipping!

Of course, these guys had to go as well!

Manky pads!  :(
Manky pads! :(

AHHHHHHH!  Much better already!  :)

But I still wasn’t quite done removing stuff!  My arms wanted a breather, so off those sleeves went!

Buh bye!
Buh bye!

This left some fray-crazy arm holes, so I pinned those down.


Then, I stitched ’em down!


I tried the dress on, but those arm holes were just too gape-y!  So, I took in the sides a smidge!

Just about 1"!
Just about 1″!

I cut off the excess material with my pinking shears (so it wouldn’t fray), but still wasn’t happy with the length.  Soooooooo…


I gave my new dress a new hem.

Almost done!
Almost done!

I’m still not quite done here.  My new dress was still too big for me.  :/  BUT, I came up with a no-sew fix!  I grabbed a safety pin, folded the front fabric of the dress and pinned it like so…

Can you see it?
Can you see it?

..and now I have a gala-worthy creation that actually makes me look like I’m the kind of  gal who could afford the cost of admission!  ;)

Yeah.  I look loaded. :)
Yeah. I look loaded. :)

You can see where I covered the safety-pinned waist with a vintage daisy brooch that belonged to my grandmother.  It’s one of my faves! :)

While this event was definitely more work than play, It was fun getting to hang out with some of my awesome coworkers.  :)

Like the lovely Laurel here!  :)
Like the lovely Laurel here! :)

While assisting with the art sale part of the event, I ran into some cool people from the Columbia art scene!

Hey!  It's Larry Hembree of Trustus Theatre!
Hey! It’s Larry Hembree of Trustus Theatre!
Hi Clark!
Hi Clark!

Check out Clark’s awesome lamps that were a part of the big sale!

Aren't they awesome?
Aren’t they awesome?

I was happy to see my friend (and fabulous fiber artist), Susan Lenz, too!

She's pretty awesome!
She wins the “Best Dressed” award!  :)
Dude.  She made this!
Dude. She made this!

There was lots of really sweet South Carolina art to see.  Here are a couple of my favorite pieces!

Love 'em!
Love ’em!

As the event winded down, a smartly dressed young lady approached me and said, “You’re the ReFashionista!!!”  This totally made my day, so I snapped a pic with her and her nice fella, and promised to post it on the blog (See?  I’m as good as my word!).  :)

Thanks Kimberly!  :)
Thanks Kimberly! :)



4.9 (97.54%) 114 votes

81 thoughts on “Gala Dress

  1. This on is great! Everytime you do something awesome like this, I kick myself in the hinder. All those years of passing up fugly dresses! AHH!

  2. A stunning refash! That was one hideous dress, it takes a lot of imagination to turn it into something so adorable!

  3. One tiny little thing & maybe I am being too old fashioned…look at your finished picture, at your legs. Think you might need to add a little bit of lining back. Sorry, I just happened to notice…not that the rest isn’t fab.

  4. So in the totally-small-world-department….we have two of Clark’s lamps! (My b/f used to work at Art Bar) The internet always makes me forget that people actually LIVE somewhere, and aren’t just floating around in the ether – I’ve been following you for a bit but I had no idea you were down in Cola. So ‘allo from Charlotte! *waves*

  5. Wow! What a transformation! You did a great job. It looks fantastic…and fancy…Nailed It! :D

  6. This is a another great refashion! I would be a wreck if I waited until the night before, but you always make it work out wonderfully!

  7. I was wondering about the bottom too, did you leave some of the lining or did you just wear a long shaper underneath? It is a stunning color on you!

  8. This might be one of your best ever Jillian! I too work for a nonprofit so I can TOTALLY relate to the work/gala thing and struggle every year with my attire as well. You ROCKED this look girl – well done!

  9. Just wanted to let you know that your blog inspired me to try my hand at refashioning . . . which helped me when I decided I wanted to do something raise money to fight sex trafficking in America. So in part, YOU are the reason I started HopeCycle Refashions! :) Thank you for the inspiration!
    If you’re at all interested, the website is :)

  10. Love your blog and all the inspiration! I have been losing weight and with 5 kids shopping for clothes is not going to happen. So, I did the next best thing and have attacked my closet of clothes that no longer fit. I have tailored a jacket and some shirts. The best part I found an old dress that is getting a new color and hopefully becoming the coolest maxi skirt! Thanks again for the inspiration!

  11. Oh, Wow, to think that this lovely dress was hiding in that sea of blue and, er..whatever that lining thing was! Fantastic! Makes me want to run to our local thrift store and see what I can find!

  12. Oh no :( I started reading this blog like 2 weeks ago and I’ve finally made it to the present. Now what will I do with my time??

  13. Thank you soooo much for all the pics – you always show & explain what you did that I (who has 0 sewing skills) nod & follow what you did.
    This color IS you!! & I can totally see the slip :)

  14. Ms Fashionista
    I LOVE your blog! I am just a resent devotee but I look forward to your redos and comments. Great Job and I look forward to more.

  15. I am absolutely blown away by the transformation of this dress. I shop in a lot of second hand stores and I always make fun in my head of those hideous 80s dresses that hanging on the racks. Good job on bringing to 2013!

  16. Really cute BUT, don’t you think it’s quite shear? You can see right through it. Maybe a little lining wouldn’t have hurt after all. Doesn’t anyone wear a slip anymore?

    1. I see it too. Don’t know why people are freaking out at a little sheerness. It adds a nice “youthful” quality to the dress to see a bit of leg. :D

  17. I think all the lining/slip comments are hilarious. You can totally see that you’re wearing a slip, it’s just shorter than the length of the dress (which I think looks cool).
    I love this refashion, it looks super chic on you and I’m thrilled that you left the peplum on (even though you’ve made it clear that you aren’t the biggest fan of them). ;)
    Bravo on another awesome job!

  18. A fabulous refashion and the color looks wonderful on you! BTW, I noticed the slip straight away, probably because I bought two a few weeks ago :-)

  19. beautiful remake (and yes, I wouldn’t dare to wear it without lining but I have a different pair of legs…), and I want to compliment you on your hair, it looks wow lately! Did you do something special with it?

  20. OMG!!! You looked FANTASTIC! What an amazing re-fash! Great job and the artwork was amazing too!

  21. That turned out great! I also love your “refashion” of the song lyrics at the beginning of the post, I literally LOL!

  22. Those pictures of the original lining made my stomach a little queasy, were those stains caused by sweat?!? Ewww! You are such a brave soul, but the end result was great, and you looked terrific!

  23. Amazing result! Have been following your blog for quite a while, and loving the inspiration, but haven’t commented before. Today I just had to! I would LOVE to be able to refashion something as awesome as this for the two weddings I am invited to this summer. I really have trouble finding clothes which fit me since I am, like you, quite tiny in size. You show a great solution to that problem! Time to hit the local second hand shop I guess…
    / My (yup, that’s my full first name) from Sweden

  24. You have such talent – love how you pulled it together to pin it. Your finished dress is gala-worthy, and I sincerely mean that.

  25. I know you’re not a big fan of peplums, but this one is very flattering on you. I’m a pear shaped gal myself, so it’s nice to see you can pull it off! Btw, I can tell you’re wearing a slip :) I don’t think it’s too revealing at all.

  26. That turned out super cute! I love the color on you. Also, your hair is getting so long and looks totally glam in the pics!

  27. I just finished reading your blog from the start to today! It is so interesting, it took me about a week of annoying my husband at night with my iPhone light and getting whistled at to start my car in the line at school to pick up the kids! HA! Anywho when I got to this post and saw no next button I was so sad. But rest assured I checked the date and can’t wait to see what you have next!!!! Ps. Those PBR earrings I saw in one of your refreshes over the last week are AWEEEESOME!!!!!!!!

  28. Awesome refashion on the dress and what a great event. Love Susan Lenz have been inspired by her creations. As well as by you. I have been a long time thrift store shopper and long time quilter. I just never really put the two together to refashion my finds. (although being 5’2″ I am an expert at shortening a pair of pants ;) A co worker and I have started Refashion Friday to show off our new creations each week.

  29. I found your blog through Pinterest. The first post I read, I thought, “Man, I like this chick.” But then I got to this post and I read the words, “manky pads” and I lost it! Yours is my new favorite blog!

  30. You did an awesome job with this one. It looks great!!! :) Also I’ve decided to try out using skirts as tops as I saw in a few of your blogs. It actually works (with a little help) on most of my skirts except one. Strapless just isn’t a good idea for me so I have a tank top underneath or a button up short sleeve shirt that’s been rolled up and tied on top depending on the skirt. :) I am very happy to have 5 “new” outfits that I can wear during pregnancy and during the summer but without having to buy more clothes or spend a long time sewing.

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