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1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion

Art Deco-ish Dress to Strapless Top Refashion
A Decorative Zigzag Hem & How to Dye Washable Silk

Oh 2020, you vicious minx you.

Just when I start thinking maybe things are getting better, I am proven to be entirely, woefully wrong.

To say there’s a lot going on right now would be an insane understatement.

My heart and brain are both struggling to oscillate from every new awful thing 2020 seems to be so happy to introduce. The pandemic. Losing my job. The systemic oppression of a group of people that deserves so much better (Learn more from the NAACP Website).

It’s a lot, friends. And I don’t want to weigh you down. But this blog has always been about authenticity, and I’m sticking to that.

Just like a lot of folks, my heart is just so heavy lately.

Then a new lousy thing happened.

Completely out of nowhere, Benson showed signs of being in pain and was struggling to use his back legs.

Benson the Dachshund on Couch
Poor little bub.

Brian and I exchanged looks of exhausted sadness.

“No…It can’t be that,” he said.

I fought back tears while clenching my jaw.

Because of their long spines, Dachshunds have a 19-24% chance of developing IVDD (intervertebral disc disease). Douglas had it a year and a half ago and eventually ended up needing surgery. Our single-story house is dachshund safe (steps for the sofa and no jumping allowed), but here we are.

I was able to get him to the vet, and found out that yes…he has IVDD, but also that it appears to be a very mild case and he should be able to recover with crate rest and meds.

Benson looking up from crate
We love you little Bennybub!

Watching Douglas struggle to recover was one of the hardest things Brian and I have been through together. But he did eventually recover.

I’m happy to report Benson’s case DOES seem much milder, and he seems to be getting better. He can still walk (he’s just a little wobbly), and his pain seems to be well-managed with mild painkillers (Douglas was on much stronger stuff during his bout with IVDD). He’s not happy about being kept in a crate for most of the day (only coming out for snuggles), but we’re hoping one day he’ll understand.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on Benson’s progress. Please send some healing vibes his way!

Time for a 1940s-Inspired Refashion!

Because, if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I might as well be well-dressed for the journey.

I started with this $1 ’80s dress.

1940s inspired refashion before
This is my “What the freaking what?!?!” pose.
1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion 3
This is my “Is THIS what you want 2020? FINE! TAKE MY LAST ROLL OF TP AND PUT ME IN A BETTER TIMELINE!” pose.


*Deep breath*

Okay. Let’s focus on a little thing. Even if it’s a silly thing like a refashion.

Because if I can tackle this little thing, maybe it’ll help me tackle bigger things, right?

While I pretty much loathe every single thing about how this year is progressing thus far, there are a couple of things to like about this dress.

I like that cool triangle pleating around the shoulders. This detailing reminded me of dresses from the 1940s, so I decided to lean into that with this refashion. I also like the color.

But other than that, there are many improvements to be made!

First, I ripped out those pads!

1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion 4
This pad is not rad.

As you can see, they were quite large!

Large Shoulder pad with hand for comparison
Hand for Comparison.

Next, I cut off part of the sleeves.

Cut off sleeve

I knew I’d be removing a bit more of the sleeve after I took my dress in, but didn’t want to make that big chop too soon (before I knew how the dress would fit overall).

Speaking of fitting, I put my dress on my dress form inside-out and got to pinning.

I only pinned the bust, waist, and hips.

Pinning bust, waist, and hips on dress form
Pinning bust, waist, and hips!

I took my dress off the dress form and pinned the rest of each side seam.

Pinning side seam of dress
You can see Benson in the background. Poor bub!

I stitched each side down.

stitching side seam of dress

I cutt off the excess fabric from each side and tried my dress on.

I decided that yes, I wanted to remove more of those sleeves, opting to go full sleeveless.

cutting off more of the sleeve
The final sleeve chop!

I pinned my armholes under, and stitched them down.

armhole pinned under
Pinned & Prepped!

Unfortunately, here’s what they looked like when I was done! :/

too-big arm hole
Dude. It’s HUGE.

Well that’s no good.

There’s no way I could wear this dress with its giant armholes (sideboob is out this year).

But this dress Refashion can still be saved! Several people I know who are new to refashioning make the mistake of giving up too soon when something in the Refashion process doesn’t work.

To these people I say, Your Refashion isn’t a fail, it’s just not done yet.

You might need to do a little creative problem solving, but that’s part of the fun of refashioning in the first place, amirite?

I evaluated the top of the dress, and realized had a little room under the armholes to take them in, thus making them smaller and the top of the dress a bit more fitted.

I pinned each side (measuring, of course, to make sure they were even) and stitched them down.

re-tailoring arm hole
Much better!

The last thing I needed to tweak was the length.

I tried on my dress and marked where I wanted the hem to be (adding an inch for seam allowance) then I made a big chop!

chopping off bottom of dress
The final chop!

I pinned my new hem…

pinning bottom hem
Lots of pinning in this Refashion, eh?

…then stitched it down!

stitching down bottom hem
“Geez! Wrap it up already!” (what you’re undoubtedly thinking)

I pressed everything down, and was ready to get out of the house for a much-needed beverage with the hubs!

We chose Weco Bottle & Biergarten as our destination. Things have started to open up here in SC, and Weco has taken every precaution to keep folks safe.

refashionista 1940s Inspired Dress Refashion After
But which beverage shall I choose?

You can see my dress is now a V-neck.

refashionista close up
Gimme a V!

I actually didn’t sew this part. I just removed the top button and pressed each side of the front placket inside. It stayed put just fine (the weight of the placket fabric usually holds it down pretty well without sewing).

refashionista holding can of dry cider
One of my favorite beverages. C’mon cider companies…sponsor me!
1940s-Inspired Dress Refashion 5
Mr. Refashionista…exasperated with…well…everything.

I’m still hopeful that we’ll all see some positive changes in 2020. I just wish the path to these changes didn’t have to be this hard.

refashionista with cider
Seriously…can we all play 2020 in Easy Mode henceforth?

Take Care, Friends.

Refashionista 1940's Inspired Dress Refashion Before and After
Art Deco-ish Dress to Strapless Top Refashion
A Decorative Zigzag Hem & How to Dye Washable Silk