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Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion

The Best Thrift Stores in Austin, TX!
1940s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash

You guys! I’m so SO happy! Last week, I got to fly to Austin to visit my much-missed friend Susan and do research for an upcoming Thrifting in Austin blog post!

We’ve been friends for years and years. She used to live here in Columbia, SC but moved to one of my favorite cities about six years ago. While we’ve been pretty good at visiting each other and keeping in touch, 2020 made that…difficult.

But now we’re both vaxxed up, and the good times can (slowly) return!

This post contains affiliate links which won’t cost you anything extra, but may provide me with a small commission.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pack my new travel sewing machine so I could whip up a spring dress refashion from one of my thrifted finds!

Refashionista Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion before
Oh my gah! I’m on a different porch!

That print is awesome, is it not? While they may not be groundbreaking, I still love floral prints for spring.

florals-for-spring meme
Whatever Miranda.

Sure, floral prints are quite common. But brown floral prints? A little less so.

I also liked this neat drawstring thingy on the back of my dress.

drawstring back of dress
Right here.

For some reason, I found myself giggling at the label too.

Robert too! label
Who’s Robert?

However, there were a couple of things I didn’t particularly care for with this dress.

refashionista looking at shoulder pad
I’m looking at you, shoulder pad.

I’ll add on to the list of things I didn’t like about this one with its length & the length of its sleeves, as well as it’s too big for me.

In other words, I couldn’t go out looking like this:

jillian in before dress in rocking chair
Maybe I could pull it off?

I packed light for this trip, which meant my mini sewing machine took up half of my carry-on suitcase (I try to avoid checking my luggage whenever possible).

This was the maiden voyage of my new Janome New Home, a newer version of the Janome Sew Mini.

Janome new home sewing machine
Cute, innit?

I relegated my sewing supplies to a small cosmetics bag.

sewing supplies
That’s all, folks!

Here’s what my makeshift sewing setup looked like:

sewing machine on table with chair
My mini studio!

I started my refashion by removing those ginormous pads!

detached shoulder pads
Such volume. Very wow.

After I removed those shoulder pads, I found additional pads hiding inside my dress as well, which I promptly snipped out.

removing small shoulder pads
More like Robert Too! Many Shoulder Pads, amirite?

With the paddage removed, I figured out how much I needed to take my dress in.

I wanted it to be more fitted than it was, but still loose enough to be comfortable on a hot day.

pinching sides to see how much I need to take in
This seems about right.

I didn’t have my dress form with me (she only flies first class and I’m cheap), so I grabbed my dress’ sides at the bust, waist, and hips, noting (aka guesstimating) how much each part needed to be taken in for it to fit me.

Then, I turned my dress inside out and got to pinning.

pinning sides of dress
Measure & Pin!

I stitched each side down…

sewing side seam of dress
A little baby whirrrr!

Then I cut off the extra fabric from the sides with my tiny snips.

cutting off extra fabric

In case you’re wondering, I only packed my smallest sewing scissors as I was worried that my larger ones (even my pinking shears) would be confiscated by TSA. Ideally, I would use pinking shears for this part.

I mean, I already end up getting my bag examined almost every time I try to fly with my sewing machine (apparently this isn’t a common practice), so why tempt fate?

Next, I cut off part of the sleeves, as well as some of the length!

cutting off sleeves and bottom of dress
Chop, Chop & Chop!

My tiny scissors were really getting a workout!

I folded the bottoms of my sleeves under twice and clipped them into place.

clipped bottom of sleeve

Then I stitched them down…or rather TRIED TO!

needle slipping out of needle clamp
This is my angry hand.

If you look closely at the above pic, you can see the needle has slipped out of the needle clamp.

This happened when I was working on the sides too, but I at first thought I hadn’t tightened the needle clamp screw enough. NOPE. The screw just wouldn’t tighten enough to securely hold the needle in place!

This meant I had to put the needle back in place about TWENTY TIMES in order to finish this refashion. GAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!

I was originally going to do something a little more interesting with the sleeves, but decided to give up on that dream since my machine wasn’t cooperating.

When I was (finally) done with the sleeves, I still had to complete that bottom hem.

I pinned my hem in place.

pinning bottom hem in place
I was so ready to just be done!

Then I went through the same sew a bit/put the needle back in routine as before.

sewing bottom hem
Poor Susan had to endure a lot of cursing about now.

Note: I’m exchanging this machine so I can write a fair review of it, as I think the needle clamp issue on this particular machine is just a random fluke. If the new one works well, it’ll be going to my niece as her first sewing machine!

In the meantime, one of you awesome darlings anonymously sent me a Janome Sew Mini that I can use for my travels, so it’ll be hitting the road soon!

At LAST, I was DONE!

refashionista Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion after

I’m really happy this refashion worked out (otherwise I’d be stuck wearing the same outfit as the day before!).

refashionista Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion after 4
Can you tell I feel cute?

Did I mention how much I love Austin, TX?

Jillian with arms outstretched
I feel like I’m home!

Here’s what my dress looked like from the back:

back of refashion
I like that drawstring back!

My new dress enjoyed some quality & quantity time with Susan…

Jillian and Susan
Reunited and it feels so good!

…as well as a few bevvies & some brisket!

Jillian with frozen mojito
Frozen Mojitos for happy hour? Yes please!
susan with beverage
I’ve miss you, Susu!

I love how even after months of separation, good friends can always pick right back up where they left off.

refashionista Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion after 2
Out & about in my fresh frock!

In the evening, we got to enjoy the vocal stylings of one of her friends, Mac McIntosh at The Half Step on Rainey Street. If you like Jazz, you should check him out!

Susan and Mac
He credits his amazing voice to “Scotch and Cigarettes”.

So, while this was a frustrating refashion, in the end it worked out just fine!


refashionista Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion before and after

…Pssst! I have just launched the official Refashionista Patreon page!

I’ve been wanting to give you guys more content (that doesn’t necessarily fit all that well on this blog) AND build more of a Refashionista community for a while now, and Patreon is the perfect vehicle to help me achieve these goals.

Supporting me on Patreon is the best way to help this blog. It will enable me to create more content (both refashions and non-refashions), and help Refashionista expand into video as well. You can learn more on my Patreon page.

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The Best Thrift Stores in Austin, TX!
1940s-ish(?) Dress Refashion with Repurposed Sleeve Sash

28 thoughts on “Back in Austin: Brown Spring Floral Dress Refashion”

  1. Lovely dress on a lovely lady.
    I saw a review on that machine on utube and they had the same problem.
    That had to be frustrating.
    Love watching your remakes

  2. I love how you pulled it off. If your niece is new to sewing and you give her your mini sewing machine, she probably won’t want to sew again. I know when I was using my sister’s sewing machine I kept on breaking the needles. I was getting so frustrated. It would start sewing very slowly, then speed up to breakneck speed. I was making masks with my great niece and didn’t want her to use it, it was too unpredictable. Now, if I was a beginner sewist, I don’t know how long I would have lasted. I think I broke 5-6 needles? This is coming for someone who is not a beginner(48yrs sewing yikes!)

  3. your hair looks darling!…dont do wigs! you….here is an idea…if traveling maybe set up a demo at a sewing shop with a very limited number of patrons?…would be fun to see in action with all your ideas!!…you are looking great!

  4. Love your little travel sewing machine AND your tiny supplies kit! What is the blue thing in the picture, between your tomato pincushion and the snips?

  5. Jillian, Great job, in spite of our obstacles! I feel for you trying to cut with those tiny scissors and using an inefficient little sewing machine! If you ever visit Indianapolis, I’d happily let you use my sewing room. I have everything I see you use except a dress form. I’m sure you have fans in every city you might visit who could also help you out in this way. Just saying…..

  6. Lovely redo as usual & quite Lovely friend! I cannot believe no one mentioned the Gorgeous periwinkle blue rocking chair! I’d enjoy finding out the paint color. Love!

  7. Great refashion! How about showing us how to insert one of those drawstring things? Might be handy. Thank you!

  8. Excuse my gushing, but I really like your refash of the dress and I especially like the neckline on you.
    You’re looking wonderful and your absolutely adorable short hair really shows off your widow’s peak that I’ve always thought is the bomb!

  9. Very cute… I actually owned this exact dress back in the day… loved it… love the remake. You need to take the shoulders in though I think… make a pleat at the top maybe or reset the sleeves… I have one that on some recent refashions… works well and improves the fit…

  10. Hello pretty lady, you have a lot of chances: wonderful friends, sun and ideas full of head. Here in France it’s so gloomy! My mom also had these kind of dresses and I find it very pretty. Could you also show us how to enlarge a dress because it’s often my concern (too many ice creams ?…) Thank you for all your messages that embellish our lives!!!

  11. Very nice refashion. Check to make sure your needle is in properly. The flat part of the needle usually faces towards the back when you insert it. If you need to check take a small mirror and look at the slot to see which way it goes in.
    Also I’m very glad you are doing well. ❤

  12. Great refashion! I’m so surprised they let you take even those tiny scissors on board! I’m glad for you, though! Thanks for the great post!

  13. This turned out so cute! Your friend, Susan is beautiful. Loved the photo of Susan and Mac, as well.
    I can’t wait to her the verdict on the other New Home machine because I’ve been thinking of purchasing one.
    Austin has such a wonderful feel to it. We visited one and I’d love to go back and visit again.

  14. haha- I worry that u should wear more sun-screen! Liked the refashion and the review of the machine. Food and friends look great. Robert Too!

  15. This was one of my favorite captions ever; “Robert Too! Many Shoulder Pads!” You crack me up with your commentary!

  16. Well I am looking forward to your Austin run down of Thrift Stores. I have been in Austin over 40 years and I am always excited to hear about a new place. Hope you had a wonderful time while you were here. Your pics would indicate that you did

  17. Your friends Susan and Mac are just as cute and delightful as you are. For what you had to work with, I think your dress turned out lovely. A little too roomy in the bodice, but it is a really nice and snazzy refashion. I look forward to yur blogs.

  18. I particularly like the neckline and it looks like it buttons up the front? Sometime when you are taking in the sides like that, could you put in pockets? Great refashion!


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