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A Very Frustrating Nautical Romper Refashion

Grecian Statuette Dress Refashion
Off-the-Shoulder No-Sew Dress Refashion!

Hey Everybody!  I know, I’ve been absent for about a week now, but you know I’ll always come back to you, right?  

I was just feeling like I hadn’t been spending enough time with my friends, so I took a little break to relax.  Everybody needs a breather every now and again, right?

What follows is probably THE MOST frustrating refashion I’ve ever done, and a testament to my lunkwilled stubbornness.

It all began with this nautical number right here:

A Very Frustrating Nautical Romper Refashion 4
The loooooove boooooat!

Had I found this a few weeks ago, it would have probably ended up being my dress for the Yacht Rock soiree I attended awhile back.  

Sadly, I had no use for this nautical look. :/

A close inspection of those star buttons revealed they were in pretty bad shape, so I removed them.

sad star button
So sad.

I also got rid of those giant shoulder pads!

sad misshapen shoulder pads
Check out that sad & misshapen pad!

As most of you know, I HATE wearing white (It only serves to bring out my ghastly pallor).

So, I tossed this frock into a nice, hot dye bath!

rit dye combination
This looks like a cool combo…

This is where things started to go awry.

This dress is a ramie/rayon blend.  Ramie takes dye.  Rayon does not.  This means that I knew I would only be getting a subtle blue out of this.



The darker bits are where a stain was that I didn’t notice in my initial examination of this dress.  They were super-noticeable and only on that one spot.

I almost gave up right then.

Before scrapping this refashion altogether, I decided to try to dab on a bit of bleach to the spots…

bleach spots
Well crap.

Yeah…that didn’t quite work out.

I was so close to giving up.

I took the bottles of dye I had used and splattered random bits of dye on the dress and left it in my sink overnight.

dress in sink with splatters of dye
An act of desperation.

When I rinsed it out, I discovered that the splotchy dye hadn’t set at all.  I was back to square one.

I filled a pitcher with a bleach-water solution and wadded the dress up inside it.  

I figured that if I made the rest of the dress uneven, those splotches might look intentional.

wadded up dress in pitcher of bleach water solution
I am clearly out of my gourd.

Guess what?  It worked!  HUZZAH!

I was still far from done.  

I found some cool buttons in my giant stash, and sewed three onto my dress.  I decided to just leave off the functionless buttons on the left side.

sewing on new button
Cute, eh?

I grabbed my seam ripper and got to work removing the sleeves and collar.

removing sleeves and collar
Begone! You’ve stayed your hour!

Next, I unpicked the front and back seams of the crotch.

unpicking crotch seam
Pick. Pick. Pick.

All this unpicking left me with some rapidly-fraying raw edges to deal with.  

I put what was about to be my new dress inside-out on my dress form and pinned the unpicked legs into a skirt.

pinning seam for skirt

I stitched this down and cut off the extra fabric.

sewing skirt of dress

I pinned down the raw edges of the collar and arm holes…

pinning raw edges down
Securing the perimeter!
pinning raw edges under
No more fraying!

…and stitched those down too.

finishing last hem on dress
We’re almost done!

I took in each side to make my frock perfectly fitted, like ya do.

pinning sides of dress on dress form
Just a little pin & stitch!

When I tried on my new dress to see how it was shaping up, I was alarmed to see a little something extra I hadn’t planned for…

weird front bulge on dress
My dress…has…a mysterious bulge.

It was awful.  After all that work on this extremely frustrating refashion, I had somehow ended up with a suspiciously bulgy-crotched frock that there was NO WAY I was going out in public in!

I almost gave up.

But then I took the bulgy area, folded it under and pinned in from behind to do a weird faux 2 piece thing that I think really looks quite awesome.

And now, BEHOLD!  The most annoying refashion I’ve ever executed!  🙂

nautical romper refashion after

I actually love this.

Nautical Romper Refashion After
What do you think?
back of dress
Le back!

I wore my fancy new frock to SC Pride, where I made some new friends!

Refashionista with entertainer
I thought she said her name was Josephine, but someone told me it’s actually Justine. Whatever her name is, isn’t she lovely?
Refashionista with  Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

I had a blast with my friends, who all thought my dress was pretty swell.

Jillian and Friends
Love these guys!
great turnout at event
Such a great turnout!

Dan and I even enjoyed brandy and cigars on a patio!

Jillian and Dan
We’re so fancy…
A Very Frustrating Nautical Romper Refashion 5
Breakin’ the law. Breakin’ the law.

Such a lovely day!  And I’m SO very very happy I didn’t give up!  

Do you find yourself stuck on a refashion like this every now and again?  How do you get over the “I really don’t want to do this anymore” hump?


Refashionista Nautical Romper Refashion Before and After
Grecian Statuette Dress Refashion
Off-the-Shoulder No-Sew Dress Refashion!

64 thoughts on “A Very Frustrating Nautical Romper Refashion”

  1. I come across your page by pure accident and haven’t been able to stop watching since… I think you are awesome – your talent is beyond… And it never ceases to amaze me of your creativity and ability to imagine what something will become when seeing those before items … Bravo!!! I adore this little blue dress especially coming from that abominable romper…. and your sense of humor and the commentaries add so much … Great job! I hope we’ll be able to enjoy you (don’t get burnt out) for a long long time… And may you always enjoy the best of health from this point on..!!!

  2. This is a way after the fact comment but I only just started following and was catching up on old posts…I LOL’d at ‘you’ve stayed your hour!’ I love So I Married An Axe Murderer and I use that quote all the time. Just another thing to like about you!

  3. Wow! Just Wow! I think this may be my favorite refash you have done. You somehow made this elegant, yet casual. You and your new frock are Mahvelous!

  4. Please tell me you saved the awesome buttons! You can hit those with a little spray paint. If they won’t work as buttons, they can always be hot glued on some cute craft. 🙂

  5. You have so much more staying power than me, well done on the finished result. Dye always scares me a little, but you’re persuading me refash by refash. I’m a little gutted about those star buttons though – some fabulous coloured nail polish would make those amazing!

  6. This is actually one of my favourite refashions ( I’ve been trawling your archives).
    I like the acid blue and the white buttons and the flipped collar. You look very glam and cool and comfy also. Well done!

  7. Wow! Super impressed! This looks great!!
    It would be awesome if you did a post about dying clothes/fabric (the process, any special tricks you have, how you decide on colors, etc.) I have never tried it before and am too afraid to try.
    Again, awesome job on this!!!

  8. Yeah, I totally would’ve given up. Great job!
    I was going to say that you should be a contestant on that Fashion Star show… but I just read that it was cancelled. So… maybe you should have your own show called Refashionista… youtube videos? :)))

  9. I am constantly amazed by what you do! The original frock was an eyesore and gave you a serious fight. In the end you turned that beast into a beauty!

  10. Yeah that little pooch is from the draping you may want to just cut the skirt off and make it a vest, either way you still looked great for a day out with some Faboo people.

  11. Wow! And Wow again! Unbelievable! You are one crazy determined lady. The dress turned out darling. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and a special thanks for taking a ‘back shot’ of your dress. It helps me, and maybe others, to see the whole garment and all the things you had to do to get it done!

  12. HI
    I love looking at your blog for inspiration and procrastination.
    I do have to ask however why do you only seem to make dresses … I would have totally kept it as a playsuit… and those buttons why??? haha Not a criticism at all tho you make some fab things! Just got me thinking


  13. FABULOUS! Real women don’t quit, they persevere. It really is a lovely dress. You should really consider selling your creations after you finish wearing them.

  14. i don’t like much the cut around the arms (it looks too straight and massive to my taste) but regarding to the pain you had and the bravoury you showed to finish it, the whole thing is pretty good 🙂

  15. Although I don’t sew, I love your blog. I have a tip for you, a black light. There is nothing better for finding stains naked to the eye. I used one for pet stains and shocked to find splattered milk stains left behind from my daughter’s sippy cup adorning our carpet.

  16. Wow. I tend to give up so easily, but if someone as talented as yourself even has frustrations like this, I guess I should stick it out a little more. Inspirational post!

  17. I normally just scroll down to the before and after pic as I can not sew to save my life and had assumed that it was all technical info.

    But today I read through and loved your very interesting and hilarious commentary, it added to my enjoyment of your final reveal immensely. You’ve just picked yourself up a new reader as well as a scroll downer-er.

    I love the finished look and love it even more for the persistent and creative ways that you got there.

    Another fantastic and inspiring refashion. Amazing! xx

  18. When I saw the first photo I was taken back to that horrible time when these were in fashion. The worst part was when you had to go to the bathroom and had to completely undress just to pee!!!

    You get an A+ for sheer persistence with this one, I think I probably would have thrown it in the trash after the first dye disaster. Good job!

    • Yes! I was reading a fashion magazine in a waiting room, and it tried to sell the unitard as a layering bit. All I could think of was having to completely undress in the office bathroom to pee.

  19. I can’t believe that you hung in there. I think that I might have given up after I saw the stained blotches that picked up the dye. But you really pulled it off! It actually looks like a 2-piece number. Clever guuurrrrrl!

    • If you feel the need to begin a statement with an apology, you should reconsider hitting the Publish button. Clearly she is thrilled with it. Your comment serves no purpose other than to bring her down. Not cool.

  20. I love that it has such an interesting story behind it! A few of your pics aren’t showing up for me today. I really like the overall shape that you got in the end even if I can’t see the entire process, but I personally am not a big fan of the blotchy color… but considering what you went through just to get it wearable, it’s impressive!

  21. I have to laugh at the “before” outfit – the funny thing is that look was all the rage in the early 90s. I actually owned something similar during that time! Yikes!

    It’s actually a good feeling to save a refashion from the jaws of defeat, isn’t it? I just had one yesterday. I was converting a men’s merino camel wool sweater into a more feminine-looking short sleeve sweater (gotta do short sleeves since I live in central Florida) by removing the collar and using a coordinating color cotton bias tape to make the collar. When I put the collar together, it looked weird. So to hide the weird piece, I made a bow with the material and sewed it over the weird lump. I also added a layer of lace hem tape over the collar, and it came out even better.

  22. The more i looked at this dress the more I liked it. It just shows that you can go from crappy…to scary….to a happy refashion. good job glad you stuck it out.

  23. If you look at your original pic, it looks like the garment didn’t lay right to start with. So the fabric penis was always there, it was just waiting for a refash to make it’s appearance. Good job working with what you were given!

  24. I recently dyed a jacket and found two darker dye dots on the back once it dried. Now I know why, they were stains from before. Aha! From now on, I will wash garments right before I dye them. Thanks for the info..

    I really like your faux two piece dress. I have had similar issues. I walk away and come back to the project another day. That seems to work for me. And I figure at that point that trying something new with it is worth doing since at that point the garment is a lost cause otherwise.

    Some people might have tried using both RIT’s stain and color remover on your garment. I recently tried using their color remover. OMG!!! Did it reek!!! Like skunk, singed hair and wet dog mixed together and really potent. One is supposed to soak the item for 20-30 minutes. After just 5 minutes, hubby and I had had enough and I rinsed it out. Fortunately it had already mostly turned the drab dark navy cotton garment to a tannish color so that I was able to dye it with tangerine dye successfully. (Ended up with a darkish orange color, suitable for a fall jacket.)

  25. Loved your sharing this icky challenge: great results! And re: your “How do you get over the “I really don’t want to do this anymore” hump?” . . . Easy Peasy: TIME! (lol!)


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