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A New Years’ Eve 1970s Formal Dress Refashion

A DIY Xanadu Costume!
Allagash Dress to Top Refashion

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Around Christmastime, a friend of mine got a text message from his boss. He said he had boxes of vintage women’s clothing and accessories that he didn’t want anymore and wondered if his Refashionista friend would like to take a look at them.

I did. Oh yes. I did.

I ended up scoring some AMAZING vintage formalwear, kimonos, bell bottoms, and accessories!

I was particularly excited about this ’70s formal dress.

refashionista 1970s Formal Dress Refashion before
Hmmmmnnnn….How will I make this work?

That neckline tho! Amirite? WOWZA!

Other than that, this dress was a little too big, and I wasn’t digging that huge long skirt either. 

I know some of you are thinking, “Don’t you DARE remove any of that length!”

Sorry kids.

While this frock photographs really well, yards and yards of scratchy polyester don’t look quite so glamorous in person.

I liked the tag though.

tag that reads "Nadine"
Nadine was probably a very classy lady, don’t you think?

I laid the dress out on my living room floor.

It had a most impressive wingspan.

I then laid one of my favorite and best-fitting little black dress on top of it.

dress sprad out on floor with fitted dress on top

You can see where I’ve outlined the smaller dress in chalk.

I cut along the chalked line, and that’s where the finicky bit began.

I wanted this dress to fit absolutely PERFECTLY, so I actually ended up pinning this onto myself.

It required twisting into positions my yoga instructor would be very proud of.

fitting dress on myself
…and a LOT of pin pricks! *Ouch*

This took a LONG time to get right.

The fabric was stretchy and tough to get to align correctly on each side. But after a good bit of tweaking, I felt it was ready to go under the needle.

sewing dress on machine
Thank you for compensating for my incompetence, Pfaff!

This is all wrong, but it worked out. 🙂 Since my pins were facing the wrong way after I used myself as a dress form, I rolled the other side up and put it to the side. Luckily my machine is made to work for quilting, so it has a big enough space to handle my slackness.

Once each side was taken in, I needed to even out my bottom hem.

Since the back half of me is larger than the front half of me, it went askew in the fitting process. No worries!

dress on floor with bottom part cut off
sewing new hem
New hem!

And here’s the end result!

refashionista 1970s Formal Dress Refashion after
Oh yes.

I’m quite happy with this one!

But wait…there’s more!

refashionista 1970s Formal Dress Refashion after back
Le back!
refashionista 1970s Formal Dress Refashion after with arm raised
Ready to party!

Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking?

Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffanys'

But wait! As it was slightly chilly, I covered up in another one of my sweet finds from my friend’s boss…

refashionista 1970s Formal Dress Refashion after with faux fur coat
Don’t worry! It’s fake!

I had a blast ringing in the new year with my best pals.

Jillian with friends
Say ahhhh!
Jillian and friends
You’re probably just wanting me to share the big news already, arentcha?
Jillian and Susan
We time traveled back to the 1920’s!


1970s Formal Dress Refashion before and after
A DIY Xanadu Costume!
Allagash Dress to Top Refashion

196 thoughts on “A New Years’ Eve 1970s Formal Dress Refashion”

  1. The dress is STUNNING! I’ve missed seeing new refashions. So glad to see you back and very MUCH looking forward to a post-a-day.

  2. Gorgeous dress redo…you wear it well! I’m behind on my reading and just learned there will be a new post every day….yay! I knew 2016 was going to be great and this just proves me right. I love your work!

  3. LOVE this dress. So pretty, and your fitting is spot on. The original was beautiful (though ill-fitting) to begin with but the after is one of my favorites

  4. I absolutely adore this refasion!!!
    And I look forward to reading a lot of you this year (and turn it into action as well :-))
    Happy 2016!

  5. When discussing the discrepancy between your front and rear hem. I thought surely you must use a floor standing chalk hem marker?

  6. I have hoping you would post soon, and it was like Christmas to hear that we will get 366 posts to enjoy. I’m so happy to have found your blog, have your humor and inspiration. Yes, my machine goes “whirrr” too. Lol. Thanks, Jillian!!

  7. Awesome job on the dress and I am SO looking forward to 366 posts from you – sounds like a great variety – EXCITING!!!

  8. I think you need to rename your Challenge to ‘Super Challenge’ !! I’m excited to join you on this journey. L O V E what you did with this one front and back. Great Job !!

  9. Fabulous! Someone wants to give me a box of vintage clothes? um, let me think about it YES! Looking forward to all the fashions, refashions, tidbits and giggles in 2016.

  10. I LOVE this blog and I am SO excited to see what you have for us in 2016. You are an inspiration and you are making this clumsy woman want to learn to sew. Thanks for the inspiration, tips, entertainment and expanding my horizons. Happy New Year!

  11. This re-do is especially beautiful. As always, I admire your vision and talents. Thanks for sharing! Wishing you a delightful new year.

  12. Happy New Year, to you too! My challenge is to refashion a Vintage Coat! Wish me luck! I will send a picture of the finished project!

  13. Yes Yes Yes. That’s the best refashion you made so far. Can’t wait to see more from you because you’re great inspiration for me.

  14. Yippeeeee yay! I love the dress and am super happy that I will be able to see your fantastic work every day of the year. My nine year old daughter and I absolutely L O V E your blog! You are amazing and make our day that bit brighter. Thanks!

  15. Wooo hooo!!! You’re back in full fashionista force for 2016, awesome! I’m excited to be inspired by your creations (and candid posts).

  16. So excited to read this! I think I just scared my husband by squealing when I saw this post 😉 What a find to kick off an exciting challenge year. Look forward to seeing all your posts.

  17. What an amazing score! I love this refashion. I found your blog several months ago. I have a sewing machine but have never learned to use it and am not sure where I’d find the time to do this but I definitely plan to try. Thanks for sharing!!

    • There are so many tutorials online, not to mention most likely local classes too. You seem interested, so do what’s important to you, and don’t let time go past you regretting what you didn’t do. If you don’t want to sew, which I think you do, then consider giving your machine to someone else.
      I wish you the best, no matter what you decide!

    • What a lucky thing to fall in your lap, a box of free vintage clothing. Wow! I’m jealous, but not as much so as I am excited to be able to see all your fabulous work in the present, instead of seeing it all in the past — which is fun too!
      Speaking of seeing, though, it’s kind of hard to see your amazing black refashion against the dark background of that picture. Are there contrasting light and dark backgrounds you can stand in front of for these?
      Hope my comments of use and I look forward to your posts! Yay!

      • Of course I meant this last comment for Jillian yet it posted here. Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Danged phone! Can I use that excuse for all my mistakes?

  18. Stunning re-fashion and that dress is completely channelling Breakfast at Tiffany’s! Looking forward to seeing what else you have up your sleeve, or not, for the rest of the year! Enjoy your gorgeous vintage items Karen x

  19. Every day posting will be awesome and I appreciate how much WORK will go into doing that! Planning, cutting, pinning, sewing and picture taking along with the creative thinking part is pretty time consuming!

  20. The dress looks great & so do you :). I’m looking forward to reading your daily posts. Good wishes & happy new year!
    I will be posting daily on my blog for just one week (tba) in 2016 – baby steps. Rest of the year I’m sticking with weekly content.

  21. Congratulations on your ” new finds” and your refashioned piece. Love that fearlessness “snip snip!!”
    Glad to see you back rearing to go!
    Happy New Year!
    I will be watching!
    Love Jillian 🙂

  22. Your dresses to long tops, dyeing techniques, and no fuss re purposing are just great! I look forward to your posts this year!

  23. I love this refashion! And as I just discovered you this past year and promptly went through every single refashion from beginning to end over the course of about a month and then went through withdraw that the new ones were more sporadic, I am beyond excited to be able to see something new to inspire me every day!!! YAAAAAYYYYY!!!

  24. The end result was gorgeous! The sandals… that’s another story. This is a dress for either a high-heeled, sexy strappy sandal, or a classy black pump.

    I love your blog!

    • Sorry if it offends you, but I disagree. I think these shoes work just as good as heels would. Heels are extremely unhealthy anyhow, and if you’re like me, dangerous too 😉
      I find these shoes to be fancy enough to work.

  25. You are so great at transforming out dated to today style. You rock. My Grandmother was a semstres and she would have loved seeing your work. Wonderful

  26. Love the dress! And am very excited to see content from you every day this year! 🙂 I need to break out the sewing machine and get refashioning again, so your posts will be a good daily reminder to get my butt back in gear. I have too many projects in queue!

  27. That dress is stunning and the fit perfect.
    I’m so glad your doing a 366 challenge again I guessed right on Facebook yay me! I’m also glad your not forcing yourself to do a refashion everyday though, the pressure is too much. Look forward to all your up coming posts.

  28. I was waiting and waiting for your announcement so I decided to chop, snip and refash a sweater using my new machine I just got. And now more inspiration will be eagerly awaited each day! Thanks Jillian.

  29. From unloved to KNOCKOUT! I am so excited to see your posts. You inspire me and I plan to do some of my own re-fashioning this year. We live in such a disposable society and waste. I want to be a better human and add value rather than drain the world.

    • Maria, your comment inspires me as well as Jillian’s posts! I bet your own work will inspire others too! You have a great outlook and attitude!

  30. You are so creative, but thrifty too! I look forward to seeing you often. I wish you lived closer, so I could get hands-on lessons. I have a lot of “size too big” or “not petite” even though I am, or slightly (or really) out of date things that need to be altered and re-created. Keep up the good work!

    • The are so many online tutorials when it comes to sewing I’m guessing would help you learn to do this yourself. There may even be some local classes, if it works better for you to venture that route. I’m guessing you’d surprise yourself with what you can do.

  31. Wowza is right! This is one of the most elegant refashions you’ve done (that I’ve seen, anyway). Happy New Year, looking forward to your daily posts (You’re REALLY going to do that?)

  32. What would look amazing is using up the extra fabric from the dress and making something snazzy to sit at the back to really emphasize the beautiful cut at the top. One amazing work of art.

  33. I don’t know whether to hate or love you because now I can’t seem to get rid of anything out of date or ill-fitting!!! I need another closet now! Seriously, I LOVE what you do and I am really looking forward to seeing what you do this year.


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