Saving Vacation Fabric from My Enthusiastic-But-Rubbish Sewing

Vacation is the best. Meeting new people! Seeing new things! The being-away-from-work! The not-having-to-answer-your-phone! The lazy mornings! The late nights! The different food! And of course, the opportunities for buying fabric in faraway places. The last proper vacation I had was a trip to Fiji during the summer of 2015, which was every bit as blissful and amazing as one might imagine.

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Sunset from Ovalau, Fiji

I had just recently discovered an affection for sewing when this trip occurred, so I was excited to buy fabric – vacation fabric! – and then make something glorious out of it as a souvenir. However, with only the backpack I was carrying around, it had to be something that didn’t weigh much, and didn’t take up much space. So whilst rummaging around the shops in Nadi, I found a 6m long silk sari with a pretty teal/yellow/cream design and declared, “This shall be mine!”

Fast forward a few months, and I’m cheerfully hacking up the 6m length of fabric without a pattern. Because I like to live on the edge. (Or because I’m an enthusiastic idiot.) I made a maxi dress from this lovely silk, practicing my newly-acquired skill of making French seams, and it was light and floaty and delicious, and did not fit AT ALL through the bust. It was worn once to a reception, and has been languishing in my closet ever since. But can I bring myself to get rid of it? Heavens, no. This is vacation fabric.

So…the same annual reception is approaching this year, and I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could wear my Fiji maxi dress? Too bad the fit is all wrong.”

And then I realized that I had learned how to use patterns and had improved a great deal at sewing over the last year, so I should just take apart the old dress and refashion it into something that I would actually be seen in public wearing! A-HA! An epiphany!

(Side note: my sewing space is my kitchen table. Hence, I normally tend to lean towards easily-completed projects.)

So down I sat to unpick the French seams of the original dress…and lord almighty, unpicking French seams is the WORST. I streamed four complete episodes of Doctor Who whilst unpicking those unholy seams.

That was Day 1.

I’ll spare you the details of Days 2 – 6, but suffice it to say that after several days of staying up until 2 am, rubbing my bleary eyes and cursing my ambition, my kitchen table is back to being a kitchen table rather than a sewing room, and I have THIS to show for it!

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This is an Upton dress bodice from Cashmerette Patterns. It is my favorite thing in the world and I shall never stop making dresses with this. But since I was basically making this dress out of the scraps of my original dress, the back bodice is pieced together out of eight pieces instead of the intended four.

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Let me tell you…that took some doing. I’m relatively pleased with the pattern matching that happened serendipitously on the piece with the big leaves at the top. (Also, can I just say that learning about spray starch from A Fashionable Stitch was a complete game changer? That stuff is fantastic.)

But since I got lazy about unpicking seventy-billion yards worth of French seams, I just cut off the top of the original maxi, keeping the skirt, and then Frankenpatterned it onto the Upton bodice.

Which actually worked out pretty well, because it gave me these fun little swooshy secret side panels in the skirt!

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to swan about in a shiny new dress. Vacation fabric = SAVED. Hell yeah.

Love, peace, and Frankenpatterning,
Sumiko

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