Make Do and Modify – The Purple Dress

Make Do and Mend Modify – The Purple Dress


This is the gorgeous dress my mum, the seamstress, made me! I’m so lucky that every time she needs something for the shop window she makes me a new dress, it’s usually a surprise which I only learn about when I mention a wedding I’m going to, but this one we chose together utilising left over satin mum had (hello post consumer waste right there!). It’s made using an original Vogue paper pattern from the 1950’s, Vintage chic right? Ummmm no, well not with my figure and preferences…
Turns out once on it was quite… well… frumpy/matronly. It was an onslaught of purple on the eyes too! So with the help of the three most brutally honest (in a good way) people  in my life (hubby, besty and editor in chief) and many a picture text, we worked out where it was going wrong. Thus began the make do and modify mission, because getting another dress would be a terrible waste! Obviously these principles can be applied to a vintage/op shop or even outdated dress purchase to make it perfect for you giving it a longer life and keeping it out of landfill!


 Skirt was designed for a petticoat, al la 1950’s, thus all that extra room around the belly. I don’t own a puffy petticoat, wouldn’t wear one any way, and actually don’t have room to store one either, so I had to run in all the seams on the skirt and take out some of the bulk. Best way to get that right is to put dress on inside out and pin from where the bulk bothers you, pin all seams evenly so it doesn’t pull in one direction (except maybe the zipper seam in the middle of the back if you don’t want to touch it or are in a hurry).  Try it on again. If  you’re happy, take out old seams where you’ve run it in, fix hem and press.


As historically correct as the sleeves were, they were simply too purple and a bit bulky around the armpit due to their bat-wing style cut. Through the simple process of holding my arms behind me hubby confirmed, the sleeves had to go. Still wanting to keep it vintage looking and in no way trying to make it modern, just flattering, I decided to make the cut so it was a cap sleeve, easy to change too!

After marking with a pin where I wanted the cap to finish I took my favourite cap sleeve dress (an op shop silk 70’s number I adore! Possibly the best $15 I’ve spent on clothes ever!) and my trusty ‘french curve’ and laid them in position. I marked the finishing line with dress makers chalk and then removed the 70’s number and curve and cut with seam allowance added. I added just enough seam allowance to double fold my overlocking inside the seam as to not be visible when I put my arms up and do that obligatory silly wedding group shot photographers in Australia love to do, groan. But I digress. Copied it perfectly on the other sleeve. Overlocked it, double turn, hand stitch down and press.Finally I decided to hand stitch the neck’s V to be a little more organised and a tad more open, as an open neck line can help a buxom lass like myself look a little less… buxom? Well that’s what the say anyway.


and… TADA! This is it post wedding cos I really only finished it in time to get ready and go to the wedding in the end.
Wore it with Grandma’s pearls (seemed fitting as she probably got them in the 50’s) and had a great time at the wedding. Hubby even wore a purple tie to match, naaaw!

On the pearl thing, these twist really badly and look messy does anyone have a trick to stop that???

Making do and Mending Modifying, yes I dig it!

Original post from 2/2/13

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