So the other day when I was running an errand in a district of Paris I do not know that well, I spied a rather unusual (for Paris) thrift shop. Yes there are vintage shops all over Paris, but they are not like England's second hand shops where it is possible to get true bargains. And this wasn't really a shop. It was more like a garage with the front open and its wares spilling out onto the street. This dress was hung at the front and I immediately fell in love.
It may not be something unique or amazing but I really liked the shape and I am a sucker for dark blue dresses. I thought it looked a bit small but I figured it was elasticated so gave it a try. I hid behind some boxes and did my best to get it on. No way in hell. TOO small and there was no hidden zip. I was sad, "C'est trop petite pour moi". I handed it back and walked off.
But I KNEW it would look good on me and it looked like maybe it COULD fit if maybe I could do SOMETHING to it. So I went back and offered her four euros for it. I was determined to make it fit.
With the aid of some Joni Mitchell I cracked on.
What I Did:
As the main problem was getting it on over my head and it being too tight across my chest when I eventually did get it on at home, I decided I would simply remove the top half of the back.
So I marked with some pins where I thought I would cut down to. I thought about where my chest was and made sure it was below that (for maximum give).
I then cut this panel away, leaving 1cm all round of the elasticated panel to use to make new seams.
I put the closest book to hand between the front and back so you can better see the cut. As you can see the back opens up MUCH more.
I then pinned it all around which was most fiddly on the elasticated section.
Next I stitched all around using a zig-zag stitch. I used zig-zag because I only folded the fabric over once and wanted to make sure it would not fray at all and thought this would be the most secure way of doing it.
I tried it on and could now get it over my shoulders and chest easily. But I wasn't done...
Last week on my way home I found this rather ugly lampshade on the street, I had an idea for the wire frame so took it home. But also noticed it has some rather lovely lace and ribbon attached. Looking at the dress I decided that the ribbon would make a great tie for the top.
So I took the ribbon, cut it in half and sewed half to each side about an inch from the top.
And it was done!
I am pretty happy with the result. I am really too broke right now to buy new clothes so this was perfect. The whole project cost 4E, that is it. I borrowed the sewing machine, and salvaged everything else. I am tempted to sew three old mother of pearl buttons I have in a line on the front to further personalize it. But I am enjoying flouncing around in it the way it is (I have already rocked it about twice for a dinner party and a walk in the woods). Proof that with some imagination the perfect dress can be really REALLY cheap.
I could have taken the whole back out and put eyelets in and laced it up corset style... I very nearly did. But that meant buying eyelets...! This was better.
Sleeping comfortably in my new dress in some French woodlands (hiding from the Paris smog).