Vintage Polka Dot Dress, Refashioned

There were a few things I didn’t like about it. Three things, specifically that I didn’t like: the length, no sleeves, the huge plunging back (which I don’t have a picture of before). So, I made some alterations:

1. I hemmed it up so it hit right below my knees
 2. Made sleeves from the ruffle at the bottom of the dress
3. And made a panel for that too-low (but really pretty) back

 And now I’m kind of obsessed with it.

My friend Tracy who is an amazing seamstress and has a really good eye for this kind of thing graciously stopped over and gave me a few tips before getting starting. Although I think if she would have seen me actually making the alterations she would have been wincing in pain. I messed up on quite a few things but in the end it was a great learning experience and I love the result.
Here are a few more pictures of the process:

 This is the bottom piece that I cut off and used for the sleeves and back panel. I added hem lace to the inside of the hem before doing the blind hem by hand.

 This is the ruffle piece from the bottom that I used to make the sleeves. I undid most of the gather except for the top part on the shoulder. The hand stitching to attach it was painful but other than that, it wasn’t too tricky. At one point I thought I was losing my sight, but as it turned out, I just needed a bowl of ice cream and tv break. Seems to cure most sewing-related ailments.

I had to fudge the back panel a bit (well, actually a lot) because I didn’t have quite the amount of fabric I needed for the length. I had to attach two pieces together to get the right length, but in the end that seam was hidden by voluminous ruffles anyway.

 I stitched the back panel on the right side and added snaps inside the ruffle on the left so I could get in the dress. What’s the point of a pretty dress you can’t get in?

Henry wanted to show off his outfit too πŸ™‚


wow! Love it! I refashioned a polka-dot vintage outfit for the Fourth of July a couple weeks ago! hahaTessa Brooke

this is so pretty! you are so pretty!knowing houw to sew is one of my dream.

OH!!!! DIVINE!! I am in love with it too!! I wish I was better at sewing … or at least having an eye for finding such fab fabric and making it into something oh so fabulous!

This dress is adorable! I love what you did with it. It would be obsessed with it too!

Oh Liz, it's absolutely fun, playful, and gorgeous. And I'm totally with you. Love the gorgeous plunging back. Some days I wish it was more appropriate for us to wear it πŸ™‚ But love how you fixed it too.

This is too adorable Liz. You have a good eye. Nice work on the alterations.

Oh my gosh – this turned out AMAZING! You did a wonderful job! It looks like the dress walked right out of Kate Spade's home! πŸ™‚

oh HURRAY!!! it turned out so good – and i can't believe i knew that dress before it was famous πŸ˜‰ great job liz

So cute! I think the addition of the sleeves makes that cute ruffled neckline seem even more dramatic. Great job!

It's adorable. I couldn't pull off a dress like that, but maybe my 7 year old could.

very, very nice.i did the same thing with a dress last year– desperately searching for something cute with sleeves for a wedding, and ended up having to pull the same stunt! i bought a sleeveless dress 10 sizes too big, and used the extra fabric to put in some sleeves.i wanted to kill myself through the entire process.but the end result was worth it!

You are officially my sewing hero. You're the only person who doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes with straight pins when you talk about sewing.And the bit about losing your sight? You had me laughing out loud.

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Great job- I'm totally inspired πŸ™‚

You are a thrifting genius! I was on the thrift tour when you picked it up! Wow! What an amazing transformation!!

your blog is beautiful… I have so enjoyed to travel it…

Love what you did, it looks amazing. I wish I would know how to do stuff like that, super cool!Viele Gruesse, Kristina

not that I'm at all underestimating your skills, but damn girl. Amazing!

Cute polka dots! Great job, Liz! You just inspired me to get through the bag of clothes in my closet!

this is the BEST dress i've seen in a long time. i love it!

who are you!? this is amazing. you have an amazing eye for potential!

Ok, Liz – you are totally on a roll! I keep starring your posts in reader. I love the dress…turned out so cute. πŸ™‚

Looks lovely! Well deserving of another bowl of ice cream!

oh my goodness, you guys are making my day. thanks for all your lovely comments πŸ™‚

Oh wow! That is so cute! I am super impressed with your skills.

so lovely! perfect date dress right? i love the buttons and ruffle in the back. and the red belt addition is super cute. i am inspired. the ice cream break sounds familiar. i have been known to yell a few profanities to my sewing machine late at night.

Wow, that turned out AWESOME. I just picked up a dress at Goodwill two days ago that I want to make a few adjustments to…thanks for the inspiration!KaylaFreckles in April | a modest clothing blog

Wow that is amazing! Love the new version of the dress. You are so crafty and clever.

Liz, it's fantastic. Not only does it look good but I have to applaud your patience.That had to have been the hardest part to master as you painstakingly took it apart and remade it. Well done!

Wowee I miss my sewing machine!! So very clever – well done!

Aaaaand this makes me wish I could sew. (I can't, not even a hem). Stunning!

Liz! I'm so proud of you. It's darling, and I think I paid way too much for a similar J. Crew design. I'd rather have yours.

wow – amazing work! i love it.xx graceps – just added you to my blog roll πŸ™‚

That is just TOO STINKIN CUTE! I'd swoon if I found a dress like that in my thrift store. Those ruffles are just not typical for second hand stuff. What you did with it is just poifect! Muah.PS. The lighting in your home is gorgeous.

I love this dress! It looks fantastic! I would totally wear it oh every day. πŸ™‚ You've inspired me to try to add sleeves. . . . Thanks!

this looks awesome! I thought it was pretty great before, but the after version is even better. I have a few 'maxi' dresses, and you've inspired me to cut into them!

Wow!!! The dress is amazing! I love the cut and style.~Ilsa

I love this dress! It's prefect! You did a good job, you make me want to start sewing… janel

LOVE IT! And I think all my projects would make a seamstress wince since I tend to be all about winging it. Not the best way to sew, but it works for me. I don't know if I would attempt anything as ambitious as this, but you're giving me inspiration!

Oh my goodness this is an amazing transformation! You have such a good eye to see the awesome potential in that dress! It turned out adorable πŸ™‚

You did a great job! I love the ruffle details of the dress, and the polka dots!

That is genius!!! It looks so anthropologie-esque. I LOVE IT!!

Great job! It looks so much better. You have some serious vision!

this is AMAZING. great great great job πŸ™‚ I want one…

wow, it turned out so cool. i love the neckline and the length. it looks great with the belt. def a dress to smile about.

obsessed. kate spade should take her inspiration from you!!

SO CUTE!!! You did an awesome job. I love sewing by hand rather than a machine on clothes. πŸ™‚

Great job! Really cute dress and it looks great on you! Makes me want to learn to sew…

You were right–it's adorable! Well done.And, uhm, when did Henry turn into a giant?

Wow! so adorable, makes me take a 2nd look at some of my old items.

I was dying for this dress when we saw it in the shop and was so eager to see what you did with it. LADY! I'm so impressed! You added SLEEVES????? You are officially a bad ass. It looks really adorable on youβ€”sassy but chic! Well done!! The colors are so good on this and suit you to a teeee!

You did an amazing job breathing new life into this dress! It's a total transformation, and in its new short sassy state is very ala Kate Spade. I bet it twirls like a dream. Cheers.

Just lovely! You have a great eye for clothes. Ever thought about pouring more into that? You could sell for sure. Really, it's just lovely!

You totally look like a Mad Men gal in that dress! Great alterations!

Liz I'd be obsessed too. It looks so much better. Time to get a sewing machine around these parts I'd say.

Oh wow! You did a great job! It looks amazing and it is such a cute, great, "go to" dress.

It looks SO fantastic! That's the thing with vintage that makes me swoon – there's so much you could do to refashion it and update it to make your own πŸ™‚ You look seriously so cute! ADORE.

that just might be the cutest dress ever! and now i'm trying not to be jealous because it's one of a kind.

It looks amazing! And I agree with you… ice cream cures all sewing ailments.

so darling!!! I would wear that in a heartbeat! it

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