Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Frankenstein Dress

I've been spending nights deep in thought up in my laboratory...

Have you ever designed or made a dress?  I'm giving it a try.

I love projects.  Coming up with a cool idea, learning new skills as I try to make something, and relishing a final result is always fun.  The process usually has unexpected twists and surprises that keep me jumping.

I have a beautiful long gown that I thrifted last year for a song.  It fits me perfectly -- but how often do you have occasion to wear a formal gown?  Almost never.

A light bulb went off in my brain.  I could convert this gown into a shorter, sassier party-dress!  That prospect fueled other ideas and, before good sense had time to visit me, I decided to create a Frankenstein dress.  Why Frankenstein?  Because I'm creating my monster out of pieces from three different dresses, along with some scraps found on my laboratory floor.  (Its brain is from a bloke named "Abby Normal.")

The monster I hope to end up with will be a flirty 1950's housewife dress, shortened to just below the knee, flaring out with a petticoat sewn into the skirt, and embellished with a new fabric belt that ties in a big fluffy bow in back.  I might add a flower button, too.

This project is obviously going to take some serious sewing.  Rather than bemoan that prospect, I'm welcoming it.  It will entice me to learn new sewing skills. 

I've long admired bloggers who can make and re-fashion clothes.  (I'm talking about you, Megan and poet!)  Given my odd body-shape and frequent fit-issues, knowing how to alter clothes is a talent I need to acquire.  This project is a catalyst for me to learn it.

Can you sew?  Do you ever make your own clothes?  Can you tailor any that need a little adjustment?


  1. This sounds exciting !
    I hope you document everything so you can share.
    I cannot sew and I just had my great grandmothers sewing machine back running and next week I am taking a beginner´s sewing class.
    Just the very, very, VERY basics - probably something like sewing a button.

    1. I agree with Lorena, I need tips for sewing. I can't wait to see it!

  2. Well, I certainly like your description of the dress and look forward to seeing it! :-)

    Yes, I sew and my mom does and my grandma and my great-grandma probably did too! Do they even teach sewing in high school anymore? Hmmm... I have made clothing before but I haven't sewn anything in years.

    Good luck with your project! :-)


  3. It sounds like it's going to be super cute! I don't have a sewing machine and I wish I did because I always want to try to sew my own hair bows and skirts and such. I think it would be awesome to chose my own funky fabric and make my own things but I don't know how to sew ;( Sometimes I hand sew lace trim on my shirts and I always stab myself haha.

    can't wait to see the pics of this dress!

  4. I'm currently performing plastic surgery on an uncle's western style dress shirt to turn it into a shirt dress. I've also given a facelift to a cotton dress, and am planning on sewing a simple skirt this weekend for my sister's birthday party. I also add elastic to the back of my jeans on the inside to solve the butt-gap issue. I love that sewing gives me the ability to customize my clothes!!

  5. Sounds like you've got some great ideas for your dress. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

    Considering you just mentioned me - Yes I sew! I have never made my own clothes, but I can tailor most things. I know better than to touch any kind of pants after ruining about 10 pairs. I can hem a leg a bit, but for the most part if pants don't fit, I skip them.

    I did completely remake a men's shirt into a women's skirt, but it isn't the prettiest.

    My best advice is to practice, practice, practice. And get a cheap machine.

  6. i wish so much i could do thing slike this but i know it would be a disaster. im not artsy, crafty or good with my hands..at least not at sewing. but i am SO jealous of anyone who can do things like this! i think i have good style but i could never think up in my head a design and then make it..NEVER! i cannot freakin wait to see your finished product though!

  7. I applaud this effort and look forward to seeing the Frankenstein. I know recently I have dreamed a couple of dress designs, but my seamstress skills are pretty lowly and no doubt I will be retired before I actually attempt to make these frocks.

  8. I sew on the Mini Monster, which is my nickname for my cheap little sewing machine. There's no foot pedal; you just turn it on, mind your fingers, and try not to totally botch whatever you're sewing. I had big aspirations to launch my own little dress line. I have a ton of fabric in my closet along with prototypes, but neither the time or the skills to make it happen.

  9. You go girl! 1950s dresses are generally awesome, good luck making one. I will warn you that refashioning with non-stretchy fabric takes its time, so this will be a lengthier project... :) I'm curious to see some "before" pictures, and if you run into any questions during refashioning, please ask!

  10. What an awesome challenge you're setting yourself! I can sew, but don't, however, tailoring clothing makes me too nervous. I keep thinking that I need to sew, but heck, I don't get to do the other things I already have stashed, like scrapbooking and beading, so where would I possibly add that it and well :-)

  11. I used to sew quite a bit but it's been years and I really wish I could pick it up again!

    Courtney ~ http://sartorialsidelines.com

  12. Oooo! Good luck. This is a very exciting endeavor. I have made a few things before. And regularly hem/ alter things. I think a lot of times it is easier to make a dress from scratch than to do major reconstructive surgery on an existing piece. Especially when they have LINING (ick). Once you learn to sew and alter pieces a little the world of thrifting really opens up for you. Looking forward to your updates!
    Although maybe it should be the BRIDE of Frankenstein dress?

  13. Good luck with this challenge ~ I CAN'T WAIT to see the end result. I can sew ~ did it as a subject at school and have made myself lots of clothes in the past but can't say that I enjoy it. I would rather scrapbook and have someone else sew for me.

  14. If you are still interested I have 3 seamstress who are interested in tackling this project for you Ally......Just contact me when you are ready...

  15. I so need to learn how to tailor clothing. I too have a lot of fit issues. Mine are due to my bilateral mastectomy and large midsection due to lots of steriod meds for my asthma. I look forward to seeing what you create!

  16. In answer to your last questions, no, no, and no. I wish I could. I've tried. I just can't. So I envy anyone who can. I'm excited that you're learning and wish you the best of luck. Your project sounds exciting! I can't wait to see the outcome, and to send you all of my jeans so you can hem the legs up 3" to properly fit 5'2" me.

  17. "It's pronounced 'Fronkensteen'!!" hahaha Now I wanna go watch that movie.

    I can't wait to see how it goes. 1950s dresses are THE BEST!!

    I have veeeery basic sewing skills. I too envy people who can make something look so professional. I get very frustrated by sewing and am not very patient with it. But every time I walk into Anthropologie, I think, if only I could sew my own clothes, I could stop wanting to buy things here. My sewing machine is old and persnickety and cumbersome. But this weekend, I'm getting my MIL's old sewing machine, which is much newer than mine, since she got a new one, so I hope that will make a big difference. My grandmother and aunt were avid sewers and made beautiful things, and I'd love to keep up that tradition and pass some of it down to my daughter someday.

  18. Sounds like a great project! Playing with altering and transforming thrift store finds is one of the best ways to learn sewing, imo. I learned altering thrifted t-shirts when I was still in college.