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Monday, March 28, 2011

A daunting task

As you know, I do Irish dancing and I'm to the point where I've had a solo dress for about the last year.  While owning a custom solo dress is a dream come true, as with most things, I start thinking about a more updated model.

After this last St. Patrick's Day, I decided that there was just something about my dress that needed to change, and that was the green sleeves.  I love the green and the lace pattern but I started to think that a solid colored top with green accents would be more 'mature' looking.  The problem? I don't have the money to go out and buy a new dress.  These dresses generally run between $1000-$2000 and I just can't justify that cost.  How could I update my current one?

I started to peek at the seams and thought it might be easy to just replace the current green sleeves with black velvet, but could I find the same thing?  The dressmaker had sent me a swatch for each fabric she used so I took the black velvet to the store.  JoAnn's was a bust so I decided to postpone my search for another day. We were off to buy food for the pets, when lo-and-behold, there was a Hancock Fabrics in the same parking lot!  I didn't know there was one within even a 10 mile radius so I begged the hubby to drop me off while he picked up animal food.

I promptly located the velvet section but alas, the black they had didn't match and mine had a bit of a stretch to it.  As a last resort, I asked an employee if they knew where I could find a similar fabric.  He started to lead me to what I assumed was the same velvet section, but no! There was a stretch velvet row!    I practically squealed with joy and instantly picked up the fabric to make the sleeves.

Draping the fabric over the current sleeve. Trying to gather courage.

Now, the hard part, do I really want to slice and dice my pricey dress?  I laid the fabric out but just couldn't bring myself to it. So... I called my mom.

My mom is a sewing master.  She went to fashion design school and while I was embarrassed by her skills when I was a kid (why couldn't I have a cheap, grocery store costume at Halloween like everyone else?) I've learned to value her expertise.

She came over and we instantly set to work.  She removed the old sleeves and traced a new pattern for the velvet version.  I removed the black embroidered cuffs from the previous sleeves and my mom reattached them to the new velvet sleeves.  It took a couple of hours but...

Voila! The new and improved dress!
I love the 'new' dress.  I think it looks sleeker and more elegant.  I'm looking forward to my next competition in a couple of weeks and testing out the revised dress.  What do you think?


  1. It's a massive improvement - as you say much more elegant with the black sleeves. And well done mum, isn't it great when they come to your rescue like that?! x

  2. Wow I would have been scared to cut into an expensive dress too! But it looks like you did a great job. It does look sleeker and elegant!

  3. The new sleeves are a real improvement, though I can quite relate to your anxiety about cutting away the old ones! Thank heavens for mums! Well done to you both. I love your hair in the picutre, by the way.

  4. Hi, just found your post from Casey's blog. I am an Irish lass as well. I have always admired the dancers from afar. Your re-fashioned dress is wonderful. Your Mum did a great job. You will be even more lovely in it!

  5. Thank you everyone for the lovely comments! I'm thrilled about the changes to the dress - I think it's definitely an improvement and wasn't too hard to execute (especially with my mom's help). ;)

  6. Your new updated dress is beautiful! It must be wonderful to have such a talented Mom, too!

  7. You're amazing, girl! I can't even hem a pair of pajama bottoms.


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