For this week's edition of Refashion Runway, we were challenged to create something for Halloween. Check out what I made below, and then go see everyone else's creations and vote for your favorite!
Little did I know at the time, but I totally lucked into the perfect materials for this challenge a few months ago via my local Freecycle community. A woman was offering a wedding dress and two different pink 1980's bridesmaid's dresses. I always jump at the chance of free fabric, so without any idea what I would do with them, these dresses came to live with me. For months, they hung on the back of my sewing room's closet door, eliciting snickers from myself and my guests at even a glance from the hallway.
The wedding gown was quite pretty but a bit big on me (luckily, there was boning to keep the bodice up or these before pics could've been really indecent). The bridesmaid's dresses were a bit too small (just a couple inches shy of zipping/hooking in the back).
And let's not neglect the backs. Apparently, it's not formal wear without butt-bows.
So let's think for a minute. What sort of Halloween costume could I make with a floor-length white gown and two pink calf-length dresses? Hhmmm... I've got it!!
It's perfect! And you know Cinderella was a refashionista in her own right. Before she wowed Prince Charming in that blue gown her Fairy Godmother magicked up for her, she had grand plans of transforming her mother's "old fashioned" pink and white dress into something more fitting for the ball. Of course, waiting on her evil step-mother and step-sisters kept her too busy for sewing. Luckily, her mice friends and some lovely little birds lent a hand/paw/wing and finished her dress for her just in time. Don't worry though. I'll be recreating this fairy-tale dress all on my own - no cheating with tiny animal helpers.
As most refashions do, this one began with scissors. I amputated the pink skirts and carefully ironed out the wrinkles and pleats.
From the pale pink one, I cut a 5-inch wide strip, plus two strips about 13 inches wide. I used part of one 13-inch strips to lengthen the other one, making it the same circumference as the dark pink skirt.
Then I joined the pale pink to the bottom of the dark pink, right sides facing, and then pressed the seam.
Next I folded the bottom edge of the pale pink upward to the inside and sewed "in the ditch" so my seam wouldn't be too obvious from the outside.
Setting the skirt aside momentarily, I carefully harvested the bows from the back of the pale pink dress. There were only three of them, and I would need five total - four for the skirt and one for the bodice. So from the remainder of that 13-inch strip, I cut the pieces to make two more bows, one with tails and one without.
I stitched my pieces together around the edges, leaving holes and notching out the corners in order to turn them right-side-out.
Once they were right-side-out and pressed, I folded and pinned and hand-stitched them into shape. Can you tell the difference between the originals and mine? Yeah, me too, but whatever. They're good enough.
So back to the skirt, I pinched and pleated the pale pink border upward in four places and stitched the folds down.
Then I hand-sewed on my four bows with tails.
Now let's tackle the bodice, shall we? The dark pink bodice had a great shape, but it needed some tweaking, like you know, making it fit me for starters. First I removed those beautiful sleeves. Then for some reason, I had this inexplicable urge to go swimming. Weird, huh?
With those out of the way, I could start making my adjustments.
First, I cut the bottom edge straight across and picked out the side seams. I even saved the hanger straps for reuse later.
To make some side inserts, I cut apart the huge poofy sleeves and ironed out them out. Seriously, people, sleeves do not need this much fabric! That's a full-size ironing board for comparison.
I cut four rectangles that flared out ever so slightly toward the bottom.
I separated the outer fabric and lining of the front piece and attached my new side panels.
Then I did the same for the back piece. And while the bodice was still inside out, I stitched the underarm edges together, re-inserted my hanger straps.
I flipped it right-side-out again, tried it on, and it fit like a glove!
Now it was time to tackle the wedding gown. Did I mention the stains? Yeah, there were stains on the front of the skirt, presumably cake frosting, champagne, etc. No biggie though, since I'll be covering that with my pink over-skirt.
I put the dress on and marked where it needed to be cut. Then I carefully removed all those lovely buttons down the back, as well as hook-n-eyes, snaps, zipper - the lot.
Then I cut. Let me tell you, despite the stains and the fact that this wasn't even my wedding dress, I still had a hard time cutting into it. But cut I did.
From the flappy thing at the top of the bodice, I cut two trapezoidal shapes to become my straps.
I folded them inside-out and stitched along the edge.
Then I flipped them right-side-out again and gave them a good press.
Having realized I needed to attached them to my new bodice, I had to pick out the underarm seam I made earlier, but that wasn't too bad. I inserted my straps in between the lining and outer fabric, with the whole thing inside-out.
Then restitched my underarm seams.
And tada! Straps! Perhaps not as poofy as Cinderella's, but I believe I've made my feelings toward poofy sleeves abundantly clear.
Now my bodice needs Cinderella's signature sashes. Remember the 5-inch-wide strip from the pale pink skirt? I cut it into three pieces - two about 16 inches long and one 32 inches long.
The short ones were made into tubes, while the long one was simply pressed in half. Then I attached them to my bodice.
The last remaining bow - the one without the tails - I hand-stitched at the top of the bust. I even tacked down the sides so they wouldn't flop over.
Whew! Okay, the bodice is finished. Let's go back to the skirt for a bit. I removed the little bits of boning from below my cut line on the wedding dress.
Then I inserted the white skirt into my pink overskirt and started pinning. I pinned at the back on each side of the zipper, then at each side seam, and at the center front. From there, to gather the fabric evenly, I would find the halfway point between each pin on the pink skirt and and the halfway point on the white skirt, and pin them together. I kept doing this until I had a pin every inch or so all the way around.
As I sewed the two skirts together, I pleated the excess fabric between pins as I went.
Now let's put the whole dress together. I turned my skirt inside-out and put my right-side-out bodice inside it. Then I pinned and sewed around the waist.
I used the extra fabric of the waist sash to fold over and encase my raw edges. True, this is inside the dress, and no one except me would ever know. BUT this fabric frays like crazy, and I'd prefer not to have strings getting caught in the zipper. Speaking of the zipper, the last step for the dress was reattaching the bottom half of the zipper to my new skirt. I could've sworn I snapped a pic of this, but maybe not. Trust me, though, it happened.
Now before I can show you my finished dress, we've got some accessories to tackle! From the leftover bits of the wedding dress's flappy thing, I cut two small rectangles.
Each was sewn into a tube, the seam was pressed, the tube flipped right-side-out, and pressed again.
The longer one was folded over to form a bow and sewn down the center.
The shorter one was wrapped around the bow and a $1 headband from the craft store (technically, $1.99 but I used a 50% off coupon). Then I hand-sewed it together down.
While I was at the craft store, I picked up some blue frosted glass beads for $3 (40% off $4.99). Using fishing line and notions from my jewelry supplies, I whipped up a simple necklace.
Finally, even though it's not 100% faithful to the costume, I needed a handbag. How else will I carry the keys to my pumpkin carriage? I chopped off the sleeves of the pale pink dress. They had this weird mesh lining, I guess to make them poofier, because, you know, it's all about the poof. The extra layer will add a little more stability to my clutch, so I'll take it.
I also salvaged the pale pink zipper from the back of the dress.
After ironing the poofy wrinkles out of my sleeves, I laid them on top of one another and cut out two rectangles - about 6" x 8" and 6" x 16".
Each long piece got the pleat treatment.
Then I sandwiched the zipper between a pleated piece and a plain piece, with right sides facing, and sewed them together.
Then I did the same on the other side of the zipper.
Next, unzip the zipper (that's very important if you want to be able to turn your purse right-side-out later) and pin pleated to pleated and plain to plain, right sides facing. Then I sewed almost all the way around, leaving a hole at the bottom of the plain pieces.
Then, if you unzipped your zipper, you should be able turn your purse right-side-out now.
Close up that hole in the plain pieces.
Stuff your lining inside and you've got a cute little clutch!
And now I would like to address all those people who just scrolled to the bottom without reading about all the hard work that went into this costume. Shame on you!
But here it is! All finished and ready for some trick-or-treating. Huh? What do you mean "too old"?
So let's see if I can do the math...
$0 wedding dress
$0 dark pink bridesmaid dress
$0 pale pink bridesmaid dress
$4 thrifted pepto-pink kitten heels
$8 Cinderella costume
Can't beat that price!
What? You didn't know Cinderella had ink?
If only I could convince my husband to dress up as Prince Charming, but alas, there are some things beyond even the power of a Fairy Godmother.