On this episode of Refashion Runway, the contestants were given the theme "Buttons" to inspire our creativity! Have a gander at my project below before you hop on over to The Renegade Seamstress to see the other entries and vote for your favorite!
I picked up this giant, blue, faux wrap dress at Thrift City a couple months ago with the intention of turning it into the shirt dress of my dreams, and this button challenge played right into my hands!
I began by removing the ties and side zipper (which I hadn't even noticed was there at first - I just slipped it over my head). I snipped the stitches holding the cuffs up and them amputated the sleeves entirely. I also cut the skirt from the bodice right at the waist seam.
Let's tackle the bodice first! There were a couple spots where the seams were blown out, so I took in all four princess seams a smidge to fix those. Then I took in several inches from each side seam to make it fit me. A quick press and my serged seams were all nice and flat.
Next came the skirt! There were a few small holes near the hemline also, but a bit of a chop solved that problem. I took in the seams in the same manner and amounts at the bodice seams. I even reattached the laundering tag at the side seam. Then I cut the front panel straight up the middle.
Then I gave the bottom a neat new hem by serging, folding, pressing, and stitching around the edge.
I reattached the skirt to the bodice, aligning the seams. Then I trimmed off the points of the original wrap panels to even up the edges. Next, I was going to need a button band on each side, so I grabbed the old ties, pressed out all the wrinkles, and trimmed the longer one to be the same length as the shorter one.
Starting at the bottom hem, I folded my button band around the front edge of my dress and pinned it in place. When I reached the collar, I marked where the button band should stop and trimmed the excess about 1/2 inch above that pin, on the same angle. Then I twisted the button band around and folded it around the front edge in the opposite direction.
I stitched the end in place, right below where the collar meets the dress. Then I snipped the folded edge so it would lay flat and trimmed the corners so they wouldn't stick out from under my button band. Then I folded the button band downward again and finished off top-stitching all the way down. I repeated this entire process with the other button band on the opposite front edge.
Next, I turned my attention to the sleeves. They obviously needed to be narrower, but I wanted them a bit longer as well. So I picked out the seams from the double-layer cuffs and then picked out the seams attaching them to the sleeves as well. Then I flipped them over and sewed them back on with the interfaced side facing upward instead. I pressed the serged edge up about 1/2 inch, then folded the cuff in half to hide the interfacing and pressed again.
The trimmed-off piece of the longer tie from the original dress was the perfect length to get two cuff straps out of it. I cut it in half, then folded each of them in half lengthwise and stitched across the ends. Next I trimmed the corners to reduce the bulk when they are folded right-side-out. Then another line of stitching along the edge closed them up.
I made a buttonhole on one end of each strap and attached them to the inside of each sleeves, just above the cuff. I measured and marked the approximate width I wanted my new sleeves and trimmed the sleeve caps accordingly.
Each sleeves was pinned and stitched to an armhole, leaving the excess fabric to dangle at the underarm. Once I had the sleeves set-in nicely, I took in the extra width to align with the underarm seam on the dress, with a slight taper toward to cuffs. Then I went back and serged the raw edges around the armhole as well.
With that, my dress was almost completely and yet still completely unwearable. I needed some way to close up the front, right? Hmm... what could I use for that? Oh I know! Buttons! Though I have a massive collection of buttons inherited from my grandmother, I wanted to get creative with these instead. As luck would have it, inspiration struck while Laika and I were out for a walk one day. We came across a few dead tree branches at the curb in front of a neighbor's house, and I thought, "Hey! I could slice those up into little wooden buttons!" I picked up another branch from in front of another neighbor's house too, for a little variety. I'm sure any passersby thought I was nutso, dragging tree branches around, but oh well.
The second branch I found was oak and came with a bonus - lots and lots of little acorns, ripe for the plucking and perfect for some autumn-related craft project down the road I'm sure.
Once I removed all the acorns and the smaller branches sticking out everywhere, it was time to break out the saw. My handsaw was too bulky for such fine work, so I popped down to the hardware store for a coping saw, much better suited to making tiny little slices.
I quickly learned that while the pine had a richer color and the delicious smell of Christmas, it was too soft a material for this project. As I sawed slices from the branch, the bark kept flaking off around the edges. So I decided to go with the oak instead.
I used a 1/16 inch drill bit to create two little holes in each button. Then I gave them all a quick smoothing out with some fine grit sandpaper, which helped get rid of those grey saw marks too.
After making quite a mess of myself, I eventually had a collection of 20 wooden buttons, about 3/4 inches in diameter.
I brushed myself off and came inside with my loot. I borrowed some lemon oil that my husband uses to oil the fret board on his guitar and gave each of my buttons a rub-down to bring out the wood grain a bit more. Then I removed any excess oil with an old t-shirt. Then I had a cookie while I admired my work.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this last step. No cookie and your buttons will be ruined. Consider yourself warned.
Now that I had my buttons, I arranged them on my dress until I was happy with the number and spacing, and then I made all the buttonholes ever. Seriously. I think it's safe to say I much prefer the process of making buttons to that of making buttonholes. Ugh. Then I got to sit on the couch with some Netflix and hand-sew on all those buttons. Not a terrible way to spend an evening.
While I loved my new dress from the moment I put it on, I still felt the outfit was incomplete. I had used a something unconventional to make my buttons, so why not use some buttons to make something unconventional? I rifled through my button collection and found this cool knight guy. Then I grabbed an old belt, a couple broken zippers, a piece of broken necklace, and some hemp cord and set to work on a cool leather cuff bracelet.
I used my leather punch and a hammer to add a few more holes to the end of the belt. Then I cut off a length for my bracelet. Then I realized that was still too long and cut off some more.
I was going to need a way to fasten my cuff, so I threaded a piece of cord through a small brass button and stuck both ends through the first and last holes on my leather. I tried it on the determine how long to make it and then tied a knot and trimmed off the ends.
I wanted to add a bit of bling, so I used my wire snips to trim the broken chain to the correct length. Then I used a regular needle and thread to stitch it onto my cuffs, going through the pre-punched holes and snagging a link in the chain and then back down through the holes.
Finally, I added my knight button by anchoring it through the center hole with a clear plastic button on the inside of my bracelet.
I slipped it on my left wrist, and wouldn't you know it? My right wrist felt sad and lonely all of a sudden. So I grabbed that broken off-white zipper and some more gold buttons. I used my jewelry pliers to remove the metal stoppers from the zipper and then trimmed both pieces to the right length for my wrist. I made a little loop of cord and stitched it to both layers of the zipper held together. Then I added loads of buttons, with a shank button at the very end to go through my cord loop.
And then I waited for the a break in the rain long enough for some quick park pics!
Now go check out the other competitors' button-themed refashions at The Renegade Seamstress and cast your vote!