I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – one of the best parts of learning how to sew for me is the ability to see a dress that is very likely to be forgotten or discarded, and give her the opportunity to feel like new again. I spied this cherry red cutie at Pursuing Andie Vintage – an absolutely stunning Vicky Vaughn with lace trimmed collar and sleeves and a scalloped drop waist, all wrapped up in a cloud of dotted swiss adorableness.
She had but one flaw (well two, but they were the same issue). There was a one-inch horizontal tear at the waist, and a repair to a similar tear on the other side. This kind of tear is not as simple as restitching a popped seam, but it’s actually not as much of a crisis as you may think.
This kind of damage is usually the result of an excess amount of strain in a high pressure area. As the waist tends to be the smallest part of a dress, it usually puts up with the most fabric stress. As you can see, the seam along the waist was weak and a repair was attempted at one point (with a purple thread). The tear itself was pretty significant, resulting in a series of frayed fibers across the gap.
If you see a dress with this kind of damage – fear not! With some advice from Sewanista, I cut a small rectangle of similar weighted red fabric (you can also take a piece from the hem if there’s excess hem allowance). I pinked the edges to avoid fraying (using pinking shears like these). Firstly, I made sure the seam on either side of the tear were secure and closed, by hand stitching each side.
Then, I placed my rectangle of fabric on the inside of the dress at the area of the damage, and hand-stitched it underneath the tear. I moved in a back and forth sinusoidal pattern, starting at one edge and stitching upwards, then down, taking care to fully cover the area. When you flip it over, the repair is visible when looking closely, but it’s very unlikely anyone will ever notice it.
This patch and repair technique can be used anywhere there’s a tear – it’s better than simply stitching two sides of a tear together, as the fabric will be forever weak in that area and will likely continue to rip over time. With a patch or a product like Stitch Witchery, you’re taking strength from the fabric around the tear and reinforcing the weak spot, as opposed to adding more strain.
I’m so happy I was able to breath life back into this amazing dress – the thought of her being left unworn just due to minor damage would break my heart. Here continues Kara’s never-ending speech about seeing past a garment’s flaws – but the next time you’re in a thrift store or vintage shop, keep an eye out for the items discounted due to minor damage. Chances are, there’s a beauty lying just underneath the surface…
The downside to my ability to sew and inability to walk past a vintage garment that “just needs a little love” means my sewing pile is towering to the sky. And it never seems to get smaller. Some day I dream of the perfect sewing room, full of light, where all of my projects can be organized and easy to find. Part of the problem is that much of my sewing has to be packed away for storage purposes. As they say, out of sight, out of mind… Until you open said storage area and your sewing pile threatens to drown you. But, no matter how crazy it gets, I can’t seem to walk away from the opportunity to bring a vintage garment back to her former glory.
Speaking of upcycling, this past weekend the Bindaring Clothing Sale had finally arrived! I went with my lovely friend Beth (of Bettina Darling), and we had the most amazing time and scored the most AMAZING deals. As someone who is not a friend to the early morning, we didn’t queue at 7:00 with the die-hard op shoppers, but when we arrived at 10:30, there was still so many amazing things to scoop up. I think my favorite bargain was a pair of gold glitter Miu Miu wedges – coming soon to a blog post near you!
Let’s rock this new week, shall we?
Dress: Pursuing Andie Vintage (similar modern or vintage here, here & here)
Bracelet: NZ street fair (similar)
Handbag: The Wonder Shop (similar here & here)
Shoes: White House Black Market (similar here & here)