A few months back during one of my thrifting trips, I purchased 3 different pieces of clothing that were all black with ivory polka dots. One was the pair of pants made into the shorts I showed you yesterday, and in addition to the pants I also picked up 2 dresses in similar fabrics. Of course I neglected to get pictures of the dresses before I cut them up, but basically they were rayon dresses from the 80s and looked something like this:
A long skirt with a contrasting waistband; a bathing suit strap; a hat; a top; aaaand a 'necklace'...
1) The Skirt
I detached the top from the bottom of the second dress and knew immediately I wanted to keep it a long skirt. I used this pattern (another one from the 80s!) for the hip area, the pleats, waistband and closure (the one on the far right, specifically):
The pattern pictures are almost the best part. You gotta give me credit for the vision :) I've used it before (which I'll show you at a later date) and I was really happy with the fit. I didn't have enough of the original fabric from the dress, but as it often happens--necessity being the mother of invention, etc--having to find another fabric ended up kind of making it for me. I cut up a section of the first dress (which had been sewn in panels), used some interfacing, a button I had on hand and a waistband was made for a very basic maxi-skirt!
Which brings me to the next project out of that first dress...
2) The Bathing Suit Strap
But to show this one, I have to start with this first...
Have you seen the swimsuits at Anthropologie?? They're a little bit heartbreaking. Especially this one which I'd wear as a top basically every day. And I can only imagine what they look like in person. I had to get a new bathing suit for our upcoming vacation (and wanted a one-piece for the first time in my life!) but also knew I couldn't afford $200. Once again, I had to get creative. Luckily, I found this one at Target.com. It was similar enough...and for the price, it kinda had to be right.
When it arrived, there were two problems. One--it was black and white. I don't like black and white. I like black and ivory. It might seem small but to me--literally night and day.
The other problem was the strap which you can kinda see on the third little tiny picture. The line was flattering, but it being so thin was too different from what I originally wanted.
So. I took the suit and soaked it in a tea bath (which I learned from my days of working in the costume shop in college). A tea bath is basically what it sounds like--a giant pot of tea in which the garment soaks and becomes "antiqued" in color. I think I used 8 or 9 tea bags in a stock pot half-full of boiling water for this one.
And the belt from that second thrifted 80s dress? ...is now the proper strap for the suit :)
I think they look pretty similar now, don't you?
3) The Top
When I originally detached the top from the bottom of the second dress, I wanted to keep the top. And I was really happy with the fit BUT even though I am quite short-waisted, the top was still super short. I toyed with the idea of adding a band of some sort to the bottom to lengthen it an inch or two, but I realized that if I created darts and kind of curved the bottom in a bit, that would help. So that's what I did and it worked. Two darts at the bottom of the bust, and slight taking in at the side seams. Still short--but I like it!
And I love that it goes with everything! (In my particular summer wardrobe, anyway :)
And my brilliant strategy--where I show you all my wardrobe items separately (as I've been doing) and then BAM! show you the 8 million various ways they all go together...is coming very soon. Very few things excite me more than a well-edited, thoughtful, efficiently designed seasonal wardrobe, (including shoes and accessories). It is my goal every year, twice a year. Don't always get there, but I think I did this year. (!!!!!) It literally makes my heart beat fast.
A Polka Dot Story, pt 3 coming next...