Making a new dress from an old one

I had this dress I really liked. I liked it so much that I had worn it down to the point where the knit fabric just looked old and frayed. It was, however, one of those dresses that just looked great on me and I wasn't going to give that up.

Actually, I had previously used it as a sort of guideline for making stretchy dresses for myself by holding it onto the fabric and marking the pattern pieces. As you can imagine, this is kinda difficult with a dress that's all sewn together. So now I took the opportunity to dismantle it and make it into a pattern.

The dress is made up of a front and back for the bodice with no darts whatsoever, a couple of sleeves and 4 skirt panels. I unpicked the bodice and sleeves and one skirt panel, then laid them on top of my trusted Swedish tracing paper and marked a pattern around them. I had to adjust this slightly and use measuring tape to  make sure everything was straight, as the fabric pieces were a bit stretched out/crooked.

old dress bodice

As you can see in the picture above, one of the armholes looks different from the other. I really can't say whether I stretched it out or whether the fabric was cut that way. It certainly never struck me as being off when I wore it.

That aside though, here are the finished pattern pieces on my fabric of choice:

patterns I cut from the old dress

two skirt panels cut!

The fabric is a jersey with a similar stretch to the knit fabric. I much prefer knits, but sometimes I just cannot resist a print. I had actually had this fabric for a while as I wanted a really good pattern for it. I couldn't bear the thought of making something with such a gorgeous print that would be ill-fitting. But since I had that pattern now, nothing could stop me.

Now it was really just the case of cutting the pieces out and sewing them together.

I left one of the shoulder seams of the bodice open, as I wanted to put a neckband in.

bodice all sewn together

For the skirt panels, I made sure that I lined up the fully sewn skirt with opposite seams touching, as there are no side seams. I marked the sides with a bit of chalk.

the skirt

Then I made sure the markings were aligned with the side seams of the bodice:

lined up side seam and marking

Pinned and then sewn together, I almost had a whole dress now.

almost a whole dress

The next step will be sewing armholes on and then finishing the whole thing off with the coverlock machine.